Monday, 23 April 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 17 - Cemetery

On a visit to England in August 2011 we spent part of the time trying to locate graves of ancestors buried in village cemeteries. One of these cemeteries was at Todmorden, a town near the Yorkshire Lancashire border.

We arrived at Todmorden on a wet Sunday morning and soon found St Mary's Church of England in the centre of the town.
St Mary's Church, Todmorden
My great x3 grandfather, Simeon Lord had lived in this area as a child so we hoped to find some grave stones for members of the Lord and Fielden families who lived in the area for many generations. I had located some church records for the area around Todmorden which showed that although some of the family were Quakers, some belonged to the Church of England.
St Mary's Church, Todmorden
St Mary's Church has been located in Todmorden since the seventeenth century though there have been alterations to the building over the years. The cemetery is easily located at the side of the church however when the road was widened in 1968 the church grounds, including the cemetery, were reduced in size. The gravestones were saved and used as pathways or placed against the wall.
Cemetery - St Mary's Church, Todmorden
In the rain we walked carefully along the slippery path trying to recognise names on the grave stones.
A Fielden family grave stone - St Mary's Church, Todmorden
We had some success finding a Fielden family grave stone dating back to the late1700s and early 1800s.

Lord family grave stone - St Marys, Todmorden
We then found grave stones for some members of the Lord family dating to the early 1700s.

The rain continued and we were about to leave when I noticed a small monument in front of the church door. We had walked past it when we arrived.
Small monument at St Mary's Church, Todmorden
The monument included information copied from original grave stones.
Panel on monument - St Mary's Church, Todmorden
The end panel recorded the death of Simeon Lord who died in 1683. Simeon was my great x7 grandfather.
Panel on monument - St Mary's Church, Todmorden
The next panel recorded the death of my great x6 grandfather, also Simeon Lord.
Panel on monument - St Mary's Church, Todmorden
Susan Lord (Ashworth), my great x6 grandmother, was the name on the second end panel.
Panel on monument - St Mary's Church, Todmorden
The final side panel included the name of Mary Lord (Sutcliffe), my great x5 grandmother.

I did not recognise any of the names on the top sections of the monument.

As the church service had not yet started I asked people handing out prayer books if anyone knew anything about the creation of the monument - they didn't, but gave me a pamphlet about the history of the church.

Our time in Todmorden was limited and I would certainly like to return one day to investigate sites where members of the Lord and Fielden families lived and worked. In the meantime, it was great to be able to experience a brief connection with these ancestors and other family members.

Monday, 16 April 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 16 - Storms

When a child, our summer holidays were spent visiting my grandparents farm, Rosemount, near Kilcoy in south east Queensland. Rosemount was a timber farmhouse with a metal roof. Wide verandahs were on three sides of the house. The farmhouse, situated on about six hundred acres of land, dated from 1875. This was a great opportunity for children from Melbourne to experience and enjoy a totally different lifestyle. My grandparents owned the property for about ten years from 1954.
I slept on the side verandah which fortunately was enclosed. We always went to bed early as the property was a dairy farm and the men had to get up early in the morning to milk the cows. Also, as the power supply was produced by the generator in the dairy, the lights tended to dim by eight o'clock.

Late one night I woke to hear heavy rain on the metal roof and the sound of adults moving about the house. Getting up to investigate I discovered my grandmother and other family members distributing pots and pans throughout the house to catch the drips of rain invading the house via the roof. I was told that there was a cyclone and the rain and strong winds, which I now noticed, would continue for some time.

There was really nothing that the family could do except congregate on the front verandah and watch the storm. I had never experienced anything like it before. At one stage the wind was so strong that the rain did not touch the ground. To test what was happening my father went down the verandah steps, took a few steps into the garden, and crouching down did not get wet.

Eventually the wind and rain stopped and a calm descended on the farm. However we were warned that this was the eye of the storm passing over us and eventually the wind and rain returned with a vengeance before passing on. During the storm all the adults remained calm so I was just interested in seeing what would happen next. There was certainly no way that I was going back to bed.

