Today is the 22nd of June 2022, and it has been about a month since my last confess…, sorry, no, the lapsed Catholic in me coming out. It has been about a month since I started putting together Part 2 of these posts. Hopefully, this post won’t take as long. I have most of it mapped out already below, just got to link it together.
Part 2 ended on that real high note for me, with the discovery of that new article from The Daily Telegraph, dated 16th June 1903, mentioning that Kate was battling rheumatic fever. I was lucky that same search, another couple of new discoveries popped up in relation to Kate and the Micro-cremator that I hadn’t seen before, you will see them shortly. I am trying to follow that damn timeline but as you have seen sometimes it disappears, hopefully not too confusing for you.
So we know that in mid to late 1903, Kate is being cared for her by her Dad at Stephen Court, Elizabeth Street in Sydney. I would imagine also, that he would have had the assistance of her best friend, Thirza Anne Vick Zahel, George’s Cousin and soon-to-be Sister-in-law of Kate. Thirza marries George’s brother, Gordon in early 1904. Thirza’s name, you might recall was mentioned in the article printed about Kate looking after the eighty consumptive patients.
And in another amazing find, thanks to the efforts of a very generous researcher, Kerry Holdsworth, we have a photo that could potentially be Thirza. Kerry is related to the Vick side of the family and on her online family tree, she shared a link to a photo from the NSW State Library that is part of the Freeman Studio collection.
According to Kerry’s research, Thirza was a vocalist and she travelled to Europe and studied with the same singing teacher as Dame Nellie Melba. There is no way to be certain that this is Thirza but is nice to think it could be. Zahel is a very uncommon name and the photo could be a publicity shot taken in Sydney, it fits with the timeline we know so far for Thirza and besides that, what a photo!
In relation to George, there is absolutely no information coming up for him in Trove. He has gone silent. I did however manage to find an electoral role listing in Ancestry for him confirming his address on the marriage registration.
It is interesting to note that George is also listed with his brother, Charles Bruce Nicoll and their father, Bruce Baird Nicoll. What else is interesting is that George is in the family home and his father and brother are in different houses. I hadn’t come across these other addresses before. I wonder if George was given The Boulevard in preparation for his and Kate’s marriage? We are very lucky that 146 Boulevard is still standing.
Also, Charles’s residence, the photo below, is still standing on Palace Street and today its estimated value, 119 years later is $3250000. I’m sure Charles’s mind would be blown with that figure if he was around today. (https://www.propertyvalue.com.au/property/27-palace-street-petersham-nsw-2049/5454013 )
This terrace in the centre of the photo is their father and mother’s residence, five doors down from Charles’s, 37 Palace Street.
Also, did you notice? Not one woman’s name on the electoral list. I have checked on Ancestry and Kate actually doesn’t appear on the list till 1912, so maybe she wasn’t as keen to exercise her new voting right as some of her sex were at the time.
Talking of, as 1903 is the first year that women were allowed to vote, there is some very interesting reading to be had when you stray into the other pages of the papers at that time. The article below is an absolute eye-opener. It is a couple of pages long, but it is so worth the read.
Slideshow 1: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia
How did you go, you survive. It is a pearler! You have conversations in general about what you have heard it was like back then. It is almost like osmosis, these ideas creep into your basic knowledge over the years of the overt sexism, from television, films and books. But when you actually go in and start reading what is being said at the actual time, it is mind-blowing, and it is everywhere. It is no wonder that we are still battling sexism and male bias today.
Here is another great example, this one is from, “The Advance Australia”, in September 1903. I chose this one as it relates to the Australian Natives Association. The association that Bruce and Charles Nicoll, soon to be Kate’s father and brother-in-law, were so heavily involved in.
There are so many other examples like this, but these two I thought really highlight what was happening around Kate at the time. What I would give to know what Kate and George’s thoughts were on these issues.
