Bulletin 6: Rory --> Patricia Fletcher (Pat Cooper) --> Pippa, Alison & Gavin Cooper (Latest data added to foot of page)
Data Capture page Rory photo
Sent: 21 August 2007 12:29
Subject: Hi from Neil Fletcher
It seems that after a year, on and off, I have managed to track you down.... was hoping that something would come of a link to a 2006 congress where you presented a paper.......
....... main reasons for getting in touch is an extended family website....... nominally a Fletcher website, but open to the McDonalds and all other relatives - not just the male line..... you are invited to contribute material to it from your side of the family.
.. would be very interested to know what stuff you have - letters-photos-anecdotes- etc .....
... will open a Rory top page.... could you send any information about him, date and place of birth, his wife details also (have you contact with her family in the Western Cape - they wre from up in the Malmesbury-Darling area - one of the farms was called Modderfontein or something like that).
Do you remember Rory?. I will also send the details of some images for you to see in case you can identify him.
Also of course please send me a contact email address etc for Allison. I last saw her when I last saw you I think when we stayed with you when we came up to Sby for a wedding or something. Before that I saw her in London in about 1963-4
Your mother came to the farm for a few days a number of times in the late 80's or so when she brought Pippa out for a weekend. I also saw her after that a few times at weddings/funerals in Sby. At one she told me a great story about Rory trying to establish that he was dead. Do you remember it?
Great to hear from you - I did get a message from the congress people but had PC problems at the time and I lost emails etc.
I am getting together what I can remember of Rory - He was quite a recluse in his old age so don't remember a lot. Amy his wife whom we called Ganna stayed with us for years and I knew her well. Pictures I don't know about, as after Mum's death we had to sell the house quite quickly and clear it out so a lot of old stuff got dumped I am afraid. But I do have an old document somewhere here about the Fletcher's leaving where they were in Scotland and ending up mostly in SA and the USA(?); there is quite a lot of detail I recall. There is also a reference to Rory in a book we have from his surveying days. I will look these things out and scan or copy them to you ( to post stuff I will need your address).
I have contacted Alison and between us I am sure will get quite a bit for the website.
I have not been in Zim since Mum (Pat) died some year's ago now and have lost contact with the various Fletchers and offshoots and often wonder about them and the farms. I left in 1983 and have been in Somerset West since then and still working for the Dept. of Agriculture. I guess I am lucky to have a job and must hang in as long as possible pensionwise.
Will be in contact again soon
Cheers for now
What a surprise to get Gavin's mail about the website you are constructing for the Fletcher family tree! It was a very long time ago since last we met!
I have also been in touch with cousin Jean Franklin (Mutare) who has helped fill in a few gaps from her side - and also gave me details of all your family. You and Alwyn have four daughters - wow! It would take a long time to work out who's who in the Fletcher Zoo!
I have searched Web for Fletchers, but there are thousands of them scattered round the world. Gavin says he has a document which gives info re "the Fletchers of....," which describes the relative recent history of their departure from Scotland to SA and the USA. I would love to see this, and hope Gavin can find it for the F.F.Tree.??
What's the title of your Website?
Winkie was going to do a family tree years ago, but I have lost contact with her completely.
I have attached a document giving as much information as I can recall about the FLETCHER side, and the CAPE lot. It's all my Grandmother's fault for marrying Rory Fletcher ! He's Gavin and my Grandfather.
Some of your recollections are correct, and perhaps I can help fill on some of the gaps.
Tony and I have been married 35 years, and live in Springs on the East Rand, about 40 kms from Jbg. We emigrated on Company transfer in 1986. I retired a few years back, while Tony works for Consulting Engineers in Jbg. on a contract basis. He had to take early retirement from Van Leer 7 years ago, so must still work as long as possible to make up the "lost" pension. It's tiring, but that's life!
Our children are : Jenny (33) is married to John Parker, and one son, Byron - 2 years. They live in Newcastle, Natal. Jeff (31 this year) & wife Yvonne live in London. No kids so far. Jeff is a Sound Engineer at a Remastering studio.
Good luck with the Website.
Alison. (second or third cousin twice removed?!)
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, September 09, 2007 2:34 PM
Subject: FLETCHER FAMILY TREE
Sorry, forgot to attach the document about the F. Tree. I hope it helps.
