Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Morning After The Night Before

Dora the Explorer
This morning I feel just like Dora the Explorer when she bursts into her song "We did it, we did it, we did it, Hooray".

Just like Dora last night I set off on in adventure in an unknown territory, my first Google Hangout on Air. Like Dora who has her friends Boots and Swiper when she goes adventuring I had the support of fellow genealogists.

Thank you to those who joined me on the panel, those who watched in real time and made comments on the event page and those who have since watched my hangout and have made helpful comments. I am humbled. it was an Hooray moment for me and for genealogy downunder.

From the time I advertised the event on Google+ I realised that there was a place for Google Hangouts on Air with an Australian flavour. Many people responded that they were interested in attending the event and more than half of these did either join the panel or watch online. Thank you to those brave people who joined the panel and experienced their very first Hangout on Air; I hope you will join in again.

As I believe that a very important part of any event is evaluation I am going to use the PMI evaluation strategy to make a few comments. I welcome further suggestions on the Hangout Event page.

Plus +
We did it, Hooray!
There were more prospective panellists than places on the panel.
There was interest in this event not only from Australia but from overseas
The Google+ Event page associated with the Hangout gave those who were viewing an opportunity to join in the conversation.
Viewers used the Event page to make comments and suggestions.
It was obvious that genealogists downunder are ready to harness Google Hangouts on Air as a means of collaboration.
Having some panellists who are familiar with the Hangout on Air tools assisted with the smooth running of the event. Thank you Julie, Pat and Russ.
My US mate, DearMyrtle was willing to rise at 4:00am to support me.
Some viewers appeared to learn about new resources.
The conversation remained on topic.
I learnt a lot in a short space of time about the Hangout on Air interface.
I will make Geniaus Hangouts on Air a regular event on my calendar.
The video appeared on my YouTube channel without any drama.
I was able to easily add tags and further information about the video on my YouTube page.
27 people have viewed the video so far on Youtube.
Anne successfully participated from her iPad.

Minus -
I said Um far too many times.
My head was bobbing around like a cork - I must try to be still.
I didn't wait long enough for the recording to begin so my first couple of introductory sentences are missing from the recording.
I was confused by the process of issuing invitations.
I did not monitor the conversation on the Event page successfully.
I need to give panellists guidance on lighting and positioning of their cameras. (I put my laptop on top of a couple of fat cookbooks so that it was at a better angle and I had my light source which was to bright in front of me).

Interesting ?
Only one male joined the panel.
The age range of panellists was huge - from 22 to 60+. Lovely to see enthusiastic youngsters like Caitlin and Sharon.
A good suggestion was to cycle to panellists.
Another suggestion was to include online demonstrations of various genealogy resources in the Hangout.
Perhaps Pauleen Cass who has written many blog posts about traditional resources could share her knowledge on this topic.
Julie Goucher suggested a Geniaus HOA Google+ Group, Ronnie Bincer also suggests creating a circle of those who are interested in Hangouts on Air. I will create a circle of those interested in my Hangouts on Air and invite these people along - I don't want to spam those in my genealogy circles who are not interested. If you have commented on the event I will encircle you and you will be included in notifications about future HOAs.
A US viewer suggested a Hangout focusing on convicts.

The Book of Me - Week 9 - Hallowe'en

This week’s (Week 9) prompt is Halloween. You can view the video for the prompt here on Youtube

Have you ever participated in a Halloween event?
When was it?
Where was it?
What did you dress as?
Trick or treat?

This is another lazy week for me as I blogged my thoughts about Hallowe'en last year. So I will edit that post and paste it here:

Dishing lollies out to grandchildren in 2011

I am a Bah Humbug when it comes to Hallowe'en and the practice of Trick or Treating that has crossed the Pacific in recent years; the Australian fascination with Trick or Treating only seems to have appeared this century. I feel that we have enough Australian traditions that we don't need to import any more, especially those that involve hastening the ruin of kids' teeth and adding extra grams to their chubby little bodies.

