Dangin: the town that died from thirst

Dangin, the town where my mother grew up, had water but it didn’t have alcohol and that lack contributed to its slow decline.

The founder of the town, Jonah Parker, came from a devout Methodist family and according to legend, promised his mother that alcohol would not be sold within 5 miles of the new town.  In 1908 he decided to build a hotel in Dangin but it was not to be like any other hotel. In keeping with his promise, Parker’s hotel would be a Temperance Hotel and alcohol would not be served.  Instead, soft drinks and meals along with accommodation would be provided.

It was quite the modern building and no expense was spared in its construction. The second floor was mostly accommodation and on the ground floor were two spacious dining-rooms along with a billiard-room, commercial, smoke, music, and drawing rooms.  It included the latest indoor toilets managed with a septic tank system.

It did have a bar, but it only served soft drink prepared on the premises by an innovative aerated water plant.

Dangin Temperance Hotel

Dangin Temperance Hotel, image from Heritage Marker

The hotel opened on 2nd December 1910 amid much fanfare. Among the many dignitaries was Sir Walter James, previously a premier of WA who is quoted in the West Australian as saying:

this was the only inland district in the State which had a genuine temperance hotel. The idea of building up a town undefiled by drunkenness he described as a noble and most commendable one, and it proved that Mr. Parker had ideals higher than mere money-making. His was the true public spirit-an unselfish love for the district he lived in. “ (TROVE – link below)

Sir Walter’s opinions were backed up by other speakers including Mr. Marwick, M.L.C. who congratulated Parker on the venture and expressed his opinion that:

the temperance bodies would do more to minimise the evils of drink if they depended less on legislation and followed the example of Mr. Parker in providing the public with all the comforts and conveniences of a hotel without the evils attached to licensed premises. “ (TROVE – link below)

Meanwhile, up the road about 5 miles (8kms) away, another town was being established – Quairading.  In February 1909 they too were building a hotel and this one would serve alcohol.

The rest as they say is history.  Dangin, the home of the pub with no beer, enjoyed a period of activity and expansion including the building of a hospital and maternity home in 1914 but it didn’t last.  Parker sold the Temperance Hotel in 1921 to a consortium of local people.  It became a hostel and during the Second World War, housed students evacuated from Perth. In 1944 ownership passed to the Country Women’s Association (CWA) on the proviso that the no-alcohol rule was maintained.

Quairading, the town with the pub that did have beer, continued to expand.  So much so that in 1950, when the Quairading council wanted to provide accommodation for workers, they bought the Dangin Temperance hotel from the CWA supposedly to build flats in Dangin for their workers.  But, before the CWA could protest, the hotel was dismantled, and the materials used to build houses – in Quairading.  (inherit Website – link below)

Heritage Trail marker for the Dangin Temperance hotel

Heritage Trail marker for the Dangin Temperance hotel. 15 March 2017

All that remains of the Temperance Hotel in Dangin now is the Heritage Trail marker that sits in front of an empty field.


Read more about the Temperance Hotel opening ceremony.

Visit the inHerit website for heritage information about the Temperance Hotel

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Wow! That’s my Mum

That little brown photo album I mentioned before turned up a personal treasure and gave me a real ‘OMG!’ moment when I first looked  through it.  There was my Mum dressed up as ‘Jill’‘ together with her friend Joe Shepherd dressed up as ‘Jack’.  I already knew about Mum’s fancy dress appearance from an article published in the Eastern Districts Chronicle on August  14, 1925 which I found while searching TROVE,  but I never thought I would see a photo of the event.

I probably would have suspected it was Mum given the costuming but thanks to my cousin, her annotation gave me confirmation.

Jack n Jill Fancy Dress

Jack n Jill Fancy Dress

The article says:

An evening that will live among the pleasant memories of those present, was the occasion of the children’s fancy dress ball, held on August the 7th, in aid of the Church of England funds. The hall was very prettily decorated with innumerable coloured butter flies and greenery. The children who attended in fancy dress numbered well over fifty, and each one was a picture.’

The article goes on to name all the children and their costumes and includes:

a pair, ‘Jack and Jill’, Enid Dace and Joe Shepherd

Sadly Mum died many years ago, well before I became obsessed with genealogy and digging up family stories.  I like to think she would enjoy these adventures and discoveries as much as Aunt-M and I do.

(The full text of the article is at: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article148805869)

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A little brown photo album from Dangin

My 90+ year old Aunt-M finds my family history exploration very entertaining and is always keen to add to my collection of photos and stories.

She recently gave me a little brown photo album to scan created by her Aunt Dorrie (the baby in the pram in the header image above) in the 1920s and early 1930s.  Aunt Dorrie made some annotations in neat black ink and in later years, her daughter added additional labels in blue biro.

Many of the photographs are not annotated which is a great shame so we don’t know who, what or where.  Aunt-M did her best but she is 18 years younger than Dorrie so a lot of it was guess-work.  Some of the group photos defeated us completely and for others, the annotations didn’t help all that much.

