A near miss in Coolangatta: Sepia Saturday 243

Sepia Saturday 243This week’s Sepia Saturday 243 is one of those topics where a personal theme leaps to mind. Every family has its story traditions and family anecdotes, perhaps even about get-rich schemes and near misses.

Unidentified (1914). Illustrated advertisement from The Queenslander, December 5, 1914, p. 59. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. www.trove.nla.gov.au

Unidentified (1914). Illustrated advertisement from The Queenslander, December 5, 1914, p. 59. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. http://www.trove.nla.gov.au

All my life Dad used to tell the story of “the one that got away” in our family. My grandfather who I’ve written about before, worked for the railway all his working life. At one stage, perhaps around 1900-1910, he worked on the rail line that went from Brisbane city to the interstate border at Coolangatta. I don’t know about other countries, but here in Oz, a twin town (as opposed to towns twinned with overseas), is one that has a matching town on the opposite side of the (state) border. Coolangatta is one such town, sitting right on the border of Queensland while across the Tweed River sits its twin, Tweed Heads. One of the quirks of these twin towns becomes obvious with the start of daylight saving each year. Queensland doesn’t “do” daylight saving (no, I’m not going there with that topic!) so for six months or so, Coolangatta is 30 minutes behind Tweed Head. Could be handy if you urgently need shops which close promptly at 5pm.

Tweed Heads, showing railway passengers walking down Bay Street into Wharf Street. Queensland (or Federal) Hotel, Coolangatta, is on the right. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, 1905

Tweed Heads, showing railway passengers walking down Bay Street into Wharf Street. Queensland (or Federal) Hotel, Coolangatta, is on the right. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, 1905. http://www.trove.nla.gov.au

Unidentified (1914). 18 residential and business sites at Coolangatta for sale by auction in the Tweed Heads Hall on Easter Saturday, Queensland, 1914. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. www.trove.nla.gov.au

Unidentified (1914). 18 residential and business sites at Coolangatta for sale by auction in the Tweed Heads Hall on Easter Saturday, Queensland, 1914. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. http://www.trove.nla.gov.au

Dad told me that while Grandad was working on the Gold Coast railway line they used to fish for stingrays in the river using star pickets…those long metals poles with three sides. Personally I think that was a bit unfair on the fish, to say the least, but it is still a part of local lore.

But the one that got away wasn’t a monster fish, rather the real estate deal that might have made the family fortune. The story goes that he was offered a beach front block of land at Coolangatta for a tiny sum, £100 springs to mind. Given that property on the Gold Coast now sells for seven figure amounts, we were dazzled by what might have been, not to mention the sheer bliss of living within sight and sound of the surf and the ocean. But it was not to be, and perhaps even if it had, Grandad would no longer have had the money to buy the land that our family lived on for 96 years….the turn of the fate wheel.

Unidentified (1900). Greenmount Beach, Gold Coast, 1900-1910. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, www.trove.nla.gov.au

Unidentified (1900). Greenmount Beach, Gold Coast, 1900-1910. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, http://www.trove.nla.gov.au

Coolangatta has never been the glitzy, glamour (tarty?) queen of the Gold Coast, that role was left to Surfers Paradise. That didn’t stop Coolangatta’s nearby beach, Greenmount, being a big hit with families as a holiday destination. I recall that we had only one holiday at Greenmount, compared with the several we took up the coast a little at sedate but beautiful Currumbin.

Pauleen at the Porpoise Pool, Snapper Rocks.

Pauleen at the Porpoise Pool, Snapper Rocks.

Apart from the attraction of sun, sand and surf at Greenmount, one of the big “pulls” during the 1960s was the Porpoise Pool run by Jack Evans at nearby Snapper Rock. It was de rigeur to visit the attraction and see the trained dolphins leap from the pool to catch their fish. (You can see a video here). Afterwards it was almost inevitable to have a photo taken with Sammy the Seal, another feature of the attraction. In this photo of me I would have been about 12.  I remember that rainbow top, which Mum sewed, very vividly especially the texture of the fabric.

Part of the reason our family was able to visit the border towns was because of the railway line. Dad’s annual railway pass made it possible for us to travel close to our destination – an important factor as we had no family car. The lack of a car was unfortunate also because, dare I say it as a loyal Queenslander, there’s some spectacular scenery and beaches just south of the border….an area our own family grew very fond of in later decades… I wrote this story about it a while ago.

It’s always good to know that families aren’t the only ones to have near-misses…Queensland Rail closed the line to Tweed Heads in 1961 and to Southport in 1964, no doubt due in part to the increased numbers of people who owned their own cars. Decades later they had to rebuild the same line to cope with just some of the burgeoning commuter traffic. The one that got away indeed.

Don’t forget to visit the other Sepians to see which beaches they’ve visited or how they interpreted the image.

PS: I’ve just noticed something my sub-conscious may have latched on to earlier. The man in the suit in the foreground reminds me of a photo I have of my grandfather.

 

Genealogy World Photo Day Challenge

genealogy-photo-challengeBeing behind with my blog reading seems to be a chronic condition these days so I’m pleased that I spotted Alona’s post about the Genealogy World Photo Day Challenge proposed by The Family Curator. While I was there I decided to purchase Denise’s book, How to Archive Family Heirlooms, which comes with excellent reviews. I’ve got heaps of sorting to do and certainly hope it will help.

Back to the photos…the other day in my Book of Me story I’d included some “Then and Now” photos of our first home in Papua New Guinea. It reminded me that a few years ago I’d participated in a “Then and Now” activity run by our ABC when we walked the Darwin streets matching up old photos with the current image….good fun.

Inspired by all this, here are my collaged images for the Genealogy World Photo Day Challenge.

Image 1: my grandparents’ house, then (c1930) and now (2012)Then and now 29 Bally St low res

Image 2: my grandparents, Denis and Kit Kunkel, with my Dad as a boy then as a man: Then c1920s and “now” c1944.

Collage Norman Denis Kit Kunkel

Image 3: left: Mum and I in the same position, and in the same chair, near the stairs of my grandparents’ house; right: me, Mum, my great-aunt Emily, my aunt Mary and cousin Patsy, with the stairs in the background.

farrahers Kunkel Melvin

Thanks Denise for the inspiration, and fun, of this challenge!

Last but not least: Julius Happ

Die Fröhlichkeit in 2003.

Die Fröhlichkeit in 2003.

As I mentioned previously it was the addition of a new member to our facebook site that kicked off all this manic research, mainly because the family connected, however distantly, to my own Happ ancestry in Bavaria. Keith had written that his mother’s grandfather was a Julius Happ and they knew he came from Dorfprozelten because of a document the family held. On translation it turned out to be some form of recognition for Julius Happ in recruiting conscripts. As yet we know no more about that….perhaps, as Keith said facetiously, he did his best recruiting in the family’s inn late at night <smile>.

Julius was the son of Michael Happ and Anna Catharina Zöller born/baptised on 11 November 1844. Michael was interesting because his occupation is stated as Ökonom or economist, as well as being the guest house keeper for the Fröhlichkeit which he had built from local stone. He was also Bürgermeister between 1856 until 1864.[i]

Julius Happ in Germany

Apart from what can be extracted from the local history, it is difficult to get a sense of Julius’s life in Germany. As we’ll see later Julius didn’t emigrate until he was around 30 years of age. My searching of the German newspapers on Google Books did turn up some references to his education however. The initial one is high school information, as for his brother Raimund. Dating from 1864/65, he would have been 21….which does seem old.[ii] He is studying religion, the Latin, Greek, German and French languages, Mathematics, History and Geography.

julius happ school

The second is more obviously university enrolment and I think it indicates he was enrolled in the faculty of law.[iii] This is for the winter semester 1867/68 when Julius would have been nearly 23. Perhaps this explains why he delayed his emigration to the USA.

