FAMILY BACKGROUND OF BERTHA AGNES SKINNER

Bertha Agnes Skinner, ( or "Aunty Bertha" as we knew her ), was born on the fourth of December 1900, in a small town called Ulverstone, on the north coast of Tasmania, Australia.

Birth Notice of Bertha Agnes Skinner in Dec 1900 at Ulverstone Tasmania. Courtesy The Australian Newspaper, via Trove on line.

Bertha was the second daughter of William Archer Skinner, who was born in 1850 at Holborn via London, U.K. and his wife Elizabeth Jane Angus, born 1860 in Melbourne, Victoria. Bertha was born in Ulverstone Tasmania in the year 1900, being the younger sister of Ruby Winifred Skinner born 1888 in Carlton Victoria, and Archer Angus Skinner, born 1890 at Andersons Inlet via Inverloch, Victoria. NB. A separate web page for the Angus family connections, is currently being researched.

A basic view of Bertha Agnes Skinner's family. Courtesy Ancestry.com

Quite a deal of Family History details regarding Bertha's father William Archer Skinner, his siblings, and his travels to Nebraska, USA in 1871, and later to Australia in 1876, can be found at


Father of Ruby Winifred, Archer Angus, and Bertha Agnes Skinner.

If you wish to review the ancestors of William Archer Skinner back to John Skinner of the 1730s, and the many Tobacconists in the family, please go to our Skinner Home Page.

William Archer Skinner - circa 1880s in Melbourne, Victoria.

Briefly, Berthas father William Archer Skinner, or Will as he was known, emigrated to Australia in 1876, and met his ( second ) bride-to-be Elizabeth Jane Angus in Melbourne, where they married at her parent's house ( James Angus and Elizabeth Cameron ) in West Melbourne in Jan of 1887.

Elizabeth Jane Angus - circa 1880s in Melbourne, Victoria.

After their marriage in 1876, Will and Elizabeth Skinner had a daughter, Ruby Winifred, at Carlton near Melbourne in the year of 1888. In this same year, the Skinners applied for, and received a Land Grant for a 320 acre property at Andersons Inlet on the Victorian south east coast near Inverloch, where they had their second child and only son, Archer Angus Skinner, in 1890.

Land Grant at Kirruk Parish, Andersons Inlet 1888. Courtesy Victorian Government Gazette.

According to the Bass Coast Shire History records, early selection of land at Andersons Inlet ( later named Inverloch ) began in 1870 under the latest Lands Act of 1869, whereby settlers basically survived via the means of they "cleared land largely by axe, and built wattle and daub huts". This type of life style portrayed here, would have appeared to be in great and quite harsh contrast, to what Will Skinner experienced growing up in the progressive City of London, and how Elizabeth Jane Angus was raised in the quite advanced and sociable City of Melbourne.

Thanks again to the Trove newspaper records found per the National Library of Australia, it appears Berthas parents tried to sell their farm at Andersons Inlet in 1889, shortly before the birth of her only brother Archer Angus Skinner, in 1890 at Andersons Inlet.

Advert for sale of William Archer's 320 acre farm in late Nov 1889.

Map showing Andersons Inlet on the coast, and St Huberts Rd Carnegie where the Skinners retired to in 1921.
Courtesy Google Maps.

Going by the wording of the above advertisement for the sale of their farm in Victoria, it would appear the Skinner family were quite keen to sell up, and move elsewhere. It is not known as to what the initial attraction to Tasmania actually was, however the following newspaper cutting indicates they made the move to Ulverstone to manage the newsagency there, sometime in 1891.

Advert confirming the Skinner family ran the newsagency in Reibey St. Ulverstone from 1891.

In order for those not familiar with towns in Tasmania, the following map has been provided. Ulverstone is referred to being on the North coast of Tasmania, ( across Bass Strait ), almost due south of Melbourne, Victoria, on the mainland of Australia.

A 1900s map of Tasmania showing Ulverstone and the Leven River. Courtesy utexas.edu

Back in 1891, when our Skinner family moved permanently from mainland Australia to northern Tasmania, their new township of Ulverstone near the Leven River, was small, remote, and in much need of progress and development. Review of numerous newspaper cuttings, confirm Berthas father Will Skinner, was a productive and energetic citizen of Ulverstone. Will Skinner was heavily involved in the Ulverstone Tourist Association, the Football, Cricket, and Cycling Clubs, the Ulverstone Holy Trinity church, the local fishing group, and supported the War effort in WW1 in many ways.

Holy Trinity church at Ulverstone, circa 1890s. Courtesy weepnotforthem.net

It's not known for sure if the cost of Rates at Andersons Inlet in Victoria, may have been partially why they sold up and moved interstate, or if they were simply unable to sell the farm at Andersons Creek, when they left for Tasmania? It would appear the Will may have had a great appreciation for the value in owning property, as he is still liable for the rates some 5 years after he left.