But when it comes to the grandchildren...... there are just some things one has to do.

Hallowe'en 2011 saw me donning my academic gown and a witches hat, buying a cache of sweets and waiting for the doorbell to ring. As our driveway is a hundred metres long children do not randomly call at our place so I knew who it would be when the doorbell rang.

I answered in my best witch's voice and frightened my poor two year old grand-daughter; her five year old brother thought it quite funny. As can be seen from the photo above the poor little one was still not sure of herself when we posed for a photo after I distributed the lollies.

I was pleased to hear that these grandchildren won't be Trick or Treating this year - they are leaving this activity to people on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bowled over

I am absolutely stunned and overwhelmed by the interest shown in my first Hangout on Air that is scheduled for 9 PM tomorrow night Sydney time. 35 people have indicated that they are coming to the event and 52 have responded with a Maybe. Ten people will be able to join me live in the (online) studio while everyone will be able to watch the video.

Initially I was just going to invite the people in my Australian Genealogists circle to the Hangout but then I thought why not invite the genealogists I know even though the scheduled time is not convenient for many of them. I am amazed that people are willing to get up in the predawn hours to join the Hangout. This interest demonstrates to me that there are many genealogists out there who are willing to try something new as long as there is some foolish person like me around to start the ball rolling.

Genealogists share an interest in people which is not limited to those who are 6 feet under; they are interested in what fellow researchers have to say and what they do. Hangouts on Air break down the barriers imposed by time and distance enabling us to communicate with peers across the world. This Hangout will give some researchers who have only met via social media a chance to chat with each other.

I am incredibly nervous about this venture so I am spending today doing some homework by reading Hangout guides online and watching videos on YouTube. I will be at my computer for the best part of today and am happy to have a practice with anyone who wants to play.

If you don't know what this Hangouts stuff is all about don't worry. You will be able to watch a YouTube video of the proceedings after the event. I will paste the link to that on this blog in the coming days.

What's a Dinky?

"As we lived in a a flat my dinky, scooter and bicycle with training wheels lived at Nana's. I spent many happy Sundays tootling up and down the garden path and the footpath in my vehicles."

That quote from a recent post of mine resulted in a question from one of my readers, Kylie. "What's a dinky, Jill?"  I responded "A very small tricycle for pre-schoolers. I have a picture of my daughter on her Cyclops dinky. A Google image search for Cyclops Dinky will bring up some pictures."

As a picture is sometimes worth a thousand words I thought I should dig through the family album to find a dinky picture.  I couldn't find the one with my daughter so I am posting this picture from 1977 of one of my boys on his dinky.

A Google search for the meaning of the word dinky tells me that is has several different meanings today. I wonder if that is why Kylie posed her question.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Courtesy of Mr Geniaus

Mr Geniaus likes to check out the cartoons and comics in the Sunday papers. He found this one for me in yesterday's Sunday Telegraph.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Book of Me - Week 8 - Time Capsule

This week Julie Goucher of Angler's Rest asked us to respond to the following prompt in The  Book  of Me, Written by You activity

Prompt 8: Time Capsule

  1. You can choose who to create the time capsule for as that will influence what you put (or would put into your time capsule)
  2. The creation of a time capsule
    a. you can do this in the literal sense or
    b. you can simply write what you would place into your time capsule and why. It is much more fun to create though!
When I saw this prompt I immediately decided that I would pass on this activity. 
I was still writing the posts on my grandparents and decided that I wanted to devote my time this week to working on those two posts. Although I have published them I still have heaps to add.

My intended audience for the Book of Me activity is my family and the time capsule I will leave behind for them is a houseful of stuff that is important to me. The collection of stories I tell in this activity will also be a sort of time capsule for them, when I am gone they will realise that they didn't ask many questions but I will have left some answers for them . Added to this will be folders of files and a huge digital archive. 

