A last dab of powder on her nose and in the mirror Elizabeth sees him again. Her joy turns to sorrow. She hears mother’s words, “You carry the looks of your father and ’tis your young brother James who carries his ways.“
Tuesday, 20 December 2016
'Reminiscence - John Cottam' - FICTION based on GENEALOGICAL FACT, Walking In Their Shoes - First Person Narrative:
Twenty-three years gone yet we still miss him so. I think the suddenness of it broke mother’s heart.
Father loved working for the Railway. They say he was a hard worker who learned quickly and lived by God’s law. A strong man for his height. Little schooling yet moved right up to engine driver at only 29 years and carried his pride inside.
That last morning he left with lunch package and thick coat for the Nottingham/Toton run. Mother always rose early to see him off and as usual he gave her extra kisses for us when we stirred.
If only he hadn’t got out to check the brakes … if only the other shunting hadn’t happened…
Thomas the fireman said father was always careful and checked things ‘proper’. They didn’t know eight other wagons were being shunted nearby. It was so dark and foggy at five o’clock that morning. With God’s help, he may not have seen anything. But I know he would have heard it. Too late. I shiver and cry … all those carriages going over him.
Not the time to dwell though. I will go now to the church to be wed. I know father would be happy for us. I must keep my thoughts to that.
John Cottam: 28 Aug 1831 Winwick, Lancashire, England – 09 Oct 1860 Nottingham Meadows,
Nottinghamshire, England. (My Great Great Grand Uncle – Mum’s Father’s Father’s brother)
Elizabeth Pashley Cottam: 1854 – 1890, daughter of John Cottam and Rebecca Pashley (1831-1869). Elizabeth married David Rankin Apr- Jun Qtr, 1883 at Warrington Lancs, England.
Nottinghamshire Guardian, 11 October 1860, “Fatal Accident on the Midland Railway”
Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, 12 October 1860. “Fatal Accident at the Nottingham Station”
May 8 1873, the Lancefield Examiner describes the shocking accidental death of Mr. James Cottam: “killed when a large mass of earth collapsed on him crushing against the cart, whilst doing roadworks at Chintin. Conveyed to Melbourne hospital paralysed in both legs and with internal injuries, he passed a week later, on 1st May aged 44 years. His funeral was attended by 60 horsemen and many friends at the pretty little township of Darraweit Guim on 3rd May 1873.”
Thursday, 15 December 2016
Lilian was breathless “Lucy you’ll never guess what? Tonight I was so late for choir practice I ran in the back door, tripped over a felt hat and hit the floor,”
Lucy interrupted: “Oh no.”
Lilian continued: “Well, this new man was there and he’d left it on the floor. He was so apologetic and… so sweet. He had this strong Scottish accent, a twinkle in his blue eyes and he called me ‘lassie’ as he helped me up. My stomach dropped and I felt so shaky and strange. Lucy, I couldn’t think what to say.”
“This is so exciting Lil. Sounds like you were knocked off your feet in more ways than one. Now tell me more about this young Scotsman.” Lucy implored.
Lilian replied: “My heart was racing and I’m sure my cheeks were red. I wasn’t brave enough to look towards the tenors, where he was. I felt guilty singing in church with the stained glass figures, the cross and Mrs Webb on the organ watching. I knew I shouldn’t be thinking of anything but the words, the music and of course watching the conductor. But my mind kept wandering as we practiced Sunday’s hymn list.
After choir, he was off home on his gig before I made it outside. The girls were chatting about him and said he comes all the way in from Orrvale and he’s an orchardist there.“
Lilian finished up: “I doubt that he thought any more of it though as he has such a pure voice and I’m just one of the chorus. The lead sopranos will all be noticed well before me.”
Resource: Personal Knowledge of my family:
Lilian Agnes Cottam (my mother) b 24 Aug 1913 Kew Victoria Australia d 02 Aug 1996 Tweed Heads, NSW
Lucy - girlfriend who lived with the Cottam family for awhile, maiden surname unknown. Married Ross Thomas Martin.
William Louden Pearce (my father) b 29 May 1904 Peebles Scotland, d. 20 Apr 1982 Tweed Heads NSW
Choir at Scots Church, 134 Maude St, Shepparton, Victoria, Australia.