One of the family heirlooms that I treasure is a pair of plates that I think of as Harvest plates. They are majolica glazed bread platters with a moulded corn pattern and “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread” in relief around the edges. My mother treasured these plates and they were only used on very special occasions. I especially remember them being brought out on Christmas day for our family feast. She told me they were from the Chisholm side of the family and were probably given to my great grandfather and great grandmother, Alfred Wilson Chisholm and Sarah Ann (nee Wood) as wedding presents.
The plates were of a very popular design used by a number of potteries in both Australia and NewZealand. I have received a comment that the bread plate was made at David Agnew’s pottery called ‘Sandhurst Pottery’ at Bundanba, Qld. in the period 1886-1911.
It looks like I will now have another area to research once restrictions ease and the museums are open.
Bread platter, ‘Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread’, earthenware with majolica glaze, David Agnew’s pottery called ‘Sandhurst Pottery’ at Bundanba, Qld. in the period 1886-1911. From the Biggs family collection.
We all have those school photos where we are lined up in rows with our classmates for our annual school photo. It is nice to look back on them and wonder what happened to all of our fellow students.
For my Mum, her early years of school in Brisbane were not happy ones. With her coffee-coloured skin, that turned a few shades darker from playing in the sun, and black hair she drew the attention of the school bullies who decided that she was an “Abo” and not worthy of their friendship. I can imagine her tears as the word’s and behaviour that were cruel and thoughtless made her feel ashamed and humiliated. Such overt racism was prevalent in the 19th and 20th centuries and, it is not difficult to imagine the psychological damage that such loathing towards her caused making her feel less than her classmates.
Her parents did all they could to make her feel proud, telling her she was really an Indian princess (think of the sari’s I could wear if that were the truth!) and finally removing her from the State school and placing her in the local Catholic school where thankfully she was accepted for the beautiful young girl she was. By the time they had moved to Sydney, she had a large group of friends and recognised that the comments from her childhood were meaningless.
My research and DNA results confirm that my mother was not Aboriginal, nor any other dark-skinned race. I have to admit to being a bit disappointed at this as it would be wonderful to have such ancestry. The dark colouring comes from her Scottish Chisholm heritage with many of the NZ Chisholms sharing the same colouring.
My Mum was probably around eight years old in this school photo, attending Dutton Park Primary School in 1923. She is the fifth child from the left marked with an X (Mum did this so that we knew which one was her).
Has anything changed much? I had to laugh when my daughter came home from High School one day (yep, she has the olive skin and dark hair) to say that the “Greek” girls thought she was one of them and wanted to know which part of Greece her family came from!
Mulled over this trigger word a bit as there were so many choices. I decided that I would share one of my favourite photos of my Mum, Hazel Edith Biggs (nee Chisholm). Before she married she worked in a cakeshop and it is here that my memory lets me down so I hope my siblings can remind me. I think the shop was in Beverly Hills and she managed the shop front and sales assistants. Mum is the one in the middle marked with a small x. She remained a life long friend with the owner who I think was called Sid Ward. Anyway here is the photo … I can almost smell the cream buns!
After writing about my grandmother’s brother with the trigger word of ” sister”, it seemed appropriate to look at her only sister Ethel Edith Chisholm.
My mother remembered that the two sisters did not get on and she recalled having no contact with her aunt after they left Brisbane to live in Sydney. Once again I turned to the “Chisholm Cameos” written by Audrey Barney to find some clues to her life.
To read more about her click here
With the trigger word of ” brother”, it reminded me of my grandmother’s “missing” brother. I think it most likely that the connection was severed when her brother became a Baptist minister.
My grandmother, Hazel Annie Chisholm, had separated from her husband after less than two years of marriage. She began a relationship with a Catholic who was the love of her life and my grandfather. When she sent her daughter to the local Catholic school I imagine that this would have been the final straw for Albert who had wholeheartedly become a Baptist. This would have meant strong opposition to divorce and the holding of anti-catholic/papist sentiments.
Thanks to his granddaughter, Robyn Rayner and the Chisholm family researcher, Audrey Barney, it is now possible to share his story. To read more about him click here
As I go through the family tree and look at all the members of my family that fought in conflicts around the world I feel so sad for all those young men whose lives were lost or their futures irreparably damaged by war. Another family member who I have not mentioned is from my mother’s Chisholm side of the family. Robert Stanley Chisholm was one of my New Zealand first cousins and like my Uncle Roy, he joined the RAF during the Second World War and lost his life flying in a bombing raid over Europe. You can read more about him by clicking here.
The one brick wall that causes me the most grief is for my 4 x great grandfather Hugh Chisholm. Even my Chisholm family history mentor and cousin Audrey from New Zealand haven’t been able to help me crack where he was born. I know from my DNA and the link is in Scotland but I can’t seem to shift him from England when he married in Yorkshire in 1795. He was a miner so I am now checking all records that I can find with the name Chisholm or similar who had an occupation as a miner as it was a job that was almost automatically taken up by the children. Fingers crossed something comes to light
With a prompt of “in the paper” I couldn’t go past my great grandfather, Alfred Wilson Chisholm. Born in New Zealand in 1867 he migrated to Australia and became a newspaperman, eventually becoming editor of some of the smaller publications in Northern Queensland. Unfortunately, in collecting the news he tended to drink too much and even before it was named “fake news” he found it necessary to sometimes bend or even invent a story. A scandal erupted because of his actions in setting up a prank and reporting it as a fact, this saw his career and marriage shattered. One thing that came out of it was a sketch of Alfred published by the “Truth” newspaper as part of a story on the scandal. It is the only image I have been able to find of him. If you would like to read more click here.
There are many of my ancestors that I would like to talk to and Hugh Chisholm is one of them. He is the last in the line of the Chisholm ancestors that I have been able to trace and although my DNA test shows the link to the Scottish Chisholms I have been unable to cross the border from England back to Scotland using documentary evidence. I am sure a chat with Hugh could solve that quickly as he was born around the time of the fierce and bloody battle of Culloden and the dispersion of the Clans. I have written his story as I know it to date so just click on this link and it will take you to it.
I have decided to take on the challenge of 52 ancestors in 52 weeks to encourage me to post regularly on my blog (https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/52-ancestors-in-52-weeks/). The first prompt is the word “first” and I scratched my head more than a little to come up with something appropriate. One of the first ancestors I researched was my grandmother Hazel Annie Chisholm. By clicking on her name you can see her story. What is interesting that after putting in months of work to find out about her relationship with her husband William Shute a DNA match has now appeared that shows I am closely related to the Doherty family. I always believed that Jack or “Pop” Doherty as I will always remember him was my grandfather. Legal documents show that William Shute is recorded as my mother’s father and I found it very difficult to reconcile that with how I felt about my Pop. Now I am just waiting for some more test results from a descendant of William to resolve the question and I am incredibly grateful to his great-granddaughter for agreeing to do this. Now I just have to be patient while we wait for the results to come in …. all my fingers are crossed!