As I mentioned earlier, this was it for George in terms of knowing what he was up to till the time of their wedding, the electoral roll and nothing else. You might remember, that I shared in my previous posts on George and Kate that there are no wedding notices or articles or any lead-up mentions, saying that someone either family or friends were travelling to Sydney or the like. I mean nothing. This is a very well-to-do family who isn’t shy in sharing their news. I started searching for other members of the family to see if I could place anyone, and there is nothing.
What I did find was this one exception, Charles Bruce Nicoll, George’s brother and not anything to do about the upcoming nuptials. Read on and you will see what is happening.
Charles is apparently on a six-month tour of Western Australia and meeting the Premier of the state for talks. Yep, you read that right, what a hustler Charles is turning out to be. Check this article out below.
There is so much to unpack from this article, but I won’t do that here. As I have mentioned previously, Charles seems to be a larger-than-life character living the high life. I have no doubt that these contacts will be a result of his and George’s father’s connections made when he was the legislative member for Richmond.
This next article gives even more detail on Charles.
That is the first time I have seen Charles referred to as a journalist. The post on Charles for this blog is going to be fun when I get to it. Now you might be thinking that Charles is on his way back now to Sydney and will make it back in time for George and Kate’s wedding, as this is now September. Well no, he takes a break in Albury first and eventually arrives back in Sydney on the 11th of January 1904 a month after his brother’s wedding.
Yeah, it looks like he left on Christmas Eve, but it still takes him till the 11th of January to arrive. Obviously, a story is hidden somewhere there. By the way, the F.R.H.S.? Well, it stands for, Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. The Society defines a fellow as “…those who have made an original contribution to historical scholarship, typically through the authorship of a book, a body of scholarly work similar in scale and impact to a book, the organisation of exhibitions and conferences, the editing of journals, and other works of diffusion and dissemination grounded in historical research.” ( https://royalhistsoc.org/membership/fellows/ )
To date, I haven’t found any information on what Charles did to earn this honour, which he was obviously so proud of.
I know I just jumped the timeline there for a minute, but it was specifically to try and confirm the details around the wedding and to show what Charles was up to.
The next article was a nice little find. We assumed that Ebenezer, Kate’s father, was at the wedding as his name appears as a witness on their marriage registration, details like this are great but it is nice when you get a second source to confirm them.
Here is Ebenezer the week of the wedding, booked in to do a lecture on his book in Sydney.
And here is the School of Arts building on Pitt Street. This is twenty years before the night of the lecture, but I’m pretty sure not much would have changed by the time Ebenezer is presenting.
Because look at what is still standing in 2021 and fairly unscathed by the look of it.
There is no write-up that I can find on the lecture, just a final advert on the night of the lecture, four days before the wedding.
With the lack of any mention of Kate and George and their preparations for the wedding, I thought I would share what was happening around them. This next article is interesting in two ways, first, it is from the Molong Express, I haven’t shared it with you yet but Molong is where Kate and George go for their honeymoon. I know, Molong, right? Where the hell and why the hell? Two questions we will explore soon. The second interesting point about this article is that it is another stark example of the discrimination women faced at this time in the early 20th century and shows how entrenched it really was.
I mean I can only imagine what Kate must have thought reading this. Certainly in light of the earlier article where they were talking about examiner Doctors not allowing female medical students to have rights to work at hospitals. It just must have seemed hopeless and this to a comfortably off, privileged white woman such as Kate. I can’t imagine what it must have been like if you were an indigenous woman or a migrant woman, that must have been unbearable.
Look at the sexism so blatantly on display in this article, published the week before the wedding.
This next article is from the day before their wedding and concerns the St James parish where they were getting married. I’m sure Kate and George would have been aware of the fair and most probably engaged in assisting in setting it up before their big day.
I was trying to figure out why the Japanese theme was chosen. I started searching the news and came across these headlines that might have lent some inspiration to the idea.
