Month: August 2017

Fortunes and Misfortunes – Albert Edward Wilson

Albert Edward Wilson son of John Bowman Wilson and Agnes Eliza was born in 1861 on the goldfields of Table Hill, Kangaroo (now called Tarilta), near Guildford, south of Castlemaine. He married twice, firstly to Ann Absalom from a Mornington farming family and by whom he produced a family of eight children; then after Ann’s premature death he married Frances Ryan from Sunday Creek/Clonbinane, north of Melbourne, in 1899 at St Kilda. In the image of Albert we see here he presents as a fine looking young fellow. He had a rather eventful and tragic early life with several very sad events, particularly during the 1890s which saw the loss of two of his sons (more below), his wife Ann in May of 1996, followed in June of that year by the death of his younger brother Charles aged only 29. Earlier, in his late teens he was a member of the Snapper Point Football Club, and was to accompany the team to travel by a local fishing boat to Mordialloc and to return the same way later in the evening. En route home the trawler encountered a severe squall half way across the Bay and was lost with all hands including the entire football team. The local minister of the Anglican Church lost all three of his sons in this tragedy. Albert had missed the boat because his...

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William Sorell Wilson: Farmer, Merchant, and ‘Spirited’ Entrepreneur

The first child of William Hartley and Margaret was a son whom they named William Sorell Wilson, was born in 1821 whilst they lived in the Pittwater region of Van Diemen’s Land, where the village was named Sorell by touring Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1822. The village and our forebear William Sorell Wilson were named after the then Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen’s Land, William Sorell. Van Diemen’s Land at that time was still part of the Colony of New South Wales. Later in his life our William Sorell wrote a little note, copies of which have survived in several arms of the broad family today which states he was the first child born in the Pittwater area and that his father was Colonial Architect, and ‘a great favourite of the Governor’. Together with his two brothers William worked with their father on the family farms, initially at Sorell, and from about 1848 at O’Brien’s Bridge (Glenorchy today). He was married in 1856 to Eliza Wilson (not a related Wilson) daughter of William Borradaile Wilson and Grace Terry from nearby New Norfolk, and formerly of ‘Clarendon on the Derwent’, Gretna near Hamilton. Later that year William and his family together with brother John Bowman and family left Tasmania for Victoria and worked initially on the property of W J T (Big) Clarke at Rockbank. It seems clear that in Tasmania...

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Jessie (Wilson) Williamson Ison – a troubled life

Our cousin Jennie Towan has written a rather moving story of the sad and troubled life of her great-grandmother Jessie Ison nee Wilson who was the fifth child and fourth daughter of William Sorell Wilson and Eliza nee Wilson. The full text of Jennie’s well researched story about Jessie’s trials in married life is attached below. Not only is it Jessie’s story, but it also certainly is the story of the difficulty which women generally in that era had in gaining the protection of society, and of justice. The law was clearly prejudiced against married women particularly – but form your own impression as you read Jessie’s story. A rather poor image of a young Jessie is shown here. Fortunately for us Jessie took the trouble to record recipes passed down from previous generations of her family, and we are able to pass them on once more. A word of warning though – for those of us fighting to hold our shapes these recipes are ‘dripping’ with some ingredients which just might go against that goal. Jennie Towan has retrieved a set of the recipes which Jessie used around 1900 era. Jennie can personally vouch for the German pastry (and apple pie) recipe which her mother used as does she – with the dripping (what’s ‘dripping’ I hear the younguns asking) replaced by margarine – Jennie, seen here, says...

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Madame Rosa Alba, acclaimed Concert Singer

On our ‘Honours’ page there is a story about a great grand-daughter of Bonnie William who achieved world class honours as a famed concert soprano, referred to as a concert ‘platform singer’ it seems, during the 1910s through 30s – both in Australasia and England. It was long believed that Madame Rosa had been an opera singer, but this has been shown not to be the case. She was known professionally as Madame Rosa Alba, named as was the custom then with noted soloists after an ancient member of the rose family – the Rosa Alba Maxima rose was known to be a favourite of the Romans. We show an image of the rose on the ‘Honours’ page – together with a full version of the recently discovered image which is confidently believed to be that of Madame Rosa Alba. Madame Rosa Alba was born Amy Ethel Boulter and was the grand-daughter of William Sorell Wilson. The full image is also shown below – note that it is obviously taken in a theatre, most probably a concert hall, and a bouquet of flowers rests on the parapet to her left – so perhaps the image was taken soon after one of Rosa’s performances. Where could it be we wonder ? Our cousin Jennie Towan has researched Melbourne newspapers of that era and has identified an interesting article and image...

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‘Elma’s Rose’ – the Story of Elma Adeline Wilson

In the previous page under our Stories heading mention was made in the Agnes Eliza’s Diary poem about the sad loss of a young six year old lass of the family through Diphtheria* – Elma Adeline Wilson. At that time Diphtheria was one of the several main killers of young folks. Elma was the third child of William McDonald Wilson and Emily (Horton) – thus she was a grand-daughter of John W Bowman Wilson and Agnes Eliza McDonald. This story is a very short one, as was Elma’s life – she was born October 1884 and she died at 6 years of age in November 1890 during one of the numerous Diphtheria epidemics that so ravished the ranks of young children in that period. Her parents could not afford a headstone to mark her grave in the Hastings cemetery, but they planted a simple white bush rose there in 1890 – a cutting from this rose was later taken and planted at the premises of the Hastings Historical Society in Hastings. It continues to flourish there today over 125 years after Elma’s passing. A photograph of the rosebush in the the Society’s cottage garden at Hastings is shown here, and it allows us to remember little Elma.   *[Diphtheria is a toxin secreted by a pathogenic bacterium that causes diphtheria. The toxin gene within diptheria is encoded by a virus called bacteriophage that infects...

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