I think that will be enough for them to cope with.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Free Irish Lectures at The State Library of NSW

The State Library of NSW website asks:

"Do you have Irish Ancestry? Join us for an introduction to resources for tracing your Irish roots including eresources, books and original materials. We will have some of this material on display. At the end of workshop we will take you on a tour of the family history area and the Mitchell Library."

I am over 50% Irish and am surrounded by a maze of Brickwalls. I need all the help I can get so I have booked in for one of the free workshops supported by the Consulate General of Ireland in Sydney to be held at the Library.

Everyone who attends a workshop will be entered into a draw to win a copy of the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine, kindly donated by the Consulate General of Ireland.

Places are still available with the first workshop being held this afternoon. For further details and to reserve your spot go to:

The send an email with your details to the address given.  Maybe I'll see you on November 4th.

The Book of Me - Week 7 - Paternal Grandparents

This week Julie Goucher of Angler's Rest asked us to respond to the following prompt in The Book of Me, Written by You activity.

The prompt for week 7 is Grandparents

What were their names?
Where were they from?
Were they related? – Cousins perhaps
Where were they born, another Country or state/area
What did they do?
Did you know them?
What was your relationship with them?
If you didn't know them have you researched about them?


I am going to cheat a little bit with this post as I will paste in bits and pieces I have written in earlier blog posts. 

I remember two of my grandparents and  met three of them. I adored my two Nannas and spent many happy childhood hours with them and their extended families.

My Paternal grandparents were Thomas William Curry and Mary Tierney, my maternal grandparents were Frank Duncan and Ethel Jane Pusell. So that's the vital statistics out of the way. 

Having started writing this post I have realised that what I have to write is way too much for one post so I will write separately about my two sets of grandparents.  You can read about my Maternal grandparents here.


My paternal side is 100% Irish and with a bit of Irish thrown in from my Mum's side that makes me more then half Irish and goes some way to explaining why I have the gift of the gab.

Thomas (Papa) William Curry, twin to Daniel, was born in Cowra, New South Wales to Thomas Curry and Catherine Molloy. Thomas' father died when he was seven and his mother who remarried died in 1904 so young Tom was orphaned at twenty. His extended family lived in the Cowra district so hopefully they supported this young farm worker.

Thomas  met Mary (Nana) Tierney from Dungog in his home town of Canowindra where Mary,a dressmaker, worked in the local hotel. What took Mary to Canowindra I don't know and I guess I'll never find out. Tom and Mary had a quiet wedding in Sydney (I haven't been able to locate any photos) and returned to Canowindra where they brought up their family of three boys and two girls. My Dad, Allan John, was their first-born. Papa Curry managed two local properties, Fairview and Benevento, in Canowindra and the family grew up on the farms. 

Tom and Mary Curry and Family, 1925
After my grandfather retired the family moved to Brighton-le-sands in Sydney and that is where my memories kick in. I can't remember my grandfather as he died when I was an infant but I have many recollections of my Nana Curry.

Mary Tierney 1887-1977

Mary Tierney was born in the town of Dungog to John D'Arcy Tierney, a carpenter, builder and sometime undertaker, and his Irish wife, Mary Kealy. Nana had two sisters, Jane and Eliza, and a brother, Patrick.   

Nana was a gentle lady with snowy white hair that she wore in a bun and she seemed terribly old to me when she was about the age I am now. She was a devout Catholic who was proud of her Irish heritage, I remember kneeling beside her bed and reciting my prayers with her when I went to stay with her. We would always include this prayer:

There are four corners on my bed,

There are four angels at my head.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
Bless the bed I lay upon.

Before my Aunts left home I would sleep with Nana in her high double bed with her statue of Our Lady looking down on me. I was pleased to find out recently that Our Lady is now residing in a glass-fronted cabinet in my cousin's home. 

