Kate and the Micro-Cremator, Their Final Chapter, Part 1.

Today is not the 22nd of June, it is the 2nd of August and the last post, Part 3, took me way longer than I had anticipated. There was a fair bit that transpired in the intervening six weeks.

We had two massive rain events that hit us up the East Coast. We weren’t flooded in luckily but lots of flooding around us. Xander fell incredibly ill with a bad infection, not Covid-19, but he ended up in hospital in Newcastle on a drip. I drove down to pick him up and bring him home to recuperate for a week.

We then had Alex’s 50th birthday celebration, a great night at Forster Golf Club. And to top it off after two and a half years since the global pandemic started and keeping ourselves safe, Alex, Calan and I all came down with Covid-19 last week. I’m happy to report we are all on the mend with no lasting effects so far which I’m very grateful for considering how deadly this disease has been and continues to be today.

So, a few interruptions to the writing process, but I’m back now and ready to share Kate and the Micro-cremators’ last chapter. And of course, as you now know, there is always so much more.

In the last post, we left off at the Freemason’s Hotel in Molong and my theory, on why George and Kate were honeymooning there. That being, because of George’s role as Secretary of the Schweppes organisation and the business deals he had with the licensee of the hotel.

No travel details have surfaced for them as yet, but I would assume that Kate and George would have been back in Sydney within a couple of weeks if not earlier, as another family celebration was about to take place. Although there is some intrigue surrounding this one. Gordon Nicoll, George’s younger brothers’ marriage to Thirza Vick Zahel, their cousin and Kate’s dear friend.

But before we get to that, there is one piece of tragic news that we find out occurred to the family on Christmas Eve 1903 but it was not reported in the press until some nine weeks later. Take a look at this next article.

Figure 1: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

That is thirteen days after attending Kate and George’s wedding, Bruce falls and sustains, what I assume from the fact that nine weeks later he is still delirious, must have been a significant head injury. That must have put a real damper on their Christmas celebrations. I wonder also if Kate and George were still in Molong? Also is this the reason Charles leaves Melbourne on Christmas Eve? But then why does he stop off and visit friends in Albury? Did he hear from the family somewhere on a stop along the journey that his father’s condition had improved?

Here is a photo of Bruce to put him in the picture.

Bruce Baird Nicoll MLA, 1890
Figure 2: Courtesy of Library of South Australia

The accident took place in George Street, Sydney. Here are a couple of amazing photos I found of trams from the exact time in George Street. You can imagine, even if it was one of the closed tram carriages it is still a long way for your head to fall when alighting the tram.

George Street, near Hunter Street, Circa 1900
Figure 3: Courtesy of Wikimedia
George Street, Sydney looking to Sydney University Circa 1900
Figure 4: Courtesy of Dailymail UK

Now to the intrigue of Thirza and Gordon’s wedding. I was aware that they marry sometime in 1904 from NSW Birth Deaths and Marriages but of course, they never share with you what month. By the way here is that amazing photo again, that is most definitely, could be, possibly, well we can’t be sure, Thirza.

Miss Zahel
Figure 5: Courtesy of State Library of NSW

Here is a copy of the marriage listing that NSW Birth Deaths and Marriages have on their website.

Figure 6: Courtesy of NSW Birth Deaths and Marriages

I assumed the wedding date must have been later in the year because when Charles, Gordon and George’s other brother, marries Laura Taunton in June 1904 both Thirza and Gordon are listed separately in the attendance list in the press and not as Mr and Mrs Nicoll. Slight correction here as you will see from the last line of this next article. This was Laura and Charle’s reception, not the wedding.

Figure 7: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

However, thanks again to Kerry Holdsworth and her research efforts, (I mentioned discovering her online family tree in Part 3 of these posts) we now know the date of the wedding. Kerry shared a newspaper article about a court appearance that Gordon was involved in when he was arrested as an illegal alien. He stated he was born in Germany and then failed to register when the first world war broke out. I know, what? Here is a mention I found in the British Newspaper Archives.

