Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Great Grandma Jane was a Vaxxer


Mary Jane Eynon's biscuit tin contains two frail certificates of vaccination: Emily Isabel, vaccinated at 6 months in 1882;  and Charlotte Victoria in 1894, the year she was born.  Both took place in Fitzroy;  There was a further "Notice to Parents" that their child Violet Alicia was to be presented for vaccination, either to the Public Vaccinator or to a Medical Practitioner.  Isabel was vaccinated by a medical practitioner, Charlotte by the Public Vaccinator, and there is no further information about Violet's vaccination.

The certificates indicated that vaccination was compulsory for children under the Compulsory Vaccination Act.  The certificates were to be forwarded when vaccinations completed to the district registrar who presumably matched them with births registered.

The only vaccinations available at this time were for smallpox.  Public health was a serious issue for the government with a growing and mobile population.  Outbreaks of smallpox in Australia in the 19th century were common, but in 2015 no cases of small pox have been notified - the disease has been eradicated in Australia.  The last notification of a smallpox case occurred in 1921.

Mary Jane would have heard her mother talk about the two baby boys who had died in Beechworth in the 1850s, and would have personally remembered the deaths of other small children in the camps around her as she grew older, as well as two siblings who died as young adults.   Mary Jane's children benefited from public health programs.  She lost only one infant of her large family of eight children.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Mementos of Beechworth from 1922

The Gorge Road, Beechworth, Vic. Rose Series, P10559.
Reid's Creek, Beechworth.  Rose Series, P10543.
The Elephant Rock, Beechworth.  No 12.

These three postcards of the Beechworth area come from a biscuit tin in which George Griffith's  daughter  Mary Jane Eynon (who was born in Silver Creek, Beechworth) kept sentimental fragments of letters, cards, receipts, postcards and photographs, mainly from her children. On the back of one of these postcards was written "1922" in pencil, which is a match for the date on the back of a postcard of Camp St, Beechworth posted earlier on this blog.

The writing is hard to identify.  It doesn't appear to be Mary Jane herself - she learnt to write back in the 1860s and her writing is of a distinctive style.   Her children were taught a particular script at school in Fitzroy and the formation of their letters is quite similar, so taking a not-very-wild guess, the postcards were given to Mary Jane by one of her children  in 1922 as a memento of her birthplace.