What a find!

It’s not often you find a new relative and there’s a treasure trove of information just waiting to be discovered.

I’m currently researching the lives of my grandfather, Seymour John HARRISON and his brother, Edward Toyler HARRISON. They served together in WWI and Edward died of gunshot wounds. In an endeavour to make my story as complete as possible, I have ordered a history of the 24th Battalion in which they served from an interstate library.

Whilst I wait, I am going back over information I found years ago and kept even though I wasn’t sure if it was about my lot or not. One of these led me to this discovery.

Edward and Seymour’s parents were John William Harrison and Harriet NORLEY. Harriet’s father and grandfather were both Thomas NORLEY. They all lived in the Beechworth/Bright goldfields area of Victoria Australia. My old finding was for the burial information of Alice Jane NORLEY, nee NEEDHAM. She died on 1 Mar 1944 and was buried in the Bright cemetery on 2 Mar 1944. She was married to a Thomas NORLEY. Now, this Thomas was Harriet’s brother so he is my GG uncle. And he was killed in the Great Boulder Mine disaster on 25 May 1904 at Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.

Four men, including Thomas, were killed in the bottom of the mine and the one man who was brought to the surface died in hospital. Here is a photo of the five. Thomas NORLEY is top right. The other men were Thomas Bates, John Robert Riseberry, Samuel Jones and James Caudwell Harper.

After such a disaster, there is of course an inquest and it found that it was accidental death but that the company had been careless in trying out a new method of lowering the gear without a test run when there were no men underneath it. It was found that the miner working at the top, Mr Reidle, was not to blame in any way.

The funeral was huge. The following is an extract from this article taken from Trove:

11/09/2019 31 May 1904 – THE FUNERALS. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/rendition/nla.news-article33126704.txt?print=true 1/2 Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896 – 1916), Tuesday 31 May 1904, page 14

Shortly before 2 o’clock the funeral cortege was ready to start. The Masonic brethren, in regalia, to the number of about 160, were first to step slowly forward on the road that was to end in the departed men’s last long home. The I.O.O.F. and the M .U.I.O.O.F. in regalia, followed.

The mournful procession was headed by the combined Boulder and A.W.A. Bands, assisted by representatives from the Kalgoorlie Town Band, at a slow march, and as soon as the long array of vehicles behind had got in motion they struck up the grand though solemn strains of the “Dead March.”

The A.M.A. and the A.W.A. amalgamated for the day in the presence of Death in such a distressing form, and they, to the number of 300 or 400, marched behind the bands. The deceaseds’ late fellow-workers, and the various sporting clubs with which Bates had been associated came next, and then followed the Salvation Army Band, the members of which took their turn in playing on the route to the cemetery.

The crowd which lined the streets in thousands fell back sick and sad at heart as the five hearses came slowly through the human lane opened before them. By each hearse marched six pallbearers, chosen, from the different organisations to which the unfortunate deceased had belonged. The five mourning coaches, containing relatives, followed, and then came the vehicles belonging to the different mines and business people of Boulder and Kalgoorlie. There were in all over 90 conveyances, and the cortege, which took half an hour to pass any given point, was over a mile in length.

Apparently nearly every citizen of note was present, either as a member of some society or driving in the line of vehicles behind the hearses. The Mayor and Mrs. Rabbish represented the citizens of Boulder. and the Mayor of Kalgoorlie (Mr. Keenan) was in the next vehicle. Mr. R. Hamilton, the manager, and the Boulder mine officials, together with officials from the other mines on the belt,” were also present, so that the funeral was as representative of the community as it was possible to make it.

Thousands of people, after joining in or seeing the funeral to the Boulder town boundaries, went by tram to Kalgoorlie, and awaited the cortege at the cemetery. The Tram Co. had five single and six bogie cars on the Boulder loop, and as fast as one filled it was sent in to Kalgoorlie, and a fresh car took its place till the crush was relieved. The deep impression the awful nature of the catastrophe had made up on the imagination of the public was thoroughly evidenced by the large number of spectators who had gathered in the central portion of Kalgoorlie hours before the arrival of the procession of mourners, friends, and acquaintances from Boulder. Maritana Street was lined with men, women, and children for the whole of its great length. The bulk of the crush was at the intersection of that street with Hannan Street. As the procession passed along the numbers of those who followed were swelled by Kalgoorlie representatives of public bodies, friendly societies, and trades unions. All heads were either bowed or uncovered as the combined bands advanced, playing the mournful music of “The Dead March” in “Saul,” and as the hearses and mourning coaches came into view and passed on.