Figure 8: Courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive

I also found the article that Kerry has on her family tree website that mentions the wedding date. A short extract is below.

Figure 9: Courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive

The 14th of March, 1904. So two weeks after the news of Bruce’s accident was published. Obviously, there is another amazing story to discover here. I have just had a bit of a look at the full article about the court appearance and all I can say is, what a family. I’m not going to take over Kate, George and the Micro-cremator’s story now, so I will definitely be creating another post on Thirza and Gordon but for now, we will just focus on the fact that for some reason they didn’t advertise the wedding at the time.

Maybe it had to do with the fact that Bruce was so unwell, or maybe it was that the families didn’t approve as they were first cousins.

I did find an update on Bruce’s condition printed in April and interestingly he has moved in with my 2x Great Grandparents at Blink Bonnie in Canterbury (Earlwood). No mention of his wife, Jane. Maybe she moved back to Hillview with Kate and George.

Figure 9a: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

It is intriguing to me that Kate and George don’t advertise their wedding either but of course, Bruce hasn’t had the accident at that stage so I’m still none the wiser as to why. Thirza and Gordon don’t advertise their wedding and neither do Charles and Laura, but they at least announce that their postponed reception will be happening at a future date. There are quite a few mentions in the newspapers about the date coming up.

Figure 10: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia
Figure 11: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

I know curiosity is going to get the better of me and I’m going to have to order both lots of marriage certificates. I mean “…quietly celebrated recently…” why?

As I mentioned, I’m assuming that Kate and George are in the family home, Hillview on The Boulevard, Dulwich Hill. We are lucky, I have found a mention in the Queensland Figaro confirming for us that they are in Sydney around the time.

Figure 12: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

And here they are on the evening of Wednesday 1st of June celebrating Charles and Lauras’ wedding at their reception, with Georges’ mum, Mrs B B Nicoll, (Jane Zahel) and my 2x Great Grandparents, Mr and Mrs G W Nicoll, (Janet Lewins and George Wallace Nicoll). Obviously, Bruce was still too unwell to attend.

Figure 13: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Figure 14: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

This phenomenal photograph shows where the reception took place, the old Manchester Unity Hall on Elizabeth Street, right next to the Jewish Synagogue. It was built in 1871. It, unfortunately, does not survive today but the Synagogue does.

Figure 15: Courtesy of State Library of New South Wales

Figure 16: Courtesy of State Library of New South Wales

It was demolished in the early 1920s and by 1923 the building shown below was being constructed in its place. The new Manchester Unity Hall for the Independent Order of Oddfellows. This one still stands today as well.

Hyde Park looking towards Elizabeth Street, Great Synagogue
Figure 17: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

On my last trip to Sydney, I visited the site and took my own pic. There are too many trees in the way in Hyde Park to take it from the same vantage point, so I had to go to the left on the corner of Park and Elizabeth Street and look back towards the Synagogue and the new Manchester Unity Hall, now 99 years old. I also found a couple of really nice historical photos from the same spot. Check out that tram waiting shed, on the corner next to the traffic lights, still standing there after 110 years.

Corner of Park and Elizabeth Street, Sydney, 2021
Figure 18: Courtesy of the Macvean Family Archives
Corner of Park and Elizabeth Street, Sydney, 2021
Figure 22: Courtesy of the Macvean Family Archives

I love being able to do those historical comparisons to show where the family were. I get lost in finding what is still there.

Now a question for you. Did you notice in (Figure 14) of the article on Laura and Charles’s wedding that they mentioned a flash photograph of the gathering was taken? What I would give to find that family treasure.

I have this wonderful picture of Charles that I found in Trove that is attached to an article on his being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal(which will feature in the next post) and I wonder if this might be a reception photo taken that night. It has that feel of a wedding picture.