Tiled Gallery 1: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia
Coincidently these were the final weeks in the lead-up to the Second Russo -Japanese War which erupted on the 9th of February 1904 when the main Japanese fleet took the Russian squadron at Port Arthur by surprise, inflicting serious losses. (https://www.britannica.com/event/Russo-Japanese-War )
Maybe the good Christians of the St James congregation wanted to show their solidarity with their allies, the Japanese. Britain and Japan were bound in an alliance when they signed the Anglo-Japanese Treaty in 1902. “The alliance bound both countries to assist one another in safeguarding their respective interests in China and Korea.” (https://www.britannica.com/topic/Anglo-Japanese-Alliance )
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the treaty worked well for Japan as it kept Russia’s main ally, France out of the year-long conflict. It was because of this tie, “…that Japan participated in World War 1 on the side of the Allies.” (https://www.britannica.com/topic/Anglo-Japanese-Alliance )
The next picture is from the actual St James Japanese Fair and was printed the following week just before Christmas.
And this is the building all the fundraising from the fair helped to build.
Unfortunately, this beauty is no longer standing, it was demolished in 1961. I discovered that I have a personal link to this site. The building that replaced it housed the Phillip Street Theatre, and it was where I saw my first ever stage play in Sydney back in 1982 as a 13-year-old.
This building is also opposite Wentworth Chambers, where I had my third job out of school as a Junior Barrister’s Clerk. My Godmother, Jan Joy, was the Floor Clerk. (Nepotism? I’m sure I don’t know what you are talking about.)
This is what it looked like when I was there in the late 1980s, except the accessibility ramp wasn’t there. We had to carry people up the stairs in their wheelchairs if they required access to the building, or they had to come through the security door between the Law Courts building on the right and Wentworth Chambers.
We have made it to the day of the wedding, 11th December 1903. Here is a copy of the marriage registration certificate again.
What is very interesting here with the registration, is that it is obvious that it is the same person filling in all the details except for the Deputy Registrar General’s signature. Perhaps a clerk in the registration office. There is an obvious mistake here as well. George’s mother, Jane Anne Zahel is marked as deceased. She is very much still alive at this point. It was Kate’s mother who was actually deceased at the time of the wedding.
It is a shame that we don’t get a real record of everyone’s signatures from the form. What it does tell us is who married Kate and George. The Reverend Sidney Marston.
The next article is a great precis of Rev. Marston’s history, he sounds like a pretty fascinating character.
Rev. Marston was obviously a man of his principles. His time in Australia ended in some controversy. The newly appointed Archbishop supported the idea of discontinuing the use of the Eucharistic Vestments worn by priests in the mass ceremony. A very public spat occurred in the press of the day with Rev. Marston informing the congregation and the public that it was an illegal act in the eyes of the law of the church. The upshot, Rev. Marston was offered a new position back in England, by his benefactor which he took. He sent a final letter to the press of Sydney which left no doubt about how he felt about the incident.
Here is the most wonderful photo of St James at the time of the wedding, it is from the Henry King collection held at the Museum of Applied Arts and Science. This is exactly the view that Kate and George would have had on the day of their wedding.
In the close-up below you can see on the left, that there is a horse and buggy drawn up outside the church, I imagine Kate and George would have arrived like this for their ceremony.
The interesting thing to note from this photo above is that Queen Victoria no longer commands from the centre of the roadways. At first, she was moved from this position in 1908 as the statue was deemed too close to the tram lines and not in the exact centre of the square also apparently, in this position there was no space to plant a ceremonial garden around the base.
This photo above shows where the statue was moved to in its more central position. It stood there for 67 years until it was moved again in July 1976 in a plaza redevelopment and now stands to the left of the church in line with the Supreme Court Building and out of the centre of the square. ( https://sydneystatues.wordpress.com/statues/queen-victoria-queens-square/ )
Back to Kate and George and their wedding day. I imagine they would have posed for a photo of their big day and I can see that they may have looked something like the members of the Harrison-Balfour wedding party below. They are only 18 months after Kate and George’s day.