Long before the cortege reached the Kalgoorlie Cemetery the trams had been very busy landing passengers from town at a convenient point. They found their way to the place, and helped to swell the number of residents of the northern part of the town, who had patiently waited at the gravesides in the Anglican, Presbyterian, and Methodist portions of the cemetery.

The combined bands ceased their rendering of “The Dead March” at the gates and the hearses, mourning coaches, Masonic brethren, and friendly societies’ members entered the sacred enclosure. The Freemasons and the Oddfellows ranged themselves round the open graves in the Anglican portion of the burying ground. The Rev. R. H. Moore, Rector of St. Matthew’s, Boulder, and the Rev. Cuthbert Hudleston, Rector of St. John’s, Kalgoorlie, who were attired in their priestly vestments: stood in readiness to take up their duties. The relatives of the deceased men, Thomas Bates, Thomas Norley, and John Risebery, took up positions at the foot of each grave. The graves were side by side. The vicinity was densely crowded. The beautiful service of the Church of England for the burial of the dead was begun by the Rev. R. H. Moore as the bearers brought the coffins and placed them on the trestles. The prayers were said by the Rev. Cuthbert Hudleston, and subsequently the Rev. Mr. Moore delivered an address to the assembled crowd from the lessons to be derived from the liturgy. He made reference to the touching incidents of the past two days, and remarked that whilst probably not one among them desired to die a lingering death, with all its painful episodes, yet he thought they would all agree in thinking it very hard to be hurried out of the world without preparation or without farewell to those who were left behind to mourn for departed ones. The present catastrophe had been terrible in its nature, but at the same time they ought to remember that the hand of God was in it.

The funeral procession

Thomas who was born 19 September 1863 and Alice had two small children, Violet Alice who would have turned 7 on the day after her father’s funeral and Geoffrey Maynell who was 3.

How sad would it all have been?

It looks as though Alice returned to the Bright area and her family as she was buried there on 2 Mar 1944.

So, as you can see, I’ve had a very interesting couple of days finding out about this branch of my family. A very distressing story though!

Definitely worth reading: “Bridge of Clay”

In the last year or so, I’ve read three books about teenage boys: Jasper Jones, boy swallows universe and, now Bridge of Clay by Marcus Zusak, the author of The Book Thief. They’ve been very different stories but have all told the stories of boys growing up in difficult situations and have all been great reads.

I hear about incidences which occur in the high school classrooms in which two of my daughters teach and I ask myself what situations are these kids trying to cope with as they go from childhood to adulthood. Certainly many kids today, as always, don’t have it easy.

This book was published last year and is set in suburban Sydney, Australia where Markus Zusak lives with his wife and two children.

The Dunbar family consists of five brothers. Their mother, Penelope is dead and their father has fled. The story is narrated by the oldest of the boys and tells the story of their life, their love and their brawls and how it all came to pass.

It flips backwards and forwards, going into the parents’ history which I found very disconcerting at first. It was hard to remember who was who. Many times, in the first half, I almost returned the book to the library unread.

But then the author hooked me. This morning I did my chores, met my daughter for a walk and a coffee and came home to continue to research and write my grandfather’s story but I saw the book and my plans went awry. I have done nothing but read on until the end.

It’s a wonderful story of stories, of loves, of youth and animals, of internal battles….. and, of course of the building of a bridge, a very special bridge.

It’s just a great story. I recommend it to you.

Musings on Father’s Day

My thoughts are so confused today. I had two fathers. I never knew my birth father as he died when I was two but I’d been adopted out at birth anyway as a result of an ultimatum made to my mother by her mother who knew that children shouldn’t be in her care. My adopted father was a stern frightening man who rarely showed me love.