Charles Bruce Nicoll
Figure 22a: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia
St Phillips Anglican Church, Sydney Circa 1920s Figure 22b: Courtesy of Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences https://collection.maas.museum/object/31850

I snuck in a picture of St Phillips as well. This is the church that he and Laura marry in and also where Gordon and Thirza tie the knot. You might also remember from part 2 of these posts that this is the same church that is featured in the pictures where Kate gives her lecture, (St Phillips Church Hall) on the 30th January 1903 on the Microcremator.

Unfortunately, there is no image of Laura that I can find to date but I did find an original example of her signature in the documents on Charles’s bankruptcy file from the State Archives. I have posted about this file of Charles’s in the past.

Figure 23: Courtesy of the Macvean Family Archives

From what I have read, Laura is a perfect fit for this family. She too fancied herself as a singer and moved to Europe to study and was known professionally as Madame Nicollina. She will feature in the post with her husband Charles in the not-too-distant future but here is a teaser.

Figure 23a: Courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive

So we have made it now to June 1904. We know that Kate and George are in Sydney, most likely living at Hillview, 146 The Boulevard (shown in the last post) All three Nicoll brothers are married and George’s father is still suffering from the effects of his accident on Christmas Eve last.

It is now almost a year since Kate went through all that drama with the criticism she faced with the publishing of her new invention and drug in the press. In relation to the Micro-cremator, it has been quiet since then, with no word about the testing that was supposed to be happening on the machine or a follow-up on the 80 people that Kate was testing the machine on. I have trawled through Trove with a fine tooth comb, as usual, and then this appeared.

Figure 24: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

What does this mean? It is so short, there are no other details, just that the patient is cured and there is no further use for it. It almost feels like someone is just trying to get rid of it. As far as we know it is the prototype that Kate built. We know from the last post that when Kate offered the Micro-cremator to the Government, they wanted her to cover the cost of manufacturing another one and that was going to be $20, a prohibitive cost for her to try and cover. Did she get the funding or did Ebenezer her father provide her with the money?

As always, it is more questions, always more questions, argghh! So no other details to be found on this latest development with the Micro-cremator being put up for sale but I did find another update on George’s dad, Bruce.

Figure 25: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

I think it is safe to assume that the family are putting on a united brave front in regard to Bruce’s condition but things are not progressing too well with his recovery. It’s interesting to note the new slivers of information that help build up the picture of what happened to Bruce. An injury to the spine resulted from a tram moving off before he had finished alighting. They are just a handful of words but they tell us so much. Spoiler, Bruce is in his final chapter.

This next article I found sort of supports the hypothesis that I made in my previous post about Kate and George being involved with assisting with the Japanese Fair that happened the same week as their wedding. Here they are in August 1904, Kate is organising a concert and George performing in it. This time it was fundraising for the Sydney City Mission.

Figure 25a: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

George providing a vocal item? Wow, it is a minuscule mention but just as we discussed with his Uncle Bruce above, it just adds so much to the picture of George. He was comfortable and confident enough to sing in public and at a fundraising event. Meaning that he felt that his vocal talents were good enough to pay for.

Jumping back to the Micro-cremator, I was pretty frustrated with the trail going cold on any mentions of it in the local press. I sat there just trying to think outside of the box in coming up with different search terms to try and dig up anything. It then occurred to me after looking at the article on Gordon again and his troubles being reported in the English press, that maybe there might be something there on the Micro-cremator as it was going to be tested in Brompton. I started delving into the British Newspaper Archive and bazinga!

Figure 26: Courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive
Figure 27: Courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive
Figure 28: Courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive

What a find! No mention of Kate’s name, just, a lady, whose invention is very simple. And there we have it, a duplicate of the apparatus has been made. So someone did fork out the cost of manufacturing another Micro-cremator. It is wonderful to find these articles but like always, they are just little slivers of information. What happened? Did the testing support Kate’s theories on the cure? Was she heralded as a medical genius? ……This is where the crickets start chirping if this was a podcast.

The next thing that I discover relates to Bruce and him closing out his final chapter. On the 19th of September, 1904 Bruce Baird Nicoll, George’s father passes away at the age of 52.