This next article was the weather forecast for the day. From the temperatures, I have seen reported. it was around the early 90s which is roughly 32 degrees celsius.
Imagine being dressed up in the clothes shown in the Harrison-Balfour Wedding in temperatures like that with thunderstorms brewing. I found this wonderfully helpful article from the Armidale press printed on their wedding day to help alleviate the effects of the heat.
Figure 35-37: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia
Here is another article from the big day. This one is from the Albury Banner & Wodonga Express. Another fine example of that twisted logic around women.
In this next section of the post, I’m continuing on with providing you with a glimmer of what else was happening in Kate and George’s world on the day of the wedding. As I mentioned earlier, the federal election was coming up in a week from the wedding day, and at the same time the Government was putting a referendum to the people about the size of the State House. This article below leaves no doubt as to what the particular editor thought was the decision his readers should be making.
I’m sure it will become clear why this next advert jumped out at me. I too have been hit hard by the “…Summer Fag…” and I’m not even a woman!
The next article is an excerpt of a much longer one but it gives you a good idea in my opinion, of why Australia has been battling with the issue of immigration for an extraordinary length of time.
It is confusing, isn’t it? It appears that the editor of this piece is against the principle of the White Australia policy but only if we keep to the understanding of what the real place of coloured and whites is. Coloured immigration is permissible as coloured people are best suited to working in the tropics. (I mean I can’t even!)
When you go through the press of the day there are so many examples such as this one above. It was clearly ingrained in the society of the day. Here is another example, you think at first, yes it is denouncing the policy but then it hits you, it actually isn’t. This was printed the day before the wedding.
Figure 41-43: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia
The news headlines of the day give a fascinating glimpse into what was happening on that Friday morning.
Figure 44-45: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia
Hints to Women, the article coming up, is fascinating in two ways. The first is that it shows nothing has changed in terms of the actual process of voting. The description given here could be describing the recent 2022 Federal election voting process and the second, the misogynistic tone that is dripping from each line. You poor hapless female, if you can’t understand this most simple of tasks just ask your male relative and if you don’t have one, the voting official will assist or the male postal worker if you need to do a postal vote. Thank god for men hey, I mean where would women be without them? (You get I’m being sarcastic, here right ?)
Figure 46-47: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia
This cartoon reinforces the contempt that some members of the press held for the vote being given to women. They literally thought their world was falling apart.
The next article was a great find too as it speaks to exactly what Kate was professionally but note the assumption that it would only be boys that might be considering this career path.
It shows how pervasive it was this ingrained sexism. When you start looking at the press of the time you see how it was all about what was most advantageous to the white man, his comfort and maintaining his superiority over all other races.
As you can see below, six days after the wedding the situation between the Russians and the Japanese intensified. War is only days away now.
This is also where we get our first glimpse of what Kate and George are up to since the wedding. Seven days on the other side of the wedding to be precise.
This article below is a real gift as it is the first time we actually get to hear George’s voice. It’s curt and business-like but still, they are his words and the only ones we have at the moment.
“…being unavoidably absent from…” is certainly not the most romantic way of saying, I’m on my honeymoon after being married for just a week now, is it? This is the article that informed me that five days after the wedding George is in Molong. I’m assuming it is the honeymoon here and that Kate is with George but of course, I can’t be certain.
I tried searching to see if Molong was a destination hotspot for the time but nothing was coming up. The photo below is Molong in 1906 just 2 years after George and Kate were there.
Molong is about 300 km northwest of Sydney. There was a train service direct to Molong at the time and it would have taken the best part of a day to get out there.
I’m certain that Kate and George would recognise this photo above, this is exactly how they would have arrived and most probably on this train. I know, I have nothing to back that up but it is just nice to be building up a picture of what they potentially could have been experiencing.
