Weather is all important to people living on the land, no matter what country you are from or what time in history you have lived. Tamworth is actually a place of weather extremes as it’s very hot in the summer and really cold in winter. Summer temps can reach the mid 40’s easily, and in fact, in Tamworth this past summer we had more consecutive days over 40 degrees than ever previously recorded. The coldest winter recording that I can recall was –8 degrees – and I remember that because our pipes froze! I do clearly remember a day that only peaked at 8 degrees vividly, as I had to score a baseball game in that freezing weather.
My grandparents Ines Maude Smith and Edward Thomas Bailey had their lives, and the lives of their families, dictated by the weather in 1908. The floods earlier in the year saw loss of stock or ruined crops, rain hindered their planned trips to town for general and farming supplies, and equally – the lack of rain had a devastating effect on the farming community.
I must admit that when I first saw this snippet of local news I marvelled at the subjects that were “newsworthy” in 1908. I decided to do a little research about the native Australian Magpie as really, the only 2 things I knew about them was that they are extremely territorial during mating season and will swoop down and attack unsuspecting passers by, and that certainly in the country – they were everywhere!
I found out that the Magpie is actually know for it’s complex variety of calls and is known to mimic other birds (both native and introduced), as well as dogs and horses! It is also known to mimic human speech when kept as a pet.
It would appear that the accepted life span of these birds is around 25 years – so Mrs George Wilkinson’s bird lived a good and long life!
My grandparents, Ines Maude Smith and Edward Thomas Bailey, were both from the country and would have seen or heard these birds every day of their lives – even when they moved to the city.
The article on wikipedia that I found has a very interesting bird call that you can listen to – the call is beautiful.
I often think about my great aunt Guinevere Mary Anderson nee: Smith and wonder just how isolated she must have felt when working along side her husband as a missionary in the Solomon Islands
Guinevere was born in Tamworth, New South Wales on 8 Nov 1895 and spent her childhood on her parents farm at Gidley (just outside Tamworth). She married John David Anderson in Tamworth in 1920, and in the same year they were posted as missionaries to the Solomon Islands. There was no housing so they built their small home; they also built a small church. Guinevere had to learn to cook, writing home for recipes and tips.
It wasn’t very long before Guinevere found she was pregnant, but she stayed on the island to be safely delivered of a dear little girl, Myrtle Guinevere Anderson, in July 1921. Myrtle was said to be the first child of Australian parents born on the island.
There is a family story about the day that Guinevere came out to check on Myrtle, who was sleeping in her cot on the veranda due to the heat, and found a large animal attempting to get into the cot!
I know that Guinevere missed her family very much, and it must have been extremely challenging to deliver a baby in a wooden hut with only some native women who didn’t speak English to help her. She had her missionary work, a husband she loved, and a new baby to occupy her time, but there must have been many times when Guinevere felt so very far away from the supportive love of her family in Australia
I thought I might write about my husbands 1st cousin 2 x removed Vincent James Allsop who was born in Maitland, New South Wales in 1887. Vincent married Myra May Bell in Newcastle in 1915, and the following year the couple were blessed with the arrival of a baby girl they named Loris Bell Allsop on Jan 27, 1916.
Vincent joined the Australian Imperial Forces on 16 Mar 1916 just over 6 weeks after the birth of Loris. Upon completion of his training he was sent overseas on 1 May 1916 on the SS Benalla, arriving in Plymouth on 9 Jul 1916 from where he proceeded to France on 21 Nov 1916.
Just five weeks later he was admitted to a field hospital with what appears to have been a severe cold (possibly more to it than that, but that is how it is documented). He was finally discharged on 6 Jan 1917 and up to this point he had spent a total of just over 4 weeks fighting.
On 17 Jan 1917 he was made a Lance Corporal but just 10 days later he was again admitted to a hospital, this time with damage to an ulna nerve – the ulna nerve runs from your neck to your hand. It should be mentioned that ulnar nerve damage needs to be treated promptly or it can result in permanent damage and palsy.
