Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sharing Memories - Childhood Memories of Picnic Races at White Cliffs

Horses preparing to race
 As I remember, the vast distances between settlements in outback NSW definitely didn’t seem to place restrictions on the social life of the people living in these areas.  One of the most popular events were the Picnic Races that were quite a regular feature in many of the small settlements. 

The local horse breeders would travel long distances to compete at these events.  All the station owners, and station hands, along with their families, would pack up for the day and head into town for the race meeting and the dance that would be held at the local community hall in the evening. 

Keeping in mind these memories are those of are a young girl and that they are probably from quite a different perspective to that of the older generation,
 this is how I remember it. We would all be dressed in our best casual clothes, and our party dresses and shoes would be packed in the car for the evening event.  Pillows and blankets, and refreshments would be piled into the back of the car, and off we would head on the dusty road to the small opal mining town of White Cliffs. 
Opal mines of White Cliffs

The township of White Cliffs consisted of one sparsely settle street, with a pub at one end, a small general store and garage with one petrol pump on the other side of the road. Further along the street the bush nurse’s residence/office, and the local Country Women's Association (CWA) building, a post office and the Town Hall could be found.  Very few of the town’s residents lived above ground, and the town was and is still renown for its underground homes.  Miners dig out their kitchens, bedrooms and living rooms in the earth near their mines, where the temperature is much cooler than the searing summer heat above ground.

The White Cliffs Race track was a few miles outside of the town and consisted of a large dusty track, with roughly hewed wooden railings.  On the outside of the track there were a number of tin sheds, a larger one, where the CWA would serve, tea, coffee and freshly baked scones and cakes , then there were a number of smaller shelters, one acting as the local betting station and another as the bar where cold beer and soft drink was available to quench many dry throats.

It was a great opportunity for all the people of the district to catch up, as the distances between properties often meant it was weeks between seeing other people other than those who worked on the property.  It must have been quite a special time for the women to be able to get together and share stories, as I know in my mother’s case, she and the owners wife were the only adult women on Nuntherungie Station.

For the children, it was a chance to catch up with children other than your own siblings, we would all run off and play around the sheds, check out the horses and later in the day have a few laughs at some of the locals who had visited the beer shack one too many times. 

There would be general buzz around the track as everyone caught up, discussed the weather, lack of rain, prices of wool etc.  Then about every half hour there would be a hush over the crowd, and in the distance you could see a cloud of dust approaching as the horses made their way around the track towards the finish line.  The excited punters would jump up and down, hoping that their horse was at the front of the cloud of dust.  The horses would finally reach the final straight, and all the children would race to the barrier to watch the pounding hooves as they raced by.  Disappointed punters would tear up there betting tickets and head to the beer shed to mourn their lost, and the gentle buzz of conversation would start up again until the next cloud of dust and hooves made its way around the track.

The races over, it was time to wash off the dust and climb into our party gear for the evening “dance” at the local hall.  Younger children were fed, bathed and dressed in their pj’s and tucked into makeshift beds in the cars parked outside the dance hall.  Ladies would dress in their prettiest dresses and high heels, and men would don freshly ironed shirts and pants ready for a night of music and dance.  I was a little older than my sisters so I was lucky enough to be able to stay up a little later, and would sit on the side of the dance floor with one of my friends and watch the couples gliding across the dance floor.  I loved to watch the swishing of the ladies full skirts as they twirled and spun. 
Then the best bit of the evening came when the band stopped for a break, fresh hopps and sawdust would be sprinkled across the dance floor (to make it easier for the dancers to “slide”), and while the parents checked on the younger children,  the  older children would take the opportunity to run and slide across the dance floor.  I was not a child who liked to be bundled off to bed when there was a party, and somehow usually managed to be able to stay up until the dance finished.  This was a special treat as I would get to see the last dance of the night.  “The Streamer Dance” as I called it.  It would be announced as the last dance, and rolls of streamers would be handed out to everyone.  As the couples danced, the rolls of streamers would be tossed across the hall, unwinding and covering the dances in a  curly coloured blanket. 

The Dance over, we would be bundled into the car, a space made for me on the back seat amongst my sleeping sisters and we would head home with heads buzzing from the excitement of the day.

