Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Beatrice Macdougall's Autobiography

Beatrice Wells 1911

Beatrice Wells on her wedding day 9 September 1912

Beatrice Macdougall 18 January 1924

Beatrice Macdougall 21 July 1937

Beatrice Macdougall

Autobiography of Beatrice Helen Louise Macdougall
 – written 1974.

Reading my beloved husband’s diary has led me to write this biography.

I – Beatrice Helen Louise – was born of Christian parents, Harry Edward Wells of Northamptonshire and Elizabeth Saunders of Buckinghamshire, England.  They were married at St John’s Church of England, Launceston on November 8th, 1887 by the Rev Champion (Rector).  My birthplace was Formby, now known as Devonport on the North-West coast of Tasmania – in the year 1888, on September 9th.

My only sister, Winifred Alice, was born at Leith, on September 20th, 1890 and my only brother, Gladstone Gordon Thomas, saw the light of day at St Mary’s on December 2nd 1896.

I attended the State School on attaining the age of 5 years.  Among our playmates were the Trethewey family who lived three doors away and Jessica Cramp, two years my senior and with whom I have never quite lost sight of through the years – always remembering each other at birthdays and Christmas.

My parents were Church of England people.  At St Marys the Church of England service was held at 7pm.  The morning service of that denomination was at Cullenswood – 2 miles away – a beautiful little church (endowed) and it was there the Rector lived (Rev James L’oste).  The cemetery was in the church grounds.  We only occasionally attended this church however.   My father took Winifred and me to the Methodist church at St Marys each Sunday morning and we attended the same Sunday School during the afternoon.  Rev William Wykes was the minister and we often went to the Parsonage to play with ‘Pussy’ Wykes.  Mrs Wykes died while at St Marys and the memory of her funeral is still with me.  The Sunday School scholars marched in procession at her funeral to the Railway Station.  I carried a Christmas Lily.  She was buried at Campbelltown.  We attended as a family the Church of England each Sunday evening.

Later, a new and beautiful Church of England was built at St Marys and Gladstone was the first baby to be christened in it by Rev J L’oste (the windows not yet in it). The baby was presented with a large Christening Bible.  (This bible was lost in New Guinea during the evacuation.)  Soon afterwards, Rev Wykes left the Methodist Church there and we attended the Church of England and the Sunday School was formed regularly.  Mother took Winifred and me with her to the Mother’s Union Meetings often.  It was while we were at St Marys that I began to learn the violin.  Mr Glasson was my first teacher.  After he passed away, I became the pupil of Miss Edith Wardlaw who later married Mr A D Leckie, School Teacher and Sunday School Superintendent at the Methodist Church.  He became the Presbyterian Minister in Hobart and Melbourne. 

One incident which stands out in my memory as a child at St Marys was as follows.  Winifred and I were invited one afternoon to play with our friend, Claribel Todd.  There was a creek nearby and we were warned not to go near.  However, in our excitement and playing near, I had the misfortune to slip one leg in the creek.  Nothing was said at home on returning but it was the custom for my Father to polish our boots each morning for school.  It was in the days of “blacking” and they would not shine, so Father made enquiries of me as to what had happened.  I was afraid and told him I did not know.  Then he asked Wyn and she told him that I slipped one leg in the creek and had told her not to tell.  Father gave me the thrashing of my life with a willow birch before I was dressed that morning.  I did wrong not to own up, but I would have caught it just the same – for disobedience.

Another thing which often happened was that Mother’s little dog, Tan, was sent to bring us home from church when we attended with Mother.  Father stayed at home with baby brother.  The dog would go to one church and should we be at the other, the dog would come there to find us.

On 20th March, 1900 we left St Marys for Ulverstone on the north-west coast – a large flourishing town.  The railway to Burnie was opened about this time.  Our friends, the Tretheweys, were transferred there and we often exchanged visits during school holidays.  When we went to Ulverstone, Winifred and I were sent to a school for Young Ladies, conducted by Misses Janet and Clara Lungley – middle-aged ladies of quality whose father had been a ship-builder in England but suffered reduced circumstances.  We owe a great deal to these ladies for our training.  They were good Christians and it was while attending their school I gained the Good Conduct Prize presented by the Rector Canon de Coetlogan.  I also passed the Junior Public (4 subjects).  My violin teach was Mr F A Finch and he linked me up with the orchestra of the town (1st violin).  This orchestra provided the music for the Opera Company of Devonport – traveled also to Burnie for the same company.

Our Sundays were busy days.  There was morning Sunday School prior to church service, afternoon Sunday School and the evening service which we always attended.  I still have prizes won at this Sunday School and later I became a Sunday School Teacher.  Winifred and I were confirmed while at Ulverstone by Bishop Mercer.  There came a time when there was no competition at ‘Maitland House School’ and for a short time I attended the Convent School at Ulverstone.