Julius Happ university

When I sent this information to Keith he remarked that the family had oral history that Julius had a degree from Germany and this notice seems to confirm that story.

Emigration to “America” and naturalisation

The local history, Dorfprozelten Teil II, indicates that Julius emigrated from Bavaria to “America” but no date is given. Despite searching a variety of sites I have been unable to locate his arrival and I’ve also been unable to locate an emigration notice in the German newspapers, as I could for his siblings Raimund and Anna.

I also checked that Julius hadn’t arrived with his siblings but he certainly didn’t travel on the ship Main with them. It doesn’t help that he gives varying dates of arrival on the census enumerations.

One possibility in terms of Julius’s arrival is Julius Hopp from Bremen on the Marco Polo, aged 24, a labourer, arriving in New York 3 March 1873[iv]. There is no other distinguishing information and given his varied responses on the census it’s difficult to be sure. I really don’t think we can be sure this is him rather than another.

Julius didn’t become a naturalised American citizen until 8 October 1894[v], much later brother Raymond. This search highlights the importance of accessing multiple sites as I found it only on Family Search. There are noticeable gaps in the details on the form and I wonder if the original document might include further details re his immigration.

 

Julius Happ natn 1894 fm FamSearchTies to the country of their birth, the kingdom of Bavaria, was understandably strong in some of the emigrants, though it weakened the longer they lived in their new country, and also as Bavaria became part of a new federated Germany. My own ancestor arrived in Australia in the 1850s and wasn’t naturalised until 1903, after Australia had become an independent nation.

Unfortunately because Julius hadn’t been naturalised earlier he also doesn’t appear on the voter registers – something my George Kunkel seemed to work around here, but in the USA they seem to have asked when and where you were naturalised.

Julius Happ in the USA

Julius Happ has been elusive in the US records from his immigration in the 1870s until I found him on the 1885 Rhode Island state census. He is living at North Kingstown, County of Washington, Rhode Island, is 40 years old, unmarried, boarding with the Horsfall family and working as a florist[vi].

Nor can I find a record of his marriage or his children’s births, except via their death entries on the Social Security Death Indexes (SSDI). According to Cyndi’s List, there is no 1890 Federal US census for Connecticut which explains that omission. As with any research, we are limited by the records which survive. Fortunately the City Directories go a good way to overcome that as we’ll see later.

I had more joy with later census enumerations. In the 1910 Federal Census Julius Happ is on the Federal Census in Bridgeport, District Fairfield, Connecticut (CT). He is 62 and a florist, working in a hot house. Julius is married to Regina (52) and his children are Mary (22), Chas (21) and Julius (14), all born Connecticut. They also have two boarders in the house as well as a nephew (his or hers?), a Frank A Will (10) born Delaware. On this record Julius snr says he immigrated in 1876 and has been naturalised, while Regina arrived in 1874.[vii]. If we knew Regina’s maiden name we might be able to find her immigration.

In the 1920 Federal Census the family is still in Bridgeport (ward 5) and his year of immigration has changed to 1870 and Regina’s to 1872. The “children” are now 32, 29, and 24 and they still have two lodgers in the house, both Russian-born. Daughter Mary’s name is recorded as Marie. Julius is 73 and retired, while Regina is 52[viii].

The mis-reported 1900 census enumeration. The other children are on the next page. They are living at 1941 Fairfield Ave.

The mis-reported 1900 census enumeration. The other children are on the next page. They are living at 1941 Fairfield Ave.

After some difficulty I found Julius and his family in the 1900 Federal census, using the information from earlier census enumerations. The surname had been mis-transcribed as Hepp and Regina’s name as Vrechina. Julius then states he was 47 and born Nov 1852 (think he kept the month but changed the year – or the enumerator made a mistake). I wonder if he said he was 52 not born in 1852. Regina is 33, born Oct 1866, Mary is born Aug 1887, and Carl in March 1889. Son Paul (another enumerator error, actually Julius), is born August 1895. The couple had been married 13 years and had three children, all alive. Julius now says he’d arrived in 1878 and had been in the USA 22 years.[ix]

Julius Happ in the Bridgeport City Directories 1884-1923

This photograph appears in Dorfprozelten Teil II, page 229 with a caption indicating that the people were Julius Happ, his wife and child.

This photograph appears in Dorfprozelten Teil II, page 229 with a caption indicating that the people were Julius Happ, his wife and child.

City directories can be of variable use in family history but the listings for Julius were particularly helpful given his late naturalisation. I was able to trace his activities fairly consistently between the late 1880s until his death, using the Bridgeport City Directories.

One interesting early anomaly is that Julius appears as a gardener employed by J Horan, bds Fairfield Ave and RR crossing per the 1884 Directory. Remember that he was in Rhode Island in 1885? Did he just move briefly?

In 1887 he is again listed with J Horan as an employee at 647 Fairfield Ave. But in 1888, the directory notes he’d removed to New York. Unfortunately I couldn’t track him down there. Is this when he married Regina?

Bridgeport City Directory 1888, page 158

Bridgeport City Directory 1888, page 158

Shortly after, in 1890, he’s back in Bridgeport, once again living and working at J Horan’s florists and nursery at 647 Fairfield Ave. This continues through the 90s as the firm becomes J Horan and Son. It seems throughout this time he’s living on the nursery premises as in 1895 the street directory for 647 Fairfield shows the residents as Charles Barey, Julius Happ,  and Louis Wittman all employees of J Horan & Son as well as James Horan, florist and a John Puzak. Also from 1896, Julius is no longer listed as an employee but a foreman.

I suppose if you're in the florist business it's not surprising to advertise amidst all the undertakers' advertisements.

I suppose if you’re in the florist business it’s not surprising to advertise amidst all the undertakers’ advertisements.

In 1900 the business, and Julius’s residence, has changed to 1941 Fairfield Avenue and this is where he continues until 1913 when he is listed as a foreman at J Horan & Son and living at 1782 State Street, grocer. This listing continues until 1916 with the combination of foreman and grocer….perhaps Regina was running a grocery business? From the census it’s clear this was a rental property.

In 1916 the family relocated to 1796 State Street, and this would become their permanent residence, and one the family owned. Although then 74 years old, Julius was again listed as a gardener. He had worked for James Horan and son Stephen from 1884 until at least 1916, with only a couple of years absences. When you think that he had studied at university level in Germany, you have to wonder whether some immigrants really did benefit from the great American (or Australian!) dream.

A Google Earth search reveals that these locations have been cleared.

I found it strange that on the City Directories, a person’s date of death is listed with their age.Julius’s appears on the 1923 directory and his wife Regina’s on the 1933 directory (page 273)

Deaths in the USA

Julius Happ snr died on 22 September 1924, aged 79 years, 10 months and 11 days per his funeral notice[x]. By my calculations this fits with his known date of birth/baptism in Dorfprozelten, and interestingly contradicts the stated ages on the census.

Julius’s wife Regina died on 2 August 1933 aged 65, which I found in the City Directories[xi], but unfortunately I could find no reference in newspapers.

Julius and Regina’s family continued to live in the Bridgeport and Trumbull areas for many years.

Research warning: Searching German newspapers on Google books is fraught. I find it quite difficult to get the same results from the same search, which makes no sense. You just have to be lateral as I mentioned in my post about this some time ago.

——————-

[i] Dorfprozelten am Main Teil II. Veh, G, Benedict Press, 2002. See page 212.

[ii] Jahres-Bericht über das Königliche Lyceum und Gymnasium 1864/1865 page 15(Aschaffenburg)

[iii] Personalbestand der Königlich-Bayerischen Julius-Maximilians-Universität, Würzburg, winter semester 1867/68. page 29

[iv] http://www.myheritage.com/research/collection-10019/germans-immigrating-to-the-united-states?s=224688341&itemId=2070913-&action=showRecord

[v] New England Petitions for Naturalization Index, 1791-1906,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VX5G-L3F : accessed 08 Aug 2014), Julius Happ, 1894; citing Connecticut, NARA microfilm publication M1299, roll 15, National Archives and Records Service, Washington D.C.; FHL microfilm 1429685.

