Who was William Elvis Allen?

After many years of searching, a close DNA match has finally given me information on my grandfather William Alan (Allen) Wyatt. From many records now shared between Dennis (and his half sister Carol), Kylie, Julie, Bob and Kevin, we are now all descendants of :

William Elvis Allen

Life in England

My grandfather was born to  parents William Elvis and Florence Emily Allen nee Evans and the birth registered in the third quarter of 1902. (Certificate has been ordered) Unfortunately, our William lost his father before he was born (death registered in first quarter 1902 and certificate ordered)  Florence had two other young children Frank Earnest aged 5 and Ethel Maud aged 1 to look after. I wonder if she had to go to a workhouse for a while as there is a record for a Florence Emily Allen age 24 being discharged to the infirmary at the Lewisham Workhouse on Friday 3 October 1903? Need to check if the children were there or if this is just a red herring.

When our William was baptised on 24 June 1903, the family were living at 120 Livingstone Road in the parish of Upper Norwood in Surrey. It is mentioned on the baptism record that his father had been a carpenter and was deceased. Looking at the 1901 census, living at the same address were William and Florence, children Frank and Ethel but also Florence’s parents George and Mary Evans and two of their sons, Albert and Charles.

In 1905, things were looking up for Florence and her children as she married Frederick Edward Bray in April. They quickly had three more children Albert, Kathleen and Charles.

By the 1911 census living at 124 Livingstone Road were Frederick and Florence Bray, their three children and two step children Frank and William. Something has happened to Ethel. Our William was now around 8 years old, his brother Frank about 14. Frederick was a general labourer working for the Croydon Council.

We next find William Elvis Allen joining the Royal Navy at age 16 and serving on the Ganges II as a boy. Research shows me this was a training ship for young boys and was at Shotley, near Ipswich, north east of London. As part of the war effort, the boys were helping with building and moving submarine nets.

National Archives, England, ADM/188/821 image 490

 

Image found at https://pbase.com/hms_ganges_museum/pre1920

It looks like after his first six month service test, he was invalided out due to chronic diarrhoea and deafness.  So what was William to do now? War had ended, maybe time to use his new knowledge of the sea and head to a new country – Australia – a land of sun, sea and sheilas.

England to Australia

We find him leaving London, early January 1919, on the ship SS Demosthenes heading to Albany, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney dropping off Australian troops in each port. As this is the time of the influenza epidemic, the ship goes into quarantine at each port until it is cleared.

StateLibQld 1 108808 Demosthenes (ship)

At this stage, he is 17 years old and is registered as a steward’s boy. On board is 175 crew including some especially serving the troops on board. Troop members are not mentioned by name on the passenger list. He finally arrives in Sydney on 15 March 1919. We don’t know if William left the ship at this time or went back to London via Colombo, Bombay and Port Said with the passengers, meat carcasses and fruits loaded on the Demosthenes for the return voyage.

There are more mentions of a W.E. Allen on board Demosthenes arriving Sydney

  • 19 September 1919 as assistant steward born London age 18
  • 4 October 1919 as an assistant steward aged 18 born Thornton Heath

But there is mention of a W.E Allen age 19 being an assistant steward on the ship SS Themistocles (sister ship to Demosthenes) travelling from Southampton to Sydney and arriving on 8 March 1921. There were 613 passengers on board being looked after by 222 crew.

These records are found at Ancestry.com under the New South Wales, Unassisted Immigrant Passenger Lists – 1826-1922.