He didn’t actually re-join the 35th Battalion A.I.F. until 23 Feb 1917 and 9 weeks later he was reported as killed in action on 29 May 1917. He is buried at the Strand Military Cemetery in Ploegsteert Wood on the Western Front beside his cousin, Val Idstein, who was killed on the same night. Vincent had spent a total of just 13 weeks fighting with his battalion when he was killed. Sadly, Vincent would never again see his baby girl or wife.
Honestly – I can get myself into enough trouble just by speaking one language – so my hat goes off to those of my relatives that speak more than one!
Our family’s ancestors have come from all over the world – France, England, Scotland, Ireland, Italy and South Africa but every family member I know of here in Australia only speaks English. I do have some cousins who live in France and of course they speak French, but on the single occasion that we met we communicated quite well and had a lovely time – thanks to their English and NOT my French.
I have numerous documents in both French and Italian, but I have found an amazing willingness by family to help translate documents for me whenever they could. My French cousins Isabelle Calmettes & Audrey and Maureen Breckler have been wonderful in translating the French Birth, Death & Marriage documents of Pierre Auguste & Harriette Thevenet nee: Whiteman, and their children Eugene, Raymond, Madeleine, Marie and Henri. Harriette is 2 x great Aunt and she and her family lived both in New Caledonia and in France. Without the help and knowledge of my wonderful cousins I would have found translating the documents extremely difficult, and possibly expensive – so thank you very much.
Just last year an opportunity arose from an unexpected source which enable me to receive a translation to the Italian birth certificate of my great grandfather, Giuseppe Di Salvia. My niece Tammy Louese Jenkins nee: Di Salvia found some Italian speaking patrons at her church in Melbourne, Victoria and they kindly helped us. The document had been in my possession for many years, but apart from the few simple words of Italian I knew (Pizza & Ciao ), I couldn’t make out what was included on the certificate.
I’m really grateful that most of my research can be done in English because it is frustrating in the extreme to finally get hold of a document relating to an ancestor only to find that you can’t understand it.
Just in case – If any of my relatives from the Leggo and Whiteman families in South Africa should ever see this post please do contact me.
How strange,and yet sinfully thrilling, to think that an Australian bushranger may have come up in conversation around the dining table of my grandmother’s home in 1908. I can just hear the noisy discussion which took place, “Did you know old Geordie had a run in with Thunderbolt?” “Lucky to live through it, I heard!”, the voices of all 13 family members talking at once!
My granma, Ines Maude Smith, was born in 1882 and would only have been around 26 years old when the old coach driver mentioned in the article, Geordie Wilkinson, passed away. She perhaps may not have known him, although in such a small community like Tamworth was at the time she would certainly have known of him. She would have undoubtedly heard of the bushranger Captain Thunderbolt who had actually passed away 12 years before she was born.
Thunderbolt was an iconic Australian bushranger and there is a well known family story of ours involving him demanding money of another relative, so the mention of his name in the local paper would certainly have triggered conversation within the walls of the Smith family home.
Captain Thunderbolt, for those of you who don’t know, had a reputation for being the “gentleman bushranger”, and for his lengthy survival. He roamed the New England area which includes Tamworth for a number of years, and to this day there is a rock formation near Uralla (abt. 85 kms from Tamworth) called Thunderbolt’s Rock. He is said to be buried in Uralla Cemetery. The story of Thunderbolt and other bushrangers is still taught to students in Australian schools today.
I thought this newspaper clipping just a colourful story from an old citizen of Tamworth, my home town.
I have chosen to showcase my maternal great grandmother Mary Ann Smith nee: Whiteman as, in truth, I know very little about her except what you will read here. Mary Ann was the 4th child born to Mary Whiteman, and I believe her father was Edward Browne. Mary Ann was raised by Mary alone as her mother never married Edward Browne, although she had 5, if not 6, children to him.