By now it was early morning. Once the rain had stopped the pots and pans were removed, emptied and returned to their cupboard. It was time to investigate the damage left by the storm. Apart from some fallen trees and the telegraph line being down the most dramatic event was that one of the large water tanks had been blown off its stand and relocated some distance from its original site. The water tank was now lying on its side and it appeared very large to us children. Not surprisingly everything was very wet and muddy and no doubt there would have been some flooding near the creek. However the damage could have been much worse.

In the general scheme of things it was not as large as the cyclones that impact northern Australia each summer. However, for those of us who had never experienced anything like it before, it was an exciting and dramatic night.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 15 - Taxes

Rate books can provide useful information regarding land owned by family members however, as with most resources, it is important to read the information carefully and also not take every piece of information at face value.

William Forbes Hutton purchased 640 acres of land at Lilydale,Victoria, in the early 1880s. Cooring Yering, the two storey brick family home with thirty rooms, was built by David Mitchell, the father of Dame Nellie Melba. The Hutton family moved to their new extremely large home in 1885.
Cooring Yering 1885
The Shire of Lillydale rate books provide a record of owners of land in their area, amount of land owned by each person plus a record of annual rates to be paid on that land. These records can be researched at the rooms of the Lilydale Historical Society.

During the years parcels of land were purchased and sold. For the years 1879-1880 the rate books record that William Forbes Hutton owned 1,607 acres. For the years 1876-1877 the records show William owning 238 acres in one entry and 1,371 acres in a second entry. In the late 1880s the parcels of land were recorded as being 540 acres plus house and 322 acres.

An interesting exercise can be trying to decide exactly where parcels of land were located in different parts of the Shire. In the 1870s William purchased 482 acres at Rowes's Mount and also land referred to as Jamiesons. Until 1876 he owned another 189 acres leased to James T Cashin, Miller. This land was eventually absorbed into William's property. William also leased land to market gardeners - Lee Hoy and Tun Key. I spent several hours at the historical society looking at maps to try and work out where the land was located.

Click image to enlarge
One hundred and forty-nine acres of the Cooring Yering land was used as a vineyard and when William's wife, Eleonora, died in 1900 this land land was left to Walter and Maurice Hutton to own and manage. The rest of the land and the house was sold. Robert Black who purchased Cooring Yering also purchased the land at Rowe's Mount.
Showing land for Cooring Yering before subdivision
Although the records in rate books can be extremely useful for providing information about an ancestor's land holdings, errors can occur as shown in the sample of rate records provided above. In March 1873 William returned to England for twelve months to make arrangements for his family to follow him to Australia and also purchase some farming supplies required for the new property. During that time George, his son who had arrived in Australia in 1869, looked after the properties including paying the land rates. The clerk entering the information in the rate book recorded George's name as he paid the rates that year. This would not have become an issue except that a researcher checking the rate books for 1873-74 noted George's name and, not checking other rate books, assumed that George was owner of the property. This information was copied into other sources.

Cooring Yering today - Google Maps
The house, Cooring Yering, still exists. When I last visited it there was still land at the back of the property (110 acres according to the sale information when it was sold in 2005) but entrance to the property is via a narrow road between houses in a residential area.

The records in the rate books were collected to record part of local government financial operations in an area. However they can also provide valuable source material for family history and local history research if used carefully.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 14 - Maiden Aunt

My great aunt, Eleanora Ruby Hutton (Nora) played a dominant role in the lives of members of our family. 
Nora 1941

Nora was was born at Parkes in New South Wales on 28 May 1892 where her parents, George Hutton and Annie Wilson Hardwick Weston, and her two and a half year old brother, William Clifton Weston Hutton, lived on a sheep station named The Troffs. 

Tragedy struck the family on 13 January 1893. When travelling to Sydney, the family stopped at a property at Nelungaloo and while they were there young William wandered from the house. His body was discovered shortly afterwards in the creek. Family stories recount that William was a very active little boy and had a habit of disappearing despite all attempts to restrict such activity. This incident was a great shock to his family. Nora remained the only child until her sister, Nancy Hazel Hutton, was born on 1 September 1899. By this time Nora was seven years old.