Later, my Father chose for me my line of occupation.  I became a pupil teacher at the Ulverstone State School.  I never really settled down to teaching.

In 1906, Father was transferred to Zeehan – a large mining town on the west coast of Tasmania.  Owing to this transfer, I sent in my resignation to the Education Department as my parents would not consider me going to the Teachers’ Training College now opened in Hobart.  However, when we reached Zeehan to my surprise my resignation was not accepted, but I found myself transferred to North Zeehan State School.

The Headmaster was Mr H E Downie.  I continued teaching for some months and then sent in my resignation and entered the Emporium of Mr Sam Newman to learn Millinery.  I was in my element here and in this work.  As long as I can remember I have been interested in hats, even to making doll’s hats in paper.  Mr Newman’s business was the largest of its kind in Zeehan and great were my opportunities.  Amongst those I worked with were Miss Knights and Miss Ripper (head milliners), all from Melbourne.  Miss Hilda Eddy, Muriel Bruce, Alma Thorne, Alice Dunn (showroom).  Miss Kathleen O’Sullivan, Miss Tolley (fancy goods, etc) both from Melbourne.  Mr Tapell (Manchester), Mr Sagasser (Mercery) and others.  In addition to my millinery training, I had a good insight in bookkeeping and when Miss Combe (Mr Newman’s sister-in-law) the cashier was away, I always took charge of the cash desk and accounts, etc.   Things were booming in our early days at Zeehan, later things slackened somewhat and often other girls in the showroom (millinery and sales) were given “holiday”, but I was never once “put off”.  I suppose there was the relieving at the cash desk to keep me.Mr Newman was a Methodist and many of his staff also.  We were Anglicans and I was in the church choir and teacher in the Sunday School.

Winifred took advanced music lessons from Sister Ambrose at the Convent – we both had painting lessons and singing lessons from Sister Ambrose.  We had always been very strictly brought up and rather confined.  As far as I can remember, we never expected to go anywhere for amusements.  No playing cards were in our home and dancing was not approved of.  However strangely enough, after being at Zeehan for some time, things in this way changed somewhat.  Mr Tom Davey was a great freemason and also a friend of my Father’s, as Mrs Davey was to Mother.  Mr Davey was like a father to me.  He was a Methodist and a great friend of Mr Newman’s.  Mr Davey would come into the shop very often and bring sweets for the girls.  I went to his home for tea each Saturday as we had late shopping in those days!  We also visited his home where we played cards and later drifted into our home also.  A dancing class was started in the Masonic Hall.  It was very select and Tom Davey persuaded Father to let us go.  He promised to see us home (how or why Father allowed this, I don’t know).  We had to be home at a certain time.  It was a mixed dancing class.

Up to the present, I have not mentioned gentleman friends.  In the Education Department was a certain young man named Gordon Harris of Burnie who was attending the Training College in Hobart and we began to correspond and see each other on my visits to the Tretheweys at Burnie.  Another young man became very interested.  In fact, so much in love that a proposal of marriage was made – and more than once.  However, I had Gordon in mind and told Rex I could not give him all my love so I could not think of marriage with him.  His mother was most keen.  I never encouraged Rex.  Gordon came to Zeehan relieving and visited our home, then on his departure to his home at Burnie (he was teaching there now) his correspondence with me suddenly ceased.  After lapse of several weeks, he wrote and said he could be nothing but a friend to me.  I was heartbroken and never revealed my state of mind to him.

Previous to this lapse of corresponding, I had accepted an invitation from Gordon’s mother to spend Easter with them in their beautiful home in Burnie.  I went and had a very nice time with Mr & Mrs Harris.  Gordon was away at Training Cadet Camp.  He returned home later and his mother had a party in my honour.  A young lady, whom I later knew Gordon was interested in, was not invited.  Gordon and I had a few minutes together and I asked him what made him write such a letter, letting him think that I had only thought of him as a friend.  However, at the time, it was hard.  I am sure the young lady suited him better than I would have done as they were both singers and she could accompany him, etc.  She visited me in hospital when Dorothy was born and when we were at Westbury some years later, Mrs Gordon Harris was the pianist in the small orchestra in which I played and Leslie conducted.  Gordon was Headmaster of the State School at Westbury.  In the meantime, Rex was most persistent and I was perfectly horrid in my treatment of his attentions.  I thought much of him and his mother was fond of me too.  Winifred teased me a good deal.  Rex was a good young man – a church man – a Warden in the Church of England.  Rex was delivate – an asthmatic.  He was always in love with me. In later years my Mother and Wyn met his mother and asked after Rex and whether he was married.  Mrs Wathen said “Rex will never marry.  The girl he loved would not have him.”  Wyn said “Was it Beatrice?” and the answer was “Yes”.  Poor Rex.  What a life of sadness for him.  He died from illness - pneumonia - while my beloved and I were on our last visit together in Hobart (8th February 1940).  Leslie showed me the announcement of his death in the morning paper.

