Monday, June 10, 2019

Reflections - The Holocaust Tattoo & The Barber Shop.

When I was a kid, I used to sweep the hair in my Dad's Barber shop. I have always equated Dad's Barber shop, in the Gippsland town of Moe, with the bar from "Cheers". Dad used to advertise it as "three chairs, no waiting" and it was the kind of place where "everybody knows your name." I have many fond memories of that Barber shop as a place of rich conversation, friendship and it was a place, through which I learned a lot about the world outside my small town confines. I learned about places and people, their vocations, the lives they led, the dreams they had. 

I also learned a lot about history.

One particular day, when I was maybe eight or nine years old, an elderly gentleman - a regular - came in for his regular tidy up. Despite his thinning, silvery hair, he always requested the same - a short back and sides, and a shave. Dad's work with the cut throat razor was quite a thing to see. It is a skill that you don't often see anymore, so to watch one do it with the skill of my father - it is artistry.

Anyway, this regular. He was an impish fellow, always well dressed and he had a sparkle in his eye, as though he had a deep appreciation of the world. He was always happy. I remember he had an accent. It was lyrical - not in the manner of the Irish or Scottish or even Welsh accents, which were the ones I'd heard the most as a boy in the early 80's. It sounded very much like the accent of our then next door neighbours, Tina and Rudy, who displayed lots of crockery and dinnerware with windmills on them in their home. I was to learn that this man was from Holland. 

For pocket money back in those days, I would man the broom in the Barber shop and sweep up the hair that would fall to the foor as my father clicked his scissors against the comb. Too much hair around the base of the barber's chair was hazardous, so I always swept with a sense of urgency, making sure the linoleum floor was clear (it should be said that an 8 or 9 year old boy armed with a broom and sweeping furiously while a barber is trying to work is just as much a hazard. But I was nothing if not task oriented).

I happened to be sweeping by my Dad's leather and chrome Barber's chair as the eldrely Dutchman sat down. Having stowed his coat and hat on a hook near the waiting chair, he'd dropped into the seat, settled back with a satisfied sigh, glad to be off his feet for a little while and he rolled up his shirt sleeves. As my Dad turned and flicked a barber's cape with the flourish of a matador, I noticed a simple tattoo on the elderly gentleman's forearm. Though it was but a moment, I immediately recognized a series of numbers. 

The gentleman saw my moment of pause and my puzzled expression and he smiled. As the barber's cape floated down and around him, he jutted his arm out from underneath and he showed it to me. 

I hadn't been mistaken. I saw a faded series of numbers, etched into the tanned skin of his forearm.


Max Kaufmann shows his Dachau tattoo --- Palm Beach Daily News photo by Chris Salata.

He explained that he was a prisoner of the Germans during World War 2. I knew a little bit about World War 2 from my own grandfather, who served during that terrible conflict. The elderly gentleman before me said that he was held in a camp in Holland, before being transferred to a place called Auschwitz. I had never heard of that place before. He told me many people were taken there and were given a tattoo, just like the one he had. He told me that it was a dark place and many people had died there, but he had been rescued.

That was the first time I'd ever heard about Auschwitz, the Holocaust or the Jewish people. I sensed, even then, that I been told something important. The encounter with this man has stayed with me. It was such a fleeting moment, but from that, I explored the Second World War in depth and, in particular, the Jewish experience. 

It was around this time, that I turned my attention to writing. In a grade three creative writing class, I wrote a short piece about a war experience from a soldier's perspective. I can't be sure if that occurred around the same time as my encounter with the elderly Holocaust survivor...but I like to think that it did. 

Moments of deep learning come from places and people you might least expect. This was but one of many lessons I took from my Dad's barber shop.

DFA. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Star Wars - The Future, Clouded It Is...

I was alerted to an article this morning from i09's Beth Elderkin, confirming the news that the first film in the new Star Wars trilogy - after December's "Episode 9: The Rise Of Skywalker" - will be helmed by Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff & B.D. Weiss.


screen grab from i09 article by Beth Elderkin (credit i09).

Quoting directly from Disney CEO Bob Iger, who was speaking at a MoffetNathanson Media & Communications summit this week, 

"We did a deal with David Benioff & B.D. Weiss, who are famous for Game of Thrones, and the next movie we release will be theirs," Iger said. "And we're not saying anything more about that." 

Side note - it remains amusing to me that Lucasfilm CEO Kathleen Kennedy remains pretty much invisible from any Star Wars related announcements - although that is not unsurprising these days.

A few things stand out to me in the reading of Elderkin's article.