[vi] Ancestry.com. Rhode Island, State Censuses, 1865-1935 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.Original data: Rhode Island State Census, 1885. Microfilm. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.

[vii] Year: 1910; Census Place: Bridgeport, Fairfield, Connecticut; Roll: T624_128; Page: 56B; Enumeration District: 0013; FHL microfilm: 1374141.

[viii] Year: 1920; Census Place: Bridgeport Ward 5, Fairfield,Connecticut; Roll: T625_175; Page: 21B; Enumeration District: 30; Image: 358.

[ix] Year: 1900; Census Place: Bridgeport, Fairfield,Connecticut; Roll: 131; Page: 22B; Enumeration District: 0015; FHL microfilm: 1240131.

[x] The Bridgeport Telegram, 23 September 1924, page 17. Ancestry.com

[xi] Bridgeport City Directories 1933, page 273

The Happs – innkeepers in Dorfprozelten

Translation: If you would like to read this post in a different language you can click here.

For my own interest I’m summarising the inn-keeping genealogy of the Happ family in Dorfprozelten. The approximate time frame of direct descendancy is c1740-1940s.

Generation 1: Adam Happ c1690

Generation 2: (Johann) Martin Happ (Fass) and Johann Happ (Anker) c1740-1770s

Generation 3: Johann Martin Happ II (Fass) and Nikolaus Happ (Anker)

Generation 4: Eva Catharina Happ/Ulrich/Kunkel (Fass) and Michael Happ (Fröhlichkeit) 1830s-1860s

Generation 5: Jakob August Ulrich (Fass) (step-brother to my George Kunkel who emigrated to Australia) and Maria Antonia Happ/Staab (Fröhlichkeit) (three siblings, Anna, Raimund and Julius emigrated to USA) c1860-

Generation 6:  Sophie Staab/Bohlig (Fröhlichkeit) c1900 – c1940s

While the Fass continued in other hands, the Happ family’s management of it came to an end with multiple deaths due to Lungensucht in 1868. I can find no translation for the word but it seems to be a highly infectious lung disease. Jakob August Ulrich was the first to die on 19 June 1868, followed by son Karl on 1 July 1869, wife Elisabeth on 20 August 1868 and finally his mother, Eva Catharina Kunkel, on 15 October 1868. There were children who survived: Josephina (b 1852), Maria Augusta (b 1856), Lothar Jacob (b 1858), Bertha (b 1860), Ernestina Veronika (b 1863) and Georg Jacob (b 1865). All except Maria Augusta and Ernestina Veronika emigrated to the United States in the 1880s. Who took care of them in the intervening period is unknown. I wrote about their lives here and here.

A sad end to the long association of the Happs and Das Goldene Fass guesthouse in Dorfprozelten. What tragic news it must all have been to my ancestor George Kunkel when the news finally made it across the world to him. 

The Fass guesthouse was sold on 1 October 1967 to the Raiffeisenbank and the old building was demolished. In autumn 1971 a new bank was built on the site. The Anker and the Fröhlichkeit are still part of the village’s built heritage.

In Georg Veh’s book on Dorfprozelten is this poem[i], written by Agnes Bohlig, the wife, and co-innkeeper, of 7th generation Happ innkeeper, Philipp.

In der “Krone” da is gut wohne        In the Krone is a nice place to stay

Im “Stern” da sitze nur die Herrn     In the Star only the men sit (a reference to its table for the seamen’s union?)

Im “Anker” hocke die Kranke            In the Anchor the sick sit/crouch

Im “Fass” da is mers zu nass           In the Barrel it is….too wet (defeats me this one)

And nuff “die Fröhlichkeit”                  And in the Happiness

Is mer der Weg zu Weit.                 the road is too far.

I’m quite sure my translation is not accurate and there are vernacular expressions here, … even my huge German dictionary and Reverso are defeated. Feel free to jump in and correct me…it would help make sense of it all.

I am indebted to Georg Veh and the published local history for providing me with so much background information on my family in Dorfprozelten, and being generous with access to it.

[i] Dorfprozelten am Main Teil II. Veh, G, Benedict Press, 2002. Page 216.

The Happ family emigrants: Part 1

Translation: If you would like to read this post in a different language you can click here.

Some time ago I set up a Facebook page, The Dorfprozelten Diaspora, for those whose ancestors came from this Bavarian village. New members to the group are asked for their link to the village and who their ancestors were.

The village of Dorfprozelten is situated on the River Main which formed the boundary between Bavaria and Baden.

The village of Dorfprozelten is situated on the River Main which formed the boundary between Bavaria and Baden.

Two weekends ago a new member, Keith, joined the group and to my delight it seems likely that we are distant cousins. Keith’s family had a German certificate which was translated as “some sort of acknowledgement for having conscripted others, not his own conscription record”. This document indicated his great-grandfather had been born in Dorfprozelten.

We’ve still got to achieve further verification via death/marriage certificates but so far the indications are that Keith and my Dad share a 5th great grandparent, Adam Happ. Admittedly, at this distance it seems such a tenuous connection but thanks to the wonderful German record-keeping and the oft-lauded local history, Dorfprozelten Teil II by Georg Veh[i], it’s actually possible to link families up over three centuries, and to track their history.

I’ve “fixed” my header photo for these posts so you can see what the village looks like in context.

Meanwhile in Bavaria

A postcard of Das Goldene Fass mid-20thC. Kindly provided to me by Georg Veh, local historian.

Das Goldene Fass before its demolition for a bank in the 1960s. Image kindly provided by Georg Veh.

The Happ family were one of the early inn-keeper families in Dorfprozelten, and their ownership dates back at least to circa 1750 when (Johann) Martin Happ ran Das Goldene Fass. This Martin’s son, another Johann Martin Happ II, inherited it from him, followed by Johann Martin II’s daughter, Eva Catharina later Ulrich and Kunkel, my own 3xgreat grandmother.

Meanwhile just across the street, Martin’s brother, Johann Happ was running the Gasthaus zum Anker. Johann and Martin’s father was Adam Happ but his occupation is unknown. The Anker passed from Johann to his son Nikolaus Happ, then was transferred to the family of Johann Anton Zöller…who knows why…perhaps it’s part of the German text I’m struggling with.

Die Fröhlichkeit in 2003.

Die Fröhlichkeit in 2003.

In the 1860s, Nikolaus’s son Michael Happ established a new guesthouse called Die Fröhlichkeit, built from the local pink sandstone taken from the cliffs adjoining the village. Michael is documented as an economist as well as a guesthouse keeper, which I think is quite interesting…how did it come to be that he was an economist at that time? Where had he studied? Other references in Veh’s book indicate that Michael was fairly well off and also served as Bürgermeister (mayor) from 1856-1863.

Michael Happ married Catharina Zöller and had the following children who survived to adulthood: Anna Apollonia (1835-1892) emigrated to USA; Maria Antonia (1840-1915) who took over the guesthouse; Julius (1844-1923) emigrated USA; Ernst (1847-1865); Corbinian (1849-1905) and Raimund (1852-) emigrated to USA.

In such a small village as Dorfprozelten everyone would have known each other, and I assume, also known their relationships. This interests me especially because Anna Apollonia was almost exactly a year younger than my 2xgreat grandfather Georg Matthias Kunkel so not only would they have known each other, they may have played together and also attended school together.

Emigration to  America

Siblings Anna and Raimund Happ emigrated to the USA and newspaper notices of 30 August 1869 indicate their imminent departure from their home village.

