Remembering Valda Irene Phillips (1921-2023)

My paternal grandma passed away a few days ago and since then I’ve been thinking about her life and my memories of her.

Valda Winter was the middle of five children born to Otto and Irene Winter, and she grew up in the suburbs of Adelaide. Her father was a Finnish seaman, who ended up in South Australia, and her mum was of English descent.

She was 101, and was very with it and independant until about the age 97 or so. I mean, she’s this tiny (and by tiny, I mean less than 5 foot something) lady, living in her own unit at that age! Remarkable eh!

But sadly there’s a lot that I didn’t (and probably won’t) know about my grandma. I did give her a copy of the “The Book of Myself: A Do-it-Yourself Autobiography in 201 Questions” which is a book that asks questions, and has plenty of room for answers to be written in. She said she would fill in for me, but sadly when we found it on her shelf, it was never written in. So maybe in retrospect, interviewing her directly would possibly have been a better option, as so many memories and stories have now been lost with her passing. And she was the last of that generation, and my last grandparent.

Unfortunately this side of the family weren’t really keepers of much at all, other than photos from more recent eras. So while grandma would have seen so many changes in life, and world events throughout her 101 years … we don’t have any written record of her thoughts on any of it.

Here’s just a few key events that happened during her lifetime:
1929 The Depression hit Australia
1932 Opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge
1940 Pencillin was developed by Howard Florey and a team of scientists
1942 Japan bombs Darwin
1949 Australian citizenship introduced
1950 Korean War
1954 Queen Elizabeth II visits Australia
1956 Polio vaccine ends epidemic in Australia
1956 Television is launched in Australia
1958 Australia’s first skyscraper built
1966 Decimal currency introduced to NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT
1969 Man walks on the moon for the first time
1971 Daylight Saving introduced
1973 Sydney Opera House opens
1974 Cyclone Tracy flattens Darwin
1979 Australian women win the right to maternity leave
1982 Commonwealth Games held in Brisbane
1983 Ash Wednesday devastate large parts of South Australia and Victoria
the list could go on and on!!

I remember lots of wider-family get-togethers when I was younger. I remember their house at Cudlee Creek, and the sheds that got burnt in Ash Wednesday. I remember the house she and grandpa moved to when they moved to the suburbs, and their love of caravaning with friends particularly for golf trips. I remember that she had a penfriend in England for 60 or so years. I remember her passion for her Finnish heritage, as well as anything to do with the Royal family, particularly Queen Elizabeth II. Her display cabinet with royal knick-knacks was quite the collection. I remember staying with them for a week when I did work experience, so I could catch the bus into the city and back each day. I remember that back in her youth she was a dressmaker for Madam Jeanne’s bridal shop, and right thoughout the decades, she caught up the ‘the girls’ from there once a year, which was always a highlight for her. I remember that Christmas time was a big thing for her, and her house was filled with cards, so I have no doubt that she was a big card sender too.

And I remember the afternoons I went to her place to scan old photos.

Anyway below are a selection of photos from her life …

Valda Winter with her three sisters, c.1928 Back L-R: Mavis and Valda Front: Betty and Joyce
Valda Winter with her three sisters, c.1928
Back L-R: Mavis and Valda
Front: Betty and Joyce
Valda Winter & her sisters, c.1931
Valda Winter (on far right) & her sisters, c1932
at the beach Joyce Winter, friend Joan & Valda Winter c1936
at the beach
Joyce Winter, friend Joan & Valda Winter c1936
Thebarton Methodist Basketball Team, c.1937
Thebarton Methodist Basketball Team, c1937
She’s the one on the end on the right
Valda Winter, c1940
Valda Winter, c1940
Valda Winter, c.1941
Valda Winter, c.1942
Ron and Valda on his motorbike, c.1940s
Valda's wedding, 1944
Valda’s wedding, 1944
Ron and Valda, with children Alan, Raelene and Lynette, 1952
Ron and Valda Phillips, 1971
Ron and Valda’s house and Cudlee Creek and the burnt out sheds from Ash Wednesday, 1983
their Golden Wedding Anniversary, 2004
Valda Phillips, 2007
here’s me with my grandma on her 95th birthday, 2016

Rest in peace grandma, and I hope you’re enjoying catching up with everyone again.