I've watched the on-line backlash to the current/final season of Game Of Thrones. Criticisms around the overall tone of the final season, narrative choices and the disjointed nature of the characterizations have abounded, with much of that criticism being directed at Benioff & Weiss.



Walt Disney CEO - Bob Iger.

Iger's quote states that the next film in the Star Wars saga will be Benioff & Weiss' - but that's it. He apparently refused to elaborate on the trilogy, which has a planned release schedule every two years, from 2022. Elderkin's article seems to suggest that Iger has only committed to this pair for the first film in the new trilogy. Does that mean that we can expect Benioff & Weiss to helm/write the first film only, with others taking over for the 2nd and 3rd films? Or will they write the trilogy and hand directing duties over to others? 




("Always in motion, is the future..." Yoda).

Elderkin is, perhaps, being a little coy but I do find merit in her suggestion. I wonder if Iger is watching things unfold really closely, assessing the reaction to the Game Of Thrones final season and preparing contingencies for the Star Wars franchise, as production on the new trilogy ramps up. There feels, to me, a lot of ongoing uncertainty in the Star Wars cinematic IP - particularly in the wake of Rian Johnson's disastrous "The Last Jedi" (2017).  

There are positives to take from this announcement though. 

I am heartened by previous statements from Bob Iger that there will be a three year hiatus between Episode 9 and the new cinematic trilogy - which will be a separate narrative from the Skywalker saga. That will give the writers time to properly flesh out the 3 film cycle - a'la *George Lucas* - and they can avoid the terrible narrative mess of the sequel trilogy. 

We need to remember that Benioff & Weiss are showrunners for Game Of Thrones, tasked with wrangling the source material from George R.R. Martin into a cohesive whole for the medium of television. They can't be expected to take full responsibility for the outcome of the presentation nor the response to it.

Freed from the shackles of that property, and the shackles of the Star Wars/Skywalker legacy, Benioff & Weiss have the potential to put together a compelling trilogy, with a strong, *planned* narrative arc and fresh, new, archetypal characters that reflect the best of Lucas' mythology and the Campbellian influences Lucas drew on to create it. 

What Lucasfilm has to focus on lies outside of the cinematic/filmed universe. I am still hopeful for a clean out at the top of Lucasfilm from CEO Kathleen Kennedy, through to the Story Group and those in the customer engagement space, who have behaved appallingly towards a large body of fans since around 2016. 

Kathleen Kennedy has been an abject failure as CEO, mishandling the hiring and firing of directors of Solo: A Star Wars Story and original Episode 9 helmer, Colin Trevorrow. The resulting financial mismanagement of the Star Wars brand is clear - as illustrated by the critical and financial failure of Solo: A Star Wars Story.



(Empress Palpa...I mean Kathleen Kennedy. image credit WhatCulture.com)

Kennedy has presided over a dysfunctional culture at Lucasfilm - most notably in the Lucasfilm Story Group. Storytelling by committee is a terrible form of storytelling for a cinematic IP. That there was no plan for the narrative arc of the sequel trilogy, disunity between certain creators and identities at Lucasfilm and the tacit endorsement of terrible fan engagement from company representatives like like Pablo Hidalgo, (now fired) Kiri Hart, (now fired) Chuck Wendig, (soon to be fired?) Rian Johnson, Matt Martin and others within Lucasfilm have done as much damage to the Star Wars brand as Kennedy's faulty decision making. The lack of discipline and respect by these individuals towards fans and a lack of any form of social media policy that would reign in the behavior of these individuals on-line is perplexing. 

As a writer myself, I have been routinely exposed to fans and critics alike over the years and the one thing I've learned from that is engagement is a one way street. You can only have positive engagement - even when you'd love to stab critics and trolls eyes out.

Star Wars remains a entertainment brand on life support. I remain unconvinced that Episode 9 will be a success at the box office, though I do still hope that J.J. Abrams has been able to do something with film that will erase much of the damage from "The Last Jedi". It remains to be seen how David Benioff & B.D. Weiss will transition from a property like Game of Thrones, which has earned a reputation for blood drenched violence, gore, murder, graphic rape and sex to the family friendly Star Wars franchise.

Regular readers of my blog will know how passionate I have been about Star Wars since I saw "A New Hope" as a four year old with my Dad back in 1977. Hell - Star Wars was the reason I became a writer and pursued my dream of publication. So I don't say these things lightly.

As for the future of Star Wars, beyond Episode 9 - I'll watch and see from the peripheries, how things develop. Star Wars has been in an enjoyment free fall since "The Last Jedi" and it appears the culture at Lucasfilm shows no signs of abating. I remain terminally ambivalent about the future of the cinematic universe.