It is interesting to also note after the Skinners left the newsagency at Ulverstone in 1921, it seems they sold the actual retailing business, but retained ownership of their West Devon House premises until the 1940s, as outlined further below.

1894 Objection to rates valuation re farm at Andersons Creek, by William Archer Skinner.

It is logical to assume William Archer Skinner had learnt a great deal of business sense and promotional strategies, from a young age, from his father John Henry Stansfield Skinner, and his older brother Henry John Skinner, both whom were very successful Tobacconists in London. Research indicates Will Skinner regularly and extensively advertised retail products and customer services, which obviously helped enable the establishment of a successful family newsagency business in Reibey St Ulverstone, they called "The West Devon Stationery House".

Advert ran by Berthas father William Archer Skinner in 1900 - obviously keen to promote the business at Ulverstone.

An advanced search at trove.nla.gov.au ( National Library of Australia ) under Ulverstone in Tasmanian newspapers, for the phrase "W. A. Skinner", "West Devon House", & "West Devon Stationery House", will list over a hundred Skinner Newsagency advertisements, plus dozens of community activities from 1891 till 1921.

Family photo of the West Devon Stationery House, the Skinner newsagency c1919, in Ulverstone.

In regard to the items promoted on the facia shown here, above the shop entrance in Reibey Street, most are names of well known newspapers of that period. According to The Mercury Daily Post as shown, one of Wills regular major Hobart papers he sold, it was reported he became an authorised "Agent for the Mail" on Wed 19 Jun 1895, an ideal service to be able to sell stamps for the postcards he produced locally.

Advertisement for Weigels dress making patterns sold at Skinners newsagency in 1905.

If one takes the time to review and assess Berthas father's pattern of marketing and advertising, one may also agree he was versatile and innovate in the product lines and services he provided for local Ulverstonians and visitors. Weigels patterns were probably fairly new to Tasmania in 1905, however Will did not become agent for the Mercury newspaper till Aug 1917. Therefore it is estimated the above photo of the West Devon Stationery House was taken somewhere between 1917 and 1920.

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF BERTHA AGNES SKINNER

Now that our web site visitors are hopefully reasonably well aware of the basic background of our early Australian Skinner / Angus family connections and movements in southern Australia, we would like to bring some focus upon the life and ventures, of our great aunty Bertha Agnes Skinner.

Birth record of Bertha Agnes Skinner for 4th Dec 1900 at Ulvertsone in Northern Tasmania.

The next photo shown below here, has proven to be a key in identifying a number of our early Aussie Skinner relatives, and their whereabouts in the early 1900s. One may regard this classic photograph as being thoughtfully prepared for "Mrs Skinner", ( Elizabeth Jane Skinner nee Angus ), by her sister, Edith Johnstone Ness nee Angus, who lived in West Melbourne with her husband Andrew Ness, at this time.

The above photo labelled on the reverse "Mrs Skinner - with Edith's love. 16 / 2 / 04"

With thanks to the great zoom function in Photoshop on a high resolution scan of the original photo, it has confirmed the 2 children in the bottom left panel are definitely Ruby Winifred Skinner, with her typical round glasses, aged 16, and her younger brother Archer Angus Skinner, aged 14, a renowned animal lover, with a cat on his shoulder. At the time this photo was taken in Feb 1904, Bertha Agnes Skinner was 3 years and 2 months old, which matches the image of the young girl in the bottom right photo, to a tee.

As far as the two adult ladies are concerned, presented here in the two right hand shots, from similar facial features they appear to be sisters, most likely Elizabeth Jane Angus and Edith Johnstone Angus, however to date, we have no means of proving this presumption. Also research indicates the elderly Gent wearing the interesting head gear, in the top left frame, is most likely Elizabeth and Ediths father James Angus ( but not yet confirmed ), with a young Bertha Skinner sitting on his knee, a few months before he passed away in May 1904, in West Melbourne. Edith and her husband Andrew Ness were living at Newport about 10 klms from West Melbourne, and they had already suffered the loss of Andrews father William Ness in 1894, some 10 years prior to when this photo was taken.

Sydenham Family recollections, confirm a strong Skinner family link to the later Ness family, with Keith and Ian Ness being the Sydenham family solicitors from the 1950s, till as recently as 2013. A close up assessment of the following photo, clearly and logically indicates, it is the earliest known photo of Bertha Skinner, taken in the Melbourne studios of Stewart & Co., also in 1904.

Earliest known studio photo of Bertha Agnes Skinner, taken in Melbourne in 1904, aged 3 years and 2 months.