Genealogy Close Calls

I was inspired to write this post as a result of reading Heather Rojo’s blog, Nutfield Genealogy, when wrote about her “Top Ten Genealogy Close Calls“.

The title alone intrigued me, as I wasn’t quite sure what she meant by ‘genealogy close call’. But she explains it well:

“What’s a “Genealogy Close Call”? It happens when I research an ancestor and realize that if fate didn’t intervene I wouldn’t be here today. Some of our ancestors narrowly escaped disasters, only to live on and produce a descendant that led to YOU. “

So that got me thinking. Did I have any “genealogy close calls”. My initial thoughts were no, but as the day progressed I remembered the following incidents:


WILLIAM KENNARD ELPHICK (c1815-1869)  – Survived the voyage
and wife SUSANNA ELPHICK (nee ELLIOT) (c1812-1899)
William and his wife Susanna married in London in November 1838, and then immediately boarded the ‘Plantar’ ship to start a new life in Australia. The journey which on average takes about four months, took almost six months partly due to the captain’s incompetence – missing a port where they were meant to collect supplies, and having to stop elsewhere as a result, together with other misadventures such which included much of the crew being lost, as were some passengers and most of the livestock. Eventually a new crew was acquired and the journey continued. For more on their story click here. The Elphick family settled in Adelaide, and had numerous children. The Elphick’s are Mr Lonetester’s 3x great grandparents. While not everyone survived this journey, they did, and if they hadn’t he wouldn’t have be here.

OTTO RAFAEL WINTER (1880-1961) – WW1 injuries
Otto Winter was born in Finland and spent 7 years sailing the world on a merchant sailing ship. I’m sure if I had detailed of every voyage there would be ‘close call’ stories there, but I don’t, so I won’t make assumptions. After having jumped ship in Australia, he chose to get naturalised and in 1916 he signed up for the Australian Army in WW1 and was sent off to Belgium. During his three years in the AIF he was wounded several times, including being  shot in the stomach and poisoned with mustard gas while tunnelling at Ypres. Despite this, he survived and made it home to his young wife and baby boy. Had he not survived my grandma would not have been born. For more on Otto Winter click here.



ISAAC RICHARDSON (1804-1873) – sentenced to death
A labourer in Kent, Isaac Richardson together with his bother Simeon, were rioting to stand up for their rights during the Industrial Revolution. Sentenced to death, the local townspeople petitioned to save their life and both were then sentenced to transported to Van Diemen’s Land for life instead. Isaac’s wife Matilda (nee Bonner) and the two children Edward and Esther were given assisted passage in 1837-38. Isaac was granted a conditional pardon in 1842. Isaac and Matilda had a total of 9 children, and continued to live in Tasmania. Isaac’s first born child, Edward was my 3x great grandpa). As Edward was already born before Isaac was transported, this doesn’t count as a ‘close call’ for me, but for descendants of the 7 children that were born later it certainly would. You can read more about Issac Richardson here.

WILLIAM RICHARD RANDELL (1824-1911) – near explosion
William Richard Randell is known as the father of paddlesteamers on the River Murray. He emigrated with his parents from Devon, England in 1837 and initially they bred cattle and drove them along the land along the Murray River, in South Australia and later setup flour mills in the Adelaide Hills. Despite having no previous experience in navigation or having ever seen a steamboat, W.R. Randell became obsessed with building a paddlesteamer to transport supplies up and down the river. And by 1853 the “Mary Ann” which he built became the first paddlesteamer in South Australia. The boiler, a box shape, and made of lead riveted together was said to have “needed chains wrapped around the middle. Even then when proceeding at maximum speed the sides and top were observed to swell in and out like a concertina”. And while it didn’t explode, but it seems like it wasn’t far from it. William Richard Randell is a half-brother to my 2x great grandpa … so he’s not a direct relative. But had he not survived his paddlesteaming days, it certainly would affected his direct line.