This is Bank Street and the train station sits just out of shot on the left of this photo. The building on the corner on the right is the Freemasons Hotel. You can just see the top of the roof of this building just to the right of the Molong sign in Figure 56, just to give you some context.
Molong is the site of an early copper mine and according to the Bureau of Meteorology historic records from 1903, the average temperature in December was roughly 30 degrees celsius. This begs the question, what the hell were they doing honeymooning in Molong? (http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/tables/cw_063004_All.shtml )
Before I try to answer that question, this photo below although 6 years after Kate and George were visiting is a wonderful peek into the area that they potentially saw and also shows us most likely what they themselves looked like in that 30-degree heat.
Apart from the actual temperature, I took a quick look in the Trove articles at what was happening in Molong weather-wise and look what came up. Talk about timing.
Potentially this storm above could have been happening whilst they were journeying out to Molong, especially if they departed on Saturday the 12th or Sunday the 13th the two days following their wedding day. And it looks like from this next article that the storms were in the area the whole week and a half, right up till Christmas.
Now back to trying to answer that question, what the hell were they doing in Molong at this time, battling the heat and extreme weather events? As I mentioned I wasn’t getting any hits that were immediately popping out to me from the digital newsprint that offered any explanation. Rember how I have shared many times before that this is the part I really enjoy, searching something out that seems to be a bit light on, on details. So I just started combing through the articles and advertising list. The only listing for Nicoll was George’s letter to the newspaper on the 18th.
After a while of diving down this very narrow rabbit hole of information on Molong, something caught my eye and I wondered if I might have found a potential reason for the trip to Molong.
I know it is a weird thing to catch the eye but the connection here I think, is Schweppes, not the choice joint of beef. From my Google Drive archives, I knew I had something else saved about Schweppes and George. I came across it years ago but it was ringing in my memory now and here it is. I found it and yes I’ve mucked up the damn timeline again but just for a minute.
There it is, George named as the secretary for Schweppes Limited. Now again I have nothing to confirm when George started with the company but I’m assuming if you are named as the acting manager you have built up some time on the floor to get that sort of credibility and trust to become an acting manager. The other point that lends some weight to this theory of George’s length of tenure and the fact that he most likely is working for the company in 1903, is that back in Figure 21, George’s occupation on the wedding registration is listed as Secretary. So if you take this into account, it fits.
So my theory here is that it looks like things have really taken off for Schweppes in Molong at the time of George and Kates’ wedding. Especially when you take into account that the article in Figure 62 states that Schweppes has “…gone ahead…” in the district and also the fact that in the next article Mr Cockbaine the agent is gifting a large supply of the product to the hospital for Christmas. I think these are things the secretary of the company might want to be involved in. Also, Mr Cockbaine just happens to be the proprietor of the Freemasons Hotel. The hotel behind the railway station.
I can imagine the conversation probably turned to, “…oh your wedding is happening at the same time, well why don’t you stay over at the hotel for your honeymoon and we conduct our business for Schweppes at the same time?” or something of the sort.
Here is an earlier article from 1902 when Mr Cockbaine had only been the licensee for a short period of time confirming the link with Schweppes.
As I have stated before when you can’t find the people you are looking for, building up the picture around them and making some well-thought-out assumptions can help to flesh the story out. This is certainly the case here.
I just discovered that when Kate and George were visiting Molong in December 1903 the Freemasons was only a single-story building. The second story as depicted in the photo above was added in 1911. This is closer to what Kate and George would have seen.
So, People, we have come to that time again. I still have a heap to share with you and this post is now up to 67 Figures in length. I think this is a good time for a short break.
The next post will be the final chapter of the Micro-cremator and of Kate’s story. I know spoilers but you will be aware from my previous post about Kate and George that even though we are so full of hope for them, as they have just celebrated their wedding and are now enjoying their extreme honeymoon, Kate only has nine years of her story remaining and George only twelve of his.
Hope to see you again for the rest of their journey.