Saturday, 18 June 2011

A Box of Delights

A couple of weekends ago, my Mum and Dad brought a big underbed storage box filled with photos up to me, and I have been steadily working my way through its contents, scanning them into the computer (which is almost groaning under the strain!), then sorting them into categories, ready to put on CDs for distributing around the family.

The photos in the box range from the late 1970s or early 1980s way back to the early 1900s, or even slightly earlier - snapshots from the lives of my parents', grand-parents', great-grandparents' and great-great-grandparents' generations.

Probably the earliest one is this...

Seated at the front, holding his knees is my great-grandfather, Frederick.  He was born in 1886 and raised in Oxford, one of eleven children born to Harry and Sarah.  Harry was a tailor - maybe the love of sewing comes in the genes!

Frederick married my great-grandmother Nellie in 1908. She had moved from her north Wales home to become companion to a Miss Groves, owner of an antique shop in Oxford, so maybe that's another love passed down to me! But when my grandmother and her older sister were very small, Frederick became seriously ill with neuritis and was advised to move to a warmer climate. 

Because of his health problems, Australia wouldn't have him, so Argentina beckoned instead.  I think my grandmother was about four when she set sail with her mother and older sister, almost exactly a year after her father had left to find health and employment on (nearly) the other side of the world.  My great-grandfather's health was indeed restored by the better climate - he lived to be ninety-seven!

Frederick worked on the railways, which meant the family living way out in the 'camp'.  They had one of their houses destroyed by a tornado - Granny could remember the little wooden house half upended so that she and her sister could hunt beneath it for snakes!

The original Railway Children? My Granny and her siblings

The family grew in South America, so that by 1920, Granny was one of five.  At that point the family came back to the United Kingdom.  I think this was because Arthur (one of Granny's brothers)  had been left disabled by meningitis.  Great-grandad stayed for a short while in north Wales whilst the family settled into life with his wife's family, and then went back to Argentina.  Granny did not see him again for two years.  But she wrote him letters, two of which survived, to give just a hint of what life was like.

After two years, my great-grandmother and the five children rejoined Frederick in Argentina.  The family was completed a year later with another son!

Frederick and Nellie, with their six children and first grandchild c 1935
I love this tinted photo I found of my granny and her older sister playing the mandolin and guitar.  There's no date on the photo, but I would think this may be from around the time when my great-aunt married, about 1930.

My great-aunt married a famous Argentine artist, so amongst the photos was this portrait of my Granny...

With the wonders of photo-editing, I have managed to get rid of the smudge marks that were spoiling it, and I'm going to print it on some good quality paper and frame it.


  1. What a great set of family photos. The portrait is beautiful love the Marcel Waves.

  2. Lovely post, these are fantastic pictures. I have a similar stash of family photos dating back to 1880s (though mine for some reason are stored in a vintage leather pyjama case!) and I just posted on one recently which amused me. Like you I'd been scanning, when I realised one was dated the very same day, June 16th, only in 1927. I love the connection to the past and just wish I knew who everyone was - there are some dour looking Victorians in my collection!

  3. How brilliant to have all those photos saved. Must be taking ages to go through them, but what a wonderful way to spend time. x

  4. Thankyou so much for sharing I love family hstory and have notes in boxes for the day I do up some books to give out to family members too
    So sory that the Aussies wouldnt let him in.How rude!! Imagine you could have been an aussie too

  5. Such a lovely post ~ I loved the photos and those dear letters. Family history is just so fascinating isn't it, and it's good that people like you do indeed treasure it; I find it so sad when I find old family photos at charity shops, wondering how that could ever happen. Thank you for sharing this part of your family history with us! Love Brenda (oh, and boo to Australia for not taking your great-grandfather ~ our loss!) :)

  6. What a wonderful story and the photographs are lovely. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Oh my goodness I think I would faint with joy if some one gave me such wonderful pictures. Lovely story to go along with them too. I love family history:)

  8. Fantastic family history & photos. How woderful for you to have the box of photographs.

    Hubby's cousins are researching his mother's side & have found out more about great Aunt Ginny who left her seventeen year old daughter to bring up all her siblings & ended up in Nova Scotia ! Ten years later, her daughter joined her & they shared a double wedding & the daughter went on to have her own family !

    Family stories are the best !