The Hutton family continued to live at The Troffs until 1903 when Annie returned to Sydney with the two girls. Nora was now eleven and Nancy was four. There had been a severe drought, known as the Federation Drought, in the region around Parkes from 1895 to 1902. George tried to keep the property for as long as he could but finally had to sell The Troffs. He decided to remain in Parkes and took on the role of a Rabbit Inspector for the local council.

Meanwhile, in Sydney, family members allowed Annie the use of a house which she ran as a boarding house until 1916. The girls now had the opportunity to attend school and Nancy developed an interest in art. They no doubt helped their mother to some extent with the boarding house. When Nora left school she may have worked in an office for a time.

The year 1916 was a momentous year as Annie decided that she and Nora (now 24) should journey to the 'home country' to help with the war effort. Much to her disgust Nancy was left in Sydney to stay with family. Nora and her mother were in England for three years. Initially Annie worked in a munitions factory supervising other women. She was later in charge of a canteen but we do not know where. Apparently Nora worked in a government department but I have no information as to where this was or what she did. The information about their time in England is very sketchy and, according to my mother, was rarely discussed. Nora and Annie returned to Australia in 1919.

Nora, like many women during World War I, never married. My mother mentioned that Nora may have been engaged to an older man during her time in England but  it was broken off. Once again the information is sketchy.

There are so many gaps in this story. Unfortunately when I knew enough to ask questions, those who could have provided the answers were no longer around.

However we do know that in the 1930s Nora was living in Sydney and working part-time in an office (possibly from 10 am to 4 pm).  The electoral rolls show that she was living in a flat at Coonong Flats, Ocean Street Darlinghurst in 1930. In 1930 she had moved to Edgecliff  while in 1936 she a flat at Darling Point. The next move was to a flat, part of a property named Kooyong at Rose Bay.

Around 1936 Nora and Nancy inherited money from a relative and decided to go on a cruise to Japan and to Singapore. Apparently Nora had already been to Japan on another occasion. They returned with many Japanese items including camphor chests, kimonos and some china.
Rosemary Lord with Nora Hutton 1941
As my grandparents lived on their property in south west Queensland, my mother, in 1939, moved to Sydney to attend school and lived with Nora for the next seven years. She was not the only young person that Nora looked after. From the end of the 1920s Nora became guardian of David Guy Lord when his parents died. David's mother was Nora's cousin while his father was my grandfather's brother. David and my mother's brother, Michael, attended boarding school in Sydney but at weekends they sometimes stayed with Nora. Consequently it was not unusual to have three young people about the house.

In 1947 my grandparents sold their property, Metavale, in south west Queensland and purchased Berily, near Toogoolawah. Nora, now 55, relocated to live with them and my uncle. In 1954 she moved with the family to their new property, Rosemount, near Kilcoy. By the mid 1960s my grandparents and Nora had retired and were living at Nandina, a house at Buderim Gardens Village. She was now 75. Nora lived at Buderim for many years before spending her final years in a nursing home at Nambour where she died in August 1990, aged 98 years.

During the Christmas holidays each year my family would travel to Queensland to visit my grandparents and great aunt. So what are my memories of  Nora? To start with she was never Aunt Nora to me or my sister and brother. Apparently I had trouble pronouncing 'Aunt Nora' so I named her Lortie which was the name that stuck among my side of the family.

At Rosemount my bed was on the verandah near Lortie's bedroom. I used to enjoy going into her bedroom which had a special charm. A special feature was the beautiful wooden dressing table and mirror. Lace doilies were on the dressing table as was a collection of items which we are now used to seeing on television programs such as 'Antiques Roadshow' or 'Bargain Hunt'. There was a set of hairbrush, mirror and clothes brush, all with elaborately patterned silver handles and / or backs. There were also glass perfume bottles with silver lids and an atomiser. As a young girl I was most impressed.
Lortie at Rosemount in early 1960s
Lortie was in charge of ensuring that there were always fresh cut flowers from the garden in the lounge and dining area. In the morning she would often check the flowers in the garden to find new flowers for the arrangements.