DFA.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

The Victorian Trooper - Dedicated Site Now Live.

Now that I've completed my series of articles tracing the life of my great great grandfather, Joseph Ladd Mayes, I'm pleased to announce that I've launched a dedicated website that contains all of the articles I've presented here in a revised and updated form (always trust an author to pepper the first iteration of anything with grammatical flubs!).

The site is located at The Victorian Trooper

This series is designed to be a living document - that is - a document that I will add to or subtract from as new information comes to hand. Already, in the week since the site went live, I've come across new information that I've been able to add to the site, which is really exciting. I've also been in contact with some great people who are closely associated with efforts to bring more stories about the Victorian Police Force and its officers during the 1850's - 1900's forward. So that's been exciting as well. 

For years, many descendants of good and honest police officers have been ignored and treated with antipathy by many who have perpetuated a myth that the Constabulary in Victoria, Australia was a corrupt and evil one, while bushrangers like Ned Kelly were elevated to something akin to Robin Hood status.



It is my hope that my great great grandfather's story and others like him will be given the chance to be reviewed in a new light - that there were many principled and dedicated policemen during that era whose primary motivation was to uphold the law and protect the community.

I hope you can visit this tribute to my great great grandfather and explore the turbulent historical events he was immersed in.

DFA.


Monday, April 8, 2019

The Victorian Trooper #11 - Legacy & Tapestry: Joseph Ladd Mayes Jr.

Joseph Ladd Mayes Jnr. was born on the 8th December 1886 at the Kyneton Hospital, near Lancefield in Victoria, the fourth child of Joseph Ladd and Eugenie Mayes.



We can only guess at Joseph's childhood but the bulk of it would have been spent in the country town confines of Lancefield, living a tranquil, rural existence as the son of a highly respected policeman. He most likely attended the local Primary School with his older sisters Florence, Dorothy and Eugenie and, being the first young boy sibling they would have experienced, there's a better than even chance the young Joseph Ladd would have been doted on by them.

By the the time of Joseph Ladd's birth, Lancefield was a bustling little rural town servicing many farms in the surrounding district and offering quite a diverse commerical centre. A description from an 1887 edition the Victorian Municipal directory illusrates the town;



It would appear that Lancefield had everything the Mayes family could want and need during those early years and one can only guess that they had a happy existence for the time.

Joseph Jnr. was 9 years old when his father retired from the Force in 1895 and the family decided on a move from Lancefield to the City. I wonder how the move from the country to the relative bustle of suburban Brighton would have affected the young Joseph and his sisters. Where would they have gone to school? Were there regular trips the beach? Visits to the City on the expanding Melbourne tram network?

By the time of his father's death in 1902, Joseph was 15 years old. We know that his first occupation was a laborer for the Victorian Railways and this is where we find him at the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914.
  
Living with his mother at New Street in Brighton, Joseph Ladd answered the call to arms and enlisted in the AIF on 12th October 1915. It is from his subsequent service record that we are able to glean much information. 

It appears that Joseph Ladd intended following in the footsteps of his father as we see that he served seven months in the Australian Light Horse before his enlistment in the Australian Imperial Force. We currently don't know anything more about this period. 

By early 1916, recruiting in Australia had raised sufficient troops to replace the ANZAC losses. Having completed basic training in Toowoomba in Queensland, Joseph Ladd emabarked for Eygpt on the 31st January 1916 to join the 4 divisions that were amassing there for the push onto Europe's Western Front.

In March 1916, the Australian Imperial Force moved to France, and by July/August, the Australians were heavily involved on the Western Front. As part of the 9th Battalion, (3rd Brigade) of the AIF's 1st Division, Joseph Ladd Mayes was embroiled in the fierce fighting of the Somme offensive at Pozières & Mouquet Farm. Over the course of six weeks, the AIF suffered aproximately 28,000 casualties. 

On the 23rd July, Joseph Ladd Jnr. sustained several gun shot wounds to his left elbow and was shipped to England via Calais. At Cambridge, far from the front, he spent the next five months recuperating. 

Reviewing his Army service record, it is somewhat amusing to note that Joseph Ladd Mayes was absent without leave for a period of 15 days from the 29th December through to the 12th January 1917 for reasons unknown. One wonders whether the New Years festivities might have had a part to play in this little "vacation". It is tempting to think that Joseph Ladd Jnr. might have enjoyed a raucous time, perhaps in Cambridge or London. It is a mystery but, in any case, when he finally turned up, Joseph Ladd Jnr. was immediately charged, found guilty and was fined a total of 33 days pay. 

