Monday, September 6, 2021

Elizabeth Jane Wilson of Wilson's Premier Poultry Yards


Above : image courtesy of Margaret White 

Margaret White very kindly sent the Wagga Wagga City Library copies of two postcards in her family history collection and some interesting information on the Premier Poultry Yards, which used to be where Burns Way and the Civic Theatre and grounds are now. The poultry yards existed from about 1902 to 1911. The house was called Ingleside and Elizabeth Jane Wilson continued to live there until her death in 1943.

Elizabeth Jane Wilson , nee Elizabeth Jane Jelly, had a very difficult married  life, as her second husband was violent, and she was also the victim of a brutal beating and robbery by a male lodger.  William Wilson, Elizabeth's second husband, also attacked Elizabeth's daughter Jessie, who was from her first marriage to Douglas Harry Browett.

Above : Elizabeth Jane Wilson (date unknown) on the verandah of her house Ingleside, in Tarcutta Street. Image courtesy Margaret White

Although there is more detail known about Mrs Wilson than usually survives about everyday women particularly, it would be good to know more about her life after her early difficulties. Mrs Wilson's death notice describes her :
She was highly esteemed by all who knew her, and, being of a retiring and kindly disposition, she was loved by all.


Above: from the Daily Advertiser, 12 June 1943

Mrs Wilson's funeral was on Saturday 12 June 1943, and was well attended. The funeral service was held at St Andrews Presbyterian church in Wagga.

Above: from the Daily Advertiser Monday 14 June 1943

The last information we have of Mrs Wilson's life is from the auction notices in the Daily Advertiser in July 1943, where her home is offered up for auction, and from the sale of the contents of her house in September of the same year.

Above : from the Daily Advertiser 1943               

The house and contents show what have must been a quite comfortable standard of living at the time. A quiet and retiring life must have been a great relief after the suffering she endured previously.  Elizabeth Jane Wilson died aged 76.

Above : image courtesy of Margaret White


Wednesday, August 19, 2020

A Queen's Progress : Elizabeth II visits Wagga Wagga 1954

Above : the front page of the Daily Advertiser, February 13, 1954

Queen Elizabeth the Second's visit to Wagga Wagga in 1954 was a cause of great excitement, with the whole region drawn into preparations and royal  fervour. Months of planning went into the visit , from the route the royal progression would take, to corralling masses of school children to greet the Queen and Prince Phillip, to providing catering on a massive scale, for the regal visitors and the thousands of country folk from around the region and Wagga itself.

The Daily Advertiser reported on every little thing royal, from concerns the tour would prove too "tiring" for Queen Elizabeth (insert eye roll here as the young Queen was considerably more robust than the vast majority of her elderly hosts in Australia) , to her clothes, behaviour, and speeches. 
The local businesses also took advantage of the situation by assembling patriotic displays in their windows: some were very elaborate diorama type arrangements, some just portraits of the Queen , or the shop would loop bunting in royal colors along the verandahs and windows. 

Above : from Official Record: the Royal Visit to New South Wales 1954

Although the Queen left Wagga Wagga near to 3 pm, the celebrations continued into the night, with racing and other events at the showgrounds during the afternoon, finishing late with fireworks. In town, the spectacular light display, hawkers selling souvenirs of the royal visit , and all the shop front displays kept townspeople around,  reluctant to end the magic of the day.

Above : from the Wagga Wagga City Library local studies collection : a souvenir  birthday card from 1954 featuring Queen Elizabeth - the manufacturer has added silver glitter to the bracelet, crown and necklace 

Above : from the Wagga Wagga City Library's local studies collection , a souvenir program from 1954 for the Queen's visit to Wagga Wagga 

Above : advertising from the Daily Advertiser, Saturday , February 1954

Hardy's:  business advertisement from Saturday 13 February 1954, featuring an informal portrait of Queen Elizabeth

If you'd like to see some photographs taken on the day of Queen Elizabeth's visit, take a look at Wagga  Library's Flickr account - these tiny black and white photos , taken by an unknown photographer, really give a sense of the occasion. 

One of the photographs features schoolgirls marching down Baylis Street (and keep in mind it was during one of the hottest months of the year, and these girls are marching in what appear to be woollen uniforms):

If you know who took the photographs, or recognise yourself or a friend, let us know! 

While there, have a look at all the other fascinating photographs and documents- there are a lot of gems in our collection that we can share with the Wagga community through Flickr.

Click on the link below to go to the Wagga Library Flickr account:

If you would like to peruse the papers of the special day, go to Trove and start searching here:

Happy searching!

Above: Paull's the Draper: advertisement, the Daily Advertiser, February 1954

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Books from local studies - a mystery, cowbells, and trains !

