Sunday, 2 February 2014

They were tough women in the old days

My great great grandmother was born Keturah Patch in Somerset England 1835. In April 1855 when she was 20 she married my great great grandfather Richard Michael Hallett, he was 21. I dont know how they met or if it was a marriage of love or of convenience but only weeks after the wedding they left England for good on a ship to Australia, and looking at the date of the first child born - she would have been pregnant while on the 3 month ship journey.
You would have had to be tough to be pregnant, on a ship on the high seas and leaving your family and homeland for ever, knowing you would probably never see your parents, sister and friends again.

They arrived in Australia on the ship Cambodia in August 1855 disembarking in Brisbane - which at that time was still part of New South Wales (Queensland did not become a state till 1859). It was a pretty rough and new town with dirt roads and no bridges across the river that divided it - they settled in South Brisbane and Richard worked as a labourer and as a butcher (his family trade in England). 

Keturah gave birth to their first child Henry (Harry) in Dec 1855 - Henry/Harry died before his 3rd birthday in 1858.
In 1857 their second son and my great grandfather George was born, 2 years later another son Harry was born in 1859 - named after his late brother. Harry lived to be 16 before death took him (there was an inquest into his death?)
In 1860 their first daughter was born - Mary. 
In 1861 Frederick was born only to pass away a year later.  
In 1863 another son was born and named after his late brother Frederick - this one survived to 19 before passing.
In 1864 Samuel was born but he died aged 7, Joseph was born in 1866 and Grace in 1868. 

So after 13 years of marriage in a strange land - Keturah had given birth to 9 children. She then fell pregnant again in 1869... this time it did not end well - the child was born deceased or died soon after as the birth was not registered and Keturah died of "laceration of the womb" - she bled to death after the birth. In those days there was not much that could be done and as births were at home with no medical help other than a midwife if you were lucky, then it was risk every time. It would have been a painful death but she would have had her family around her.

It has to be mentioned that her husband Richard does not come across as the loving father you would want with this many children. In searches of the newspapers of the time - Richard Hallett is mentioned many times - usually in the police reports for being arrested for drunkeness and vagrancy (having no means of support - so probably no money on him and perhaps no job at the time). His eldest son George had to bail out his father a number of times and had to start his working life young to try and support his mother and siblings as his father couldnt or wouldnt. When Keturah went into labour the last time in 1869, Richard was once again out on the town getting drunk and had been arrested - George had to plead his case and tell them his mother was dying so that they dismissed the charges and released Richard so he could go home to his wife. 

So in 1869 - Keturah died aged 34 after leaving her family and home in England, living in a strange and hot land, having babies almost constantly and seeing them get sick and die, having a husband who was never home and if he was, he probably wasnt the nicest person. I think she must have been a very strong woman to go through all that - I wish I could have known her - I dont even have a photo of her, but I imagine a strong and proud woman who loved her children and did her best for them. 

I feel this as her eldest son George (my great grandfather) was nothing like his father and I think he got his strength and commitment from his mother. He started work when he was young to help out his family as a clerk and ended up working for Baynes Brothers Butchers for 56 years.  George was for many years Honorary Secretary for the Labor organisation in South Brisbane and secretary to the committee of the South Brisbane State School. He was also honorary secretary for the Light Gear Club (a fishing club) and a keen member. (Now I know why I was drawn to be secretary of the African Violet Society! Its in the blood!) 

George married a Sheffield girl Louisa Bowler in Brisbane -1883 and their youngest surviving son was my grandfather Eric. My grandfather didnt know about all the extra siblings his father had as the only ones that survived to adulthood and married were Mary, Joseph and Grace. He would have been surprised to know about the other 6. I certainly was when I found them in the records when researching at the State Library. I almost yelled out every time I found another child of Richard and Keturah Hallett in the records! 

We dont realise how good we have it these days - they bred them tough in the old days - I tip my hat to you Keturah - you are my heroine! 

