Friday, 18 May 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Days: Week 20 - Another Language.

Week 20: Another Language
The first time I heard my father on the telephone - I thought he was speaking a different language.  I would have been about 11 years old so Dad would have been about 53.  He had been in Australia for 45 years, having come out from Scotland with his family in 1912, however he sounded as if he had just stepped off the ship.

Talking to him person to person I didn’t notice his accent (although others did comment on it). But when I answered the phone to his call - I didn’t know who this man was.   

The ship the Pearce family travelled on - ‘SS Demosthenes’.  
Her maiden voyage from London to Melbourne via Cape of Good Hope in 1912  was made in 36 days. (photo in family possession)

Dad kept his accent all his days and he died in 1982, aged 78.
He had many little Scottish phrases that we children still remember.
When we were little he called us ‘Bonnie wee lassies” and he used to get us to say: ’t’s a braw bricht minlicht nicht the nicht, Mrs Wricht’  meaning: It’s a brilliant bright moonlight night tonight, Mrs Wright. Then he would laugh at our efforts.  Another saying I remember was:
“Ah dinnae ken, Ah’m sure” meaning I really don’t know.
And he loved to say Rabbie Burn’s Selkirk Grace before dinner:
‘Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be Thankit!’

My father holding me when I was about 3yo, and Dad about 45yo in 1949, at our extended family picnic spot, Keadys Bridge near Euroa, Vic. (Family photo)


He was a very loyal Scotsman and set up the Burn’s night, the Ladies Highland Pipe Band and the Highland Games in Shepparton.
Dad also recited the poem: ’To a Mouse’ at family gatherings and: 'Address to a Haggis' on Burns Night.

‘To a Mouse’ 
(On Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough,
November, 1785.)

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie, 
O, what a panic's in thy breastie! 
Thou need na start awa sae hasty, 
          Wi' bickering brattle! 
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee, 
         Wi' murdering pattle!

I'm truly sorry Man's dominion 
Has broken Nature's social union, 
An' justifies that ill opinion 
         Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion 
         An' fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve; 
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live! 
A daimen-icker in a thrave 
         'S a sma' requet; 
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave, 
         An' never miss't!

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin! 
Its silly wa's the win's are strewin! 
An' naething, now, to big a new ane, 
         O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's win's ensuing, 
         Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste, 
An' weary Winter comin fast, 
An' cozie here, beneath the blast, 
         Thou thought to dwell, 
Till crash! the cruel coulter past 
         Out thro' thy cell.

That wee bit heap o' leaves and stibble, 
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble! 
Now thou's turned out, for a' thy trouble, 
         But house or hald, 
To thole the Winter's sleety dribble, 
         An' cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane, 
In proving foresight may be vain: 
The best-laid schemes o' Mice an' Men 
         Gang aft agley, 
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, 
         For promis'd joy!

Still thou are blest, compared wi' me! 
The present only toucheth thee: 
But Och! I backward cast my e'e, 
         On prospects drear! 
An' forward, tho' I cannot see, 
         I guess an' fear!

Robert Burns

'Address to a Haggis'

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, 
Great Chieftain o’ the Puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
       Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
       As lang 's my arm. 

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
       In time o’ need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
       Like amber bead. 

His knife see Rustic-labour dight,
An’ cut ye up wi’ ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
       Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
       Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
       Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
       Bethankit hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
       Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
       On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
       His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bluidy flood or field to dash,
       O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
       He'll make it whissle;
An’ legs, an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,
       Like taps o' thrissle.

Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
       That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
       Gie her a Haggis!

Robert Burns
(from The Canongate Burns: the complete poems and songs of Robert Burns (Canongate, 2001). First printed in The Caledonian Mercury in 1786)


Friday, 11 May 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 19 - 'Mother's Day'

Week 19 Prompt: 'Mother's Day'

My little story today is about my 6 X Great Grandmother - Anna McBean, who was born about 1670 in Inverness, Scotland.  
She married Donald McIntosh/Mackintosh and was mother to my  5 X Gt Grandfather Alexander Mackintosh.

Parish Record of birth and baptism of Alexander McIntosh 
son of Anna McBean and Donald McIntosh.

Alexander married Christian Ross
Their son John married Margaret Morrison
They named their son Alexander and he married Isabel Cairns
They had Richard who married Elspeth Gary  
Then their daughter Isabella Mackintosh married James Finlay Lumsden
They had a daughter also named Isabella - Mackintosh Lumsden and this is where my family name comes in - she married Francis George Pearce  - my father’s parents.