Figure 29: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

This is where Kate, George and the rest of the family stood when they buried Bruce 118 years ago.

Figure 30: Courtesy of the Macvean Family Archives

He rests in the same place as his mother, Sarah Baird and his younger brother, David Nicoll who died at age 19 in 1885. There is no mention of Bruce on the headstone but the personnel at the Rookwood Cemetery office confirmed this is where his remains are buried.

Figure 31: Courtesy of the Macvean Family Archives

Figure 31a: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

I love the small details you find in these notices, that might seem like nothing special but then you find the significance. I can see my 3x Great Grandfather, William Lewins was standing right there at the gravesite as well. It won’t mean anything to anyone else but for me, it is an amazing feeling knowing that I was in the same spot that he was in 118 years ago.

You may have noticed from the funeral article above George’s Uncle, George Wallace Nicoll, (my 2x Great Grandfather) is not at his brother’s funeral as his own health had taken a turn for the worse and he was ordered by his doctors to take a long sea voyage. (Now please bear with me, the timeline takes a bit of a beating here, I only found this next round of information as a result of reading the details of the funeral notice above.)

Figure 32: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Also just a few days after celebrating his wedding at his reception at the Manchester Unity Hall, this happens to Charles, George’s brother.

Figure 33: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

At the same time as Charles’s accident, my 2x Great Grandfather departs for the “home country” interestingly though, not with my 2x Great Grandmother but rather their youngest son Angus as his companion.

Figure 34: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Figure 35: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

This is the Miltiades. It was brand new at the time, it arrived in Australia in early December 1903 on its maiden voyage. It made it in record time, 36 days from London. (http://ssmaritime.com/SS-Miltiades-Marathon-1903.htm )

The Miltiades, 1904
Figure 36: Courtesy of Clyde Ships

Unfortunately, George’s Uncle’s health took a turn for the worse on the voyage out and his Uncle and Cousin, Angus had to seek medical attention in Capetown when the Miltiades docked there, mid-voyage.

Figure 37: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

This is the view that most likely greeted them.

They were such a close-knit family and I can only imagine this news would have been a real worry for Kate, George and the rest of the family, considering that this news came so close on the heels of Bruce’s death.

I’m sure the concern for her husband’s health must have been unbearable for my 2x Great Grandmother Janet. I expect this is what motivated her to leave Australia in early October for the port of Colombo in Sri Lanka or Ceylon as it was known at the time. I’m hypothesizing that she probably waited here for George and Angus to arrive with their new “…speedy steamer…” named the Noorebar.

Figure 37bi: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Figure 37bii: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

This is the Caledonien, she was sunk by a German mine in 1917.

Figure 37c: Courtesy of State Library of Queensland

I found some amazing photos of Colombo at the time that Janet was there. I have also provided a map so you can see where we are actually talking about. The Noorebar was coming out via the Suez Canal so this would have been the perfect spot to wait.

Figure 37d: Courtesy of Alamy
Figure 37di: Courtesy of Google Maps
Colombo Harbour
Figure 37e: Courtesy of Alamy
Figure 37f: Courtesy of Alamy
Figure 37g: Courtesy of Alamy

Unfortunately, Janet would have been waiting here much longer than she probably would have expected as delays in work to the ship means the Noorebar doesn’t actually leave Scotland until the last week of December 1904.

Figure 37h: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

SS Noorebar
Figure 37i: Courtesy of Maritime Museum of Tasmania
SS Noorebar at Coffs Harbour Jetty
Figure 37j: Courtesy of the Daily Telegraph NSW

In discussing what was happening in the family around Kate and George this next article sums up all the issues highlighted above in relation to George’s Aunt and Uncle.

Figure 37k: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

In my search to track George and Janet’s journey from Colombo, I came across this next article that showed their plans changed.

