Monday, March 21, 2022

Arthur Struvè: Gone With the Earthquake


I don't purposely seek out photos of folk with curious stories from ebay ... but today I hit a whammy ...!

This is Arthur Llewellyn Struvè, from near Swansea in Wales. The photo was evidently taken during his time at Pembroke College, Oxford .. 

Son of Jersey civil engineer (ventilation for mining shafts) William Price Struvè and his wife Louisa, widow of a Captain Rattray in the 86th regiment. 

Born 28 October 1849. Went to Oxford, became a bank clerk, while his elder brother continued the civil engineering ..

Father died at the family home Cringally 10 April 1878.

But Arthur's moment in the headlines was coming ...

Presumably for social and leisurely reasons, in July 1883, he and his mother were in Ischia, at the Hotel Piccola Sentinella in the spa town of Casamicciola. It is related that Arthur was playing the piano (the papers reported that it was Chopin's Funeral March) when the devastating earthquake struck.

Over 2000 people died, including seven visiting Britishers. William and Louisa were crushed in the falling masonry ... their ruined bodies could not be identified ... merely a piece of Louisa's patterned stocking. Amazingly, some visitors at the Piccola Sentinella survived to tell the tale ...

A soi-disant contemporary report is quoted "There was a concert in the diningroom of our hotel ... mid-season; the house was full. There came a dreadful rumbling noise. The house shook once, twice, sideways, and then came crashing down in a ruined heap. The pianist at the piano, the singer with the song on her lips, were dashed into Purgatory without an instant's warning..."

Arthur and Louisa? Sounds more likely than the Chopin for a concert ... I think the British survivors may have titivated the tale for popular consumption. The vision of a Victorian mamma with unmarried middle-aged son in tow, giving a number at a holiday hotel concert rings so true ...

Nothing in his life became him like the leaving of it ... 28 July 1883.

I found this portrait on ebay

Listed by the same vendor, and seemingly labelled in the same hand are two other photos ... connected? I suppose I shall have to try to find out ...

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Heirlooms without an Heir ...

Who'd be the last twig on a moribund bough?

That's the case for John and I and our Gänzl-Gallas branch.  Father was the only son of an only productive son ... 

What this means, of course, is that all the 'stuff' hoarded by the last three generations of Gänzls, Gansls, and Gánsls has channeled itself from Austria and temporarily allied countries down to one little farmhouse in, would you believe it, New Zealand. Mine.

Apart from a few good-to mediocre paintings, of which I am fond, most of it, since it came to me, has been stashed away in cupboards. I rather think it might have also been the case in my parents' home. I am not under the illusion that anything among it is 'valuable' in monetary terms, but 'historical' ..?

I've already blogged the bits and pieces which adorn my shelves. I look at them daily, and they have helped impress the Austro-Hungarian-Jewish half of my pedigree on me rather deeply. Now, at last, I have gone to the back of the cupboard. Pretty things ... but, what will become of them when I shuffle off this mortal coil? What would Wendy do with a century-old Mah Jong set in ivory and ebony ... what would Paulie do with a lovely set of antique Viennese dominos ...

There appears to be one piece missing, but I think it is a blank ...   Father has translated the rules from the German, I would suspect very early in its career as his immaculate English seems just a little imperfect here and there.  There is no maker's mark. No sign of provenance. But the quality is good. A charming thing but ... what do I do with it?

There were two sets of dominos. One heart-touching set of beautifully hand-painted little ones, which I suspect were the work of my grandfather. Those had 'family' connections and feelings to them: so I packaged them up and sent them to my grandfather's wife's sister's family in Brazil. They have beautiful babies ... so maybe in another half century these will be cherished again.

The other is a real, heavy set of ivory/ebony dominos, in a custon-made pencil-case box. 

I had always thought that they came from the Scottish side of the family, but today, for the first time, I turned the box over ...

Josef Arazym (b 1968) shifted his bookshop to 46 Hietzinger Hauptstraße in 1915. He went on to become prominent, latterly at other adresses, so I'd guess this dates the box of, presumably bought-in, dominos to perhaps the 1920s. I guess now, a hundred years later, all dominos are plastic. 

Mother always seemed to think that 'father's building bricks' were the nicest thing amongst the Austrian heritage. I remember, John and I were allowed to use them once or twice. But neither of us evinced any architectural ambition, so the blocks went back in the cupboard ... until they ended up in mine. 