Sadly I haven’t found out anything about Anna to get to know her at all or to share in my story.

One thing I do know though is that she would not have had a Mother’s Day celebration in those days. So I am saluting her today and thanking her for being the oldest proven grand-mother in my family.

Monday, 7 May 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 18 - 'Close Up'

Week 18: 'Close Up'

When we went on a Family History Trail in Great Britain in 2015, I tried to visit all the places my ancestors came from and where they were baptized, married and buried.

I think the one place I felt the most goosebumps was when I visited my father's hometown and the house he and the family had lived in. I went as close up as I could, climbing the stairs and knocking on the door.  Unfortunately, there was no one at home.  It is a strange feeling to walk in the same place as your father did when he was young and living on the other side of the world.

On the 29 May 1904 my father was born in a small house perched on the side of a rise at the end of the row of houses.  No 40 Dean Park, Peebles, Peeblesshire, Scotland.

A new door at No. 40

The row of houses at Dean Park

No. 40 Dean Park, Peebles

The earliest photo I have of my father.
He is in the centre, with his two sisters Sarah (L) and Isabella/Tibbie ((R)

My father (L), mother (C) and brother (R) in the 1960's.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 17 - 'Cemetery

Week 17 Prompt: 'Cemetery'

I met a newly found relative of mine in Australia who is also a very keen genealogist.  We share ancestors on my maternal side and we pool our findings.  She had been to England a few years ago and found out as much as she could on the Palmer family of ‘Forest of Dean’ in Herefordshire.  However, there was one burial she could not find.  Esau Palmer (1807-1857) who was meant to be buried in the cemetery at the Baptist Chapel in Ross.  

I promised her I would do my best to track him down for her.  So in 2015 whilst travelling in the UK and on my family history trail I had this brilliant idea that as it was Sunday we should attend church at the Ross Baptist Chapel.  My ancestors there had been very religious and attended the Chapel.

It was a very musical service and an interesting video was shown on people-trafficking all over the world and how we can help prevent it. Then a sermon on “The first Commandment”  The preacher was a good communicator and had a bit of fun along the way.
After the service, we joined the congregation for coffee and a digestive biscuit.    We introduced ourselves and found a lady who said that there hasn’t been a cemetery there for years, that it is now all carpark.  BUT she said her children had once found some old gravestones under the Pipe organ in the church when they were exploring.  I asked could we see them please and she said it would be difficult as they were now under the floor with a door panel over them and filing cabinets on top !!!  She asked her husband and then came back and said that he wouldn’t be able to do it this week - no time.  I said we were only here today and tomorrow and pleaded that I had to see them before I go, having come all the way from Australia.  
‘Was there someone else who could help? - or could John and I do it ourselves now ?’  She went off again and eventually came back with her husband who said he would have a look with us, after all.  

So the men moved the heavy stuff and lifted the trapdoor.  Put an extension ladder down the black hole.  The husband went down first to trial it and then down I went squeezing my chest through a hole it didn’t fit. Then my husband peered through from above. No room for anyone else really.  Luckily there were a couple of little lights down there.   And so down into the dungeon we were.  
Lo and Behold  I found 2 Gravestones covered in rubble on the ground/floor down there.  The last of the stones that were still visible apparently.
The husband scraped away what he could of the rubble so we could try and read them.  I had some paper in my hand so folded that up and tried to scrape with that also. Made a little headway to clear enough to read some of the inscriptions. Sadly no luck with them being ours :(    
But I felt honoured to be seeing these gravestones in memorial of someone’s ancestors from the district, that are lost to everyday sight.  
One was for a daughter Harrietta Eliza and a boy JS Griffith aged 15 who died in March 180(9)
The other one we couldn't remove all the rubble and the part we cleared was probably the middle section which had a quote from the bible. I tried to take some photos in the dark.
They were very hard to take as you could only crawl onto them and the lights cast big shadows.

Although the search had proven fruitless for finding Esau's grave, I was very thankful to the couple for helping us and allowing us to look.  
Once we were out again and dusted down, the lady checked with the new Records officer at the Church - if there were any records available to see.  She told us that there are none there now - they have all been given over to Hereford Records Office.  

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 15 'Taxes'

Week 15 Prompt:  Taxes

This is more of an American prompt - so I will be creative and write about an ancestor who has been particularly ‘taxing’ to me.

