Pony-trekking in the Maluti mountains, 1958

In April 1958 a group of pupils from our School, St Stithians College, went on a camp to Caledonspoort in the Eastern Free State. We were under the supervision of some of the teachers, Steyn Krige, Derick Hudson-Reed and David (Daffy) Dent, and also the headmaster’s nephew, Louis Kernick.

We had been there the previous year, and had stayed at Wyndford Guest Farm, on the banks of the Caledon River. On the other side of the river was Lesotho, then more commonly known to outsiders as Basutoland. In those days one did not need a passport to cross the border, and there was a single gate in charge of a single customs official on the Lesotho side, and nothing on the South African side.

In 1958, however, some of us were going on a pony trek up the Maluti Mountains to see the Ox Bow Lake on the Malibamatso River — that was the educational part of the trip, as we learned about ox-bow lakes in geography lessons.

As it was 60 years since it happened, I wrote to remind the only classmate of that time I am still in touch with, Mike Nayler, of our journey, and he sent me some of his recollections of it. So I decided to compile some extracts from my diary to send to him with some of my photos, and my wife Val suggested that I would put them into a blog post, in case anyone else might be interested. And for what it’s worth, we’re planning a reunion of the Class of 58, so if anyone who was in that class sees this, please get in touch.

Diary Extracts

The summaries in italics are mostly taken from what I wrote in an appointment diary on the trip. The longer bits I wrote in a bigger book after getting home.

14-Apr-1958, Monday

Left on the train for school camp at Wyndford guest farm

In the evening we went to the school camp at Wyndford again. David Curtis and I went in the same compartment, with Nayler and Lundie.

15-Apr-1958, Tuesday

Arrive at Wyndford, climb the mountain behind it, sleep under the stars.

We travelled through the night, stopping at every milk can, [1] and changed trains at Bethlehem in the morning, and arrived at Wyndford guest farm just before lunch, travelling the last six miles fron Fouriesburg station in the back of a lorry.[2]

After lunch David Curtis and I climbed the mountain behind the hotel, and took photographs there. There was no room in the inn for those of us who were going up the mountains, so we had to sleep under the stars, which we studied through David’s telescope, while lying in bed. Great balls of fire! [3]

16-Apr-1958, Wednesday

Choose horses for our ride into the mountains

In the morning we crossed over the Caledon Bridge with several others, and went up into the village, and for some time watched a guy chopping up stone to build a wall with.

Watching a stone mason at work. Derick Hudson-Reed on the left

Then a guy called Lif brought a horse for Mark Rushton, and he got on to ride it. Derick Hudson-Reed took Mark’s camera, and took a photo of him on the horse, the first time he had ever ridden one. He rode off, and I also took a photo of him as he went down the way we had come, with a little black foal trotting along behind.

Mark Rushton’s first ride on a horse

Then the rest of us went down the side of the hill, and across a stream running through a donga, where some women were washing clothes.

Old man drinking beer

On the other hill, near the school, we talked to an old man who was sitting outside his house drinking beer, but he didn’t know much English and we knew even less SeSotho, so it was rather corny conversation. In the afternoon the horses arrived for our ride into the mountains. I chose a little black stallion who looked a bit like Tom. I had fourth choice and everyone thought I was nuts for choosing such a little pony. I didn’t know his name, so I called him “Pony”. In the afternoon I rode him and led him around so I could get to know him. Most of the others chose big horses.

17-Apr-1958, Thursday

Set out on our mountain ride, from Caledonspoort to Butha Buthe, and then north through the foothills of the Malutis. Camp at a crossroads.

Amid frantic preparations for our ride we eventually managed to get everything packed and set out, but had scarcely gone a mile when Terry Ryan’s saddlebags came adrift.

We took about two-and-a-half hours to cover the six miles to Butha Buthe, and had lunch at the district commissioner’s house. The lunch consisted of cannonballs made from “weeds” — a Basotho dish. Derick Hudson-Reed and a few others were crazy enough to try swiming in the swiming bath there. They stripped naked and jumped in, and then yelled as they froze.

Leaving Butha Buthe. Derick Hudson-Reed on right, in Mosotho hat. Steve Hayes in centre, looking back.

After lunch we rode through Butha Buthe, and turned north-east along a winding dusty road, which reminded me of Ingogo a bit. On our right was the Maluti range towering above us, and we rode along the foothills till we should come to the pass which would take us over the Maluti to the Ox-Bow Lake, where we were to stay as guests of Mr Read, who was doing a hydrological survey there.

After a while we straggled out in a long line, and my pony, with his short legs, was near the back of it. Some blokes would try an occasional gallop to get up to the front, and then their saddle bags would fall off and they would have to go back to retrieve their scattered belongings. The sun got lower and its rays got redder, and still we hadn’t nearly reached the place where we were supposed to spend the night. The hills became steeper and we started winding down into a valley, and then crossing rivers and then climbing out again.

At sunset we stopped at a bleak and desolate crossroads, where there was a deserted road-builders’ camp, and there we spent the night. There was a village nearby, where we could get water from the well, the local headman having given us permission. David Curtis and I slept together, and I put my own halter on Pony, and tied him to a concrete block, which we used as a windbreak. I gave Pony some mealies, and we got into our sleeping bags. Pony ate his mealies, dropping a good many over me. Then we went to sleep, and so did Pony, but not for long. At about midnight I woke up with his nose on my face, and he was snuffling around trying to reach the loose mealie pips he had dropped. I smacked his nose and went back to sleep. About an hour later I felt my saddle (Brassie’s, actually) jerking under my head. I was using it as a pillow. Pony had discovered that I had a loaf of bread under it, and grabbed it, and then trotted off to the end of his rope and began to eat it. I hauled him in on the rope, and grabbed what was left of the bread out of his mouth, and tried to get back to sleep.