Clever toy. But, once again, no maker's mark that I can see .... Alas, a child with a mobile phone would probably find these dull. I think we did. But they are a wee bit historical. What pleased a child circa 1920 ...

Then there are boxes. One from 'Papa' Danziger's glacé fruits place in Vienna and pretending to be French ..

Another from a cigar emporium ...

The cigars were called 'Der Ewig-Männliche'. I would guess they date from well before National Socialism!  The model was either R Valentino or some Jewish male of dubious sexuality!

There's more. But that will do for the moment.

One of our own kittens has just caught herself in the (unset) cat traps which arrived an hour ago. Sometimes I think an heir or two might have been more manageable!

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Nellie of New Zealand


Old New Zealand photos usually have a little story to tell, so when I saw this one, I thought I'd try ...

The verso of the carte tells us that she is Nellie Dukes, and seemingly that it is 'for Aunt Sarah'.

Here we are. Nellie Hannah Dukes. Born in the Rugeley/Penkridge area of Staffordshire in the year 1874. Father: John Dukes. Mother Sarah Alltritt née Scott (b 6 March 1840), from Armitage, Staffs, daughter of an Irish farmer.  Mother and sister both named Hannah. Married the previous year ... she seems to have been some five years older than he. I see that she is listed as a 'housekeeper'. He ...?  Well, bit of a mystery here. For John reinvented himself at the age of about 35. At the time the Dukes, mother, father and daughter decided to leave Staffordshire for New Zealand. And, lacking a marriage certificate, I'm not quite sure who and what he was before he reinvented. The 1871 census shows a John Dukes, labourer, in Rugeley  ... but he's got a wife and three young daughters ..

John Dukes reinvented himself, on his arrival down under, as a preacher man. A Weslyan Methodist. The Reverend John Dukes. Presumably no qualification save enthusiasm was needed? Anyway, over the next forty years he held positions in Dunedin, Masterton, Hamilton, Whangarei, Devonport, Hawera, Waimate, Thames, Kaiapoi, Pukekohe, Onehunga and, finally Te Aroha.

Sarah died at the parsonage in Pukekohe 28 July 1910, and the Rev Dukes remarried before his death 16 August 1919.

As for Nellie, she married, in 1903, a locksmith from Raetihi, Joseph Dearlove Gibson, and gave birth to a daughter Loie Mary Willard Gibson in 1906. Gibson died in 1909, and after a decade as a widow, she married again, to farmer Herbert Wood of Weymouth Rd, Manurewa. She died 7 December 1935. Father, mother and Nellie are commemorated at Pukekohe Cemetery 

"In Loving Memory of SARAH ALLDRITT DUKES beloved wife of the Revd. JOHN DUKES who entered into rest July 28th 1910 Aged 70 years. "So he giveth his beloved sleep." In Loving Memory of The Rev. JOHN DUKES. For 40 years a Methodist Minister who entered into rest at the Methodist Parsonage Te Aroha, August 16th 1919 Aged 74 years. "Coming as at first I came, To take and not bestow on me, Friend of sinners spotless Lamb, the Blood was shed for me." Also their beloved daughter NELLIE HANNAH WOOD of Manurewa, who died 7th December, 1935 aged 61".
The ashes of daughter Loie (Mrs Claude Hammond Coup) lie there also. 

Which leaves just one tiny mystery. Who was Aunt Sarah to whom the photo was dedicated? Obviously not mother's sister ... and John the Rugeley labourer had four sisters, none of whom was named Sarah ..

Ah, well ...

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Did Grandmother go to the grand Vienna City Ball (1911) ...?


Vienna. February 1911.

Rudolfine Gänzl was a young, married woman of 24. And six and a half months pregnant.

Rudi and Pepi

After the second war, some years widowed, she emigrated to New Zealand to join her son. And brought with her a slightly odd collection of bits and pieces, from a vast dinner service to a stamp collection to father's childhood toys, to ...  this little box.

Its a Damenspende. Ladies attending a ball would be given one, containing the programme of dances for the night ... and this one is dated 2 February 1911.  The 21st 'Ball der Stadt Wien'. Topbilling the Erherzog Karl Franz Josef followed by an immense list of public officials and industrialists of all kinds ... the ballroom at the Rathaus must have been huge!