I am also registered on Facebook.
RORY FLETCHER was one of several brothers who (I think) ventured out to SA from Scotland in the 1800’s. I am not sure where they all came from in Scotland – Mum mentioned the Isle of Jura on the West Coast? He was a Surveyor, and with brother Peter surveyed the grid system for Bulawayo, Gwelo and part of the railway from Waterval Boven area in Mpumalanga (formerly Eastern Tvl) to Komatipoort at the Mozambique Border. There may have been other areas as well, but I am not sure.
Rory married AMY DOROTHY SMITH (date unknown). Her father (GEORGE SPILLER-SMITH) was an 1920 Settler I was told. Her mother was LETITIA DUCKITT (see Cape Connection). She was a school teacher, and PATRICIA DOROTHY (my Mum) was born in Jbg. in 1910. Apparently they followed Rory round over the country side living mostly in ox wagons during his surveys. I recall Mum saying she stayed at some remote camps during school holidays, in places like Umvuma. I am hazy about the time lines as to where everyone lived.
Mum lived in the Cape as a child, then after graduating at Rhodes University she landed up in Byo. to live with ‘GANNA’ (Our name for Grandmother). Mum taught at various Govt. Schools in Byo. She married our Dad, GUY HERBERT COOPER in 1927? So the Coopers got involved with the Fletchers! Mum died in 1994 and Dad in 1987.
The story goes that during his surveying in Rhodesia, Rory got “bitten by the gold bug” and found some potentially good mines, BUT got drunk in pubs and told people the sites of the claims, before he had lodged with Mine Deeds Office. That’s one of the favorite anecdotes I remember – Mum was full of such stories about those days.
Rory ended up living in a shack outside Byo., tending bees. He refused to be reconciled with Ganna – they had been separated for a few years. Ganna came to live with us at “Dombomutiti” until her death in the late 60’s.
I think Rory also died in the 60’s, but can’t be sure of exact date. I was always quite scared of him, and according to Mum he wanted me to be named Ursula, so I am glad she resisted this idea. That name means “she-bear”! He was a big bear of a man with a long beard, who found it hard to relate to children. I don’t recall him trying to establish he was dead, but can quite believe it!
I would love to see some pictures of Rory. Gavin has an old trunk from when Mum cleared up the house after Dad died, so perhaps he has documents.
I am a bit hazy about all the Fletcher men,( of which there were many) but recall Sir ANGUS, ( he lived in the USA and was instrumental in founding of League of Nations – later the UN), ALISTAIR ,PETER, SIR BEN, (Knighted for services to Dept. of Native Affairs, S.Rhodesia) COLIN, KENNETH, LIONEL, DOUGAL. The latter lived as a recluse on a Fletcher farm after suffering from shell shock in the War – Colin and Peter looked after him? I think that’s right.
Our roots in the Cape on the maternal side, seem to begin as follows:
HENDRIK CLOETE bought GROOT CONSTANTIA IN 1778, and is considered by the experts as the “father” of Cape sweet wines. The vines were originally planted by Simon van der Stel in the 17th Century, from which mediocre wines were made and shipped to Batavia.( Simon was Governor of the Cape Colony at the time. (This info I gleaned from an article in local Sunday Times of 12.12.1999 discussing the Best Cape Wines).
A MISS DUCKITT married HENRY CLOETE (last owner of Groot Constantia before the Govt. took it over) He was a son or Grandson (?) of Henrik).
Her sister, LETITIA DUCKITT, married GEORGE SPILLER-SMITH (1820 settler).
They produced 3 girls: DENIE, LILLIAN &
AMY DOROTHY (my grandma) who eventually married RORY FLETCHER – one Child: DOROTHY PATRICIA (Mum)
(Ganna dropped the Spiller from her Surname so was plain Smith at time of marriage as far as I know).
D.P. FLETCHER m G.H. COOPER in Rhodesia – 3 children: Pippa (deceased 1984) Alison, & Gavin.
We are told AMY DOROTHY SMITH (Ganna) was born at KLEIN CONSTANTIA where her Aunt Lillian (I think) was living at the time. Dates not known, but probably in about 1888?? You could ask the Archives people at the Wine Estates for details?
