This work is dedicated to the memory of my only brother Gordon George Arnold for his daughter Vanessa Lee and his son Brett
From the book "WHIP CRACKS AND HOOF BEATS FROM THE PAST" by Wilf Ingram
The George Arnolds
"A great pastry cook, George Arnold served his apprenticeship under his mother's tuition at Bombala before marrying and coming to Towamba, where he managed the hotel for the Martin Family. From there, after the hotel was burnt down he went to Pericoe Station and worked for Alf Alexander for close to forty years.
He was a prodigious worker in the dairy and at other times would tackle whatever task was at hand. His wife and family helped. George and Sarah Arnold had twelve children. I went to school at Pericoe with the two youngest, Frank and Eva. Frank was a fine tennis player and cricketer. He and I were both members of the local tennis club.
George loved to help with local dances and his contribution was the baking of up to 24 dozen jam tarts.... his specialty, for the suppers at these functions. When fifty or sixty hungry dancers sat down to big suppers which formed a break in the proceedings, the tarts were thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.
The old Arnold couple were noted for their hospitality and their greeting, if they saw anyone riding or driving past, was always "Come in and have dinner with us." (or whatever meal was on at that particular time.) There wasn't a chance of getting past without offending them, and they loved a yarn. Grand People"
From Hamburg the ship "CAESAR"
arrived in Sydney on the twenty-ninth day
of March 1855, carrying government assisted
German immigrants, including one JOHANN JOSEF
ARNOLD and his wife EVA SUSANNAH SCHUPPEL.
JOHANN was a vinedresser or vineyard worker
and the son of Johannes and Juliana Arnold.
EVA SUSANNAH the daughter of Helena and Michael
Both families were of Evangelistic faith and came from Baden in the south of Germany, a town called LEIMEN. The marriage of Eva and Johann took place in Leimen on January 1st, 1852. Eva gave birth to a son Johannes in 1853; his death is recorded, aged 11 months, in Germany before they migrated.
The archives office in Globe Street, Sydney, reel 2469, shows the arrival 'logue of the ship "Caesar" but the film is not too clear.
I learned that the Caesar arrived on 19th March, 1855 at Twofold Bay. She was the first ship to enter the bay and here landed 56 of the intended 77 passengers. The remaining eleven had died on the voyage. After lying in quarantine in Twofold Bay for several days she made her way up the coast to Sydney, where Johann and Eva made their immigration declaration.
Finding no work in Sydney, they travelled back down the coast to Eden on Twofold Bay on a coastal steamer and proceeded to travel over the mountain by bullock wagon a journey of thirteen days; this journey was relived to son George and his wife Sarah and passed on to their children. Here Johann obtained his first job in Australia as a labourer on the sheep station Wambrook, near Cooma.
Society of Australian Genealogists reel 3771... On arrival in Sydney the age of Johann as twenty-eight and Susannah as twenty-three years is recorded. Both husband and wife are able to read and write. Eva Susannah stated on her immigration entry that she has an Uncle Leonard Koller living in the colony.
Johann Umbach and his family including two-year-old Valentin also arrived on the ship. Fauldine or Valentin as he was called, later married Ellen Atkins, eldest sister of my grandmother Sarah Atkins Arnold, and the Umbach Family became our cousins. The fourth child, Val Umbach, had two sons, and Stan, who became close friends as well as cousins with my father Frank Arnold
|Jim Brownlie, Geoff and Stan Umbach with Frank Arnold c. 1935|
Burchard Frerichs, a merchant and grazier
from Bremen, Germany, and now landholder
of a property in Monaro (then called Maneroo)
travelled to Germany in 1852 and applied
for three families of vinedressers from the
1855 intake of immigrants. The Arnold's were
not named as one of these families but we
do know that Johann was employed on Wambrook
as a labourer when their first Australian
born child, Selena, was born a year later
in April 1856.
I learned that Eva's brother Georg Jacob Schuppel migrated to Australia in 1855. He arrived in Moreton Bay on the ship "Marbs" and in reference to family in the colony, he stated that his uncle Leonhard Koller was in Sydney.
Charles Nicholson, a prominent land holder of the time, was named on the immigration declaration as sponsor to Johann, and responsible for providing him with work. It is not clear why Johann did not go to one of his properties to work, maybe Nicholson was in Sydney or Johann and Eva were to meet Eva's uncle Leonhard here.
On the 15th November 1854, aboard the "Caesar", seventy families departed Hamburg and left
their homeland Germany, to start a new life
in Australia. There was a total of 293 passengers,
assisted immigrants and thirteen crew on
a baroque of only 438 tons, from a passenger
"far too many for the size of the ship."