18-Apr-1958, Friday

Ride up the Malutis to the Ox Bow Lake over the mule track, to stay with Dick Read of the hydrological survey

When the sun came up, David and I had a great greasy breakfast of fried eggs and bacon, while the others had bread. Some had had eggs, but they had broken on yesterday’s journey. We had taken the precaution of wrapping ours in newspapers, and so had cause to gloat, until we tried to wash our dishes.
After breakfast we continued on our way, and in the morning rode straight towards the mountains instead of along them. We rode up the Caledon River, or one of its tributaries, and it looked very different now from the dirty brown stream that formed the Free State border. It was icy cold and crystal clear. At one place we stopped to let the horses drink, and three exceedingly brave souls, Terry Ryan, Tom Sutcliffe and Peter Wood, tried to swim. Needless to say, they froze.

Brave souls swimming in the icy mountain water

We came to a notice which said “Ox Bow jeep track. Vehicles enter at their own risk” and started to climb. We crossed some hills covered with very green grass, and Mr Read met us there, riding an enormous horse. He had a big bushy beard, and out of his shorts came sunburnt legs which looked like tree trunks. He was quite a guy, and wore a slouch bush hat. A little while later a pack mule met us and took our bedding, and then we started to climb the steep pass up to the top. Now I rode with Dick Read in front of the line as we climbed the steep mule track, which was shorter than the jeep track. Pony with his short legs had better stamina for mountain climbing, and left the others far behind. The track crossed numerous streams, with bushes going up the slopes on either side, where only goats were grazing. The hills rose up and up in tumbled profusion, like an enormous green wave 5000 feet above the rest of the ocean, frozen in the moment of breaking.

The Maluti mountains looking like a breaking wave

We stopped on a flat rocky ledge near the top of the pass to let the others catch up, and there was a steady stream of sweat running off Pony’s belly.

Pony, at the top of the pass.

Most of the others were leading their horses now, and only Dick Read and I remained mounted.

Riding up the jeep track

Just before sunset we rode over the top, 9000 feet above sea level, and the scene suddenly changed. On the other side of the mountain, instead of coarse bushes, there was short springy turf, with hundreds of streams all over the hillside. There were hills, and beyond them more hills as far as we could see. Just behind the escarpment was a river, running south-west, parallel to the range, and this was called the Malibamatso.

View from the top, looking back over the way we had come

Two miles further, and we arrived at Dick Read’s house. When I got there, still ahead of the others, Pony had stopped sweating completely, and was not even damp under the saddle.

19-Apr-1958, Saturday

At the Ox Bow Lake in Basutoland, listening to Dick Read telling stories.

We slept in a half-built rondavel, which was Mr Read’s new house. His old one had one room and was too small. Early in the morning I climbed the mountain behind his house, and then after breakfast Dick Read took us to the Ox Bow Lake, and explained that a dam would be built there for hydroelectric power. He talked about the future of Basutoland while we were sitting there on the hillside. It seemed a wonderful country, and it seemed a pity if it were to become incorporated in the Union. Dick Read said its economic future wouldn’t be very bright unless it did join the Union.

The ox bow — the river had originally run around the hill in the centre, but then wore a new course behind it, leaving the old course as an isolated ox bow.

Then, after messing around all day, we gathered around Dick Read at five o’clock, and talked. There seemed to be no subject on which he could not talk. He talked about the basis of astrology — mutations in the newly born caused by cosmic radiation.

Dick Read, hydrologist

He told us of a woman at university who was not easily frightened, “So,” he said, “some bloody fool from the medical school got an arm and put it in her bed one night. They waited outside about half an hour after she went in, expecting to hear screams. When nothing happened they eventually opened the door, and found her sitting in a corner gibbering and gnawing at the arm.” He talked about other things too — diamonds in the Basutoland rivers, philosophy, God, time, space, and the prophecies of Nostradamus, the formation of different races, geography and geology. We had a break for coffee at 8:00, then went on discussing, but mainly listening and questioning, until late at night.

20-Apr-1958, Sunday

At the Ox Bow lake in Basutoland, taking photos

I walked up to the pass with David Curtis, and we took photographs. In the evening Dick Read and David Scott both had colds, so they sat around drinking Drambuie and eucalyptus oil. Scott seemed to think the eucalyptus oil was terrible, but I tried it and it wasn’t too bad.

21-Apr-1958, Monday

Return to Wyndford from Ox Bow, riding through the night in the last part.

We set out on the return journey to Wyndford, and were all sorry to leave Dick Read and the mountains. We travelled the 14 miles to the bottom of the pass, and then some of us were going much slower than the others.

Going back down the mountain

About 10 of us decided that we would go to Wyndford today, while those with tired horses or stiff legs were going to camp the night on the road. So at 1:00 pm we parted from the rest, and took a short cut over the veld to above Butha Buthe, which was a long way round anyway.

When night fell we had left the road, and it was overcast and pitch dark. A couple of lightning flashes and thunder rumbles made us think it would rain. On we went, in single file, across open veld and through many fields, down dongas and up the other side, hardly able to see the guy in front, but the horses knew how to follow. Leading the column was Sello, a Mosotho guide. Once or twice he stopped, and said he had taken the wrong way, but how he knew that in the pitch dark we never knew. He would then change direction, and in the middle of that trackless wilderness assert that we were on the right track.
The 10 schoolboys following him were rather subdued, and even awed, by this night journey on horseback. Suddenly we came onto the Butha Buthe road about a mile from Wyndford, and realising that we knew where we were again, started chattering. On the open road we began to trot. Tubby Ewing, saddlesore, groaned with every step his horse took, and every ten steps would say “Fuck you man! Ow Ow! Fuck you, you lousy animal!”

The customs post was deserted at that time, but we opened the gate and went through, and cantered the last hundred yards up to the hotel singing “Come to Wyndford”, words someone had invented and put to the tune of “Clementine”. Daffy was giving a sermon to those who had remained behind, but never finished it. Everyone rushed out to greet us, and though it was 9:00 pm Mrs Boswell, the hotel keeper, got us a meal. While I ate Mark Rushton stood next to me, wearing an enormous red and black blanket that covered him completely. He said he had bought it with some money an aunt had given to him.

22-Apr-1958, Tuesday

The rest of the mob arrived back at lunch time, David Curtis among them. We agreed it was the best holiday we had ever had.

23-Apr-1958, Wednesday

Hitchhike to Butha Buthe to post letters.

