Hamilton has always grappled with its identity, from “education town” and “cathedral city” to the most enduring (and endearing) tag “Wool Capital of the World”. But Mayor Cr. William Ferrier Hewett’s vision in 1955, published in The Argus of June 10, really takes the cake…
It’s Trove Tuesday and this is my first TT post since June. I’ve been looking forward to sharing this little find from The Australian Worker (Sydney) . After coming across these two articles I must say I laughed about their contents for days and all because a typesetter used an “m” instead of a “p.”
The first excerpt is a letter written to the “Children’s Letters” column by my 2nd cousin 3 x removed, Iris Olive Harman of South Ecklin. Iris was the daughter of Arthur John Harman and Ellen “Nellie” Matilda Rodgers and was born in 1900 at Cobden, She was 16 or 17 when she wrote her letter. Her grandfather was Jonathan Harman of Byaduk. She had three older brothers who she mentioned in her letter, Arthur Ernest, Frederick Reginald and Edward George. They were around 20, 24 and 26 in 1918 and all unmarried. Iris’ father had moved to Byaduk to live with his father Jonathan four years earlier and I’m still yet to discover what happened to his and Nellie’s marriage.
Iris was a religious girl from a Methodist background but as an adult she was a member of the Seventh-Day Adventist church and taught bible studies in the churches’ Sabbath schools. Iris was a spinster until at least the 1954 Electoral Roll and although some researchers have her married after that time, I am yet to confirm it myself.
Knowing that information about Iris, you too will be as shocked (and no doubt amused) as I was when I read her letter:
Oh dear, the scandal. A young christian girl was in search of “men friends.”
It took three months, but finally an explanation was forthcoming:
While I amused myself for days after, relaying the story to anyone who pretended to listen, I must consider the shame such a tiny slip caused as implied in the newspaper’s apology. In the years following, Nellie, Iris and brother Frederick packed up and left for Warrnambool for no apparent reason. Now having found these articles, I’m wondering if the shame brought to the family may have prompted the move.
Well it’s Tuesday and that could only mean one thing…Trove Tuesday. It’s been too long. I’ve read a lot of the Table Talk newspaper lately, a recent addition to the wonderful collection of Trove Digitised Newspapers. Because Table Talk (1885-1939) was a social newspaper, I have enjoyed the comings and goings of Western District folk from those times, spending their holidays with friends or living it up in the “big smoke” as guests of Melbourne’s best hotels. Alas, my Western District families were not in the same class of people who graced the social pages, but I still enjoy the photos of those from a higher station in life enjoying tennis and golf tournaments and fox hunts all in the finest fashions.
One feature of Table Talk is wedding photos. I have found several Hamilton brides, and have admired their beautiful gowns and bridesmaids’ dresses while following the changing trends in wedding attire. One particular photo caught my eye, mainly because I didn’t recognise the Hamilton family names as those that regularly graced the Table Talk pages. It was from the marriage of Caleb Shang and Annie Kassene , celebrated at the home of Mr J. Quing Yen of Brown Street, Hamilton. The bridal party consisted of members of the Shang, Kassene and Quing Yen families.
I searched Trove for Caleb Shang and was immediately met with headlines of “War Hero”. I then Googled his name and there were entries from the Australian Dictionary of Biography , Wikipedia, the Australian War Memorial and various newspaper articles. I checked with those sites and the same Caleb Shang married Annie Kassene, but considering Caleb was from Cairns, I was left wondering why he was in Hamilton?
As it turns out, Caleb served with the 47th Battalion during WW1 and after a battle at Messines Ridge in 1916, he received a Distinguished Conduct Medal(DCM). In 1918, while still with the 47th, his brave actions at the Somme saw him awarded a Military Medal and a bar was added to his DCM , thus becoming the highest decorated Australian soldier of Chinese descent. In August 1918, he was shot in the leg and returned to Australia where he was given a hero’s welcome by the people of Cairns.
Sometime after his return, Caleb worked as a herbalist and moved to Victoria to practice. To be precise, he moved to Hamilton, joining another herbalist John Quing Yen who married Maud Elizabeth Wah Shang in Queensland in 1910. Presumably Maud was Caleb’s sister. As a herbalist, Caleb not only serviced the people of Hamilton but also travelled to Mt Gambier offering consultations at a local boarding house, as seen in this advertisement from the Border Watch of September 22, 1922, eight months before his marriage.
After the wedding, Caleb and Annie did not remain in Hamilton long, returning to Cairns. After a long illness, Caleb passed away in 1953.
I thought it necessary to find out a little about the bride Anna (Annie) Louise Kassene, born at Hamilton in 1900. She was the daughter of bootmaker Gustav Kassene and Hulda Grambau of Hochkirch (Tarrington). Hulda died in 1901 after the birth of her third child at barely 20 years of age and Gustav died in 1915. The two Kassene men in the wedding photo are possibly Annie’s two siblings. Annie died in Cairns in 1955.
After 82 consecutive Trove Tuesday posts, I’ve missed one. Yes, I just couldn’t get a post prepared this week and I’m a bit sad that it has come to an end. I really was hoping to get to 100 without a break. Now that I have broken the succession, it is a good time to say that I will have a short break from Trove Tuesday.
With a lot going on in my life including a rapidly approaching due date for my thesis , I need to take a break. I will still have a March Passing of the Pioneers post (hopefully in time) and will of course post for the Anzac Day Blog Challenge, which I just can’t miss. In the meantime, if I get a chance to post I will, but I’m not making any promises.