Ahead lay thirteen thousand miles of ocean,
which was to take more than four months to
navigate and to cost many lives from fever
Rough seas hit the ship early in the voyage causing much sea sickness and then about a month later cholera was blamed for an outbreak of dysentery and fever. Some passengers died after only a few hours illness, a total of 74 as far as can be determined from the records available. The captain, Johann Sturtje and his crew did their best to help the unfortunate victims and to keep them busy, several of the men set about making burial bags for the burials at sea. Complaints were made by the passengers against the doctor and an inquiry was ordered by the Australian Immigration Department into the conditions on board the vessel. The report from the Colonial Secretary's Papers found that the vessel was not fitted in a manner proper for the conveyance of passengers and there was not enough accommodation or exercise areas on the ship.
It was also reported that there were no water closets (toilets) on the "tween decks" where more than 160 people were berthed. The floors of the 'tween decks were of a temporary nature allowing access of odours from the hold and effluent from illness through onto the water and food. There were no windows and not enough ventilation.
*AO shipping records and Colonial Secretaries report give different figures on the number of passengers and the number of deaths.
Contaminated Water was so bad that the surgeon reported to the committee that he felt it necessary to restrict the amount of water for ration to each person to 1 pint per day. It was possible that this was the major source of infection.
Recommendations were made that stricter regulations on sanitation be enforced and the number of small children on board immigrant ships be regulated. ref:Colonial Secretaries report on German immigration 1855.
It was recommended that German Immigrant ships to Australia be governed by the same regulations as British ships. Documentation from Hamburg showed that all German regulations were obeyed in the fitting of the ship for passengers before it left Hamburg. These regulations were not adequate to prevent disease or to satisfy British authorities.
The investigative committee found no fault with the doctor's qualifications or methods of treatment. It was reported that more than 100 people were suffering the disease after just a few days at sea.
Blame for the outbreak of disease was thought to be the lack of sanitation and difficulty in isolating the disease because of the numerous children on board. Investigations revealed that the doctor had done everything possible under the circumstances and that there was no negligence on his part.
One of the passengers by the name of Gotts kept a diary of the fateful journey as he had lost two children on the voyage. Much of this diary has now been translated by Jenny Paterson and a summary appears in a book of the life of the Umback family written by Kevin Umback.
I was fortunate enough to meet Kevin in 1996 and he gave me a copy of his book.
|WHY DID THEY COME|
Wages were low and taxes very high and there
was much political and religious unrest in
Germany in 1850. Advertisements were appearing
in the major cities for migrants to the Colony
of New South Wales. Government assistance
was offered and jobs promised for German
families willing to help farm the new colony.
Also at this time, 1853, a man named James Manning leased a large property at Taylor's Flat called Cathcart. He and his brother also had other holdings in the Bombala area including some interest in Kameruka Estate. Manning was educated in Europe and during this time gained much respect for the German vineyard workers. He admired their tenacity and their industrious nature.
Arrangements were made by Manning to bring a number of German families to Twofold Bay by ship and he would meet them and arrange guides to take them to jobs on Kameruka Estate. Eva Schuppel's uncle was one of the men that Manning had promised work. Maybe this was the reason that Johann also decided to migrate to Australia.
Whilst working at the Gunning Grach sheep station Johann was naturalized, on the thirteenth of September, 1871. His certificate of naturalization shows that he was 44 years old and that he was a shepherd, his name was Anglicized and he became John Joseph Arnold. At this time my grandfather George Arnold would only have been four years old, the eldest living son, Henry, would have been eleven.
THE TOWAMBA DISTRICT
From the newspaper, 'Pambula Voice'...........
"Many years ago the area from Rocky Hall to Twofold Bay, Eden, comprised of an enormous sheep station owned by a man by the name of Walker. It was known as the Pussy Cat Station. The general character of the country consisted of rich grassy flats of fertile black soil. Towamba Valley was perfect farming land with a river running through to supply all the water necessary.
"Pussy Cat" was sold to Sir William Manning and a Mr.Stiles for a cattle run about 1830. Early records show that this was one of the earliest settlement areas in the Colony of New South Wales. Later the properties were sold to other settlers and the township of Towamba grew to include a school and hotel and many businesses."
It was to this locality that Johann Josef Arnold and his wife Eva Susannah were to settle and raise their family. Their wanderings can be traced through the birth records of their children, most of the research of this period was done by Annette (Muffy) Hedges who is the granddaughter of Wally Arnold, one of George Arnold's sons. It was her research also that brought us the records from Germany.
|The baptisms of the children of Johann Josef
Arnold and his wife Eva
can be found in the records of this Anglican church of St. Matthias in Bombala
CHILDREN OF JOHANN JOSEF ARNOLD AND EVA SUSANNAH
JOHANNES, was born in Germany in 1853 and died in the same year aged 11 months.