She was also involved with many of the chores to be done around the farm including feeding the poultry and gathering eggs. Each afternoon we would go for a walk with Gran and Lortie to ensure that the sheep returned to the safety of the barn for the night. Lortie played an important part in my memories of holidays at Rosemount.

As a girl whose early life was spent on a sheep station, Lortie adjusted to the busy lifestyle of Sydney where she lived for more than forty years before returning to live on smaller properties in south east Queensland. As well as working in Sydney, Lortie also looked after my mother for many years as well as being on call for Michael and David. She also experienced life in England during the First World War as well as life in Sydney during the Second World War, including the shelling of Rose Bay. Lortie also managed to take time for a cruise around part of Asia in the 1930s. 

This quiet and dignified lady had obviously led an active and eventful life.

Friday, 6 April 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 13 - Homestead

For twenty-two years my grandparents, Arthur and Nancy Lord and their family lived on the sheep station, Metavale, in south west Queensland. The property consisted of 55,000 acres. As usual, Trove came up trumps when I began my initial research for this post, providing images and newspaper references to the property. In 1994 I taped my mother talking about her life as a child growing up on Metavale and have included some of her observations in this post. I also found some photographs from a family album.

The earliest photo of the homestead, Metavale, can be found in the Queensland State Archives and appears, according to their records, to date to about 1910.
Metavale - photo in Queensland State Archives
I have not seen any references, as yet, as to when the property was first established but land in the area had generally been selected and settled between the 1860s and 1880s. Looking at the above photograph the house and outbuildings had been settled for a while before the photo was taken.
Map -
Metavale is 39 km south-west of Cunnamulla, not far from the New South Wales border.
Arthur Lord had taken over ownership of Metavale from Mr J R M Mackay by April 1924 according to information in the Courier Mail 11 April 1924. Twenty-two years later a notice appeared in the Queensland Country Life 2 May 1946 announcing that 'Mr Arthur Lord has sold Metavale, in the Cunnamulla district, and after recuperating from a long tussle with drought, will be seeking a smaller property—no doubt in one of the more assured rainfall areas, if he can find any.' When the Lord family first moved to Metavale there had been a number of years with good rain and even flooding. However in the 1940s there had been a prolonged period of drought so the decision was made to move to a property nearer the coast.

Some of my mother's memories are illustrated in the two following photos from Queensland State Archives, though they were taken at an earlier time.
Dam at Metavale - Queensland State Archives
Mum had noted, 'We had a dam in the back yard. When we came down the back stairs there was a vegetable garden and then there was the dam. It had a landing you could dive off from. No-one taught me how to swim properly, but when I was five I learned to dog paddle.' Finding this photo was therefore a great find.
Metavale Bore - Queensland State Archives
Bores providing water from the Great Artesian Basin were the main supply of water. During the oral history recording Mother described the bore: 'There was a bore about eight miles from the house and that was another treat when we used to go to the bore. Bore drains, which were deep trenches for the water to run down filled dams for water for the sheep and came down to the house. Quite often we had to go out there because there was a break in it. The sheep or cattle had trampled in it and broken the trenches with water going everywhere it shouldn't be going. The water in it was hot because the water was hot when it came out of the ground.'

By the time the water reached the house it was cold so in order to have a hot bath a chip heater was installed. Mother remembered: 'We used to gather small pieces of wood from the wood heap to use in the heater. The water was bore water and it was brown.' She then added, 'For drinking purposes we had tank water but it was very precious and you did not dare leave a tap on or dripping.'
Click to enlarge
One of the gems that I discovered in Trove was this letter written by my mother (aged nine years), published in The Australasian 18 May 1935, describing life at Metavale.

Some of Mother's other memories about living at Metavale included the 'wood stove in the kitchen. It had a big kettle on it all the time' and 'We didn't have a refrigerator (initially). We had a coolgardie safe.  There was no electricity so our first refrigerator was a kerosene one. There was great excitement having things cold for a change.' 'Our lights were kerosene lamps and the occasional candle. Hurricane lamps were used if we wanted to move around.' On one occasion a candle was knocked on the floor. 'There was great rushing around to put out the candle which could have burnt the place down.'