Unmarried siblings Raimund and Anna Happ....Beobachter am Main und Aschaffenburger Anzeiger: 1869,7/12

Unmarried siblings Raimund and Anna Happ….Beobachter am Main und Aschaffenburger Anzeiger: 1869,7/12

Anna and Raymund/Raimund arrived in New York ex Bremen on the ship Main (ironic since that’s the river on which they had lived in Bavaria), on 4 October 1869.

Anna and Raymond NYM237_319-0091 (2)

Year: 1869; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 319; Line: 27; List Number: 1150. From Ancestry.com

Initially I couldn’t help wondering why Anna didn’t stay to take over the running of the inn. However, the discovery of Anna’s marriage to another Dorfprozelten emigrant, Franz Michael Scheubner, made it apparent why she had decided to leave her home village.

Anna Happ marriage 1869

The marriage occurred in New York on 24 October 1869, shortly after Anna’s arrival. It is indexed in the New York Marriages 1686-1980 under Scheibner, a further reference to Veh’s book clearly correlated to Scheubner rather than Scheibner: his parents were Sebastian Scheibner and Anna Maria Rheinthaler and Anna’s are also correctly shown as Michael Happ and Catherine Zöller.

Like many Germans, Franz Michael was more typically known by his second name, Michael, and this is how he appears in records in the US, other than his immigration record. He arrived in New York on the ship Union, on 8 May 1869, aged 30, and this document[ii] uses Franz, probably because this is how his baptism was recorded.

So now my question is why Anna brought her younger brother, Raimund, with her when she emigrated, rather than why she herself emigrated.

Life in America

It seems from all the records I’ve found that the couple lived in Manhattan through their life together.

In the 1870 US Federal census[iii], Michael and Anna were living in New York Ward 17, District 21. Michael was shown as a cook. Their surname has been misindexed as Scheibner.

By the 1880 Federal census[iv], Michael and Anna had two children, Frederick Scheubner aged 4 and Kathe aged 1 (probably Catherine after her mother) and were living on the east side of 16th Street, Manhattan. There were plenty of Bavarians living close by but it’s interesting that Michael showed their origins as German. Michael was working as a cook in a hotel and had dropped 7 years from his age.

Despite my best efforts and searching across multiple sites, I have been unable to locate any of the Scheubner family in the 1890 Federal census or the 1892 New York census. I am assuming that it has been mis-indexed, though even using wildcards or first names they have still eluded me. As it’s not my direct family I’ve had to put it aside for now rather than spend more time on it.

I have had more joy with City Directories. In the 1879 New York City Directories Michael Scheubner (a cook) is registered as living at 191 Orchard and in 1888 at 104 1st Street and was a cook. In 1894 he is registered as Mich’l Scheubner and he has an eating house at 61 Grand (see below) and a residence at 48 Grand. In later directories (1902, 1903 and 1906) he is at 61 Grand.[v]

On the 1900 census I found a Michael Scheubner living with his wife Katie at 61 Grand St between Wooster St and West Broadway, Manhattan[vi]. Michael is 50 and lists his birthdate as August 1849 (rather than July 1838) and arrived in the USA in 1870, having been there for 30 years. Katie, his wife, is also German-born and enumerated as aged 30, even though she supposedly arrived in 1869 and had been in the US for 31 years….obviously some error there. They had been married eight years (soon after Anna’s death in 1892?) and had two children, but neither was alive. Michael is working as a cook, which is why it’s tempting to think he’s the right man.

I’m curious, too, whether it is this Michael Scheubner who is a 38 year old (est YOB 1839) passenger on the Weser to New York in 1877. He is a cook and an American citizen. Is this our guy going back to Germany to see family, then returning?[vii]

Oops forgot this before...the Manhattan residences of the Scheubners.

Oops forgot this before…the Manhattan residences of the Scheubners.

And deaths in America

I knew from Dorfprozelten Teil II (page 229) that Anna Happ (Scheubner) had died on 14 February 1892 in the USA, though there is no mention of her married name. Indexes on Ancestry record her death on 12 February 1892, aged 56 in Manhattan.[viii]She died the day after her 56th birthday.

It seems it may be “our” Michael who died in 1905, also in Manhattan, aged 63[ix]. Michael is rather more prone to providing variable dates of birth.

I have done preliminary searches for the children Frederick and Kathe (Catherine?) Scheubner without success. Throughout this research I’ve been cross-referring between Family Search, Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com and Archives.com.

Please join me for Part II of this story as I reveal what happened to Raymond and his brother Julius in the USA.

For the record, this is my 600th post to this blog…whew!

FYI: When reading German references I particularly like the Reverso online dictionary. You can even use it to translate sentences.

——————

[i] Dorfprozelten am Main Teil II. Veh, G, Benedict Press, 2002. See pages 41, 143-144, 198-199, 192-193, 213-214 , 229, 23-239 for the families mentioned in this story.

[ii] Year: 1869; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 310; Line: 27; List Number: 457.

[iii] Year: 1870; Census Place: New York Ward 17 District 21 (2nd Enum), New York, New York; Roll: M593_1038; Page: 208B; Image: 420; Family History Library Film: 552537. From Ancestry.com

[iv] Year: 1880; Census Place: New York City, New York, NewYork; Roll: 887; Family History Film: 1254887; Page: 221A; Enumeration District: 420; Image: 0307. From Ancestry.com

[v] Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

[vi] Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1080; Page: 17B; Enumeration District: 0012; FHL microfilm: 1241080.

[vii]  Passenger Lists of vessels arriving at New York, 1820-1897 , Affiliate Film Number: 410 , GS Film Number: 000295774 , Digital Folder Number: 004680490 , Image Number: 00869. Familysearch.org

[viii] Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Death Index, 1862-1948 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.Original data: Index to New York City Deaths 1862-1948. Indices prepared by the Italian Genealogical Group and the German Genealogy Group, and used with permission of the New York City Department of Records/Municipal Archives. Certificate 5447 can be ordered.

[ix] Ibid certificate 18960.

My thoughts on David Malouf’s A First Place

David MaloufI’ve just begun an e-book of short stories, A First Place, by David Malouf. Absorbing stories written by Australians always seem slightly disorienting, so accustomed are we (or is it only me?) to reading books whose settings are elsewhere. Which came first, the sense that “other is better”, leading to the exodus of much of Australia’s talent, or the relative weighting of other and local?

One story, A First Place, is about growing up in Brisbane and how its particular topography and lifestyle defines not only who we become as adults, but how we think. That certainly gave me pause for thought, and I can’t decide the merits of the case, but is that because it’s part of me?

Brisbane is a hilly city – not mountainous, just hilly, where travelling by car or foot anywhere involves the negotiation of hills. From a large-scale view, the hills are not so obvious, it’s when one is on the ground that it becomes so much more apparent. One of the earliest things a Brisbane learner-driver has to come to terms with is hill starts in a geared car. After nearly two decades of living in flat-as-a-tack Darwin I sometimes forget I have to change gears or use more power when going up a hill. Our geography does change our daily patterns.

Taken from a hotel in the CBD, this view is to the south.

Taken from a hotel in the CBD, this view is to the south.

Malouf posits that the topography of the city means “it shapes in those who grow up there a different sensibility, a cast of mind, creates a different sort of Australian”. The hilliness of the city means that its residents miss the long vistas of flatter cities like Adelaide or Melbourne. They become accustomed to new views at every rise, and this may make them restless in the absence of variety, as well as precluding a clear map of the mind. I’d suggest it might also inculcate a sense of mystery in the same way that a door into a garden, rather than shut you out, makes you more curious what lies behind…or is that, once again, the Brisbane girl in me? He’s certainly correct that it gives the legs a good workout, especially if you grew up relying on Shanks’ pony to get you everywhere – something that’s noticeably absent from Darwin’s flatness, and the laziness that tropical humidity generates.

He also talks about the river’s unusual snake-like twisting through the city: one of the reasons the flooding a few years back caused so much damage, as it has in the past. Add to that the relative lack of bridges forcing the traveller to negotiate twice as many suburbs as a direct route would allow.  The river conspires to shut off vistas as do the hills, but I think it also opens up a sense of a city of two sides on both banks.