Having reviewed a few letters of the early 1900s written by Berthas father Will Skinner, he could well be regarded as strongly family orientated gentleman, keen to support his immediate family, from both financial and practical, plus emotional aspects. From two reported farewell write-ups, when the Skinners left Ulverstone, it appears Will was very well respected and highly regarded in the local community too. Although it cannot be proven, it seems more than coincidental this Skinner family, has made a considerable effort to travel from Tasmania to Melbourne in 1904, to visit Elizabeth Janes Angus's sister Edith Johnstone Ness. Therefore, although it may be a coincidence, it is deemed highly probable our Skinner clan from Ulverstone Tasmania, may have received word that the elderly James Angus may have been in ill-health in West Melbourne, hence warranting a special trip to mainland Victoria in Feb 1904, before James passed away on 13th May of 1904.

James Angus born in 1827 in Bannfshire, Scotland - died West Melbourne Victoria in 1904.
This was Bertha Skinner's grandfather who passed away when she was 3 years old.

Death notice of Angus Skinner at West Melbourne in 1904.

The Vyne home, West Melbourne - another old family photo labelled as "Skinner / Angus house in West Melbourne" by John Francis Sydenham.

New Years day picnic 1906, at Gunns Plains near Ulverstone. Photo by C Lange.

With thanks to the zoom function in Photoshop, we have confirmed at least part of our Skinner family had the day off work for New Years day in 1906, and went to Gunns Plains near the Leven River, located about 25 klms south west of Ulverstone, a wild rugged area renowned for huge underground caves. Starting at the front with the young girl with the bonnet and pigtails second on the right, this is aunty Bertha Skinner, who had just turned 5 years old. Behind Bertha is her mother, Elizabeth Jane Skinner nee Angus, in the hat decorated with the dark frilly adornment. Across to the third from the left, is Ruby Winifred Skinner, Berthas older sister aged 18, wearing a lovely dark coloured spotted dress, with her round spectacles on as usual.

Inset #1 ( left ) of Ruby Winifred Skinner & Inset #2 ( right ) Bertha Agnes Skinner aged 5, and their mother Elizabeth Jane Skinner, New Years day 1906, at Gunns Plains on the Leven River, near Ulverstone, Tasmania.

Looking closer into the circumstances surrounding this photo, there is a noticable lack of men pictured here, with no sign of Berthas brother Archie Skinner or her father Will. Perhaps the guys were fishing or exploring the caves, however, it probably would have taken 2 or 3 wagons or boats to bring all these picnic goers from Ulverstone, food and utensils, fishing gear and so on - quite an occasion indeed.

The next reportable event for our aunty Bertha Skinner, was published in the North West Post newspaper in Formby, Tasmania, on Wed 11 Dec 1907, headed as follows -

"WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18, 1907.
Grand Amateur Dramatic Performance by the Ulverstone Dramatic Club. The greatest event of the season.

Dion Bonocault's thrilling and sensational American play, in five acts, entitled THE OCTOROON, Or Life in Lousianna."

A starring performance by Bertha Skinner at the Ulverstone Town Hall, aged 7 in 1907.

From this point in time near the end of 1907, it is well worth mentioning there seems to be a noticeable gap of data and images directly related to aunty Bertha Skinner. From Census records, we know for a fact that our Skinner family resided in Ulverstone until Will and Elizabeth moved back to Victoria to retire in 1921, however it is of equal concern to note the imminent onset of World War One, during this time frame. Therefore, as a sign of respect to our War veterans, we have grouped some relevant details together, regarding Berthas two siblings, Ruby Winifred Skinner and Archer Angus Skinner, whom both served in World War I (WW1), and both married during in this period, as outlined as follows.

A BRIEF BACKGROUND OF BERTHA'S SISTER - RUBY WINIFRED SKINNER IN WW1.

An early photo of Ruby Winifred Skinner aged 16 years, taken in 1904 in Melbourne, with brother Archie aged 14.

Berthas sister Ruby, born in 1888 in Victoria, was a strong minded and very determined woman. After spending much of her childhood and early teenage years serving in the family Newsagency at Ulverstone, Tasmania, Ruby moved to the big capital city of Hobart somewhere around the age of 20, to study to be a nurse. The following newspaper cutting of Dec 1911, confirms Ruby passed her Nursing examinations at the age of 23, in Hobart town.

Ruby Winifred Skinner - Berthas older sister, passed her nursing A.T.N.A examinations at Hobart in 1911.

Little did Ruby know then, from the quaint village of Ulverstone, at this point in time the first World War was looming, in the not-so-distant future. Ruby obviously had a personal calling to go overseas to nurse our brave Australian soldiers, who risked their lives and souls, to fight for Australia, and the British Empire. The following info and images provide an outline of Ruby's activities in WW1 until the early 1920s.

Bertha's sister Ruby Skinner signs up to serve in World War 1 as a nurse. Ulverstone 1915. Courtesy Trove.

The following two images represent the earliest known confirmation of the Skinner family being involved with the Red Cross Association, per Ruby Winifred Skinner's WW1 service history, as being a nursing sister in Egypt, in 1915.

Postcard from Ruby Winfred Skinner to her sister Bertha Skinner at Ulverstone from the Helipolis Red Cross Hospital in Cairo in Egypt, in Oct 1915.