David Curtis and I hitched a lift to Butha Buthe on the back of a truck. I bought some rope, and posted some letters and postcards. On the way back we got a lift with Robert Boswell, the landlord’s son. We had a braaivleis party in the evening, and Robert spat petrol out of his mouth and lit it.

24-Apr-1958, Thursday

Played netball against a local girls school

In the afternoon we had a netball match against the village school over the border. Being girls, they hammered us sadly in the first match, but we got the idea of the game then, and beat them by a narrow margin in the two following games. Then they sang songs for us, and we sang songs for them. Louis and Daffy had us laughing when they sang the duet from “Iolanthe”.

25-Apr-1958, Friday

Left Wyndford, got the 11:00 am train from Fouriesburg, which got to Bloemfontein at sunset.

We left Wyndford, very sadly, and got the 11:00 am train to Bloemfontein. We played Monopoly most of the way over the flat Free State veld, and then went looking round Bloemfontein for an hour while waiting for a train to take our coaches to Johannesburg. That train had a dining saloon, so Lundie and I went and had a big grill at 10:00 pm

26-Apr-1958, Saturday

On the train from Bloemfontein to Johannesburg

I had bought a newspaper in Bloemfontein, The Friend, and read the reports of the election results, in which the Nats had won with an increased majority, and the leader of the United Party, Sir de Villiers Graaff, said it wasn’t too serious — 15 years in the life of a country was like a short burst of hysteria in an invidivual.

Notes and references

[1] The train went from Johannesburg to Bethlehem overnight, on a line that no longer exists, as on our last couple of road trips that way we had observed that the rails had all been pulled up. At Bethlehem it was joined to a train from Durban, and crawled on a steep incline out of the town. We got off at Fouriesburg, where a truck was waiting to take us the 12 miles to Wyndford, at Caledonspoort on the Basutoland border. Fouriesburg station was six miles from the town, and from there it was another six miles to Caledonspoort, with its cylindrical sandstone cliffs.

[2] The distance was actually 12 miles – six from the station to Fouriesburg, and another six miles to Wyndford, which was at Caledonspoort.

[3] The song Great balls of fire! By Jerry Lee Lewis was currently popular.

 

 

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Heavy Plant Crossing

For the last week our quiet little cul-de-sac neighbourhood has become the proverbial heavy plant crossing.

It began on Tuesday, when  this appeared outside our front gate.

They broke a hole through the concrete fence at the end of the road and started clearing the ground on this side of the railway line. Over the next couple of days more pieces of earth-moving equipment came and went, with the beeping of reversing lorries, the crash of stones being offloaded.

By Thursday there were rows of railway sleepers, and piles of ballast, so what was going on?

Were they building a new station over the road? Convenient for public transport, if they are, but also the noise and in the increase in traffic could be a bit much. Or are they building a new siding, or re-aligning the tracks on the main line?

On Friday they worked right through the night, with trains passing slowly and hooting all the time. They had generators going to light up the scene, providing this view from our bedroom window.

And when dawn was breaking they were still at it.

Perhaps we’ll only know what it is when they’ve finished. Or perhaps not. Anyway it’s provided a lot of entertainment, even for the dogs, who bark with each new piece of equipment that arrives, and then watch to see what it does.

Ellwood and Pearson Families

This past week, stimulated by the visit of Zania and Ian from Edinburgh,  I have been looking through boxes of old family photos and making scans.  Zania and I are “double-cousins” as our grandparents were brothers who married sisters, and that started us off talking about the older generations.  Our Grandfathers were the sons of Daniel William Pearson and his wife Sarah Walker.

daniel william pearson family

The family of Daniel William Pearson and Sarah Walker

Daniel William Pearson,  the son of William Pearson and Sarah Johnson was born in 16 Nov 1855 in Whitehaven  he married  Sarah Jane Walker, born 10 Dec 1957, the daughter of William Walker and Agnes Duke.

Daniel William died on 26 Jan 1929

Obituary from the Whitehaven News

DEATH OF FORMER OFFICIAL

The death occurred on Saturday, after a long illness, of Mr D.W. Pearson, of Victoria Road, Whitehaven. Mr Pearson, who was well-known in the town and district, filled the position of sanitary and m,arkets inspector for 27 years, having been appointed in 1897, three years after the incorporation of the borough. He retired about four years ago, owing to failing health. Previous to his appointment as a council official, he carried on business in Duke Street, Whitehaven, as a butcher. Mr Pearson, who was 73 years of age, belonged to an old and respected Whitehaven family. He leaves a widow and grown-up family of six sons and one daughter.

He left school early, and was a butcher, and was appointed Sanitary Inspector for Whitehaven, a post he held for the rest of his working life.

They had nine children, eight sons and one daughter  (I have always loved this picture)

pearson family

from left to right:  William Walker Pearson, Edith Pearson, Henry Pearson, Charles Pearson, Frank Pearson, Ernest Pearson, Gilbert Pearson, John Pearson and Victor Octavious Pearson

My grandfather was William Walker Pearson, the eldest and Zania and Maxine are the granddaughters of Ernest, the fifth son.   Dear little Victor Octavious married the niece of our grandmothers ( the daughter of their eldest brother John)

Our  grandmothers were the daughters of Thomas Ellwood and Mary Carr, daughter of Ralph Carr and  Isabella Little, she was born 16 November 1847 in Whitehaven.

thomas ellwood 1845-1914

Thomas Ellwood  was born 17 March 1845 in Wingate Grange, County Durham, the son of John Ellwood and Bridget Anderson,

The Ellwood family moved to County Durham in about 1844 to work on the coal mines, and four of their children were born there. They returned to Cumberland about 1852, where Thomas worked with his father as deputy overman at Croft Pit, before going to sea in the 1860s.

Three of Thomas’s uncles also went to Durham, but they and their families did not return to Whitehaven. His uncle Thomas Saxon Ellwood went to America, while William and Isaac stayed in Durham.