Brisbane River snakes through the city and here, the CBD. You can see some of the bridges, two of which are new.

Brisbane River snakes through the city and here, the CBD. You can see some of the bridges -the one in the centre is a new pedestrian bridge, called the Kurilpa Bridge (or the Knitting Needle Bridge as I do).

Now that the river has become an active character in the Brisbane landscape with the arrival of the City Cats (ferries) along with the riverside walkways, it does open up the city in a different way. In much the same way as the hills, it makes you wonder (if you don’t already), what is round the next corner. No wonder a river tour has become so popular over the past decades.1113 Brisbane river and ferry stop

The hills and river combine in a story my father has handed down. I often wondered whether it was something he’d made up, even though it made eminent sense, until a friend whose father was also a born-and-bred old Queenslander confirmed the same story. In the pioneering days, the drays would travel across the city along the ridges of the hills when the river was in flood. My father did much the same when my cousin’s house was in imminent risk of flooding back in 1974, helping him to get his belongings up to the ceiling before the flood hit (reaching very close to the ceiling – two floors).

The Story Bridge at sunset, a city cat, and in the distance my school, one of Brisbane's heritage sites.

The Story Bridge at sunset, a city cat, and in the distance my school, one of Brisbane’s heritage sites.

As Malouf says, Brisbane has a radial design, striking out from the city centre. In the days when few families had their own car, this meant that setting out on a journey could make two suburbs seem immeasurably far apart, and mystifyingly disconnected. This is how I experienced visits to my grandfather at Buranda from Kelvin Grove, or family friends at the outside reaches of Mt Gravatt. It wasn’t until we acquired a car, or until I travelled more by car, that the geography of the city started to make sense in a quite different way. The CBD of the city may be suitably laid out in grid-fashion (and flat) but not the rest of the place. Motorways (and bus lanes) cut through suburbs like knives now, but the new tunnels and underpasses generate a lack of knowledge of the landscape above, until one pops out, bandicoot-like, at the other end, hopefully in the right place, or somewhere you recognise and can navigate from.

Although not in a very hilly street, the home my grandparents lived in is a good example of the Queenslander style of house.

Although not in a hilly street, the home my grandparents once lived in is a good example of the Queenslander style of house.

Malouf also has a theory that Brisbane’s tree-house-like homes, built on stilts to accommodate the hills and introduce breezes, affect the psyche of those who grew up there.  His argument is that their openness, with doors always ajar, introduce an element of not-seeing, not-hearing as appropriate to the circumstances. The timber of the building moves in a way that brick structures do not, and are more vulnerable to climate as well as protecting the family from it. I’m not entirely sure that I agree with his thesis on the effect of Brisbane (or more accurately, tropical, housing). It seems predicated on a particular type of house, the old Queenslander with its encircling verandahs rather even than post-war timber housing, and certainly not on the more modern brick bungalow or two-story house. On the other hand, doors are only shut here because of air-conditioning so perhaps he has a point.

“Under the house” is a different world from that above where all serious living takes place. Home of the household washing machine, tubs, wringer or boiler, Dad’s workbenches and the kids’ play area, it has a sort of wondrousness about it as well as a daily practicality. It offers the chance to explore what Malouf calls “a kind of archaeological site”, hosting as it does all sorts of odds and ends that have found their way to rest there, as well as on-going practical items. This space certainly features prominently in my childhood memories of both my own home and that of my grandparents next door. I used to love using my grandfather’s vice to crack the Queensland nuts (now known as macadamias) which grew on our tree. Usually enclosed by timber battens, “under the house” is both open and yet secure. Surely this experience is different from those for whom a basement may serve similar functions?

Malouf asks himself “what habits of mind such a city may encourage in its citizens, and how, though taken for granted in this place, they may differ from the habits of places where geography declares itself at every point as helpful, reliable, being itself a map”. I suspect it gives your internal GPS such good training that ever after you are more able to understand other places.

The Brisbane River approaches the city from the west.

The Brisbane River flows out to Moreton Bay -you can see the Gateway Bridge here, dwarfed by altitude. Very kind of the pilot to take the river and city route that particular time -doesn’t happen frequently, and then you have to have the camera ready too.

If a good writer’s goal is to make one think, and challenge our internal assumptions, then Malouf has achieved this for me today.

Have you thought about the impact of the geography of where you grew up? Do you think it has affected how you see the world psychologically and emotionally, your habits and sense of the world’s geography.

Book: A First Place, David Malouf. Random House 2014. A collection of personal essays and writing from David Malouf to celebrate his 80th birthday. This includes the following short story: A First Place. 1984 Blakelock Lecture.

Like so many cities, Brisbane has its own sight-seeing ferris wheel. Adjacent is the Cultural Precinct.

Like so many cities, Brisbane has its own sight-seeing ferris wheel. Adjacent is the Cultural Precinct.

Diary of a Genea-Cruise: Days 7 and 8 – Hobart Town

It was a longish voyage from Adelaide to Hobart (yes, I know, our ancestors would disagree!)  so we had a combination day with genealogy and then some sight-seeing after our arrival in port at 2pm.

The sailing ship Florentia. Image from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and reproduced with permission. Image PW 7704

The sailing ship Florentia. Image from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and reproduced with permission. Image PW 7704

I loved arriving by sea into Hobart because it brought to mind that Mary O’Brien had probably come this way before me, back on 4 April 1853. Just imagine the relief of all those on board the Florentia after four and a half months at sea, with a diminishing supply of provisions. Hobart is such a pretty town with its encircling hills and Mount Wellington towering over the city. It may not have the drama of Sydney’s sandstone cliffs but it has an amiable, welcoming vibe. I could happily live in Hobart but that wouldn’t be an improvement on the remoteness of Darwin, and my heat-loving tropical friends would simply refuse to visit. It must surely have been appealing though to the immigrants from Ireland, England and Wales on board the Florentia.(Apologies to my mates who are heartily sick of Mary O’Brien from County Clare).

It was a public holiday for Regatta Day as the captain brought his huge ship to dock at the wharf. Little boats were skimming round the harbour but my friend Sharn and I chose to head off along the wharf to Salamanca Place and Battery Point for some sight-seeing. Having decided to stop for a coffee, we joined other Unlock the Past Cruisers for a chat at a local coffee shop.

Sailing into Hobart on Day 7

Sailing into Hobart on Day 7

But first there was some genealogy while still at sea:

Dealing with Ethical Dilemmas in Genealogy (panel discussion)

GeniAus (Jill Ball) hosted this Panel on Ethics which got good feedback from the audience. The panel was Kirsty Gray, Maria Northcote and myself and Jill had prepared a range of pertinent questions for us to respond to in turn. It was interesting to see the consistency between our responses …and there’d been no prior consultation or discussion. (if anyone has thought on the session I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts on the panel – difficult to retain it all while in the thick of it)

391 ethical dilemmas

Chris Paton again unravelled the complexities and variability of Scottish records with his talk Scottish marriage: instantly buckled for life. Scotland may be (currently) part of the UK, but Scottish family history is really not the same as that for England, make no mistake! Among the warnings Chris issued is that people only needed to have a witness to their commitment and the marriage was a valid one, and also the the (wonderful) ScotlandsPeople only has marriages for the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Churches. If you can’t find your ancestors you may wish to follow up the Statistical Accounts to see which other denominations were active in their parish at the time. 

After arrival in Hobart people scattered to their various activities and plans. I was fortunate to spent a few fun hours with fellow genie and photo obsessive, Sharn from Family History 4 U. Some of my photos from the day will eventually make it to my photo and travel blog Tropical Territory and Travel which has been sadly neglected of late, like other things. Although the weather looked a little precarious in the beginning it turned into a magnificent afternoon with crystal clear vivid blue skies.