By May 1917, the Australians were heavily engaged at Bullecourt in the North East of France. His service record entries put Joseph Ladd Jnr. Bullecourt where the Anzacs endured some of the fiercest fighting of the war, facing German machine guns, barbed wire and the trenches of the Hindenburg Line. The Australians suffered some 7000 casualties from the battle.



(A scene in the Hindenburg Line, showing Australians with a Stokes mortar assisting in the operations near Bullecourt (AWM E00457)

One of those casualties was Joseph Ladd Jnr. He sustained severe artillery wounds to his left thigh, pelvis, buttocks and lower spine. Considering the gravity of his injuries, he probably should have been killed. Somehow, Joseph Ladd survived to be shipped to the Southern General Hospital in Birmingham England. Remarkably, Joseph would recover from his injuries but he would never return to active duty.

A rather utilitarian letter was dispatched home to Australia, informing his mother Eugenie of his injuries - no doubt causing her great anxiety until she was able to contact him to ensure he was safe.



Joseph Ladd Jnr. spent the remainder of 1917 in England recovering before returning to Australia - much to the relief of his mother. He was home in Brighton for New Years Day 1918 - as attested to by the precious photographs that found their way into our collection. 




Surprisingly, his greivous injuries appear not to have deterred Joseph Ladd Jnr. from trying to re-enlist in the Army. He tried no less than three times in the period from 1918 through until 1920. Owing to his injuries, however, her was unable to gain much more than a clerical posting and, by 1920 it appears he'd given up on a ongoing career in the military. Discharged from the Army, Joseph Ladd Jnr. returnend the Victorian Railways Department as a clerk, based in the Melbourne suburb of Greensborough. 

Joseph Ladd Jnr. met Gertrude Rose Stock at Greensborough, Victoria and the two married in 1919. Together Joseph and Gertrude would have 9 children starting with John Joseph in 1919 followed by Mavis Jean (1921), Edward George (1923), Allan (1925), Kathleen Jean (1927), Ivan (1929), Donald Gordon (1931), and Margaret (1933).

Joseph Ladd Jnr. suffered declining health, throughout the 1930's, the ongoing result of his war injuries and he retired from the Railways Department. It appears he was in and out of a military hospital at Caulfield, while maintaining a residence at Andrews Sreet in Ringwood. Sometime after the birth of Margaret in 1933, his marriage to Gertrude Rose broke down - most likely due to his war experience and its damaging after effects. She left her husband, raising their children single handedly in a house that was regarded as immaculate. Gertrude Rose herself had a reputation as a outstanding cook and could serve up almost any dish imaginable. Gertrude eventually moved to Warracknabeal in Western Victoria. Joseph Ladd moved to the Anzac Hostel at Brighton.



Previously known as Kamesburgh, the Anzac Hostel became a home for permanently incapacitated WW1 veterans.


From left to right, are: Mr Joseph Mayes, 1st AIF; Mr F Leach, orderly; Mr Albert (Wardie) Ward, 1st AIF, whose bed is in the collection of the Australian War Memorial; and Sister E M Flower, assistant Matron. The patient in the wheeled bed is Mr Harold Wiseman, one of the first residents to arrive at the Hostel when it opened in July 1919. 

Joseph Ladd Jnr. spent his later years at the hostel. A family anecdote tells of his son Edward George Mayes making regular visits to his father and spending time with him. It was Joseph Ladd who introduced his son "George" to one of the Nursing Assistants at the Hostel, the daughter of a farming family from rural Victoria named Dorothy Preston. A romance soon blossomed between the young couple and George and Dorothy Mayes married during the height of WW2.



Taken at the Anzac Hostel, Brighton c. 1940s.

I imagine Joseph Ladd Mayes had a reasonably comfortable life at the Anzac Hostel - as comfortable as 1940's medicine could cater for. It seems to have been a well euipped facility with lovely gardens and set well back from the bustle of the surrounding city. I had the opportunity to take a tour through the former hostel in the early 2000's. By then, it served as a private school, though it retained all of its original character. You could feel the spirits of the past there.

Joseph Ladd Mayes Jnr. died, July 18th, 1955 and was interred at the Springvale necropolis. His estranged wife, Gertrude Rose died in Warracknabeal in 1966 and was buried at the Burwood cemetery.

DFA.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Victorian Trooper #10 - Legacy & Tapestry: John Adolph Mayes.

(From an original recollection by Allen Mayes - John's Grandson & JL Mayes' Great
Grandson).

Perhaps the most comprehensively documented of Joseph Ladd & Marian Mayes' children, their first, John Adolph was born in Ballarat on the 23rd January 1860, during the period that Joseph Ladd was stationed at Pitfield.

