TROVE Tuesday

TROVE Tuesday-It Happened in Tamworth in 1908 – Starr-Bowkett Society

Tamworth Starr-Bowkett Society

I had never heard of the Starr-Bowkett Society before coming across this article but, as it turns out, it was a financial institution with an office in the hometown of my grandparents Edward Bailey & Ines Maud Smith.  In August of 1908 the Starr-Bowkett office had been operating in Tamworth for about 18 months having opened it’s doors for business around March of 1907, and this newspaper report shows that the financial institution was doing very nicely. 

Starr-Bowkett held a public meeting in May 11, 1907 so as to provide people with information about the workings of the company.  By October there were offices in Manilla and Inverell and by December of 1907 it is reported in local papers that the Society drew a ballot to complete it’s 1st share.

Starr Bowkett Public Meeting
Starr_Bowkett Building Society

I have absolutely no way of knowing what bank my grandparents chose to handle their finances but as Tamworth was a  small country town of roughly 6000 people their choices may have been limited.   I have found reference in TROVE digitised papers to The Savings Bank of NSW (now trading as Westpac), and the Commercial Bank of Australia (known as CBA – merged with Bank of NSW, now known as Westpac), having offices in Tamworth at that time, so the addition of the Starr-Bowkett Society may have been of interest to them.  With their impending marriage the couple could well have been looking for a bank/society to handle their joint account, or their first mortgage.

It would appear that Starr-Bowkett operated in Tamworth and area until at least 1954, possibly longer.


TROVE Tuesday

Trove Tuesday – It Happened in Tamworth in 1908 – Insanitary Hospital

Insanitary Hospital

The hospital in Tamworth had it’s fair share of hardship in 1908.  Back in April of this year I posted an article about the outbreak of Typhoid and Diphtheria in Tamworth after large scale flooding of the town (read story here).  At the time of the outbreak it was decided to engage the Board of Health to carry out an investigation and the resulting report was not what the hospital would have wanted to hear.

Apparently, the report indicated that the removal of effluent from the hospital was achieved  through drainage pipes into ditches within the hospital grounds.  One of the trenches was also found to be in close proximity to a well, the water in which was used for drinking. 

After months of meticulous attention to detail, cleanliness and law Tamworth Hospital did seem to have the outbreak of Infectious disease under control though, as reported in newspapers later in the year.  In total there were 62 cases of Typhoid in Tamworth in 1908,  4 of which could be attributed to the Hospital itself.  I am sure that my grandparents,  Edward Bailey and Ines Smith, would have wondered about the safety of going to hospital, discussing it either amongst themselves, or with their respective families after reading such articles in the local paper.

Tamworth Rural Referral Hospital today is a state of the art medical facility for a regional area with new wards and Emergency department having only been opened last year.  Having worked at the hospital for nearly 40 years I can honestly say that we are lucky indeed to have such a fine facility with well trained staff in our town, and Tamworth residents in general are fortunate to live in 2018 and not 1908. 


TROVE Tuesday

TROVE Tuesday – It Happened in Tamworth in 1908 – Diabetes

Death Due to Diabetes

How very sad that the young life of Miss Mary Constance Buckley was taken by a disease which in our lifetime is basically considered quite manageable.  Mary Constance would have had a vastly reduced life expectancy once diagnosed with Diabetes as the disease was classed as a terminal illness at the beginning of the 1900’s.  She was just 27 years old, roughly a year older than my grandmother Ines Maude Smith, and there is a distinct possibility that they knew, or at least knew of, each another. 

I tried “trusty old Google” to find out how Diabetes may have been treated in 1908 and found the following:

Between 1900-1915, a variety of different diabetes treatments were proposed. Early treatments included:

  • the oat-cure, which involved eating 8 ounces of oatmeal mixed with 8 ounces of butter every 2 hours
  • the milk diet
  • the rice cure
  • potato therapy
  • opium
  • overfeeding to replenish lost fluids and increase weight, symptoms that many people with diabetes experience

It wasn’t until 1921 that development of insulin changed the management of Diabetes – years after Mary Constance, and many many others had succumbed to the disease.


Diabetes Treatments:

Newspaper Article:

TROVE Tuesday

TROVE Tuesday – It Happened in Tamworth in 1908 – Trooper Bailey

Military Tournament Results – Trooper Bailey

The family have always believed that my grandfather, Edward Thomas Bailey, was a great horseman, so you can imagine how exciting it was to find the above results recorded in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper in June of 1908.

Modern Day Tent Pegging

Grandad was a member of the 6th Australian Light Horse and on this day he preformed well in Tent Pegging, Cleaving the Turk’s Head (a bit off-putting and I choose not to show pictures of it), Sectional Tent Pegging, and Obstacle Racing.  Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of him in uniform.


TROVE Tuesday

TROVE Tuesday – It Happened in Tamworth in 1908 – The Weather

Temperature of -2 Degrees in Tamworth

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. 


TROVE Tuesday

TROVE Tuesday – It Happened in Tamworth in 1908 – The Aussie Magpie

Death of a Pet Magpie

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!

Native Australian Magpie

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.


Magpie Photo:


#52Ancestors – So Far Away-Week 22

Guinevere Mary (r) with sister Gertrude Grace (l)

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.

Guinevere Smith Abt. 1919

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.

Guinevere with Baby Myrtle 1921

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

Guinevere Mary (r) with sister Gertrude Grace (l)

#52Ancestors – Military – Week 21

Vincent James Allsop 1916

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. 

Strand Military Cemetery Plan Showing Grave of Vincent J Allsop & Cousin Val Idstein



#52Ancestors – Another Language

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.

Back (L) Noeleen MackIntosh, Front (L) Audrey Breckler, Back (R) Isabelle Calmettes, Middle (R) Julie Preston & Front (R) Maureen Breckler

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 Rolling on the floor laughing), 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.

TROVE Tuesday

TROVE Tuesday – It Happened in Tamworth in 1908 – Talk of Bushrangers

Geordie Remembers Thunderbolt

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.