It has been a long time since I’ve published a post but I’ve been working very hard researching and writing the story of my grandfather, Seymour John Harrison, and his big brother, Edward. At times I’ve stalled and had to take a break but being isolated at home has meant I’ve had no excuse so here is their story. I really wrote it for me as I needed to understand more about my family but I hope you enjoy reading it too. If you do, that will be a bonus for me.
If you’re in Australia, you will probably understand my frustration at the moment. The government decided to install a wonderful new National Broadband Network which would give us the most wonderful fast internet across the country.
It has cost the country a fortune and has been nothing but a headache to anyone who has been forced to instal it.
Our telecommunications provider is Telstra. The NBN technician came on time on the 9th October as organised previously and he was very helpful. He stayed while we set up the new modem which Telstra had previously sent us and then we tried to connect. Surprise! Surprise! Nothing happened. We have no internet.
I rang the Telstra support number as I have done at least 7 times since, each time reaching a call centre in India. Each time I have been told that it would be fixed within 24 to 48 hours and that they would add data to my mobile phone so that I could access the internet that way. It certainly hasn’t been fixed (today is 18th October) and I haven’t had extra data put on my phone as they said. They have updated my monthly allowance considerably, at least. So we have been hotspotting our iPads and the laptop but I can’t seem to work out how to use my printer and the AppleTV.
I have been asking to speak to the supervisor but they are always busy. Today I was told that they would call me back in an hour but that hasn’t happened. I am told that we have a case manager and I have asked to speak to them but I’m told that they won’t talk to me. I’ve asked for an update and am told that the advice that it would be fixed in 24 or 48 hours is the update. When I ask why it takes so long I am told something has gone missing. What has gone missing? Can they replace the missing thing? Do we need a new modem? What is going on?
It is so annoying. We are long time customers of Telstra. We even have shares in Telstra!
Come on Telstra. Lift your game. This is not good enough. At least talk to us and tell us what the issues are.
I have, over the last 24 hours read a book which has touched me and brought a few tears to my eyes. Dani Shapiro is the author of Inheritance – A memoir of genealogy, paternity, and love. It is one of several books she has written. Growing up in an orthodox Jewish family, she was often told she did not look Jewish and she never saw herself in the faces around her. When she was 52, she did an Ancestry DNA test which showed she was no relation to Susie, with whom she supposedly shared a father.
She wrote this book as she tried to come to terms with this traumatic shock and as she and her husband tried to solve the mysteries of the identity of her birth father, a sperm donor, and how it all came about.
Similarly, at 54, after the death of my parents, I discovered that they were not my parents at all but had adopted me.
My feelings, as I solved my mysteries and discovered who I really am, were very similar to Dani’s. My DNA test came as the last part of the solution to my puzzle, rather than the beginning, as it proved that the man I had come to believe was my birth father, really was.
I really enjoyed reading this book and will ponder upon it a fair bit over the next few days, I reckon.
This book also resonated with me because of the window into the Jewish religion and its customs as my husband’s heritage is Jewish although he was not brought up in the faith.
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:
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
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.
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!
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.