I had an ‘Uncle Dudley’ when I was young, I remembered that I met him once when I was 12 years old. He was captain of an oil liner LOF ‘London Resolution’ that was visiting Port Melbourne, docking at the Shell Refinery in 1958.
The Pearce families went down from country Victoria to meet with him on the ship. My sister and I thought he was just wonderful - such a good looking young man with a wonderful accent. He showed us all over the ship and the sailors were saluting him and smiling at us. I have a blurry photo of him taken on my box Brownie camera coming down the gangway and being blown in the wind.

I realized a few years ago that I had never come across him in my genealogical studies.
So the chase was on.

I don’t know why but I had the thought that he came from the West coast of Scotland somewhere - I think from something Aunty Tib said ( My Aunty TIb is in the previous blog - 'The Maiden Aunt'.)  So much time has gone that Uncle Dudley would be pretty old now – getting on for 90’s maybe.

I contacted other Pearce relatives in Australia, England, and Scotland. After a few months, I had some replies. But they were few and far between. One from the UK said: Sorry I can't help you with Dudley it's not a common first name in Scotland but might have been passed down from the families’ English roots. A couple of others in Australia remembered him and that they had also gone to Melbourne for the visit. One gave me his surname: Hepworth. As soon as I read it I remembered - ‘yes, of course that was his name’.

So now I had something to work with.
I searched online for oil liners and found shipping lists with the ships he was on and the crew names. I saw how he worked his way up the ladder. From being a cadet aged 19 in October 1942 to being a 2nd Officer as late as 1950 and then "Master" of "London Pride" in Jan 1961. I discovered a website for the shipping line’s past crews (L O F News) I heard back after a year or so from 1 ex-sailor who remembered Dudley as a great Captain but hadn’t seen him for a long long time.

In the meanwhile, I found a Captain William Dudley Hepworth born 11 Mar 1923 in the UK, who (sadly) died in November 2000 aged 77, in Exeter, Devon, England. I felt very sad that I had missed being able to talk to him if this was our Uncle Dudley. His names are uncommon and fitted as did his date of birth.  I couldn't find any other information about him in Exeter nowadays.

I notified relatives in Australia of this new information and asked if anyone had anything to add. I had an email from a cousin’s wife who heard from my cousin Isobel. She had discovered some old letters from Dudley to my Aunty Tib and one was written from the 'London Victory' on the 14th Jan 1957 and signed with 'W.' Dudley Hepworth.

Hurrah - So a 'W' initial has appeared. That fitted with the details of the ‘William Dudley’ that I found. Another letter gave the matching birth date of Dudley as 11th March, but no year or place, unfortunately.

I sought help from a Facebook genealogy group where I have a friend in England. She was happy to help and said:
" Now, your Uncle Dudley sounds an interesting man! Yes, I can imagine the welcome he got from family whilst visiting Australia, how lovely for him and them. So, I shall put on my thinking cap and see what I come up with.
I took a quick look and could only see his death details, nothing in the births in the UK, so maybe he was born somewhere else.   I think that William was born in Scotland, possibly Glasgow, as I saw he sailed on a ship out of there as a young man aged 19.  Although ‘Scotlands People’ website has absolutely nothing on him. Of the voyages he is listed in, on Ancestry he puts his first nationality as being English but on all the other years, he says he is Scottish. It appears he was about 5ft 10 ins and weighed about 145lbs, to give you an idea of what he was like back in the 1940’s."

and later:

"There is one mention of him travelling with family back in 1933, but can we be sure it is him? He was just shown as Dudley Hepworth so I have my doubts. It shows his mother as Beatrice Hepworth born 1882 and his father as John Hepworth born 1879, a plumber. On the 1933 sailing of the 'SS Themistocles’, Beatrice is just traveling with this Dudley Hepworth, having got on the ship at Melbourne. It shows Beatrice as a housewife, who has been living in Australia but to take up residence in Scotland. Their address in Scotland is listed as Lower View, Craig Row, Edinburgh. She then checked the Merchant Seaman's Records on the National Archives to no avail and emailed the local papers in Exeter asking the archivist librarian if they could look up any mention of his death, obituary, and marriage."

The Beatrice Lumsden's in my tree did not match the birth dates for this Beatrice.
In the meanwhile, I started trawling through those ships passenger lists, I found one where Dudley was only 2 years old sailing with parents John and Beatrice to and from South Africa. Their address last resided at was: ℅ Mr. A Lumsden, Ormiston, East Lothian, Haddingtonshire, Scotland.


