Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Postcards & Photographs - A Mystery.

In among my Grandfather's box of family history stuff were a couple of postcards and photos. I would like to try and figure out who they are. Sadly two of the photos were not labelled, and the sender of the postcards did not use full names. If you have any opinions after reading this post, please do comment and let me know what you think!

Postcard A - Front
Postcard A - Back
Please correct me if you think otherwise, but I believe this postcard is from an A. Gibbins at 10 Kingsley Street, Camberwell, Victoria, and was sent at Christmas 1915. I cannot seem to find a 10 Kingsley Street in Victoria's electoral rolls from 1912 - 1919 (Subdistrict: Camberwell, District: Kooyong). Perhaps A. Gibbins was visiting or had not enrolled to vote in Victoria, but from what they said, it sounds like they had moved from Macksville (where my Great Grandparents & Grandfather lived) to Victoria. There were Gibbins living in Camberwell but not in Kingsley Street, and none of their names began with A. 

Postcard B - Front
Could the man and woman in the middle of this photo above be the same man and woman in Postcard A? I thought the women looked very similar, but was not sure about the man. However, Postcard B is from somebody with the surname Hay.

Postcard B - Back.
The only Hay I have in my family tree is John Eric Hay, born 1891 in Waratah, New South Wales and died 1951 in Newcastle, New South Wales. John Hay married my Grandfather's cousin Elizabeth Jeater in 1943 in Newcastle. As far as I am aware, John and Elizabeth did not have children. John was Elizabeth's second marriage. Elizabeth was the daughter of Ernest Edwin Jeater and Margaret Croal, my Great Grandmother Elizabeth Croal's sister. My Great Grandmother Elizabeth did not die until 1952, so one possible explanation is that John could have sent this to my Great Grandmother?
But that would mean the two couples are completely different people? I have no Gibbins in my family tree that I have found thus far. Still, I did not think in the 19th or 20th Centuries people would send postcards with strangers on them, but who knows. If only there was a date and address on Postcard B! John Hay was one of four or five siblings, so I doubt it is his family, and Margaret and Edwin had three boys and two girls, where as the family in the postcard have four girls and two boys. I have not seen a known photo of Margaret Croal/Jeater before either.

However, mentioning the Croal's brings me to these two photographs...

Portrait C
Portrait D


My first thought on seeing these two photos was that they could possibly be the same couple in Postcard B, and possibly Postcard A. However, the back of the photos say they were taken at a studio in Newcastle which is where Margaret Croal and Ernest Jeater lived. I would like to say that they are definitely not the same couple in Postcard A as they never lived at Macksville nor Victoria, but could they be the couple in Postcard B? I'm not sure.

I mentioned before I had not seen a photo of Margaret Croal before. Could this woman be her? I compared it to the photos of my Great Grandmother Elizabeth Croal, and in my opinion, they do look very similar. Margaret died in 1949 at the age of 78, and Elizabeth died in 1952 at the age of 79. Here is a photo of Elizabeth. Do you think they look similar?

My Great Grandmother Elizabeth Croal
I would like to rule out Postcard A and say that it is not the same couple in Postcard B or the individual photos above. A. Gibbins who moved from Macksville to Victoria is most likely an unrelated family friend at this stage. But why does 10 Kingsley Street not appear in Camberwell's Electoral Roll between 1912 and 1919? It could be part of another electorate...if so, I have not been able to find the relevant information.

What do YOU think?
Could the individual portraits be the same couple in Postcard B?
Or are they all completely unrelated to each other?
Could Portrait C of the lady be Margaret Croal/Jeater?


  1. Great idea to put it out here like this.

    I don't think that the man in Postcard A & Postcard B are the same man, as in A his ears stick out quite a bit, but not in B.

    I don't really think the woman is the same either, as she appears a bit cross-eyed in A, but the lady in B doesn't look cross-eyed as well. Sorry!

  2. Postcard A is really interesting!

    The writer, A Gibbins, talks about assembling a tea service, specifically the purchase of a hot water jug and oak tray, using gifts of money. A tea service and tray are in the photograph, so this postcard could be a thank you along the line of "Look what we bought with the money you gave". This make me think of wedding presents.

    I the man wearing a dog-collar? That suggests a clergy man.

    The photographer's details "Melba Studios, 101 Swainston St, Mebourne" locate where the photo was likely taken. A check in Melbourne directories could identify when the photographer's business operated ate that address & confirm the 1915 date.

    I think the couple in postcard A are the same people as the couple in the middle of postcard B. They are older in B, so could be the parents of the children. That should put the date B was taken 10-15 years after A, the mid - late 1920s. The man on the left looks in the age range consistent with him being John Hay. I tried dating the clothing using Jayne Shrimpton's "Family Photographs & How to Date Them", which is based on material from the UK. The clothes resemble fashions Shrimpton dates to 1900-1920, with some confusing variety. I suspect Australian fashions lagged a bit behind the UK, so my initial thoughts might still fit.

    I don't think anyone in photo B resembles portrait D. I do not think portrait C is the same person as the woman in A and B, but I do see some resemblance. Portrait C bears a strong resemblance to Elizabeth Croal.

    Who looks like who is something of a minefield. People who knew the subjects are likely to do much better at identify them. Do these photos turn up in other collection in the family?

    1. Wow! Thank you for all that Sue! It's just hit midnight here so I am about to clonk out. I will have a thorough read in the morning. However, from other feedback I have received tonight it is likely that the Gibbins couple in Postcard A are Albert George Gibbins, a clergyman/minister and his wife Agnes Blanche.

      These are the only photos I have of these people too. I wish I had more. I found Albert in a tree on Ancestry, and have messaged the tree owner with the information I have. Hopefully I receive a response.

      My Grandfather did not have much contact with his Mother, Elizabeth Croal's side of the family. Oh I wish he was still alive to see if he could recognise them.