More on 1956


Mum and dad's wedding group2031

This is a photo of my dad’s side of the family taken on my parents’ wedding day in 1956. What I have always loved about this photo is the flying ducks on the wall behind everyone!  It helps date this as a 1950s photo!

All but two (the two older children) have passed on now.  I can place everyone in this photo with the exception of the man front left.  I think he may be my grandfather’s brother but if so, I don’t know which one unfortunately.

Back right is my dad – the bridegroom – Robert Hendry Smith (1925-2012).  Next to him is his sister, Christina Cameron Smith (1922 – 1998).  Once again I searched for her under the name we knew her as – Christine – but discovered she was another Christina.  When looking for her death certificate, I found two certificates – one under Christine Smith and the other under Christina Smith.  As she is not on my direct line, I did not order it.  Perhaps it means there is one certificate but two possible spellings of her name.

Next to Aunt Christine is her husband, George Ian Duffie (1914-1971).   I remember Uncle George.  I was just 14 when he died (he was 57) and I remember the day very clearly.  He drove home from work and had a heart attack in the car outside his house.  Very sad as his three boys were still young.  Ironically, their youngest son, Stewart, the boy he is touching in the photo, also died young (about 47) from a heart attack in his car!  He in turn left two young teenage children.  In the centre of the photo is my cousin, Ronnie and then his brother Alan.

In front of Alan is my paternal grandfather, William Smith (1896-1982) with my grandmother, Jane Cameron(1890-1981).

I remember them all very clearly.  I just need to find out who the other man in the photo is but, at this stage, I have no way of doing that.  I may be able to do it by a process of elimination when researching the brothers.  One I know came to Australia and had a tomato farm two hours south of where I live.  But that is another story.



Sometimes when I am writing my blog (like last night which was more like in the middle of the night), I wonder why I am even doing it.  I write about names and dates to people who have no idea who I am talking about and usually there are lots of gaps.  I sometimes think I am just wasting my time.  With family named Smith and Brown, there is little chance anyone related to us will read it.  But then something good happens.  Someone will comment or ask a question and it gives me that little push to try a little harder to find another piece of the jigsaw.

That’s what happened today.  Last night when I wrote about a photo taken in 1956 at my parents’ wedding, I admitted that I couldn’t find information.   I remembered a story about My (Great) Uncle Harry and his wife, Aunt Chris having had twins who died at birth after Aunt Chris fell off a ladder.  I tried to find certificates or any details in fact because this is something that was never  talked about and I wondered if it was even true.

Su responded to my blog and reminded me that at that time many stillborn babies were not registered.  Inside I had a feeling that they could be registered but I wasn’t looking hard enough.  So this prompted me to have another search.  I have been looking for any information on this part of my family for a while and thought I had exhausted every avenue.  Not so.  Sometimes it is so much simpler than I realise.  In this case I had been searching for a birth, marriage or death certificate for a Harold or Harry Chapman or Christine Cullen. Nothing.  I tried various spellings, different dates, tried different districts and all districts and still nothing.  Then I remembered seeing something on Who do you think you are? when they were looking for someone they knew must be there.  So I just put in “H Chapman” and there it was.  How simple!!!!  Aaargh!!

Uncle Harry was actually called Henry Taylor Chapman – of course – even Prince Harry is actually Prince Henry.  How could I have missed that?  Harry is named for his maternal grandfather – my Great-Great-Grandfather, Henry Taylor (1864-1932).  My Aunt Christine is actually “Christina Dear Cullen” so I was able to find her certificates.  So now I know when they were born (1915 and 1918), when they died (1980 and 1988) and when they married (1941).  This gave me a better idea of when the twins may have been born and I had the parents’ names.  And I found them – both born and died in 1949.  It was a shock to find them because this made the story true yet no-one ever talked about them.   When I read their names, I filled up – two baby boys – the first Henry Taylor Chapman – named for his father and great-grandfather; the second named Christopher Dear Chapman – named for his mother.  Uncle Harry and Aunt Chris had no other children. The story I heard was that Aunt Chris wasn’t very upset about the deaths of her babies.  I always found that hard to believe but now, seeing their names in black and white, named after their parents, I think the pain both of them carried must have been huge.  Perhaps Aunt Chris didn’t show it, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t feel it.

A sad story but one I am glad I have discovered and put out there.  If the family didn’t grieve for these two little babies (my first cousins, once removed) – and I don’t believe for one moment that was the case – then I will grieve for them now.

Thanks Su for acknowledging my blog and prompting me to try harder.

Oh………just one little thing.  This research brings up another anomaly – Aunt Christine’s death certificate says her mother’s name is “not permissible”.  Can anyone shed light on this?  I wondered if it meant she was adopted?  I will have to look into that now.



