Friday, 29 August 2014

Sepia Saturday 243 - 30 August 2014

Today's Sepia Saturday theme is "Running away, escaping the crowds, 
beaches, steam train, aquarium (domed)"

The urge to solve a "running away" mystery is what started my addiction to genealogy and family stories.

In the photo below is my paternal grandfather (back row, middle with the light coloured cap).  I knew him as Jim Forsyth and he said he came to Australia from New Zealand to bring horses to the Melbourne Show and never went home again.  I later learned it was probably around 1935 but he never really spoke about it, giving only snippets and as far as I know, neither my grandmother nor my father knew many details either. 

He did tell me he came from Rangiora in New Zealand.  He told Dad he was one of nine children and that he used to cycle around the South Island with his brother but that was pretty much it.

Years after my grandparents had died I decided to get their marriage certificate (1937) to find out who his parents were.
Months later, after posting for information on a genealogy board, I learned that he had swapped his parents surnames around on the marriage certificate.
He was in fact born James Richard Musson in 1906.
Soon contact was made with one of his sisters-in-law still living in his hometown. None of his siblings were still alive.  
She told me that he had been named in a paternity dispute but it turned out he was in the clear" (much later the story came out)

We don't know if he ever knew though as he had disappeared in Australia by taking his mother's maiden surname.  His family searched for many years but to no avail as they were searching for Jim Musson.

Most of his nieces and nephews were thrilled that the mystery of what happened to their Uncle Jim had finally been solved.

I thought he was a wonderful grandfather so I felt very sad for both he and his family when I found out the details.
I am extremely grateful to all those cousins who have welcomed me and shared the family stories with me.
It is a bit strange knowing my maiden surname should have been Musson rather than Forsyth.  I wrote more about the story in my first ever blog post. 


Throughout my life visits to beaches have been rare.  I've only ever swum in the sea once and can't say I enjoyed it.  We grew up swimming in rivers, channels and swimming pools.
My dad learned to swim in the sea when they lived at Woombye in Queensland.
In about 1955 he was a junior life saver at Alexandra headland, a beach between Maroochydore and Mooloolaba.  He remembers that when bikinis were new a fellow used to drive to the beach in his Rolls Royce car with a spray gun of some sort and for sixpence he would spray the girls with mutton bird oil.  He thinks it must have been used as some sort of tanning lotion.
All the young boys would volunteer to help him out!

The beach photo below is in the photo album of my maternal grandmother Daisy Fleming, nee Morgan.
The only details I know is that the photo is of her sister, Lila Morgan and a girl named Joan Letts.  
Lila was born at Moyhu in 1913.  She married Harold Flanigan at Wangaratta, Victoria in 1936.  They had three sons.  Lila died in 1990.

In tracing the family history of my Forsyths I have found some wonderful relatives from all over the world.  My great grandmother's first cousin Patrick and his wife live in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.  Our Forsyth's were meal millers for many generations in Aberdeenshire.  Dorothy has sent me some wonderful beach photos from nearby New Aberdour.  

 I particularly liked this next one

On a different angle for the beach theme is another of my grandfather's cousins connection with the beach at Sandhaven in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Patrick's eldest half brother, William Spence Forsyth, published a book of poems in 1943 called Guff O' Waur (Smell of Seaweed). The book contains over 40 of the poems written in the 1890's.  Some titles are The Fisher Loons, Pitullie's Water, Sandhaven in the 1890s.
You can hear a couple of the poems recited in doric at the site of the Sandhaven and Pitullie Harbour Trust  but that's not to say you will understand them.  

Here is an example of one verse of a poem not recited there:
Pitullie!Pitullie! Pitattie scone!
Your caff-fu'some shore and deuks
Your reed-tiled bairns and sheds
Your lecks wi' their warm couthy neuks
Your nettles and camomile beds

Pitullie! a small fishing hamlet, two miles west of Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire.
Pitullie! Pitullie! Pitattie scone! children of neighbouring villages would shout this to tease Pitullie children.(It literally means "Pitullie! Pitullie! Potato scone!)
caff-fu'some= dirty with chaff
deuks= ducks
bairns= outhouses
lecks= rocks
couthy neuks= cosy, comfortable nooks

I took this photo of my New Zealand cousins at Karioitahi beach when I visited in 2001. Anne-Maree is the one who solved the mystery of my grandfather's "running away".  I was amazed at the black sand.

The next two photos were taken at the fascinating shingle beach of the Waihao River near Waimate, New Zealand.  Anne-Maree and I were there to visit our Forsyth cousins Allan and Joyce.  
The structure that resembles a pier is actually the historic Waihao Box.  Now 104 years old, the historic landmark, known locally as The Box, is a long, rectangular structure allowing the river to flow underneath the main part of the shingle bank before it emerges near the sea, scouring a small area of shingle and maintaining a natural shift. In a clever piece of engineering, the Box works so that when the river flow is high, the water will spill out of the north side, creating a natural channel.

At the beach there is a sign warning "Be aware this site is constantly changing"
Apparently because of the water coursing underneath the shingle can move unexpectedly.  This led to a very sad tragedy just the year before we visited. 
Young Marek Lee Staats was drowned when the shingle moved and he was sucked under.  I didn't want to hang around there for very long!


My runaway grandfather's paternal grandmother was Catherine nee Bird born in 1828 at Foston, Lincolnshire, England, daughter of Mark Bird and Mary nee Kellam. Catherine's eldest brother, George Kellam Bird was a master wheelwright at Corby Glen in Lincolnshire.