Among other male acquaintances were the sons of the Presbyterian Minister at Zeehan.  One became very interested in Winifred and the second son sometimes saw me home on our late Saturday nights, also attended the dances we went to.  Vernon informed Wyn that his father objected to them rushing off after their Presbyterian service to meet us from the Church of England.

Other friends of ours at Zeehan were Mr and Mrs Alabaster and their companion, Miss Amy Neylan – a particularly close friend of mine (now Mrs Alf Morrisby).  Wyn and I went to a ball in the large Gaiety Theatre with Mr and Mrs Alabaster and we had a delightful time.  Mr Arch Douglas, the son of the Town Clerk of Queenstown was there.  Wyn had previously met him when staying with friends at Strahan.  He flattered me by telling me “that Wyn was not in it with me”.

Clifford Trethewey, Bank Clerk, second son of the family at Burnie came to the National Bank at Zeehan.  Cliff was exactly 12 months my senior.  Always a close friend, he came each Sunday to our home for tea, attended church with us and later returned to play the piano (hymns).  Always good friends and I never thought of Cliff in any other way, although when I became engaged to LSM, his sister wrote to her mother, who was staying with us at the time and said “there was no chance for Cliff now”.  Poor Cliff died of wounds during the first World War (August 11th, 1918).

I must not forget that while at Zeehan, a mission was held in connection with the Church of England in which I was very interested.  I attended the meetings on several occasions and was greatly blessed.  Canon Bryers of Launceston was one of the leaders.

In the meantime, Winifred had met a young man (who turned out to be “her fate”).  It happened this way.  Regular progressive euchre parties and dances were held in the Church of England hall.  Arthur Tregear of the AMP, and relieving at the Zeehan Branch, attended to lay euchre and say Wyn’s name on his euchre card.  He decided at once that he must meet Miss Winifred and so things proceeded which ended in happy marriage on November 8th, 1911.  Mr Tregear was an old friend of my husband’s in the early days, when teaching at Leslie House School, Newtown, Tasmania.  Arthur visited Wyn at Easter 1911, and when returning to Hobart on Easter Monday (April 17th), Mother and I traveled back with Arthur to Hobart.

Leslie Stuart Macdougall was a passenger and Arthur introduced Mother and myself to him – and so our courtship began.  (Read Diary by LSM.)  I was alone in the railway carriage when Leslie entered.  He asked if the carriage were reserved.  He told me later I smilingly answered “no”.  I also learned later that when the train reached Rosebery and the gentlemen got out to get refreshments, that Leslie asked Arthur if I were “unattached”.  It evidently was love at first sight on his part.  Mother remarked to me later on “how he would look at me”.  A young lady by the name of Miss Maude Ray – school teacher at Zeehan was also a passenger the following day as we journeyed to Hobart and it appears that Mr Tom Davey heard later from her “how interested Mr Macdougall was in Miss Wells”.  Mr Davey told me of this but I would not let myself think of Mr. Mac.  Mr Davey was very friendly with Mac as he called him having a good deal in common, as Leslie was thinking of becoming a freemason.  Leslie was working for his BA Degree and he wrote to Tom Davey saying that with success the passing would make him all the more a confirmed bachelor. 

I perhaps was presuming too much, but as far back as I can remember, I had said I would marry either a Minister or a doctor.  However, I tried to shut thoughts of Leslie out of my mind, yet praying God’s guidance in the matter that if I should marry, things would work out with His blessing.

Leslie was stationed at Queenstown and exchange of pulpits was made between Rev C C Dugan of Zeehan for special services.  I saw Leslie sometimes on these occasions at Tom Davey’s and went out with him only once and that was to a concert at the Presbyterian Church when he and Charlie contributed to the program.

I might mention that soon after our meeting, Leslie asked if he could see me home.  (I was in the cash desk and thanked him and said my brother would be meeting me.)  In those days, shops were open till 10 pm on Saturdays.

I believe Leslie had a confidential talk with Mr S Newman.  They were old friends and were in the same Bible Class in Launceston at one time.  Mr Newman reminded Leslie that I was not a Methodist and also that on many occasions I was in full charge of all cash, etc – thus giving me a good recommendation.