The day finished with a very good fireworks display over the harbour, with resounding toots of the ship’s “horn” in thanks for the display. It certainly gathered the crowds on the high decks and afterwards I was invited to join my table-mates, Cathy and Dot and friend Maria in the cocktail bar on Deck 14…a very pleasant end to the day.

547 painting the shipDay 8 was another full day in port and imagine our surprise to look out from the verandah and see another cruise ship had arrived overnight. It was interesting to see that life at sea involves little down-time for the crew who were busy painting any blemishes on the ship’s hull.

My priority for Day 8 ( a shore day) was to hit the archives in Hobart although initially I’d hoped to go to the Cascade Factory. However that was superseded by following up all possible leads on the Florentia and whether they would offer any further clues to whether Mary O’Brien was on board as an unassisted immigrant when the ship sailed into Hobart. Despite searching a range of pre-ordered documents, the answers were still ambiguous by the end of the day. My research outcomes re the Florentia will be the subject of an upcoming post.

And so we sailed from Hobart Town with my thoughts reflecting on whether Mary O’Brien and her sister Bridget were similarly sorry to leave this pretty place behind to head north to Moreton Bay, or in my case, to Sydney Town.

Leaving Hobart behind.

Leaving Hobart behind.

52 weeks of Genealogy Records: Internal Migration

libraryShauna Hicks has initiated a new 52 week series of prompts, Genealogy Records. We’re only into Week 3 but there have already been some interesting topics: Military Medals, Internal Migration and Probate.

Over the past few years I’ve done several 52 week series: Personal Genealogy and History (2011), Abundant Genealogy (2012) and my own Beyond the Internet (2012). I’m currently signed up for Angler’s Rest’s Book of Me 15 month series as well, with which I’m very much behind. Combined with various A to Z April posts and other daily or monthly posts I’m reluctant to get involved in more as it starts to feel like I’ve got a tiger by the tail.

However Shauna’s topic is a great opportunity to personalise my own stories to her theme so I will probably join in from time to time where the topic is relevant to my own history.  I have such a migration mania that I couldn’t possibly not participate in her second topic, Internal Migration. Whenever I get on the topic of migration it turns into a long yarn, so grab a coffee and a comfy chair, and read on for a while.

THE McSHARRY/McSHERRY FAMILIES

With so many railway people in my family tree, it’s inevitable that they’d be a peripatetic lot. Some moved across vast distances, others only relatively short postings when in their early years.

Image from Office online.

Image from Office online.

My greatest internal migrants would be the Sherry family who arrived in Rockhampton, Queensland, from Ireland where they also worked on the railway: the Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford Railway line judging on their progressive movement through those counties. On arrival, the patriarch James Sherry, changed most of the family’s name to McSharry. Oral history suggests this may have been to piggy-back on the fame of James McSharry from the railway construction firm, O’Rourke and McSharry.  Who knows whether this is fact or fiction. I suppose it’s also possible that the two families may have been connected but that’s an exploration I’ve yet to undertake.  Whatever the reality it has certainly caused immense confusion when trying to unravel what happened to my own family over the years, especially the mystery of what happened to my James McSharry.

The McSharry family moved from Rockhampton where they arrived, to Maryborough (why?) for a number of years, then back to Rockhampton where wife/widow, Bridget McSharry, settled and ran a boarding house until her death in 1900.

The adult children of this family moved around Queensland in response to work. Early family events revealed at least some of these through death certificates, police staff files, Post Office Directories, electoral rolls, and marriage records.

The eldest son of the family, Peter Sherry, arrived with his family a year after the rest of the Sherry family. Strangely he changed his name to McSherry rather than McSharry. Within weeks of arriving in Rockhampton he had been recruited to Queensland Government Railways and so began his migration around the state. The family spent a long time in Longreach, then moved on to Hughenden and Townsville before being transferred to Rockhampton where they put down roots.

Tracing this family’s internal migration has been greatly facilitated by Trove as it has revealed stories that would otherwise never have been known. I have a full copy of Peter’s railway staff record which tells the bare bones of his positions and postings over the years: a great base for knowing where they migrated internally.

Obviously the children of this family moved with Peter and Mary McSherry in their childhood, but even in their adulthood, the migrations continued. My grandfather James, worked in Hughenden then later Townsville before moving to Brisbane so his children could obtain jobs, or so the oral history goes. Given the move occurred in 1942, mid-war, in the thick of the Brisbane Line concept, I have to wonder whether it was because he was needed to build the railway carriages further from risk of Japanese invasion.

Once again my sources are: railway staff files, Trove, oral history.

THE KUNKEL FAMILY

George and Mary Kunkel, of whom you’ve all heard often, settled in Ipswich after their marriage there in 1857. While there George worked in a number of occupations: servant (pre-marriage), pork butcher and boarding house keeper. To all extents and purposes he was there all the time, after all there were children being born at regular intervals.

Cobb & Co coach from National Library Australia, out of copyright.

Cobb & Co coach from National Library Australia, out of copyright.

It was a court report, that enlightened me differently. While the family was settled, George was also working on the Tooloom goldfields in northern NSW as a butcher. Further reading on Trove revealed that there were regular coaches between Tooloom and Ipswich so plainly he could get home fairly often, perhaps to restock his supplies.

Recently I posted how he’d had a financial setback and this may have prompted their move westward, reportedly working on the railway, or perhaps again supplying meat. The next precise confirmation of where they lived was at Highfields, via the school admission registers and through church baptisms and birth certificates.

A Queensland railway camp, possibly Fountain's Camp at Murphy's Creek.

A Queensland railway camp, possibly Fountain’s Camp at Murphy’s Creek.

A few years later and the family would move a short distance to the Fifteen Mile between Highfields and Murphys Creek where they would take up farming and settle. George supplemented the farm income by working for the railway as a labourer.

Kunkel descendants, many of them railway workers, also moved around south-east Queensland and west as far as Roma with postings as the railway was constructed. One family branch moved to Mackay in northern Queensland and set down roots cane farming.

Records: court reports, school admission records, baptisms and birth certificates, railway staff files, land selection records.

THE GAVIN FAMILY

The Gavins were short-migration people. Denis came from Kildare in Ireland and his wife, Ellen, from Wicklow. They married in Dublin before they emigrated though it’s not known when they each made that internal move.

Bullock dray loaded with wool, Qld 1898. Image from Qld State Archives, out of copyright.

Bullock dray loaded with wool, Qld 1898. Image from Qld State Archives, out of copyright.

On arrival Denis went to Binbian Downs station (per his obituary) as a carrier, then to Dalby, Toowoomba and Crows Nest. Although the distances are short by Australian standards he would have covered a lot of ground carrying wool on the bullock dray from Binbian Downs which is out near Wallumbilla.

Like the other Gavan/Gavin families with whom they interweave, but are unrelated, they remained on the Darling Downs.

Records: Convict records (the Galway Gavins), birth certificates, employment records, death certificates, re-marriage certificates, obituaries, maps, Trove.

THE KENT, PARTRIDGE AND McCORKINDALE FAMILIES

These families were my stay-at-homes. The Kents and Partridges both went straight to Ipswich on arrival as far as I can tell. There they remained until their deaths, though descendants moved around the state.

Highland Gathering Acton Flats: Duncan McCorkindale was a judge of the dancers. National Archives of Australia: A3560, 2882

Highland Gathering Acton Flats: Duncan McCorkindale was a judge of the dancers. National Archives of Australia: A3560, 2882

The McCorkindale exodus from Glasgow commenced with Peter and Duncan’s arrival in Sydney in 1900. Well actually I eventually discovered it commenced with an uncle’s arrival quite a bit earlier. After the death of their father, their mother (Annie Sim McCorkindale) emigrated with the rest of the family excluding one stay-put son, Thomas Sim McCorkindale who’d moved to London. Close analysis of the shipping lists showed that other family members had arrived as well.