SELENA, (Colina in the records) first Australian born child, 1856, at WAMBROOK COOMA married James Collins. She had twelve children and died in 1932 aged 76 years.
MARY, 1858, was born at WOOLWAY STATION, COOMA. She married Joseph Carveth and had two children. She died in 1941 aged 84 years.
HENRY, 1860, first surviving son, was born at BURNINA STATION, BOMBALA. He left home in 1885 to join the army. He married Julia Merritt 1891 who died soon after their marriage. His second marriage to Mary Susan Anderson produced one son, William. He died in 1930 aged 70 years.
JOHN ARNOLD ARNOLD, 1862, in the baptism record he carried the surname also as a Christian name, Born in BOMBALA. He married Annie McEwen and died in 1955. No known children.
WILLIAM,1864, born CAMBALONG STATION, BOMBALA. He married Esther Collins and they had five children. He died in 1959 aged 95.
GEORGE, 7th January, 1867, at BACK CREEK, BOMBALA. Married Sarah Atkins and they had fourteen children. He died in 1940 aged 74 years.
MARTIN,1869. Born in BOMBALA. He married Agnes Barnes and they had four sons. He was accidentally killed at work in Queensland in 1915, just before the birth of his fourth son.
JOSEPH, 1871, GUNNING GRACH, BOMBALA. He married Merab Kent and they had six children. He died in 1965, aged 93 years.
Children of Johann Joseph and Eva Schuppel
|Selena, Mary, Henry (Harry), John (Jack)|
|George, William (Bill), Martin, Joseph|
George was the seventh child born to John
Joseph and Eva Susannah. He was born on the
17th January, 1867, on the property Back
Creek in Bombala, N.S.W. At the time of his
birth his father who was 39 years old was
working as a shepherd on the sheep station,
his mother was 35.
Selina was the eldest living child, she was ten years old when George was born. Mary, the second girl was eight. Henry, six years, John jnr. four years, and William, then the baby, was two. Education of the children in the district was left to parents until the first school in Bombala was built in 1863.
The Bombala school opened in 1864 with a war between the Anglican Rector of St. Matthias Church and the new school teacher. Reverend John Steele was upset by the new school master's lecture advising parents to send their children to school instead of to the church to be educated. He accused the Education Department of being a den of evil and that the teachers were "Sons of Satin" sent to further his kingdom. Letters in the Education Department archives record the long bitter quarrel until finally in December, 1864, Mr James Poulton, the master, asked to be relocated as his family could take no more of the abuse.
The marriage of George, aged 22 years, with Sarah Atkins was celebrated at the home of Sarah's parents, James Atkins and Mary at Maharatta near Bombala, on the 16th October, 1889.
A wedding photograph shows George's mother Eva is present and a second woman in the photograph would have been Sarah's mother, Mary Neal Atkins. Bridesmaid Annie Atkins, Sarah's youngest sister is also visible but the heads of the men in the photograph, except for the groom are not visible. I have not been able to find the source of the original photograph.
|The Wedding photograph of George Arnold
and Sarah Atkins 1889
Here my research continues with the aid of
a local newspaper "THE PAMBULA VOICE".
It records a little of the life of the Arnold
Family after John died from 1893 until 1905.
Apparently George and Sarah lived with his mother and helped her run the Rocky Hall HoteI. Ivy, the first child of Sarah and George, was born in Bombala in 1890. Second child George William, known as Bill was born also in Bombala in 1891. On the 15th February, 1893, a third child of George and Sarah, John Arnold Arnold, was born. The family tradition of carrying the surname as a Christian name was continued from George's brother, John Arnold Arnold
John Joseph Arnold died in Bombala, New South Wales (on the same day that Sarah gave birth to her son John, on February 13th, 1893) at the age of 65 years with the cause of death given as "senile decay". He is buried in the Bombala Anglican Cemetery.
|Rocky Hall Pub|
HOTEL FIRE AT THE ROCKY HALL 9TH MARCH 1894
The Big Jack Hotel was totally destroyed by fire early on Saturday morning. About half past four in the morning, some of the inmates were awakened by an unusual noise and getting out of bed and looking for a cause were dismayed to find flames bursting forth from the western end of the building, which portion was unoccupied at the time. The remaining occupants were quickly aroused and several neighbours were soon on the spot, but it was at once seen that any hope of saving the building with the crude appliances at hand was out of the question, as the fire had too firm a hold on the light structure, the pine and canvas lining providing excellent fuel to feed the hungry flames. Not a breath of wind was stirring, but in a very short time the hotel was destroyed except for the kitchen and the brick chimneys. The majority of the furniture and all the beer and spirits with the exception of a few casks of spirit was lost. Mrs Arnold and son Joe, lost several small articles, watches ornaments and the account books. No clue as to the origin of the fire is obtained so far but four police are seeking evidence for an inquest to be held during the week. The furniture and stock was insured.
