Sunday, 28 August 2016



Anzac Day, 25th April, was always a day of great significance in my family. 

Three of my father's brothers had gone to World War II and all had returned, for which we were always grateful. My maternal grandfather  had served in WWI, as had many of my ancestors and, as I was to learn  when I began researching, many of my family, some whom I didn't know,  had also fought in various wars. I had a second cousin captured in  Singapore, who was to die there. So it was with great pride, that we wore our sprig of rosemary, pinned to our Sunday best and marched in the annual parade with our heads held high.

photograph by John and Barb Piggott

I grew up in a small country seaside town in NSW, where the war monument took pride of place in the bottom corner of our school grounds, at the main intersection in town. It was suitably fenced off, and we were always taught to respect it. We were too young to understand what war really was, or where ANZAC Cove was just over there... not in Australia. That meant not on the same page as Australia was, in our blue covered school Atlas, so it must have been a long way away. Papua New Guinea however was close by, so we more or less understood that it was at the top of Australia... no Google maps in the '50s. That's where Dad's three brothers had fought.

We went to the morning services only, as the dawn service was only for  the returned soldiers in the main then. We could never understand why they needed to have two services, after all we held a march before we  laid wreaths at the war memorial. It was with sombre faces that the chosen children would lay a wreath. Then it was three steps backwards,  bow your head and wait... for either your parents, or a member of the RSL (Returned Services League), to tap you gently on the shoulder and you would return to your place. I can still hear the haunting sounds of The  Last Post being played on the bugle, accompanied by quiet sobbing from  many gathered around, particularly one of the older women, who had lost  three sons in WWI. She held her head high, but the tears rolled freely  down her cheeks. Hers was always the last wreath to be laid. Each year,  she would place a wreath of hand made red crepe poppies, with three white poppies in the centre, one for each son. Then she would quietly take the sprig of rosemary from her dress and lay it at the base of the  memorial on the side where her son's names were and walk home alone. She  had many friends, but kindly declined their offers of company and spent  this day alone. When she passed away, her grave was honoured with white handmade crepe paper poppies... and a sprig of rosemary. 

Crissouli (c)

 * This is a post I wrote some years ago and have reblogged to fit in with the suggestion of military involvement. I  have given facts and figures in other posts on That Moment In Time. 

Thursday, 18 August 2016


One of my favourite publications to wander through on 

The Queensland Figaro

later known as

The Queensland Figaro and Punch

Such a contrast to today's publications, far more 'chatty' and light hearted. I have often found social jottings about my husband's Great Aunts in particular within the pages. Even some of the ads are incredible.

Here is a general selection from an August publication just over 100 years ago. As always, click to enlarge.

Personal notices

Phillips- Mann, Thomas - O'Rourke,  Ewen - Bridgman, 
Counsell - Sealy
Approaching Marriages 
Sparkes - Hutton, Ryan - Henderson, Connolly - Grant,

'Do Without Week'

The Strand in Brisbane was showing 
'The Heart of the Blue Ridge"..
cnr of Albert and Queen Street? Closed before 1920...

Comings and goings...  some of the names Bullivant, O'Beirne, 
Graham, Fraser, Dwyer, Cobcroft, Price...
Holmes a'Court..

                                                                 Rockhampton News

New Queenslanders (births)
His Majesty's Theatre
The Tivoli
and the highlight..
Finney's Underwear Sale

Everything old is new again...

Sunday, 14 August 2016



He often called it his 'very own shop'... 'You could find all you needed there...'

'There' was the local dump, conveniently situated down near the road, in the property beside the house and the farm. It provided him with wood offcuts and some large pram wheels - not for a billy cart, but for a hand cart, perfect for carting the fire wood into town. He hawked it from place to place, being paid just a few shillings for the whole cartload. Often he had to make 2-3 trips.

The wood came from the dump and trees cleared on the farm. This 10 year old would work on the farm, as did his siblings, before and after school and on the weekend.

The money went into the family jar, as did most of anything the rest of the family earned. He was the youngest of nine.. Harry was 23, working on the farm.. Mary, 21, working as a housekeeper in the local hotel, Con, 20, also worked in the hotel, Nita, 19, worked at home, George, 17, on the farm, as did Dave, 16, and Peter, 14... while Sim, 11, was at school, with Vince, 10.