My mother's side of the family at my parent's wedding 10 October 1956

My mother’s side of the family at my parent’s wedding 10 October 1956

It seems like yesterday that the people in this photo were very much in my life but they have all passed now.  This is my mother’s side of the family and her mother on the right died within a week or two of this photo being taken.

In the front, centre is my Great Gran, Jemima Chapman (nee Taylor) who seems to crop up a lot in my blogs.  I guess she is the matriarch of this family – on her right is her daughter, my grandmother, Elizabeth Brown (nee Chapman) whom I know very little about. Behind her on the right is her husband, my grandfather, James Brown, (who died when I was four years old).  My grandfather was a joiner and I have vague memories of digging up his garden with a wooden spoon.  I believe we lived with him in Pollock, Glasgow until I was about two.

Behind my Great-Gran is her son, William (Bill) Chapman who is on crutches.   Uncle Bill contracted polio and lost a leg as a child.  It never held him back.  He was a watch-maker and worked in the Argyle Arcade in Glasgow’s city centre.  I used to pop in and visit him occasionally when I worked nearby.  He and Aunt Mary (next to him in the photo) worked hard and were extremely independent.  Aunt Mary had callipers on both legs which I assume was also from polio.  I remember they had a little 3 seater which had hand controls and I remember them going on a driving holiday around Europe.  (My mother doesn’t remember this so I could be wrong).  It was a highlight for them.  Again I know little about Aunt Mary other than that her name was Mary Horne Alexander and she was born in Aberdeen.  I would like to find out more about her and it is on my very long to do list.

Uncle Harry (back left) was my Great-Gran’s other son.  Uncle Harry (Harold Chapman) played the bagpipes.  He was a soldier but I am not too sure of his regiment.  My mother told me the story that Uncle Harry was fighting in the war when he was shot in the heart.  Fortunately for him, he had a tin of corned beef in his top pocket and the bullet went into that!  Later he had some of his hip blown away.  However he survived to tell the story.  His wife in front of him was my Aunt Chris who I remember as a very harsh woman who played the piano.  That harsh exterior she had seemed to disappear when you put her in front of the piano and I remember lot of family parties where we all sang around the piano while she played.  My mother told me that Aunt Chris (Christine Cullen) was pregnant with twins when she fell off a ladder and they were stillborn.  So far I have been unable to find either a birth or death certificate for them.

There was a lot of tragedy around that family but they always had a smile on their faces.


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How exciting to open my blog and find I have been nominated for a Liebster Award.  Many thanks to A Stitch in Time ( for nominating me.  I feel very honoured.

I have been asked to write 11 fascinating facts about myself:  I don’t think any of them are fascinating but here goes –

1. I have dual citizenship having lived in Scotland until the age of 21 and Australia since then – other than 5 years which I spent in England.

2. I was  a mature age student, sitting my year 12 exams at the age of around 38 and starting university just before my 40th birthday.

3. I am now a High School English Teacher in Australia with a Scottish accent.

4. I worked as a jillaroo in the Snowy Mountains, NSW, mustering, tagging and de-sexing angora goats for a year.

5. I trained in London as a Pub Manager and with my first husband, ran pubs in Bristol for 4 years.

6. I have done a range of jobs including cleaning shearers’ quarters and check out chick.

7. I have two children – my son (26) works on a gold mine in the desert in WA; and my daughter (22) studies bio-chemistry at university in Perth, WA.

8. My husband is golf-mad and has just opened a Golf Shop at our local golf club.

9. I have 5 beautiful step-grandchildren under the age of 6 (and a few proxy grandchildren as well).

10. I plan to return to Scotland in 2015 with two genealogy-mad friends as we all have ancestors from Aberdeenshire.   We hope to house-swap with people in the UK.  It won’t be all looking at gravestones I’m sure!

11. My husband and I plan to spend 6 months in our caravan next year travelling around the bottom of Australia – I am sure I will blog about it!

  • I now have to answer questions put to me by A Stitch in Time!

1. Why did you start blogging?

I have been a frustrated writer for years but never have had the confidence to give it a real go.  An old friend from London suggested blogging and sent me the information on WordPress.  It still took me more than a year to have the courage to give it a go.  I am still very new to it but I love it!

2. Who is your favourite ancestor and why?

When I look at the life of my great-grandmother, Jemima Chapman, I feel a real warmth.  She had a hard life but she never talked about it.  When I was a teenager she passed away at the age of  90, having had both legs amputated.  I thought  I knew her quite well but realised when I started researching, that I knew nothing.    When I discovered she married at 18 and worked as a biscuit icer, I couldn’t stop smiling.

3. What is your favourite time and place to blog?

Well I don’t really have a choice.  I blog on my laptop in our downstairs loungeroom in the evenings.  I have been known to blog in the middle of the night or early morning. I don’t have a favourite time, I would do it all the time if I could!