Mary Ann was only 16 years old when she married John Edward Smith in the Wesleyan Church in Tamworth New South Wales in 1877. John was also from an “unconventional” family and was roughly 7 years her senior.
Mary Ann delivered their first child, also named John, the same year but sadly the babe died almost immediately.
The following year in 1878 Mary Ann delivered another son, Edward John Smith quickly followed by Ernest Alfred Smith in 1880. She went on to have a further 9 children: Catherine Ada Smith b. 1881, Ines Maude Smith b. 1882, Herbert John Smith b. 1881, Joseph Edward Smith b. 1885, Clive Victor Smith b. 1887, Ruby May Smith b. 1889, Gertrude Grace Smith b. 1894 (after a lengthy break), Guinevere Mary Smith b. 1895, Arthur Sterndale Smith b. 1897.
She and John Edward faced some difficult times together whilst trying to raise their family of 10 healthy children.
As a mother Mary Ann would have washed by hand – most likely in a copper of water heated by a small fire, she would have cooked over a fire – and later with a combustion stove; there were no quick trips to the corner store if she ran out of something from the pantry and she saw the introduction of radio and motor cars during her lifetime.
They lived on a property just outside Tamworth, so in fact, the gems of her life would have been the simple things she enjoyed – her love for her husband and children, a clear starry night and a tiredness at the end of the day from good honest work. She is well deserving of a mention as a wonderful mother.
Mary Ann lived to the age of 73 passing away in 1935 – 21 years after the loss of her husband in 1914. Although she died in Sydney, she is buried with John Edward in the Tamworth General Cemetery.
Headstone: Mary Ann Smith nee: Whiteman, Tamworth General Cemetery, Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia. Photographed by Julie Preston, Oct 2015
Whilst this post might seem like an easy cop-out on the subject of “close up” I would truly like to share it in the hopes of putting a name to the child. The photo has been staring at me from the pages of my grandfather’s collection since 1981 and yet I am no closer to identifying him. My grandfather, Edward Thomas Bailey, had a number of un-named photographs in his collection of family photo’s and postcards.
I would think that it is a male child only because of the way he is dressed, and the style of haircut and he is possibly aged around 10-12 months. It is a stunning photo of a child who actually look as if he is about to fall asleep he’s so tired, poor little mite.
Surely some out there can help me identify him – any ideas?
First up – Apologises to all, as I am running very late!
For this weeks prompt I wanted to take you to visit the grave of my paternal grandparents Joseph & Christina Lorna Di Salvia nee: Hastings.
By all family accounts these two loved each other deeply, although the family was hit with some very hard times. My dad once told me of the wonderful evenings he shared with his family when his father would play the violin and the rest of the family would join in with singing, playing the spoons and clapping.
Christina passed away at the young age of 48 years on 20 Apr 1935 and Joseph would live a further 21 years, eventually dying on 29 Nov 1956. Joseph missed his wife terribly and would place memorial notices in the paper for many years. He never re-married.
Joseph and Christina Di Salvia are buried together at Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney. Also buried with Joseph and Christina is their infant son Eric Joseph who died in Nov 1912 aged just 6 1/2 months. Obviously the family were not in a position to put a headstone on Eric’s grave at the time.
In August of 2001 my sister Noeleen Macintosh and I decided to go to the Rookwood Cemetery to try to find their plot. The cemetery is huge and I would have been lost in no time if it hadn’t been for my sister. Nonny had told me that she thought the graves were unmarked, and only had vague memories of visiting them once before. We did eventually find the plots, and I was surprised how very sad I felt, as I had actually never met these people. The small area, amongst many other old graves with headstones, felt lonely and a little unloved.
We left flowers as markers so as anyone who saw the area would know that the relatives who laid there were indeed loved and remembered. The purple flowers mark where Christina rests and the white flowers show where Joseph rests.
Headstone/Resting Place: Joseph & Christina Di Salvia nee: Hastings, Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Photographed by Julie Preston 4 Sept 2015