The DUCKITTS lived (and descendants still do) on the farm at DARLING, on the WEST COAST, and Mum recalls traveling up there by ox wagon for large family gatherings.
Hildegonda Duckitt wrote a cookery & household hints book, which is now quite famous.
The extended family is now involved in growing and selling orchids.
I have yet to visit the area, but am determined to explore one of these days!
I think the above is more or less accurate. There’s not much in writing that I know about.
Sept 10. 2007
I am very happy to have tracked you and Gavin down after so much time.....
I last saw you when Elwyn and I flew up to Sby to your mother's ?? birthday party. Gavin was also there. Before that the last time I had seen you was in London in the early Sixties. Do you remember that?
At Pat's birthday braai she definitely told me the story about Rory setting up an elaborate fabrication of his death. But when his friends told his wife the sad news, Amy saw through it immediately and went off to (Northern Rhodesia??) and brought him back by the ear.
Regarding his difficulty in relating to children, I should tell you that your other cousin Felicity (in Cape Town) told me she used to love speaking to him as a kid at Umvutcha. She has promised her recollections of this and much else, but when...............??
I am sure there is other stuff you can recall. Do you know any more about where he lived in a shack outide Byo etc etc. and wherabouts in the country did he die etc. Do you know anything about the date and place of his birth?
I wish I had known that you are in contact with Jean Franklin, my straighforward cousin, nothing removed. Could have been in contact earlier.
What other relatives are you in contact with?
Please keep Gavin going on the stuff he says he has somewhere.
Here is the Archive address...... All stuff remains the copyright of the person sending it. There is a blanket copyright under my name - this is just to protect myself against anybody saying I made no attempt to protect their material etc . But as you know, once its on the Internet.....
Re the Family Tree
There is the Margaret Mason one of which there are several copies in the family, and which is extracted on the archive in data format. This family tree does have its gaps on the South African branch - not surprising for something written in England before the days of emails etc. There is a similar McDonald family tree, but Rory did not marry a McD like RA and Pat did.
Re Winkie's family tree - see her recent emails. Also there is stuff she has sent which is not up on the site yet
Sept 10 2007
Elwyn has just reminded me of a few things:
In the early Eighties Pat came down to Zimbile to see my aunt Sheila who had come out from Eire.
(Sheila died at Zimbile, having lived all her adult life in Eire). Anyhow Sheila and your mother were enjoying a few whiskeys and Peter eventually had to pour the drinks, something he never did. When Pat held out her glass he said "Say when"...Fortunately he was not drinking, otherwise the whole bottle would have gone on the floor.
On another occasion a few years later when Elwyn and the kids were overseas Pat and Pippa came out for a few days. A few other people were staying with us including Mike McCann, who you might have met with me in London. Born in Byo, went to Churchill. Completely Irish in spirit. You would not believe what a raucous affair the supper in the kitchen turned into one night. Even my father was somewhat affected by alcohol. Pat seemed to have a way of setting him off...
My father was not without a sense of humour, but he was a person of definite disapprovals, especially regarding the family.
He told with amused disapproval a story of how Rory always signed his invoices at the local store (at Bembesi?) with an R that had a very short right leg. So that it looked like a P. When Pat got the accounts he just posted them to his brother. (I have a feeling Rory might have lived for some time on one of the joining farms to the SW of Zimbile. Does the farmames Victory or Glen Grey or Inyozan ring any bells with you? Tou mentioned he lived outside Byo. This would be about 27 miles from Byo)
Lorraine told Elwyn that her heart always missed a beat when Rory walked in at Umvutcha (in his kilt?), like Rob Roy or some other Scottish chieftain.
Do you remember what he looked like? Can you find him in the photos (look in Catalogue) ida_204.jpg Family group/Picnic?Xmas at Umvutcha or something like that??
From Owen Fletcher to Neil. 9 Sept 07
Thanks for the update. I remember once going with Peter to fetch Rory and
take him into Byo - farm was down off White's Run road before the turn off
to Douglas [Robinson.], Falcon, etc.
To Owen Fletcher
Do you actually remember Rory? Do you remember any more details of the angot themoccasion? Where did you take him and why etc, and when?
I never set eyes on him that I recall. N.
