THE GRIFFITH STORY
By Gladys M. Gosper
George Whitehouse (his mother’s maiden name) Griffith came out to Australia for health reasons in 1885 and hoped to become a farmer. As a friend of the family (James Watts) had come out not long before and settled with Christian and Charlotte Miller at Manildra, they took George too for experience and on 2nd May 1887 James married Louisa, and George, Emma. The Rector came out from Molong, married the four young people and christened Mabel, the youngest of the family. The home was on the creek, not far in off the Gumble road, opposite the Moolahway gate and is now part of Woolgarlo.
George had bought a small farm at Garra, at the junction of the Molong and Garra roads and lived there till 1894. James and Louisa settled at Baldry. As the railway being built from Orange to Parkes was to follow the Molong – Manildra road, Father opened a store. He also supplied goods by horse and cart out beyond Gumble to the Dykes, where there was a copper mine. The route of the railway was changed to via Pinecliffe and Gregra, so the store was moved to Manildra, not where the town is now, but along the Orange road before it crosses the railway line and creek. There was a hotel, a butcher, baker, blacksmith and the stone police station which is still standing. Gradually the town moved over the creek and near the railway station. Father and Mother still lived on the farm at Garra, but moved to Manildra House where I was born in 1894 (where the pig farm now is).
When I was six months old we all had whooping cough and as sea air was the best cure we all, plus Aunt Lil who was only 16 and had never been in a train before, were going to Manly. The train ran off the rails at the Zig Zag. After hours of delay the passengers were divided into relief trains and in the confusion Aunt Lil was left behind and didn’t get to Central till late the next day. Mother wasn’t 20 when she married and in less [than seven years she had five young children].
In 1906 my sister Marjorie was born. It was a wonderful thrill to have a baby sister. When she was only nine months old Father and Mother went to England for Father’s youngest brother’s wedding. The Reverend and Mrs Collier (Baptist minister) and family of four moved in to live with us. It wasn’t a very happy nine months; we all had measles and I can remember crying every night for Mother. Jess was managing the office at the shop and had a nervous breakdown because she had lent one of the local young men £100 as he wanted to get married. He promised to pay it back before father came home, but didn’t. It was a wonderful day for us when they returned. All the beautiful things they brought us. Mother had some lovely frocks and the first wristlet watch we had seen; the pickpockets in London had taken hers. We all went away to school after being at Manildra Public. Jess went to boarding school in Orange. Ivy lived with a teacher and his wife and went to a private school in Sydney. Hubert lived with the Reverend and Mrs Worboy and went to Parramatta; Edna his wife was the headmaster’s daughter. Harold boarded with some people at Petersham and went to Fort Street. I went to a Church of England school (Woodcourt) at Dulwich Hill as a boarder. Marj went there too, and to Kindergarten College for a while. Auntie Pop was a day girl at Woodcourt; we became friendly and she came home with me for holidays. That is how she met Uncle Gus. Then Flo Miller married Walter Roseby (Auntie Pop’s uncle).
In 1910 or 1911 Jess and Ivy started for England. Father was anxious for his people to meet some of his family. Unfortunately Jess took ill on board and was put off into Cape Town Hospital where she was for nearly three months, very ill with enteric fever. When well enough they came home but I will never forget how thin she looked and her hair had been shaven off. A doctor came out from Orange two or three times but gave us little hope of her ever walking again. A commercial traveller told Mother to dissolve as much coarse salt as possible in a bottle of brandy and rub her back constantly with it. We did this and gradually feeling began to return to her back and legs; it was a wonderful recovery.
Father bought a mixed business at Walla Walla. Hubert, Jess and Ivy went down to manage it, but it wasn’t very long before the two girls became engaged, then married in 1913. It was a fairly big day; a double wedding in Manildra. I had gone to Walla to be with Hubert, did the housekeeping, managed the drapery, helped with the accounts and office work at night, for which I was paid 10/- ($1) a week, but we were happy. Father was so pleased with the results he gave Hubert a car, one of the first Dodges that ever came out. He taught me to drive; I got my first license in Albury in 1916, and kept it until 1974. It was a dream come true for Hubert.
The First World War upset most family’s lives. Harold, Wilfred and Charlie all enlisted and went overseas early 1915. Harold was wounded in the arm very early; he was in Gibraltar Hospital, then in England before he was invalided home. Hubert was then in camp in the artillery. A manager was put in the Walla store. Harold and I went home as father had offered his services to the Red Cross and expected to be going to England. Claude was then in camp, and Jess with three children and one expected lived in the cottage we called “The Doctor’s” in Manildra. Father was working at Salisbury Camp as a searcher, which meant he was mixing among the troops on leave to try and find any news of the boys who had been listed as missing. He unfortunately contracted pneumonia and was nursed at his sister’s (Jessie Green of Handsworth Birmingham).
Hubert was given a weeks’ leave from France to be with him but complications set in and he died in March 1918.
It was a sad time for so many, our home life was never the same without father; he was so kind and thoughtful (a true Christian). Hubert and Harold didn’t want to go back into business, so the shops were sold and with Claude as a partner bought Yamma near Forbes. Mother was unsettled for a time. She went to Sydney to live for a while, then to Orange, then to “The Doctor’s” in Manildra, then to the front part of Eumong, and eventually the back part of Eumong. Wilfred didn’t get back till June 1919 and we were married in September 1920 by Reverend Stanley Cross (while Mother was living in Orange).
In 1923 Joan was born while Mother was at “The Doctor’s” and was only a week old when the accident happened at Parkes. Wilfred and his mother (Aunt Sarah) were killed; Claude had a fractured skull and was very ill for a few days and Mr Maguire (the solicitor) had internal injuries and was in hospital for a week or ten days. Eric Miller (Christie’s son from Sydney who was staying with us) was not hurt. They had gone up for a sheep sale and had taken Aunt Sarah to see Henry Miller’s widow, as he had not long died.
Mother stayed with me at Moolahway for a year or so then Claude, Jess and family came as they were leaving Yamma. This was a very happy arrangement. Claude managed the farm and it was lovely having all the children together. Peggy died in February 1926 at Bathurst. I then went to live with Mother, and married Auben in 1927. Marj was married the next year and went to Teridgerie to live, then to Big Ben at Emmaville in 1950.
We went to Cowra in 1929 and Wahroonga in 1950.
For further information see Manildra Memories folder at Manildra Library