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Monday, 25 January 2016

A gathering of the Clan






Our Sepia Saturday prompt this week shows a rather motley group of Irish family members who  apparently have plenty of freckles between them, although I can't really see this from the photograph. 




My group family photograph must have been taken in about 1934, when my mother Jean, on the far right, was aged about eight. She and her siblings had three aunts and two uncles on their mother's side. Jean's father John aka Jack Morrison was no stranger to large families himself, coming from a family of eleven children. Here he is holding Graeme, his youngest son at that time. Jean's mother Mona, nee Forbes, wife of John, is between her daughters Jean and Patricia, who is next to her brother Ken. Cousin Dossie is between Ken and his brother Derek.  Jack and Mona are flanked by Mona's two unmarried sisters Flo and Bess Forbes. Behind Dossie is her mother Dorie, nee Doris Elsie Ivory Cone, a divorcee whose second husband was John Middleton Forbes aka Jack Forbes, brother of Mona and her sisters. Jack, stepfather of Dossie, has his arms around Dorie and his sister-in-law Margaret, who had recently married his brother Charles Seddon Forbes, aka Dick, who,was the photographer on this ccasion. Margaret was a nurse who survived the catastrophic Napier earthquake of 1931. She had been living in the recently bulit Napier Hospital Nurses Home, when it collapsed, killing twelve of the nurses there. Margaret and Dick met in the aftermath of the disaster and were married in September 1934. Jean was a flowergirl at their wedding and the first of their five children was born in 1935. 

The gathering of Forbes families would have been in Christchurch NZ, probably at the Morrison family home, around the time of Dick and Margaret's wedding.  The  only Forbes sibling not present was their sister Ruby, who resided down south in Invercargill with her husband William Henry Berry and their three children. 

I would love to have known my Nan Mona Morrison when I was growing up, but We left NZ when I was three and I only saw her three times after that. I was nineteen when she died, 44 years ago last week. I remember I was in the middle of making myself a certain dress when Mum went home to Christchurch for the funeral and to help Jack sort through Mona's things, and when I had problems with the sewing my father was not much help.  I know about Mona mainly through my mother's stories, pen-pictures and photographs such as this one. She was an avid letter writer, and of course later that was the only way she could keep in touch with her two daughters and her son Graeme who had grown up and left NZ in the 1940s and 1950s. Mona never learnt to drive, because "she didn't have hairs on her arms", according to her son Derek when he was a small boy. She took to riding a bike in her fifties so she could visit nearby family whenever she wanted to. This included my family while we still lived there, and I in turn was allowed to ride my bike, a three wheeled chain-drive Humber, all the way on the footpaths from our house to my grandparents' place, where they would meet and look after me for the day. From looking on a map, I must have needed to cross a street en route, but nothing major!!

Now I too have a granddaughter who lives overseas, but the arrival of a local grandchild is in fact imminent. We are anxiously awaiting news, but it's on its way and we should know very soon, either today or perhaps tomorrow. Another Forbes descendant, another great great grandchild for Mona and Jack, and another great grandchild for Jean.


For a wide variety of blogs prompted by the Sepia Saturday photo for this week, visit 

12 comments:

  1. So many memories which make up families...and times change as it is so much easier to day to keep in touch, with the help of all the new technology, travelling has become so much faster. In the 50s it took 5 days by plane to travel to Switzerland.In the seventies a telephone call, three minutes, cost around 50.00A$ Telegrams were always late.

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  2. How terrible to be involved in an earthquake, especially when friends and peers were killed.

    Wishing the family all the very best for the new addition!

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    1. Thanks Sharon! Baby Lucy Ann born just over an hour ago.

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  3. Lovely photo. Good for your Nan riding her bike in her fifties to get to where she wanted. Congratulations on the new baby!

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  4. Judging by your profile image, you bear a strong resemblance to your mother and her sister.

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  5. Congratulations on very, very new granddaughter!

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  6. The last group photo i have of the family of my generation was taken after a funeral and everyone looks quite happy. But I had a laugh at your sewing problem. I remember when I was about 21 buying a two inch wide gold belt to wear with a white dress I had made and so hide an extremely wavy waist seam

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    1. Yes, I was trying to make eyelets and they were in danger of just becomng holes. I might be maligning Dad, I think he did actually help me when the material got stuck in the eyelet making gadget.

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  7. Congratulations on your granddaughter. My sister's name was Lucy and I think it's a lovely name. I wonder why they called Charles, Dick?


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    1. Thanks Helen. I believe it must have been because Charles' middle name was after the NZ Prime Minister of the day, Richard Seddon. Little Lucy Ann's middle name is in honour of her mother's late aunt/ my sister-in-law Ann Featherston, which is a nice tribute. to her

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  8. I could relate to your problem with sewing a dress & your Mom being gone off to Christchurch so couldn't help with any questions. I was knitting something recently & couldn't remember how to do a certain stitch so called my Mom. Unfortunately she couldn't remember how to do it either. We both laughed. So I went online & found something that at least gave me an idea of how to do it. Not sure I actually did it right, but it looks okay.

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  9. What would we do without our mothers’ stories and their pen portraits, which add so much to the photographs? My grandchildren live overseas too (in UK) - thank goodness for Skype and Facetime.

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