“Edwin, come and meet the other ladies” Helena said after I had finished bringing in the chairs, noticing a few other chairs, that must have been brought along from other families. “Edwin Cameron, this is Julia Barrington, and our newest two neighbours, Louisa Frankston and Maria D’Angelo. The D’Angelo’s have the northern half of the old Applegate farm, and the Frankston’s have the farm east of them, on the other side of the main track into Ceduna,” Helena said.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you ladies,” I said politely to the women.
“I understand that you have the bigger farm in these parts, and that you are getting married today,” Maria said with a thick Italian accent.
“That is right. This school, the blacksmith workshop and the new produce store are all on the southern boundary of my land.I have two younger brothers with me. Simeon, the youngest, is still attending school, while Archie helps me working on the farm, along with Helena’s son, Patrick, who is a good worker. My bride to be is a widow, and she has three boys that also attend this school,” I replied.
“My word, an instant family then,” Louisa stated.
“Yes, Ma’am, but Florence has been our housekeeper since the passing of her husband, so we have been a family of sorts since that time,” I said, as I saw who I presumed to be the minister approach. “Good morning,Reverend. I am Edwin Cameron. Sorry to throw in a wedding, as well as the church service,” I said to the minister.
“It is a joyous time, and I am most happy to do double duties. I see the local ladies have put on a picnic for afterwards, which will be a grand time to get to know you all. Now I believe you have two younger brothers, and your bride to be has three sons, is that correct?’ the minister replied,
“That is correct, Reverend. My brothers are Archie who is 17 and Simeon who is 13, and Florence’s boys are James aged 11, Adam aged 8 and Mark aged 5,” I replied.
“I see that is quite a family that you are taking on. Do you feel capable of handling such a task and challenge?” the minister asked.
“Yes, Reverend. Florence has been my housekeeper since the passing of her husband, and she keeps a well-run household,” I replied.
“That is good to hear. We better get started shortly,” the minister said and he set of to the small store room to the side of the building to get prepared, returning a few minutes later with a handful of sheets of paper, just as everyone was settling into chairs.
“I have some hand-written sheets of an order of service, which will have some adjustments since we now have a wedding, but I only have 8 sheets, as I was not sure how many would be attending. I will be sure to be better prepared next month,” the minister said to me, as he gave them to me and Augustus to distribute. “Mr O’Grady, would you mind doing a bible reading?” the minister asked Shamus.
“I would be honoured to do that, Reverend,” Shamus replied.
“Good morning, and welcome to the first of,I hope, many monthly church services to be held in this wonderful building. When I came to officiate the service today, I thought that it would be just a regular church service, but now we have a wedding to celebrate on this fine say as well. So, let’s start off with a hymn, which you will find on your order of service sheet: All things Bright and Beautiful,” the minister said to start off the service.
With the minister starting the hymn, we discovered that he had a wonderful baritone voice, and both Shamus and Antonio had wonderful singing voices also. As for me, I didn’t think I was a very good singer, so I sang very softly. After the hymn the minister indicated to Shamus to come forward to do the bible reading.
“Psalm 44, We have heard it with our ears, O God, our ancestors have told us, what you did in their days, in days long ago…” Shamus began, and I was amazed at how well he spoke as he read from the bible in his hands. Once the reading was done, the minister waited for Shamus to return to his seat before continuing.
“I will be doing things a little differently today, as this is more than a usual wedding. May I have Edwin’s two brothers and Florence’s three sons come forward please,” the minister announced. He waited for the five boys to approach, and he whispered to them to turn around so they were facing the audience.
“Now, can I have the Bride and Groom step forward please, and stand in front of the boys?” the minister asked.I was now getting quite confused by what he was asking, as Florence and I stepped forward.
The minister whispered to Florence and I to hold hands and to face the boys.
“Now, Archie and Simeon Cameron, do you both accept Florence to be your sister-in-law, to honour and obey her, in good times and bad, for as long as you live?” the minister asked, and Florence and I looked at each other in surprise.
“We do,” my brothers echoed, and the minister turned to Florence’s boys.
“Now, James, Adam and Mark Applegate, do you three accept Edwin, to be your step-father, to honour andobey him, in good times and bad, for as long as you live?” the minister asked. The three boys looked at each other and smiled.
“You bet ya, we do,” the boys chorused, which brought laughter from the whole room.
“Thankyou, boys.You can go back to your seats or stay here if you wish,” the minister said. “We are gathered here to day in the sight of God, to witness the joining of this couple, Edwin Cameron and Florence Applegate in holy matrimony. Who giveth this woman to this man?” the minister said.
“I do,” James squeaked out before clearing his throat and saying it again more clearly, blushing as he did so.
“…and now with the vows given and the exchange of rings, I hereby pronounce you to be man and wife,” the minister said to conclude the wedding part of the service, and Florence and I kissed softly before turning to the minister for instructions.