Figure 37l: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

George and Janet are passengers on the Ortona and not their ship the Noorebar. I can only hypothesise as to why the change in plans. Perhaps George’s health was deteriorating so much that he needed more room and comfort than was available on the Noorebar. I found some fantastic postcards of the Ortona from 1903 and 1906, either side of the year that George and Janet travelled aboard her.

Ortona 1906
Figure 37n: Courtesy of the State Library of South Australia

George’s Aunt and Uncle, Janet and George Nicoll eventually arrive back in Sydney on Saturday the 11th of February 1905. I wonder if George and Kate were there with other family members to greet them? Also, look who was travelling with them?

Figure 37p: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

That is George’s other Aunt, Uncle and Cousin. Mary Baird Wigmore, nee Nicoll, sister to George’s father Bruce. William Wigmore her husband and their daughter, Florence, our George’s cousin. I think the Wigmore’s may have been living in the UK at the time of departure as I found a shipping list for them from New York arriving in Liverpool in 1901 and then I found a listing of them staying at the Metropole Hotel in Sydney just a couple of days after the Ortona arrives.

Figure 37q: Courtesy of Ancestry.com.au

Figure 37r: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

I know they are tenuous links in confirming they are the same people but it works for me and hopefully for you.

I can imagine that with George’s health failing and the enormous stress of getting the Noorebar ready for launch and eventual departure it must have been a godsend to have some family around to assist. I think Mary, William and Florence would have been doing whatever they could to help out in preparation for the journey.

Just to finish off this section on George and Kate’s family happenings, these next couple of images were so random, so specific and incredible to find.

Two photographs from 1907 of the Ortona in Colombo harbour show how passengers would have embarked and disembarked the ship. This is exactly what Janet, George, Mary, William and Florence would have done two years before these photographs. Just amazing to find these.

Figure 37s: Courtesy of Cambridge University Press
Figure 37t: Courtesy of Cambridge University Press

Then the grand finale. This phenomenal drawing was sketched on the ship the Ortona, the day before it arrived in Sydney. Now I’m not saying that it is my 2x Great Grandmother Janet or her Sister in law, Mary but they were all on the ship when this was being sketched. Another one of those windows into the past.

Figure 37u: Courtesy of Gaston Renard P/L

I mean that is nuts isn’t it a sketch from the same ship and dated the day before they land so we know we can be certain they were all there at the same time. Anyhow back to Kate and George.

The next article is in relation to the Micro-cremator and is another find from the British Newspaper Archive from the end of September 1904. (Please excuse the jumping timeline again.) It is confirmed that the testing was underway at Brompton Hospital.

Figure 38: Courtesy of The British Newspaper Archive

There were lots of reprints of the story right across the Kingdom, some that even mention Kate by name and her maiden name at that, not her married name.

Tiled Gallery 1: Courtesy of British Newspaper Archive

This next one although very similar in content is fascinating as it mentions a name of a person who is assisting Kate in getting her invention tested and it isn’t her father.

Figure 38a: Courtesy of The British Newspaper Archive

Figure 38b: Courtesy of The British Newspaper Archive

Mr F Scoles. I have no idea who this is and I can find no information on him at this stage. The other frustration? There is not one more mention of Kate, the Micro-cremator or the results of the tests that were expected around December 1904 according to the articles above.

I did however come across a few more mentions in the Australian press. This one below changes the focus for a moment to one of a personal nature. It is from Queensland Figaro printed in October 1904. I think this definitely adds to the intrigue of, why were Kate’s admirers unaware of her marriage to George, her name change and why was it being printed at this time?

Figure 39: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

There is that title again, “…lady doctor…” I still don’t have any word from Sydney University confirming if Kate did graduate as a Doctor. I suspect the article is lumping the Chemist title in the same category.

The New South Wales press was next to pick up on the developments in the Micro-cremator’s story.

Figure 40: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Figure 41: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Figure 42: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

The interesting detail from these two articles above is that they are the only ones I have come across anywhere that mention that the device is in use in Brompton Hospital. Can we assume from this that the testing was successful or is this the testing taking place?