The two images, above and below here, have been scanned from a family postcard, which was sent from Ruby Winifred Skinner, whilst serving as a trained registered nurse at the Helipolis Red Cross Hospital in Cairo Egypt in 1915, to Bertha back in Ulverstone Tasmania. It appears to be of some noteworthy interest, to regard this reference appears to be the first known Skinner / Sydenham involvement with the Red Cross movement.

Handwritten postcard from Ruby Winifred Skinner in Cairo, to her sister Bertha Skinner at Ulverstone in 1915.

Family photo of Nurse Ruby Winifred Skinner ( centre ) serving overseas in World War One.

Partial Service record of Berthas sister Ruby Winifred Skinner from 1915. Courtesy naa.gov.au

Notice of marriage of Ruby Winifred Skinner to Alwyn Francis Sydenham on 12th Jan 1920, at St Andrews Church, Alvie, Victoria.

For a more detailed review of Berthas sister Ruby, please refer to
Ruby Winifred Skinner

A BRIEF BACKGROUND OF BERTHA'S BROTHER - ARCHER ANGUS SKINNER IN WW1.

Like his elder sister Ruby, it's safe to say Archer also worked in the families West Devon Stationery House at Ulverstone, as a young man. For those not familiar with Australian armed forces enlistment records, it seems a bit unusual that Archer signed up with the First Battalion of Tasmanian Rangers some two years before World War I commenced. Another Australian Commonwealth Military Forces record states Archers re-enlistment date was 29 Aug 1914, noted employed as a stationer, assigned to serve with the 12th Battalion, 25th reinforcement.

Enlistment to the A.I.F. of Bertha's brother Archer Angus Skinner in Feb 1912, at Ulverstone Tasmania.
Courtesy naa.gov.au

Australian Census record of 1914 for our Skinner family at Ulverstone Tasmania. Courtesy Ancestry.com

Family photo of Sgt. Archer Angus Skinner at top right, aged about 26, with his unit. Circa 1916.

Postcard from Archer Skinner to his mum Elizabeth Jane in Ulverstone, from Killen, Scotland, in 1916.

On a more personal and direct family viewpoint, Berthas brother Archer Angus Skinner, had been called up to serve in World War I, was hospitalised London after fighting on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Aug of 1915, and was wounded on a second later instance. Whilst recovering in Scotland he met a lass, probably in Edinburgh, Margaret Green Cormack ( Rita ) from Wick, Caithness, in Scotland, who had recently passed her Masters of Arts at Glasgow University.

Archers bride-to-be, Rita Cormack on her graduation day at Glasgow University Scotland, in 1915.

The story of their courtship in Scotland is partially told per this postcard Archer sent to his mother Elizabeth at Ulverstone, in Apr 1916 from Killen, whilst on a trip to the country side with Rita.

Archers message about his trip from Edinburgh with Rita Cormack in 1916.

Just a personal note, Berthas brother was known to the younger generations in Victoria simply as "Uncle Archer", however going by 3 old Census records, plus the following newspaper cutting, he was known as "Archie".

News of Archie Skinner returning to Ulverstone in May 1916.

Archies War record has some handwritten and some typed records, which are hard to follow and partially overlap, however it appears after 3 months recouperation in Ulverstone, he returned to duty in late Sep 1916, and re-embarked at Sydney on board the Hororata in June 1917. It is not known for sure the circumstances as to how and where Archer and Rita met up again, however as it turned out, they married in Scotland in Feb 1918. Archer spent a few months at Candahar Barracks before spending a brief time in France, and approval was given for Rita and Archer to travel together to Australia on a hospital ship in Dec 1918.

Marriage record of Archer Angus Skinner and Margaret Green ( Rita ) Cormack at Leith, Scotland, on 15th Feb 1918.

Archer in hospital again, in Scotland in Oct 1918.

A "mock up" wedding photo of Bertha Skinner and Rita Cormack in Melbourne. Circa 1919.

Initially the above photo also created a number of questions, regarding the connection between Bertha Agnes Skinner and her new sister-in-law, Margaret Green Cormack, ( aunty Rita ), the wife of Bertha's brother, Archer Angus Skinner. This particular photo is not dated or labelled, however is embossed as being taken in Melbourne, obviously taken some time after the wedding in Scotland. There is no doubt it is of Bertha Skinner at left, who was living at Ulverstone at point in this time, and her sister-in-law Margaret Green Skinner nee Cormack from Wick in Scotland. It was probably a special get-together on the mainland, in order Rita and Archer had some wedding photos, which included his family.

For a more detailed review of Archer Angus Skinner, please refer to
Archer Angus Skinner


Continued from 1916 - 1994

Back in May of 1916, the North West Post newspaper at Formby reported some great fund raising results for the War effort and support for returned soldiers from Ulverstone. It was major annual event run by a large committee of local residents, and was well reported about in regional newspapers for some 5 years.