Once settled in Brisbane on arrival, Peter joined them, and the family remained there except for country excursions to decimate the opposite in bagpipe and Highland Dance competitions. Duncan McCorkindale moved between Sydney and Canberra where he was part of the teams that built the nation’s capital, and their Caledonian Society.

Records: Trove, shipping lists, BDM certificates, church registers.

 THE MELVIN FAMILY

Stephen Gillespie Melvin’s family was tied to the sea, with generations of merchant seamen. No surprise then that they were born to be migrants, both internal and international.

After the death of his wife, Janet, soon after arrival SGM settled in Ipswich, Queensland where he promptly established a well-regarded confectionery shop. He must have gadded around a bit though because his land portfolio was scattered around the south east of Queensland. But it was his foray into mining that brought him undone, resulting in insolvency and a little jaunt to jail.

Not long after being released from jail, the family moved to Charters Towers which was then experiencing a gold boom. No doubt escaping his notoriety would have been on his mind as well, though the coverage of the trial was so extensive that it would have been known in Charters Towers as well.

Around the time of his second wife’s Emily’s death, SGM started acquiring businesses and land in Sydney and thus the younger members of his family set down their roots in New South Wales. Meanwhile he continued his migrations on a temporary basis, as he travelled back and forth to the UK for business. One such migration became permanent however when he died in London.

Records: BDM certificates, church registers, shipping records, Trove, court reports, gaol records, insolvency records, wills.

THE O’BRIEN WIDDUP FAMILY

I know from my Irish research that the emigrants were keen to follow their own destiny even at the expense of family connections, but the internal migration of Bridget O’Brien (later Widdup) is one that puzzles me.

Bridget (O'Brien) Widdup's grave in the Urana cemetery.

Bridget (O’Brien) Widdup’s grave in the Urana cemetery.

If Bridget was in Ipswich with her sister Mary after their long emigration journey, why did she decide to move south to the Albury area, and to Urana? This has always mystified me, since I knew from her death certificate that she’d spent one year in Queensland.

The possibilities seem to be:

  • She didn’t like the Queensland environment or climate
  • Friends were moving interstate
  • She had met her future husband, John Widdup, on the ship as the story goes so she moved to be with him.
  • Her employer in Queensland relocated and offered her a position elsewhere.

It’s the Whys of family history research that keep us on our toes.

Records: Death certificates, oral history, Trove

So there you have it…the peripatetic wanderings of my families over the years. It has always seemed to me that having made the long journey to Australia, rather than the comparatively short hop across the Atlantic, they were not daunted by further moves if they satisfied their occupation or life goals.

When I was 18 – there were no dinosaurs

Over the past months it often occurs to me just how much has changed in my lifetime, so I’ve been thinking about this post for a while…must be a sign of increasing age. Doesn’t mean I won’t forget something, so please add your comments at the end, or join me and write your own post on the topic as your experiences may be very different.

I grew up in Brisbane in Queensland as a number of my blogging friends did as well. I wonder how much our experiences will overlap and where they’ll differ.

SOCIETY

Voting and drinking were illegal for us, being under 21, but our brothers or male friends could be sent to war.

SDA

Image – Creative Commons. http://www.sds-1960s.org/

Communism and Vietnam: Australia was still nervous about “Reds under the Beds” and suddenly wanted to go “All the Way with LBJ”. Universities were agitating over civil liberties, Australia’s presence in the Vietnam War and the enforced conscription of young men, who “won” the conscription lotto if their birthday was drawn out for a free excursion to the Vietnam War. Queensland was very conservative in all sorts of ways.

Multi-culturalism hadn’t been invented as a concept, though the reality had arrived with the post-War immigrants.  They retained national dress, dance and language for special events, and at home. Their influence was about to be felt in the realms of food as we were introduced to garlic, olives etc.

Church: Many, if not most, people went to church regularly. Vatican II had arrived and Catholic women shed their hats for mantillas (a lace veil over the head). People started to think independently about their actions. The barriers between religions were still standing and most people were horrified at the thought of entering a different type of church.

Brown or Asian faces were rarely seen in the city as Australia’s hideous White Australia Policy was still enforced. No one admitted to having indigenous or convict blood.

Neighbours: whether you liked them or not, you knew pretty much everyone because you passed them as you walked to the bus/tram. You always said hello to those you passed.

Hospitals: Queensland had a public hospital system funded by the Golden Casket. There was no Medicare for all.

The effects of World War II were still evident around town in the men’s physical injuries – empty sleeves or trouser legs pinned up and prostheses. Their mental injuries weren’t so evident except perhaps in the occasional drunk seen on the street.

TRAVEL

Image from Creative Commons.

Image from Microsoft Images Online.

Daily Transport: we didn’t own a car until I was 20 so getting around town involved shanks’s pony (walking), bus, tram or train. Standing up and offering your seat to an adult or pregnant woman was totally non-negotiable. My Dad rode to work, hail, rain or shine, on his no-gears push-bike.

Air Travel was expensive and not available to most. I didn’t fly in a plane until I was 19 (with a friend who was a pilot), and on a commercial flight at 21. I’ve been on and off planes like buses ever since.

Holiday Transport was by intra-state train. Those taking the semi-obligatory trip to the “Old Country” for a year or two’s work experience travelled by ship. As the ship pulled away from the wharf there were streamers held by passenger and friend which snapped as the distance grew. Very symbolic.

Overseas Travel was a fantasy for most people. Only our one family of “rich relations” had travelled overseas.

Suitcases were solid, heavy and were carried, not wheeled. (What a great invention that’s been!)

The Brisbane city skyline as I finished school.  From my photo collection.

The Brisbane city skyline as I finished school. From my photo collection.

Brisbane’s first Freeway was still a few years away.

Space travel was a recent competition between Soviet and America (US) astronauts and scientists. The Soviets were leading the way but the US was yet to put Apollo 11 and the first man on the moon.

AROUND TOWN

The Brisbane City Hall clock tower was still holding its own as one of the highest buildings and you could read the time from it around the streets. 

Illustrating Jill's point, dressed for town or church with gloves, hat and patent leather shoes.

Illustrating Jill’s point, dressed for town or church with gloves, hat and patent leather shoes.

Shopping malls didn’t exist. You went to the city or Fortitude Valley when shopping for clothes or household goods. My mother used to like to walk the length of Brisbane from Finney’s to McDonnell & East to check the items and prices. We were “allowed” to catch the tram or bus to the city from the Valley. Going to town always involved getting “dressed up”, no informality in those days. Parcels at the good shops were wrapped in brown paper and tied neatly with string, with a loop to make it easier to carry.

TECHNOLOGY, ENTERTAINMENT & COMMUNICATION

Technology: TV and radio were our main technology. There were no cable TVs, DVDs, VCRs, fax, internet, computers, iPads, MP3s, cassette players, tape recorders, answering machines, or mobile phones. Colour TV was still on the horizon. Records were 78s or 33s (LPs) and small 45s. If you were lucky you had a record player in the house, either a family one or a portable one, which was likely a gift. My grandmother owned a gramophone which I have inherited.Portable record player c1960s

Postage: If you wanted to share news with someone you had limited choices: letters for ordinary events, postcards for holiday news, and telegrams for urgent news or special celebrations. The postman (it was always a man) walked his route twice a day delivering the mail and blew his whistle if you had mail. On hot summer days it was a common courtesy to offer him a cold drink.

"My Fair Lady" Programme

My copy of the “My Fair Lady” Programme.

Telegrams were delivered to your door and if you knew it was a birthday or you were sharing exam results with people it wouldn’t strike fear into your heart as one would if “coming out of the blue”.

Entertainment: There were no multiplex cinemas and you “went to the pictures” in town or at a local theatre. Stage shows were something special. Both movies and theatre offered published programs with pictures and stories about the actors and the movie/show. There was always an interval in the movie and young women walked through the theatre selling lollies and ice-creams.