John Adolph was present with the family through the period in the early 1870's when Joseph Ladd was on secondment for the Victoria Police Force overseas, then later at Marysville.

Looking through some photocopies of hand written letters, we find the correspondence between John Adolph and his sister Rebecca. We also find a brief letter from his mother Marian, which is undated. The text of that letter reads as follows;

My Dear Son, 

I see in today's Age that (----) Middleton and C Ward Callan married.

I am glad that your confirmation class is to be open again. Everything is quiet here at present and I hope will continue to. 

Good bye, dear son. God bless and keep you. 

Your Mother. 

His most tangible presence is recorded in March 1878 when, as an 18 year, he was the recorded witness on the death certificate of his mother Marian at Broadmeadows. Sometime afterwards, John Adolph's adventurous spirit saw him leave Victoria for Wilcannia in the south west of N.S.W.

In 1835, explorer Major Thomas Mitchell was the first European to visit the region, in which he traced the Darling River to what is now Menindee. In June 1866, the township of Wilcannia was proclaimed. In 1871, the population was 264, and grew to 1,424 by 1881. During the 1880s, Wilcannia reached its peak, and had a population of 3000 and 13 hotels and its own newspaper, the Western Grazier. It was, with Wentworth, Echuca, Mannum and Goolwa, one of the major Murray-Darling river ports which played a vital part in the transport of goods, notably wool and wheat, in the days of the paddle-steamers.

It is not immediately clear what occupation John Adolph initially pursued in Wilcannia District. In 1888, aged 28, he was awarded a gold medal by the Wilcannia Rowing Club as crew member for winning the “rowing scratch fours” race.


Wilcannia Rowing Club.

He married Julia O’Grady at Wilcannia on 23 June 1895. She was aged 31 and he was 35. A son, John Joseph was born in Wilcannia on 9 September 1896.


(Julia O'Grady (Mayes), date unknown).


(John Adolph Mayes c. 1890's) 

Apart from the medal, his marriage and the birth of his son, no other information is on hand to tell us what sort of life style John Adolph and his family had in Wilcannia.

Between 1896 and 1898 John Adolph moved his family to White Cliffs where he worked an opal mine on Turley’s Hill in partnership with D. Cowan. The pair was said to have barely scratched a living from the mine. In 1898 he purchased two blocks of land at White Cliffs, though no houses were ever built on the land.

A second son Leslie was born at White Cliffs on 6 March 1899. John Adolph was 39.

Julia died at White Cliffs from Brights ( kidney) disease on 14 December 1901. She was aged 36, John Adolph was 41, John Joseph was 5 and Leslie 2.

We can only image the difficult task for John Adolph in raising his two boys. They were cared for during the day by nuns at the Catholic Nunnery. John Adolph never remarried.

A short time after Julia’s death, John Adolph had an accident chopping wood. A chip flew up into his eye causing severe damage. He was taken to a Sydney hospital for a major operation but unfortunately he lost the sight in that eye.

During his mining venture, an alarming incident was recorded when the opal mine John Adolph was working caved in and he was buried alive. The townspeople and miners, with shovels and bare hands worked desperately to dig him out, not sure if he would have survived. Miraculously, he was still alive. His hat had slipped over his face, creating a pocket of air that saved his life.

We do not know if John Adolph or either of his boys journeyed to Melbourne, for the burial of Joseph Ladd in 1902. It is not clear what the relationship with the extended family was at that time.

John Adolph loved his sport and in 1915 aged 55, as a member of the White Cliffs Rifle Club won a gold medal for the 300, 500 and 900 yards shoot.

His two sons eventually left White Cliffs, worked in New South Wales for a time then moved to South Australia where they spent the rest of their lives.

Between 1915 and 1926 John Adolph returned to Wilcannia and started a saddlery business in the main street. The business became a resounding success and, it seems, John Adolph became a prominent member of the Wilcannia community. He was elected the honorary secretary of the Wilcannia Hospital Board. During this period he discovered fraudulent activities by two board members and reported this to the Administration. Unfortunately the word of the members protesting their innocence was such that John Adolph was branded a liar.


John Adolph Mayes' saddlery business, Wilcannia.

This did not deter him from gathering indisputable evidence of their guilt and within a year the two members were charged and found guilty.  

In 1929, aged 69, he  wrote a “History of White Cliffs”. The document is held by the White Cliffs Historical Society.


Bowls at Quorn, South Australia, 1935.

In 1935 he traveled to see his eldest son John Joseph, who was married with a family and living in Quorn South Australia. Two years later he died in Wilcannia on 30 May 1937, aged 77.

Next: Legacy & Tapestry: Joseph Ladd Mayes Jnr...

