“…history doesn’t happen in the past tense.”

That line is key to Kim Sherwood, Testament (2018), which I recently read courtesy of Wollongong Library. I also read a fitting companion.

WIN_20181207_10_05_09_Pro

Consider the stories I retold in my previous post, especially of my 1959 classmates Herbert Huppert and Peter Deli. How little I really understood of their stories, and so many others in that class of 1959. Eric, for example, who unaccountably had relatives in the Dominican Republic.

Fact is, as I played with my teddy-bear Sookle (yes, I know!) in Sutherland in the 1940s there were things going on elsewhere in the world which we still haven’t fully recovered from, things which affected those classmates-to-be far more directly.

And quite frightening is where we find ourselves now, as Kim Sherwood writes:

I tell Silk now, I am Jewish historically, but history doesn’t happen in the past tense. The pain you inflicted on those you loved hurts me now. The pain you felt hurts me now,,,

But I am your granddaughter always… My grief is a private grief, but here are the demands of stones and poems and ribbons left at altars, of mass graves without names. I will go to Prague. I will buy a museum ticket and walk the silent streets of Theresienstadt, past tired men selling army surplus from barracks with smashed windows, to the cellar painted red with the Star of David, where I will pray… My small film will gain attention as security at Jewish institutions is at high alert, as shootings in Paris wake us up, as refugees are made to plea at barred ports, as the Mediterranean swallows lives, as a ‘Beware Jews” sign goes up in north London. as tickets to the Blue Room sell out, as the UK closes its doors to Europe, as neo-Nazis attack our leaders and our citizens, as protesters take to the streets of Budapest in their thousands….

The other novel, The Last of Our Kind by Adélaïde de Clermont-Tonnerre was the winner of both the Académie Francaise Grand Prix du Roman and the 2016 inaugural Filigranes prize, awarded to the book with the widest general appeal.

Werner Zilch was adopted as an infant, and knows nothing of his biological family. But when, in 1970s New York, he meets the family of Rebecca, the woman he has fallen in love with, a mysterious link means he must uncover the truth of his past, or run the risk of losing her.

Spanning 1945 Dresden, the Bavarian Alps and uncovering Operation Paperclip, this is a riveting novel of family and love that seamlessly blends fact with fiction.

Werner von Braun plays a key role in the plot. On Operation Paperclip.

The Last of Our Kind is a fascinating journey through much key 20th century history, though perhaps at times too clever! And I have one pedantic note: characters at one point in 1948 play 45 rpm records, one year before that format was released! But do read this novel. The author’s background story is also most interesting.

Advertisements

When the Great War ended — 100 years on

My mother was 7 at the time, my father was 6, almost 7 (November 25). She was in Braefield NSW, he in Shellharbour NSW. See 27: 1925 – Christisons 1 and 24 – Whitfields – 1917-1919. Extracts:

This man was for sure my favourite Whitfield uncle – well, the only one I ever met in fact. [There was Uncle George of course, but he was “by marriage”.] But he was a really good man, as I recall, with snowy white hair and a crack shot with a rifle – he had competed in that sport. See my April 2014 post Shellharbour.

UHP-IND574

Kenneth Ross WHITFIELD (b.1897  d. 1967) m 1920 Esma H. EAST (b. 1895 d. 24 Mar. 1971)

There was a family legend that he lied about his age to get into the army in World War I, but that doesn’t seem to be true; he was 20 when he enlisted. Maybe he had tried before and failed. He did also serve in World War II.

The story I heard too was that he was a machine gunner. That may be true. However, his service with the 3rd Battalion was cut short somewhat by illness. He returned to Australia invalided quite late in 1919.

ken8a

ken7

So it appears that my Uncle Ken was at 1st Australian Dermatological Hospital (Bulford) at the time of the Armistice. Note what that hospital is famous for, but the only illness I can read there is synovitis. While at the hospital it seems he was made a stretcher bearer (Australian Army Medical Corps — AAMC)

blighty

Now to Braefield:

There is such a trove on Trove! By way of background, see More tales from my mother 3 — Braefield NSW 1916-1923Jean Christison to her grandmother — an undated letter from BraefieldMore tales from my mother 4 — Dunolly NSW — and conclusions.

I am not sure but think this is probably Braefield, and the occasion probably the Armistice.

article105120339-5-001

13 September 1920

And here is Harry Hamilton.

More on convict Jacob Whitfield

From Australian Biographical & Genealogical Record (ABGR) Series 1 – 1788-1841:

whitfield1

Now some remarkable documents from Wiki Tree:

New South Wales, Australia, Gaol Description and Entrance Books, 1818-1930 for Jacob Whitfield

Whitfield-681-2a

The person to whom Jacob is assigned, Henry Kable, a convict himself. is very well known in our early colonial history.

Jacob Whitfield – New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia Convict Musters, 1806-1849 for Jacob Whitfield

Whitfield-681-4a

Whitfield-681-4b

Finally, Jacob’s ticket-of-leave, which I posted to Facebook yesterday:

Whitfield-681-3

Hey you! That might be my great X3 grandfather!

Bizarre story from the Sydney Light Rail project a few days ago.

Screenshot (201)

In short:

Days after human remains were discovered during digging for the light rail project between Sydney’s CBD and eastern suburbs, disturbing footage has emerged that shows a construction worker cracking jokes about the bones as he dug them up and tossed them out of the hole.

After the grisly find on Monday, a spokeswoman for the consortium of Alstom, Acciona, Transdev and Capella Capital (ALTRAC) building the light rail project told Fairfax Media that the bones – believed to be remnants from the old Devonshire Street Cemetery – were “respectfully removed by heritage experts” before further analysis confirmed them to be human….

Here is that cemetery prior to closure:

726px-Devonshire_Street_Cemetery,_Sydney_(2742078059)

My great-great-great grandfather Jacob Whitfield was buried there. Or so we believe. See my series of family history posts, particularly on Jacob.

There is a Wiki Tree page on Jacob too. I first accessed it last Friday. An extract:

Death date and place unknown – Jacob is found still living in 1851 according to a news article. This would make him 92 years old !

Death and Burials : Friends Burial Ground – Old Devonshire Street Sandhills Cemetery, reference : “Burial Notes missing : Jacob Whitfield” no indication of his date of death or burial….

Friends Burial Ground – Old Devonshire Street Sandhills Cemetery, reference : “Burial Notes missing : Jacob Whitfield” no indication of his date of death or burial. Burials took place in the Friends Burial Ground from after 1851 ..

The Devonshire Street Cemetery (also known incorrectly as the Brickfield Cemetery or Sandhills Cemetery) was located between Eddy Avenue and Elizabeth Street, and between Chalmers and Devonshire Streets, at Brickfield Hill, in Sydney, Australia. It was consecrated in 1820.[1] The Jewish section was used from 1832.[2] By 1860, the cemetery was full, and it was closed in 1867….

That Wiki Tree page has lots of information congruent with the researches of Bob Starling and other family historians, and some that isn’t. Interesting. See also my Family stories 3 — About the Whitfields: from convict days which features quite a few contributions by those family historians. On the subject of Jacob’s age, for example:

Thanks to the amazing Internet I have actually been able to trace my father’s family further back to the father of convict Jacob, to a John Whitfield who was born in County Kildare, Ireland, in 1735, but there is a bit of a mystery now about Jacob’s age. The puzzle about Jacob’s real age remains, but probably he was in his forties rather than his sixties when he arrived in Australia. That story I found on the Net about Jacob’s (third, it now appears) marriage would require him to have been born around 1760, and I had always understood he was about 60 when he arrived in the colony. Stuart Daniels writes (3 June 2004): “William was born in Cootehill, Co. Cavan and came out to NSW ? and died ? as he can’t be found in the NSW records. I found the Jacob in the shipping records and that he came out here at the age of 60 years, and if he was 60 at his arrival date means that he was born in about 1762?” I thought perhaps the 1774 Jacob was a different Jacob at first, but not according to the very thorough Genealogy of the Leslie Family of Innisfail, the source too for Mary Gowrie’s dates — except the Leslies keep on working on that genealogy, it seems, wrecking the links each time they do; they work now (December 2006) but I guess I will have to check from time to time. [2011: no longer fully available to the public.] The Jacob there is definitely the right one, father of Mary, William, and three other siblings. 1774 better fits the marriage record pictured above.

Further information in a comment below from Kathryn Whitfield arrived in December 2007:

Jacob Whitfield (per Isabella I, 1822) is often said to have had six children with Mary Gowrie in Ireland. I can find no record of what happened to two of the children and to Mary herself, yet Bob and Linda are mistaken to think that only Mary and William came to Australia. Jacob requested that four children be allowed to come to Australia and the four were on the Thames (1826). You will find that 16- and 17-year-old Judith and Catherine were already married and do not, therefore, appear on the list as Whitfields. The shipping list for the Thames shows the four siblings as Catherine Aaron, 16; Judith Doyle, 17; William Whitfield, 10 (true we think he could have been aged 14); and Mary Whitfield, 18.

Bob Starling has traced Jacob back to an earlier John Whitfield, born in 1695 in County Tyrone.

William

William Whitfield 1812-1897

# Perhaps this really is the final answer: William WHITFIELD (above) & Caroline Philadelphia WEST: William WHITFIELD Born: 16 Mar 1812 – , Parish of Drumgoon, Cootehill, Co. Cavan, Ireland. Died: 12 Oct 1897 Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Buried: Rookwood, New South Wales, Australia. Father: Jacob WHITFIELD (1774- ? ) Mother: Mary GOWRIE (1781-1841) Married: 20 Jun 1836 – , St Andrews Church of Scotland, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Wife Caroline Philadelphia WEST: Born: 12 Jul 1817 – Seven Oaks, Kent, England. Died: 21 Oct 1881 – Picton, New South Wales, Australia. Buried: Redbank Cemetery, Upper Picton, New South Wales, Australia. See also Jacob WHITFIELD & Mary GOWRIE. Convict Jacob is given this birthdate: Born: May 1774 – Ballyhagen, Co. Kildare, Ireland, and Mary died in Co. Tyrone, Ireland in 1841. Mary, the wife of Daniel Sweeney, was the daughter of these two, and William (above) their son. Curious though that we don’t know when Jacob died.

We also are intrigued by the possibility Jacob was a Quaker. A Ph.D. thesis I am currently reading sheds much light on the nature of Ulster Protestantism, beyond the rather cliched picture we probably all have: Philomena Sutherland (2010 UK, Open University), The role of Evangelicalism in the formation of nineteenth-century Ulster Protestant cultural identity. While that thesis deals with  the Ulster Revival (1859), disestablishment of the Church of Ireland (1869) and the threat of home rule (1880s), for none of which were any of my ancestors still in Ireland, it does hark back to King Billy and all that, which I know from my father’s testimony still exercised the minds of his grandparents — that is, of convict Jacob’s children and grandchildren.

One thing leads to another … treasure!

This post caused a slight stir as I was rather dismissive of Dyson Heydon’s “The New Struggle for Religious Freedom”, recycled in the current number of Quadrant. However, that lecture has prompted some interesting further reading, including Civilising a colony? Sir Richard Bourke and the Church Act, NSW, 1836 ~ Siobhan Whelan. Must explore that blog further!

I also was reminded what treasures exist in our various universities in the form of Ph.D. theses, often readily available for free download. Such a treasure is this from the University of Newcastle (1991).

Screenshot (199)

Dr Patrick, who passed away in 2013, was a treasure of the Adventist Church — hence one strand of that thesis. And a great thesis it is, remarkably clear-eyed and objective.

The adherents of an ideology usually possess common ideas and values, and tend to cluster together as a subculture. Consequently they often experience difficulty in relating to the wider society which exists in the same time and place. Early in its history, Christianity encountered relational problems with Jews and pagans; controversies also developed amongst rival Christian groups. The persistence of this
conflict caused H. Richard Niebuhr to call it ‘the enduring problem’; he also identified a range of typical responses, particularly in Western civilisation. On the two extremes are those Christians who withdraw and accommodate; occupying the middle ground are dualists, synthesists and conversionists. These solutions may be held in their pure form or in a variety of combinations. They may be influenced by a range of ideas about salvation, the church, eschatology, the relations of church and state, Christian history and patterns of thought in society.

The Christianity which was transplanted into colonial Australia was derived from Northern Hemisphere denominations, and experienced the persistent effects of distance, dependence and sectarianism. Divided by national and religious loyalties and antipathies, and challenged by a desacralised society, the churches . tended to develop a conservative ethos which failed to address crucial religious and social questions. Denominational attitudes toward educational, economic and political issues may be used to identify the various stances which were present in New South Wales near the end of the colonial period. Selected Roman Catholic, Church of England, Wesleyan Methodist and Seventh-day Adventists perspectives are explored in the light of Niebuhr’s typologies….