Above: from the Daily Advertiser, August 1920

The extraordinary case of Sister Liguori by Maureen McKeown

This book covers the case of Bridgid Partridge , the young Irish nun who ran away from the Mount Erin Convent in 1920. It's a gripping tale so no spoilers, but it struck me as a grim reminder of how women were viewed as property even in the 1920s. And, if you didn't do what what you were told, branded as mad, or worse. There is a copy for loan available as well as a copy in local studies. 

Bells of  the Australian Bush by Donald Cooney and Paul & Eleanor Knie

Includes a short history of bells used in farming (the first bells came from England with colonisation). These bells were made in traditional shapes. Then local makers started producing a variety of bells based on the old styles. This book contains stories about droving, farm life,and extensive information about the people that made the bells, the different types of bells, anecdotes about how the sound of particular bells carried. 

This book also includes the local bells made by August Menneke of North Wagga.

Railways of New South Wales 1855-1955, published by the Department of Railways, N.S.W.

Detail : from Railways of New South Wales, the Sydney interstate booking office circa early 1950s

This quaint but informative book covers the first one hundred years of railways in New South Wales. There are advertisements typical of the 1950s , black and white photographs of various trains and locomotives, and the most amazing line drawings by Hugh Seelenmyer throughout the book. It's worth looking at for the illustrations alone. This copy is available for in library use only - if you would like to see the book just ask at the desk and the library staff will be happy to assist you. 

Above : line drawings by Hugh Seelenmyer, in Railways of New South Wales

Above : Industrial Steel advertisement from Railways of New South Wales

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

"She sadly wants a municipal council" : the happy birth of Wagga Wagga City Council

Above: from the Wagga Wagga Advertiser and Riverine Reporter, June 1870

In 1868 (and before) the townspeople of Wagga Wagga had been agitating for the creation of a municipal council. The campaign paid off in March 1870, when the petition put together by appropriate number of  persons was approved, and Wagga Wagga was proclaimed as a municipal borough consisting of three wards: north, south and east Wagga Wagga.

This official proclamation kicked off a round of elections for representatives and this process provided interest and entertainment for the townsfolk. The meetings of the candidates were reported in the newspaper , complete with the town characters providing pre- speech amusements, and some manufactured argy-bargy between the candidates. A local identity known only as "Smasher" entertained the people gathered at this meeting of South Ward voters :

Above: from the Wagga Wagga Advertiser and Riverine Reporter, May 1870

The ongoing spat between Mr Willans and George Forsyth was a case of each accusing the other of nefarious tactics to get elected:

Above: from the Wagga Wagga Advertiser and Riverine Reporter, June 1870 

The town newspaper really was the main focus point for local events and news, and the elections of aldermen were covered extensively. Aldermen who were elected printed letters thanking those who nominated them to be voted for. Many of the nominees tended to be very wordy and flowery but George Forsyth (who was elected as Wagga Wagga's first Mayor) was mercifully succinct: 

 Above : from the Wagga Wagga Advertiser and Riverine Reporter, June 1870

Once all the official positions had been voted on and filled, the business of running a town began. There were several sore points- the danger of tree stumps in the streets being a major concern. The bridge over the Murrumbidgee, it's repair and upkeep, and "the stench" (the foul odours emanating from the streets due to a lack of sewage and garbage disposal) were the other major concerns of the townspeople. 

The second half of the year focused on council meetings  and the business arising from them. The hype and novelty of  the election process had worn off and the townsfolk didn't seem aware that the council meetings were open to the public.

Above: from the Wagga Wagga Advertiser and Riverine Reporter , July 1870 

The last meeting for the year was on Thursday 15 September, where obtaining a fire engine was discussed:

Above: from the Wagga Wagga Advertiser and Riverine Reporter, December 1870 

And so the first year of the Wagga Wagga Municipal Council quietly came to a close, having made a quietly successful and orderly start to the year. 


Monday, June 1, 2020

Fitzmaurice Street in the 1880s- 1888


                                        Above : from the Wagga Wagga Advertiser, 3 May 1988

In the last of these three posts looking at Fitzmaurice Street in the 1880s, 1888 turns out to be the year the roller skating craze hit Wagga. The first roller skating rink was opened in the Drill Hall on the corner of Trail and Gurwood Streets, and the proprietor Mr F Chittenden-O'Key opened the Fitzmaurice Street rink in May. After that, the craze for roller skating took hold, and more rinks were opened in Wagga Wagga.

Above : opening night review in the Wagga Wagga Advertiser, 3 May 1888

Roller skating competitions were held, with prizes ranging from a trophy or medal, to bracelets and silver tea services. Bands played while people skated, and Mr O'Key's skating rink had impressively secured local luminaries, Homann's Adelong band, to play every time the rink was open.

Above : from the Wagga Wagga Advertiser, 5 April 1888

The Murrumbidgee Light Horse, which was created in Wagga Wagga in 1887 from the Wagga Cavalry Corps, was very active in 1888. Later in the year,  after participating in a day of training and manoeuvres across Wagga Wagga in August, the Light Horse corps made their way to Fitzmaurice Street, where they halted and were addressed by Lieutenant Coleman about the resignation of their previous Captain, W G Tayler ( Wagga Wagga Advertiser, Tuesday 21 August 1888). It would have been quite a sight to see the troops gathered in Fitzmaurice Street.