Friday's Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge" - H is for "Homes"

Oh, it is soooo long since I have posted an Alphabet Challenge Story!!!

The Letter "H" is the next in line and today's post is "H is for Homes".  How do we find out about our families "Homes".  I think "Homes" means much more than an address, or the house that our family lived in. " Home" conjures up memories of the people in the house, social customs, social conditions, neighbourhood and neighbours and the events that took place in that house. Our search for our family stories would be so much easier "if only the walls (of their home) could talk". However since the "walls" do not talk, we much look to other means to find out more about how our ancestors lived.

Census- provides a lot of information about a home
1. Accessing the census records of your family will assist with learning a little about their home.  A census record will provide you with details of the address, how many people were living in the home, their occupations, who their neighbours were and their occupations. Once you have located the address, you are able to delve deeper into the history of their "Home".

 2.  A visit to the local court house or Lands Titles Office may provide you with the official records of the house, change of ownership and changes of street names, numbers etc.You may be able to access, Building Permits, that will provide information on additions to the building, Utility Reports will provide information on water, gas and sewerage installation (or if older house if these utilities were not installed).  Insurance records may also provide interesting information,  most notably fire insurance claim forms. These can contain information about the nature of an insured building, its contents, value and  possibly floor plans and details of claims made in the case of a home/house fire.

3. The local Historical Society will be able to assist with background to events, social conditions, employment for the people who lived in and around your ancestor's home.  Check out your local library collection for publications on the historical development of your area. Published histories of the area, often compiled by a local historian or heritage group, will provide valuable background information on building development, social conditions and often include pictures of houses in the area.

My Nanna's Home in Milton, NSW
4. Searching local newspapers can provide records of the home being sold, family events such as births, deaths and marriages. Newspapers can also be good sources for information and town histories. Searching the name of the street that your family lived in can provide stories of events and incidents that would have occured while your family lived there. These stories can add a lot of colour to your understanding of the home life  of your family.

5. Check family letters, scrapbooks, diaries, and photo albums for more possible clues. Photos of the family home can tell us so much, if they were affluent or working class, if they had a garden, laundry, out-house etc.  Did they have a fire place? What kind of building material was used?

6. Family and Neighbours can provide insight and a deeper understanding of the history of a home. Contact your older relatives, their friends and neighbours.  Their memories will be invaluable, take time with them, over a cup of tea to hear their recollections. Show them some old photos/newspaper articles, if you have any, these will help trigger memories and help the stories to flow.

Cassell's New Universal Cookery Book
7.  Finally, another resource which can provide an understanding of life in your ancestors home are recipe books.  If you are lucky enough to have inherited a family recipe book, it will provide information on the foods that were available, how they prepared cooked their food, how resourceful were they when there was a shortage of food and who was responsible for the preparation of the food.
Cook books such as the one seen in this picture (Cassell's New Universal Cookery Book), provide a lot of information on the social background and conditions of the family. This book is aimed at middle class Victorian families, and not only includes recipies, but house hold tips, budgets, descriptions of cooking utensils, and details on the roles of the different members of the house hold domestic staff.  

There are a number of useful resouces that assist you in finding details on your ancesters house, however, in this blog I have attempted to take this search a little further, with resources that will help you to understand more about your ancestors "HOME".

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sharing Memories - Aunty Tilly Holman Part 2

