Finding Family

One woman's obsession with family history.

Being a lover of history there have been many moments where I’ve imagined what it would be like living in the past. What the world looked like. What Perth looked like. What it would be like wearing the clothes they wore. And then I find a newspaper article and a family story (completely unknown until a few days ago) that cracks the rose-coloured glasses I’m wearing, reminds me of the reality of the past and fills me with gratitude that I am a woman living in today’s world.

My 2nd Great Grandmother, Mary Esther Wallace (nee Mather) was 44 years old and a widow when she married Joseph White on 7 June 1911 in South Bunbury. As this article shows, the marriage was a violent and unhappy one. While Mary applied for and was granted the separation by the Court in 1921, she seems to have not gone through with the divorce. I am filled with grief at the trauma that both she and her children had to live with throughout her marriage to Joseph and I’m saddened that she didn’t completely break free.

The question as to why she married him in the first place may never be answered but it may simply have been the case of a woman with six children (three under the age of 10) needing the financial support of man. An all too common story of the past.


The Truth published an even more detailed article:


5 thoughts on “Trove Tuesday – Reality & Gratitude

  1. Mum says:

    He was not every nice

    1. Jess says:

      Not nice at all! I feel very sorry for Mary. It must’ve been a nightmare living with him.

  2. cassmob says:

    Some things never really change, including domestic violence. He was not a nice man and it sounds like she had a lucky escape, even if it never came to divorce…possibly she couldn’t cope with this sort of thing again, or because of costs. Does WA have divorce records in the archives. I got my grandmother’s from c1914 and it was most enlightening…never figured out why her father and brothers didn’t sort him out as well.

    1. Jess says:

      Very true cassmob. I think the State Records Office here should have the divorce records – it’s on my list to investigate anyway. Fingers crossed! 🙂

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: