Monday, October 02, 2006

Vaudeville in the family since 1912

I'm not sure if it's something that my great-grandfather brought over in 1912, or maybe a remnant of one of his wife's aquatic variety shows, but very outing with my extended family is usually very entertaining. A large group of us met up for a picnic in Sydney's Centennial Park - the first time I'd seen many of them since I began flitting around Europe last May.

I had an opportunity to ask further questions of my uncles regarding their grandparents, to give me further clues in my family-tree researches. Llyn dropped a memory of Aunt Elsie Wild and her son Maurice, which was of enormous help to me. I had been looking for clues as to who had married Beatrice's sister Elsie May in the Victorian Public Registry. An "S Wild" was a possibility, but I was distracted by newspaper accounts of Beatrice being accompanied around England by her brother-in-law and sister, Mr & Mrs S Redmond. I didn't know of any other sister, and couldn't find any records of anyone by the name of Redmond marrying into the family.

So after the picnic, I downloaded the marriage certificate for Kerr-Wild, which confirmed from the parents' names that I had the right Elsie May, who married on her 22nd birthday. Husband Samuel Wild, was born in Littleborough, Lancashire, England. Checking maps online, I saw that this village is right next to Hollingworth Lake, where Beatrice made her first swimming appearance in July 1906. At last, the link establishing why she headed to this location!

Elsie's death certificate confirmed the existence of two sons Thomas Alexander (1907) & Maurice (1918). There's no birth record for Thomas, which suggests to me that Mr & Mrs S Redmond, are in fact Mr & Mrs S Wild, and their son Thomas was born in England. BMD records show a Thomas Alexander Wild being born in Lancashire in 1907, and dying in 1909 - which could explain why I can't find any records for him in Australia. It's all very hypothetical at this point. I hope more documentary evidence surfaces - or perhaps descendants of Maurice who may know more of the story.

There were other family tidbits collected that day:
  • Beatrice was one of the first women in NSW to get a driver's license

  • The logo on Jansen swimwear was derived from the silhouette of Beatrice on the cover of the Sheffield book. I can't find any supporting evidence for this as yet (or even a picture of the logo). According to one site, Russell Tandy, who illustrated the Nancy Drew books designed the logo.

  • My great-grandfather Walter Pearson was one of three brothers running Pearsons' Fish Cafes in Adelaide, Melbourne & Sydney prior to the Depression - kind of the Doyles' Restaurants of their day. Apparently they introduced frying fish in oil (rather than lard) to Australia.

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