Matilda (Tilly) Taylor

In my last Sharing Memories post I wrote about one of my fondest memories of my husband’s Aunty Tilly( Holman nee Taylor)  and promised to share a few more of her stories.  Don't you just love this picture of her as a young girl!
In 1988 our family moved from Queanbeyan, to Port Macquarie, on the North Coast of New South Wales so we were not able to visit Aunty Tilly as often.  However, whenever we drove down to Queanbeyan to visit relatives, we always tried to drop in to visit Aunty Tilly overnight. She always welcomed us with open arms, making up beds and providing us with dinner.  One of my favourite times was when we all sat in her cosy little lounge room, which displayed an extensive collection of royal memorabilia including mugs and plates which featured events such as the royal wedding, coronation and  royal visits to Australia.
Aunty Tilly would settle into her chair with her knitting and with a little encouragement relate a multitude of stories about the times she spend in the bush as a young trainee teacher, or when she went to the opening of the parliament house in Canberra in 1927. She could remember clearly the famous Cowra Outbreak in 1944 when at least 545 Japanese prisoners of war escaped from the prison camp which was not all that far from her home, on the outskirts of the town.
As Aunty Tilly grew older, she would drop off for little micro naps.  My children would giggle in delight as
Family Picnic with Aunty Tilly
they watched her knitting in front of the TV, nod off and snore softly for about 10 minutes (knitting in hand), then wake up and keep on knitting without missing a stitch.
The prospect of travelling large distances was never daunting for Aunty Tilly.  Every year, until she was into her mid 90’s she always joined the annual bus trip down to the Melbourne Cup.  If there was an upcoming family christening, wedding or party she was the first to organise her travel arrangements.  These travel arrangements were not straight forward and usually, included a bus trip, and a couple of train trips. 
In 1996, at the age of 96 the Country Women’s Association (CWA) was holding their annual conference in Port Macquarie.  What a great opportunity! Aunty Tilly called to tell us she was coming up for the conference and could she stay with us for a few days.  Her trip entailed, a taxi ride from her house to catch a 5.30am bus from Cowra to Bathurst (100 kms), where she caught the train to Sydney (200kms), then changing trains in Sydney to travel Port Macquarie (about another 400 kms).
I would pick her up from the train station amazed at how sprightly she still was.  The Conference was over three days, and on the first day, quite a fuss was made as she was by far, the oldest member of the CWA attending.  On the second day I dropped her off in the morning and promised to pick her up around 4.00pm.   At about 3.30 that afternoon, I received a call, it was Aunty Tilly asking if I could pick her up from the Marina instead of where the CWA meeting was being held.  Why I wondered?
To cut a long story short, she had found the second day of the meeting a little boring, so she had walked into town (over a kilometre) to the Marina, and booked herself onto a lunch time cruise of the Hastings River.  “It was such a nice day”, she said, “why should I waste it sitting around in a boring old meeting”.  She had paid her money, hopped on board and enjoyed the hour trip upstream, then when the other passengers got off for a stroll around while the crew prepared the lunch, she had a little nap on one of the seats, arranging for the “Captain” to wake her when lunch was ready.  Yes that was our Aunty Tilly.  Then she was ready for the singing and frivolity on the way back. 

Life was never dull when she was around.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Thelma Linda Vida Palin

Thelma Palin (in solders uniform) and friend
 In keeping with the ANZAC celebrations of this week, here is a picture of my great Aunt Thelma Palin and a friend. Thelma was born in Solomon Town, South Australia on the 11 August 1900, and her parents were Charles Palin and Eliza Golding.  Thelma would have been about 15-16 years of age and living in Broken Hill, NSW, Australia.  The inscription at the bottom of the picture shows that the picture was taken in a Studio in Broken Hill.  I wonder whose uniform she has borrowed for the photo?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Thankful Thursday - Blogging Reflection

I was reading Geneabloggers over the weekend and clicked on to some of the blogs Anniversaries. Oh! I must have started my blog Family Stories: Photographs and Memories about a year ago, I thought.  Let’s check the date!!  OMG, I missed my anniversary! My first blog was on the 4th April 2012, Gathering Information for Your Family Tree.

When I look back, I don’t think I was at all sure where my blogging would take me.  I just knew that I enjoyed my family tree research and wanted to share some of the stories and photos that I had gathered along the way.  I first became interested in blogging when I was studying an undergraduate degree in Adult Education. One of the subjects I studied was e-learning, which fascinated me. Part of our assessment in this course was to do an online course and write about the experience in a blog.   I was hooked!

My first two attempts at writing blogs, were just travel blogs.  The first was when I went to Nepal, Nepal- Climbing High.  However, for a number of reasons I only managed to blog for part of the trip.  I always intended to finish the story when I got home, but it didn’t happen.  My second blog was when I went to Mexico for six months to complete a Masters in International Studies.  This blog, Six Months in Mexico,  was just aimed at keeping family and friends up-to-date with my adventures, and the ups and downs of studying in a foreign country.  It is great to occasionally look back on this blog, to observe my growth through that quite intensive undertaking.