At the age of 16 in 1916, our Bertha Skinner bought 2 shares in this formal local War effort fund at the Ulverstone Patriotic Carnival, and her father William Archer Skinner also purchased 5 shares. From service records we know her elder siblings, sister Ruby and brother Archer were both personally serving in the War effort, therefore Bertha was probably making good pocket money, maybe even a small wage, as a shop assistant in her parents newsagency.

In the middle of Bertha's siblings direct personal involvement in WWI, she had a successful year of study in 1916. As reported on 28th Nov 1916 in the North Western Advocate newspaper, Bertha topped the Ulverstone Holy Trinity Church's Sunday School Bible Class awards in the Girls category, with 672 marks. Also 3 weeks later, according to the North West Coast Post, the regional Formby newspaper, in an article dated Wed 20 Dec 1916, and headed

"ULVERSTONE GRAMMAR SCHOOL
----------*----------
DISTRIBUTION OF PRIZES"

Our Bertha Skinner is reported as being one of 4 senior pupils who made recitals from "Scenes from Crawford". Bertha also won prizes in the categories of Senior Sewing, and Senior Drawing. Her father Will Skinner was also present - he made a speech thanking the President of the Ulverstone Church Grammar School ( i.e. Holy Trinity Church ), for his efforts coordinating the event, and also made 4 presentations to junior prize winners.

Photo noted on the back "River Rose - Love from Will. 2 / 11 / 17"

Bertha's father Will, was a well respected community minded man, and in addition to him being involved in the local Angling Association and the Ulverstone Tourist Association, he also sold fishing tackle from his store. This is one of a number of family photos of Will on or near the Leven River, an area he obviously loved.

An unused sample postcard in great condition, appears to be lightly hand coloured, taken at Lobster Creek.

Someone had to go out and test the new tackle, and also organise photos, which he sold as postcards to tourists, at the West Devon Stationery House too. On the reverse of this postcard from right near the Leven River, is professionally printed "The Glascene Series, W. A. Skinner, Ulverstone, Tasmania." When Will, Elizabeth, and daughter Bertha moved to Victoria in 1921, they actually called their new property in Carnegie "Leven Whare".

Initial receipt of 10 in 1917 for war Bonds taken out in Bertha Skinner's name.

To most 17 year old girls in 1917 in a quaint little village like Ulverstone, it would be regarded as quite exceptional to have a shilling to spend, let alone 10 for a War Bond deposit, as Bertha managed to achieve. As a very likely and logical assumption, her brother Archer enlisted to the AIF in 1912, and his occupation was noted as Shop Assistant, as shown above on this page. We can naturally presume Bertha most likely took over that role when uncle Archer left to serve in Gallipoli and France, and we know she was very good at managing her finances.

Probate record of Berthas grandfather John Henry Stansfield Skinner from Jan 1870.

Perhaps Berthas financial capabilities arose from the prior examples set by her family. Berthas grandfather John Henry Stansfield Skinner was a very successful Tobacconist in London, whose probate record shows he had effects of under 8000 in 1870. This would be the modern day equivalent of a multi millionaire. Her own father William Archer Skinner had a great business sense, as the range of goods he marketed in a very consistent campaign of advertisements found on Trove.com for his West Devon Stationery House is quite amazing. Bertha was also known to be a regular investor in a range of Australian Stock market shares, in very sound & safe companies, eg. BHP Steel.

W A Skinner farewell 17 Aug 1921 - Daily Telegraph Launceston

On Saturday night Mr W. A. Skinner, who for 30 years has been identified with business life, of Ulverstone, was entertained at a smoke social at the Oddfellows Hall under the auspices of the Ulverstone Traders Association. There was a good attendance, Mr George Ellis, president of the Association, presiding. Addresses were delivered by Mr Thomas Collett. Dr Gollan. and Mr E. Hobbs, M.H.A., The Warden of Leven ( Councillor A. S. Lakin ) and Messrs A. C. Solomon, F. Portet, and Councillor F. L. Parsons, each of whom expressed regret at the departure of Mr and Mrs Skinner from Ulverstone, and eulogising him as a citizen who had assisted in every way to advance the material interests of the district, and his liberal assistance in cases of distress, and for patriotic purposes.

The Warden, on behalf of the Traders Association presented Mr Skinner with a handsome figured blackwood walking stick as a small token of their appreciation and respect, wishing him every possible success. Mr A. C. Solomon, as a camp mate of Mr Skinners on several annual trips, while conveying to Mr Skinner the good wishes of the people of Ulverstone, asked him to convey to Mrs Skinner, who had already gone to the mainland, a Tasmanian woollen travelling rug, and their very best wishes for her future, and expressing a hope that they would return to Ulverstone again where a warm welcome would await them. Mr Skinner, on rising to respond, was greeted with loud applause. He expressed his earnest thanks for their great kindness to him and Mrs Skinner, which they appreciated very much. He referred to the great advancement made by Ulverstone, and predicted for the district a great future. Mr Hudson, who succeeds Mr Skinner, also received a welcome.