4. If you could invite 4 people to dinner from the past or present who would they be?

My dad because I miss him;

My Maternal Grandmother, Elizabeth Brown b 1905 in Glasgow, because she died before I was born and I think she could explain a lot to me about my mother;

My Paternal Great-Grandfather, Robert Smith b 1871 in Crimond, Aberdeenshire, because I can’t find his birth or death certificates.  His marriage certificate gives me the names of his parents but I can only assume he was illegitimate. I can’t find his parents but with names like Robert Smith and Margaret Brown I can understand why!  At dinner he could give me all the information I need to move on with the family tree.

My Grand Aunt, Rose Cameron b. 1890 in Dundee as she went off to America around the time of the First World War. I have the boat passenger list with her on it but can find no trace of her since then.  She is not my direct line but I would like to know what happened to her.

5. what is your ideal vacation spot.

There are lots of places I would love to visit again or for the first time – Venice and Rome for example.  But I live in a beautiful part of the world where it is hot in summer and mild in winter.  I live in a very small town that sits on the beach.  It’s isolated but it is a great place to live and to holiday.

6. If you where an animal which one would you be?

I have absolutely no idea.  I would prefer to be an exotic bird in a rainforest I think.

7. What is your most interesting genealogy story?

Well my own family are interesting to me but probably not to other people as they were all domestic servants and farm workers.  The most interesting are often the ones that take the most time to find.  I am doing my children’s father’s family and one side is from a very rich family in Sri Lanka/Ceylon.  That is interesting as they have no money now!

8. What is your dream job?

To be honest my dream job would be to be retired with a fabulous pension so I could indulge my hobbies of family history, patchwork and travel.

9. What is your favourite blog post? provide a link.

I am not sure if you mean my own blog or someone else’s so I will provide both.  My own favourite blog is a couple of little stories about my dad’s youth –   As for someone else’s blog, I was very moved by Su Lesley’s blog about Emily –

10. Where are your family’s roots?

On my dad’s side our family came from the Aberdeenshire, Angus and Dundee areas of Scotland.  My mother’s side came from Glasgow.

11. What do you hope to achieve in 2013?

I hope to continue researching my own and my children’s family history.  I would also like to continue blogging.  I hope to improve a lot, find more time to blog and read more of other people’s blogs.


I have been asked to nominate other bloggers but those I most enjoy have already been recognised.  I am enjoying seeking out blogs that interest me – most of these are about geneaology but not all.  At a later date I would like to list these for other bloggers to check out.

Once again, many thanks for the recognition.

Four Generations of Women


4 generations026

This is a photo of my mother on her wedding day on 10 October 1956 in Glasgow.  In fact this is four generations of women in my family.  In the centre is my great-grandmother (Jemima Chapman b 1886);  sitting down is her daughter, my grandmother (Elizabeth Chapman b 1905); on the left is her daughter, my mother (Janet Brown b 1933) and on the right her sister (Elizabeth Brown b 1932).  The young girl is my cousin (Elaine Robertson b 1954).

This is a happy-sad photo for my mother I am sure.  Happy because it was her wedding day and she was surrounded by her family, but sad because her mother died unexpectedly just a few days later when mum and dad were on their honeymoon.  Gran Brown was a furrier and I was told that this contributed to her untimely death.  I am sure she also had a weak heart but am unsure if these two facts are connected.

I never got to meet her but sometimes my mum would say I looked just like her.  I would like to meet her now.  I am sure she could shed light on some of the mysteries of my family.

My great-grandmother passed away in 1977 and Aunt Elizabeth died in 2001.



What a lovely surprise it was to open my computer last week and discover that Su Leslie had nominated me for a “Very Inspiring BloggerAward”.  Thank you Su, you made my whole week!


My nomination comes from Su Lesley’s Blog “Shaking the Tree”  ( which I have been following for some time.  It is an excellent blog about Su’s search for her family history and the stories she uncovers.

The rules for accepting this Award are as follows:

– Display the award logo on your blog page.

– Link back to the person who nominated you.

– State 7 facts about yourself.

– Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.

– Notify those bloggers of their nomination and the award’s requirements.

So here are seven facts about me:

  1. I was born in Glasgow but came to Australia at the age of 21 with a 9 months working visa.  I’ve been here ever since.
  2. One of my first jobs in Australia was as a Jillaroo on an angora goat property in the Snowy Mountains.
  3. On impulse, I once accepted a flight on an ultralight.  It took off from a Mandurah beach as my two very young children, with my friend, waved goodbye.   I still can’t believe I did that!  Crazy.
  4. I was accepted into university at the age of 39 when I was a single parent with no money.  It was the best thing I ever did for myself.
  5. When I first arrived in Australia I was introduced to witchettygrubs but something got lost in translation and for many years after I referred to them as grubbitywitches.  No-one ever told me I had it wrong!
  6. My first job was as a shorthand typist using a manual typewriter.  When I explain this to my high school students, they look at me as though I came from the Stone Age.
  7. I live in a very beautiful part of the world – Kalbarri, Western Australia – a far cry from Glasgow.