My cousin Cathy visited Corby Glen a couple of years ago and learned more of George and his son George junior who published a diary.  George junior's son, Charles Kellam Bird (1897-1958) was Chief Regional Officer of the Eastern Region of British Railways and is pictured below escorting a young Queen Mother at King's Cross Station and then with Sir Winston Churchill.

I doubt if they would have still been steam trains though.

243 : Running away, escaping the crowds, 
beaches, steam train, aquarium (domed)

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Sepia Saturday 242 - 23 August 2014

                                         fans, faces, national costumes and hidden meanings

This is my first Sepia Saturday post but I love to read others so I thought I'd give it a go.

I couldn't find any fans in my family history photos but I did find a national costume.

Below is a photo of my husband's grandmother with her mother and Margaret's little grandson, Lawrence dressed in the Scottish national costume.  This photo would most likely have been taken at Ballarat, Victoria in the early 1930s

L-R Annie Duncan nee Robertson, Lawrence Taylor and Margaret Taylor nee Duncan.
I thought I'd also add the following photo which has always been called "the fancy dress" in our family.  Made by my maternal grandmother, Daisy Fleming nee Morgan.

Photo may have been taken at Moyhu possibly late 1920s
As I still have the dress below is a photo of it today.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Young Ronald Lee Lowry bushfire victim

Ronald Lee Lowry was born in 1924 to William Lowry and Edna nee Laurence. 

Edna was a first cousin of my grandfather, Archie Fleming. 

I haven't found if William and Edna Lowry had other children but they tragically lost their young son Ronald in a bushfire in North East Victoria in January 1939.

TWO BURNED TO DEATH Buckland Valley Victims. (1939, January 16). The Argus(Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 2. Retrieved August 3, 2014, from

Local news story in the Wangaratta Chronicle Despatch.
Wednesday, January 18, 1939 page 2

Man & Boy Hurt - Former Cheshunt Residents Fire in Buckland Valley

Failing to reach safety by a few seconds, a man and his nephew were burnt to death in a fire which destroyed 6 houses in the Buckland Valley, near Porepunkah, on Friday afternoon.  Their bodies were not recovered until Saturday afternoon.

The men were Messrs. James Charles Lowry, aged 41 years of Buckland Valley and Ronald Lee Lowry, aged 15 years, his nephew.  Frantic attempts to save their home led to the deaths of the two Lowrys.  Only 100 yards separated them from a creek, but when they realized that their fight was hopeless and made a dash for safety, three fires had converged and practically cut off their retreat Ronald Lowry collapsed when only 100 yards from the creek and James Lowry became entangled in blackberry bushes, both were overwhelmed by the flames.  Before attempting to save the house Mr. James Lowry, his wife and their nephew had been crouching in the safety of a tunnel.  The two men went to the house during a lull in the fire.

When the road from Porepunkah to Buckland Valley littered with scores of burning logs, First Constables Miller and Duncan of Myrtleford and a doctor, had to cut away for their motor truck along the bush tracks to recover the bodies on Saturday.  They succeeded in driving to within a few miles of the township.  The 30 mile journey occupied 9 hours.

Left Whitfield 2 years ago - Messrs William and James Lowry had been prospecting in the Buckland Valley for the past 2 years, having previously been engaged for 9 years in tobacco growing at Cheshunt, Mr. William Lowry's wife and son had been staying at Whitfield with Mrs. Lowry's mother, Mrs. Laurence, and only on Monday last week went to reside in their house at Buckland Valley.

Messrs Lowry had struck a good patch but poor supplies of water had forced them to go in for more development work in the way of building a larger race.  They saw the fire coming on Friday afternoon.  Mr. William Lowry placed his wife and son in a tunnel covering the opening with wet bags.   During a lull in the fire his brother said he would rush to the house to see if he could save anything, and the lad, although called back, rushed there also.  Suddenly three fires converged and the man and his nephew were trapped.  Mr. Lowry did not get very far from the house, but the lad got within 12 feet of the river when he was succumbed.  The grief stricken brother and father later found the body of his brother and son.

Situated 6 miles from the Lower Buckland post office, Mr. Lowry had no means of getting help until 2 men came along with a bicycle.  He placed his wife on the bicycle and wheeled her to the post office.  A man came along and left at daybreak to obtain assistance and later Constables Miller and Duncombe with Dr. Beaumont arrived from Myrtleford, to where Mr. and Mrs. Lowry were conveyed.  Mr. Lowry speaks appreciatively of the assistance given his wife and himself.  In addition to his house and mining equipment, 800 feet of piping was lost.

The late Mr. Lowry had 2 other brothers, Alfred and Harold, who reside in Melbourne.  Mr. and Mrs. Lowry left Whitfield 4 years ago for Buckland.  The funeral of the two victims left the home of Mrs. S. Laurence, Whitfield, for the Hyem cemetery on Sunday, a large number of people gathered at the graveside.  The Rev. J. Priestly read the burial service and the arrangements were made by Messrs. Bowden and Diggle.  In each case the coffin bearers were Messrs L. Bennett, J. Burrows, A. Owens, and A. Simmonds and the pall bearers were supported by Messrs. H. Thomas, A. Peipers, W. Fleming, H.H. Smith, W. Peipers and R. Lay.

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