Was Rudi really there? Amongst all those nobs. A respectable shopkeeper's daughter from Floridsdorf. Puzzlement. Or did someone give her the Damenspende ...  ? She kept it for half a century, carried it through two world wars to the other side of the world ...

The only possible reason for her presence could have political. Her father, Eduard Stojetz, was prominent in the Naturfreund movement in Floridsdorf. But that movement was more than a camping, hiking and skiing outfit. It also stood staunchly to the left ... with the so-called Social Democrat Party of Viktor Adler. My father's earliest days are recorded as being spent at Hinterholz bei Kirchstetten 'the home of Professor Adler'. Who is to know? Unfortunately' Rudi's diary only starts with her son's birth ... a 'baby book'.

I really opened the little box to see whether there was a dance card. Sadly, not. A series of photos of the 'Stadt Wien' and ... the musical programme. Fascinating! What was 'in' for official dancing in 1911?

The usual occasional pieces 'dedicated to the committe' but otherwise loads of Strausses, Fall, Lehár, Eysler and Ziehrer, Joseph Müller ... who in the heck is Willy Wacek?  1864-1944. Military conductor. Well, that's one I didn't know about!  Lots and lots of waltzing. And waltz arrangements of things that weren't originally waltzes ..

So did my father dance around the Rathaus at minus 2 1/2 months of age?  Or merely watch from the sidelines ...

I imagine that I'll never know.

PS I see that the Damenspende was manufactured by the firm of Wilhelm Melzer, headquartered at 24 Mariahilferstraße

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

'Miss Violet Granville' ... a Dutch operetta mystery


I've known about 'Miss Granville' for a long long time. Not because she was particularly prominent in the Victorian musical theatre, but because she worked for Charles Morton and Emily Soldene in their heyday. I investigated her a little while back when, in the 1980s, I was writing my mega-biog of Soldene, but she didn't remain a Soldene singer, or indeed a performer, for more than a decade, so  ..

A short while ago, I came upon a photo of her ..

Then, today, another

A bit bijou, yes? But, of course, she was Jewish and, at this stage, theatrical ...

So, who was she? Well, that's no problem. The one document I have concerning her is her marriage certificate. I actually bought it, in days before the Internet. Judita Drucquer, daughter of John, interpreter aged 33. That's what it says. I say: oh yeah?

John, from Amsterdam? No. Joachim Jonas Drukker, son of Jonas Hijam Iom-Tov Chaim Drukker and his wife Judic Zise Kok, married Alida van Leeuwen in Amsterdam in 1828 (13 August). They had five sons, and two or three daughters, before they emigrated to England where their last daughter, Judith/Judita, seemingly, was born in 1842. Yes 1842. So at her marriage she was not 33 but 40. You can forgive her for lying. Her husband was some twenty years younger.

Father may have interpreted, but basically he was a tobacconist 'opposite Somerset House, in the Strand'. And a tobacconist and cigar-vendor/manufacturer he remained, through solvency and bankruptcy (allied with De Meza Brothers) until his death, 16 May 1883, at Forest Hill. Alida died the following year (1 July 1884) and is buried in the West Ham Jewish Cemetery.

But it isn't quite straightforward. In the 1851 census the family can be seen at 286 The Strand. Papa 'interpreter', mama 'milliner' (so they're not doing that well!), Jonas, George, Michael, Henry 'cigar makers', Julia, Elizabeth, Sophia 10. But no Judith. Is she Sophia? But she's 'Judith' in the birth records. Isn't she? The 1841 census has the Drukkers with four sons plus Julia, no Elizabeth, and an unnamed baby. Sophia? Hang on. One family historian equates Sophia with Julia, and it is odd that 'Violet' appears on the stage only after Sophia's divorce (for adultery) from one David de Heer. You get a bit muddled with these double Jewish names ...  I see eldest brother Jonas named his 1879 daughter 'Sophia Violet' ... 

Whatever, I spot a 'Miss Granville' at the Lyceum Theatre, in the chorus of Chilpéric. The pseudo-aristocratic pseudonym was not hers alone -- I remember Clara Granville with the Pelham girls at the Royalty half a dozen years earlier, and there was a 'Miss Granville' singing on the halls in the late 'sixties -- but I have a feeling that this may be 'Violet' using her good soprano voice and her noticeable figure for the first time in opéra-bouffe.