For Trove Tuesday this week, I intended to share some feedback from my post a few Tuesdays back called “Dear Cinderella”. It is always a bit nerve-racking when I write about someone, not related to me who people may remember. I did it when I wrote about Lottie Condon, Sultan Aziz, Elsie Day and again when I wrote about the owners of Skipton, the 1941 Melbourne Cup winner. I heard from family members of each of those people, which is great and, thankfully, the responses were positive.
I was lucky enough to receive an email and a blog comment from the granddaughters of Nicholas Dix, Paula and Dallas. Nicholas was one of the many children that wrote to the Leader Newspaper’s “Dear Cinderella” column. His description of his farm life in the Western District gives those researching the area a great record of daily life during that time, but for Paula and Dallas it provides a wonderful piece of family history. His granddaughters on finding my post were “thrilled” to have this reminder of their much loved grandfather who passed away over 30 years ago.
I may have found the article, but it is the work of those at Trove Australia, bringing us the great resource of digitised newspapers, that led to Nicholas’ letter coming to light. Without the digitisation program, the letter may have remained buried in an archive, possibly to be never read again. My aim with many of my Trove Tuesday posts, is to find such lost treasures and bring them out for all to read. If you would like to read my previous 82 Trove Tuesday posts until I resume them again, follow the link – Trove Tuesday. In the meantime, I hope that other bloggers continue the Trove Tuesday tradition of sharing Trove’s treasures.
Still on the subject of Charles James Harman, this is an interesting snippet from the Townsville Daily Bulletin of September 3, 1930.
In the 1920s, Charles, his wife Lavinia Fisher and daughter Mary travelled to London for Charles to take up a post with the R.A.A.F. at the R.A.F. headquarters. His position was terminated in 1930 and the family returned to Melbourne. The world was in Depression and while this was not the apparent reason for Charles’ role ending, it was probably a good time to return home.
According to Lavinia, even if Australians in London had money in the bank they could only access their funds after a 60 day waiting period. The jewellery had to go with women selling off their valuables, probably at a deflated price, just to get some cash to survive.
Newspapers are a great for filling in the gaps in our family histories, uncovering information that would never be known using vital records alone. That has been the case with my research on my gg uncle Charles James Harman. The co-subject of last week’s Trove Tuesday post, Charles just keeps popping up in the papers offering me more and more about him. I had found a lot of information on his post-war life in The Argus, but the arrival of the Hamilton Spectator and the Port Fairy Chronicle at Trove has helped me fill in his pre-war days, spent around Macarthur and Byaduk.
Firstly, I discovered why Charles’ engineering skill was quickly noticed by the A.F.C., with his mechanical crew keeping the No.1 Squadron in the air over Egypt during WW1. Also, I found Charles had a friend. Yes, even our ancestors had friends and I’m always keen to find those relationships. The following article from the Port Fairy Chronicle drew my attention to the working relationship between Charles and Arthur Parfrey, but the letter Charles wrote to Arthur, featured in last week’s Trove Tuesday, proved they were mates too.
Twelve months before this article, Charles was left a widower when his wife Catherine Kinghorn passed away. Catherine was 10 years older than Charles and 37 at the time of their marriage in 1905. They never had children.
By January 1915, Charles and Arthur had their water boring plant up and running and available for hire. Business was brisk with dry conditions prevailing.
But things can change so quickly and with the war escalating, and no family ties, Charles sold up everything in April 1915. On July 12, 1915 at the age of 36, Charles enlisted, never to return to the Western District as a resident again.
The rise of Charles through the ranks with the A.F.C., finishing the war as a 2nd Lieutenant with military honours, led to a posting in London during the 1920s with the R.A.A.F. followed by a life in Melbourne until his death in 1943. The last half of Charles’ life was a total contrast to the first half. He went from pigs and dairy cows on the farm at Macarthur to rubbing shoulders with the highest ranked officials in the R.A.F. and R.A.A.F, flying in airships and attending the funeral of the victims of the R101 airship crash at St Paul’s Cathedral, London. Other attendees included some of the highest ranked officials in England including the Prince of Wales. All found out thanks to online newspapers at Trove.
This is my 80th consecutive Trove Tuesday post but I thought my run would end at 79. Yesterday I took a tumble and now have soft tissue damage in my knee and after a late night in the emergency department, things weren’t looking good for a 80th Trove Tuesday post. Thankfully, I had started the post over the weekend, so I thought I would give you what I have so far and finish next Tuesday with the relationship between the subjects in my article, found once again at Trove.
Over the past weekend, the R.A.A.F. celebrated 100 years of military aviation with an air show at the Point Cook R.A.A.F. base. So, I thought it was a good time to share an article I found about my gg uncle Charles James Harman, that I found in the Hamilton Spectator when the paper came online in 2013. Charles was the son of Reuben James Harman and Lizzie Bishop and grandson of James Harman and Susan Reed of Byaduk. He has had a post here before, about the time he took a flight in the R101 airship.
Charles Harman joined the Australian Flying Corp in 1915 as a flight sergeant and over the course of the war rose to an officer ranking with the No. 1 Squadron of the A.F.C. He spent most of the war in Egypt and mid-way through 1916, wrote home to his mate and business associate, Arthur Parfrey of Macarthur. Arthur passed the interesting letter across to the Hamilton Spectator and the paper published it on September 14, 1916.
The flight he writes of was with pilot Oswald Watt as they reached heights of 7000 feet. Considering the planes the then Major Watt was flying, they were daring. Oswald Watt’s biography is available to read at the Australian Dictionary of Biography.