Life and marriages in Australia

Sometime during the years 1921 and 1924, William met his first wife Emily Daisy Green. There is a Miss Emily D Green found on the passenger list for the Demosthenes departing Southhampton on 9 February 1921 bound for Sydney but there is no crew list for this voyage. According to her later divorce papers, Emily Daisy had met William 3 or 4 years before they married. He had been a steward on a boat but was put off the boat before they married. Maybe this news article shows the cause for his dismissal as a steward if this is our William Allen.

http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article140012687

 

William and Daisy married on 12 April 1924 at Registry Office, Newtown, Sydney. At this time, he was working as a steward near Kings Cross. As William did not stay long in one place, they never had their own home. Instead Daisy and the two children born to her and William lived with other people on the North Shore of Sydney. The first son William Elvis John Allen was born in 1924 and the second son Frederick Henry Allen in 1925. By 1939, when Daisy petitioned for a divorce, she had not heard from William since 1925 when he had joined Royal Australian Navy at the urging of the family where Daisy was living. Her final contact was with the chaplain of the ship Penguin. She had been getting a monthly allotment but none after William disappeared. There is also a record in the National Archives Australia for a William E Allen – Application for covering approval of an irregular payment. This will need to be checked out as it might relate to our William.

Records show William enlisted on 19 May 1925 for a period of 12 years. He joined with the name William Alvis Allen maybe his English accent caused the misspelling.  He was born in Thornton Heath, London on 27 June 1901. William passed three Naval exams in 1925/1926. His record shows he served on the following ships:

National Archives of Australia; Canberra, Australia; Service Cards for Petty Officers and Men, 1911-1970; Series: A6770

I can’t find any reference to the ship Cerberus in 1925; nor the Penguin in either 1925 or 1927; Brisbane was refitted as a training vessel and in Victoria at HMAS Cerberus base in 1925/1926; Sydney took on its normal peacetime activities 1926/1927 including a trip to Melbourne for the Melbourne Cup period; Marguerite was a naval reserve training vessel visiting NSW, Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland.  A remark on his record says “Run at Sydney 11 – 10 – 27.  SC filed”

A warrant for William Elvis Allen is found in the New South Wales Police Gazette on the 4th January 1928.

From DNA results, we have William moving to Tasmania and now going by the name William Allen (Alan) Wyatt. According to the Denison Electoral Roll (in Hobart) for 1929, William was living at 160 Goulburn St and was a labourer. Also living at this address were Ellen Sarah Avery, Keith Henry Avery and Oscar Clyde Goldsmith Avery.

According to his marriage certificate to Jean Violet Ward on 5 December 1929, Alan was age 25, a bachelor, occupation was a steward. He was born in Sydney NSW and his parents were Alan George Wyatt and Florence Emily Wyatt nee Evans. Jean and Alan were married at the Registrar Generals Office. Two children were born in the next two years, Alan and June, before their mother passed away in September 1931.

 

During the two years of this marriage, William was in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve (RANR) and according to his certificate of service with them, he was born 27 June 1905 in London, England. When he joined up on 3 February 1930, he was living at 3 Allison Street, Hobart with his wife, Jean Violet Wyatt nee Ward. He was a steward, could swim and was Church of England in religion. His description was 5’8″ with dark hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion. Keith Avery was also in the RANR at this time training with William.

He spent only 27 hours in drill training at the naval depot in Hobart, he was of very good character but his ability was inferior. After 30 June 1931 he was not assessed and his 3 year engagement expired in February 1933. By the time of the electoral roll in 1931, Alan William Wyatt (reversal of name) was living at Allison Street also and he was now a steward.

It is at this time that Emily Daisy Allen nee Green starts divorce proceedings against William Elvis Allen.

After the death of Jean, William marries my grandmother Irene Ellen Gertrude Smith in Hobart at Holy Trinity Church on April 11, 1932 states his age at last birthday being 30 and his occupation as a steward. He was a widower, his wife dying in 1931 and he had two living children. He was born in Sydney, New South Wales. His parents were Alan George Wyatt (a licensed victualler) and Florence Emily Wyatt (nee Evans).  My father was born in November 1932 and two years later William deserted my grandmother and my father.

According to my grandmother’s petition for divorce in 1945, William was working at Hadley’s Hotel as a steward and they had been living in a flat in Hampden Road. She was deserted by William shortly before Christmas in 1934.

According to DNA match, William now heads back to New South Wales but using the name Alan William Wyatt. Alan is next found marrying in November 1936 to Stella Wilby Parrish at Wollongong St Michaels church. He is now a lorry driver living at Port Kembla and age 36, yet still a bachelor. He was born in Scotsdale – which could be either Tasmania or Western Australia. His father, George Wyatt, a hotel keeper is deceased but his mother Florence Emily Wyatt is still alive.