Technically Bertha was the only aunt of Elizabeth St Barbe Sydenham ( born 1920 Ulverstone Tasmania ) and John Francis St Barbe Sydenham ( born Bombay India in 1922 ), the two children of Bertha's sister Ruby Winifred Skinner. Ruby married Alwyn Francis Sydenham in 1920, at Alvie, Victoria, about 20 miles from the Sydenham property called "Moana", at Straun next to Lake Gnarpurt, north of Colac. Bertha's brother Archer and his wife Rita Skinner, had no children.

Birth notice of Elizabeth Sydenham ( Betty ) in Ulverstone in 1920.

Ruby and her recently married husband Alwyn Francis ( Syd ) Sydenham, were serving overseas in India, and Ruby briefly returned to Australia, for the birth of their first child Betty in Ulverstone, obviously for additional family support. It would appear Rubys mother-in-law Zoe Lillias Sydenham made a special visit from the mainland for the birth, as indicated by the departure notice some 3 weeks after the birth, with Rubys mother.

Departure notice of Rubys mother ( shown as Mrs W A Skinner ) and mother-in-law ( Mrs L Sydneham ).

Birth notice of John Francis Sydenham in India in 1922 - Bertha Skinners only nephew.

Archer and Rita Skinner - Red Cross recipients at Bundoora in 1922.

Archer suffered terribly from a number of quite serious diseases, like Chronic Diarrhoea, Influenza, Pleurisy, and Gastro Enteritis, as many Aussies did fighting in the trenches in WWI. The residence of Red Cross farm listed as "Janefield" here, pertained to what is historically recorded as "an after-care centre for ex-servicemen suffering from nervous disorders discharged from the Military Mental Block. The Red Cross farm, known as the Janefield Sanitorium, operated from 1920 to 1933." For Archer Skinner to be admitted to the Red Cross Farm and his wife Rita to be residing at the Anzac farm at Bundoora, it seems obvious Archie had some physical / mental problems recovering after his war services.

Bertha Agnes Skinner - Residence 1924 24 St Huberts Rd, Caulfield East, Victoria, Australia
Occupation - Home Duties.

Berthas parents, Will and Elizabeth Skinner - c1920s.

As far as Berthas abodes and vocations are concerned, from the Census records of 1924, 1931, and 1936, they show Bertha was living with her parents Will and Elizabeth, at 24 St Huberts Rd Caulfield East, near Carnegie. According to each of these Census listings, Bertha's occupation was noted as "home duties".

Another unlabelled photo of aunty Bertha Skinner, estimated to be around the mid to late 1920s.

Another unlabelled photo of Bertha Skinner, with friends, possibly Connie Turner & Phillip, circa mid to late 1920s.

The next undated photo is obviously of Bertha Skinner, pictured second from the right as a nurse, probably near Melbourne. So going by these 3 Census listings, her training / nursing career, may have been short lived. Our estimations are that this photo may have taken around the early to mid 1930s, probably at a major hospital in or near Melbourne. Bertha obviously followed in the footsteps of her elder sister Nurse Ruby Skinner, yet diligent research has not yet provided any records of this time frame, confirming Bertha working as a nurse in Victoria or Tasmania.

Nurse Bertha Skinner, second from right, circa 1930.

From family recollection, as well as a few supporting cuttings below, we do know our aunty Bertha Skinner often returned to Ulverstone for holidays with friends, and we recently discovered about her fund raising activities there, for the Red Cross branch at Ulverstone.

Bertha Skinner on holidays at Ulverstone in 1934.

Bertha Agnes Skinner - Residence 1931 24 St Huberts Rd, Caulfield East, Victoria, Australia
Occupation - Home Duties.

Newspaper report of first flight from Victoria to Tasmania in 1931. Our Bertha Skinner was one of the first 9 reported passengers to take this flight from the Essendon Airport in Melbourne, back to visit her friends in Tasmania.

Bertha Agnes Skinner - Residence 1931 24 St Huberts Rd, Caulfield East, Victoria, Australia
Occupation - Home Duties. NB. This part of Caulfield East was also known or rezoned as Carnegie.

Three generations of Skinners shown here. Photo circa 1930.
At rear from left, Ruby Winifred Sydenham nee Skinner, and her father William Archer Skinner.
At front from left, Ruby's daughter Betty Sydenham, and Ruby's sister, Bertha Agnes Skinner.

The mid to late 1930s proved to be one of major changes and emotional events that Bertha had to deal with. Bertha moved out of home and bought her own house, a largish solid weatherboard place, with quite a large yard and a shed out the back, where Bertha bred her beloved Bantam chooks, just like her brother Archie did.

A prize winning chook bred by Berthas brother Archie.