We used to visit Nana's home by train and bus every Sunday for lunch. Sometimes, after Uncle Kevin bought a television set, we would stay on to watch Leave it to Beaver before making our way home. I remember watching Princess Margaret's wedding on that TV in 1960. Uncle Kevin had a car, one of the early Holdens (FJ or FX), so after lunch all the family might pile in to go for a drive to watch the planes taking off at the nearby Kingsford Smith (Sydney) airport or down south across the Taren Point Car Ferry towards Cronulla Beach. As we lived in a a flat my dinky, scooter and bicycle with training wheels lived at Nana's. I spent many happy Sundays tootling up and down the garden path and the footpath in my vehicles.

My patient Aunts and Uncles played games with me, I especially loved playing Scrabble and was thrilled to get a set (that I still have) as a Christmas present; I play Scrabble to this day but online. Two memorable gifts I received for Christmas or a birthday from the Currys were my Kodak Box Brownie Camera (and a developing kit) and a reel to reel tape recorder. I had great fun with these items, taking photos and interviewing family members. Mum wouldn't have been too happy when she discovered the damage to the carpet under my bed (my darkroom) that was ruined by the chemicals I spilt.  I was the first and only Curry grandchild/niece for seven years so I had a lot of attention. 

Our trip to Brighton was made easier when Dad got his first car. Uncle Kevin was relieved of his chauffering duties but we continued our drives to visit Aunty Lil and Uncle Tom at Sans Souci and Aunty Mary and Uncle Ed at Mortdale.In summer we would sometimes go the the Ramsgate Baths for a swim or we would swim on the beach or in the baths at Brighton.

Nana would cook us a baked dinner or corned beef and vegetables for Sunday lunch. I don't know how the extended family all squeezed around her table that was just 4 feet in diameter, I have had Nana's dining suite for 25 years and use it as an auxiliary table. Every time I walk past it I am reminded of family Sundays at Brighton. For the first sixteen years of my life (until I started getting a social life) I visited Nana nearly every Sunday.

Nana loved feeding me egg flips that she believed to be very healthy, these drinks were made from milk, a raw egg and vanilla essence and after a shake and stir of the ingredients nutmeg was sprinkled on top. I remember them as quite sweet and delicious. Nana used often give me sweets to take home, they were always the same caramels. I sometimes wished for a bit of variety.

Nana, who lived to the ripe old age of 89 spent the last few years of her life in a nursing home. She had an enormous impact on my life.

With Nana Curry on my Wedding Day

Thursday, October 24, 2013

It's time to bite the bullet

I've sat on this post for a couple of weeks as I am a nervous Nellie and worry that no-one will join me. It really is time to bite the bullet.

 Ever since Google Hangouts were introduced I have wanted to take part in them. My first attempts were disastrous because of my poor home internet connection. Since changing ISPs I find that I can now confidently participate in Hangouts.

Hangouts on Air have appeal as they can be recorded and are available for later viewing on Youtube.

I've been doing a bit of homework and have got some great tips from genealogists Tessa Keough, Dear Myrtle and Russ Worthington. Reading posts and watching Youtube videos from Hangout expert, Ronnie Bincer, has both given me confidence and added to my nervousness. I have enjoyed participating in Julie Goucher's three recent "Book of Me, Written by You" hangouts.

I would like to host some hangouts with an Australian flavour where I can conduct interviews, chat about resources, discuss issues and perhaps provide some help. Mondays with Myrt that is held at a time that is not particularly convenient for Australians is a great model for what I envisage. Two Australian genealogy related businesses have encouraged me to try Hangouts on Air so I will give it a whirl.

Of course hosting a hangout is a whole different ballgame to watching from the sidelines but I am ready to play and am looking for playmates. I am thinking about monthly or fortnightly hangouts for 30-60 minutes on a weekday evening at 9:00 pm Sydney/Melbourne time; that would be 8:00pm for Brisbane, 8:30pm for Adelaide, 7:30pm for Darwin and 6:00pm for Perth (by rotating weekdays I hope to snag participants who have regular evening commitments). People from other time zones are most welcome if times are reasonable for you. I will host Hangouts at other times when I have people from North America and elsewhere as guests.