DFA.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

The Victorian Trooper #9 - Twilight By The Sea.

After 35 years of service in the Victoria Police, Sergeant 1st Class, Joseph Ladd Mayes retired in December of 1895. His service record shows he was discharged on a full pension and superannuation payments allowing him to live a comfortable life in retirement. His pension alone was calculated at 138 pounds, nineteen shillings and sixpence annually.

Joseph Ladd, Eugenie and their younger children Joseph Ladd Jr, Edward, Mary and Norman moved to the leafy seaside suburb of Brighton in Victoria.



They lived at a house in Union Street, curiously named - "Toronto". Union Street is a particularly lovely street off the Nepean Highway, South East of Melbourne. At that time, most of the houses there faced onto a parkland and small creek - the evidence of which, still exists, providing a quiet sanctuary for the residents. I've had this vision of Joseph Ladd Mayes taking an early morning walk along that creek, perhaps with a Cocker Spaniel in tow for company, to a local corner shop or newsagent to fetch the newspaper the way my grandfather George used to do when he was still alive.

How did Joseph and Eugenie spend their days? Quiet walks along the beach? Joseph sitting on the porch of the house with a pipe and that newspaper while Eugenie knitted or crocheted? What were the lives of Edward, Mary and Norman like at Union Street? Were the elder Mayes children a fixture in their lives? All grown up with families of their own and living their own lives in various parts of Victoria, South Australia and NSW?

It is known that Joseph Ladd was involved in raising funds for his countrymen back in Ireland who were still struggling with the remnants of the Potato Famine. Now retired one wonders whether he involved himself more in the fund raising side of this charity.

The Mayes family saw in a new century, saw the federation of their country and perhaps celebrated the birth of the nation.

Joseph Ladd Mayes died on the 11th July 1902 at their Union Street home after a stroked. He is reported to have lingered for two days. I certainly hope that he did not suffer.

Meticulous to the end, Joseph Ladd Mayes ensured his affairs were in order before he died. Among the family collection, is his last Will & Testament, dated July 4th 1898. It is a fascinating, if simple document, written by Joseph Ladd himself in which he sets out clearly, what his wishes are. He request that the sum of 25 pounds be set aside for his daughter Rebecca Mayes "of Brighton, aforesaid Spinster". Joseph Ladd also made a request that the sum of 20 pounds - but not more than 25 pounds - be set aside for a headstone to be erected for his first wife, Mariann at Bulla just north east of Melbourne. His signature, effected with a frail hand at the end of the document, is a poignant reminder of the man.


Together 'til the end, it would remiss of me not to include Eugenie's signature - written a few days after his death - beside her late husband. 


Eugenie dutifully carried out his last request traveling to the town of Bulla herself to see that Mariann was given a fitting memoriam - one that exists to this day.


Joseph Ladd Mayes' body was ferried from the Union Street house on Saturday, July 12th, 1902 at 3.30PM and was interred, after a small service, at the South Brighton cemetery. His death was recorded in an obituary that appeared in the Brighton Southern Cross newspaper on the 19th July 1902.


Joseph Ladd Mayes, decorated Constable, Senior Constable then, Sergeant 2nd & 1st Class. A loving husband to Mariann Henrietta Piquet, then Eugenie Rebecca Burke. Father of 12 children.

Eugenie lived on for another 37 years - a loving mother and grandmother to a growing family which no doubt enriched her life. I get the sense of a proud and loving woman in the New Years Day 1918 photographs that came into our possession in the early 2000's. No doubt, her family sustained her and, at least partially, filled the void her husband had left.

Eugenie moved from the Union Street residence to New Street, Brighton.  Eugenie Rebecca "Jane" Mayes died after a short illness in 1939 at the Oakwood Avenue home of her son Norman Hector. A love story, spanning twenty years of life while they were alive, continues on into forever. Eugenie Rebecca was buried with her husband.



Joseph Ladd Mayes 1833-1902.

For all intents and purposes, their family might have assumed the memory of their parents might well fade into distant memory. They might further have wondered what the future for the Mayes family would hold. Time tends to weaken the bonds of memory. But, chance discoveries decades later often bring these stories back from the distance and allow them to live and breathe once more.



Next: Legacy & Tapestry: John Adolph Mayes... 

DFA.

Monday, April 1, 2019

The Victorian Trooper #8 - Family Ties.

Joseph Ladd Mayes' career trajectory was already on the rise, even as the events of the Kelly Affair were still playing out. He received his first promotion just prior to the capture of the Kelly Gang in April 1880. At the recommendation of Superintendent Francis Hare, Joseph Ladd was promoted to the rank of Senior Constable in mid 1879 - not long after his secondment to the Police parties and just after his posting to Lancefield north west of Melbourne.

