Friday, October 17, 2014

A farmer and barber

My grandmother wrote about her cousin "Roy was the barber at Winiam.  He cut everyone’s hair – male and female.  He only shaved when he went anywhere.  The rest of the time he ran the clippers over his face".

I assume that it was Roy who cut my grandmothers plaits off, which I wrote about here previously.

My grandmother's cousins: Roy Pilgrim and Ray Muller
October 1929

Ararat Chronicle
Friday 14 January 1916 - page 2

Roy, like most of the men in his family, was a very successful farmer.

Roy's son told me proudly that his father was a life member of Davey's barber shop and never had to pay for a hair cut.

Friday was the day that everyone from Winiam went in town - Nhill - and when Mr Davey's son Max was away as a RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) pilot in the war, Roy helped out by cutting hair, which enabled Mr Davey to keep the business going until Max returned.  Roy's reward was the life membership and free haircuts.

Mr Davey's Barbers must have been  a long term institution in Nhill.  I found a newspaper article  that shows that the Barbers shop was destroyed by a large fire in 1916.  

However the Barbers shop must have been rebuilt as I found on the National Archives of Australia website that son Max was a fighter pilot in World War II from 1943 - 1946.  However the enlistment papers show his occupation as a Bank Clerk rather than Barber.

This post was inspired by Sepia Saturday.  Please click for more posts.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Grace Pilgrim dies in "Sensational Buggy Accident"

Grace Edith Pilgrim
27 Nov 1882 - 4 Jun 1914





A painful sensation was caused at Winiam on Thursday last when the news was circulated that Grace Edith Pilgrim, wife of Mr Albert James Pilgrim, a well-known and popular farmer, had been thrown out of a buggy and killed as a result of the horses bolting and the vehicle colliding with a stump.  About 1pm Mr Pilgrim, accompanied by his wife and little child, left home in a buggy and were driving one horse which was quiet and another that was a spirited animal and known to have bolted on a previous occasion.  After driving for half a mile the horses for some reason bolted and got completely out of control.  After galloping a good distance they got off the road and, before negotiating a deep rut, Mr Pilgrim made a desperate attempt to turn the animals, when he was violently participated over the side of the buggy on to the road, but beyond a sprained ankle and some minor abrasions did not sustain serious injury.
The little boy, aged 4, was thrown out a couple of chains (a chain = about 20 metres) further on and fortunately sustained no serious injury, thus leaving Mrs Pilgrim the sole occupant of the vehicle.  The terrified horses were now galloping at a great pace and, swerving off the road, the vehicle was dashed against a stump and Mrs Pilgrim, who was crouching in the buggy, was in an instant thrown over the splash board on to the pole and appeared to become entangled in the turntable and after being dragged for a chain, fell to the ground.  The bolting horses, with the buggy, of which one wheel was smashed, still kept on and did not come to a standstill until they reached the paddock gate.
Mr Pilgrim by this time had picked up the child, ran up to where his wife lay, and found her unconscious and bleeding from the ears and mouth.  After taking the little boy to his sister's place he informed Mr Charles J Wholers of the occurrence, and the latter dispatched his son post haste to Nhill for Dr Shanasy.
Mr Wholers quickly drove to the scene of the accident and found Mrs Pilgrim still breathing.  She was lifted into the buggy, driven to her home, and put to bed.  Mrs Pilgrim never spoke after being thrown out of the vehicle.
Dr Shanasy rapidly motored out and, upon making an examinations, found no sign of life.  The doctor ascertained that the bones in the neck were fractured and dislocated and there were also wounds on the scalp.
It is surmised that the fracture and dislocation of the bones in the neck, which caused death, was caused through the head coming in contact with the spokes of the wheel.
A Coroner's inquiry was held before Mr John Young, JP, deputy coroner, on Friday, when a verdict was returned that the death of Grace Edith Pilgrim was caused by horses bolting in a buggy and throwing the deceased out on to the road.
The late Mrs Pilgrim was the second daughter of Mr and Mrs F.W. Day, of Nhill, and was born at Dow Well in 1883.  Her kind, lovable disposition made her a general favorite with all.  Deceased was greatly attached to her children and husband, and was in every way a model wife.  Deceased leaves four children, namely;-
Linda Florence 10, Roy Frederick 9, Myrtle Grace 7 and Albert Clarence, 4.  The greatest sympathy is felt right through the district for the motherless children and bereaved husband.
The remains were interred in the Winiam cemetery on Saturday afternoon when the funeral was very largely attended.  The Rev L Walton, of the Methodist Church, conducted an impressive service at the graveside.  Messrs John Allen and Son and had charge of the mortuary arrangements.

Grace Pilgrim: My Grandmother left me detailed notes on the back of her cards and photos

Winiam Cemetery

This post was prompted by Sepia Saturday.  Please click for more posts

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Book Review; Life and death in the Age of Sail

Life and death in the Age of Sail:  The passage to Australia
Written By Robin Haines.

