Oh I’m on a roll here. Two posts on consecutive days.
Some of my cousins and I have been posting old family photos on FB and trying to document as much as we know of the history because we’ve already lost so much of that. In my case, I need to double and triple check anything that I THINK I know of family history, because little mum was rather fond of ’embroidering’ family history, when she wasn’t just making it up out of whole cloth.
So in a sense, what I and my cousins know of our shared antecedents could be regarded as the fragile treasure of the title. Each previously unseen photo. Each tentative date or skeleton of a story.
Nadie is always saying to me ” I hope you’ve got that labelled” or “I hope you’re writing this down”
so Nadie, this is for you:
My gorgeous maternal grandfather, Roy Williams, had a twin sister Elsie. They were born on Christmas Day, 1890, and there doesn’t seem to be many photos that we can be sure are Elsie, mostly because she died as a very young woman. I’m thinking 1915, but I need to check that… and this is one of those bits where I have to question what I think I know, because Mum always said that Elsie died in childbirth, having her son Edwin McLaughlin.
Maybe one of my cousins knows whether this is correct, but certainly what I do know, is that the photos of Edwin as a toddler all show him with either his father, or with his Nannie, my Great Grandma Gertrude Henrietta Adams Williams. No signs of Elsie. So maybe Mum was correct.
That’s Elsie on the left, with my great aunts, Gertrude Alice in the middle and Doreen Constance on the right , taken at the family home in East Camberwell, we’re guessing around 1900-1902, as Do was born in 1894. Tell me you don’t just love the cabbage-tree hats, pinafores, lisle stockings and button-up boots!
and this is Elsie on the day of her wedding to Roy Edwin McLaughlin in 1914
Elsie’s wedding veil.
It’s unbelievably fragile and foxed, thanks to its being stored in plastic for goodness knows how many years before I got my mitts on it.
In fact, though I hate remembering this, the very first time I picked it up, my finger went right through the netting which is so brittle I’m not sure how it is holding together.
You may all be assured that since 1994 it has been living in archival tissue, in a labelled box, and rarely ever coming out into the clear light of day. [ and did I just hear a collective sigh of relief from all my embroiderer/quilter friends ? ]
This week it did, because I wanted to photograph the embroidery for my cousins
and I thought some of you might like to see it as well.
Each corner is different: the net embroidered in fairly heavy cream thread,
and so I continue to preserve this whisp of century old embroidered lace, the tangible expression of the fact that Elsie was a living breathing woman, who loved, was loved in return, and then lost.