All you need to be one of the ten live participants is a computer or tablet, a headset with microphone, a reasonable internet connection, a Google+ account and a willingness to have a go.

When you try to join your first live Hangout Google will prompt you to download some software.You do not need a Google+ account or headset to watch the hangout live but with a Google+ account you will be able to participate and make comments on the event page. If you don't have a headset I can recommend the Logitech USB Headset H390 (I got mine online from Dick Smith).

I will post the first Google Hangout, for Wednesday 30 October, as an event on Google+ shortly and invite folk in my Australian Genealogy circle plus a few others who may be interested. To keep the conversation about the hangout all in one place the experts recommend using the Hangout's Event page to make comments etc.

If you are able to join and learn with me please let me know. I want to be organised and have discussion points ready. 

Postscript This URL will take you to the Google page for the event


We know someone whose first name is Onka. Whenever I hear his name I say "Paringa" because the Onkaparinga brand of woollen goods springs to mind.

This morning as we were going through our piles of linen to gather some for the Sydney bushfire appeal Mr Geniaus pulled out the Onkaparinga blankets I had as a child. My grandmother gave these to me around 1958 when I got a grownup bed and they kept me warm and cosy until I left home to be married. They moved with me and have been used on occasion for overnight guests.  When our first two children were born they were also bought a pair of Onkaparingas but in the vibrant colours of the seventies. By the time our last children were born doonas were in vogue so they didn't score a pair of blankets.

My blankets
My Onkaparinga Label
"Do you really need them?" said Mr Geniaus. I agreed that I didn't need them but insisted on taking a couple of photos before I said goodbye. These blankets are still thick and warm, hopefully they will keep another child warm for years to come.

We still use Mr Geniaus' childhood pair of Onkaparinga blankets on the beds in one of our spare rooms. These blankets were made to last.

I wondered about this traditional Australian brand so asked Mr Google about it.  I found that the mill closed in 1993 and that there is now an Onkaparinga Woollen Mill Museum in Lobethal, South Australia.

Onkaparinga Woollen Mill c 1900 from State Library of South Australia Collection
A search on Trove netted quite a few articles about the firm but I found the advertisements more interesting.
1952 'Advertising.', The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), 26 November, p. 38, viewed 24 October, 2013,
1948 'Advertising.', Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 - 1954), 6 July, p. 8, viewed 24 October, 2013,
1934 'Advertising.', The Maitland Daily Mercury (NSW : 1894 - 1939), 26 May, p. 9, viewed 24 October, 2013,

Onkaparinga didn't just make blankets, they manufactured picnic rugs (we still have one), dressing gowns (I remember my Dad in them) but I didn't know about the overcoats.

Do you have an Onkaparinga story?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Central Coast Family History Fair

 I am heading to East Gosford on November 2 to attend the Family History Fair organised by Central Coast Family History Society from 9.30 am to 3.00 pm

As their website is down (a blog could help) I am sharing details of the program that they circulated to other Societies. The program of speakers and list of exhibitors indicates that I will have a rewarding visit. I'll be working with Alan Phillips on the Gould/Unlock the Past Table, please drop by and say g'day.

These things should keep you amused for a few hours:

Trading and Display Tables
Gould Genealogy – Unlock the Past,
Inside History Magazine,
Murrin Family Services – Transcription Agent,
Julianna Brydon will demonstrate how
she researched her Hungarian ancestry,
Possibly Kari Aboriginal Research,
Lawrence Turtle – Transcription Agent,
State Records of NSW.