Obituary notice in the Whitehaven News – 1914-12-10
DEATH OF MR T. ELLWOOD, WHITEHAVEN
The death was announced on Saturday of Mr Thomas Ellwood of Duke Street, at the age of 69 years. Mr Ellwood was a native of Whitehaven. He was the eldest son of the late Mr John Ellwood, Low Road, an overman and master wasteman at Croft Pit. The father used to be greatly interested in astronomy and other scientific pursuits, and the son inherited some of this intellectual bent and continued a long connection with the Whitehaven Scientific Association.

john ellwood 1819-1892

John Ellwood 1819-1892

Mr Thomas Ellwood began life by seafaring, in the Maiden Queen under Capt. Smith, of Parton. But he soon left this, and began again in the Whitehaven Colliery. After some years he obtained a manager’s certificate, and then went to a colliery at Dearham as manager, and subsequently to collieries at Wrexham and Workington. He then returned to Whitehaven, and retiring from mining, took over a pawnbroking business in Senhouse Street that had previously been carried on by Mrs Carr, he wife’ mother. This he continued to carry on until the time of his death.
He was twice married. His first wife was a daughter of the late Captain Carr. The Carrs were then living in Senhouse Street. By the first marriage there was a large family – twelve in all, of whom two died and ten survive, who are all grown-up. His second wife was Mrs Jackson, of Duke Street, who survives him.
At one time Mr Ellwood took a very great interest in party politics, and was an active and strong partisan on the Conservative side, in local as well as imperial affairs. In local affairs he used to be one of the foremost spirits in elections for the old town and harbour board; and in imperial affairs he was one of the original promoters of the Whitehaven Conservative Association. In those days Whitehaven Conservatism had no popular organisation, while Liberalism had; and a movement was taken up by twelve of them, who were at once dubbed the twelve apostles, to found an association, which resulted in the establishment of the Club in King Street.
Mr Ellwood also took a great interest in Odd-fellowship. He was a member and officer of the Whitehaven lodge, and has served as Provincial Master of the Whitehaven District.

 

Thomas Ellwood married Mary Carr, the daughter of Isabella Little and Ralph Carr (he died at sea in 1862).

isabella little carr and family

The Carr Family – taken 12 June 1874 (original on glass)   note on the back gives ages -Left to right top:  William Carr (14), Bessie Carr (17), Ralph Carr (23), Thomas Carr (12), Thomas Ellwood (30)  Sitting:   ?    , Isabella Little Carr (63),  Mary Carr Ellwood (31), Isabella Carr Ellwood (on lap), John Ellwood, Ralph Carr Ellwood.

Thomas and Mary had twelve children two of whom died.  William born 22 Sep 1883 who died 5 Nov 1885 and William Edward born 4 Aug 1890 and who died 1 April 1891

thomas ellwood family

Back Left to Right,  Thomas Ellwood, Ralph Carr Ellwood,  Isabella Carr Ellwood, John Ellwood, Mary Carr Ellwood.   Middle L-R :  Elizabeth Renney Ellwood, Martha Ellwood, Margaret Ellwood, Thomas Ellwood.  Front L-R :  Bridget  Ellwood,  Mary Ellwood,  Robert Ellwood

My grandmother Martha (Mattie) was particularly close to her younger sister Margaret (Maggie) and as she left  Whitehaven for South Africa in 1913 to marry  William Walker Pearson, kept up a correspondence with her for the whole of her life.   Unfortunately I do not have portraits of all of her brothers and sisters but will go on searching through the old boxes in case I can find any of John and Mary  when they were young and of Thomas and Robert.

The portraits that I do have are:

ralph carr ellwood 1871-1957

 Ralph Carr Ellwood

born 28 Jan 1871, at New Yard, Workington, Cumberland and he died at 9 Scotch Street, Whitehaven on 18 May 1957

He was interred in Whitehaven Cemetery after a service in the Congregational Churchralph carr ellwood 29 jul1950

 

 

He was a well-known runner in his youth. He lived with Ernest and Maggie Pearson until he died. He had a superb collection of semi-precious stones which he collected on Fleswick Beach near St Bee’s Head.

Zania said that she remembered him as an old man,  at her grandmother’s house


isabella ellwood 1873-1958

 

 

Gran’s eldest sister was  Isabella Carr Ellwood   

born 29 Jul 1873 in Whitehaven and died in Whitehaven in 1958she was married to James Hurst,  they did not have children
As I was growing up I knew of her as “Aunty Belle”  she was a matron in a hospital, and lived in an old terraced house in New Road Whitehaven near the cemetery.     My gran used to tell us tales of Whitehaven and the family and my Mum and Aunty Molly used to say to her that she really should go on a trip and see them all, but she always had a reason why she could not go. isabella ellwood - 1873-1958 One year Aunty Molly had jaundice and Gran went and helped with the children while she was ill.   We had a wonderful old family doctor, the old fashioned kind, and Mum and Aunty Molly told him that they thought that Gran should go and see her sisters.  He then told her that she had been working so hard helping with the family that he thought she needed a trip and that the best thing would be for her to go overseas.  Lo and behold, she and an old friend were gone within 6 months and went again a couple of years later.  It was very good as she was able to see Aunty Belle before she died.


mary ellwood addison 1875-1964

Mary Ellwood 1875-1964 with Jonathan Addison

Mary Ellwood, born 20 May 1875 in Whitehaven, .  Mary died in Belfast on 9 July 1964.   She married Jonathan Addison in 1896 and they had 7 children.  The eldest, Mary was a great friend of my gran, in fact she was only 13 years younger than her.

martha and mary 1956

 

 

 

 

 

My gran managed to visit her in Belfast  when they were both old

 

bessie jupp - martha - mary - john hayes - mary addison hayes

Left to right: Elizabeth Addison Jupp,  Martha Ellwood Pearson, John Hayes, Mary Ellwood Addison, and Elizabeth Addison Hayes

 

 

Mary Addison (b 1898) married John Hayes (no relation to Steve)  and they visited us twice in South Africa.  They had no children of their own and travelled a good deal,  they were really great fun to be with.  John had the most remarkable memory for places. We would be travelling down a road and he would say, “sure and around that corner is ……”  and he was always right.  He had only been there once before!

martha with bessie and len jupp

 

Martha Ellwood Pearson with Elizabeth “Bessie” Addison Jupp and Len Jupp

 

 

When we went to the UK in 1971 we stayed with her sister Elizabeth (b1908) and her husband Len Jupp

(unfortunately the only picture I have is rather blurred)

 

 


elizabeth ellwood 1877-1968

 

Elizabeth Renney Ellwood

was born 26 Jul 1877 in Whitehaven,  she died in 1968

she married Isaac Nicholson (1874)  in Whitehaven on 6th August 1900.

