Google+ Followers

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Sepia Saturday 190

 Picnics in the Park

A lovely topic for musing on, particularly if you have photographs of people you don't know a lot about. this is one of my favourite picnic pics. It's a photograph that was published in the Weekly Times Pictorial Supplement in November 1928, of a Mr Featherston and family,enjoying themselves at the Police Association picnic at Portarlington, which is a pleasant seaside resort near Geelong, Victoria. The photographic quality isn't good because it's a print taken from a microfilm record of the newspaper, and was just one of a selection of photographs of the various picnickers, but you get the general idea, and can imagine a sizeable group of policemen enjoying a day off duty with their families and friends at the seaside. It doesn't look like swimming was involved however.





I'm told by a distant relative that the Mr Featherston in question here is in fact Sergeant George Henry Featherston, together with his second wife Margaret, their young son Douglas and baby daughter Gwenda, and that the girl with long plaits is George Henry's niece Florence Elizabeth Featherston (who later became the mother of the lady who identified her in the photograph.) Perhaps Florence was there to help look after her baby cousin. Of course this still leaves four unidentified people in the picture, presumably friends or relations of George, who at 39 is probably the gentleman holding the baby. It would be nice to think that the older lady seated might be George's mother Margaret, but that would be jumping to an unproved conclusion.
Seeing George Henry here reminded me of his grandfather Emerson Featherston, who was a brother of my husband's ancestor. Emerson and his wife Hannah emigrated from Weardale Durham to Victoria in 1857, aged 22 and 18 respectively, and had one son, Henry, born later that year. Sadly Emerson died of colonial fever the following year, but baby Henry grew up to marry and produce 2 sons and four daughters, including George Henry, so Emerson's line did not die with him. Hannah married twice more, and lived til 1910, but I find it touching that she is buried in Ballarat Old Cemetery in the same plot as her first love, young Emerson Featherston, whom she had lost some 52 years earlier.

 Another photograph taken around 1941 in either a park or botanic gardens somewhere in Melbourne or Geelong is this one below, in which most of the men look cheerful and are nattily dressed , as men were back then. The photograph was found in a collection belonging to my late father-in-law Bob Featherston, who is the young man kneeling in front, second from left. It must have been taken not long before Bob went off to serve with the RAF in WW2, in which he was shot down, captured and held as a prisoner of war in Poland for two years, but I have no knowledge of who his companions were. He had a number of uncles on his mother's side, a couple on his father's side and numerous male second cousins, but so far no one has been able to identify any of them here. Perhaps the other men were work colleagues. It's pure conjecture, but in any event I like to think that whatever their connection to each other, they had gathered for some convivial drinks or a picnic in the gardens either before or after posing for this relaxed group photograph. Contrary to appearances, I'm sure they were not a group of gangsters!


 

23 comments:

  1. Two pictures full of character(s), although the first ones seem a little more relaxed and cheerful due to the informality. Interesting stories about their backgrounds too, and what lovely names; Gwenda and Florence.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes, I love identifying people in photographs and finding out what I can about them. I have a whole album of those little 'cartes de visite' photographs, mostly taken in Christchurch New Zealand around the 1880s, but with no labels attached - it's such a shame not to know who they all were, apart from making informed guesses for a small number, after they all went to such trouble to pose for the photographer!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice to see someone else with an interest in the Geelong region. Great photos. I wish those men's hats would come back into fashion again !

    ReplyDelete
  5. They are both great photos. That second one in particular makes me long for a time when men's hats are back in fashion.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Conjecture it may be, but it's exactly that sort of exploration of a photograph and the pondering of possibilities that leads us to discover the stories behind them. Great contribution, thanks.

    I like to think that natty dressing doesn't suit me, but to be honest, I just can't be bothered.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks very much for your encouragement. Just wish I really knew who those men were. The photo must have recorded a significant gathering for my father-in-law to have kept it in his collection.

      Delete
  7. Colonial fever! I've never heard of that. None of my Aussies seem to have died of it. I'm going to look it up now.
    Keep up the conjecturing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, colonial fever appears to have been an earlier term for typhoid, so it's pretty amazing that Emerson's wife Hannah and baby Henry did not also contract it, or if they did, that they survived it.

      Delete
  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I find the conjecture to be stimulating.

    ReplyDelete
  10. The photo prompted you into an interesting story despite not knowing everyone pictured.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I had long braids (plaits) like Florence Elizabeth Featherston...they're quite out of style now, aren't they? Great photos...

    ReplyDelete
  12. It looks like the second photo is a group of businessman.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Featherston(e) is still a common name in the North East of England, so your Weardale connection caught my attention straight away, Two fine photos and it's very interesting to see the style of men's hats in the second.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wouldn't it be marvellous if someone chanced upon your blog and was able to identify some of the people? I live in hope that will happen one day. Meanwhile, thanks for the interesting family history.

    ReplyDelete
  15. The two photos, both with great characters -- the first seemed to exude the feeling of a great day with family. The second, o my, those guys must each have a story. Particularly intrigued by the man next to your father-in-law. He is such a "center-kind of guy". Thanks for conjecturing which leads us to contemplating.

    ReplyDelete
  16. My Grandmother wore her hair in long plaits like your first photo. It must have been the style of the day?

    That is touching that Hannah is buried with her "first love". Or had they purchased the plot well in advance?

    P.S. I really like your header photo too.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I so wish there was a way of knowing who people are in old photos is so heartbreaking having these wonderful photos and not knowing who they all are
    Love your photo header by the way
    Jackie
    Scrapbangwallop

    ReplyDelete
  18. Absolutely great characters indeed, and if I could pop inside either one of them I'd join the first group, what fun! Also, the title of your blog is inviting, but your header photo is just remarkable, and makes me want to know where and what it's all about. Fascinating photo.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Wonderful photos! I personally like knowing anecdotes about people in an old photograph -- makes them more three dimensional! I love the bit about Hannah being buried with her first love. How utterly romantic!
    Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Well, the family picnic photo is unusual as they were all smiling! I just LOVE their names! And the bottom photo -- well, I wish men still dressed up like that now and again and WORE HATS. My son does every now and again... and he is only 20.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Yes, they do look like gangsters or bankers. Pretty much the same thing these days.

    ReplyDelete