These experiences led me to start blogging about my genealogical experiences.  What an interesting year! I think the part I enjoy the most is the opportunity it has provided  me with to connect with other bloggers and family tree researchers.  I have a lot to thank GeneaBloggers for.  The day I discovered this site and joined up was quite a turning point.  The sharing of information, ideas for blogs and connections with other bloggers has been very rewarding.

Some of the highlights for me have been finding some focus for the many stories that are swarming around in my head, for example,  Sharing Memories” and the "Alphabet Challenge".  I have also found the  Follow Friday - an accumulation of my weekly research lists, a great way to record my research discoveries on the subject area that I have most recently been delving into.  It is great to be able to share these lists with others, and to be able to refer to them at a later date. The story that I have enjoyed writing the most has been my recent blog on my great uncle Alexander Joseph McDonald who was killed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, ANZAC day.

My favourite project for the year has been the starting of a new blog “The other half of my family tree- stories of my female ancestors" .  Family history often ignores the women in family trees, not so much by intention, but because of the lack of information on our female ancestors.  So I decided to take up the challenge of  delving into the stories of the women in my family tree.  This project has been very rewarding, though I have found it takes me a lot longer to put these stories together.

Regrets:  I have a few regrets, mainly that I don’t have the time to write and research more stories.  Also, I would like to be able to spend a little more time reading other peoples blogs and to comment on them.  I know when someone comments on one of my blogs it gives me a buzz, to think that someone has taken the time to read something I have written.

FutureA New Blog!!   Yes here I am complaining about the lack of time and then I announce a New Blog!  For me this is exciting.  I am in the lucky position that my 10 years long service is due this year.  I am going to use some of this leave to travel to Lancashire, UK and spend a month researching the Taylor/Rushworth Family, in particular Elizabeth Taylor (nee Rushworth) (1841-1927).  My new blog, "Visiting Family Links - a genealogical journey" will be a combination of Travel/Family Tree discovery journal, that shares my experiences, research and hopefully leads to some further connections/advice for my research.   

Monday, April 15, 2013

Amanuensis Monday - Letter from Major McCall to Dennis McDonald re death of Alexander McDonald-Anzac Landing WWI

 I have just completed my first blog in the  2013 Trans Tasman ANZAC Day Blog Challenge on my Great Uncle Alexander Joseph McDonald and thought I should also share with you the letter that was sent to his brothr Dennis McDonald from his commander Major J.F. McCall, 1st Field Company, Australian Engineers.

Received 27/12/15

Mr D. McDonald

Dear Sir,

Your letter dated May 21st, has only just reached me now, November 7th, I don't know where the fault is at any rate, here it is though, really until the last few weeks it was quite out of the question to sit down and write letters.  I will try and tell you now all I know of your brothers death.

I left with the first party before dawn, your brother was to follow with the second party directly after we landed.  He was on the T.B.Destroyer and was in the act of stepping off her deck on to the ladder leading to the store boat, when he was hit.  At first it was thought he would pull around, but I think though of this, I am not certain that peritonitis set in and he died as far as I could ascertain about ten days after being hit.  All this was not made known to me till weeks later.  In fact it was not then authenticated until June 6th.  When the roo called on the evening of the 25th, of April.  Prior to the company moving up to General Walkers position and your brothers name was called the reply 'wounded on landing" was given four days later when we came down to the beach again, at Anzac I made the most diligent inquiries and then found that the poor chap had been hit on the Torpedo Boat whilst actually supervising the disembarking of his men and watching that they did not expose themselves when stepping from the deck on to the ladder. 

The enemy was pouring in a heavy shrapnel and machine gun fire on to the boats, they had to get ashore, and someone with a big heart had to superintend, a man with a cool head and a brave heart only was of any use and Corporal A.J. McDonald was the man.  It was almost certain death for the man doing the job yet he took it on, stepped onto the breach and calmly and cooly directed operations until he received his wound. Even while lying on the deck of the Destroyer waiting medical attention he gave some directions just as cool as ever.  