A male Lumsden married a female MacIntosh in my family tree and they came from Ormiston. So now to work out where mother Beatrice fits. The records show the family left Scotland for South Africa but were returning to reside in England.

After sending this information to my historian in England she tried the Ancestry Telephone Directories and found an entry for a William Dudley Hepworth in 1984, apparently the last of the directories.

GREAT - we now had an address in Throwleigh.

She explained:
" There is plenty of info on the village of Throwleigh, Devon online,  and the local church is called St Mary The Virgin Church.  I would not be at all surprised if William was buried there. I came upon this website that lists people buried there but I think it only goes up to 1996.  Worth a look at as there are other Hepworths buried there.
I also tried 'Google Earth' for the address but nothing.  I have come across a Church members' group based in the village where I think he lived and have emailed them to see if he was known in the village and asked if they had any information on him."

Then an extraordinary piece of luck - I received an email from England telling me that a lady from the church has contacted a daughter of Dudley's and she would email back.

WOW! So the thrill of the chase has hit.

Receiving the message here in Australia from England I quickly responded.
Then I received another surprise/shock - Dudley was the 'adopted' son of Beatrice Lumsden and John Hepworth. They had not had children and Beatrice was 56 years old when Dudley was born - although on the ship listing in 1925 it lists Beatrice as 49 yo and Wm Dudley 2yo.

My tree has Beatrice born 1866-7 (not validated) as one of the 8 daughters of my Great grandparents. If this is correct then Beatrice would be 59 yo and Wm Dudley 2 yo on the ship in 1925, which matches Dudley’s daughter's information.
Interestingly I see that Beatrice’s oldest brother Alexander born in 1858 married Jessie Burns and lived at Ormiston for a while – so I think this might be the address Beatrice and John gave as their home address In Scotland when they left for South Africa in 1925. This could be the Mr. A Lumsden of Ormiston listed on the Hepworth's passenger list.  On the return journey in 1925, they said they were going to live in England. (Maybe this time to the Hepworth families locality ?)

On looking further to find where another brick wall relative Aunty Elspeth fitted in (she lived in Sydney, Australia, and we visited her occasionally,) I came across the fact that the last born child – young brother of Beatrice - Richard McIntosh Lumsden (born 1880 died 1939) was married to Dorothy May Lambert and she had died in 2000 in Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe.)


This is where William Dudley was born in 1923 (According to daughter.)   Beatrice and Isabella Pearce nee Lumsden (my Grandmother) were close sisters being born only 18 months apart in the middle of the Lumdsen siblings – This could account for another story from Dudley’s daughter - that when John Hepworth died, Beatrice and little son Dudley came to live in Australia with Grandma Isabella Pearce. She said they lived on a fruit farm. Our families were orchardists who settled in Victoria, after emigrating from Scotland. I recall no knowledge about this – but it could account for the closeness of Uncle Dudley to my father’s generation here in Australia.  Mother and son left in 1938.

I received this photo after I had done the research. 
It shows Beatrice with baby - William Dudley.  
It does look like they are seated under a gum tree - 
but as he is only a baby they would have still have been in South Africa.  

Dudley’s daughter told me that her dad was an only child. It seems that his mother Beatrice when on her deathbed, told him he was adopted.  Dudley was about 15.  From her passport etc, she was 56 when Dudley was born which could explain why I thought the two Beatrice's I found were not likely to be Dudley's mother.
The family in England do have some letters written by my Aunt Tibby and Dudley's daughter told me:

"Dad spoke fondly of her but really did not talk about his family much at all, after finding out he was adopted.  Our understanding is that Dad was born in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia, that his dad died when he was 7 and that our dad (Dudley) then moved to Australia with his mother (Beatrice) to live with cousins on a fruit farm. Dad moved to Scotland as a teenager we think, to finish his schooling before going to sea.
Dad met our mother Margarita, known as Rita Shields in about 1953, they married 7 years later.  It took so long partly because of Dad's absence at sea and partly because she was a Roman Catholic and neither of them felt able to make a cross-faith marriage but their love got the better of them!  They then had us three."

SO -  This explains why we could not find a birth for Dudley Hepworth in England or Scotland - he was born in South Africa.

