Family Names

Friday, 4 January 2013

Back to be beginning (of my research)

Inadvertently I began my genealogical journey in the mid eighties. My grandmother Myrtle Sharp was born on the 2nd June 1906, in country Victoria to a mining family in Eaglehawk.[i] Her home in Mulgrave in the 80s was not far from where I was doing my Applied Science degree.  Studying allowed me to visit her during the day between classes.
Figure 1 Unknown Photographer, Portrait Myrtle May Sharp, c.1980
She told earnestly during one of these visits that she would be dying soon. After all at the age of 70, she was very “old”. I realized that her old tin full of photographs which had no labels or names on them would become pictures of mostly unknown people when she passed away. With a sense of urgency I began to visit her once a week helping to sort and label her photos.

Figure 2 Sandra Williamson, Myrtle's Photo Tin, 2016, digital image.
Each time I visited Myrtle we would work a little more on our project.  I began by laying the photos out on the lounge room floor in what I guessed were chronological rows. She would sit in her large recliner chair and oversee my efforts and answer questions.  Repeatedly I asked: who is this?, where’s that? Did this happen before or after that? The photos were then re-organized, according to her responses and labels added once they were sorted.
One day when we were been working together she brought out a new tin that I had not seen before.  It contained more photos and other papers. We began the same process of sorting through them, adding where appropriate to the photos already sorted. Suddenly she leapt out of her chair clutching a folded and very yellowed piece of paper to her chest, and disappeared into the next room. I was flummoxed and no idea what was going on. I followed her into the next room where she refused to show me the piece of paper; she tucked it into her pocket and came back out to begin working once again on her photos. I was intrigued by her actions but decided to respect her wish for privacy and focused on other things.

After several weeks I summoned up enough courage to ask her what was on the paper. She tilted her head sideways and peered at me and finally said that blood was thicker than water. That we don’t speak to people outside the family about our personal business.  The story about my family had begun, I had inadvertently uncovered my first family skeleton.

Figure 3 Photographer unknown, Myrtle, William, & Doris Bassett , circa 1909, Cabinet Card
It must have once been in a frame but only my grandmother knew who the people were in the photo.  You can imagine the delight I felt when I found this little gem!!  The photo must have been taken in 1909 after her brother William had been born, when the family were living in Tasmania. Perhaps it had been taken to send back to the grandparents who were still living in Eaglehawk, Victoria.

Figure 4 A Google Map of Dundas, Tasmania to Eaglehawk, Victoria
Grandma celebrated her 100th birthday on 2nd June 2007, with almost all of her descendants celebrating with her.
Figure 5 Glen Watson, Myrtle at her 100th Birthday Party, 2007, digital image
She passed away on 19 June 2008. Her photos leave a wonderful legacy for future generations.


Sources

Image 1 Unknown Photographer, Portrait Myrtle May Sharp, c.1980
Figure 2 Sandra Williamson, Myrtle's Photo Tin, 2016, digital image.
Figure 3 Photographer unknown, Myrtle, William, & Dorris Bassett , circa 1909, Cabinet Card
Figure 5 Glen Watson, Myrtle at her 100th Birthday Party, 2007, digital image

Documents



[i] Victorian Birth Certificate, District of  Eaglehawk, 1907/10223, Myrtle May MANDERSON

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Edit History

Originally posted on the 3rd January 2013
Updated and revised on 15th August 2016

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