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

How an anklet caused 2 broken wrists

Yes an anklet was the cause of me breaking both my wrists - not now but this was in 2004 - it was January and getting towards the end of the school holidays - my boys would be in grade 4 and 2 this year (Primary school) so only young still. They had been to a few birthday parties held at the local Skate Arena and wanted to go back for a day of skating. So as a treat I said I would take them - I used to do roller skating when I was in primary school and thought I would have a go too, just to see if I could remember. There was a choice of inline or normal skates I chose the normal ones I knew how to work them - was doing well going round and getting more speed and confidence up but my anklet was driving me mad. It was caught between my ankle and the boot and very uncomfortable so I thought I would go off and take it off and put it in my pocket, I went towards the nearest exit - not realising there was a drop of a few centimetres between the rink floor and the carpet - the roller skates went from under me and I put my hands back to save my bum! I landed very heavily on both hands and it hurt a bit (but I saved my bum from a bruise!)
The person in the announcement booth saw me fall and asked one of the supervisors to help me up - they did and I got over to a bench to sit down. When I sat for a while though, the pain started and I felt sick, I wasnt sure if I was going to be sick or faint so I lay down - the announcer sent the manager round to check on me - she said I was as white as a ghost by then and helped me to get my skates off so I could walk over to where our bags and stuff were. I was given ice to put on my wrists - there was a bit of bruising and a little swelling but it wasnt too bad but the pain was pretty intense. I thought I must have badly sprained one but may have broken the other. 
I rang my husband at work but he couldnt get away for an hour or so - we waited around for him to arrive and by the time he did the pain had dulled a little and I was able to drive home - though by the time I got home I was in tears and couldnt get my seat belt off at all. 
The next day I got a friend to drive me to the doctors and they sent me for an xray - it showed a crack on the radius - in exactly the same place on both - the guy taking the xray was quite impressed I had done the same thing to both. I guess I fell with the same weight on both hands - I was starting to wonder if a cracked tailbone would have been better at this stage. 
Anyway the doctor put my wrists in back slabs as a temporary measure - problem was - I think it was the first time she had ever done plastering as I discovered when I got home that I could not bend my arms enough to feed myself or even touch my face as she had the plaster going so far down my arm it blocked movement completely. I had to get my son to feed me a sandwich (after making it for me!) Photo shows me very much in pain and upset.

Long story short - eventually got 2 proper fibreglass casts in black (of course) and had them on for over 6 weeks. Couldnt drive for over 3 weeks and it was not a good time for me. 
So beware of jewellery! It can cause broken bones! ( I havent worn an anklet since!)

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

its hot and Im bored

I know no one reads these but I thought I would have a look at my blog and make a new entry. I have signed up for a new market this year - as you may know I make soap! I love making soaping - if you want to see my soaps you can go to my facebook page at and my webpage that Im not sure anyone has found yet at
So go and check them out and tell me what you think - anyway as I was saying - I have signed up for a new market and will do this one fortnightly to sell my soaps, as well as the one I was doing last year which is once a month on the first Saturday of the month - this will give me a minimum of 3 markets a month - so hopefully get my name out there a bit more - I have a number of regular customers at St Paschals market including one lady who buys my goats milk soaps to give to her hairdresser in return for haircuts etc. Its funny how many people stop and look carefully at my soaps when I mention that I make them all - I guess people dont realise that they can be made at home? At some markets there are soap sellers who only buy the soaps they sell from commercial sellers to resell as "handmade" soap - at least mine really are handmade and home made. Nothing beats a good handmade soap - you can use it all over - face, body, hair. The ingredients are simple with no added nasties to make lather or hardness - just vegetable or seed oils, with water and lye makes soap - some of my soaps I leave unscented and uncoloured so they are fine for sensitive skin and young skin - others I add fragrance and colours to - all my colours and fragrances are soap and skin safe - I also test my soaps on myself and all recipes (yes recipes like you are cooking) are run through an online lye calculator to make sure they are safe - all ingredients are weighed in grams to get the correct amount so no mistakes are made.
I have been making soaps for about 3 years now and Im always learning and discovering new ways of doing things, better ways and what not to do. I now do cold process, hot process and liquid soaps - I want to try making a transparent soap this year too - I have the ingredients - just have to find the time as its a longer process than normal hot process soap
Anyway Im ranting on now but its a blog so I guess that is ok! Im hoping this gets linked to my Facebook page so a few people can see it but who knows. Im still working out some things and how to link them up together!
Ok will sign off and try and rant and rave a bit more this year - should write myself a note to update this more and get on here to see if any of my posts have been noticed!
Off to the shops as its hot today!