Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Three Postcards

Tonight I want to talk about the Three Postcards. They came in the box of treasure from Linda Grumont that I've mentioned previously, and two of them are perfectly charming pieces of family history. The third is (EDIT: No longer) a head-scratching mystery.

The earliest of the three postcards is from 1921, and was sent from Hobart, Tasmania. Harlettee Louisa Groombridge signed the back of it, wishing her granddaughter Lottie a Happy New Year. Harlettee wouldn't actually see in the New Year, passing away in Kingston Tasmania on the 1st of October, 1921. Perhaps that is why this particular postcard was not thrown away - Lottie may not have even received it until after her Grandmother's death.

To my dear Grand Daughter Lottie wishing you and yours a happy new year from Grannie Rothery. Tasmania, 1921.

There are other letters in the box of treasure from around the same time, and they suggest there was ongoing correspondence between Harlettee and Lottie. Lottie was born Harlettee Margo Rush, daughter of Myrtle Turner and Francis Rush. She married a Mr Denehey. I believe at some point she took her son Alfred, changed their surnames to Turner, and moved to Alice Springs. I would love to hear from Alfred's descendants, or those of Lottie's 5 daughters who remained in Tasmania. Hopefully one day they may stumble across this blog.

The second ever-so-understandable postcard is a lovely thing to have. It is from Myrtle Rush (nee Turner), and she mailed it from Stompertoren, Holland, in 1950. My previous post, A Fortuitous Discovery, has the shipping record that shows her departing London on 6 September 1950 on her way home from that voyage. She had gone to see the final resting place of her only son, Francis William Rush, who was killed during the war. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission record his burial at the Oterleek (Stompertoren) Churchyard cemetery. I came across this wonderful site that gives an account of Francis's final mission and has pictures of his headstone, and of the memorial plaque installed in 1994.
The card says (in grey pencil)
Dear Linda & Hughie
Holland is lovely with all its lovely windmills & waterways.
(in black pen)
Went to Amsterdam yesterday & it was lovely. We are leaving here tomorrow hope we have a good trip across & hope that you & Hughie is much better love Myrtle xxx
I wonder who she was travelling with?

The third card is another of those crazy mysteries that this family love to keep throwing at me. It is a photo of a beautiful and new looking house The postcard has been cut along the left edge, but only a small sliver seems to be missing - less than a centimetre, I'd guess.

The inscription seems to be in Harlettee's handwriting, if you compare it to the first card, and it says
To Linda from her mother.
and then in larger writing
Our new home. 
Linda Grumont has added the words "Harlette" and "Nana's mother's home in Canada".

The address is filled out in Harlettee's handwriting
Mrs Captain Collister
British Columbia 
Linda Grumont insisted that Harlettee had lived in Canada for a time with her husband, Captain Collister. That would have been a sixth husband hitherto unknown. It's possible that she married someone else overseas after William Rothery died in 1912, but she was still using the Rothery surname right up until her death in 1921.  Besides, this card looks like it was addressed to Mrs Captain Collister, Craigflower, Victoria, British Columbia - not from. As it is also addressed to "Dear Linda" from "her mother"; that would make Linda the addressee. Linda Collister? Also, is that an "s" next to Collister? Mrs Captain Collister's _what_?

Given that this postcard is in my possession, it either was never mailed to Canada, or it travelled back to Australia with its owner. Unlike the other cards, it hasn't been dated - I can only say that it must be from no later than the 1st of October, 1921, because that's when Harlettee died. Perhaps someday, someone will recognise the house, or will stumble across this entry while researching the Collisters of Craigflower, Victoria, BC, and we'll be able to compare notes to solve this little puzzle once and for all.

UPDATE! (already! it has only been 20 minutes!)
Google turned up this:
    02/08/37 Collister, Rich, m, head, m, 12 Dec 1838, 63, ENG, to Can: 1876, Meth, Steam boat inspector.
    ……Rems: HOW3, p.827: In shipbuilding in Liverpool, ENG & Brisbane, AUS, to Victoria 1875, d.Victoria, 1908.
    02/08/38 Collister, Elizabeth, f, wife, m, 12 Aug 1831, 60, ENG, to Can: 1877, CE.
    ……Rems: Age & yr. born as entered. RBCR: Collister, Elizabeth, 89 y, 26 Jan 1923 at Victoria, b.ENG. DN, Times, 27 Jan 1923, p.9: Mrs Elizabeth Collister, wid of Capt. R. Collister, former inspector of hulls, b.LAN, ENG, 12 Aug 1833, d. at res. Craigflower Rd, leaves sons: John R. Collister (d.A1, p.18, l.41), Victoria & Wm. H.R. Collister (d.17, p.6, l.44), Vancouver; daus: Mrs John Barnsley (d.18, p.10, l.11), Vancouver; Mrs N.G. Douner, Victoria & Mrs H.O. (Harry Oxenborough) Miles, Long Beach, CA, USA.
On a hunch I searched Ancestry.com for "collister" and "rothery", and lo and behold, I found this:
Rothery was the surname of Harlettee's fifth and final husband. Judging by these dates, this could well be his sister. It even says that she died at her home on Craigflower Rd (I guess "Rd" was what was written in that missing centimetre of card). Perhaps Linda Grumont was right about Harlettee going to Canada - but rather than living there, perhaps she just visited her sister in law?

This all makes sense now! Mrs Captain Collister, nee Rothery, the sister in law of Harlettee Rothery, nee Groombridge must have sent the photo of her new house to Harlettee, who then forwarded it on to her daughter Linda and wrote Mrs Collister's address on it. This must be the house in Craigflower Road, Victoria, British Columbia that Mrs Collister lived in until her death in 1923. Case: Closed!


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