I sent off emails to South African Genealogy groups about Feb 2015 to see if anyone could help me with information. I explained that my Great Aunt and Uncle in Scotland adopted a baby boy in South Africa. He was born 11 Mar 1923 in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia. At that time there was a younger Great Uncle and wife living there. (Richard and Dorothy Lumsden previously mentioned.)    My aim was to establish if Uncle Dudley was born to relatives or born to other people living there. Maybe even a family Richard and Dorothy knew.   The replies were not successful. Apparently getting into adoption papers especially in Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe is very difficult and you have to pay a lot of money. They suggested hiring a professional Genealogist for Zimbabwe.

As Dudley is not in my direct line It doesn’t feel right following it up further, with his family alive.

However, I now know my 'Uncle' Dudley is my first cousin once removed, (by adoption.)
I find it interesting that his parents went to South Africa to adopt in their later years, and I wonder if he was born to a Lumsden family living there and could he even be a blood relative? This will probably remain an unknown. But I have found some lovely cousins oversseas now, who I hope to visit in the near future.

Friday, 30 March 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 14: 'The Maiden Aunt'

Week 14 Prompt: 'Maiden Aunt'

My Auntie Tib is my maiden Aunt.  Her real name was Isabella Macintosh Pearce. She was an IMP just like me !   Tib or Tibbie is a Scottish nickname for Isabella.

Auntie Tib was born on 08 November 1899 at home in Miller St, Innerleithen, Peeblesshire, Scotland. This is in the area called The Border Country on the River Tweed and close to the English border.

Family photo of Sarah (Ray), Bill, & Isabella (TIbbie) Pearce, C1906, Scotland

The Pearce family emigrated from Scotland in 1912 and Tibbie was 12 years old when they sailed on the ‘Demosthenes’.  Father - Francis George Pearce wanted to give the family a new start in a new country and applied for land to grow an orchard in the irrigation areas of Victoria.  He was given a block in Orrvale and eventually, when the family next door walked off their land he was able to add that block on as well.

Although life was hard work, all the families in the orchard areas became very good friends helping each other out in difficult times. There were socials, concerts, a debating society, young peoples’ clubs, church groups, sports and plenty of home-made amusements.

On their new block, the family lived in a tent until the two-roomed house was erected.  Tibbie and her sister Sarah (Ray) managed to complete schooling taking correspondence lessons from Melbourne High School and were passed as Sewing Mistresses.  Tibbie worked at the local country school (Orrvale) teaching for a few years.  She then worked as temporary relief school staff taking charge of small country schools. Always Tibbie was to return home to the orchard to help out in her holiday periods.

In 1922 Grandad Pearce died when he became sick and developed pneumonia. Tibbie returned home for a while to be with Grannie Pearce.  It may have been at this time that she had a suitor – a local man.  A boy whom she had known at primary school whose family had come from America. The family myth is that Tibbie and he got engaged but her brothers did not think he was suitable for their big sister and somehow warned him off. 

In the thirties, TIbbie changed jobs and worked as a Sub-Matron in the Presbyterian Children’s Home in North Melbourne.  This gave her a taste of nursing and she enrolled in training. On completion, she also did the Midwifery course.  Tibbie joined the Melbourne District Nursing Society and practiced midwifery with them for 3 years.  She said these were some of the happiest days of her life, as she made so many friends.

Tibbie’s siblings all married apart from George the youngest – he was in the militia and was called up for World War II. Sadly he was killed in New Guinea on the Kokoda Trail in 1943.  His death was announced in the paper the same day as the news he had been awarded the Military Cross.

After the war, and her son’s death, Grannie Pearce was not managing so well, so Tibbie resigned her position and came home to care for her.  Of course, Tibbie helped out on the orchard as well, but she was able to fit in local community activities like CWA, Sunday School teaching, playing the organ at church, etc.  I think at this time that she was also working as an Infant Welfare Nurse.

In 1954 Grannie Pearce aged 84 years, died, and Tibbie’s brothers Bill and Jim arranged an overseas trip for her to visit all the relatives in Scotland and Canada.  Though the families were spread around the world, they had kept continually in touch through the mail.  Tibbie decided to lengthen the trip to over 2 years and nursed in a hospital in Saskatchewan in Canada.

On her return, Tibbie bought a block of land in Kialla over the road from her sister Ray.  She busied herself planting native trees and encouraging the birds to her home.  The gum trees grew tall and she loved to listen to the magpies and join in whistling the chorus.  Late in her life, Tibbie went overseas with a niece and husband and visited ‘a dear friend’ who we believe was her ex-fiancĂ©.  She said they had a lovely time, that it was wonderful to catch up after all this time, but she was glad to get back to her own home on return.