( He was the brother of Catherine Nicholson (b 1871) who was married to John Ellwood the eldest of Thomas Ellwood’s children. (it was their daughter Edith who married Victor Octavious Pearson))

they had two children.  Doris Nicholson and John Ellwood Nicholson.

She married a second time to a man called Tom Caddy.


bridget - bessie - ellwood 1879-1959Bridget Ellwood

(known as Bessie)  was born 8 Aug 1879  in Whitehaven and died 11 Mar 1959

she left Whitehaven and moved to Liverpool in 1916 and lost contact with most of the family.  She married William Fee on 1 Jan 1907 and had two children  Leonard Fee (b1908) and Elsie Fee (b 1917)

she married a second time to   T.W Wilkinson

M4034S-4211

L-R:  Geraint Jones, Vivienne Hall Jones, Allison Jones, Val Hayes

 

Her daughter Elsie married Arthur Hall and they had a daughter Vivienne.  Vivienne married Geraint Jones and they live on a farm in Deiniolen, Caernarfon.  When we were in the UK in 1971 we visited them

 

 


Thomas Carr Ellwood was born on 17 Sep 1881 in Whitehaven.  He married Margaret McMeehan, who was born 25 Dec 1879 in Northern Ireland,  in 1902.  They had 6 children (two daughters and four sons).  We do not have a lot on this branch of the family.  We probably have not worked on it for nearly 40 years so we need to go back and do some more searching!


My beautiful picture

 

Martha Ellwood

was born 17 Nov 1885 in Whitehaven,  she followed her fiance William Walker Pearson to South Africa where they were married in St John’s Church, Pinetown, on 3 November 1913.

William Walker Pearson, the eldest son of Daniel William Pearson and Sarah Walker was born 9 Dec 1883 in Whitehaven.

 

william walker pearson 1883-1956He  was a ship broker in Whitehaven, where he managed a fleet of five or six steamers. He came to Natal in 1909 and on 16 November began working for the forwarding office of the Natal Government Railways. When the forwarding office was closed in 1917 he was transferred to the Harbour Revenue Department and ten years later he was in control of shipping intelligence – allocating berths to the ships arriving in the port of Durban. After his marriage in 1913 he and his wife lived in Pinetown, and later at St Thomas’s Road Extension, in Durban. In 1923 the family moved to 315 Main Road, Escombe. He was a member of the United Grand Lodge of Free Masons of England, having been admitted to the Third Degree at the Temperatia Lodge No 2054 at Whitehaven.

Fleswick 315 main rd escombe c1947

“Fleswick”  –  315 Main Road, Escombe  c 1947    the home was named for the beach near St Bees where Martha and her sisters collected semi-precious stones as children.

William and Martha had four children,  William Ellwood Pearson  (1915-1984),  Mary “Molly” Pearson (1918-2003) and her twin Arthur, who died of diptheria, (1918-1919), and Dorothy (1923-1984).

pearson family - escombe boxing day 1935 - smaller


william ellwood pearson 1915-1984

 

 

William Ellwood Pearson  (Billy) –  Born 8  Aug 1915 in Durban, South Africa and died in England in 1984.

He married twice,  first at the Magistrates Court in Durban on 18 Jun 1939 at the age of 23  to Edith Marion Woods  – he is shown as a teacher and her as a music teacher.  This marriage ended in divorce.

 

Luigia Sonetti Pearson with Francis Alan and Rosemary 1952

Alan Pearson, Liuiga Sonetti Pearson with Rosemary Pearson, Francis Pearson,  at Escombe in 1952

On the 13 Jan1948  he married Liuiga (Louisa) Sonetti (b 1927 in Italy) in Cape Town.   They lived for some time in Nigeria, and also in Italy before settling in England, where he worked for Lever Brothers. They had three children,  Francis (1948), Alan (1951) and Rosemary (1952).  They visited William and Martha in Durban in 1952.

Billy spent some years in Guatamala and Belize prior to his final return to the UK.

 

 

 

The last time we met our Pearson cousins was in 1971 when Elaine and I went to the UK, and we have only recently made contact once again.  We are hoping to find out more about that side of the family again

salerno 1956

Sorrento 1956

 

francis alan and rosemary pearson

England 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Mary Pearson 1918-2003

 

Mary “Molly” Pearson

was born on 22 August 1918 in Durban and died in Pinetown on 13 December 2003

Molly married Sydney Weston Gammage who was born in Whetstone, Leicestershire, England on 2 July 1918.  Mary Pearson and Sidney GammageThey were married in  Durban on 16 Mar 1946.   and spent the early years of their marriage at Waschbank in the midlands of Natal, later moving to 35 Rycroft Avenue in Queensburgh, Natal where they spent most of their lives. Sydney died on 15 Jan 1997

Molly and Sydney had 4 children,  Enid, Arthur, Douglas and Margaret.