He did, however, see that I had an education which is a wonderful gift and I thank him for that most sincerely. I feel no love towards him though and I’m so angry at him that he never told me I was adopted, leaving me to discover this when he and my adopted mum were both dead.

His father was a lovely old granddad with a sense of fun & we got on well. I saw quite a bit of him from my teens on as we lived close to them. We would go for tea on Sunday nights and sometimes I’d stay with them in school holidays as they lived near the beach at Maroochydore in Queensland. They migrated to Australia in 1921 when my dad was seven. Granddad had been a British soldier in France in WWI.

I didn’t know my adopted Mum’s father very well at all. He died when I was seven but they lived in Melbourne and I can only remember a couple of visits. Mum had been brought up in a very strict religious family and I remember receiving religious texts for my birthdays and Christmas.

I’d like to have met my birth Dad. He had two other children, older than me, and they tell me he was a good Dad. I get the impression he was a bit of a lad and the photos seem to support that feeling. He was sent to Australia from England in 1914 by his older brothers and told to “make a man of himself”. He enlisted in the army but his records show that he had flat feet (that’s where I must get them from), couldn’t march, was invalided of a ship in Perth on the way to war and then went absent without leave. I’ve yet to really delve into the details of his life but I do know that he ran many concerts for the Red Cross in Melbourne between the wars. So definitely an interesting story to follow. I think his Dad was an upstanding man and I have met and am very close to a granddaughter of one of my father’s brothers who lives in Canada.

I think my birth mother’s father had a very sad life and I’m currently researching his story. He was born and grew up in the Beechworth area of Victoria where his grandfathers were both miners. He fought in the trenches in France and his brother was killed there. I think that has to have affected his whole life. How anyone could return to a ‘normal’ life after that, is beyond me.

So, I have more fathers and grandfathers than most. They are a motley crew. What an interesting evening we would have if I could have any one of them to dinner.

I have so many questions!

“little fires everywhere” by Celeste Ng

Celeste Ng has written two books. This is her second novel and the first I’ve read. I’ll be looking for her first, Everything I never told you, as I really enjoyed little fires everywhere.

I’ve been thinking about the book since I finished it last night. I think it is the story of three mothers and their children but it is so much more as it stimulates thought about our western society, the way we treat others of different classes and colour and what makes a good mother.

The story is set in Shaker Heights, a meticulously planned suburb of Cleveland Ohio where the author grew up. Elena Richardson and her lawyer husband have four children and they are the perfect embodiment of a successful Shaker Heights family.

Mia Warren, a photographic artist, and her daughter Pearl live a nomadic life and Mia has promised Pearl that they will make a permanent home at their next stop which turns out to be in Shaker Heights. Mia has, however, total disregard for the rules of the lifestyle here.

Friends of the Richardsons decide to adopt a Chinese-American baby girl that has been left outside a fire station in the snow by her desperate mother, a work colleague of Mia.

I loved reading this book. There was love, angst, caring, disdain and lots of intrigue. Once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. And there are little fires everywhere.

It’s being made into a miniseries to be released in 2020 with Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. I’m looking forward to it.

A pleasant day at Brisbane’s Southbank”

This weekend was the Regional Flavours promotion of Queensland produce at Southbank, the site of Expo 88 beside the Brisbane River. As you know, we do enjoy our fresh food and visiting the fresh food markets in Europe.

So yesterday morning we caught the train from our local station at Lota for the 35 minute ride to Southbank.

When we arrived we found that many others had arrived before us and the market stalls were very busy with queues to buy goods at most of them. The regions of Queensland had displays of both fresh food and goods produced in the region from that.

We weren’t tempted to buy much as we didn’t have the car. I lived in The South Burnett for ten years and so bought a bag of curry flavoured peanuts for old times sake. Kingaroy is famous for its peanut van which sits beside the main road into town and sells peanuts with many flavours.

You could buy a stemless plastic recyclable wine glass for $5 and visit the area which showcased the many wine-producing companies of Queensland for tastings. We do not really enjoy tasting many wines in quick procession so we didn’t bother with that.