Despite the protestations of Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick and the two reported petitions from the townsfolk of Lancefield urging his reinstatement, his dismissal by Joseph Ladd Mayes seems not to have affected Joseph Ladd's position at Lancefield. He remained the Senior Constable in charge from 1879 to 1885.

In May 1885 Joseph Ladd received a second promotion - that of Sergeant 2nd Class. On this occasion the recommendation for his promotion came from the Bench of Magistrates in Lilydale, Victoria and they forwarded their testimonial to the Chief Commissioner in Melbourne. Joseph Ladd's police record shows the Magistrates expressed;

"their high appreciation of the zeal, skill and activity displayed by Senior Constable Mayes".

Service Record of JL Mayes 1885.

In September that same year Joseph Ladd transferred to Kyneton to take take charge of the station there. The posting was a brief one, however, for it was not too long before he was drawn back to Lancefield and he saw out the remainder of his career there.

In their private life Joseph Ladd, his wife Eugenie and Joseph's three children from his first marriage John Adolph, Rebecca and Sara seem to have prospered.

Though Joseph and Jane were approaching middle age, they enjoyed a rather prolific second round of parenthood, welcoming their first child Florence Marion in 1881. Florence was followed by Dorothy Susan (1882), Eugenie Douglas (1884), Joseph Ladd Jr (1885), Edward Burke (1888), Mary Madge (1890) and Norman Hector (1893).

While we assume the family experienced their most happy period - and we have no evidence to suggest it otherwise - we have a fragmentary picture of what their life was like.

The eldest child of Joseph Ladd and Mariann Mayes, John Adolph, appears to have had a thirst for adventure, such that by 1888, he had been living far from his birth place in the town of Wilcannia in NSW. John Adolph is the subject of an article of his own, penned by his descendant Allen Mayes.

Rebecca Mayes - the second child of Joseph & Mariann provides us with the most tangible piece of their life in the 1870's. A letter, written by Rebecca to her brother John Adolph, dated 1877 gives us an insight into the life of the Mayes family. It also shows a glimpse of the man Joseph Ladd was - meticulous (pointing out errors in Johnny's grammar), and his dedication to service. 



(Letter from Rebecca Mayes to her brother John Adolph Mayes, written from Broadmeadows, dated 1877. 
Click on each to open a larger version in a new window.)

The following is the text of the letter, as best as we have been able to translate;

Dear Johnny

We received your letter in time; Papa said it was a capital one; you made two slight mistakes; you put two ls~ in holidays and only one h’ in whether. Papa showed your drawing to Mrs. Rodda, she said it was very good. Mr. Rodda gave it out in church on Sunday evening, that he was going to commence a Confirmation class on Sunday the 12th inst. Harriet Dutton, Sarah and I had our names put down. I do not know if there will be any more from here. Papa was at the Williamstown races on Saturday, he was not home till after nine o’clock, he was at the Flemington races today and he will have to attend there on Thursday and Saturday.

Papa left Rhoan in the Depot today as he is quite lame, the horse Papa has now is smaller than Rhoan and is a pretty grey.

We had Mrs. Shannon washing here today, and I had to shut Rhoan in the stable nearly all day because he kept pushing her and flying at her. Momma says that when you buy a hat, get one that will not lose it’s shape the first wetting it gets.

I am getting on very well with my music now, I got a lesson today. Sarah is a good player now, Miss Eliza says she can play the "Reaper’s Polka" and the "Cornflower Valse” very well.

We have given away four of xxnxxx ‘s kittens, there is only one left now, I had to bring it down from the loft, it was meowing so often, its little brother, xxxx won’t make friends with it at all, he spits at it and slaps him in the face. I have no more to say at present so I send our best love to you from,

Your Affectionate sister

R J Mayes.

  (A guess has been made of the name of Joseph Ladd's horse - Rhoan. The name of Rebecca's cat is much harder to decipher therefore x's have been left in it's place).

No photos currently exist of Rebecca. So far as we know she did not marry. It is apparent that Rebecca worked as a post mistress at Pakenham in Victoria but for how long is unclear. In Joseph Ladd Mayes' will he specifically set aside 25 pounds for Rebecca Mayes who was, at the time of his death, living at Brighton, probably at the Union Street residence of her parents. Rebecca died in 1929 at Pakenham.