......I can vaguely remember that Peter got a message that Rory needed to get
to town?, hospital?, Woodville? We drove down in the Chev through
over White's Run and down a twisting track with suikerbos trees to a cottage in the valley. He was pretty old (add years to the photo of him with the donkeys) and getting to the end. Seem to remember some comments of Peter's on the way there (black sheep of the family, etc) although he seemed quite harmless to me. He might even have been a bit spruced up for the lift but can't say I really remember anything else. Probably I was home from Hillside for the weekend and Peter took us both in.
To Owen 11 Sept
I will add your recollrory to the rory blog if that is OK
It has just struck me that if you are talking about the mid to later Fifties when you were at Hillside and I in CT, Mater might have not yet/only recently died. It is strange that Rory next door did not ever that I know come across to Zimbile or vice versa, even if Pater might have been dead some time.
It would be interesting to know when Rory went to live next door. (If it was after 1948 then it would have been Peter that received Rory's invoices with the short R.) But I dont ever recall Rory coming to Zimbile while Pater was alive, - and I can recall RA coming to tea for Pater's 80th birthday, probably 1947, (and they had not been on speaking terms (?) for decades), as well as the other old stiffs who used to pitch up ....Papenfus, Moffat etc. But I never heard it said that Pater or Mater were not on speaking terms with Rory......
It would seem from your account that Rory was probably at that small other Inyozan farm sharing a corner beacon with the Robinsons. (Not the Inyozan on the Nonka catchment, North of the Rixon Rd). It is possible the Fletchers at some stage had the farm where Rory probably was. So your account rules out Victory, and probably Glen Grey also, but not entirely?
Regarding where you took him. It might also have been Umvutcha. Woodville is an interesting possibility, - which reminds me I should make some effort to get in touch with Con. She might remember Rory and have quite a bit of Hull stuff also, unless her horses have eaten it.
Sent 11 Sept.
Thanks for the extra information. I remember going to stay with Sheila Kelly in Eire with Mum in 1974 - Mum came over to the UK on a Business & Professional Women's Conference trip, as well at to check up on what I was up to in Earls Court! The Kelly home was lovely - about 20kms outside Dublin, and their involvement with the Horse breeding set and the races, was so interesting. I remember meeting their daughter Minna. do you know what's happened to her?
I have had a brief look at the Archive and find it all quite fascinating. I knew the Isle of Jura was an important place! I will browse it more at the weekend and add a few comments if I can.
May I have Winkie's email address? I haven't been in touch with her since 1995, when we were last in Harare and would like to catch up on their news.
I shall send you a photo of our son, Jeff, and you'll probably see a likeness to the Fletcher men! Gorgeous red hair and his Swedish friends call him the "English Viking".
Neil to Owen
Monday. 17 September 2007
Further to where Rory was living.....
Met the train from Perth in Bunbury and brought Annette down to Nannup till the end of the week. On the drive back she had a few anecdotes about Rory.
She went to Bulawayo in 1953 and met Hugh and they got married towards the end of that year. She went to Byo in the first place to see her brother Willie Esterhuyse who was working on Umvutcha. Willy told her a story of how he went to live in the cottage to the west of the main house. He collected those small bottles of whiskey, brandy liqueurs etc which he put in rows on the top of the pelmets of the windows, or somewhere. He came home after work one day to find that Rory had drunk the lot...
And she had heard Flick similarly saying (see my elsewhere) that she had got on well as a youngster with Rory and that they used to make up stories to tell each other.......
She also knew the story of Rory getting one of his friends to write to Amy saying that Rory had died. "No such luck" was part of her reply. She heard the story from Hugh.
She also knew the story of Rory signing his name with a very short foot to the R.
She remembers Rory and says he was good looking.
She said that at Drummond one day a boy came to tell them that Rory had not come out of his room. He was living at Glen Grey.
Old Hugh went to the farm and found the door of his room closed. But he was able to look in somehow and saw Rory lying on a striped mattress. He was dead. Sometime later Annette and young Hugh returned to the farm with Pat Cooper. Rory had almost no possessions and Pat gave away the few articles in the room to the farm boys standing around, in particular a camel hair coloured dressing gown, with the remark "It's true what they say about rolling stones gathering no moss."
She attended the funeral service in a small chapel, possibly part of a funeral parlour. She thinks he was cremated? During the service she looked around to see Kenneth standing with his shirt buttons adrift, and his glasses strapped around his head with a rubber band and some string, singing enthusiastically. She could hardly contain herself.