By 1873, she had got on well and truly to the Charles Morton-Emily Soldene train, and she took part in their season at the Opera Comique, playing in a little Lecocq pasticcio called My New Maid with Claliah Albertazzi. The season featured La Fille de Madame Angot, and I'd be pretty certain those two ladies were the understudies to the two leading ladies. And yes, I would guess Violet covered (as I suspect she did on other occasions) Soldene. Although if Soldene was off (as she rarely ever was) the show would probably have been cancelled. When Geneviève de Brabant was staged, Violet was a 'striking' Charles Martel.

At Christmas, she took time out to visit the Manchester Theatre Royal, where she played principal girl (Lady Melusine) to the Bluff King Hal of Scots musical-comedian Tom Maclagan. Maclagan had been Soldene's leading man in Le Petit Faust, which had followed Chilpéric at the Lyceum. So I dragged out my Lyceum playbill and yes! There is 'Miss Granville' as 'Rosa' as one of nine slightly featured girls in the cast ... so, we can confirm that she was on the Lyceum stage by 1870.

I pick her up over the 1874-5 in only a few concerts -- 7 February at the Princess's Theatre in a Benefit for the Cospatrick Fund. She sang Offenbach's 'Wind that Blows Across the Sea' (Whittington) Odoardo Barri's 'Why?' and took the mezzo part in the Rigoletto quartet. The soprano was Blanche Cole.  At Hastings, she joined Arthur Matthison and Barri in dance-music composer C H R Marriott's concert on the Pier Pavilion where her contributions were Pinsuti's 'The Maiden's Flower Song' and Sullivan's 'Little Maid of Arcadee'. She was praised for her 'splendid soprano'. On 21st February, with The Schubert Society (a haven for barely professionals) she sang 'Addio' and another Barri piece.

By mid-1875, she was back on the stage, this time at the Alexandra Theatre, cast in a spectacle coupé as the Queen in Balfe's The Sleeping Queen ('a bright and pleasing voice') and in The Gallant Waiter. When Charles Morton followed up with some performances of La Fille de Madame Angot, Charlotte Russell dropped out, and it was Violet who played the Soldene role of Lange.

Violet was evidently a useful lady, capable of taking a principal role, and willing to understudy.  Morton next deployed her to the Royalty Theatre, where Selina Dolaro was starring in La Périchole. Trial by Jury was the afterpiece (and the main attraction), but the forepiece was, as ever, movable and, when My Wife's Out was replaced by The Dumb Belle, Violet was brought in to play opposite Charlotte Russell. I would suspect, also, to cover Dolly.

Violet continued onwards and gently upwards. Morton produced Madame l'Archiduc in London, with Soldene in the title-role and no less a star than Kate Santley as the toyboy Fortunato.  There was really only one other at all substantial female role in the piece: that of the Countess. It was taken by Violet Granville. Who, again, doubtless, covered the star(s).

After some time 'available' (agent: R D'Oyly Carte), I see her next at the Folly Theatre, featured in a triple bill of Hervé and Offenbach operettas. She took the female role in Hervé's little Up the River, while Nellie Bromley, Kate Munroe and Violet Cameron played in the other, more substantial, pieces. Understudy again? 

Kate Munroe

Next, she was summoned to the St James's Theatre, to take up the famous role of the Directrice, in the effort to salvage the flop Philharmonic production of Le Petit Duc. The Directrice was a voluptuously comic Desclauzas character role. It seems Violet was going that way. But the piece sank, and Miss Granville headed back to the bosom of Morton and Soldene. Emily had just returned from ther famous 'tour of the world' and she brought a number of her faithful servants with her. She also brought her 4-act version of La Périchole and staged it, under Morton's management, at the Alhambra. This time, Violet got to play one of the three cousins (Guadalena) alongside Emily's sister Clara Vesey and Etty Bertie. Then, when Morton followed up with La Poule aux oeufs d'or the same three ladies were cast as the plotworthy sprites ...

Violet seemed to have found herself a comfy berth in the Mortonian hierarchy. But when the Christmas show ended, she disappears from my view ...