The 15 bloggers I nominate for this award are listed below.  As I have only been blogging for a short time, I have only quite recently started following some of them.

  1. Shaking the Tree – Su Lesley’s blog really inspires me and motivates me to keep plodding along with my own family history.  There are many parallels in our blogs and that encourages me to continue blogging my own family stories.  I find I open my computer hoping there will be a new entry from Su.
  2. Glen’s Family History Blog – Glen is researching and reviewing different Genealogy software and, although he has only just started, I think this will be a real time-saver for many genealogists.  Glen has also written some “how to” blogs about researching your family tree and I found them very helpful when I first started my research.
  3. Judy’s Family History – I have only recently discovered Judy’s blog and I find it fascinating.  We have some ancestors from the areas in Scotland (Hurlford, Dysart to name two) and that makes it even more interesting to me.  Judy has done a lot of research and written not only about her family history but about Scottish laws and so on which I have found interesting and helpful.
  4. A Nine Pound Hammer ……or a woman like you, either will do – at least I think that is the right name!  I love the old gorgeous old photos on this site.  Stunning.
  5. The Institute of Wandering and Experimental Affairs – I love the photos of London and the comments that go with them.  It reminds me of when I lived in London.
  6. Until the Ink Runs Out – As an English Teacher, this blog gives me some great ideas for my classroom.  I have only just started following it and I look forward to getting more ideas.  I think maybe I should give some ideas back – if I could just think of some…
  7. Cotton Happy Days – I love patchwork quilts and making them so this blog and its tutorials gives me lots of tips.
  8. Kristen Lamb’s Blog – Kristen is an author who gives tips on how to write better.  I have always wanted to write and always open to help.  I like the informal way Kristen writes and enjoy reading her blog.
  9. Write Meg – Meg blogs about Writing, Reading, Loving and Eating – 4 of my favourite things to do so how could I go passed this?  Meg has a lot of followers and I can see why.  Her blog is an interesting mix of recipes, book reviews, anecdotes and more.
  10. A Stitch or Two a Day – I’m not very arty but I admire people who are.  This blog is a lovely mix of rustic and earthy arts and crafts.  There is felt work, quilting and so much more.  I love the colours and the creativity.  A lovely blog.
  11. Angela Buckley  Angela is an English writer who is researching her family history.  Angela’s blog is interesting and different and I like a lot of the photos she puts up and discusses.
  12. Sewjournal – Yes, another patchwork blog but different from the other too.  Very interesting.
  13. A Stitch in Time – No, not another patchworking blog but yes, another Family History Blog which I came across through reading “Shaking the Tree” award nominees.  A lovely blog with some fascinating photos.
  14. Nomadruss in Words and Photos – This blogger describes himself as a “photographer, wilderness guide, adventurer” and that intrigued me.  However, the stunning photos also grabbed me.  A visually pleasing blog with a lot of followers.
  15. Classroom as Microcosm – This blog attracted my attention because it is again about ideas for the classroom.  At least one blog deals with blogging in the classroom and, as this is something I have just started at my school, I am keen to see how it all works and to get ideas to keep students interested.  So I will be watching this blog with interest.

De Vos Almshouse, Bruges, Belgium

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De Vos Almshouse by Karla Mae

In a recent post about my children’s ancestors, De Vos family, I mentioned that it was believed that the De Vos family had built an Almshouse in Belgium.  I didn’t actually know what an Almshouse was so I set about finding out.  I love how we wade through old documents to find the information we need but I have to say how wonderful it is to sometimes have the Internet agt our fingertips.

Above is the De Vos Almshouse.  It was built in 1713.  According to my information, Olivier de Vos had already left for Ceylon by then so I wonder how much he had to do with the building of the Almshouse in Belgium.  Certainly it would seem he was making a lot of money in Ceylon so could afford it but it may have been one of his siblings.

I had expected to find out that an Almshouse was some kind of stately home and I was half right.   From the Middle Ages the wealthy citizens built Almshouses as free housing for widows, the poor and the elderly.  In exchange for free rent, the residents had to pray every day for their benefactor’s soul to be admitted into heaven when he or she passed away.  This was a daily duty and to ensure they didn’t forget, a chapel was always built in the courtyard of the property.  De Vos had eight homes originally but in recent times were converted into six.

Today, Almshouses are owned by the city and run by Social Services.  To live in one, you must be either old or poor and have been a citizen of Bruges for at least two years.

De Vos houses (2 of 6)

Two of the six De Vos houses still available

(Photos and some of my information was taken from the blog

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