Sleeping arrangements often depended on the number of people staying in the house and the seasons. 'In summer we often slept on verandahs as it was cooler, especially if there was an influx of people home from school. That was the beauty of verandahs. We could spread anywhere. We did have mosquito nets in summer, but we didn't always use them. A lot of the place was gauzed in. If we were sleeping in a gauzed area we did not need them but if were sleeping in an unprotected area we did.'

The other essential was, of course, the toilet. 'The toilet was as far away from the house as it could possibly be. It was way up behind the fowl yard, a long way away. It wasn't really very convenient. It had a great hole in the ground which went down forever which was just as well. We did not have the luxury of toilet paper but used cut up newspaper, phone books, whatever was available. If I wanted to go to the toilet at night Michael (Mum's brother) on occasions used to escort me with a hurricane lamp. He used to have to put the lamp down the hole to see that there were no snakes or spiders.'

Mother recalled the challenges of the weekly washing day. 'The wash house was on its own away from the house. It had two big tubs, a washboard and a wood (fired) copper. Dad did the washing every Monday and it used to take virtually all of the day as everything had to be boiled up and washed and hung on the line. Quite an operation. The clothes line was a wire and post line.'

Although Metavale was a sheep station there were also cows to provide milk. Mother described the process of  gathering the cows in the afternoon including catching the horse when it was time to bring in the cows. 'It had a bell around its neck so you would know where it was and you would hope it would let you catch it. The paddock wasn't exactly small.' After milking, the cows were kept in a paddock near the house until after milking the next day. There were also 'lots of chooks and Mother kept turkeys and ducks'.
My mother and grandmother in the garden
Creating a garden on the property was a challenge. My mother remembered that her mother 'had quite a nice garden considering there was only bore water and the climate was terrible. There was lots of bougainvillea growing on the trellis in the front. One of the only things that would grow was a saltbush hedge around the house. There were also oleanders. Mother did have a nice flower garden in winter and spring. Dad grew vegetables.'
Front garden at Metavale

Being so far from town, the family had to be self sufficient to some extent. Mother recalled: 'We only had bread once a week. The mail used to come out once a week. In the end it was was twice a week. It used to come on a Sunday and then if we had to answer something it had to be done then as it had to go back that night. The mail came in a lorry. The driver would go to other properties and then come back. He would bring out groceries and any other things needed. We used to ring up and they would be sent out with the mail.'
The Australian Government Gazette included tenders for mail run
Living miles away from other properties and families the children learned to entertain themselves, including playing in the scrub near the house. 'I used to play away from the house a bit. There weren't many trees but there were a few clumps of trees. I used to take out boxes and sometimes pretend I was a secretary. I lived in my own world. Behind the house was another nice area with small mulga. Occasionally it rained and grass would come up and a few wild flowers and I called this area Dingle Dell. I used to go up there sometimes and play.'
Mother and her doll's house
My mother had a doll's house designed to look like a house. 'It was big enough to get into but there wasn't room enough to move around. It had cane furniture but I was never terribly a dolly person.'
There were always animals near the house including lots of dogs, usually sheepdogs but also a couple of family pets. Other animals visited the area. 'There used to be lots of rabbits. We used to see them in the evening or early in the morning. On one occasion a pelican came to the house and caused great excitement ... naturally it did not stay.'

The ability to communicate with the outside world was important. The telephone on the wall was a party line. 'If you were ringing one of the neighbours you would ring, for example, one long and one short or three longs etc.' With a party line other neighbours might listen to the conversation.

The family relied on the wireless for information and entertainment. 'Our big wireless ran on batteries with a big aerial rigged up outside. I remember I would listen to the cricket when Dad was mustering and I would keep all the scores for him when he came home.'

Initially the children had a governess to help them with their lessons which they studied by correspondence. Once they were ten they were sent to Brisbane to attend primary school and then to Sydney to attend secondary school.

Obviously I have never been to Metavale but thanks to the growing number of online resources, my mother's memories and photographs in the family album it is possible to have an idea what living at the homestead was like when my grandparents owned the property.

NB: More information about two of the Metavale images held at Queensland State Archives can be found with the enlarged images on Flickr.
Dam at Metavale