Sir Henry Parkes, often referred to as the Father of Federation, was the Premier of New South Wales when he visited Wagga Wagga in April of 1888, and it was a huge event for the town. Sir Henry was met by council representatives and prominent citizens at the railway station, then the Murrumbidgee Light Horse accompanied him from the railway station into town. Over the next few days he was escorted around Wagga's "places of interest" , gave a speech at the Town Hall, and was treated to a banquet in the billiard room of the Criterion Hotel in Fitzmaurice Street, on 9 April. I don't know how big the billiard room was but it must have been large enough to hold approximately 30 people or more, as about this many attended, with room for servants to wait table as well.  

Local businesses used the Parkes visit to pep up their advertising, no matter how tenuous the connection, as Mr Corthorn did in this grab for attention :

Above: from the Wagga Wagga Advertiser, April 1888

This year is Wagga Wagga City Council's 150th anniversary, and in 1888 they had been in action for 18 years. Council meeting proceedings were reported in the Wagga Wagga Advertiser, and the first meeting for this year was held in February. Mr Fitzhardinge was again elected as Mayor. Meetings generally covered what public works were under way or were needed, repairs needed, and reports and correspondence were tabled and read out. The meeting ended with an agreement to build a public baths.

After all this excitement, the year came quietly to a close, with one more milestone in Wagga Wagga's history- the Henningham Photographic Studio was established, built by Charles Hardy in Fitzmaurice Street , near the lagoon bridge. 

Above : from the Wagga Wagga Advertiser, October 1888

Above: from the Wagga Wagga Advertiser, December 1888

Above: portrait from Ernest Henningham's Photographic Studio, image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

What can I research from home? - the history of a house

Online resources can change or be updated over time, so it's good to revisit a topic every so often. Researching your property or house is of interest to many, and there are lots of great resources to help.
All states or territories have their own records and places to search for property information, and the older the history of settlement in the area you are researching, the more patience and perseverance may be needed. As with all local or family history, some records may be lost, incomplete, or information just wasn't recorded.

If you are just starting out, the NSW State Archives and Records has two great webinars on this subject you can watch- researching your house and property, and how to read a parish map. Here's the link to the webinar page :

There are other webinars on the NSW State Archives and Records website, covering a range of topics, that may also interest you or help you in your research. It's really worthwhile to see what's available, it may make the difference between being able to find a piece of information, and getting stuck in your search.

The National Library of Australia has a webinar on how to trace the history of your house, covering where to find records and maps in the different states and territories, and how to use different online resources across the National Library website, and using Trove. They have a page with other webinars that also cover searching for family and local history. The more information you have on how and where to search, the more it will help you. Here is a link to the National Library of Australia's YouTube channel for their webinar on house history searching :

The National Library of Australia's webinar recordings page can be found here :

These are really fantastic resources and I would encourage you to take a look if you are findimg it difficult to know where to start.

While I was looking at the resources on Trove, I found a piece of Wagga Wagga's history I didn't know about- Wagga Wagga was one of the places that was considered for the nation's capital around 1900. Sydney and Melbourne each didn't want the other to be chosen, so a Capital Sites Inquiry Board was established to determine what to do.

Above : detail from a map, 1900,  in the National Library of Australia collection

It just goes to show, you never know what you might find! Happy searching :-)

Friday, May 1, 2020

What can I research from home? Looking at NSW State Archives & Records website

Researching family history and local history can be tricky at the best of times, and starting to search for your ancestors, or research a place or property without leaving the house can seem daunting. But the good news is, it doesn't have to be. There are many websites with information you will find valuable and useful.

The NSW State Archives & Records website has a lot to offer.  They even have desktop jigsaws you can do if you need a break from your research:-)

Everything about the records they hold, what they have, where they are, how you can access them, what they mean, is explained and detailed on their website. All information is clearly set out and friendly to use.

Some records are digitised, some need to be accessed through their reading room, at the Western Sydney Records Centre, which is currently temporarily closed, due to COVID-19, but you can still contact them through their website and by phone, if the records you need information from are not digitised yet.

A really useful feature of the NSW State Archives & Records website are their webinars. There are live webinars you can register to attend, and there is a library of past webinars you can watch, with the topics ranging from tracing convict ancestors, researching your house and property, to the 1828 census, digital shipping lists, and much more. The webinars are free.

One of the upcoming webinars covers how to read a Parish map. Parish maps are a valuable tool for researching both local and family history, and they can be difficult to decipher without the proper knowledge. This webinar is on Friday 15 May 2020 , 10-11 am . To register follow this link:

Scroll down and click on the Register link, and enter your details.

Happy researching! 😊