(a year has passed and I discovered the following articles under the heading Towamba. A daughter Edith Irene was born to George & Sarah on 19th July, 1895, in Bombala
TOWAMBA AUGUST 2nd, 1895
Licensee of the Towamba hotel has vacated the hostelry before the expiration of his lease, owing to dull times. He is now renting the Church of England grounds to start a butcher's shop. It is hoped that he won't turn the church into a butcher's shop.
TOWAMBA SEPTEMBER, 1895.
Catering for the Cricketer's Ball on 30th August was done by Mrs Eva Arnold of the Towamba Hotel in a manner that showed the lady is no novice in the field,
TOWAMBA DECEMBER 20th, 1985
Mrs Arnold was at the dance wearing a black dress
TOWAMBA JAN 8th, 1896
Mr Joe Arnold had a publican's booth at the New Years Day races and he did a good trade.
TOWAMBA APRIL 8th, 1896
On a list of donors for a sick , widow the name appears of George Arnold with a donation of 2/6
TOWAMBA JUNE 26th, 1896
........... the meeting was held at the Arnold's Hotel.
(This entry is the first referring to the hotel as that of George Arnold, not his mother, during the next few years I could not find any entries for the family. Birth records show that two more children were born, Henry or Harry as he was called in 1897 and Mary Ellen 1899).
TOWAMBA MARCH 1st, 1901
A banquet was held at Mr George Arnold's hotel
(Wallace James Arnold was born 18th December, 1900 and George Jnr, May, 1902) FEBRUARY 13th, 1903, Brother George Arnold was made an officer of the Oddfellows
TOWAMBA JANUARY 29th, 1904
Mr & Mrs George Arnold of the Towamba Hotel suffered the loss of an infant daughter.
(Daisy was born to George & Sarah on 6th September,1903 in Towamba, she died on 15th January, 1904,cause of death given as convulsions, maybe this too was due to epilepsy)
TOWAMBA NOVEMBER, 1904
Mrs George Arnold had a very narrow escape from being bitten by a black snake on Monday 14th. On going into the kitchen of the hotel for some water she found a "Tempter of Eve" coiled around the bottom of the bucket. Mrs Arnold had hold of the bucket before she saw the brute, which on being disturbed rushed between her feet. Her screams brought her daughter Ivy, who ran after the reptile which finally got under the kitchen floor. Mr Arnold lifted most of the floor boards and succeeded in killing the serpent which proved to be five feet eleven inches long and a perfect specimen of the black snake order.
TOWAMBA FEBRUARY 3rd, 1905
The goodwill of the Towamba hotel is for sale due to the ill health of Mrs Sarah Arnold
TOWAMBA FEBRUARY 20th, 1905
Miss Ivy Arnold wore a beautiful white gown to the ball
TOWAMBA MARCH 3rd, 1905
Mrs George Arnold was taken to Bega hospital.
TOWAMBA MARCH 17th, 1905
The sale of the Towamba hotel has fallen through.
TOWAMBA APRIL 7th, 1905
Mrs George Arnold is is still in Bega Hospital but her condition is improved.
TOWAMBA APRIL 21st, 1905
Mr Arnold, who has been unsuccessful in disposing of his business, has made a deal finally with Mr Joseph McKee. He is to take possession of the hotel on the 1st of next month. Mr. McKee was the former licensee of the Pambula Royal Hotel where George and his sister Mary worked and learned the hotel trade.
TOWAMBA JULY 21st, 1905
I am informed that Mrs. George Arnold's youngest sister died last week leaving a husband and young family to mourn her loss.
(Annie Atkins Wiles died in childbirth with the seventh boy. Her young family 's ages ranged from eleven years. Annie is in George & Sarah 's wedding photograph. She was their bridesmaid. )
SALE OF TOWAMBA HOTEL
TOWAMBA JULY 21st, 1905
On Monday 10th, Mr George Arnold, who for eight years had been publican of our hotel and who through a series of misfortunes was compelled to give up the business. He was banquetted if I may so put it, and presented with a purse of sovereigns. Toasts of the evening were as follows:
The King ...Mr Solomon The Guest of the Evening.. Mr Solomon
The State we live in ... Mr Solomon
The Dairying Industry... Mr P.Alexander
The District ... Mr John Dickie
The Press ... Mr R. Alexander
The Visitors .......... Mr J Ryan
The Ladies ........... Mr P. Alexander
Mr G Martin presented the purse of sovereigns. The guest of the evening, Mr George Arnold, touchingly thanked his many friends for their expressions and goodwill and for the manner in which it was expressed. He said he always had tried to do his best in attempting to advance the place and it gave him great pleasure to know that his efforts were appreciated. He earnestly trusted that the kindness expressed and tended to him in such an open handed manner, as on the present occasion, would stimulate to a still better and abler energy in good citizenship. Many expressions of appreciation for the evening followed. The programme was further delivered by song and recitation. Auld Lang Syne ended a most enjoyable evening.