 

Gammage family

Left to Right:  Back – Douglas Gammage,  Sydney Gammage, Arthur Gammage ,                         Front:  Margaret Gammage, Molly Gammage, Enid Gammage

Enid Gammage Christmas 1974

Enid Gammage  b 1947 married to Justin Ellis with 2 Children Hugh and Bronwen

My beautiful picture

Arthur Gammage b 1951  married to Jennifer Caithness – they have three children,  Keith, Sonja and Hilda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Douglas Gammage and Margaret Gibb Nov 1979

Douglas Gammage  b 1953 married to Margaret Gibb, they had 4 children.  Kenneth,  Daniel (died young), Richard and Laura.

margaret foley 2003

Margaret Gammage b 1957 married to Douglas Foley,  they have two children, Candice and Dylan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Dorothy Pearson and Keith Greene

 

Dorothy Pearson

was born 10 February 1923 in Durban and died  on  9 Mar 1984

She married Keith Greene on the 23 June 1945 at St Paul’s Church, Durban.  (they were the first couple ever to have their wedding photographed inside the church)  Keith was born in Johannesburg on 4 July 1922.Keith and Dorothy Greene

 

They lived all their married life at 37 Seymour Road, Queensburgh.   Close to William and Martha’s home Fleswick at 315 Main Road

They had two daughters , Valerie and Elaine

 

Valerie Greene Hayes

Valerie Greene b 1948  married to Stephen Hayes in 1974 they have three children,  Bridget,  Simon, and Jethro.

Elaine Greene Machin

Elaine Greene  b 1951   married to John Machin in 1973.  They have three children, Gregory, Alan and Lesley.  (seen in this picture with her granddaughter Abby, daughter of Gregory)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

greene and gammage descendants 1978

Greene and Gammage families in 1978.     Left to right:  Top – John Machin,  Douglas Gammage, Doug Foley, Arthur Gammage, Sydney Gammage, Enid Ellis holding Hugh, Keith Greene, Stephen Hayes,  Ella Hayes (his mother)  Front:  Margaret Foley, Elaine Machin holding Gregory, Molly Gammage holding Simon Hayes,  Dorothy Greene holding Bridget Hayes and Valerie Hayes.  This was the last time that we were all together for a very long time.


margaret ellwood pearson 1892-1958

 

Margaret Ellwood

the youngest child of Thomas Ellwood and Mary Carr was born in Whitehaven on 23 Apr 1892 and she married Ernest Pearson, the fifth son of Daniel William Pearson and Sarah Johnson in 1916.   She died in 1958

After her death Ernest remarried in 1961 to May Smith,  he died in 1975

 

Ernie and Maggie had four children,  Gilbert (b 1917),  Ralph (b 1920),  John (b 1923) and Margaret (b 1929)


gilbert pearson 1917-1944 - June 1942

Gilbert Pearson June 1942

 

Gilbert Ellwood Pearson

was born in Whitehaven 17  Dec 1917.  He was killed in a munition accident right at the very end of the war, in Burma  on 5 June 1944

he is buried at IMPHAL WAR CEMETERY

 

 


Ralph Pearson

was born at 60 Victoria Rd,  Workington.  He was educated in Whitehaven. Served in Royal Air Force in Second World War, mainly in personnel management. After the war spent most of his working in Navy, Army & Air Force Institutes (NAAFI), in Egypt, Middle East and Singapore. Retired in 1983.

He married Jean Mary Bearn (b 1921)on  9 Aug 1952,  and they had three children, Joseph, Susan and Gordon.

jean and gordon pearsonLike us Ralph was extremely interested in the Family History and did an enormous amount of research.  We corresponded regularly.  We are still looking for a photo of Ralph (anyone in the family who has a good one, it would be most welcome)

In 1996 I won  a ticket to the FA Cup Final between Manchester United and Liverpool and was in London for a week.  I went to Berkhamstead visit.  Ralph had died  about 4 months before but I met Jean and the family.  We are in touch with Gordon.


john pearson sept 1941 aged 17

John Pearson June 1942 aged 17

 

John Pearson

born 30 Oct 1923 in Whitehaven.  He married Christiana Rose Nora Lees on 4 Aug 1947.   We knew her as Nora and corresponded for many years.  We were able to visit her in 2005, she gave us a lot of information on the family and told wonderful stories.  John died on 12 March 1984 and Nora on  1 February 2017,  we are so glad to have known her.

John and Nora had two daughters Maxine and Zania.

 

maxine nora and zania 90

Nora Pearson celebrating her 90th birthday with Maxine and Zania

maxine

Maxine Pearson b 1948 married to John Wincott,  they have two children,  Emma and Paul

zania mckenzie

Zania Pearson b 1953  married to Ian McKenzie,  they had three children,  Twins Litza and Alexander ( Alexander died at birth) , and Andrea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a wonderful visit with them in 2005 in Edinburgh and have been lucky that both Maxine and John  and Zania and Ian have been able to visit South Africa, and spend an hour or two with us

with maxine and zania in edinburgh

Left to right:  Maxine, John, Val, Ian, Zania,  in Edinburgh  2005


is this Margaret Pearson Worsley 6 jun 1949

 

Edith Margaret Pearson

the youngest child of Ernest Pearson and Margaret Ellwood was born on 15 Sep 1929

she married Edward Worsley on 4 April 1943

They had two children,  Caroline b abt 1954  and Michael born 24 Oct 1957

We had very little contact with her side of the family.

So this is just a little bit of the Pearson/Ellwood tree – mostly that which links the two families.  Anyone who has anything further to add we would love to hear from you.

 

Visiting Pearson/Ellwood cousins

Last week we had visits from two cousins on the Pearson/Ellwood side of the family that we hadn’t seen for a long time.

On Tuesday 24 October we went to the Balalaika Hotel in Sandton to meet Ian and Zania McKenzie from Edinburgh. They were on a tour that had begun in the Western Cape, and gone along to the Eastern Cape. They had visited the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, and were about to go to the Kruger National Park, then to the Victoria Falls and home.

Zania McKenzie & Val Hayes, Balalaika Hotel, Sandton 24 Oct 2017

We had last seen them 12 years ago, when we visited Scotland in 2005. Zania is Val’s double second cousin — her grandfather Ernie Pearson was the brother of Val’s grandfather William Walker Pearson, and her grandmother Margaret Ellwood was the sister of Val’s grandmother Martha Ellwood.

Zania & Ian McKenzie

It was quite interesting to me to see the Balalaika Hotel, a large multistorey affair in a cobbled street (where some clown tried to run us over when we were going to the hotel), and a row of tall trees. In my youth the Balalaika was more of a nightclub than a hotel, s single-storey building with coloured lights in the garden in Sandown, which was then the heart of Joburg’s “mink and manure” belt, where people used to go to watch polo and gymkhanas. Now it is full of high-rise buildings, mostly office blocks.

