Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sepia Saturday

The theme for Sepia Saturday this week could be flags, women sewing, period furniture, lace - anything the photo suggests to you.

 I couldn't find any photos of women sewing in my collection - my family seemed to only go in for formal photos. Instead I would like to write a little about my grandmother - a woman who sewed. Sadly photos of her seem to be few, but I was able to find several to share.

Wilhelmina Carolina Dorathea Lehmann was born in 1878, the eldest child of ten. Her father Christian Heinrich Lehmann first married Anna Margaretha Weber, by whom he had 6 children before she died in 1886 - 6 children in 8 years!!! Christian was obviously happy with his choice because he then married his sister-in-law Dorathea Weber and had another 4 children.

A young Minnie in  about 1904
As the eldest of 10, Wilhelmina, known as Minnie, would have had a busy childhood  looking after 9 siblings, first in a small country town and then in Adelaide where her father was a saddler. Minnie became a seamstress (or a milliner - family opinions on this seem to differ), before marrying  Carl Franz Heyne in about 1901. Carl was a graduate of Roseworthy Agricultural College and became well known in Adelaide as a nurseryman.

My mother told me that Carl's three sisters - well known academics about whom I have written before - did not approve of him marrying Minnie who came from a working class background. She was not 'good enough' for their precious brother. They did however help the family when money was scarce and the older boys were educated with their help.
There was not a lot of money for the growing family and Minnie worked hard, supporting Carl in his many ventures which included a market garden, a florist and plant shop and eventually a garden nursery which is still a family business run by Carl and Minnie's grandsons and great grandsons.
Minnie in her late 30s.
Minnie had 9 children of her own and adopted one of her grand children whose mother died tragically at an early age. She raised this child as her youngest baby and it was not until years later that Isobel learnt that she was really a grand child.

 Minnie sewed for her family and my mother used to tell me about the lovely clothes she sewed for her and her sisters. In fact my mother did very little sewing for herself although she knitted, embroidered and crocheted all her life. She however did encourage me to follow my grandmothers footsteps and become a competent dressmaker and needlewoman. For that I am ever grateful.

My grandmother was a woman of amazing energy. She worked in the market garden and used to drive the horse and trap from Summertown in the Adelaide Hills to deliver plants and produce to the market and to take her older children to high school in Adelaide at the beginning and end of each school week. Later she helped establish the nursery at Norwood. I can remember she was always cooking for a multitude of children and grand children (she had 34 from memory) as well as numerous nieces and nephews. . At times she had up to 11 extra people living in her house.
Minnie and Carl (Nana and Papa)

 My family used to visit every 2nd weekend and I loved to help Papa in the nursery. There were always a mob of cousins either living there or visiting and Minnie took it all in her stride.

Carl died in 1948 and the nursery continued under the care of his third son Wally (Waldemar).

In her later years Nan travelled a bit visiting her far flung family and I love this photo of  her taken with her youngest daughter Ida, when she stayed with them in Darwin, sometime in the late 1950s, I think.

My grandmother (the only one I ever knew) was warm and loving woman and when she died in 1960 at the age of 82 I was devastated. I had lost not only my beloved Nana, but a dear and wise friend.

And one of the things I remember about her very clearly is that she never went grey - and her hair was natural, no colouring.

  Liz Needle - linking with  Sepia Saturday


  1. Wow, hair that never went grey? I'd be jealous. I've read the word 'milliner' here and there now and then but didn't know it was associated with seamstress. Glad to know that.


  2. Liz, a beautiful, lovely and warm story about your grandmother. She must have had so much energy to cook and look after a big family, and do all the chores besides like sewing and helping in the business. She was also a very nice looking lady.

  3. Goodness. What a hard worker Minnie was. I'm exhausted just reading about her :) Lovely memories and it's great you have photos as well.

  4. A wonderful family history profile of Minnie and the first photograph of her is so striking.

  5. The young Minnie reminds me of Princess Anne.

  6. What a lovely story of a strong and much loved grandmother.

  7. Ah, grandmas!! Great tribute!!
    In the old days, they sure had a different vision of "extended" family.
    My grandma was the same, having visitors and people staying at their home,
    und so forth...
    And there always seemed to be enough on the table to go around and leaving everyone satiated.