Two more children, were born to Sarah & George before they left Towamba, around 1910, Eric in 1906 and Joseph in 1908. From the School records at the Archives office in Sydney I discovered a letter written by George Arnold tendering for the cleaning of the Towamba School cess pits. This letter is dated October 8th, 1910 and his address given as Towamba although Margaret Ann Arnold was born on 12th August, 1910 and her birthplace given as Pericoe. I can only assume that George & Sarah moved to Pericoe about this time. Mrs Elton the Midwife lived at Pericoe and maybe baby Margaret was born there.
A photograph handed down from Margaret Arnold shows a bridge being built over the Towamba River. Records show that this bridge was built in 1909 and washed away in a flood in 1919. The photograph now appears in a book by Bernard Cornell, called 'Most Obedient Servants' on education in the Monaro district.
George Arnold was given a job as manager of the Pericoe Post Office station of Alf Alexander, where he lived until 1940. Here his children, Margaret, 1910, Frank 1912 & Eva 1914, were born and later in 1935 and 1938, Lola & Gordon George, the children of Frank Arnold and Joyce Holdsworth were also born at Pericoe. Gordon George so named as he was born on his Grandfather's birthday.
A small one-teacher school of rather colourful history provided education for the children in the Pericoe district. It was dedicated in 1883 after many petitions from farmers. The records at the Sydney Archives Office in Globe Street, tell a story of complaints from teachers, of children who would not attend classes and of parents who would not pay fees or send children to school and of teachers who took regular sick leave for stress. Parents complained of child abuse by teachers.
The names of the younger Arnold children appear on the school records, Joe, Margaret, Frank and Eva until the school closed in 1918 . There are many letters of petition for the re opening of the school in the records but this did not happen until 1921, and closed again in 1922, a petition dated 1923 shows the ages of Joseph 13, Frank 11 ,Margaret 12, and Eva 9. These children had to rely on their parents for most of their education, however, Eva the youngest, was finally sent to Dapto to her brother Wally to attend school. As soon as she was old enough to leave school Eva went to live at Bondi with Mary her elder sister where she commenced work for David Jones. Margaret went to Sydney to work with Sargents, a large catering firm where sister Edith was working. Later Eva and Margaret rented a flat at Bondi Beach where they lived until their marriages in 1945 and 1946.
Billy Hughes, a politician of the time encouraged Bill Arnold, the eldest son, to go to Sydney and make a career in the Police Force. Jack Arnold also became a policeman. Bill rose to Inspector and then to Superintendent. Jack to Sergeant. Both men married and had families in Sydney. Wally Arnold built a career for himself in the Fire Brigade at Dapto on the south coast of New South Wales. He rose to Fire Chief and was highly decorated for his work.
Henry or Harry, as he was called, was an epileptic and as this was an untreatable condition in those days, he was committed to an asylum at Orange in 1918, aged seventeen, and then Callan Park where he died aged 30. His medical records are in our family history collection.
Joe Arnold married a local girl Jean Gates and went to live in Sydney. They had three children, John Joseph, Patricia Maria, and Hilary Clare. While the children were still babies Jean contracted pneumonia and died in a Sydney Hospital. The children were separated and raised by relatives until Joe remarried in 1940. Pat and Clare went to live with their father and stepmother but John stayed with his mothers family and grew up in Copmanhurst near Grafton.
Frank stayed at home with his parents and helped them run the Pericoe property and supplemented his income with casual work of stripping wattle bark for tanning and catching rabbits for skins. Here he met Joyce Holdsworth, whom he married, and they raised their two children at Pericoe until 1940.
George Arnold loved his farm where he had some dairy cattle and pigs, as well as sheep and, of course, horses. Again I can remember a few instances on the farm. Mainly with Grandfather, whom Gordon and I both adored. He made me a tiny stool so that I could help him make the tarts for the dances and other functions that he loved to cook for. We had a wonderful vegetable garden and here we would both work with him. I think this is where both Gordon and I inherited our love for the garden and most likely where my catering genes came from.
|George and Sarah Arnold at Pericoe, 1939|
|The first six children of George and Sarah|
|Lola Workman and Wilf Ingram, Pericoe 1956|
Note: Lola & Ted Workman returned to Pericoe in 1957 and whilst rummaging around where the old homestead once stood, Wilf Ingram came riding over the hill. He spoke of this meeting some thirty years later when writing to Tina McCarthy about this page from his book.