The other cousin we saw was Sonja Gammage, who had been attending a Classics Colloquium in Centurion. She had spent a couple of years at Oxford in England doing her Masters, and is now completing her doctorate at UKZN. I was fascinated to learn that her thesis is on Atticising tendencies in Greek novels of the 2nd Century AD. I hadn’t known that novels as a literary genre went back that far, and as they would all have had to be hand copied, they must have been pretty expensive.

Sonja Gammage and Val Hayes at Hawk Lake Spur, Centurion. 28 October 2017

It was even longer since we had seen Sonja — 14 years. We had last seen her at the funeral of her grandmother Mollie Gammage, who was Val’s aunt.

 

Gravestone of Gladys Nourse

Recently a picture of the gravestone of my great-aunt Gladys Nourse popped up on FamilySearch, with no indication of its location. It solved one family history mystery for me, because for over 40 years I had been looking for her date of death, but had been unable to find it.


The inscription reads:

In loving memory
of
Gladys Nourse (nee Vause)
Born 10th June 1891
Died 27th February 1964
Loving mother of Joy Gazzard and
Peggy Kyle

I had had a rough idea of when she had died because in January 1963 my mother and I had taken by grandmother Lily Hayes to tea at the Pepperpots in Kloof, then a pleasant country tea gardsn, but the site is now in the middle of a car park for a shopping mall. While we were having tea and cream scones, and warding off the bees that wanted to share it with us, my gran told us something of the family history — about her grandfather who was mayor of Durban. Afterwards we took her to see her sister Gladys, who was ill. And that was the last I ever heard of great-aunt Gladys while she was alive. I don’t recall ever meeting her in person, though I may have done when I was much younger (about 4 or 5).

I had heard snippets about her at various times. My father had once told me my uncle was a famous cricketer, Dudley Nourse. Much later, when we started doing family history, I discovered that Dudley wasn’t really an uncle, but was great-aunt Gladys’s stepson, from her husband Dave Nourse’s first wife. But Dave Nourse was a cricketer in his own right, having played for Natal for many years, and closing his first-class career by scoring 55 for Western Province against Australia at the age of 58, and at age 55 he scored 219 not out for Western Province against Natal (his old team).

When I was 12 I went to spend a holiday with some friends at the sugar experiment station at Mount Edgecombe, and my father told me that his uncle named Wilkinson owned a large house at Ottawa nearby. My friend and I rode over to Ottawa on bicycles to see it, and we saw it beyond a river, but we would have had to climb a steep hill through the bush to reach it. Perhaps it was just as well we didn’t, because I later learned that great-aunt Gladys had had a rather acrimonious divorce from Gilbert Wilkinson, her first husband, before marrying Dave Nourse.

Much later, in 1987, we spent some time with a cousin of my father’s, Don Stayt, who was also interested in the family history, and we spent a pleasant few days swapping floppy disks on our Osborne portable computers to share our discoveries. He was able to tell me more about great-aunt Gladys’s side of the family, but we still did not know when she had died.

Now I’m in contact with some cousins from that side of the family on Facebook, which does make it easier for family members to stay in touch.

So here’s the family, as we have it now:

Family Group Report
For: Richard Wyatt Vause  (ID=  232)
Date Prepared: 28 Sep 2017
NAME: VAUSE, Richard Wyatt, Born 10 Feb 1854 in Durban, Natal,
Died 28 May 1926 in Durban, Natal at age 72; FATHER: VAUSE,
Richard, Born 2 May 1822, Died 29 Aug 1886 at age 64; MOTHER:
PARK, Matilda, Born 29 May 1828, Died 12 May 1881 at age 52

MARRIED 3 Feb 1881 in St Paul's, Durban, to COTTAM, Margaret
Ellen, Born 25 Apr 1860 in Manchester, Died 7 Aug 1891 in
Pietermaritzburg at age 31; FATHER: COTTAM, John Bagot, Born
30 Jul 1836, Died 3 Jun 1911 at age 74; MOTHER: HERBERT,
Adelaide, Born 10 Oct 1831, Died 10 Aug 1909 at age 77

CHILDREN:
1. M VAUSE, Richard John Wyatt, born 23 Mar 1882 in
Pietermaritzburg, died 19 Aug 1924 in Bloemhof, Transvaal;
Married 7 Jul 1920 to HOOLE, Mabel; 1 child
2. F VAUSE, Ruby Wyatt, born 21 Mar 1883 in Pietermaritzburg,
died 7 Jun 1961 in Durban; Married 28 Apr 1904 to STAYT,
John; 3 children
3. F VAUSE, Lilian Wyatt, born 18 Sep 1884 in Pietermaritzburg,
died 9 Jan 1971 in Durban; Married 9 Jun 1904 to HAYES,
Percy Wynn; 3 children
4. F VAUSE, Kathleen Wyatt, born 30 Apr 1887, died 13 Aug 1887
in Pietermaritzburg
5. F VAUSE, Violet, born ??? 1888, died 4 Jun 1889 in
Pietermaritzburg
6. F VAUSE, Gladys Vere Wyatt, born 10 Jun 1891 in Natal, died
27 Feb 1964 in South Africa; Married 15 Feb 1911 to
WILKINSON, Gilbert Anthony Marshall; 2 children

Michell family of Cornwall

We haven’t made any startling family history discoveries for a while, and recently I’ve been working on the Michell family of Cornwall. My great great great grandmother Mary Michell (1791-1873) married Richard Greenaway at Blisland, Cornwall in 1812, and they had nine children.

Mary Michell herself was the daughter of Benjamin Michell (1767-1848) and Elizabeth Lego (1762-1837) — I wonder if there is a rich relative somewhere who made a fortune out of children’s toys! I’ve been following up some of Mary’s siblings, and quite a number of their descendants seem to have emigrate to Ontario in Canada and then skipped over the border to Michigan in the USA. Several branches of the family seem to have changed the spelling of the surname to Mitchell, and even those who didn’t often had it recorded with that spelling by census takers and the like, so Michell was probably pronounced the same as Mitchell, with the emphasis on the first syllable.