Various family members lived with Bertha in this house on and off during the nnext few decades, her mother Elizabth Jane Skinner, and her sister Ruby Sydenham & niece Betty and nephew John. Sometime around the 1950s, the house was modified with 2 separate living areas and utilities to enable rental of the front section, and eventually her same neice, then Betty Bowen, and great nephew Michael lived there permanently.

The back room of the house where Bertha slept ( a sleepout ) was like a veranda with the back wall that had been partially lined, and the top half only had flywire fitted. She obviously loved the fresh air, and was a very keen gardener too.

Three generations of Skinners and two of the Sydenhams shown here. Photo circa mid - late 1930s.

This is the last known photo of Will Skinner, probably taken at "Leven Whare", 24 St Huberts Rd. That's William Archer Skinner at the rear left, next to his daughter Ruby W Sydenham nee Skinner and his son Archie at the back, and his wife Elizabeth Jane ( nee Angus ) next to him. Next to Elizabeth Jane is her sister Anne Campbell ( nee Angus, known as Nance ). Seated at left is Rubys daughter Betty Sydenham, Nances daughter Marj Campbell, and Rubys son John Sydenham. The only missing person here is Bertha, so we guess she may have taken this photo.

Death of Father William Archer Skinner, 2 Dec 1937 Carnegie, Victoria, Australia

Death notice of William Archer Skinner of Dec 1937 at his home at Carnegie.

Some time after William Archer Skinner passed over, Bertha's mum Elizabeth Jane Skinner, moved into Bertha's place at 245 Balaclava Rd. Caulfield, where she passed away. The following 2 pics are the last known photos of Elizabeth Jane Skinner nee Angus. It would appear to be a get-together of the extended Angus and Skinner families, estimated to be taken some time around the mid to late 1930s.

Second from left is Elizabeth Jane Skinner nee Angus and far right is Anne Campbell nee Angus from Caulfield.

As a matter of elimination regarding the other 6 Angus sisters, only 3 were alive in this time frame, and the most likely assumption for the other two ladies in this photo, could well be Edith Johnstone Ness nee Angus from Newport, and Jane Angus who also lived in Caulfield - these 2 identities not yet confirmed. It must have been a special occasion, as there is 6 more shots, which going by the attire and surroundings, appear to have been taken at the same place on the same day.

Far right at the rear is Elizabeth Jane Skinner, centre front Bertha Skinner, and right is Rita Skinner nee Cormack.

Sadly Berthas sister-in-law Rita died, not long after the above photo was taken.

Death of Mother Elizabeth Jane Angus 1940 Caulfield, Victoria, Australia

Probate for Elizabeth Jane Skinner nee Angus of 1940, as legally processed by Bertha's cousin Keith Ness.

Reverse of ID card of 1942. Front is addressed to Bertha Agnes Skinner, 245 Balaclava Rd.

Berthas cousin Marj Campbell from 299 Balaclava Rd Caulfield, witnessed this document.

At left John Guthrie Campbell, daughter Marj, and Anne Angus, who was known as Nance.

Bertha Agnes Skinner Residence 1942 245 Balaclava Rd., Caulfield, Victoria, Australia
Occupation - teacher ( i.e. kindergarten )

Red Cross fundraiser 1942 well supported by aunty Bertha.

E.T. Vertigan was Edward Thomas Vertigan, served in WWI around 1915, and sold stationery, cards, calendars, toys, fishing tackle, Allens pianos and players. He traded under same name of West Devon Stationery House, and obviously rented the newsagency premises from the Skinners, from about 1926 till 1942.

Red Cross fundraiser 1943.

Around the early 1940s, prior to WWII, Berthas niece Betty Sydenham was working as an international air hostess, and her nephew John Sydenham was working at Phoenix Press in Melbourne, at 359 Little Lonsdale St, a small printing company apparently owned by one of Berthas cousins, Stan Angus, and his father before him.

At left, Betty Sydenham with family friend Roma Darling nee Gearing.

It is well worth mentioning, Roma Gearing worked as a hostess for P & O shipping lines in the late 1940s, and did at least 3 known cruises to Honolulu, not long before the above photo was taken, when she became an air hostess. Betty Sydenham and Roma Gearing worked together for ANA airlines, based in Australia from around 1950. As it turned our Roma married ( Thomas ) Keith Darling from Leongatha, a renowned WW2 pilot, who eventually became the Godfather of Bettys only son Michael Bowen. Cousin Michael, has expressed the efforts of his Godfather Keith Darling, flying Spitfires, Hurricanes, and Mustangs in battle probably helped inspire him to also become a professional pilot. A great tribute to Keiths War efforts can be found at
Keith Darling - Australian War Film Archives

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Thomas Keith Darling - WW2 pilot from Leongatha.