Again the newspapers of the day tell the story...
THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD Wednesday, January 11th, 1939
The Victorian bushfires continue to ravish the country....Bega on the south coast was encircled by flame yesterday. A residence at Pericoe about 40 miles from the town was destroyed, and others are in grave danger.
THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD Thursday, January 12th, 1939
The homes of six families were destroyed yesterday in the Bega district. Those whose homes were lost include Messrs. L King, South, Wilfred Ingram and George Arnold. Mr Arnold lost everything he possessed except the clothes he and his family were wearing. At Pericoe and Towamba, 27 men women and children are homeless. The school building was also destroyed.
Dad was away fighting the fires and we could see the dark sky and it was early morning. I remember it was so hot and all you could smell was the fire. I don't remember Dad returning home but Mum tells me that he came home from fighting the fires early in the morning and told the family that there was no hope of stopping the fire. He then took us, Grandmother Arnold, Mum and Gordon and me to the river which wasn't very far from the house. Other neighbours women and children were there in the river also. Grandmother Sarah was a big lady, of seventeen stone and as it was difficult for her to sit in the river, I remember Dad going back to the house to get a kitchen chair so that she would be more comfortable.
After settling us Dad returned to the house to try and get some clothes and other things before the fire reached the house. He rescued quite a few things including what he thought to be a case of baby clothes, but turned out to be a case of sewing materials. He saved my celluloid doll and put it with the goods out of the fire's reach. We all stayed in the river and the fire came over and passed and the house was saved. The fire surrounded us and we could see the flames leaping to the sky. The dress of one of the young Laing girls, about fourteen, caught alight and mum ripped it off her and then took off her petticoat to give the girl to wear. We had wet blankets over our heads so that we could breath. There were lizards and a snake in the water near us and a tiny bird perched in granny Arnold's hair, to us kids it was an exciting adventure. Then everything changed!
In the afternoon the southerly wind came and brought the flames back down from Mt.Imlay. Flames caught the willows behind us, and swept straight towards the homestead where a spark caught the open hay loft where Dad and Grandfather were, they tried to save the house but the wind was too strong and Dad was hit by a burning beam and badly burnt. The celluloid doll exploded with the heat and set alight all the clothes and goods that had been saved from the house. Our horse was near us at the river, when a fireball hit the horse and it caught alight. .... It ran around and around in circles until the poor thing collapsed in a heap on the ground.
Trauma seems to have obliterated my memory of the remainder of that day. Mum has been able to fill the gaps for me... the Galea family was in the creek with us and when all the men returned to take us from the creek, Mr Galea was missing, however he had been trapped behind the fire and later returned safely. Alf Alexander's home was spared and he took Sarah & George Arnold there until a few days later when Uncle Bill sent a car for them to go to Bondi to daughter Mary's home.
Uncle Joe drove Dad's car and took Mum and Dad and Gordon and me to Wyndham to the Holdsworth home where we stayed until Friday. There were twelve children in the Holdsworth family and so very little room here for more boarders. Again Uncle Bill had arranged for us to go to Dapto and stay with Dad's brother Wally until we could find somewhere else to live.
FRIDAY 13th, JANUARY, 1939
The next thing I remember is being in a car with a man driving, Mum says it was Jim Brownlee, my uncle, with Dad, his face bandaged, and Mum and Gordon and we were being driven through the bushfires. Trees were alight on both sides of the road and the car was a tourer about 1926 with just celluloid curtains for windows. Mum tells me that many times Jim Brownlee would stop the car and ask Dad if he thought we should go on or turn back. Their decision was to continue on in the hope that we soon would be through the fires.
Friday 13th, January, 1939, was the day most homes were lost and several people lost their lives in the Victorian bushfires. The Sydney Morning Herald screamed " Black Friday" and the temperatures were recorded at record heats of 116 degrees Fahrenheit, however at Wyndham the crisis had passed and Dad thought it was now safe to take us to Dapto to Uncle Wally's house. With Jim Brownlee driving we set out early on Friday but as we travelled north we again encountered the fires.
We drove all through the fires, until we reached a hotel in Cobargo, which still stands in this year of 1995. It had stairs! I had never been in a building with stairs and I vividly remember being taken up the stairs where I was washed, put into clean clothes and put to bed. People of the village came to our assistance and provided new clothes from the local shop opposite the hotel. Dads face badly burned, and baby Gordon's back also burned, received attention. I had escaped with just a small burn on my arm.