Catsoulis family and friends 
(c) Catsoulis family

None of the family went on to high school, not unusual for that time. By the time Vince finished primary, he was still too young to finally leave school at 12. With no money to go to the nearest high school, despite passing a bursary exam, Vince stayed at the primary for most of the day, working with the headmaster, Colonel Lamb. He helped in class preparation, running messages and helping at the headmaster's house. In between, he continued to learn all he could from Colonel Lamb's extensive library. With his love of anything mechanical, he was soon fixing some of the few cars in the small town... and the water pump for the well at the school house, which failed often.

He learnt to drive on the farm, first on the very old and much repaired tractor and then on a small truck. By 13, he'd left school and worked alongside his older brothers and father on the farm.

The hours were long and the work hard. The family had struggled through the depression, but managed better than many others, as they grew most of their own food. No one was turned away hungry. The railway line was very close to the home and many a man down on his luck would walk along the tracks and try their chance at the house.

Photo taken from the railway line looking down towards the house. 
(c) Catsoulis family

 Rather than just be given a meal, they would keep their pride by chopping wood in exchange, or if too unwell for that, they may have been asked to help my grandmother to pick fruit from the highest branches of the trees. She was small in stature, but big of heart. If shelter was needed, there were several sheds, complete with bedding and some clean, though well patched shirts and pants if needed. 

Few took advantage - I was told a couple took some bedding, but my grandparents' attitude was that their need was greater. There was one Dad talked about who returned to the farm some years later with his family to 'meet the lady who saved his life'. He also brought an eiderdown and some shirts, to replace those he'd 'borrowed' so long ago. He kept in touch with the family for some time after.

During what we would now call his 'teenage' years, Vince was driving the truck into the rail, laden with boxes of vegetables to send to the Sydney markets. Mostly, he'd unload it by himself, then either return to the farm for more, or do the same with produce from other farmers who had no transport. This carrying was to be his first 'real' paid job as he called it.

 As well as the farm around the house, the family took up lease of land south of the town, near Hungry Head. They grew small crops, tomatoes, carrots, watermelons, lettuce - whatever was in season and suited to the conditions. My grandfather kept great records, noting when each crop was planted, the conditions, what was used for fertiliser, progress, etc. He was meticulous with his notes. The labels for the market boxes were now labelled Catsoulis and Sons. 

Jim Kolangtis on horse, Harry Catsoulis walking behind with plough.
(c) Kath Capsanis

They were well known for the quality of their produce at the Sydney Markets. It seemed that the years after the depression were finally turning their lives around for the better. My Aunt told me that the best thing to happen to show that things were better, was that she was able to have store bought underwear, no more bloomers made of flour sacks. 

 Not that that was unusual... flour sacks were used not only for underwear, but shirts and dresses, for bedding and household linen. Women became very inventive and flour mills even used some printed fabrics, to make it less obvious - as if no one knew the patterns. Dad told the story of ripping the seat out of his pants...that worried him little, as he knew they could be mended yet again, but he had to get home with his flour sack underwear showing, thankfully, no labels that day.

World War II hit heavily - three of the brothers joined the forces. That left just my father and three brothers to run the farm, under the guidance of my now ailing grandfather who had started to show signs of heart trouble. By now, the family had been awarded contracts to supply the army with as much food as they could grow, but there was a minimum amount that had to be supplied or they would lose their contracts. The specifications were very particular... the produce had to be of a certain size, shape, weight, quality and and always packed exactly the same. It seems if the army could have had the produce salute, it would have.

 Dad often talked of looking very thoroughly for any odd sized vegetables as that they would go into their own cooking pot. 

 Dad was just 16 when the war began.. he  and his brothers at home, were listed as being in an essential industry - yet he was still the recipient of a horrid white feather. I was so pleased in recent years to be able to organise a long overdue Certificate of Recognition for his service to the country during WWII. Sadly, it arrived just a few days after his funeral.. but somehow, I feel my 91 year old Dad would have known and smiled, ever so shyly and humbly.

This week's challenge is 'to honour your working ancestors and the challenges they faced'.

I've chosen to write this in segments. I hope you enjoyed Part One...

Reading re the Great Depression...


Tuesday, 9 August 2016


As we are in 


I decided what better to post for 


than a few items from 
that mention 


A somewhat sad article about the family of a Member of Parliament in Australia,
reflecting the times and feelings of people in 1918.