But this annotation was very clear.

Edgar Taylor c1940

Edgar Taylor c1940

It has to be Edgar Ernest Taylor (1903-1995), the man who won Aunt Dorrie’s heart and married her in 1933.  Aunt-M and I think that the child in the front seat is probably their eldest daughter and that the photo was taken in Dangin outside Jamieson’s general store.

The album offers so much more to explore and I am very grateful to my Great-Aunt for leaving us this treasure.

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Fishy family traits and the value of newspapers

My brother is a magician when it comes to catching fish.  He just has to appear with a line in hand and the fish start to queue up to jump on his hook, biggest ones first. As kids our Dad took us out in a little dinghy at day-break to fish.  I caught blow-fish while Dad and Bro caught breakfast.

My own family regularly had holidays at Moore River north of Perth and one year Bro came up and we went fishing on the bank of the river.  We stood away from the main group of anglers and soon Bro was pulling in fish – sweet bream.  The other anglers moved closer to us until Bro was feeling crowded and we moved to where they had been.  He continued to pull them in, throwing back anything not plate size, while they continued to try and work out how he was doing it.

Well, it seems you have to have the right family genes.  While searching newspapers from the UK via my membership of the National Library of Australia, I came across this gem.

Evidence of fishy genes

Evidence of fishy genes

Mr. F. C. Hatfield is our Great Grandfather.  Now it all makes sense.  There is a fishy gene in our family and Bro got it!

National Library of Australia eResources are at: http://www.nla.gov.au/app/eresources/.  Instructions on how to become a member are there too.

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Postcards as evidence of family history

Following on from a previous post about the flip sides of images, old postcards are also great sources of information.  But some, like this one, just generate more questions.

My paternal grandmother died before I was born and finding information about her and her family has eluded me.  I know where and when she was born and the names of her parents thanks to certificates handed on to me but did she have siblings?  A postcard that was also among documents passed on, now scanned and safely stored, just might hold a clue.

S.S. Manitoba

S.S. Manitoba

The front is an image of the S. S. Lake Manitoba, the card is postmarked Winnipeg Manitoba, franked on June 1914 and the stamp is Canadian.  Well that sorts out where it came from.  But who sent it, and how did she come to have this particular card?

The card is addressed to my grandmother, those ‘dear little ones’ would be my Dad and his sister. She says ‘my love’ so I’m guessing the sender is on her own. Zooming in on the scanned image and I can see that tantalisingly it appears to be signed ‘your loving sister May’.  Or is that Mary?  And was May/Mary a nickname anyway – Lily is my grandmother’s nickname, she was baptised Elizabeth.  Maybe she is a Marj? My Dad’s sister’s name is Marjorie, although she was known as Judy, goodness only knows why.  They don’t make it easy do they.

1914 postcard from Manitoba

Reverse of S.S. Manitoba postcode

A bit of online sleuthing in Ancestry and I find that the S. S. Lake Manitoba took groups of young women to Canada as domestics under a group called ‘Mrs Joyce’s Party’ on shipping passenger lists.  Although this card is postmarked 1914 I suspect she came over earlier.  Maybe 1912 based on the Ancestry shipping records I can see without opening my wallet any further.  That she might have gone over as a single domestic makes me think she could be a younger sister.

More sleuthing led me to a Canadian website and scanned passenger lists.  Turns out that the S. S. Lake Manitoba made regular trips to Canada from the UK, very regular, and each with a large complement of passengers.  The lists are scanned but the names are not digitised and they go on and on, page after page.  Grandmother had a common family name which adds to the difficulty of making a definitive identification.

And all this assumes the sender was on this particular ship to begin with.  Maybe a friend gave her the postcard to use. So much supposition based on such slim facts. But it is a start and more information than I had before

Ahh the thrill of the chase!

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On the flip side of a family heritage photo

Can anyone remember 45s in the days of vinyl when the best song was sometimes on the flip side?  I find that can be true of old photos as well.  The front is interesting but the gold is on the back.

The photo below is one such example in my collection.  The Aunts in my family are a fascinating lot and this particular Aunt is a family legend. TROVE holds some wonderful stories about her and there are links to articles in the text below if you would like to find out more.

Louisa Caroline Harris (1870 – 1963) was my great grandfather’s sister.  Always known as Carrie in the family, she was born and raised in Stirling North in South Australia. She took over the running of the post office there when she was 16 and was postmistress for over 60 years setting something of a record.

Here she is seated in earnest conversation with a gentleman.  Who is he?  And what was the occasion?  Flip the photo over and there it is – some considerate family member recorded the details.  She is sitting with the Premier of South of Australia at the opening of the new post office.

Carrie Harris (1870 - 1963)

Carrie Harris (1870 – 1963)

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Scanning family 35mm slides

My darling boy only ever took slides and we ended up with a huge number of them. The collection contains everything you would expect – family events, holidays, house, garden, pets, overseas trips, and clouds – lots and lots of clouds, all taken through plane windows. The grand plan was that on retirement he would scan them all, sort, cull and do something with those that remained. He did a lot of research on scanners and we acquired a Canon CanoScan 9900F which would scan 16 slides at a time.

