Week 3 of 52 Ancestors

Week 3 (15-21Jan18) prompt is ‘Longevity’.

In my direct line there could only be one person I could write about this week.  Born at the turn of the 20th century, Lilian Muriel Witt only missed the turn of the 21st century by six years.

Lilian Muriel Witt

Lilian Muriel Witt was born in Salisbury, England on 9 February 1900 to Mark Witt and Elizabeth Pragnell.  She had thirteen siblings.

Lilian with mother, Elizabeth and younger brother Fred

During WWI, Lilian worked as a typist at the British High Command in Andover, near Salisbury. One morning in 1919,  a handsome Aussie soldier wished her a good morning. While window shopping in Salisbury, on a Saturday morning, the same soldier walked quietly up behind her and said “Is there anything in there that you like?” Lilian’s reply was “There’s something in the reflection in the window that I like!” A friendship blossomed and Lilian left her large family behind and sailed to Australia in early 1920 with her soldier, Stanley Gordon Snowdon.

They were married on 28 June 1920 at St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne.

Stanley Gordon Snowdon & Lilian Witt Marriage Portrait 1920

After their wedding, 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.

They had Muriel Margaret in November 1920 and ten years later added to their family when Victor Gordon was born in May 1930.

With the closing of Maffra’s Nestles factory, they took an offer to move to Smithtown in New South Wales in 1931. They traveled by ship from Melbourne to Sydney and then coastal steamer to Smithtown which resides on the Macleay River.

In 1935, with Muriel nearing the end of school, Gordon and Lilian decided to do a confectionery making course so they could open a small business that Lilian and Muriel could run together.  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.

Gordon resigned from Nestles in 1939 and moved the family to Toongabbie, near Parramatta on the outskirts of Sydney where Gordon and Lilian ran a mixed business, Vic went to school and Muriel boarded in Sydney where she now worked. The shop was across the street from the Elvy Theater and picture nights were very busy before the show.

Gordon, Lilian and Victor returned to Maffra in January 1940 after Gordon was asked to help reopen the Nestles factory. They stayed with Lilian’s younger brother Fred and his family. Fred followed his sister to Australia after he discharged from the Royal Marines in 1923.

vicks (10)
Gordon & Lilian with brother Fred Witt and his wife Milie

They soon found a place on the corner of Maffra’s main road, Johnson Street and Boisdale Road.

As Gordon could see no way of advancing past under manager at Nestles, they purchased a milk bar in Rathdowne Street in North Carlton in 1946. It was long hours in the milk bar with opening around 5:30 for deliveries and closing around 9pm.  It was also the tuck shop for the Lee Street Primary School. Being close to the Carlton Baths they were often open until 11pm in the summer. Once they closed they would have to stock fridges, display counters, count the takings and clean. Once Vic began teaching, they sold the business and purchased a smaller delicatessen in Nicholson Street.

A short time later they moved to Reservoir and Gordon worked as a production clerk at Diecasters in Collingwood. They then moved to Eltham until Gordon’s retirement in 1960 when they moved to a large block at Campbells Creek near Castlemaine where they had laying hens for an interest. As they found the climate to cold, they shifted to Paynesville on the Gippsland Lakes. At first they lived in a tent and then a garage while Gordon built their house.  Gordon’s health deteriorated during the next few years and he passed away in his sleep on 16 July 1967.  He was buried in Maffra Cemetery.

After losing Gordon, Lilian moved to Kerang in northern Victoria where Vic was living with his family.

In 1974, Muriel finally returned home to England for a visit with daughter, Muriel.

Lilian in England 1974
Lilian in England 1974

Lilian celebrated both her 80th and 90th birthday’s surround by her large family.

                     8oth Birthday with Muriel & Vic       90th Birthday with Muriel

After a brief illness, Lilian died on 16 June 1994 at the grand old age of 94, and some 27 years after her ‘Aussie soldier’ husband.  She was buried with Gordon in Maffra Cemetery.

Great Nan Snowdon 1

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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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