Shopping Cart -

Your cart is currently empty.
Continue Shopping
This website use cookies and similar technologies to improve the site and to provide customised content and advertising. By using this site, you agree to this use. To learn more, including how to change your cookie settings, please view our Cookie Policy
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
   You are currently viewing the European Union version of the site.
Would you like to switch to your local site?
Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree December 2018 > Your questions answered

Your questions answered

With our panel of experts Jayne Shrimpton, Emma Jolly, David Frost and Helen Whittle


The mystery of Aunt Aussie

• Evidently these people were fairly comfortably placed financially, for the farmhouse appears substantial and they have use or ownership of a chauffeur-driven car, the driver in his peaked cap just glimpsed at the wheel

• The loose style of both women’s garments and their low calf-length hemlines confirm a date in the 1920s, probably a year between about 1922 and 1928

Q This photo depicts Isabella Fraser and her older sister Margaret Derrett née Fraser. Margaret was my greatgrandmother, born 28 October 1856, Old Machar (now

Woodside), Aberdeen in Scotland, to parents John Fraser and Margaret Cumming. The photo shows the Derrett family farm ‘Pine Hill’, Patea, New Zealand and would have been taken before 1936, when the Derretts retired to town. Isabella is the mystery here.

• On the 1861 & 1871 Scottish Censuses, she is not listed with the rest of the family – nor is she on the shipping record when John, Margaret and seven of their children emigrated to NZ on the Mairi Bhan, arriving at Port Chalmers, Dunedin NZ on 25 July 1874

• On her Intention to Marry record of August 1875, Margaret stated that she had been in NZ for 13 months, supporting that arrival date: she married Edward Derrett on 26 August 1875. I have no birth record for Isabella so could that be established from the sisters’ clothing?

• Two stories are in circulation about Isabella, who apparently was the tomboy of the family. Reputedly she went to Australia for work and was thereafter known to the family as ‘Aunt Aussie’. A tough, strong woman, one version claims that she masqueraded as a man and worked in an outback pub in Australia, her true sex only being discovered when she died. The other version is that while masquerading as a man, she either drove a bullock team or worked on a ship; she was killed in an accident and subsequently was found to be a woman. I feel sure I now have the right Fraser family but because Isabella is missing from family records, I am still not 100 per cent certain. Any help concerning the photograph would be most appreciated.

A Sometimes a family photograph, once accurately dated, can provide an important missing link in the historical record – for example, evidence of a person, place or event that has otherwise escaped attention. However, I’m afraid that this evocative outdoor scene showing two elderly ladies outside a family property resolves few of your specific queries. Given the imperfect image, the sisters portrayed squinting into the sun, this is probably an amateur snapshot taken by a friend or relative using a personal camera. Both ladies are well-dressed in a feminine fashion typical of the 1920s: neither appear in the least masculine, so no real clues there to support family rumours. You don’t mention who is who, but judging from their respective appearances, I assume that Margaret, your great-grandmother, is the more frail-looking lady seated on the running-board. She wears a smart, conservative suit comprising a comfortable jersey top or belted jacket and coordinating skirt, with high-necked blouse underneath. Her fine white hair may be kept long, drawn back into a traditional bun, her shoes substantial and functional. She would be aged around 70 here.

Purchase options below
Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Family Tree - Family Tree December 2018
If you own the issue, Login to read the full article now.
Single Issue - Family Tree December 2018
Or 549 points
Annual Digital Subscription
Only € 3.08 per issue
6 Free Back Issues
Was €39.99
Now €39.99
6 Month Digital Subscription
Only € 3.84 per issue
Or 2499 points
Monthly Digital Subscription
Only € 4.14 per issue
Or 449 points

View Issues

About Family Tree

From practical projects for a fabulous family history, to the quest to take your family tree back to Norman times, or the journey to heal a broken family, it's all here in Family Tree: Check out our 20 ideas and solutions to help you get organised and create a family history you can cherish. Explore history back in Norman times, and see how you might be able to trace an ancestor back to William the Conqueror too... See what you know in our Family Tree Academy challenges. Explore the latest DNA know-how. Make yourself a cuppa and enjoy those family stories. We know you're going to love this issue!