In addition to the deaths of Berthas parents William Archer and Elizabeth Jane Skinner in this time frame, she was also saddened with the news of the separation of her sister Ruby and husband Alwyn Francis Sydenham. Family recollections note Ruby and Syd parted when their son John Francis was in his mid teens, indicating this occurred around the late 1930s. Going by the following Census record of 1942, it clarifies that Ruby and her son John also moved into Berthas house, we believe shortly after the death of Elizabeth Jane Skinner nee Angus there, in 1940.

Record of Ruby Sydenham - Berthas sister, living together in Balaclava Rd, in 1942.

Berthas nephew John Sydenham trimming the lawn the slow way, at 245 Balaclava Rd. Caulfield.

Phoenix Press where John Sydenham worked before he enlisted in the Air Force. Courtesy Andrea Fitzsimmons.

The above printing company was owned by Stan Angus when this photo was taken in 1973, which he apparently took over from his farther, James Angus. Also as a matter of respect, it should be mentioned, on his second attempt John Sydenham passed the entrance examinations to become a wireless operator in the RAAF in 1941. John was assigned to serve in the very hot and remote region of far North Queensland, on Thursday, Horn, and Groot Island, and he attained the rank of Corporal before his discharge.

John Francis St Barbe Sydenham married Annette Rae Richardson in 1954 at Malvern Victoria, and had 2 children Ken John, and Jill Elizabeth. Rae and John are sadly missed since Rae died in 2005 at Hastings Vic, and Johns passing at Canberra Hospital in 2012.

From left, probably Connie Turner, her sister Nancy Room and Bertha, card playing friends - circa 1940s.

Bertha Agnes Skinner Residence 1949 245 Balaclava Rd., Caulfield, Victoria, Australia

Bertha Agnes Skinner at rear on right - Kindergarten teacher with her pupils, photo taken circa 1950.

Berthas sister Ruby, and her nephew John Sydenham lived consistently with her in Balaclava Rd during this time frame, and her neice Betty came and went due to her international travels as an air hostess. John Sydenham left the household when he married Annette Rae Richardson in 1954, and sadly Ruby passed away in Berthas flat in 1956.

Record of Ruby and son John Sydenham - and Bertha Skinner, living together in 245 Balaclava Rd, in 1954.

Bertha Skinners visit to stay with Jessie Hamilton in Ulverstone in Jan of 1949. Courtesy The Advocate newspaper in Burnie Tasmania.

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Sisters Bertha Agnes Skinner at right, with Ruby Winifred Sydenham nee Skinner, on 28 Nov 1953 at Malvern Victoria. This was at the wedding of Ruby's only son John Francis S. B. Sydenham, born Bombay India in 1922, to Annette Rae Richardson, born 1930 in Malvern Victoria.

From left Bertha Skinner, Ruby Sydenham, John Sydenham, Zoe Sydenham, and Marj Campbell.
Another wedding photo at John and Raes wedding in 1953.

This was probably at the wedding in 1954 of Ruby's only daughter Elizabeth ( Betty ) S. B. Sydenham, born 1920 at Ulverstone Tasmania, to Desmond ( Des ) Walter Bowen, born 1926 at Johannesburg, South Africa. That's Bettys brother John Sydenham opening the car door.

Death of Sister Ruby Winifred Skinner (18881956) 1956 Caulfield, Victoria

Bertha Agnes Skinner Residence 1963 245 Balaclava Rd., Caulfield, Victoria, Australia

In 1963 Berthas niece Betty Bowen and her husband Des were living in Mt Waverley with their young son Michael, however the Bowens marriage did not last long after this time, so Betty and Michael moved into the front flat section of Berthas house in Balaclava Rd.

A later photo of Desmond Walter Bowen. Courtesy Ancestry.com

Berthas house at 245 Balacava Rd Caulfield, pictured with great nephew Michael Bowen - c1970s.

Bertha Agnes Skinner Residence 1972 245 Balaclava Rd., Caulfield, Victoria, Australia

Sadly Betty Bowen died of Cancer in 1978 aged 57 in Caulfield, and Des remarried and had 2 more children, before he passed away in 2003, near Sydney, NSW.

Bertha Agnes Skinner Residence 1980 245 Balaclava Rd., Caulfield, Victoria, Australia

A very rare cheeky side to Bertha Skinner, taken blackberrying ( for jam ),in the Dandenong Ranges - circa 1980s.

Death of Brother Archer Angus Skinner 1983 Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital, West Heidelberg, Victoria

Death 9 Apr 1994 Alexandra Private Nursing Home, Caulfield South, Victoria

The 3 Australian born grand children of William Archer Skinner and Elizabeth Jane Angus, all share very fond memories of Aunty Bertha. Christmas and birthdays were often spent together, afternoon tea with yummy chocolate biscuits, and dinner followed by special ice cream treats. Bertha was a very generous and supportive aunt, and very family orientated like her parents. She is sadly missed since her passing.


Early Skinner families and Tobacco business.


Father of Ruby, Archer, and Bertha.


Berthas older sister Ruby.


Berthas older brother Archer.


Angus families.

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