Family History Societies 
Brisbane Water Historical Society Inc
FamilySearch – North Gosford Centre
First Fleeters – Central Coast Chapter
Maitland Genealogical Society Inc
Nepean Family History Society Inc
Newcastle Family History Society Inc
Taree Family History Society Inc
Wyong Family History Group Inc

Society Involvement
Kay Rawnsley, expert on Family Tree Maker and FamilySearch Films,
Lisarow Cemetery – Forget us Not, editors, June and Lorraine will be there with a
display of documents and photos unearthed during their three year project.
Barry Porter our bookstall coordinator will, I am sure, have heaps of specials on the
Rosemary Wiltshire will conduct her Nic Nac stall of preloved items – always a popular
attraction at any central coast event.
Glynis Heath will show us items from Creative Memories

Joy and Allan Murrin from Joy Murrin Family Services – Why can’t I find it?
Gail Davis from State Records – What’s not on the net?
Brad Argent from – Q & A
Margaret Ertner - Education Officer CCFHS – Delving into TROVE using QueryPic

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Trove Tuesday - October Bushfires

We are presently experiencing a dreadful round of bushfires in NSW. A perusal of Trove tells me that this is not unusual for October.

1928 'GALES AND BUSH FIRES.', Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954), 9 October, p. 7, viewed 22 October, 2013,

1945 'BUSHFIRE WARNING.', The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995), 24 October, p. 2, viewed 22 October, 2013,
Add caption

1951 'FIRES IN N.S.W.', Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954), 25 October, p. 1, viewed 22 October, 2013,
1954 'Fled From Bushfires.', Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954), 5 October, p. 2, viewed 22 October, 2013,
What I find interesting is that these articles come from publications outside NSW.

A Pauper's Funeral

I spied this poem about a Pauper's Funeral on a visit to The Florence Nightingale Museum in London earlier this year. BTW it was a great little museum just around the corner from The London Eye and across the bridge from The Houses of Parliament.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Caveat Emptor

Sharing my tree online brought me
my only photo of ancestor Catherine Molloy
Caveat Emptor - let the buyer beware is a phrase I often use in relation to genealogy. If I was a Latin scholar I could come up with a phrase that when translated said "Let the genealogist beware."

I am  talking about taking information from online trees on face value without checking the veracity of the claims contained therein.

I was challenged by Bookbook's recent post in which she said "We're encouraged to upload our family trees to the web and make them open to the public. The idea is that distant relatives will make contact and information can be shared, that images and documents can be easily shared and that information from other trees can be merged into your own.


I just had to put my thoughts on this issue out in the blogisphere. My message regarding publishing family information on the web is "Do it" - Be generous and share.

In defence of public trees Boobook goes on to say "It's not all bad. There are some gems among the dross. I have made contact with relatives to our mutual benefit. I have found some wonderful photos and documents. I have even been able to extend some branches of the tree back a generation or two and add a few twigs. But I've learnt to be very, very wary." 

She states "there are thousands of public family trees and they are chockers with errors". I certainly agree with that BUT these trees can be useful. 

We can use the information found in them as hints to check sources and verify or disprove the assertions made. I have found many links to family members from unsourced trees that appear on Ancestry and other sites. These hints have given me leads which have helped me conquer my brick walls, and as Boobook says distant relatives have made contact and information has been shared. I am most grateful for the corrections my contacts have suggested to the data in my online tree (we all make mistakes). 

Because I have shared my research online I have received copies of certificates and photographs including precious photos of direct ancestors for whom we had no photos whatsoever. I particularly treasure the only photo I have of my great-grandmother, Catherine Molloy, that my second cousin once removed, Tony Molloy, sent me. 

So, please share your information and use online trees as resources but as Boobook says "be very, very wary."

"Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." (Galatians VI)

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Book of Me - Prompt 7 - Maternal Grandparents

This week Julie Goucher of Angler's Rest asked us to respond to the following prompt in The Book of Me, Written by You activity.

The prompt for week 7 is Grandparents

What were their names?
Where were they from?
Were they related? – Cousins perhaps
Where were they born, another Country or state/area
What did they do?
Did you know them?
What was your relationship with them?
If you didn't know them have you researched about them?