With clean clothes and a good meal and a few hours rest we set off again for Dapto. Travelling through blackened country we thought we were through the fires when once again the flames appeared and the men had to decide whether to continue or return. Night was now falling and I remember the look of the whole forest alight in the dark night. Our trip continued until flashing lights appeared on the road at MIlton. It was the police looking for us as the hotel at Cobargo has notified them that we were travelling through. We were taken to the police station where we spent the night .
On Saturday 14th, January we arrived Dapto where we were to stay just a short time until three year old Lola locked Gordon, just once, in the ice chest. This was too much for Uncle Wally's wife who also had a handicapped child as well as a young daughter and was not used to a houseful of country bumkins. From here we were taken to Mum's uncle Jim (Stormy) Holdsworth in Wollongong where we lived for the next few weeks.
Dad was able to get a job at Exeter helping to rebuild the power lines destroyed in the fires and through Uncle Wally's contacts we were given a tiny garden cottage to live in. I remember this wonderful garden and how great it was to walk in the garden and pick flowers. There was no stove but one day Mum found the top of an old oven on a rubbish heap and she made us a stove with some bricks. We slept on the floor on some hay that the produce store had given to Dad. Soon after we arrived there Ray Linnane sent a double innerspring mattress (something they had never seen before) to Mum and Dad, on the train. We had some large boxes for tables and a few small ones for chairs and here we lived happily after all the trauma.
After a short time here Dad was moved to Goulburn to work and Mum, Gordon and I went back to live with Grandmother Holdsworth at Numbugga until Grandfather Arnold and Uncle Joe and some of our neighbours built a temporary residence again at Pericoe, where we lived until May of 1940 when Uncle Bill sent Ray Linnane in a Buick to bring the family to live in Sydney.
NORTH ROCKS ROAD,
My next memory is the arrival at Carlingford.
Grandmother and Grandfather Arnold were with us and we arrived on a winter's evening in May. The fire was burning in the large open fireplace in the lounge room and the neighbours had prepared a supper for us.
I had never seen such beautiful cups and plates and I remember thinking how rich we must be now that we lived in Sydney and had such beautiful china. The house was furnished with a large cane lounge and a sideboard that the cups and plates were set on; there were lovely patty cakes and little sandwiches.
It was a modern house on five acres of land at Carlingford, on North Rocks Road, next door to the cemetery. A hall ran from a closed in verandah across the front of the house, through the centre of the house, past two bedrooms, one on either side of the hall. Our grandparents had one bedroom and Mum and Dad had the other room. Behind the bedrooms a large lounge room opened from the hall and on the other side was the kitchen with a Bega fuel stove with a green enamel door. I had only seen black stoves before and I thought this was wonderful. On the other side of the kitchen was a small dining room with a dining room suite! and across the hall from the dining room behind the lounge room was my bedroom and Gordon's cot. In the hallway, outside my bedroom, stood a wonder of the day; an ice chest. Then down a few steps and there was a large laundry with a fuel copper and tubs and a large galvanised iron bath tub. This was the first bathroom I had ever seen, under the same roof as the house. Down a long path was the "Dunny" near the chook yard. Later when Gordon grew up he had a bed at the end of the closed in verandah.
Grandfather made a large vegetable garden, I remember Gordon and I helping to sow the potatoes, and Mum liked to garden too, she made a herb garden near the tap where we had fresh thyme, sage, mint and shallots. The chook run had a passionfruit vine and we had lots of fruit trees.
The year was 1940 and in September, Grandfather got pneumonia and was taken to hospital, he seemed to recover and was sent home, but collapsed soon after and died. Mum says that he never adjusted to leaving Pericoe and his farm and just didn't want to live. I was now almost five years old and I thought I was old enough to go to the funeral, but the big people wouldn't let me go. Gordon was born on Grandfather's seventy-second birthday and he went everywhere with him. Things never ever seemed the same after Grandfather died. Each Sunday Uncle Bill would send a large black car to take Grandmother to the Field of Mars cemetery where Grandfather is buried.
Dad got a job at the Lidcombe State Hospital as a male nurse and as it was war time, Uncle Bill considered this an occupation where Dad would not be called up for military service. When Dad was working at the hospital an old man gave him a large black opal. He had this made into a ring and Mum wore it for years and lost the stone from the ring in Moree in about 1956.
Gordon was about three years old when he developed bronchial pneumonia. At this time there was little hope of recovery from the infection. I remember the house was kept dark and we had a blanket at the fireplace to prevent draughts as this was where Gordon's cot was so that the nurse could sleep beside him. After what seemed a lifetime to me one night the big people stayed up, and in the morning they said that the crisis had passed and the baby would live, thanks to the new sulphur drugs.
