Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Trove Tuesday – An unexpected photograph and a sad death

When searching Trove for more information about my great grandmother, Constance Edith TERRY (1871-1925), I stumbled upon a couple of unexpected items.

I entered Frederick Fitts, the full name of her first husband who I knew had died.
Up came a photo of Frederick Ernest Henry FITTS, my Uncle Ricky (her eldest son by that marriage), a studio portrait taken just after he enlisted for WWI at the age of 21. 

It's an Australian War Memorial photo but these are also searchable in Trove - don't you just love it when everything is in one place!?
It confused me for a little while as we knew him as Frederick Ernest Terry Fitts. I’m not sure why the different name on his military records.

Uncle Ricky had been a ‘runner’ and repaired communications in WWI in the Somme, receiving a Military Medal for doing so a number of times under relentless shellfire. My brother used to love going to sit with him in his hostel and listen to his tales.

A great photo of a great man!
Uncle Ricky as I remember him with Auntie Doris
possibly taken on their 50th wedding anniversary

I also found a sad article about Uncle Ricky’s father – see transcription below - the faded print of the actual article was too hard to read (so not included here).

Frederick Arthur FITTS died when (great) Uncle Ricky was only eight and (great) Auntie Thel had just had her first birthday.
My great grandmother remarried in 1905 to my great grandfather Lewis Garrett and had another four children.

The Argus, Monday 10 March, 1902
General regret has been occasioned by the news of a sad accident which happened at Nagambie on Saturday morning, resulting in the drowning of Mr. Frederick Fitts, of the firm of Lloyd Tayler and Fitts, architects, of Melbourne.
Mr. T. Hewlett, M.R.C.S., and Mrs. Hewlett have been spending a short holiday at Nagambie, and were staying at the Valley Hotel, on the shores of the lake.
They were joined by Mr. Fitts (Mr. Hewlett's stepson) on Friday evening and at 11 o'clock on Saturday morning a party, consisting of Mr. Oliver Dolphin, proprietor of the hotel; Mr. and Mrs. Hewlett, Mr. R. M. K. Gollan, excise inspector; Mr. Fitts, and Mr. J. Leyden, left the landing-place opposite the hotel, and proceeded up the lake towards Tabilk in the steam-launch Merriwee. The launch belonged to Mr. Dolphin, and was in constant use for excursions of the kind. It was headed across the lake towards the river, but when about 30 chains from the starting-point it crashed into a stump a few inches below the surface, and almost instantly filled and sank.
A plaque inside a book that my mother has.
The occupants, who were totally unprepared for any such alarming contingency, were in a few moments struggling for their lives in the water. The lake at the spot where the accident happened is from 6ft. to 12ft. in depth. None of the occupants of the boat, with the exception of Mr. Leyden, were able to swim, and it appeared at one time as if they would all be drowned. The accident, however, was witnessed by a boy named Lodering from the bank, and, getting a boat, he rowed quickly to the spot, and with the assistance of Mr. Leyden, rescued the rest of the party, with the exception of Mr. Fitts, who sank before the   boat arrived. They pulled about in the vicinity of the spot for some time, but he did not reappear on the surface, and the rescues party, who were exhausted by their struggles, were rowed ashore, and taken to the hotel.
The lake on which the accident occurred was formed by the backing up of the water of the river by the Goulburn weir. The water completely inundated a large area which was occupied by farms, including a quantity of heavily-timbered land, and the bottom of the lake is covered with stumps of trees, some of which reach almost to the surface of the water. The recent dry season has caused the level of the lake to fall about 3ft., and has considerably added to the danger of boating on it.
Mr. Herbert Hewlett, M.R.C.P., received a number of telegrams from his father on Saturday, giving brief particulars of the occurrence, in one of which he described the escape of himself and Mrs. Hewlett as almost miraculous. It is expected that he will return to Melbourne to-day.
The body of the deceased was recovered yesterday in 8ft. of water. A magisterial inquiry was held before Messrs. John Gordon and E. W. Hill, J.P.'s, when a verdict of death from shock and drowning, the result of a boating accident, was recorded.
The untimely death of Mr. Fitts, who was in his 36th year, deprives Melbourne of one of its most prominent architects. He was associated with Mr. Lloyd Tayler for some years as partner in the firm of Lloyd Tayler and Fitts. Mr Lloyd Taylor died a little over a year ago, and since his death Mr. Fitts had been carrying on the business. He was born and educated in Melbourne, and the promise of success which he gave at the outset of his career was being early fulfilled at the time of his death. He was one of the architects who designed the Commercial Bank Buildings, and did a great deal of useful work in designing the wool stores of the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company, while the recent additions to the stands at Flemington have been carried out in accordance with his plans and those of Mr. Byron Moore. In the prize competition for the best design for the Melbourne Exhibition buildings Mr Fitts secured the second award of the judges. In connection with his death a melancholy interest attaches to the announcement which was made a few days ago that he would read a paper before the Amateur Photographic Association of Victoria on next Wednesday evening. Mr. Fitts, who lived at Hawthorn-grove, Hawthorn, leaves a widow and family of four young children. His two brothers, Messrs. H.A. Fitts and Ernest Fitts, are well known in the musical world.

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