On 8 June 1940, Emily Daisy Allen finally got a decree absolute from William Elvis Allen and on 2 October 1945, Irene Ellen Gertrude Wyatt got her decree absolute from William Allan Wyatt.

It seems Alan has decided to settle down and no longer has anything to do with the navy. Instead he is found in the New South Wales Electoral Rolls:

  • 1937 billiard Saloon proprietor living at 23 Kembla Street, Port Kembla
  • 1943 and 1949 a labourer living at Shellharbour Road in Port Kembla
  • 1954 and 1958 a clerk living on Wentworth Estate in Wollongong
  • 1958 a railway employee living in Kully Street, Warrawong
  • 1972 a railway employee living in Bent Street, Warrawong

Even though the family moved around a bit, Alan and Stella remain married until his death in 1974.

Thanks to the following people

Without the help of Bob – my father, Kevin – dad’s half brother, Kylie and Julie – daughters of Kevin, Dennis – dad and Kevin’s half nephew and Carol – Dennis’s half sister, I would not have been able to piece together the story of my grandfather. There are still things to check and certificates to wait for but I think we have sorted out the story of William Elvis Allen. Below are photos of William, his sons, Bob, Kevin and Frederick and his grandson Dennis. I think the resemblances prove the DNA matches.

Readers: Hope you have enjoyed my biography of my newly found grandfather who has been my brickwall for many years. Who is your best brickwall in your research?

Can’t get much closer than …

My dad. Most of the posts written about him are related to his DNA research. But this time I thought I would write about his work life before and after he met mum. Dad had already put together a folder including photos from various courses he had taken in the 1950s-1980s. But he had also written out some stories of his time as a technician with the PMG (Postmasters General), a department of the Federal Government of Australia. These are parts of his stories:

I was Acting Technician’s Assistant from May 1950 until June 1951.

My mother knew ECA Brown who was the Director in the PMG and I applied for a job as a temporary Technicians Assistant in May 1950. I started off with six weeks training at what used to be the Congregational Hall in Harrington St (it has since been demolished and is a law firm now). My training was to learn the colour code that was used in all the different sized cables used in telephone exchanges and how to terminate the wires on to various bits of equipment including main frame protectors, terminal strips, jack strips and other bits of equipment. The cable was silk and cotton covered with a slight waxing and the wire itself was enamel covered. The wire had to be scraped clean and the covering twisted neatly and just caught under the edge of the terminal strip, wound once around and wriggled to break it off. Then each wire had to be soldered to make it a sound connection.

After this initial training I was sent to Burnie to help install the CB (Common Battery) manual telephone exchange. We worked every day of the week with only Sunday afternoon off. We also worked several nights overtime in order to get the exchange working as the politicians had said that the exchange would be cut-over by some particular date. This was my first trip away from home and it was a real eye opener for me.

There were a lot of men boarding in Burnie and some of us were boarding at the hotel at Wynyard. I remember the cook at the hotel was a woman that always had a cigarette in her mouth with a long bit of ash that was likely to fall off into your breakfast. Sometimes after working overtime it was pouring with rain and I had to go back to Wynyard with a chap who had poor eyesight in an old ute that had wipers that you had to move back and forth with one hand while still driving along. He was Senior Technician, Tim Michael, and he later helped me in my future career in the PMG.

I was then sent to Deloraine to help install a new PABX (Private Automatic Branch Exchange) at R P Furmage and Co. which was a large store on the corner opposite the bridge. My boss there was Norm Smith and we boarded at the Bush Inn just over the river. It was bitterly cold at the time and I remember that the frost never melted from the sides of the bridge that we crossed going to work. The PABX was a unit about the size of a small cupboard with only room for one person to work at it and I remember that often we worked with our overcoats on until the room heated up a little.