SCHOOL AT NORTH ROCKS
I commenced school at Miss Fowler's kindergarten school at North Rocks and later moved to the primary school next door. When Gordon was about five he too attended North Rocks Primary School. There were only a few pupils at the school when I started and we had just one teacher for all the classes, however, by the time that Gordon had started, there were enough children to have an infant's teacher. We travelled to and from school on the bus and even though it was war time our life as I remember it was fairly stable.
Uncle Joe Arnold and his second wife Maggie, and their baby Shirley came to live at North Rocks. Then nearly every year they had another baby, so this was always something to look forward to. Joan, Merlene, Bruce and Gary were born at North Rocks. Pat and Clare, Uncle Joe's children from his first marriage, were brought to live with him to help with the babies. They rarely got to school as they had so much to do at home.
There was a great shortage of manpower and Mum and Dad would work at night in the peach orchards when we were kids to help grade and pack the fruit. Gordon and I were taken sometimes and we would sleep on the floor. It was great fun as many other children of the district were there. As we grew older we too were taught to work the grader and help with the packing of the peaches. In the summer time we would all work in the rose nurseries; Dad pruning, Mum bunching the roses and Gordon, Pat and I earned one shilling an hour to pick off the rose hips. We would earn enough pocket money here to take us to the pictures in Parramatta on Saturdays and to have an ice cream as well. Life was pretty good!
Dad changed jobs about this time and went to work at Parramatta jail as an overseer in the blacksmith's shop. Uncle Joe also worked at the jail as a warder and we would often see him patrolling on top of the wall at the jail as we went past in the bus. One of the prisoners made me a wooden pencil case with my name on it for Dad to give me for my birthday.
After Grandfather died the vegetable garden ceased to exist but Mum made a pretty flower garden in front of the house, and Dad made paths of bricks around the house. He enjoyed working around the house, but was never a gardener. Grandmother Arnold did most of the cooking and this gave Mum time to sew. She made all the clothes Gordon and I had, including coats and trousers for Gordon and tunics for me for school from Dad's old Police uniform. I had my first bought dress at thirteen.
Aunty Margaret and Aunty Eva would come to visit regularly and Aunty Mary and Aunty Edie also came to visit Grandmother. Weekends were always busy with large family dinners and lots of visitors. Uncle Bill and Ray Linnane were the most frequent and I loved to lie in bed at night, and listen to Uncle Bill's story of the latest murders and crimes of the city. I remember being scared when Norma Ginn was murdered in the Newtown cemetery. I always ran down the cemetery lane after that when it was getting dark.
We became great friends with Stan Coates the gravedigger. He saved the ribbons from the wreaths for me for hair ribbons. As it was wartime ribbon could not be easily bought, but I always had enough for my cousins and myself. Lace was another scarce product during the war, but Grandmother Holdsworth managed to get some to send to me for a birthday present for my petticoats, as the eldest grandchild I was spoiled by her.
Grandmother Arnold died in 1946, I don't remember much about her death, but it was about this time that I was savaged by an Alsatian dog and I spent a long time in hospital. It was discovered at this time that I had a heart murmur and doctors thought I had rheumatic fever, so kept me in hospital just in case. This proved to be wrong when in 1962, it was discovered that I had a congenital heart disorder that had to be corrected by surgery. This long hospitalization prevented me from sitting for a bursary scholarship to be a teacher, and instead of repeating school I was sent to a Home Science school where my interest in the food industry developed.
About this time Pat, who was now about fifteen, was unhappy living with her stepmother, she came to live with us, and went to work at Mrs Gooden's house as a housemaid, before getting a job in Parramatta at the Australia Cafe.
After Grandmother's death, Ray Linnane decided to terminate our almost free rental of the property and we moved to Cheltenham in an overgrown and neglected house in Murray Road, Cheltenham. Part of the rental agreement was the care of an old lady who lived there in the front bedroom. After a year or so the old lady died and we stayed on in the house. I was now at school at Hornsby and Gordon at Beecroft Public School.
Later Gordon went to Eastwood Technical School where he developed a love for anything electrical. He was always pulling old appliances to pieces to fix them. His career spanned more than thirty years with Sydney Electricity where he was rewarded with promotion to a Senior Supervisor. I believe Gordon spent his life exactly as he wanted to and found great happiness in his home and his family after his marriage to Robyn in 1961. This pleasure increased tremendously when Blake, his grandson was born and then Peta Lee gave him a reason to hold on to live for a few more precious weeks. When Blake was born I rang him after he had been to the hospital to enquire of the new babe, his words "He's a bloody beauty Sis, a bloody beauty".