I did reach out to the Archivist at the Brompton Consumption Hospital about 18 months ago to enquire whether they might have any surviving records on the testing but they were in lockdown at the time and couldn’t do any searching. I will have to chase up now that we are on the other side of the pandemic.

Figure 43: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Figure 44: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

The Sunday Times article (Figures 40 & 41) is interesting in a couple of ways, it confirms that Kate’s invention has won some professional recognition from the medical establishment and seems to have garnered no further criticism. It also states that Kate has given away her interest in the micro-cremator which I feel lends a little credence to my theory on the for-sale notice, feeling like it was being done with. (Oh I wish I could find a pile of Kate’s correspondence explaining why. I know that isn’t going to happen but I so want to know the whole story.)

The Worker newspaper in Brisbane, below, was a little late on the uptake when it came to news on the Micro-cremator but at least it wasn’t criticising Kate or her audacity in creating such a treatment. But check out that headline and the paternalistic tone it sets.

Figure 45: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia
Figure 46: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

In the first half of 1905, there is no sign of Kate, George or the Microcremator in the press anywhere. The first mention I can find is Kate and George leaving Sydney for Brisbane on the S S Wodonga.

Figure 46a: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

The Wodonga was built for the Australia Union Steamship Navigation company, the company that eventually buys out George’s Uncle George’s business interests when his health fails.

Figure 47: Courtesy of Flotilla Australia

The internet provided again, some fantastic shots taken on board the Wodonga on a trip from Sydney to Melbourne. No date was provided but they look like they could be from the early 1900s.

Figure 48: Courtesy of Australian National Maritime Museum

They are such a gift, to be able to see what it was like on board.

Figure 49: Courtesy of the Australian National Maritime Museum

The next article I found sheds some light on why they were making the trip north apart from visiting family. I’m fairly sure that Kate’s dad, Ebenezer is still in Brisbane and of course, her Aunt and Uncle still live there.

Figure 50: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

I can’t be certain of what George’s severe illness was but obviously, a trip to warmer climates might have been the medicine he needed.

You might remember that I did share this article above in my last post as I felt that it supported my theory of why George and Kate were taking their honeymoon in Molong, to support the new local vendor of Schweppes. Now I’m delving into the whole acting manager thing for George and seeing who Mr E M Paul was.

I wasn’t expecting to find anything on Mr Paul but I was lucky once again. Trove had a picture of him attached to his obituary from 1914 and he was indeed the Russian Consul for fifty years. He actually started with Schweppes back in 1879 the year George was born.

Figure 51: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

He was the oldest Russian Consul in service and was presented with two awards from the Czar himself. (https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/15572066)

What a mentor he must have been for George. I can only imagine that George must have been held in some high esteem for him to step in and take on the manager role while Mr Paul was absent. If you want to read the full obit for Mr Paul follow the link immediately above.

Figure 52: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

The Schweppes factory was located on Foveaux Street in Surry Hills, I found one photo of it on the Schweppes website.

Schweppes Sydney Factory, 1910
Figure 53: Courtesy of Schweppes Australia

The next discovery, Kate and George are in Brisbane for a week and then they are off to Rockhampton. It might be because of George’s health or maybe another Schweppes business deal, unfortunately, there is no way to be certain on this occasion.

Figure 54: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Flotilla Australia had a wonderfully clear photo of the Konoowarra. We can certainly say they weren’t the most luxurious-looking ships from the outside, these steamships of the time.

SS Konoowarra
Figure 55: Courtesy of Flotilla Australia

This next article is a little confusing. I think the details might have been mixed up. It’s printed two days after Kate and George depart Brisbane for Rockhampton. Hence, I think it is referring to them staying at the Gresham hotel in Rockhampton and not referring to them being from Rockhampton which is usually what the brackets mean, as in the article below.

Figure 56: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Here is the Gresham Hotel on the left in 1928 with the train coming straight down the middle of the main street.

The Gresham Hotel, Rockhampton,1990
Figure 58: Courtesy of Wayne Duncan on Flickr

And it still stands today as O’Dowd’s Irish Pub.