We became engaged on November 10th, 1911, two days after Wyn and Arthur’s marriage which Leslie performed and indeed it was to be, for there was no other who would have understood me and loved me as Leslie Macdougall.  Leslie always said our marriage was made in heaven.  Things were not always easy for me.  I had no training in conduct of meetings or leading in church matters.  With all Leslie’s learning, he never made me feel ignorant in our life’s calling, unworthy though I might be.  But without boasting I made everything a matter of prayer and I was helped in every instance.

Leslie’s aim in life for me was to make me happy and to provide a home for me at retirement and he was happy in doing this.  We retired in April 1945 to our own home in Comer Street, East Brighton.

As early as 1943, Leslie had trouble with his right arm.  After many seasons of x-ray therapy, he entered hospital in July 1948 and his right arm and shoulder was amputated.  He learned to write with his left hand, exercising great patience and continued tutorials at Queen’s College and Haileybury College up to the time of entering hospital again for further x-ray therapy.  From this time he did not continue with his daily diary.

Leslie was in hospital for 8 weeks.  He was happy to come home on 15 Jan 1949 – but oh so weak.  Dr Waddell attended him and I nursed him – he never complained and was most patient in all his suffering.  He gradually became weaker and “entered into rest” on February 8th, 1949.

It is sad that my beloved was not spared in health to share with me the comfort of the home he so wisely provided.

He still lives!  And I hold him in very loving and honoured memory.  No one can realize the sad loss to me but I have learned and am helped in counting my many blessings and thank God for our lives together.

PS  I lived on at 20 Comer Street alone for 10 years.  My sister came from Hobart after the passing of her husband to be nearer her family – Enid and Ken.  Wyn and I went for a trip abroad in 1958 visiting my brother and his wife – our first cousin – in Kent and also meeting other cousins on both sides of the family.  It was a wonderful experience.  We were away for seven months.

In August, 1959, I sold the house in Brighton and bought a brick veneer home at 67 Rowen St, Burwood, to be nearer to Winsome and Margaret.  I left behind many kind friends and had to make new ones of the younger generation at the Ashburton Methodist Church.  However, I again have no regrets.  My old friends have mostly passed away.  My sister died in November, 1969.  I still miss the talks which we had of our youth each fortnight.  We visited each other throughout the years.

The three daughters of our marriage are very thoughtful of me – Winsome (Mrs Allan Petfield), Margaret (Mrs Walter Fraser), both married by my Beloved and told of in his diaries, and Dorothea married later to the man of her choice (William Hitchings) on 28th July, 1970 and lives in Sydney.

Winsome and her husband have had three trips abroad, Margaret and Wal one and Dorothea has been on three trips – the first alone, the second with Dr Gladys Wade and the third time to England and Scotland with Bill since their marriage.  On the latter’s return, we had a lovely family gathering at my home in Burwood in October 1971.

Since writing this, other events of interest have happened.  I must mention first my grandchildren.  Joy, Winsome’s eldest daughter is married to Peter Olney and they have 3 children Darren Stuart, Adrian Craig and daughter Robyn Gai.  Dawn is married to Lindsay Bevan McLean and have a fine son Andrew Bevan. Dawn is an outdoor girl and a great horse rider having ridden at the Royal Melbourne Show.

Ross Stuart Fraser, Margaret’s eldest and married to the daughter of Rev Keith and Mrs Ditterich.  They have 2 girls – Megan Elisabeth and Jacqueline Louise.  Anne Margaret Fraser went abroad with 4 other girls and met her fate in Barcelona, Spain.  Michael Murphy is a Canadian – they both came to Melbourne for a holiday and Christmas of 1972.  They have since settled in England – for the present.

In June 1972, I sold my house at 67 Rowen Street, Burwood and bought a unit – No. 6 “Linden Lea”, 693 High St Rd, Glen Waverley.  The garden in Rowen Street  was too big for me to care for after 13 years there.  I now have a more leisurely time with just enough out of doors work to keep me amused.  I love gardening and my garden is very gay with easily grown and hardy plants.  Winsome and Allan are next door in No. 7.

Winsome and Allan have had another trip in 1973, this time by air and Joy went with them.  I had care of their wonderful cat which unfortunately is no more.  He became very sick and had to be put to sleep.

I live very quietly and unfortunately am in the doctor’s hands following an attack of diverticulitis.  Now I have regular visits for injections pernicious anaemia.  Winsome and Margaret take me by car.  I might mention that Margaret and Wal changed their address at the time I did in 1972 and are happy in their unit at “Vista Court”, Johns Wood Road, Mount Waverley.

If you have any corrections or comments please contact the author, Joy Olney via email:

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