An interesting article on the family of Daphne Du Maurier 
Syd Morning Herald 27 Mar 1937



Something that many of would have loved to have happen..

Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. / 1872 - 1947), 
Saturday 29 January 1938, page 12

and of course,
 at the end of all, we need another smile...

The Evening News Rockhampton Sat 13 Jul 1940

Sunday, 7 August 2016


Alexander Daw of Family Tree Fog fame challenged bloggers to a month long series of posts to do with various subjects re family history. Week 1 was suggested as depicting how a census had influenced our research with a great find. I have had quite a few discoveries with the Irish Census, particularly with finding a missing daughter after searching quite a while elsewhere. I went sideways and looked for the siblings of her mother in the 1910 census and found her with her mother's brother's family. They had small children, an older cousin would have been a great help with the younger ones. I decided to go on a different path.

As we go headlong into the 2016 CENSUS in Australia, wrapped in confusion, apprehension and so much discussion, I wondered what it was like during earlier census years. 

The first national census was held in 1911, with future censuses scheduled for every five years. However, world events changed those plans with the beginning of WWI in 1914.

In September 1915... with the First World War well under way, there was a census of an entirely different kind...a War Census. The War Census Act of 1915 was passed.

The government wanted to know just how many males were in Australia with the possibility
of national conscription being mooted.That was not a popular move, it was hard enough with so many young men already signed up and an ever growing casualty list. It was soon extended to cover other details that would have been covered in a general census.

The Prime Minister wrote to all eligible males asking them to enlist, and if not, why wouldn't they?

 These forms were termed WAR CENSUS  PERSONAL CARDS... 
and WAR CENSUS Wealth and Income Card.

As you will see in this blog below, they asked for quite a lot of personal information.

Forms from Qld State Archives Blog

The population was being hounded constantly in the press, many wrote to newspapers to
have their say...

From a distressed father...
Daily Mercury (Mackay, Qld. : 1906 - 1954), 
Thursday 27 January 1916, page 5 


The Truth, in Brisbane, called it as it saw it...

Truth (Brisbane, Qld. : 1900 - 1954), Sunday 19 March 1916, page 5  TROVE

A partial transcription..

" Lax official methods proverbially pertain to war-time War office methods of administration in 
every country, yet "Truth" doubts if a more scandalous abuse of departmental or departmentally
associated privileges has ever been made than that now practised in Brisbane in regard to the
handling, copying and filing of recruiting census cards. All such cards, as far as the city of
Brisbane is concerned, are received and scrutinised in the recruiting office centre, at the
Kodak buildings in Queen -street, and later are handed over to the scrutiny of voluntary office
workers, who not only eagerly scan their contents, but whose memory of such contents is 
encouraged by the exercise of making duplicates, indexes, and generally completing the work

of a regular card index system."

The article goes on to detail how comments were made about respondents, their physical disabilities,
marital status and all manner of personal information.
The full article can be found at 

Other newspapers shared the opinions of the government and the people.

Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 - 1954), Tuesday 8 February 1916, page 3 


Goulburn Evening Penny Post (NSW : 1881 - 1940), Saturday 15 January 1916, page 2

It seemed many people were losing their cards or simply forgetting to fill them in. This must have
frustrated the government no end.

Tweed Daily (Murwillumbah, NSW : 1914 - 1949), Friday 26 May 1916, page 2 

Somehow I feel that this news was greeted with great relief.

Many questions were discussed in the article mentioned above from the Qld State archives.. why were so many different questions included, why did the government need to go off on so many different tangents, why did they feel the need to probe so deeply into the private lives of it's citizens? A hundred years on, I would hope that the security of ordinary citizens' information is deemed to be of greater importance unless released by permission at a given time in the future.

Here we are approaching the 2016 census... with promises of respect for privacy, yet a census serves the wider community in many ways, not just to determine the needs for infrastructure such as transport, roads, schools, hospitals and so on... but also is a great resource for researchers of all kinds, including academics, genealogists and family historians. 

We have the choice of allowing our details kept to be released in 100 years.. for me, that is definitely the option to choose. I would hope that my descendants are able to answer as many questions about me and mine, how we lived and where, as I have been able to discover about my ancestors. Names and dates are important, but even more so to me, is being able to learn the stories of individuals.