The Gresham Hotel, Rockhampton,2022
Figure 59: Courtesy of Pubs and Clubs.com.au
Figure 60: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia
Figure 61: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Now I’m fairly sure that Figaro below is referring to Kate being at the Queensland club Hotel the week before she left for Rockhampton.

Figure 62: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

And what a photo the State Library of Queensland had of the Club Hotel.

Figure 63: Courtesy of State Library of Queensland

These were the original Queensland Clubs clubrooms on Mary Street from 1860 until 1884 when the club moved to its new premises on the corner of George and Alice Streets. The hotel operated until 1941. I wanted to see if any of the original buildings still remained. This next article enabled me to pinpoint exactly where the hotel was.

Figure 64: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

And this is the view from 33 Mary Street today looking towards the hotel site.

Figure 65: Courtesy of Google Maps

Ah yeah? No original buildings are left anywhere there.

Kate and George obviously make it back to Sydney as the next article shows us that they have a visitor coming to stay just six weeks on from their Rockhampton trip.

Figure 66: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

I wanted to see if I could find out any information on Sarah and she and her family appeared in Ancestry.

Figure 67: Courtesy of Ancestry.com.au

The street address is confirmed and also the street name matches that mentioned in the article above. I then found an electoral roll listing for the family with the same address. It is interesting to note here that Augusta Beech was not Sarah’s mother but her father Jame’s second wife.

Figure 68: Courtesy of Ancestry.com.au

I found Sarah’s mother’s funeral notice which confirmed exactly where the Beech property was situated on Leichhardt street. I wonder also if this might have been one of the things that Kate and Sarah bonded over, the loss of their mothers at an early age?

Figure 69: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

I couldn’t help myself, I had to take a look and see if there were any old homesteads still standing on the Beech home site. This is the intersection of Leichhardt and Brunswick streets today. You think I’d learn by now.

Figure 70: Courtesy of Google Maps

Yeah, progress ate that one up. Somewhere on one of those corners stood the Beech house.

So Sarah’s visit with Kate and George was in August 1905, after that there is no further mention of them in the press for the rest of that year. The next thing to occur to them as a family is the passing of George’s Aunt, Mary Baird Wigmore nee Nicoll. Sister to George’s father Bruce.

Figure 71: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

You might recall that Mary, her husband William and their daughter Florence came out from the UK with my 2x Great Grandparents, Janet and George Nicoll on the Ortona in February 1905. They obviously stayed at Hill View with either George and Kate or Jane, George’s mother. Or maybe it was all of them together under one roof.

Figure 72: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia
Figure 73: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Alex, Xander, Calan and I had the great fortune of finding Mary’s final resting place when my cousin Viv and her partner Alan came out from Scotland to visit in November 2019. She is buried here with William and Florence and funnily enough, you can see both George and Bruce’s her brother’s headstones from her position.

Figure 74: Courtesy of the Macvean Family Archives

Now, this next article gives us our answer as to whether they were all under one roof together. They weren’t. I found out that Kate, George and Sarah Nicoll his mother were actually on board the White Star Line ship, the Persic, making their way back from London.

Figure 75: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Figure 76: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Figure 77: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

This next mention confirms that they definitely were at sea at the time of Mary’s passing.

Figure 78: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

I was lucky enough to find the actual passenger list for this trip on Ancestry and also a picture of the Persic from the State Library. I can’t imagine doing eight weeks on that and in rough seas. It must have been scary as all hell.

Figure 79: Courtesy of Ancestry.com.au
Figure 80: Courtesy of the State Library of NSW

This next article is another of the latest finds in relation to Kate that I mentioned earlier. I think they appear as new results because as the Trove volunteers work transcribing lines of text that have been OCR (Occular Character Recognition) scanned by the computer, it enables the algorithms to pick up on the now correct keywords and throw them up in the search results. That’s my reasoning anyhow and I’m very grateful for their hard work.