 He was a big loss to the Company and personally I regarded his loss as I would the loss of one nearer to me.  I have proved his worth and his sterling good qualities over and over again in Egypt and Lemmos.  In the strenuous time Lemmos, prior to moving up to the Dardanelles he was one of my right hand men, he personally supervised the making of the rafts that were of such unmeasurable value later on at Anzac.  Then he was always so genial quiet but one of those men that impress people by very nature of their quietness.  And I am sure it will comfort you to know that as regards his religious duties he was most consistent.  He made his Easter Communion on the Transport Suffolk with about 1,000 of us so he went to his Maker prepared. 

 If I can get further particulars of his death, where he is buried I shall send them to you.  Some of our poor boys are on their way to Australia.  Maybe one or more of them were with your brother when he was hit and could tell you everything about it.  I hope to be spared to return to Sydney when I may be permitted to call on you and fill in some blanks that are missing.  Meanwhile if there are any further inquiries your desire made, let me know and I'll do my best concerning them.

Very sincerely yours,

J.F. McCall Major,
1st Field Cop., Aus. Engrs.

Military Monday - 2013 Trans Tasman ANZAC Day Blog Challenge - Alexander Joseph McDonald

"I turned around to get the second tow ready, when a man just in front of me dropped, hit in the head. This was the first casulty and very soon there were several other's hit.  There was some difficulty in getting the second tow ready but eventually when a naval cutter came alongside, we got in and started for the beach; three men were hit before the boat struck the shore.  When she hit the beach, I gave the word to get out the men got at once, in water up to their necks in some cases, men actually had to swim several strokes before they got their footing.  It was almost impossible to walk with full marching order, absolutely drenched to the skin and I fell twice before I got to the beach where I scrambled up under cover of a sand ridge.  I ordered the men to dump their packs off, load their rifles, and waited a few seconds for the men to get their breath.
It was just breaking dawn and, as we looked towards the sound of the firing, we were faced by almost perpendicular cliffs about 200 feet above sea level, and as we were of (the) opinion that most of the fire was coming from this quarter, it was evident that this was the direction of our attack.  Therefore, after a minute or two, having regained our breath, we started to climb."

The 11th Battalion & 1st Field Company, Australian Engineers, 24th April 1915AWM A02468
This powerful description of the landing of the 11th Battalion and 1st Field Company of Australian Engineers at Gallipoli, by Captain I.S. Margetts in his diary entry on the 25th April 1915*, sets the scene for my blog today. My great uncle Alexander Joseph McDonald was among these troops as they attempted to land on the beach of Gallipoli.

Today I  would like to to tell his story as part of the challenge set by Auckland Libraries' Kintalk Whānau Kōrero: family history blog, which invites  bloggers to share their family military stories, on the 2013 Trans Tasman ANZAC Day Blog Challenge.

This is a great opportunity to tell some our family's military stories.  My attention was caught recently when reading the obituary of my great grandmother Annie Shepherd (nee McDonald). Mentioned in the obituary, was the death of her brother Alexander on the 25th April 1915 at Gallipoli. With ANZAC day approaching, this is an obvious choice for my first story in the 2013 Trans Tasman ANZAC story.

Alexander Joseph McDonald was born in Braidwood in 1882, the last son of Donald McDonald and Margaret Hanlon.  I started my research on the Australian War Memorial Site, and found the details his service number, Unit, Rank, and date of death. Corporal Alexander Joseph McDonald (Service Number 132) was a member of the 1st Field Company Australian Engineers. A picture of his grave in (Row 3, Grave 8) Schrapnel Valley (about 400 yards SE of Anzac Cove) can be found on the Australian War Memorial web site.Using Alexander's service number I looked up his military record on the National Archives of Australia Service Records web site. 

His service records provided a mine of information.  He is described as a 30 year old, natural born Australian, from the small town of Braidwood, NSW. He was employed as a plaster and painter and had served his apprenticeship under the guidance of his father Donald McDonald.  His brother Dennis McDonald, a policeman based at Randwick Sydney, is listed as his next of kin.  At the time of his enlistment, he was single, however, before leaving Australia he married to Ms Eileen Abrams**.  His sense of duty to defend his nation must be noted as his enlistment date is 19th August, 1914, just a few days after Britain declared war on Germany on the 4th August 1914.