I am going to cheat a little bit with this post as I will paste in bits and pieces I have written in earlier blog posts. 

I remember two of my grandparents and  met three of them. I adored my two Nannas and spent many happy childhood hours with them and their extended families.

My Paternal grandparents were Thomas William Curry and Mary Tierney, my maternal grandparents were Frank Duncan and Ethel Jane Pusell. So that's the vital statistics out of the way. 

Having started writing this post I have realised that what I have to write is way too much for one post so I will write separately about my two sets of grandparents. You can read about my paternal grandparents here.


My grandmother, Ethel Jane Pusell, was born in 1899 in a small hamlet Thompsons Creek near Burraga, New South Wales, the daughter of James Pusell and Mary Jane Aspinall. James, a miner, had quite a few run-ins with the law. His father and namesake James Pusell was a convict who had been transported to New South Wales. I wonder if my grandmother was aware of her convict ancestry.

One of the very few childhood tales that I remember from my grandmother is that when she went to school in Burraga she horrified the nuns by calling the town buggery. Although she could read and write Ethel's skills in this area were basic; as a child I wrote letters to her relations in the bush for her.

The Pusell family moved to Cobar in the early 1900s, no doubt this was for the Pusell boys to gain employment in the newly opened mines.

Ethel  married a miner, John Bertram (Bert) Chatfield, at the age of 15 and six months later gave birth to her first child, John William (Billy) ChatfieldWhen 25 year old miner, Bert Chatfield, set off to war he left behind his pregnant 17 year old wife and young son, Billy.

Bert probably did not know that he had become a father of a daughter, Nellie, who was born on 4 April, 1917 and lived for just two weeks. I wonder if Nellie's birth was premature or if she died of some other cause. Ethel had always told me that she had lost twin girls; although there is no official record of two births I have a copy of a family letter that confirms this.

I cannot imagine how bewildered my grandmother, young Ethel, must have felt when she received news that her husband was Missing in Action and subsequently listed as Killed in the Field. 

I do not know when Ethel heard of her husband's fate but on 24 July, 1917 she wrote the following letter to the Army

 She had received the devastating news by 19 February, 1918 when she wrote to the Army to see if any personal effects belonging to Bert had been found.

I presume that Ethel lived with her parents until she met her second husband, Frank Duncan.

Twenty-two year old Frank (Sonny) Duncan, Service Number 4767, joined the AIF in Dubbo, NSW as a Private on the 2nd November 1915. Previously Frank, the son of Frank and Harriet Duncan, had worked around Cobar doing various labouring jobs on farms and in the mines.

Frank embarked from Australia in March 1916 on HMAT The Star of England and landed in Egypt in April. Details of Frank's undistinguised service record in Egypt, France and Englaand can be found on his digitised WWI military file at National Archives of Australia site.

Frank returned to Cobar in 1919 where he met WWI widow Ethel Chatfield (Nee Pusell). They were married in 1922 and produced five daughters. 

My grandmother Ethel Jane Pusell had a new house in which to raise her family. When  Frank  returned from the war he was able, through the Soldiers Settlement Scheme, to gain a grant of Crown land on which he built a house for his bride, Ethel.The 32,000 acres of land on which the simple timber house was built on the property "Elsinore" was 40 miles west of Cobar NSW. In 2013 this is a remote area,  90 years ago it was extremely remote. Cobar, the nearest town, was a long carriage ride over rutted, red, dusty roads. Sydney and the coast was 700 km away. Life was tough, there were droughts, bushfires and loneliness.

When it came time for the girls to go to school the family moved into town and Frank continued to travel out to the farm.

My grandmother never complained about her lot in life; the stories she told of her early life were laced with the good humour with which she would have faced life at "Elsinore".

Frank and Ethel had a shop in Cobar and Frank also had an ice cream/catering van that he took to local events where his catchcry was ""Try our home made pies - warm your belly for threepence". The girl behind the wheel in Frank's van, is his daughter Lillian.