William Richard Randell and boiler of PS Mary Ann at Mannum, South Australia

William Richard Randell and boiler of PS Mary Ann at Mannum, South Australia

GEORGE PHILLIPS (1865-1941) – nearly drowned
There’s a story that’s been handed down the generations in my family about George Phillips. George Phillips and his wife Mary Ann (nee Kemp), along with their baby boy, also George, emigrated from England to South Australia in 1865 onboard the “Adamant”. The story goes that a fellow female passenger was holding baby George, when Mary Ann had a bad feeling or premonition, so she collected him from the lady, and shortly afterwards that poor lady fell overboard. I don’t know the validity of the story, except that there was a lady who drowned on the voyage out mentioned in the surgeon’s journals. So it is a possibility. And as baby George survived, he counts as a genealogy close call, although not for me, as he’s a brother to my great great grandpa, not my direct line.


While I don’t have many ‘close calls’ in this list. Ok technically only two, this just means that I have more research to do. More digging to find the stories.

Just think of all the possibilities there are, past and present: car accidents, horse and cart accidents, farm accidents, mining accidents, fires in the house, other occupational accidents, childbirth, fell down steps, numerous diseases and ailments, natural disasters (fires, floods, famine, tornado, cyclone, hurricane), major sporting injuries, a close encounter with a wild animal, or was your ancestor known for getting in fights? The list is endless …

Now I’m off to see what else I can find …

Trewartha’s Candy Store, Dover, New Jersey

My regular readers will know that my 4x great grandma Charlotte Phillips and her husband Samuel Trewartha are two of my fav ancestors, and I’ve written about them from time to time.

Born in the 1820s, they grew up in Cornwall, England and in the English 1861 census Samuel Trewartha’s occupation was given as Copper Miner, while Charlotte’s was Confectioner. This is followed by an entry in the 1866 Directory for Redruth (England) where Samuel is listed as a Sugar Boiler, so obviously they were making candy to supplement his income from mining.

It was in 1867 that they made the lifechanging decision to move from England to the United States, ending up in Rockaway and Dover, Morris County, New Jersey, and they opened a candy store there … which from what I can tell was a wonderful store, with an incredible reputation and ran for at least several generations, with her son John and his wife Minnie running it in her later year, and I believe some granddaughters did after that, with Black Rock Candy being their signature treat.

While I know a fair bit about Charlotte’s life from records, one thing I didn’t have is any photos of Samuel,  Charlotte, the candy store. That is, at least until cousin bait worked, and some distant relatives saw my previous posts, and have sent me some photos, and have kindly allowed me to share them with you here.

So I must say a HUGE, HUGE thank you to Glenn Rush who sent me the photos below, and has allowed me to share them with you. And also to Eric Bullfinch who has sent me a map showing the exact location of the store in Sussex Street, Dover.

Mrs S. Trewartha's Confectionery Store in Dover, New Jersey, late c.1800s as for who is in the photo – possibly Zella (far left) and Minnie (far right) and possibly Charlotte (second from left)

Mrs S. Trewartha’s Confectionery Store in Dover, New Jersey, late c.1800s
as for who is in the photo – possibly Zella (far left) and Minnie (far right) and possibly Charlotte (second from left)

candy box of Trewartha's Black Rock Candy

a 1970s candy box of Trewartha’s Black Rock Candy, complete with biography of Samuel Trewartha “Candy Sam”