Figure 81: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

I just love that expression above, “…pooh-poohed” I think that was a very mild description of the criticism Kate faced. It is great to see that Kate was finally starting to get some serious recognition.

I did a bit of research on Dr Norris. It turns out he was Dr William Perrin Norris, born in Fitzroy Victoria in 1866. He became Chairman of the Victorian Board of Health in 1904 and from the little I have read so far of the press of the time, he was instrumental in setting up the Sanatorium in Echuca. There are multiple articles on him giving speeches on consumption and its effects on patients and their communities but nothing specifically that ties him to the micro-cremator or Kate. He is another example of a very interesting and dedicated person whose hard work and efforts are buried in the midst of time.

Figure 81a: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Figure 81b: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Victorian Sanatorium for Consumptives, Echuca, 1899
Figure 81c: Courtesy of Researchgate.net

It is interesting to read that the article states that Kate will be going to Berlin, obviously in regards to the Micro-cremator and its use yet the previous article stated that she was no longer involved or advocating its use.

I have scoured the records again and can find no listing of Kate or George heading back to Europe in late 1906 or 1907. This is the next sighting we get of them.

Figure 82: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

I’m assuming the, “…just returned…” is referring to their arrival on the Persic back in May. I have nothing on what was ailing George but I wonder if it had something to do with his time in the Boer War. I found this mention from his brother, Gordon’s court case on being an illegal alien in 1914. This is a short summary of his wife, Laura’s testimony given to the court.

Figure 83: Courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive

I can’t find a photo of the hospital and there is virtually no mention of it on the internet. Trove had a nice little piece on its opening. It was situated on the western side of Stanley Street.

Figure 84: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

I went looking for Stanley Street and this was the closest I could get.

Victoria Bridge looking towards South Brisbane, 1897
Figure 85: Courtesy of Pinterest

Stanley Street used to run parallel to the river, it was the first street off the other end of the bridge. Stanley Street is gone and has been swallowed by what is now known as Southbank. My arrow is pointing roughly where the Hospital was situated.

This is the site today, where my arrow is pointing. The Museum and Art Gallery of Queensland have taken up residence.

Site of Stanley Street West, 2021
Figure 86: Courtesy of Google Maps

1906 wasn’t finished with George and Kate yet. In November, George’s Uncle, my 2x Great Grandfather, George Wallace Nicoll succumbs to his many health issues and passes away.

Figure 87: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

That is three out of the four surviving children of George’s grandparents, Sarah Baird and George Robertson Nicoll dead. All gone in their 50’s. Yeah, someone turned 53 early this year, not that I’m worried. Admittedly, my Great Grandfather, William died from consumption at age 42 but his son, my Grandfather Norman, passed away in his early 70s, so I’m hoping to add at least another 30 years to that tally.

Figure 88: Courtesy of the Macvean Family Archives

Figure 89: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

This is where the family stood this time to farewell George. I do hope that Kate and George managed to be present with the rest of the family on that Tuesday.

Figure 90: Courtesy of the Macvean Family Archives

I, of course, can’t be certain that Kate and George were in attendance at the funeral as they aren’t specifically named in the article. Perhaps George was still struggling with his health and this kept them away.

The next article to follow in Part 2 of this final chapter, might lend some weight to this theory. I hope you will join me in my farewell to Kate and her amazing machine, the Micro-Cremator.

2 thoughts on “Kate and the Micro-Cremator, Their Final Chapter, Part 1.

  1. Wow!! What a great lot of information you’ve been able to gather about all these ancestors, John! You must have spent many happy hours working on all of this! Glad you escaped the worst of the terrible rains and that your family’s exposure to COVID was mild. I’ve not got to the next part yet, but will do so.



    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Anne, thanks for taking the time to read my posts, I always enjoy reading your feedback. You are so right, I have had many happy hours searching. I’m just amazed at how much information is out there, you just have to keep plugging away sometimes and change your search terms and then something hidden comes to light. I’ve said it many times before, I’m just addicted to that high..


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