A Paperback book, originally published in 2003.  This edition was published in 2006 by the University of New South Wales Press Ltd. 
ISBN 0 86840 898 0
SAG Reference: A3/21/43
365 pages in total, including Introductory Pages, Contents, Acknowledgements, Abbreviations, Preface, Introduction, Body, Endnotes, Bibliography and Index
The book includes some Illustrations and a Map of emigrant routes
Have you even wondered about your ancestors’ journeys from England to Australia? Would you like to know what it was really like?  Then you will enjoy reading the numerous accounts of voyages from emigrant’s letters, which are contained in this social history.

Robin Haines aims to examine the “health and mortality outcomes of voyages to Australia” and to also determine how the authorities made changes “to improve the comfort and reduce the risk of death on board government-chartered ships”.  She brings the journeys to life through the letters and journals of numerous migrants “who speak to us across the centuries”. 

The book begins dramatically with the heart felt grief of a mother, Sarah Brunskill, who writes to her parents back home about the loss of her two young children within a fortnight of each other, during the long journey from Plymouth to South Australia.    As the book continues, we find out more about Sarah’s despair, faith, courage and future expectations, through her emotional writings.  She was one of many to record accounts of children who were “thrown into the deep” through portholes.  

Robin Haines has uncovered a large number of informative and poignant letters, which tell moving tales of the settlers’ experiences, to family back home.   In addition, the author has also located and analysed many diaries relating to the migrants’ journeys. 

These letters and diaries give us a rare insight into the conditions, thoughts, dreams, illnesses, heartache, despair, activities and social interactions encountered on many voyages from UK to Australia.  The words, thoughts and emotions of the emigrants transport us to another era.   Little did they realise that their words would be read my many and have an impact on complete strangers over 150 years later.   As a family historian, I found the letters to be enthralling and they evoked a range of emotions, including sadness, happiness, surprise, understanding and anticipation.  I could visualise the on-board scenes on many occasions.

It is evident to the reader that Robin has researched the content of this book thoroughly, which is also supported by the extensive list of sources contained in the Endnotes and Bibliography.   These sources, perhaps unintentionally, provide a large number of new potential research avenues for family historians.

At times, Robin has also provided us with a further insight into the lives of the emigrants and their family once they were established in the Colony. 

When the book was written, Robin Haines was a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of History at Flinders University, South Australia.  It is likely that it was her association with this State, which resulted in the large majority of the letters relating to immigrants to South Australia.  Personally, I would have preferred to see a more balanced approach to the other States but understand that many records in other States were not as extensive or may not have survived.

The statistical analysis, facts and figures are a necessary addition to support the emotional opinions and layperson perspective of the letter writers.   However at times, I found that the book was written for a more scholastic audience than the average family historian, especially the Preface and Introduction.   Periodically, I found it necessary to consult with a dictionary to determine the meaning of words (eg miasmatical, nomenclature and victualling), which could have been written in alternative words more suitable to a non-academic. 

After the initial high impact enticement, of the opening paragraph of the Preface, I was left waiting for numerous pages until I again became enthralled in reading about the experiences on voyages.   Therefore I was left wondering as to Robin’s intended audience.  Was the book written for research academics, students or family history researchers?    I came to the conclusion that different aspects of the book would appeal to a diverse range of readers.

The index is thorough so the reader can easily determine if your family or a particular ship is included.   However the index does not include details of the (limited) pictures, which are primarily from the Illustrated London News. 

This book gives us a greater understanding about the conditions and experiences of migrants from UK to Australia in the 1800s and early 1900s, including mortality rates and their changes over the decades, which are discussed in detail.  The letters and subsequent analysis also provide an interesting insight into the social differences between the various “classes” on-board.   The reader will also find that the letters provide a different perspective about some common beliefs and disprove some common misconceptions. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in finding out more about the migration of UK residents to Australia and the health and social issues that they faced.  However, I also provide a warning to “keep reading” as I compare the book to their voyages; there are times when it is fast paced and very interesting but then other times where it is becalmed and you want to get off.  Overall, you will be glad that you stayed on for the entire trip!

So I am left wondering; why didn’t the emigrants catch and eat more fresh fish?  Surely this could have reduced illness and potentially mortality rates on-board?


This book review was an assignment for the Society of Australian Genealogists Certificate Course in Genealogical Research 2014

"Gunyah" one Sunday Morning 1930

Sadly, I don't actually remember my grandfather smiling.  He didn't seem to have much time for children.

Therefore the photos below have always appealed to me.   In the first photo, my grandfather, Gordon Walker, has a half smile on his face; a gentle look.  To me, it seems that the lady must be someone he knows well and respects or cares for.

I cannot remember who allowed me to copy the photo but my notes indicate that on the back of the photo was written "Gunyah" one Sunday Morning 1930 and then in another person's handwriting "Gordon and Frank Walker"

Do you think the unknown lady didn't want her photo taken? Or was she shading herself from the sun?