Sara Mayes, Joseph & Mariann's third child Sara was barely 16 years old when her mother died in 1878. Some time around 1885 Sara began a courtship with a young mounted Constable named Peter O'Shannassy who - it is believed - was stationed at Kyneton, Victoria and may have even been under Joseph Ladd's command when he was stationed there. Sara and Peter O'Shannassy were married at Boondara in Victoria on 11th November 1885 and eventually moved to the Tarwin Lower District of South Gippsland, Victoria. Peter and Sara had three children, Marian Cicely born in 1886 at Lancefield, Victoria, Barbara born 1889 at Tarwin Lower, Victoria and Allen Neil born 1895.


(Sara Augusta Mayes & Husband Peter O'Shannassy - dates unknown.)


(Sara & Peter O'Shannassy - date unknown.)


Sara O'Shannassy (Mayes) with grandson Harold Mountain, c.1930's.

Peter O'Shannassy died in 1919 and was buried at the Tyabb cemetery near Hastings in Victoria. Sara O'Shannassy (Mayes) died on August 8th 1940 and was buried with her husband at Tyabb. Apparently no headstone was erected.

Florence Marion Mayes - the first child of Joseph Ladd & Eugenie Mayes was born at Broadmeadows in 1881 though the exact date is unknown. Florence Marion spent much of her early life at Lancefield.



(Florence Marion Mayes - date unknown).

She married a divorcee Augusta Sandford in January of 1909. Sandford was a Lieutenant Colonel in the British military who signed up at the outbreak of WW1 and seems to have gained some notoriety. At the very beginning of the 1914 - 1918 conflict Sandford was commander of a fort at Queenscliff on the western tip of Port Phillip Bay in Victoria. A German steamer called the "Pfalz" which was docked in Melbourne attempted to leave upon hearing of the outbreak of war. Sandford urgently requested an order to fire on the "Pfalz" to stop it from escaping through Port Phillip heads and was given it. Thus Augusta Sandford was regarded as having fired the first Australian shot of the war.



(The German steamer Pfalz - rebadged as an Australian ship after it was captured at the outbreak of WW1).

Augusta and Florence had no children of their own. Two son's from Sandford's previous marriage, Horace & Arthur probably gave Florence a mothering role.

Florence Marion was recorded as 21 when her father died in 1902 and she was 58 when her mother died in 1939. At this stage it is unknown when Florence Marion died.

Dorothy Susan was born in 1882 around the time when Joseph Ladd was participating in the Police Royal Commission. Very little is known of Dorothy other than she was 20 when her father died in 1902 and was 57 when her mother died in 1939. Dorothy married a Lewis Coates. We don't know if they had children, nor do we know when Dorothy died.



Dorothy Mayes - date unknown.


Dorothy Mayes on ladder with Mary holding their mother Eugenie. These photos were taken on New Year's Day 1918 at Brighton, Victoria by Cicily O'Shannassy.

Eugenie Mayes was born in 1884 probably at Lancefield. Eugenie married one G. McLeod but we don't know when that occurred. She was 18 years old when her father died in 1902 and she was deceased by the time her mother died in 1939.


(Eugenie Mayes - date unknown).

Joseph Ladd Mayes Jr. was born in 1885 at Kyneton in Victoria. Joseph Mayes is the subject of his own article, which can be found here.


Joseph Ladd Mayes, taken New Year's Day, 1918 at Brighton, Victoria.

Joseph Ladd & Eugenie's 5th child Edward Burke Mayes was born sometime in 1888, however the exact date is unknown. As with others in his family Edward's life is mostly a mystery. He was 14 years old when his father died in 1902 and 51 when his mother died in 1939.

Mary Madge Mayes was born in 1890, probably at Brighton in Victoria. She was 12 years old when her father died in 1902. Mary was known affectionately as Mollie. She is known to have married a Harry Coles but no other information exists. She was listed as 48 years old on her mother's death certificate however this should read 49.


Mary Mayes posing with her husband Harry Coles on New Years Day, 1918 at Brighton, Victoria.

The last of Joseph Ladd's children, Norman Hector was born in 1893 making him only nine years old when his father passed away in July, 1902. Norman Hector was known the Mayes family currently residing in Gippsland, Victoria. Dorothy Mayes, wife of Joseph Ladd Jr's son George, recalls Norman Hector being a kindly bachelor who almost always wore a suit, was very well spoken and who looked after his mother in her later years. Norman Hector lived nearly all of his life in Brighton, Victoria. He died in 1955.


(Norman Hector Mayes - date unknown.)

The Mayes family certainly grew exponentially, even as Joseph Ladd was approaching his 60th year of life. Their presence in the Lancefield district was a constant - aside from the brief posting to Kyneton, east of Lancefield - from the period of 1879 until Joseph Ladd retired from the Police Force in 1895. 


DFA.