Here is an example of the type of phones being replaced with automatic phones:

 

I got Mum to send up my bike on the bus (I remember that she wrapped it up with lots of newspaper!) and then I was able to ride all over the place at the weekends. I think I went out to Quamby Bluff but I am not sure whether I climbed it.

We finished the work at Deloraine and moved to Devonport to install another PABX at the Ovaltine factory but I was not long there when I was nominated for a course on Substation Maintenance in Hobart. I returned to Hobart with Senior Technician Eric Rogers in his old Clino utility that he really looked after very well. Norm Smith and Eric Rogers were my lifetime friends in the PMG.

In 1953 dad was promoted to technician on a wage of £596 per annum. He then became acting senior technician for PABX maintenance in 1954 and another promotion in 1955 to senior technician on £938 per annum.

Many of the PABX operators were blind. One blind operator was George Grainger at the HEC (Hydro Electric Commission) office (Linefinder). When I was called to a fault there he would ring down to the accounts office and tell them that Phyllis England was wanted at the switchboard. He was a rascal as he knew Phyllis was my girlfriend!

In 1953, there was a big changeover of telephone numbers in the Hobart area. Many people hadn’t checked their new telephone directories and were therefore calling wrong numbers. Dad had to be called in to help re-route incorrect numbers.

 

In the year I was born (1956) dad became an acting supervising technician grade 2 at Exchange Installation Metro.

From 1960-1970s, he worked at the Bathurst Street exchange as grade 1 then 2 then 3 supervising technician in Telecommunications.

From 1978 until retirement in 1991, dad was the Principle Telecommunications Technical Officer at the Exchange Maintenance Centre and District Support Centre in Hobart.

In the 1970s a lot of exchanges were cut over to computer controlled from Hobart.

This was all very controversial and a new set-up for us all particularly as the first exchange to be cut into service was at Wynyard on the north-west coast. It was my job to go to Wynyard and explain to the local staff that I was now in charge of the equipment and I would tell them what to do. All they had to do was connect up the telephone lines and very little else. Also the staff at Wynyard was to be halved. It was difficult for everyone to understand how we were going to maintain the exchange from Hobart. We had a direct computer line to the equipment also a dial up connection as well as a local terminal. Local staff hated this arrangement and my name was mud because I was held responsible for these changes.

I learnt a lot about my dad and his role with telephone exchanges around Tasmania by reading his stories. He seemed to often think outside the box to fix problems on lines or in the exchanges and he wasn’t frightened to express his own views to either his workers, his bosses or some clients who thought they knew better.

I was pretty good at faults and was sometimes sent out of my area to fix recurring faults that were difficult to find. I was sent to a solicitors office who complained that he was receiving calls but no-one was there. It was an A10 system, two telephone lines and ten extensions. I was unable to find any problem and had been just looking about the office when the phone buzzed. I lifted the handset and no-one was there! So I was then convinced that something was wrong. After sitting in the office for some time with the door open and people walking up and down in the passage outside the office, I was really puzzled about the fault. Just then two people passed in the passage outside the door and the phone buzzed again! I paced up and down the passage until I found that if I trod on one particular spot on the side of the passage the phone buzzed! After lifting a floorboard up I found a nail had penetrated the telephone cable and a bit of pressure on the board caused the solicitors phone to buzz. My ability as a fault man rose tremendously after that effort.

Another fault that I attended was to Mrs Grant at High Peak at Ferntree. She had consistently complained of No Progress calls and other technicians had been there but were unable to fault her telephone or line. I could not fault the phone and I had tested everything thoroughly so I asked her to try dialing a number for me. She lifted the receiver, dialed the number without lifting it to her ear. She handed me the receiver saying “There you are, nothing.” Ferntree exchange was a UAX at that time and very slow before you got dial tone. I explained this to Mrs Grant saying that she had to listen for dial tone before dialing a number otherwise she would always get No Progress or wrong numbers. She quickly told me that she knew how to use the telephone and had been dialing numbers probably before I was born! I reported the fault as “No Fault Found” which she no doubt heard me tell the test desk that I had found nothing wrong with the telephone.

Readers: In your lifetime, how has telecommunications changed? What type of phone did you have early in your life?