“Take a seat, everyone, for a short sermon,” the minister announced. In all, the service concluded after 45 minutes, including a second bible reading, two more hymns, and the benediction. Once finished, everyone congratulated us on becoming man and wife, before we headed over to the table at the back of the room for lunch.
When the meal was over, and everyone was preparing to leave, Florence asked the minister if he wanted to stay the night at our place, but he declined, thanking us for the offer and saying that he had ministry duties in Ceduna, and that he would see us all again on the second Sunday of next month.
“By the way, Ceduna had its first few motor cars arrive the day that I was preparing to leave to travel up to you.Model T Fords they are called. Quite a sight to see,” the minister informed us, and he climbed into his buggy, gave a wave and set off for his two-day journey back to Ceduna.
Once we had arrived back at the homestead, now as one big family, Archie and I helped Florence to move her belongings and furniture into my bedroom, which is a lot larger. My double bed was moved into the study for Archie, and the single bed he was using, wasstored away in the barn, while Simeon’s bed and belongings were moved into Florence’s old room.
Once all the moving had been completed, the boys got to work to do the chores of feeding the animals and doing the milking, while Florence started preparing the evening meal, and Archie and I went to check on the sheep in the two small paddocks, and to fill up their water troughs.
“After we have marked out the lines for the internal fences, we better start on digging some wells. I will need to make a trip into Ceduna to enquire about buying windmills to get water up to the surface easier,” I said to Archie.
“I guess you better take the large wagon, in case you manage to buy one, so as to cart it back home,” Archie commented.
Our first night as a married couple was mostly spent talking quietly, getting to know one another and each other’s bodies, and we ended up sleeping in till almost 7am, when Archie knocked on our bedroom door to make sure that we were awake.
“I know it is your first day married, brother, but there is farm work to be done,” Archie called out from the other side of the door, and we heard him laughing softly as he walked away. By the time we had washed and dressed, Archie had the kitchen stove going, and he had started preparing breakfast.
“Good morning. The boys are out doing their chores and will be in shortly,” Archie said to us, as he stepped away from the stove, to let Florence to take over.
“Thankyou, Archie,” my new wife said as she took over cooking duties, and Archie handed me a cup of tea, with a big grin on his face.
Once the boys had set off for school, and Patrick had arrived for work, Florence gave us a packed lunch, and weset off to the North west corner of the property to begin work on the northern boundary fence. I estimated that it would take us two weeks to get half of the northern boundary built, and when it was I wanted to build an internal fence between the north and south boundaries, leaving space in the middle for the sheep yards.
When the first half of the north boundary was completed in late March, I decided that Archie and I needed to go into Ceduna to get some more farming supplies. It would be the first time that we would be going into town together, since we first arrived in South Australia, just over a year ago.
The night before, when the boys were all in bed and Florence was finishing cleaning up the kitchen, I sat at the dining table to write a letter home.
“Plymouth Farm, Ceduna, South Australia.
29th March 1913
Dear Ma and Pa,
I know it has been a while since we last wrote, but we have been very busy on the farm. We have employed the neighbours 15-year old son, Patrick O’Grady, to help with the farm work, as we are trying to get as much of the boundary fence built, before our flock of sheep gets too big.
You may recall that I told you about Florence Applegate, the widow who we took in after her husband passed away. She has been a wonderful house keeper for us, looking after the running of the house and keeping us all well fed. Last Sunday, we had a Methodist minister come to perform a church service for our little community, and we also had a wedding, between Florence and myself.
Florence is a wonderful woman, warm and caring, and it was about two months ago, when I realised that I had quietly grown to love her, and asked her to marry me. I was pleased when she said yes. We are very happy together, and with her three sons, and my two brothers, we are one very happy family.
Archie and I are heading to Ceduna tomorrow morning, so I can post this letter when we get there. I hope you are all well there in England. We miss you very much, and I hope that some day that you will all join us on the farm. We will start work on extending the house to accommodate everyone, once the boundary fencing is completed. Love to you all, Edwin”
Leaving at dawn, Archie and I set off on our journey to Ceduna, with the Clydesdales and the large wagon. When we arrived at the blacksmith workshop we stopped, to hang the sign that Archie had finally completed, onto the front of the produce hut. We unloaded some produce, a can of fresh water and milk, and carried it into the hut, before we continued on with our journey.
I informed Archie that I had written a letter to Ma and Pa, and I gave it to him to read. When he finished reading he handed it back to me.
“You mentioned making extensions to accommodate the rest of the family. How about we build a separate cottage for them, and build it beside the produce stall, on the north side. That way the girls can walk to school each day,” Archie suggested.
“You know, brother, you do have a brain in your head after all,” I commented with a big smile which resulted in receiving a good shove from Archie, nearly causing me to fall off the wagon seat, as we laughed together.
Copyright Preston Wigglesworth January 2019 All Rights Are Reserved