Around this time my father, her brother Bill donated land to the Infant Welfare group and they built an office and centre.  It was named ‘The Isabella Pearce Child Centre’.

Once she could no longer manage her little block Tibbie moved into the ‘Miller Homes’ in Shepparton.  She gave up her car but could still get around utilizing the bus stop out the front of her cottage.  Tibbie was never left out of things.  She took it upon herself to become the Matriarch after Grannie Pearce died.  All the nieces and nephews visited her and took her to places and to family gatherings.

I remember my Auntie Tib as a very strong-minded woman with a Scottish accent.  She was intelligent and knowledgeable about so much, being very well read.  She had very fine frizzy hair that she braided and tied around her head.  At night she would put her plait into rags and wear a night bonnet on top.  My mother told me that she had a soft spot for my brother Bill as he suffered from eczema when born and Auntie Tib was always telling Mum how she should be treating him, etc.  Until one day Mum refused to visit and demanded that Dad speak to her about her interference. He was to tell her that Mum was the boy’s mother and knew what was best for him.  Things cooled for a while but then came right again.  Auntie Tib always kept in touch with my brother, writing regularly to him when he as at boarding school for 7 years.  She also attended his graduation from University just like a proud mother.

Tibbie was the keeper of our family history and was very involved in the local Family History Society.  She was a keen writer and poet.  She also interested my brother Bill in genealogy and research.  He passed it on to me.

We all loved Auntie Tib and remember her fondly, but I still feel very sad for her missing out on the chance of a married life with her fiancé and struggle to believe that her brothers would do that to her.

Auntie Tib was almost 91 when she died 26 September 1990 in Shepparton, Victoria.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 13: 'The Old Homestead'

Week 13 Prompt: 'The Old Homestead.'

The Orchard is how we refer to our old place at Grahamvale, Victoria.  I think our family moved out there from town (Shepparton) when I was about two so it would have been around 1948.  Our family of five - Mum - Lilian Agnes (nee Cottam) and Dad - William Louden Pearce.  My older brother - William Joseph and older sister -  Frances Elizabeth and then me - Isabel.

The house was an old weatherboard with a big verandah at the back and the ‘Big Room’ as we called it -  built on as a spare room and playroom.  There was a fireplace in there with openings in the wall to put the wood into the woodboxes from outside.  We kids played Monopoly in there for hours in the school holidays. The big wooden table was so handy - it was also used for table tennis.  When we had visitors it was the meal room and it was decorated especially at Christmas time for the big meals. Photo Family Christmas in the 'Big Room.'

Fran and I shared a bedroom and Bill had his own.  We had an inside toilet which had an outside door as well to the verandah, so you had to make sure you locked both when in there so nobody burst in on you.

Mum and Dad’s room was verboten to us, but we would sneak in there sometimes.  Their room was along the passage up the front of the house and next to it was the front door (never used) which had stained glass panels that the sun shone through.  In their bedroom was a large chest of drawers which I now have and in the top little drawers Mum would hide gifts.  We were always trying to sneak in and see what was in there.  On top of the chest there was a cute little weather barometer with a little girl and boy that swung in and out of the little house dependant on the temperature.

There was a smaller dining room inside the house,  a very dark room only ever used by the adults - not so much as a dining room but as a card room.  Especially when Grandpa Cottam lived with us.  Grandpa used to sit out on the verandah in his cane chair and we would love to comb his snowy white hair.

Grandpa Cottam (L) in his cane chair with his walking stick, on the verandah 

Outside the house my brother had a hut which was just his - and he had a note on the door “KEEP OUT”  He had a crystal radio set he spent a lot of time with.  We girls always tried to get in - but maybe I never did as I can’t remember it inside.  Then there was the Shed - a big shed for the orchard doings - grader, packing, cases, trucks, tractor, etc.  Under the shed there was plenty of room for playhouses and hiding spots.   

In the early days we had 2 lovely old draught horses for pulling the plough and other jobs.  Fran and I loved the horses - and occasionally were allowed to sit on their backs for a wee ride.   Jean was Dad’s worker and she was a quiet woman and extremely hard worker.  Unusual to have a female, but in reality Jean dressed as a man and spoke like a man.  We were all taken aback when later on she married and had children.

I have so many happy memories from the orchard - it was an ideal place for children to grow up.