I could go on about what happened next and why but suffice it to say that I ended up doing the scanning and now he has 5,600 slides ready to sort, cull and do something with.  They’ve been ready for about 12 years. So now I’m thinking maybe I should sort, cull … myself.

Scanning slides is mind numbingly boring so I did scan a lot of them at lower than the maximum possible resolution to speed things up.  My idea was that during the sorting and culling the best slides would be identified and those could be scanned again using optimal settings.  I did say I scanned them about 12 years ago.  Scanners have improved since then.  But sadly the slides may have deteriorated further.

But what is life without a challenge!

Here’s a link to an article about scanning slides  (link opens in a new tab) posted in 2012 by Joe Hoover, the Digital Technology Outreach Specialist for the Minnesota Historical Society that I will definitely come back to.

9711 Kuching 009 v2

Clouds over Kuching 1997

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Photo restoration: Just because you can, should you?

Edit that is, digital cosmetic surgery on old photos.  There is something about an old photo with its cracks and fading that gives it gravitas and says ‘ I am old, I am to be treated with respect, I am history’.

But sometimes the poor old photo just yells ‘I’ve been woefully neglected and if you don’t do something real soon, I’m out of here’.  We all know that preservation of the original is paramount and Step 1 is usually scan it.  Step 2 is store the original safely according to the best archival practices you can afford.

With those steps taken care of, I figure the digital copy of the photo or negative is fair game.  It’s in my world now.  But I do adhere to the number one golden rule of editing an image.  Never, ever, work on the original copy.  That is carefully saved and backed up away from digital fingers who might want to play with it.

So how far should you go?  I try to hold the line at repair and restoration.  Go too far and the image loses its historical credentials.

Image before and after restoration.

Dad takes a selfy. c1925
Before and after digital cosmetic surgery,

Here’s a digital image I worked on recently. It’s my Dad as a teenage farm hand in South Australia in the mid 1920s.  The original, a negative, had sustained a lot of damage so I tended to that first and then did some cosmetic work on the little scratches and nicks.  There’s a lot more I could do but I think I’ve gone far enough.  I’m happy with how it looks now.

The photo itself has yielded two surprises – Dad once had hair, lots of it.  And, most impressive of all, my Dad invented the selfy!

Posted in Digital photography, Family photos | 3 Comments

Photos as a key to unlocking memories

I am blessed to have a 90+ year old aunt who is  clear minded, sharp witted and one of the most gentle and generous souls I know.  We love to sit and share stories and she is a treasure trove of memories back to times I never knew but now feel that I do through her wonderful story telling.

She and my Mum and their siblings grew up in a little country town. Their home was a converted shed and the bricks that supported its walls were all hand made by my grandfather.  I know this because I have been showing my Aunt old photos that I scanned and as she looks at them she remembers and as she remembers she tells me the stories that are not in the photo but that surround the photo in her memory.

Grandmother at back door of country home, curca 1935

Grandma at the back door of the country home. circa 1935.

She remembers seeing her father making those bricks and she tells me how he did it and why they have the pattern on them.  She tells me how one day she climbed up on that roof and couldn’t get down. She tells me about the bull that was in the paddock at the end of the garden and how nervous it made her feel when she had to go down the end of the path to the old pan-toilet.  She tells me about the blacksmith that used to be next door to them and so, so much more.

A few old photos, scanned and shown large on an iPad screen, opens us both up to a world long gone but in her mind, not forgotten.


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Damaged photos: You don’t have to be perfect to be loved

When I was a kid, I wanted a photo developer kit.  I wanted to develop film myself and make my own pictures. I wanted it so very badly. I dropped hints that would have crushed an elephant.  Christmas came and my little brother got a photo developer kit. I probably got something considered more gender appropriate.  I don’t remember what I did get, only what it was that I didn’t.

Fortunately my brother is a sharer and together we developed film in the black container, wrapping it carefully into a loose spiral.  I can almost smell the chemicals now. Then we made prints in the darkest place we could find, the big pantry in the middle of the house.

damaged photo c1951

Chemically damaged photo c1951

Our negatives didn’t always turn out so well so we tried making pictures from some of Dad’s negatives.  Bad move!  On several counts!  The kit was definitely not professional grade and we were pretty messy. I think in making the print here, we destroyed the negative as well which is a great shame as it is us as little tykes under the big pine tree that was beside our house. It is the only one of its kind, no other copy has survived which makes our destruction all the more lamentable.

But for all its smudges and chemical smears, I do love this photo and I have no intention of attempting any restoration or repairs.  It is of two kids who were best mates and still are to this day. It is also about the shared fun we had when let loose with chemicals.  And, yes, about the punishment we shared over the damage we caused. It was definitely the last time we went near Dad’s negatives.

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