Week 2 of 52 Ancestors

Week 2 (8-14Jan18) prompt is ‘Favorite Photo’. 

As you can imagine picking a photo should have been quite difficult but I knew exactly which photo I would use.

Week 2 Muriel Margaret Cook

This is my maternal grandmother, Muriel Margaret Cook (formerly Shingles nee Snowdon).  It was taken on the occasion of her 75th birthday in Maribyrnong by her daughter (my mother), Maureen.

Moo, as she was better known, loved life, her family & friends and sweets!

Muriel Margaret Snowdon

Muriel Margaret Snowdon was born on 2 November 1920 to recently returned AIF soldier, Stanley Gordon Snowdon and his English bride Lillian Margaret Witt in Maffra, Victoria.

On return to Australia, Gordon found employment at a milk factory in Boisdale, Gippsland, but the firm was bought out by Nestles and he was offered a job at the factory in nearby Maffra, where they settled on a two-acre block in George Street.

Victor Gordon was born on 14 May 1930 to complete their family.

Just over a year later in 1931, the Nestles factory closed but because of Gordon’s association with the development of Milo, he accepted a transfer to the Nestles factory at Smithtown on the north-east coast of New South Wales.

The family traveled by ship from Melbourne to Sydney, where Muriel remembered seeing the two halves of the Sydney Harbour Bridge almost touching not long before they were successfully connected.

Sydney Harbour Bridge almost complete

From Sydney they traveled by coastal steamer up the coast and into the Macleay River on which Smithtown was situated. For the next five years they lived in a factory house near the center of Smithtown which had built up around the Nestles factory.

As Muriel was nearing the end of her schooling, Gordon and Lilian decided to do a confectionery making course. On completion they opened a small business in a large shop on the corner of the Main Street and River Parade which Lillian and Muriel ran.  Although it started in a small way with the introduction of more merchandise it became quite a good business. Gordon’s meat pies and pasties became good sellers and the introduction of creamy ice-cream and flavored ice-blocks was very successful.

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On Sunday 11 December 1938, Muriel and two of her close friends, Ruby Laney and Elva Geary, were drying off on a sand-bar at the Nestles factory bend of the Macleay River, when Ruby jumped up and said she was having one more dive. She hadn’t been in the water long when she cried for help and then disappeared beneath the surface. Muriel realising Ruby was a poor swimmer, dived in after her. When she found her, Ruby, with a last effort grabbed Muriel’s hair and dragged her deeper. Luckily for Muriel, Ruby relaxed her hold which allowed Muriel to struggle back to shore, but she had taken a lot of water on board. Nearby fisherman also tried to find Ruby after she had let go of Muriel. While Muriel struggled to expel water and get her breath, Elva ran for help. Ruby’s body was recovered an hour later by the fisherman.  Muriel then appeared at Kempsey Court House on the following Saturday (17 Dec) for the coronial inquest. The verdict was accidental death by drowning.  The Coroner commended Muriel and Elva for behaving ‘pluckily in the tragic circumstances’.

Gordon resigned from Nestles around 1938 and moved the family to Toongabbie, near Parramatta on the outskirts of Sydney where Gordon and Lilian ran a mixed business and Muriel looked for a job nearer to Sydney.

Muriel found a job at Bryant and Mays’ Match factory in Redfern and boarded in town.  She was very fortunate one day when the long packing line exploded and many of the girls were burnt.  Muriel was burnt on the arms and face, but, luckily, not seriously.  Her friend beside her died of her injuries.

Gordon, Lilian and Victor returned to Maffra in January 1940 after Gordon was asked to help reopen the Nestles factory. Muriel stayed in Sydney but eventually moved back to Maffra and started working at Nestles where she met her future husband John Noel Shingles.  They were married at St Paul’s Church in Sale on 25 October 1941.

Together they had four children, Lilian Ada in 1942, Eileen Margaret in 1944, Bruce Noel in 1947 and Maureen Elizabeth in 1949.

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Back L-R Vic & Lois Snowdon, Muriel & John Shingles            Front L-R Lillian, Maureen, Bruce and Eileen

After John hurt his back, Muriel went back to work at Nestle’s around 1953 and became the bread winner.  Muriel and John moved to Geelong in the early 1960’s. Eventually the children followed and all settled in the Geelong area.

John Noel suffered a fatal heart attack on 21 September 1968 and was buried three days later in Geelong’s Eastern Cemetery.

Muriel married Kenneth John Cook in 1973 and together they lived in Ann Street, Geelong West.  While Muriel and her mum, Lilian, were visiting England, Kenneth suffered a fatal heart attack on 27 June 1974 while painting their house as a surprised for Muriel.  He was buried in Geelong’s Western Cemetery.

Muriel Shingles & Pa Cook Wedding 1973
Muriel & Kenneth Wedding Day

Muriel once again found love at the end of the 80’s with Ronald Thomas Bryce and resided in Maribyrnong a suburb of Melbourne.

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Muriel & Ronald

They had quite a few years together before Muriel suffered a stroke in 1996. Despite the severity of the stroke and the effects, Muriel fought on for another 18 months. She died in Geelong Hospital on 3 July 1997.  She was buried with John a few days later.

Muriel Moo Cook

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I have been researching my family history since 2009. I am interested it the family names Shingles, McEwan, Snowdon & Witt around Gippsland and Wodonga areas of Victoria, Australia

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