Looking through Alexander's record I noted an entry under previous service "18 months in the NSW Mounted Rifles and was discharged at the completion of service".  What did this mean??? With a quick google of the NSW Mounted Riles, I found that Alexander, along with his brother Dennis and Donald, had served in the The Boer War as members of the 2nd NSW Mounted Rifles This regiment was established in early 1900 and was composed of men from New South Wales.
"Preference was given to trained men who were good shots and good riders, subject to tests as ordered. The age limit was 20 to 40 years; standard height, 5 feet 6 inches and upwards; minimum chest measurement, 34 inches. Applicants were also required to be single men and to pass a military medical examination.  Rates of pay as for Citizen's Bushmen".*** 

You can only imagine how Donald and Margaret McDonald would have felt when three of their sons all left at the same to fight in a war on the other side of the globe.  Fortunately, Alexander, Dennis and Donald returned from South Africa, and it seems that the town of Mogo, on the South Coast of NSW celebrated accordinging.  The Tilba Times, reported their return:

Mogo - "we have much pleasure in chronicling Sergeant Denis McDONALD's safe arrival after 12 months soldiering in South Africa. Denis was invalided home owing to bronchial catarrh contracted after the enteric fever. Pte. Alex McDONALD, his brother, is returning at the end of this month [c5.1902] and still another brother, Donald (otherwise 'Yank'), has volunteered and sets out at the end of this week".****

The small town opened its arms at their return and a function was organised at the local hall to welcome the McDonald brothers home.

"Mr. LJ Hurley in a few words also welcomed 'the boys'. Mr. D McDONALD on behalf of his brother and comrades, heartily thanked those present for the manner in which they had been welcomed home. The school children, instructed by Miss O’Connell, then sang "The Sons of New Britannia" in stirring style, and the chairman called on those present to join in singing "For they are jolly good fellows". The hall, which is a credit to the town of Mogo, although somewhat far removed, was decorated, and above the stage were the words "Welcome, Home, Sweet Home"."****

The politics of the world was unsettled and volatile over the coming years, with war finally being declared on the 4th August 1914.  Alexander was quick to answer the call to arm, enlisting into the 1st Field Company of Australian Engineer In just over a month his leadership skills were recognised and he was promoted to Corporal. He and the rest of the battalion soon left for duty overseas, his new bride farewelling a husband not knowing that she would never see him again.
Soldiers disembarking into the boats, AWM A01829
25th April 1915.  It was just before dawn when the 1st Field Company and the 11th Battalion climbed into the boats that were take them to shore.  The first wave was led out by Major J.F. McCall,  Corporal Alexander McDonald was to lead the second wave once the first wave landed.  However, he was hit as he stepped off the deck of the Torpedo Boat onto the ladder leading to the boat. Corporal McDonald was supervising the disembarking of his men, watching that they did not expose themselves when stepping from the deck of the Torpedo Boat onto the ladder. Major McCall describes his bravery,

"The enemy was pouring in a heavy shrapnel and machine gun fire onto the boats, they had to get ashore, and someone with a big heart had to superintend, a man with cool head and brave heart only was of any use and Corporal A.J. McDonald was the man. It was almost certain death for the man doing the job yet he took it on, stepped onto the breach and calmly and cooly directed operations until he received his wound. Even while lying on the deck of the Destroyer waiting medical attention he gave some directions just as cool as ever."*****

Alexander was taken to the hospital ship "Clan McGillivray" but died later that day from the wounds he had received. The medical war diary for that day reports describes the chaos of the day and the difficulty in dealing with the numbers of wounded.

“Unit land with main body of attacking force in three rows from 10.00am to 12 noon. On reaching beach were allotted position for establishing casualty clearing station.  The number of casualties and wounded to be treated was great.  They came in so quickly that nothing more than first aid could be done.  Cases evacuated to Hospital ship “Gascon” which carried 250 seriously wounded to transport Glen McGilloway which our  to take highly wounded. Cases were load into boats for transport to ship by navy.  The whole charing staff worked splendidly throughout the day and most of the following night.  Owing to pressure of work and the necessity of keeping the beach clear of was impossible to keep record of all cases treated."