 

 

Let’s dance! Square dance that is!

With my parents now heading to their late eighties, I have been looking back at some of the influences of their lives together. This photo represents one of those – square dancing.

Mum and dad met while square dancing.

Before they were married, mum represented Tasmania in 1951 at the Australian championships. She was one of the couples from Swan St Club.

 

The average age of the winners was 16 – mum was actually 17 at this time. Mum’s father, Henry Lewis England, nearly fell over the balcony at City Hall when mum and her team won the Women’s Weekly competition in Tasmania.

This image is of them being congratulated on their win. Click on the image to find out more about the second and third prize winners in Tasmania – A National Fitness Council team and the Elizabeth Street School teachers team.

 

The Tasmanian team enjoyed time out at the Sydney Botanic Gardens while at the championships. Joe Lewis, a caller from America, was the judge and he gave points for showmanship, spirit of happiness, timing, precision, gracefulness and impromptu calls. Click on the image to read about the Square Dance contest in Sydney. The Tasmanian team came second.

 

Now back to mum and dad. They met at St Peters Hall in Harrington Street Hobart on 12 September 1952 when dad was 20 and mum 18. A group of dancers had gone to Collinsvale to do an exhibition square dance on that date but mum and dad were at the hall.  Dad was part of the Bar 8 square dance group hence the number eight with the line through it on his shirt above.

According to mum, when I was about 6 months old, they took me to a square dance at Claremont Hall and the other dancers were amazed that I slept through the music and other noises. I can remember as a small child being taken to square dancing evenings at a hall in Lindisfarne and enjoying the music. This also influenced my life as I too joined a square dancing club in Hobart but also learnt how to teach Round Dancing – a variation of ballroom dancing done in between square dance brackets.

Sources:

Image 1 – personal collection

Image 2 – Mercury Hobart 18 Jul 1951

Readers: Did you or your parents ever take part in square dancing? Where and when? Or maybe ballroom dancing was more their style. Where and when?

 

Family Snaps

This week in #52ancestors the theme is “Family photos”. Unsure if this meant any photos taken by a family member or photos of families, I thought I would add a few of both in this post as a gallery of snaps. Many of these photos have been used in previous posts.

 

Surprise, surprise!

It is from my dad’s DNA testing that I have had a lot of surprises. I have been researching my family for over 45 years and thought I had all the paper work correct.

Imagine my surprise when I find all these DNA matches to dad that don’t fit into the paperwork I have.

Dad Ancestry matches

The starred matches are those I have as connections in my home database. They include myself, my brother, dad’s half brother (another surprise), five 1st or 2nd cousins already known to us, and finally three cousins who I have now connected to dad’s tree.

But there is someone who is a 1st or 2nd cousin match who I have no idea about. When I look at the shared matches for that person, none come back to known relatives. So somewhere my paper trail must be wrong.

Dad unknown cousin

Then I looked at ethnicity. Dad’s great grandfather was half Samoan, so dad and I should have some Polynesian in our DNA – not a skerrick. Those 5 known cousins do from 3-10%. So where is dad’s and mine?

Dad DNA story

Where has all the Irish ethnicity come from? I hadn’t found any Irish in dad’s paperwork. Looks like there have been some lies passed down in the family oral history. Or maybe the truth wasn’t known and it is only now with DNA that the truth is appearing.

With dad’s half brother (same father) having done a DNA test, I can now sort dad’s matches into paternal and maternal. But when looking at the maternal matches, I find the unknown 1st or 2nd cousin comes in there. But doesn’t match those with the Polynesian ethnicity. So maybe dad’s maternal grandfather is not the son of the Samoan whaling captain I have researched for years.

I have started using the tool What are the odds (part of DNA painter) which allows me to make hypotheses of where dad’s grandfather might be in the unknown cousin’s tree.

Dad DNA painter WATO

Looking at the unknown cousin’s tree, there is a lot of Irish in there, but I still need to find which person is dad’s direct relative.

Readers: What surprises have you found in your paper trail and or DNA trail?