Many stalls were selling food for eating on the run- everything from berries to ice cream to chicken wings to camel milk and camel cheese to sliders and tagines. There didn’t seem to be an area where you could sit down to have a proper meal within the Regional Flavours displays and since we like to sit down and enjoy our food, we ate at one of the local restaurants, French Martini, where we both enjoyed moules cooked in white wine and lemon with a baguette. I also enjoyed my glass of French Chablis. The moules were delicious but the baguette was quite disappointing – not up to the standard I expect of French breads. We sat and enjoyed ourselves over our leisurely lunch. I felt quite disloyal eating at a French restaurant on this day but consoled myself with the thought that the mussels would have been local.

After lunch we wandered back alongside the river to South Brisbane Station, enjoying the lovely ambience of Southbank where so many families enjoyed the artificial beach and the parklands.

All in all, a very pleasant few hours!

Loved reading about some of my female ancestors

I’ve just read Struggle and Suffrage in Swindon – Women’s Lives And The Fight For Equality by Frances Bevan.

My first contact with Frances came about a few years ago when I searched for Radnor Street Cemetery on Facebook and her name popped up. I found that she researches the lives of the people buried in this old cemetery and writes their stories. She also leads tours of the cemetery on one Sunday per month through the warmer months. The cemetery is in Swindon, a railway town in Wiltshire about a ninety minute drive west of London. Consequently I can’t go on the tours but I can read her stories and since many of my Alley family, my paternal line, are buried there I really enjoy reading them.

In fact, it was through communicating with Frances that I found and have met some cousins who are very special to me. When Frances asked me if I knew Wendy Burrows who was also searching for information about Frederick Alley, it lead me on the journey to find my cousins. We went to Swindon where Frances, Wendy and her husband, Frank, David and I enjoyed a wonderful day together. We have since met and stayed with my lovely cousin, Kay Prosser, and her husband Ben in Victoria on Vancouver Island and they have been to stay with us in Brisbane. When you discover at 52 that you were adopted, finding and meeting and becoming close to your birth family is very special. It gives you back your sense of identity and you know where you fit in the world.

Reading about the women in my family in Struggle and Suffrage in Swindon is also special and I really appreciate the work that Frances does. My Grand Great Uncle, George Richman Alley had one son and seven daughters. The daughters are pictured Below. Amelia Annie Alley and her sister, Ethel Gertrude Alley had a millinery business at 90 Victoria Road. Ethel Gertrude Alley married William Hewer and they ran the Oddfellows’ Arms. The youngest sister Eva married George Babington and they opened a drapery store next door to the milliners. Mabel Alley was awarded the British Empire Medal for Meritorious Service in 1960 as she was sub Post Mistress at Westcott Place for more than fifty years.

Emma Louisa Hull, née Alley, another of the sisters, was a member of the Women’s Freedom League and was active in the fight for the vote for women. She was arrested twice and imprisoned for short times.

Eileen Kostitch, née Babington, was the daughter of Eva Alley & George Babington fought with the Yugoslavian forces against the Germans in World War II. She died there of ill health and is buried in Western Bosnia.

I think there have been some amazing women in my family!

Details of life in Swindon and of the women who fought for women’s rights can be found in this well researched book. I found it fascinating.

Oceania Cruises wows us again!

A couple of weeks ago we received an invitation to a luncheon from Oceania Cruises. We thought we’d go along ….. It would probably be finger food and we’d stand around for an hour or so, trying to juggle glasses of wine and plates of food as we chatted to fellow Oceania cruisers before hearing the promotional messages but it would be OK.

So we caught the train into the city, found 480 Queen Street and caught the lift to level 4 and entered Otto Ristorante, a beautiful Italian restaurant with a view of the Brisbane River and the Story Bridge.

This was a special, sit-down, a-la-carte meal with lovely wines. It was Oceania thanking some 60 of us for being loyal Oceania cruisers. The food was delicious as you would expect of a company which promises the finest cuisine at sea. What’s more, they did not use it as an opportunity to sell more cruises.

We were very impressed with the restaurant too. It is a beautiful venue and the food and the service were great. We’d like to return.

So, thank you Oceania. We really enjoyed ourselves.