In 1881 'after some time absent' she resurfaced at the Strand Theatre, playing in the afterpiece, Paradise Villa, to Alexander Henderson's production of Olivette. Was she covering Florence St John in the star role? If she were, she didn't get the takeover. That went to Mlle Sylvia. The production ended 3 February 1882. 18 November, Violet married (as 'Judita') a young 'silk merchant' by name George Walter Roberts, and disappeared from out my ken ...

So what became of her?  Why can I not find her in one single census, as Judith Drukker/Drucquer, as Judita Roberts or as Violet?  She may have hooned off to Holland or Belgium sometimes, but in both 1871 and 1881 she was working in the London theatre. 

Papa, Mama and the siblings seem to have stayed in England. Hijman/Henry ran the hotel in Battle for twenty years. They all married. Jonas Joachim junior had ten children ... there must be someone out there who knows what happened to Auntie Judith-Violet. Did she and her boy go off to where the silkworms grow? Did the marriage last? I just don't know.

So, a frustrating tale. Susceptible (maybe) of improvement. Any help, much appreciated.

ASK AND IT SHALL BE GIVEN.  Bryan Kesselmann sends me, just hours later:

"Judita Sophie Violet Roberts of Lord Street, Southport, Lancashire, died 13 May 1909 and is buried in Duke Street Cemetery, Southport, Sefton, Merseyside. She left £2442 5s. 7d. to be administered by her husband George Walter Roberts, who was clerk to the vestry clerk".

So Judita WAS Sophie, she DID marry Mr de Heer and adulterise with Mr Nunes in Brussels ... got divorced by him, and then married a silk merchant who went into the church ...

and Anne Stanyon messages me that 'she was one of the girlies who threw themselves at the lovely Mr [Arthur] Sullivan' !!!!

OK, so where are they in the censi...? And why does the stone say 'aged 69'? Was she born in the Strand or in Amsterdam?  Is she not the Judith born 1842? The mysteries hav'n't all finished yet.  

Monday, March 7, 2022

One little, two little, three little injuns, four little five little ...


Having a bit of time off between lunch and dinner ....

The President of Fendalton


Yesterday, we went to town. Christchurch, that is. We don't often venture there. Its sixty years since I lived there. And the time is gone when we took our horses to Addington Raceway. But yesterday we were on the track of something that couldn't be had in Rangiora: a brand new car!  We found our way through the streets with the aid of the-lady-who-talks ... made our purchase  ... and I discovered that I could remember a much simpler way home ... Hagley, Fendalton, Papanui ...

This morning, while having my teatime stroll through ebay-land, I struck a New Zealand carte de visite of a baby.

I don't normally look into babies, but this one was from ... Fendalton, Christchurch! So ...

William Gordon Victor Fernie, aged 1 year and 8 months.

Jessie was his mother. Jessie Williamina Fernie née Crombie (b Peebles 26 December 1866; d Auckland, 25 September 1953) daughter of the one-time Peebles stationmaster, who had emigrated and become stationmaster at Dunedin.

Jessie had married David Fernie, son of a ship's carpenter/stoker ('Pomone'), from Dumbarton (d Auckland 11 June 1961), in New Zealand, 13 June 1900, and little Willie had been born, in Dunedin, 5 September 1901.

I imagine that 'dear Aunt Mary Ann' was Jessie's younger sister.

It must be embarrassing for public figures when their baby photos turn up. W G V was originally a schoolmaster, but he worked his way into Positions of Confidence, and became President or Director of the most unimaginably huge lists of Associations and Companies. In no particular order, here are but a few: President of the Canterbury Radio Traders Assoc; President of the NZ Furniture Manufacturers Assoc; General Manager of Calder, Mackay; Director/Chairman of Bunting & Co; Director of the New Zealand Refrigeration So; President of the NZ Retailers' Federation; President of the New Zealand Employer's Federation; Chairman of the Hire Purchase Association; President of the Canterbury Chamber of Commerce ...

He married, firstly, one Mary Ann Gallaugher (1927) by whom he had a son and a daughter before she walked out on him, and secondly Eveleen Dorothy Bannerman (8 June 1938) who apparently gave him another daughter.

Daughter Roma Vee married a Mr Hugh Macintosh Macdonald, bred and divorced. Son Kay Livingstone may have also married ...

W G V died in Auckland 3 September 1975.

Anyway, next time I pass through Fendalton, I shall look out for 52 Wroxton Terrace and 20 Wairarapa Terrace and say hello to his ghost ...