Gordon and Frank Walker
"Gunyah" one Sunday Morning 1930
I wanted to know more about "Gunyah", which is aboriginal for a humpy or small shelter made from bark and tree branches, according to wikipedia.

Unknown Lady with Frank and Gordon Walker
Gunyah 1930

I soon found that "Gunyah" was the home of Gordon and Frank Walker's grandparents, Samuel and Elizabeth Mottram.  The death of Samuel Mottram was reported in the Maryborough Advertiser two years earlier.

The Maryborough Midlands Historical Society provided me with the following;

Maryborough Advertiser
Friday 27th July 1928
Death - Mottram 

Old Resident Passes - At his residence, 'Gunyah', Dundas Road, Maryborough, the death occurred yesterday of Mr. Samuel Mottram, who had attained the advanced age of 83 years.  The deceased, who was well known, resided at Havelock for many years, in which district he was associated with mining pursuits.  He leaves a widow and adult family.  The funeral will take place this afternoon at 3 o'clock for the Timor Cemetery.

The probate notice then gave me a more precise address; 19 Dundas Road, Maryborough.

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic: 1848 - 1957)
Thursday 14th March 1935 - page 1
Source: Trove
The old miners cottage remains;

19 Dundas Street, Maryborough 

So is the lady in the top two photos Elizabeth Mottram?  
By 1930, both Gordon and Frank Walker were living over 300 kilometres away in Moe, Victoria.  Therefore it seems that it may have been a family function?  Frank does seem fairly well dressed and Gordon likely rode up on his motorbike (I know it is his motorbike from other photos and the number plate).  Or was Frank and Gordon's mother there too?  Mary Walker (nee Mottram) is the eldest daughter of Elizabeth Mottram.

Is this Elizabeth Mottram?
Or is it her daughter Mary Walker (nee Mottram)?

Mary Walker (nee Mottram), her mother Elizabeth Mottram, sister Madeline Mottram
Grandchildren Betty and Bob Walker (children of Frank Walker)
Approximately 1933 based on the ages of children
Elizabeth was living with her daughter Madeline before she died in 1934, age 80.
Do you think that either Mary Walker (nee Mottram) or her mother Elizabeth Mottram (nee Gourlay) look like the lady in the first two photos?

Elizabeth and Samuel Mottram
Pre July 1928
This post was prompted by Sepia Saturday

Friday, September 19, 2014

Playing in the back yard

Do kids even play in the backyard today?  They seem to prefer playing computer games?

I don't remember my grandmother ever talking about toys.  In her writing she does not talk about her childhood, except her 6 years at school and when she writes "You weren't allowed to kill roos in those days, but no one said you couldn't chase them and it was great fun".  It seems that most of Gran's "play" time was with the animals on the farm.  Gran had to grow up quickly as she left school young to help out her mother around the home.

June 1919
Eva Pilgrim (age 8) on the farm
Many of you would have seen the photo below previously, but it is a wonderful example of the toys of days gone by.

Christmas Day 1928
Margaret Mayberry and Lorna Pilgrim (Grand Aunt)
Notice below the ripped pants on the boy on the left and the short pants of the other two boys.  My grandmother wrote; "In Horsham, Thursday was pay day and also remnant day and I nearly dressed the nips on remnants.  I could manage the lining and pop hole on the boys pants, but hanged if I could manage the fly.  Those day boys wore shorts pants till about 13 or 14.  It saved mending"

1940 - Horsham
John Clark, Don Scott (Uncle), Gwenda Clark, Des Malone, Jean Scott (Aunt)

This got me thinking about the toys that I liked to play with.  I had a Sindy doll, but was secretly disappointed that "Santa" did not bring me a Barbie.  My favourite doll was "Lisa",  It was a big thing that her eyes blinked.  I made her so many clothes.  I remember that I made her a Guide Uniform and received a badge for my efforts.  I think that I still have Lisa and some of her clothes including her Guide Uniform packed away in a box.

The Swing set below was made by a friend of my fathers.  The seat was wooden, with metal edges.  It hurt if you stepped in front of it when someone was swinging! You only walked close to someone swinging once and were very careful thereafter!
My father repainted the swing set and and replaced the seat with a plastic one for my kids when they were little. They loved it as much as I did.  It then went to my sisters kids.

1971 - Kyneton
My sister and I with a family friend in the backyard
1974 - Stratford
My sisters, brother & I playing in the backyard.
I am the taller one with my back turned
My daughters loved her Barbies.  My husband made the dolls house below from a kids wardrobe.  Danielle spent hours playing with it.

My son loved his Toy Story toys and Lego.  Then his Uncle introduced him to Super Mario and as a 19 year old, he is still playing computer games (Xbox)!  Unfortunately, I can't locate a photo quickly.

My daughter

What was your favourite toy?

This post was inspired by Sepia Saturday.  Please click for more posts.