Thursday, June 18, 2015

RUNAWAY HUSBAND - There's No Hiding The Family Skeletons in the News!

Newspapers Tell All


Lillie Herminnie Weston nee Nargar back left (Five Generations of my family from my great great grandmother to myself)
My great grandparents, Lillie Herminnie Nargar and William Joseph Weston were married on August 23rd, 1907, at the Baptist Church in Maryborough, in Queensland. I suppose as with most parents, theirs hoped they would have an enduring and happy marriage. For the first years of their marriage, the couple lived on a banana farm near Bauple, outside of Maryborough and I daresay they were happy with the birth of a son and two daughters.

Lillie was born in 1888, to a German father, John Gottlieb Nerger (later changed to Nargar) and a Swiss born mother, Barbara Lena Häberling. William's parents were Edward Joseph Weston, born in Suffolk, England and Sarah Frayne, the daughter of an Irish born convict, Michael Frayne.

I was very close to my great grandmother, who passed away when I was ten years old, but the husband that I knew as hers, when I was a  child was not William Weston. When I asked questions, of my grandmother and her sister, they always seemed reluctant to speak of their father, which of course as years passed, only served to increase my curiousity. The only information I had about William Weston was the following comment which my great aunt made just before she died in early 2001, when I asked her about her father.

"I met him in the street with my mother once, when I was about 21. My mother said, Dorothy, you remember your father don't you and I said, "You're no father of mine! I just walked away without speaking to him." 

I was consumed with curiousity as to what had caused his daughter to be so very angry with her father. My great aunt had told me that her life as a child had been one of hardship. Her mother, Lillie, pictured above, was the first female fruiterer in Brisbane, (in a male dominated industry). This occupation meant that she had to rise around 4 am every morning to go to the markets, before working long hours in the fruit shop. A family friend lived with the family  to help with the three children, but I always had the feeling that my grandmother and her sister and brother, had not seen much of their mother.

The great grandmother, I knew was a religious and loving woman, so I knew that it must have been from necessity and certainly not from lack of caring that she worked hard for a living and saw little of her children. It surely was not what she had expected on her wedding day in Maryborough. So.. what had changed her circumstances? I knew that Lillie had not been made a widow, since she and her daughter had met by chance her former husband while going to the bank in Fortitude Valley, in Brisbane.

I mentioned in a recent blog post about my great grandfather, John McDade,  that Trove, the National Library of Australia's digitised website is currently adding the Brisbane newspaper, The Telegraph to its wonderful collection. Today, thanks to the Telegraph newspaper,  I solved another mystery in my family history and you might have guessed by the title of this blog post, as to the nature of my discovery. Just released by Trove in a  Brisbane Telegraph report , I found the following most revealing item. I just love the title and something in the tone of the story tells me that my great grandfather, the runaway husband, left behind a very cross wife behind indeed!


...Lillie Herminnie Weston, the plaintiff,said that after living in the north for some years, she and her husband came to Brisbane in 1917, and opened a business in the Valley. Her husband collected around him a bevy of young ladies, whom he entertained in the shop and went out with at night. In May 1920, the defendant made the business over to his wife, and ran away with a young lady from a city hotel.

The above news report triggered another distant memory of my grandmother telling me that when she arrived in Brisbane as a child with her parents. the city lights went to her father's head. I also recalled of the mention of a barmaid. It often only takes something such as this news item to trigger old memories.

I do have to say, that I suspect that it was more likely the
'bevy of young ladies that he entertained in the shop' that swayed William Weston from his wife and his married life than city lights.

William Weston was born in 1887 in Gympie. He grew up on the land and had little experience of city life. In 1917, William and Lillie Weston were listed on the Australian Electoral Roll, living at Bauple. William was a farmer and Lillie, then the mother of three young children, was a stay at home mother.


William Weston working on the land.
I cannot find a World War 1 record of enlistment for William Weston, who would have been around 29 years of age when war broke out, so I have to assume that he remained on the land. Perhaps he failed the medical test. Some statistical studies suggest that men who enlisted from rural areas in Australia were, in general, unmarried and younger than William, however, that is a subject for future research. For reasons I have  yet I have also yet to discover,  the Weston family left their farm near Maryborough in 1917, and moved to Brisbane at a time when farming and food produce was essential to the war effort. In Brisbane, William and Lillie opened a fruit shop in Fortitude Valley, a busy area of Brisbane, not far from the City centre. There,  at 202 Wickham Street, Lillie can be found on the 1921 Electoral Roll , her occupation, a fruiterer. There is no sign of William, confirming the information in the news account, in which Lillie claimed her husband 'ran away' in 1920.


202 Wickham Street, The Valley Image Google Street View

I now also know that William Weston later married the woman he left my great grandmother for and together they had six children.

I am quite aware that this news item only presents one side of a divorce story. My great grandparent's marriage may very well have been already failing when he left, or perhaps, as my grandmother told, me, the 'city lights' did go to the head of the country boy William Weston, and he discovered excitement in the city that he had not known before.

My great grandmother, Lillie Herminnie was a strong woman. She worked hard to give her children what they needed. She was a very religious woman attending the Baptist Tabernacle in Wickham Street, Spring Hill. During World War 2. Lillie volunteered to work in the Australian Women's Land Army. Her friend who had helped to raise the children went on to become a prison chaplain and my great grandmother became very involved in working with women's prisons.

RUNAWAY HUSBAND  or not, Lillie Herminnie Weston (Nargar) went on to contribute much to society and to live her life to the fullest until she succombed to cancer aged in her 80's.

Lillie Herminnie Weston in her Land Army Uniform Image ©




Sources

Trove

Ancestry.com

Findmypast.com.au

Wikipedia




26 comments:

  1. Super sleuthing once again Sharn. One wonders what the barmaid offered that Lillie did not!!!

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  2. Great to have been able to sort out that family story, love Trove. I was really impressed that she volunteered for the Land Army when she was about 50? I always thought it was for young unmarried women.

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  3. Sharn,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2015/06/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-june-19-2015.html

    Have a great weekend!

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  5. Looks like Michelle succeeded in spamming your blog.
    Are you sure they officially divorced? Or he was a bigamist?

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