Corporal Alexander McDonald was among the serious wounded who was transported to the Glen McGilloway.

What is really poignant, his records show that a small brown parcel was returned to his wife and family on the 4th February 1916.  This parcel contained a prayer book, letters, cards and handkerchief.  Such small mementos for a family and wife who mourned the loss of this brave soldier.

RIP Corporal Alexander Joseph MacDonald
 *  Extract from Captain I S Margetts, Diary, 25 April 1915, AWM 1 DRL/0478, viewed on Gallopili and the ANZACS,, viewed 9/4/13.
** NSW Birth Deaths and Marriages, registration 16617/1914
*** The Light Horse Studies Centre, , viewed 9/4/2013.
****Australians in the Boer War - Oz-Boer Data Base Project,, viewed on 15/4/13.

***** Letter to Donald MacDonald, from Major J.F. McCall , received 27/12/15.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Family Recipe Friday - Mum's Golden Syrup Dumplings

Steaming, light fluffy golden balls, covered with a thick golden caramely sauce!!!!  With a dollop of cream or ice cream!!  YUM   Golden Syrup Dumplings have been a family favourite through many generations of Australian families.  This simple economic recipe provided a tasty dessert for many families.  I have found copies of the recipe Australian newspapers dating back as far as the late 1890’s. 

Golden Syrup which is a by-product of sugar has been a favourite in the Australian Kitchen for many years. With a little research on Trove, I found recipes dating back to the end of the 1800's.  In a previous Friday Recipe blog, I wrote about Anzac Biscuits, and the importance of golden syrup for this recipe.  Again, the sticky sweetness of Golden syrup is the vital ingredient of our golden syrup dumplings.
Launceston Examiner 13 November 1893

Golden Syrup Dumplings were a favourite winter dessert in our household when I was young, and I in turn made it for my children.  This is recipe is from my mother’s book, and she informs me that it the same recipe that her mother used.  It may not be the best for your waist line but every now and then, on a cold winter night, it is sure to be a hit with whoever you serve it to.

 Here is Mum's Golden Syrup Dumpling Recipe.  I am sure it will continue to be passed on through the generations of my family.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday - 2013 Trans Tasman ANZAC Day Blog Challenge - Alexander Joseph McDonald

Memorial Cross  for members of 1st Field Company Australian Engineers - Gallipoli
This month I am planning to post a number of blogs about the members of our family who have participated in military conflicts as part of the 2013 Trans Tasman ANZAC Day Blog Challenge.

This photo is of a memorial cross for the non Commissioned Officers and men of the 1st Field Company Australian Engineers who were killed or wounded in action on the Gallipoli Peninsula.  This memorial was erected in the cemetery in which the men were buried by their company.  One of the names on this list was my great grandmother (Annie McDonald)'s brother  Corporal Alexander Joseph McDonald, who died of wounds he received on 25 April 1915.  Yes! ANZAC day.  His story is a special one which I will post next Monday.

As a sign of respect to the other soldiers listed on this memorial I think I should list their names as well. They are:  (the number in front of their name is their service number).

239 Cpl Hugh Colquhoun, died of wounds on 19 June 1915, aged 31 years; 122 Second Cpl John Joseph Gough, killed in action on 9 July 1915, aged 26 years; 54 Sapper (Spr) Henry Harnam Fairnham, killed in action 26 May 1915, aged 31 years; 55 Spr Walter Freebairn, killed in action on 25 April 1915, aged 24 years; 60 Spr Cecil William Robert Howlett, killed in action 2 May 1915, aged 21 years; 246 Spr William Moore, killed in action on 25 April 1915, aged 28 years; 70 Spr Cleveland Edmund Page, killed in action on 25 April 1915, aged 23 years; 74 Spr James Randall Pantlin, killed in action on 5 May 1915, aged 24 years; 191 Spr Fred Reynolds, killed in action on 25 April 1915, aged 21 years; 112 Spr Francis Leslie Wells, killed in action on 12 July 1915, aged 22 years; 15 Second Cpl George Harrington Bird, died of wounds at sea on 9 August 1915, aged 19 years; 212 Spr Charles Carrington Fowle, wounded at Shrapnel Gully and died in Egypt on 13 July 1915, aged 29 years; 344 Spr Edward Moore Carter, wounded at Gallipoli on 12 July 1915, and died on 23 July 1915, aged 19 years (see image of Spr Carter's grave in Malta at P00545.040.)*
* Australian War Memorial,, viewed 9/4/13