Cameras and watches were something special: reserved for adults, and fortunate children, but often to recognise a special birthday or achievement.

HOUSEHOLD

Food: Meals were cooked from scratched. Roast chicken was expensive, unless you had your own chooks and was often a Christmas and Easter special meal. Baking in our house was a Saturday event. The only take-away, very occasionally, was fish and chips. When I was about 18, Mum & I occasionally ventured to the Valley to a Chinese restaurant where we had exotic meals like sweet and sour pork and stir-fried rice. I don’t recall Mum and Dad ever going out for a restaurant meal, partly because of his shift work.

Ingredients: Fruit and veg were basic and chokoes were deemed to be a reasonable option for preserving or vegetables. Avocadoes, mushrooms, zucchini, unusual herbs etc were in the future. Many of these I first “met” when I worked in a fruit and veg shop as a part-time job. Bread was always white and fluffy, and also fresh from the bakery. I remember even in my 20s it was a challenge to find coconut milk in Brisbane (they had it at Toowong Woolworths).

An old laundry copper recycled as a water feature in the NT. Photo P Cass.

An old laundry copper recycled as a water feature in the NT. Photo P Cass.

Glad Wrap/ Cling Wrap hadn’t arrived and sandwiches were wrapped in greaseproof paper.

Telephone: Most homes near us didn’t have one. Those who did would take urgent messages for friends who lived close by, otherwise you used the local public phone or wrote letters.

Laundry Day was always Monday and was a heavy-duty workload with coppers, wringers and hand-washing. Twin tub machines were a grand invention and automatic washing machines in our future.

Corner Stores: we had a corner store for the basics and a butcher’s shop a couple of streets away. I have no idea where the groceries came from or how they were delivered. A cart came around sometimes with bread and fish.

Appliances and housework: The Sunbeam mixer, the pressure cooker, and carpet sweeper were “it” as far as appliances went. Mum was always the dishwasher, and I was the dryer. Dad mowed the lawn, looked after the garden and mended the shoes.

EDUCATION, KIDS & TEENS

Boys and girls in private schools were not permitted to speak to each other on public transport, even siblings….a fine excuse!

Make up was reserved for the mid-teens and was a ritual of passage unless you were playing “dress-ups” as a child.

The Great Court at UQ c1998

The Great Court at UQ c1998. P Cass

Books were special purchases, usually only for birthdays or Christmas, or perhaps when you were sick because they were expensive.

Your friends lived in your own neighbourhood, unless/until you went to high school in the city. No one drove you to meet them, no matter where they lived, you caught public transport.

University was a dream for many people but the newly-introduced government scholarships made it possible for working class kids who studied hard.

I met my beloved Mr Cassmob and my life changed in ways I’d never have imagined.

DINOSAURS

Dinosaur

Image from Microsoft Images Online.

No, didn’t see any of those around there, even though this all sounds like light-years away. I’d love to hear your comments on whether your experience differed from mine, and in particular from younger readers.

Book of Me: Home is where the heart is.

Book of meThe prompt for week 20 in the 15 month series of Book of Me is “Home”: Home means different things to different people, so this week we are going to explore what it means to us: What does it feel like? How do you recognise it? What makes it home -people, place, time. This will be a long post I fear, so get comfortable with a coffee or tea.

This is something I’ve pondered generally over a long time, in the context of my own life but also for my emigrant ancestors. Were they ever truly at home in Australia or did they still think of their places of birth as home? Did they hanker for grey skies, old buildings, green fields? Of course these are answers I’ll never have since there are no diaries to read, no letters and no oral history touching on the topic.

My own sense of home is sometimes elusive. We are empty nesters and our “children” have established their own homes. They are family but they are no longer part of “home” except inasmuch they live in the same city.Peter and Springer low

The core of “home” for me is my husband, Mr Cassmob. We’ve been together so long it’s almost impossible to imagine home without him, though that will be a reality one or other of us will have to face one day, hopefully far in the future. Another part of home on a daily basis is our very indulged fluffy tabby cat, Springer. Certainly both of us felt a gap in our lives when he went missing for seven weeks last year. He has, I suppose, become a surrogate “child”: he even gracefully returns our affections – when it suits him – occasionally.

My childhood home.

My childhood home.

After spending all my younger years years in one house, , our own family has moved house eleven times, some houses being but passing phases, others being our home for long periods. While I’ve loved living in each of our houses, the house itself does not define home, except for the duration we live there. If we return for a drive-by it’s out of curiosity to see what’s changed and especially to look at the garden. So I guess we have to add the garden to a sense of home. It may be a townhouse block or a larger suburban block, but the plants and birds who visit become part of our feeling of home. And in every house, a cat has been part of our home.29 bally st 7 front

There is really only one house for which I feel nostalgic and that’s my my grandparents’ house which I visited daily as a child. I think it was the indulgence and exploration that made it so irresistable. That is perhaps the home of “time”, a special place in memory and affection.

Other than husband and cat, the constants of home are the belongings we treasure and take with us from house to house. Always a core of books, special items and “treasures” we’ve acquired wherever we’ve lived or travelled. Very little has any real commercial value, but they reflect our lives. It’s hard to imagine our home without them, though that is something that has to be considered when living with the annual risk of cyclones. Perhaps that’s why my cyclone emergency packing pays minimal attention to clothes, linen and other practicalities. It’s interesting to ponder what I would take with me to define home if we were to spend an extended time overseas.

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Is “home” a specific place for me? For a long time Brisbane was home, as I’d known no other. That changed when I went to live in Papua New Guinea after we married, the transition to a new sense of home being surprisingly speedy. Returning to PNG in 2012, there was a real sense of being home again: the familiarity of place and people. We feel the same every time our plane lands in Cairns because the density of the tropical ranges evoke PNG so clearly. Now, each place we live imprints itself on mind and emotion.

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My parents didn’t own a car until I was in my late teens so Brisbane was a series of disjointed images rather like map segments stuck together. Flying in regularly, my vision of it changed: the serpentine Brisbane River wound its way through the city; the hills enclosing the city and the red-roofed houses seemed so obvious.

Eldest daughter with her Poppy, feeding the lorikeets.

Eldest daughter with her Poppy, feeding the lorikeets.

Brisbane is kookaburras laughing, magpies warbling and lorikeets drunk on nectar. The sound of cicadas on a hot summer’s day. The different flowers and plants of this sub-tropical town: perhaps the best of both “worlds”.Billabong2

DSC_1100The Top End will remain with me for its very different geography and vegetation, and its wide open spaces. The drama of the Wet Season with its fierce electrical storms and torrential rains. The inability to swim in those magnificently turquoise waters (crocodiles, stingers, sharks etc). The tropical beauty of a bush billabong. The peep-peep of the crimson finches in our yard, the flash of colour from a rainbow bee-eater, the strangled laugh of the northern kookaburra, the speed of a whistling kite as it snatches a sausage.

All these places become part of my history of “home” as we move around.

Near Renner Springs NT

Near Renner Springs NT

What remains unchanged is my core sense of Australia as home. Whenever we return from a trip overseas it’s the wide, bright blue skies that strike me first and the vivid colours so different from the northern hemisphere. The sense of space when travelling through our much-mythologised outback. The sound of surf breaking on the vast white sands of our beaches. A huge sky emblazoned with the southern stars and the Southern Cross marking their transition through the night. Its bizarre animals and magnificent native flora. Dorothy Mackellar’s poem, My Country, though a little old-fashioned in style, sums it up well in essence.

So what is truly home for me? On a daily basis it’s Mr Cassmob, the cat, our books and belongings, the garden and its flowers and birds. The house structure is important but only while we live there. Underpinning it all is the sense of place: the affiliation with the land and landscape of Australia in all its manifestations.Birds better