Charlotte and Samuel's son, John Trewartha's memorial card

Charlotte and Samuel’s son, John Trewartha’s memorial card

obituary for Minnie Trewartha with photos of her and John

obituary for Minnie Trewartha with photos of her and John

obituary for Minnie Trewartha

obituary for Minnie Trewartha

Zella May Trewartha, at age 20

Zella May Trewartha, at age 20


1899 Robinson Map of Dover, Morris County, New Jersey - showing Sussex Street with Mrs Trewatha's shop circled

1899 Robinson Map of Dover, Morris County, New Jersey – showing Sussex Street with Mrs Trewatha’s shop circled

So now I’m hoping that with help from my new family contacts, I’ll be able to construct a tree of the US side of the family, which of course are half-siblings to my George Phillips who emigrated to Australia.

To view my earlier related posts, you can find them here:
Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: N is for … Never-Ending New Stuff and New Jersey
Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: P is for … Charlotte PHILLIPS
Christmas Time at the Candy Store

Christmas Time at the Candy Store

For my Christmas-related post this year, I decided to go trawling through New Jersey’s old newspapers. In particular The Iron Age. This is a small town newspaper for the area of Dover, in Morris County. Lucky for me these have been digitised and put online (for free), so I have spent a couple of days browsing through them looking for adverts of my 4x great grandma’s candy shop. And what fun I have had!!!

Over a period of 25 years (1872-1897), I have found 16 adverts! I won’t put them ALL here, but rather I’ll just choose a few to share with you.

But first let me tell you a little about my 4x great grandma.

Charlotte Phillips was born in Redruth, Cornwall, England in 1822, and married Samuel Trewartha in 1847. He had tough life as a miner, while according to census records Charlotte was a ‘confectioner’, no doubt to supplement the family income.

In 1867 the family made the life changing move to New Jersey, USA where they set up a candy store in Dover, Morris County, New Jersey.

She ran this for years with husband Samuel, though after his death in 1885, her youngest son Richard helped out.

While I’ve never seen any photographs of the shop, I am picturing from the adverts that it was a popular place. For one thing it was there for YEARS! And Samuel (also known as “Candy Sam”) was famous not only for his Black Rock Candy, but also his cough drops.

Enjoy the vintage adverts from 4x great grandma Charlotte’s shop.

And for more on Charlotte herself, you can read an earlier article I wrote about her here.

The Iron Era, 13 December 1879

The Iron Era, 13 December 1879

The Iron Era, 2 December 1882

The Iron Era, 2 December 1882

The Iron Era, 12 December 1885

The Iron Era, 12 December 1885

The Iron Era, 15 December 1888

The Iron Era, 15 December 1888

The Iron Era, 13 December 1889

The Iron Era, 13 December 1889 (**see below)

The Iron Era, 12 December 1890

The Iron Era, 12 December 1890

** As the advert from 1889 is rather hard to read, it is worth transcribing here so you don’t miss the bit about drugs and poison! Yes, truly!!


Christmas Opening
Trewartha & Sons
Dover, N.J.
Toys, Dolls, Games
and articles in general, suitable for Holiday Presents,
Playful, useful and ornamental. Presents for the baby,
for the lady, for the fondest mother, for the sternest teacher,
for the dearest —, for anybody. We also have the largest
GRAPES, BANANAS, FIGS, DATES, to be found in Dover.
We wish to state to the people of Dover and vicinity that we
make all of our own Candies, which we will warrant to be
made of the best sugars, and not from drugs. Buy of us
and save your children from being poisoned.
Parties, churches, socials, furnished with pure Candies,
our own make, at wholesale prices. We also sell a 5 lb box
of Christmas or Mixed Candies for 65c. Come and sam-
ple our candies.
Sussex St., Dover, N.J.
[The Iron Era, 13 December 1889]

Don’t those adverts make you want to see Charlotte’s shop? Well, it does me anyway. Maybe one day I’ll find a photo of it. But at least I have the adverts, and that’s a bonus.

I want to wish all my readers a Happy Christmas. I do hope you have a wonderful time spending it with family and/or friends.