Once the girls grew up and were seeking employment the family moved to Sydney where they settled in Kensington Road, Kensington. Frank worked for the local Post Office.
Frank and Ethel, 1948

Not long after World War Two broke out Private Frank Duncan, Service Number N74211 enlisted in the Australian Army in Sydney on 10 Aug 1940 . Frank's term of service in 2 Garrison Battalion was less than one year. Frank, aged just 53, died at home in Kensington in August 1948.

One wonders if the conditions Frank faced when defending his country and The British Empire contributed to his early demise. Frank was an ordinary bloke, a bit of a larrikin, the "Dadda" who gave his girls a happy upbringing and a secure home environment. He contributed to the charmed life I lead in "The Lucky Country." I am sorry that I never got to meet my grandfather. 

 I do have many happy memories of that house in Kensington Road, of times spent with my grandmother and the extended family. I remember the large back bedroom where my grandmother and the girls slept. I remember Christmases with the keg in the backyard for the men and the piano in the living room with my Aunts singing "Ta ra ra boom de ay". I went to ballet and tap lessons from there each Saturday. My
Ready for ballet - at Nana's in Kensington
grandmother and aunts used all put money in a jar in the kitchen to cover the cost of my lessons.

My grandmother was a domestic worker who went out each morning to "do for the Faiella family" up on the hill. She suffered dreadfully from rheumatism and would have to take to her bed for an afternoon rest after work each day but she never complained, she just rubbed linament on her aches and took a Vincent's APC powder for the pain. 

When I was about six my grandmother, my great Aunt Annie and Arthur Johnson, the boarder,
Kewpie dolls on a stick
moved down the hill to a large flat above some shops in Anzac Parade, Kensington where Nana lived for about the next twenty years. Nana continued to work for the Faiellas who had a toy and novelty business. Prior to the Royal Easter Show Nana used to bring home piece work from the Faiellas who sold dolls and novelties on stands at the Show. It was all hands on deck to thread elastic through net skirts, put the skirts on the Kewpie dolls and then put the dolls on sticks.

As my mother went back to work when I was eight or nine I spent a lot of time in the school holidays with Nana and Annie. We used to eat bread and butter with sugar and drink lemonade from the shop downstairs. Nana was fond of devon and I was regularly sent to the shops to buy six penneth worth of devon and a tank loaf of bread. Nana cooked great baked dinners and delicious pasties while Annie was the cake maker. When I married Nana taught me how to make a boiled Christmas pudding in a cloth.

For entertainment we would watch Nana's stories on the TV, she loved Days of our Lives and Bonanza. No-one was allowed to talk while these were airing. We played lots of cards for money, Nana had a jar of pennies that we used for our stake, poker and gin rummy were the games she taught me. Nana used go out with her mates a couple of nights a week to play Housie (Bingo).

Ethel - Christmas 1981
I met so many of Mum's country cousins at Nana's place. She was always hosting someone from the bush who was down for a few days in the big smoke. If only I had been able to record all the stories they told! Sadly I can only remember snippets of the many tales I heard.

The very first time my parents left me at home and went off on a holiday I came down with a wisdom tooth problem. I packed bag, hopped on the bus and landed on Nana's doorstep. Although she had a house full at the time Nana made up a bed, tucked me in and looked after me. Nana was my first port of call when I needed help. Eight years later when I was pregnant with my second child and bedrest was ordered my 80 year old Nana used to come over to my place on the bus from Coogee to iron, cook and help me with my toddler.

When Nana moved to a flat in Coogee she still went to Housie but she also became fond of poker machines and would travel up to Randwick Labor Club to play the pokies once or twice a week. There was always a meal, a cuppa and a bed for anyone who dropped in to Nana's place at Coogee.

By the time she died at 89 Nana had moved to a nursing home and her memory had faded.

I was privileged to have a beautiful, generous and happy grandmother for 39 years of my life.


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