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Elsie Ross’ Album

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Cover

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Elsie Ross

This album was left with Mary Shaw on the death of her cousin Elsie Ross. Growing up, Elsie Ross was just “Auntie Elsie” who usually turned up for Christmas meals. I don’t think anybody except Mary knew exactly how she was related to us. I’ve since worked out that she was my “first cousin three times removed”, her mother being the sister of my great grandfather, Thomas Mitchell Hale.

Elsie’s mother died in 1939, twenty years after her father. Her only sibling, Roy, had died in the Great War so I guess it was to be close to her cousins that she returned to Victoria from Tasmania in the 1940s. Besides my great aunts she had other cousins but I’m not sure how much she saw of them. My memories of her blur a little into those of the other real and assumed aunts but I do remember being a little spoiled by her as a very young boy.

This album is small and contains only a few photos and some of these were inserted by Mary later. There’s Elsie with her mother, Elsie as a child and the snap on the left from the 40s, maybe on her return to Melbourne. Apart from these there’s a set six photos that seem to have been taken while on a picnic around 1900. Elsie is in some but the names of the other subjects can only be guessed at. It does seem strange that there is no portrait of her father or brother and I have to wonder if these few photos are all that remain of a larger set.

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Elsie and her mother

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Above is Elsie with her mother, Elizabeth Hannah Ross (nee Hale). It was taken about 1885, most likely at the Piper Street Kyneton studio of photographer William Hordle Smith. The photo below is also by Smith, now in Mollison Street, and from Elsie’s age would have been taken about 1890.

More portraits by W. H. Smith can be found at the State Library of Victoria and also a group shot of the Kyneton Angling Club. Maybe Elsie’s father is in this group. As the local undertaker operating near Smith in the Kyneton High Street it is at least a possibility.

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Elsie

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Picnic – Early 1900s

The rest of the photos in Elsie’s album seem to be amateur shots taken all on the same day. They are printed on very thin paper and are now extremely brittle. There are no captions.

Below is a group at the base of some river falls. I can only guess that this is close by Kyneton where the family were living until 1916. The Campaspe River runs through Kyneton but doesn’t seem to have much in the way of similar features. A couple of miles to the southwest of Kyneton is the Coliban River and on it are a number of dams. I’m guessing that this shot was taken somewhere near there prior to the construction of the reservoirs, on a quick read early last century.

Group at the Falls

Group at the Falls

Just left of centre in this detail from the photo above there is a photographer with his camera and wooden tripod.
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Detail

With some minor variations this group below appears in all except the last of the rest of the photos. I think it is Elsie in the foreground with the white ribbon on her hat. I would put her age at mid to late teens and the photo 1900 to 1905. The ring on her finger is a mystery.

So who are the others? Is it possible that the older man and woman are her mother and father who would have been 54 and 60 in 1900? Try as I might I can’t see her mother from the 1885 photo as the older woman here. Could the man with moustache and glasses be brother Roy? Born in 1888 Roy would have only been 15 in 1903. Maybe the photo was taken later? Or is this Elsie with a beau and his family?

Look closely at the photos and you will see what looks like a box camera near the billy in front of the older man. Note also the fur around the shoulders of the younger man. Leather bound books can be seen front left of the third photo. In the second last Elsie and the young man can just be seen sitting in the grass on the other side of the dam. A water pipe crosses the top of the hill in the last photo.

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Group

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Group

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Family

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Dam

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Cliff

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Linley Gertrude Ellson and ?

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Unknown

1922 & 1924

These postcards were found loose in an album Mary Shaw inherited from her cousin Elsie Ross. My guess is that they were Mary’s postcards and put much later into that album for safekeeping. This seemed to be more likely as I uncovered connections between the Shaws and the subject of the 1924 card on the right.

Looking at the 1924 electoral roll, we find Linley living with her parents at 193 Hotham Street not far from Mary’s family at Mayfield Street. Going back to 1903 the family is at 12 The Avenue opposite the Shaws’ Old Hiawatha. The link becomes even stronger. Linley’s mother was originally Edith Lucy Farr and in 1888 her brothers Arthur and Leigh purchased at least four parcels of land from John Gourlay’s subdivision of The Avenue one of which included Old Hiawatha and what was left of its grounds.

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Linley Ellson

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There may be more to the Ellson-Shaw connection. Linley’s father travelled to Perth and the Bunbury area in the 1880s and 1890s. Maybe this had some connection with the Shaws’ exodus there in the mid-1890s?

The 1922 photograph was produced by T. Humphrey and Co. (written below the portrait). According to “The Mechanical Eye” which documents Australian photographers until 1900 this studio operated at 262 Collins Street, Melbourne and a quick web search suggests that they were there at least until 1910.

The 1924 photograph was produced by The Allan Studio of Smith Street, Collingwood a business that seems to have operated in that street from about 1888 until the mid to late 1900s at least.

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A few more of “Old Hiawatha”

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This group of photos are from Lavinia Shaw‘s album. The first four are smallish paper prints glued onto a single page of the album taken around ““Old Hiawatha”” in Balaclava.
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“View at Hiawatha from the garden”

c1884

This was probably taken around 1884 and although no definite identification can be made it is probably Effie and Eva on the path with Lavinia and Amelia looking on from the balcony at the front of the house.

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“Old Stone Seat”

c1884

Probably somewhere in the garden at the front of the house.

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“Group at the Fountain”

A similar photo also in Lavinia’s album and possibly taken the same day. This is a small print (about 2″ x 2″) and quite likely has been cut from a larger print in horizontal format – maybe a reject from the day’s shooting?

Or on second thoughts maybe not. If that is Eva standing on the left she looks a bit younger than in the 1884, maybe 11 or 12? That would date the photo to about 1883. The other women may then be Rebecca Thomas, 16, her mother Sarah Thomas (nee Heywood), 51, Lavinia, 21, (?), Elinor Thomas, 14, and Effie, 15. In the front are Ernest, 18, and Arthur, 24. At the back in the bowler hat it may be Hugh Thomas, 18, who in the 1880s was apprenticed as a tinsmith to the Shaw family business.

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“Capua Villa”

c1879

In about 1884 the larger two story Hiawatha was built over or near this pre-1869 villa. I’ve dated it to about 1879 assuming the boy is Herbert Shaw who looks about 10.

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Capua Villa

c1882

Another shot of the “Capua Villa” probably taken a few years later. We can’t be sure but the group on the verandah may be Alfred (junior), Arthur, Lavinia, Amelia and Effie. It was was found loose in Elsie Ross’ album but was most likely put there more recently by Mary Shaw.

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“Old Hiawatha and Fountain”

c1887

Another from Lavinia’s album. This could be from around the time of Amelia’s wedding in 1887. Alfred Shaw is seated at the left with Lavinia seated between two unidentified women. In the background it looks like Margaret Shaw (nee Wilson) in the middle. The house can be seen between the trees and the fountain is probably the one found during excavations at the rear of what is now 3 The Avenue (note that an advertisement for the property from 1869 mentioned two fountains).

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