Family Names

Thursday, 27 April 2017

A to Z Challenge - X marks the spot

Snippets from the life of Martha Sarah Ellis.

Married in 1892 and by 1894 had moved into the South Yarra area near Chapel St, eventually moving onto Chapel St. the early years must have been difficult, as they moved around quite a bit until settling in 580 Chapel St., where they lived for the longest period during of their married life, 13 years.

Site - 1  1894       Shop & Residence, 27 Arthur St, South Yarra VIC 3141, Australia.
Site - 2  1895       Shop & Residence, 5 Palermo St, South Yarra VIC 3141, Australia
Site - 2  1896       Shop & Residence, 3 Palermo St, South Yarra VIC 3141, Australia.
Site - 3  1897       Shop & Residence, 580 Chapel St, South Yarra

In 1908 and 1909 there were no entries in the “Sands & McDougall’s directory” for the Todman's.  This could have been because this could have been an oversight as Charlotte died at 5 weeks of age with Whooping cough and Lincoln was born - perhaps a busy time for everyone. 

Walter declares bankruptcy in 1910

Site - 4  1910       Shop & probably residence, 474 Chapel St, Sth Yarra
Site - 5  1912       Shop & Residence, 360 Chapel St, Sth Yarra

Photographer Unknown, 360 Chapel St., South Yarra, circa 1916, originally from Myrtle Sharp's Private Photo  Collection a digital copy held in Sandra Williamson’s Private Photo Collection[T082]
Site - 6  1921       Shop & Residence, 3 Cato St, South Yarra

1929       Walter dies and Martha moves away.

I have marked all the address for Martha’s time in South Yarra on a map see below [note the blue circles equate to the X symbol, tyr as I might I couldn't work out how to change them :-( ]:-

This map shows where Martha lived between 1894 when she moved into the South Yarra Prahran areas until 1926 when her husband Walter dies.created using Google MyMaps 2017 and can be seen at
It is interesting to ponder the map as we see the family further toward High Street the more desirable end of Chapel St.  In her book “Chapel Street Prahran, Part One 1834-1918” Betty Malone describes the vicinity as follows:-
“Not all of Chapel Street was devoted to shopping and industry in the pre-war years.  The lowly area on the south-east side of Toorak Road was not a part of which Prahran was particularly proud.  It was the home ground of many of the poorest residents of the district, of jobbing carters, whose houses, yards and stables came to the regular attention of the District Health Inspector.“ 
The area was often referred to as “Struggletown”.  It is then interesting to think of Martha in this context as the family move further away from Struggletown towards the prosperous end of Chapel St, over the years.

To Read more about Martha's life for articles previously posted for the A to Z Challenges click the Letters below:-
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z 

·         Sands & McDougall's Melbourne and Suburban Directory - Todman, 1894 – 1929
·         Prahran Rates Book - City of Prahran, Sth Yarra Ward 1893 – 1921
·         Electoral Rolls 1901 – 1930
·         MALONE, B. (1983). Chapel Street Prahran, Part One 1834-1918. Prahran, Vic, Prahran Historical and Arts Society in conjunction with Prahran Mechanics' Institute.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

A to Z Challenge - W is for Walter Todman

Snippets from the life of Martha Sarah Ellis.

Walter Todman was Martha’s first husband (love?) they were married for 37 years. So what would it have been like for Martha to have lived so long with Walter? What was he like?

What clues have I found? Let’s have a look

He was an inventor and registered several patents that included
        1890 an improvement in the construction and working of a machine for shearing sheep.[i]
        1891 Specifications for registration of patent by Walter Todman titled - An improved automatic check for venetian blinds.[ii]
        1895 An improved machine for saving gold.[iii]

Photographer Unknown, Lincoln and Walter Todman in his workshop, circa 1920s, Myrtle Sharp's Private Photo  Collection. T080

In 1895 Martha took him to court for maintenance. He was a bit absent minded- bringing pots and pans in from the shed what could he have been thinking! Click here to read about the court case.

We know he moonlighted/worked as a waiter as it came out in the court case; it was probably to support his business, his inventing and to support his family.

He was an upright citizen

       he was involved in fundraising with the Red Cross for the war effort at the  Red Cross Carnival held in Chapel Street on the 29 June 1918. Walter’s shop and the chemist next door their combined efforts in a stall refered to as “Todman & Higginbotham” and raised a total of £101/13/2.[iv]
        He loved his cycling and sponsored a cycle race in 1921 on the Dandenong road in Oakleigh, put on by the Prahran and South Yarra cycling “ Walter Todman trophy race” a 15-miles course.[v]

Photographer Unknown, Portrait of Walter Todman, 1926, Myrtle Sharp's Private Photo  Collection currently held by  Sandra Williamson[T084]
He was an adventurer of sorts and was ready to invent himself when required, first he came to Australia and changed his name [from what we are not too sure], and then a few years we see him advertising for work and possibly getting ready to begin again by going outback before he died.[vi]

He dreamed big and thought beyond his time, as we can see below from the following newspaper clippings:-
W. Atkinson Wood M.D., 'PIONEER MOTORING.', The Argus, 14 July 1923, p. 6. , viewed 26 Apr 2017,

        & don't forget the roller skates made with bicycle wheels

Anon, 'Cycling notes.', Punch, 19 September 1901, p. 26. , viewed 26 Apr 2017, 

I think I would have liked Walter, but I’m not too sure what it would have been like to live with.  Martha must have been a very strong and self-determined woman.

To Read more about Martha's life for articles previously posted for the A to Z Challenges click the Letters below:-
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z 


[i] NAA: A4618, 2663
[ii] NAA: A13150, 12585
[iii] NAA: A13150, 11250
[iv] Anon, 'PRAHRAN RED CROSS.', Malvern Standard, 24 August 1918, p. 5. , viewed 26 Apr 2017,
[v] Anon 'CYCLING.', The Argus, 24 October 1921, p. 5. , viewed 26 Apr 2017,
[vi] Anon, 'Advertising', The Age, 9 August 1928, p. 4. , viewed 26 Apr 2017,