My grandmother, Ivy May Harley, was born 6 September 1890 in South Melbourne. A few years after she was born, the family moved to land her father had selected in the Kilcunda district of Gippsland.
In 1912, a young man from Tarnagulla, John Ernest Whimpey, came to work on the railway at Kilcunda. Was it love at first sight? Unfortunately, there’s no one left to ask. However, it is possible, as John and Ivy were married 2 years later, on 22 September 1914 at the Methodist Church in Kilcunda.
Ivy moved with her husband to Tarnagulla, after his father had bought a grocery store for him to run. When John was finally able to enlist to serve in the First World War (he was unable to earlier because of his height), the grocery business was sold. John had not finished his training when the war ended. Since the grocery business had been sold, and jobs were harder to find in the country, Ivy and John moved to Melbourne.
Ivy and John had one son while still living in Tarnagulla, one son while they were boarding with John’s sister Jane at South Melbourne, and the rest of the family were born at Heidelberg. The family home was at 63 Brown St, Heidelberg, and Ivy and John were still living there at the time of their deaths.
Ivy died 4 June 1959 at the family home. My dad wrote in a letter that John, who had been sleeping in another room, went in to wake her and found she had passed away. The question raised is: why? Had love died? I didn’t like to ask at the time, so it’s another unanswered question.
My tip to others starting out on their family history research – try to ask. I know sometimes it can be hard to get family members to open up about the family history, and sometimes it’s hard to find the courage to ask difficult questions, but without insight into topics such as these, you can’t really get to know your ancestors. Official records only tell part of the story.