Posts

The Bookish Baker of Maldon

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As my family and friends know, while waiting to move into my new home I’ve spent several weeks staying in private accommodation attached to the McArthur Building adjacent to the well-known McArthur Bakery here in Maldon, Victoria, and it occurred to me aspects of its history might be of interest to them and others. McArthurs Corner, Maldon, (own photo) Side view from rear courtyard, McArthur Building (own photo) Others far more qualified than me have researched and written about the McArthurs at length, so I won’t duplicate all of that here but have provided links below. For the best history, please do read the article by Hilary Maddocks . Her family had a close association with the McArthurs and it is comprehensive and includes several contemporary photographs. Those photos of the family were taken at another property around the corner in High Street, which was the family’s residence, whereas the building I am currently resident in was built for commercial purposes at the end of the

Postcards from Pennsylvania

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Collectors of American postcards, and especially World War I ephemera, may be interested in three more postcards in the collection of Vintage Merchants Tansley & Co,  Maldon, Victoria, Australia. They also provided enough clues to discover their linked family history. CARD No. 1   This has an indistinct coloured image of the Declaration of Independence, with the handwritten name Ollie Fischer  on the side. It was posted on 28 July 1908 in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, addressed to a Miss Ollie Fischer, Amaranth, Fulton Co., Penn and reads as follows: My own Dear Little Sister. I will send you a Postal for your Little Birthday which is the 28. . I hope everybody is well at home. I am well at present and tell Amber I will write soon. Tell Gilbert to write how is you three Little Sisters of mine getting along [these?] nice days. Ollie can’t you and Jessie write Rachel a letter,  try tell [Moris/Moses?] I got a letter from Mike he is well. I am going out to see him 30 of August. Wel

Just a postcard ...

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My daughter runs a  vintage store in the historic town of Maldon, Victoria, and among the objects she sells are old postcards, also historic family photographs. Some date to the late-19  Century and the most recent is around mid-20  Century. These provide much inspiration for anyone interested in family history and trying to find the stories behind some of these bits of ephemera. Sadly, the family photos often have no clues at all as to who the individuals are and many of the postcards are blank – perhaps purchased by people as souvenirs while on their travels – while others have been written on, sent to families and friends from all sorts of places around the world. Each of these provide tantalising snippets of long-forgotten people and lost lives. Most of the time it is almost impossible to find anything out about that Violet or Edna who dropped a line to “Aunty” or “Mother”, but some cards provide a few clues and with, the aid of online sources, it is possible to tease out a bit

Those who go down to the sea in ships ...

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Those who go down to the sea in ships  * have for centuries been at the mercy of the sea and its unpredictable moods. Although more famous shipping disasters such as the sinking of the Titanic get all the publicity and are imbued with much tragic romanticism, there are a multitude of other shipwrecks that can be just as heart-rending. One of these featured in the life of my late husband Peter’s great-great-grandfather. He was Joseph Darch, born in Stratton, Cornwall , in 1842. At the age of 9 (1851 Census) Joseph and his family lived in the Catsbridge Cottages, now just Bridge Cottages, Stratton. These houses date from the 17th Century, are still standing and heritage listed. Bridge Cottages, Stratton His father was an agricultural labourer and by the age of 18, Joseph seemed destined to follow in his footsteps as in the 1861 Census he is also described as a farm worker, but he was soon to change careers. Perhaps he was after adventure or had a fondness for the se

Nurse, pass me that meat hook ....

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This amazing newspaper report in  Nottingham Evening Post of 5 August 1927 of an operation at sea in harrowing conditions captured my attention (full transcription follows) and I wondered who this admirable young doctor was, as well as his able lady assistant. (Merchant navy crewmen are notoriously difficult to trace so I already knew the likelihood of of finding anything on the patient and the cook would be minimal.) British Newspapers Archive   AMAZING OPERATION AT SEA. SURGEON'S MIDNIGHT FEAT. SCISSORS, SPOONS, CLOTHES PEGS, AND MEAT HOOKS.   Details of a feat of surgery off Cape Horn, carried out under almost incredible conditions with scissors, a safety-pin, bent spoons, clothes-pegs and meat hooks implements, but ending in success were told to Mail reporter by the officers and crew of the Commonwealth and Dominion Line steamer Port Auckland, yesterday, as she moved into dock at Woolwich.   The central figure is a young New Zealand surgeon who was o