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William and Emily's children

William Wallace A (1868-1942)



Information about Wallace remained elusive until I noticed a picture in WD’s photo album of him driving a buggy, accompanied by an unnamed young woman. Luckily, WD had captioned the photograph to locate the event in Riwaka, which lead to a number of hits in NZ’s newspaper archive PapersPast.

The first, in a 1895 Mataura Ensign, announced that Wallace had left Riwaka to join a friend in Johannesburg, intending to get work

in the gold mines. He had been studying ore extraction “by the cyanide process”, considered to be safer than using liquid mercury. They both sound damned dangerous to me but then, I’m not a gold miner. His father contributed some of Wallace’s letters home to the Nelson Evening Mail, which, in February 1899, serialized one of them over several editions (13th, 14th, 16th, 17th). The letter described his voyage from Transvaal, via Cairo, to England. The letters are wonderfully descriptive, both of his surroundings, his companions and his own perceptions. For example, he kicked himself for being in the wrong company for Mozambique sightseeing. He’d wanted to see the fort and cathedral but his group had other ideas – “an hour at the Post Office buying stamps – what a stupid thing stamp collecting is”. In the way of all things staying the same, he is next in Zanzibar where he is corrected in his first impression of Arabs (Moslems) being “often sulky, evidently hating Europeans” by a resident clergyman who said they “aren’t as bad as they are painted” and have more good than bad points. On the other hand, Wallace and the clergyman felt that owners were not fairly compensated (“not nearly to the value of the slave”) when the country abolished slavery. He also thought the young slave girls he saw carrying loads of coral stone for building purposes didn’t look too miserable.

In the final instalment, he discusses his travelling companions, in particular a young Jewess who suffered continually from

seasickness although “some of the fellows are ill natured enough to say that she cannot expect anything else than to be sick when she stuffs herself with such a miscellany of food and drink”. She told him she was taking notes to report the trip in a Frankfurt paper – Wallace wondered whether she would get her unwitting revenge for his comments.

In 1901, Wallace writes from Remount Camp, Stellenbosch where he is a

‘conductor’, tending and transporting horses and mules for the Army. Again, William forwarded his son’s missive to the Nelson Evening Mail. Wallace had just returned from a trip to Kimberley and Mafeking, “the most rough and terrible fortnight I ever spent”. He described Stellenbosch as “a very pretty Dutch village – a fruit growing district”; the camp was on a farm belonging to Mr Rhodes. Of the military people he was in contact with “some are very nice fellows and others just the opposite. Young upstart subalterns who put on airs are very much disliked… we are not in khaki,

though solely under military control, with rifles and bandoliers ready for use for defensive purposes… I am glad we are not obliged to wear khaki, as then we should be liable to be humbugged about and salute every officer who comes along, whilst in civilian dress we are as good as they are”. Onya,Wallace.

He returned to Riwaka where he was a fruit grower, perhaps taking over his

father’s property. He remained single all his life.

Marion Tillotson A (1869-1950)

from the Riwaka Cemetery web site


image:  MystikNZ

Compared to her father and brother, Marion's life seems to have been the conventional one shared by women of the era. She married

James Graham who was a Scot, eldest son of Alexander Graham, from Auchengray, Larnarkshire. James was manager of the stock agency William sold in 1892, the same year that James and Marion married. Within 10 years, he was a partner in the business. In 1919, his occupation on the electoral roll was merchant. He had retired by 1928 when the family, except for the eldest son, was living in Granville Terrace, Mornington, Dunedin. Marion’s last address was Gordon House, East Gore, where she died in 1950. The couple lived in Gore where they had five children.

Gerald Muir G (1893-1984) was a carpenter in Gore in 1914 and 1919, living at Gordon House. When he enlisted in the army in 1917

(serving in Western Europe), his occupation was architectural student and he was apprenticed to an illegible company in Moray Place, Dunedin. It doesn’t look as though he pursued that career because, in 1928, he was a merchant, in 1957 his occupation was ‘quantity surveyor’. He had married Kate Ellen Russell (1900-99) in 1926 and they were living in Wellington’s Roseneath. Gerald had retired by 1961, the date of WD’s memoir. The couple’s final entry on the electoral roll is 1981 when they were living in The Crescent, Wellington, where Gerald died three years later. In 1954 and 1957, James Russell Graham, clerk, was living at the same address as Gerald and Kate. In 1963, he was still clerking but living in Jeypore St, as was married woman Colleen Mabel Graham. By 1974, Colleen had vanished from the roll but in 1978 a Vivienne Margaret Graham, housewife, was at the Jeypore St address.


Mavis and Bruce 


Warrington 1927

Bruce Douglas G (1900-1979) regularly appeared in the newspaper-published end-of-year award lists

during his school years for attendance, his shorthand skills and when earning a scholarship in the public service examinations. Then he vanishes from the records except for the electoral rolls where his occupation was ‘clerk’. After 1946, his clerking was for Dunedin’s Leviathon Hotel, a temperance institution. He must have been a valued employee because the final occupational entry is of liftman at the Leviathon, aged 63, which sounds a bit like a retirement reward for past services. He died in Waitaki and is listed in records of the Timaru crematorium. He was a lifelong bachelor.

Mavis Leslie G (1901-94) earned commendation for her school attendance and won first prize

(value 15/-) with a Pearl Aitken for the local under 15s (only just!) piano duet competition in 1916. Aged 27, she married accountant Robert Stewart Green (1899-1960) in 1928 and they had at least two daughters. One, Marion Margaret G was born and died in 1935. When WD wrote his memoir in 1961, Mavis, newly-widowed, was living with her other daughter, Vivienne Mavis G, and that arrangement continued for at least another couple of years when they had moved to Wellington and were living in Queen Street. Mavis died at the end of October 1994 and her body cremated. I have found nothing about Vivienne Mavis G, her occupation on the electoral roll was ‘spinster’. She was not on the roll in 1978 or thereafter. (Australia’s Government Gazette has a Vivienne Mavis Green appointed to the Statistician’s Branch in 1967 in the Australian Capital Territory, this would likely mean this person was living in Canberra. To work for the Australian government now means having to take Australian citizenship, I imagine it did then, too.)

Merle Monteith G (1905-1996?) is nearly invisible in the records. Born in Gore in 1905, her musical prowess, reported between

1915-1920as she passed the grades of Trinity College’s course, included tying in first place in the under 12s piano solo in 1916. She, with her sister Violet, also won the piano duet competition, which earned them 10/-. The electoral roll has her in Clutha in 1949. The next voting listing is on the Australian electoral roll in 1954. WD’s memoir tells us she had gone to keep house for her mother’s cousin, Fin, in Paddington, Sydney, and she continued to share his residential address until his death in 1971 (presumed). She then vanishes from the record both in Australia and New Zealand. There is a headstone for a Merle Graham in NSW’s Nambucca Heads Cemetery, with the dates 14 April 1909-22 May 1996. Our Merle was born in April 1905 – there may be a mistake with the dates or it may be the headstone in Nambucca Heads Cemetery has nothing to do with us at all.

Violet Marion (1907-) is even less visible. There are some newspaper reports of scholastic and musical achievements during her school

years and she was a spinster living at Gordon House, Gore, in 1938, then nothing. WD’s memoir has her living in Timaru in 1961 but he does not say, as he did with her siblings, whether Violet was married or not.

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