So quite a number of Michell descendants ended up in Osceola County, Michigan.

Osceola County, Michigan, was originally called Unwattin, and is shown as such on this 1842 map.
By Henry Schenck Tanner – File:1842 A new map of Michigan with its canals roads distances by H.S. Tanner

The US and Canadian branches of the Michell family lived about 320 miles apart, though both were quite a lot further from Cornwall.

Heirlooms and other family news

An heirloom is an article or object that has been in a family for several generations. Most objects that might become heirlooms don’t, because they are broken, thrown away, stolen or destroyed or lost (by fire, flood, earthquake etc). So in the end, only a few may survive to be passed on from one generation to another.

bell01Those that do survive, however, often have stories attached to them, and the stories are often forgotten, so we’re recording the story of one such heirloom — a measuring tape in the shape of a china fisherwoman. It was made in Germany, and belonged to Auntie Belle.

Auntie Belle was Val’s great aunt, Isabella Carr Ellwood (1873-1958), who was Matron in a hospital in Whitehaven, Cumberland, England. She was married to Jim Hurst, and they had no children. Val’s grandmother, Mattie Pearson (née Ellwood), who was living in a granny flat with Val’s parents in Escombe, Natal, travelled to the UK about the time that Auntie Belle died, and brought back the measuring tape, and gave it to Val, who was then about 9 years old.

Mattie Pearson wrote regularly to her brothers and sisters in England, and especially to her younger sister Maggie, who was married to Ernest Pearson, Mattie’s late husbands brother, which made him a double brother-in-law. The family tried in vain to persuade Mattie to make the journey home to England to see her brothers and sisters. When Mattie’s daughter (Val’s Auntie Mollie) was ill with jaundice, Mattie stayed with them to look after the children. When Mollie recovered, the family primed the family doctor, Doctor Rosenthal (who was well-known and well-loved in Escombe and vicinity) to tell Mattie that she needed a rest, and that a trip to England to see her family there would do her good. What Dr Rosenthal suggested was tantamount to a command.

Mattie Pearson and her sisters when she visited the UK in 1939, bust before WW2. Mattie is on the front right. Behind her at the back right is Maggie. Bessie was at the top left. We think the other two are Belle and Lizzie -- can anyone identify them?

Mattie Pearson and her sisters when she visited the UK in 1939, just before WW2. Mattie is on the front right. Behind her at the back right is Maggie. Bessie was at the top left. We think the other two are Belle and Lizzie — can anyone identify them?

So Mattie booked a trip on the Southern Cross, a three-week relaxing voyage in company with her old friend Mrs Mitchell who had been glad to join her on her trip, and saw her brothers and sisters. Auntie Belle died either while she was there, or shortly before, and so she brought the fisherwoman measuring tape back for Val.

Mattie Pearson (on the left) at dinner on the ship, with her friend Mrs Mitchell on the right.

Mattie Pearson (on the left) at dinner on the ship, with her friend Mrs Mitchell on the right.

The time for such sea voyages has passed; air travel is quicker and cheaper, but far less relaxing, and if you want to go by sea, for the most part you can only take cruises to nowhere. The days of passenger ships was dying by the early 1970s.  The ship that took Mattie and Mrs Mitchell to England was the Southern Cross.  When Val and her sister Elaine travelled to England in 1971 they went on the very last voyage of the Arawa and came back in September on the very last trip of the Southern Cross.

banana1Now here’s another family artefact that will never become an heirloom because we’ve already eaten it. Our son Simon saw a food programme on TV where the presenter said that food should be artistically presented, so Simon made this artistic arrangement of bananas in the fruit bowl. But the photo might last a bit longer than the bananas.

Mention of the Ellwood family, and the fact that Mattie Pearson kept in touch with her siblings by letter for almost 60 years reminds me of changing patterns of communication. When our daughter Bridget went to Greece 20 years ago, we kept in touch by snail mail, writing almost every week. When Bridget got e-mail, it should have been easier to communicate, but it actually wasn’t. E-mail messages were much less frequent and much less informative. Now there is Facebook, but Facebook, though it allows one to share photos, lends itself to textbites rather like soundbites. You see a photo of a place and realise that whoever posted it might have visited it, but there is little description of the when, where and how, or who they were with, or what they did there.

For the last 3 weeks our internet connection has been faulty. I’ve been able to download e-mail (after 5-20 attempts), but the replies are all queued, waiting to be sent when the line is repaired (for more on this problem and the reasons for it, see Incommunicado). But in these 3 weeks there have been almost no personal messages from friends or family. There was one very welcome message from a cousin whose existence I was quite unaware of — Roxanne Williamson, née Dryden — and I’ll reply to that more fully when our internet service has been restored (if you are reading this, then it will have been restored). But apart from that all the genuine mail has been in two mailing lists, one from the Orthodox Peace Fellowship, and the other the Legacy User Group – a support service for a genealogy program I use. Two-thirds of the mail that we have downloaded with such difficulty is spam — things like discount offers from shops I’ve never heard of (which country is “Macy’s” in? Or “Everest Windows” or “Takahashi?).

But that’s what the state our communication has been reduced to, in spite of, or perhaps because of, all the marvellous technological aids. I can receive and send email without moving my bum from this chair, whereas to send a snail-mail letter I have to go 2,6 kilometres to the nearest post box, a 40-minute walk one way. Yet Mattie Pearson managed to write to her sister Maggie once a week, and at less frequent intervals to her other siblings, and her letters were probably far more informative.

When we first started doing family history just after we were married back in 1974 we tried to re-establish contact with those relatives, and Maggie’s daughter-in-law, Nora Pearson, wrote to us by snail mail once a month or so, long chatty letters telling about her children (Val’s double second cousins) and grandchildren, what was going on in the town, and in their church (she and her husband John had just joined St Begh’s Roman Catholic Church). Now we are “friends” with her children on Facebook, but Facebook censors the communication so we only see about 10% of what they post 10% of the time, and in spite of the wonders of modern technology, we are less in touch with that side of the family than we were by snail mail 40 years ago.