Monday, April 8, 2013

Sharing Memories - Aunty Tilly (Matilda Holman, nee Taylor 1900-2001)

Aunty Tilly

Please join me for another post in my Sharing Memories series.  Thank you to  Olive Tree Genealogy’s Blog’s for providing me with the idea and motivation to write a little about my family history as I remember it. 

 Aunty Tilly as we all fondly remember her was the subject of my last blog on The Other Half of My family,  Born on the 14 November 1900, Matilda Holman(nee Taylor) lived for over a century and being an ardent royalist one of the proudest moments was when she received a telegram from Queen Elizabeth on her 100th Birthday.

I did not meet my husband’s great Aunty Tilly until the late 1970’s. However, she soon became one of my muses and inspirations for delving into our family history.  Her fascination with family history, and tendency to collect “all things past” inspired me to explore my husband’s family history as well as my own.  Aunty Tilly was only too happy to share her stories and because of my obvious interest entrusted me with many family photos, letters and stories.  Her stories about her family and relatives in England sparked my interest into her Great Grandmother Elizabeth Taylor (nee Rushworth) on whom I have written a number of blogs.  Today I would like to write down a few of my memories of Aunty Tilly, as part of my “Sharing Memories” series.

Aunty Tilly was very determined and many would say somewhat stubborn, but she always seemed to be able to organise (or sometimes demand) people to get things how she wanted.  Perhaps this was part of her survival strategy, as she outlived all her siblings, husband and children.  Whenever a male relative of the family visited Aunty Tilly, at her home in Cowra,  they were welcomed with open arms and lots of charm, and then a list of chores and small maintenance jobs that she had been saving up for them.  It was common knowledge if Aunty Tilly was cooking a Sunday Roast (which she liked to do), all the chores would need to be completed before lunch.  

One of the first memories of Aunty Tilly that springs to mind was in 1980.  I liked to dabble, in different craft
Aunty Tilly and Joan at our wedding 10.5.1980
work, one of which was making cards and pictures from pressed flowers which I sold to friends and at local markets.  Aunty Tilly admiring my handiwork invited me over for the Cowra for the local Quota” Craft Show.  I was at this time about 6 months pregnant with my first son, so I packed up all wares into our family car and set off for a weekend with Aunty Tilly and her daughter Joan.  (Joan was her single daughter who lived with Aunty Tilly until she passed away about 10 years later).

As soon as I arrived Joan and Aunty Tilly took great delight in my arrival, fussing and organising me. Joan and I headed down to the craft show to set up my stall, with hot thermos’s of sweet black tea and another thermos full of Cauliflower in a rich cheese sauce for our lunch.  That makes me smile!  Who would think of making up a lunch of Cauliflower and cheese sauce!! (only Aunty Tilly). Mind you it was pretty yummy.  I really don’t remember if I sold anything off my stall, but I had a wonderful afternoon with all their friends fussing over me and rubbing their hands over my rather prominent baby bump. 

A great story, but the classic moment was after breakfast the next day!! We had just finished our breakfast at the small table on the back porch of Aunty Tilly’s house.  Joan had packed up the dishes and said, “It is a great day, let me show you the garden”, Aunty Tilly rose to her full 5 foot nothing, grabbed my arm, and gave Joan a meaningful stare!!  “You had her yesterday, It is my turn today!”

Who were we to argue! Joan sat down meekly and picked up the paper, and Aunty Tilly guided my bulky form out the back door to introduce me to all her canaries, who were singing away in the cages just near the door.  By the time we had checked out the orchids, and reached the famous, sprawling mulberry tree at the back of her yard, Joan had meekly snuck up and joined into the conversation and the rest of the tour.   They had a wonderful and supportive relationship for many years, but I think Aunty Tilly was always the boss and had the final say.

I have many more Aunty Tilly stories, which I think I will keep for another post.