She thought Rory was the main participant , along with Tom (?), in a story about Lorraine's early domestic trials at Umvutcha. She had been serving clear soup and eventually one of the brothers shouted out "Dishwater again, Rob. What's happened to the good Scotch broth?"
I don't suppose you or I are likely to come up with anything else. There probably are some photos etc with the others. Regarding personal anecdote, apart from Alison and Gavin, there is probably only Winkie maybe. But Mick and Flick would definitely have stuff. I would say they are the main remaining chance.
==================== 21 Sept 07
I have not been able to access the Archive site over the past week, so wonder if there's a problem somewhere?
Did you see the photo of Jeff I sent on 15th September?
I have been in touch with Jean ( Franklin) again, and also her daughter Carol. Carol sent me photos of Alan & Lorraine's wedding in the UK, so I could see some of the family gathering. Belinda Schmolke is on Facebook, so is Winkie's daughter-in-law, Jeanette! So I have linked up with them and hope for news of Winkie & Raye in due course.
Facebook is amazing and links are being forged all over the globe.
Still thinking about photos of Rory, but haven't had time to search properly. I shall give Gavin a nudge - he's the archetypical "Absent-minded Professor" and drives us all nuts!
Cheers for now.
It looks as if you are gradually gathering information for the Archive. I notice one error in the Biographies section, where it says Rory Fletcher & Amy DUCKITT. She was actually SMITH not a Duckitt. Her father was SPILLER-SMITH, and she apparently dropped the Spiller name as an adult. I gathered from my Mother that Amy considered the double-barrel name " too snobbish".
Re the Angus clan in the USA - I remember my Mother talking about "Uncle Angus" living in New York and being Knighted, for his involvement with the League of Nations, which later became United Nations. She always wanted to visit that side of the family, but alas, cost of travel was (and still is) far too much.
I have been in touch via email and Facebook with Jeanette Schmolke, and Belinda. No direct news from Winkie, but I gather she's OK. Am also in touch with Jean Franklin's daughter, Carol Smith, also living in Mutare. So have been able to discover a few long-lost cousins still in Zim via Facebook - it's a fun social networking site for the younger set, but a few golden oldies as well.!
To: Alison Cooper Mortimer
Sent: Tuesday, October 16, 2007
I am most surprised to hear what you say about Amy's surname. The source of the information in the Biography is simply what appears in Margaret Mason's book. I think the source of her information must have been young Hugh.
Further than that I can say that I distinctly remember my father saying that Rory married a Duckitt, a detail of some significance to him (and to me for that matter) because we were both at school with Duckitts in Cape Town. I think it unlikely that my father would have got his information from Mrs Mason's book, which only appeared in 1973, - but it is possible. There are a number of mistakes and inaccuracies in the book; she was living in England.
What other background can you supply about her? What about photos, letters etc. I will for the time being leave the biography as it is , and only change it when more discussion has taken place. Maybe John or Flick in Cape Town might have some information.
We had an annual Fletcher Picnic in Perth last Sunday. There were 32 present, including spouses, and another ten who couldnt come.
The statue of the Emigrants was interesting. I doubt if PcP was a victim of the enclosures as such. Will add some details to the emails.
Keep in touch, and please give Gavin a prod.
Sorry, you are right. Amy was daughter of Letitia Duckitt who married John Spiller-Smith. Amy was one of their three daughters. So I guess you can say Rory married a Duckitt. Which Duckitts were you at school with? Amy qualified as a teacher in Cape Town (I believe she was one of the first ladies to do so) and later went up to Rhodesia. She taught at Evelyn School for some time, and my mother lived in Byo. as well. Rory was mostly away off into the bush on surveys and prospecting as far as I could gather. The moved around Rhodesia with him, and Umvuma was one place my mother remembers quite well as one of the places they stayed. Amy taught at the local school. Don't know any dates. Mum was teaching in Byo. when she met Guy (my Dad) and they got married out at Umvutcha? I remember Mum telling some funny stories at the pranks the Fletcher Uncles played on them. My memory isn't that good any more. I have mild epilepsy, as a result of a slight stroke 5 years ago, so dredging up these memories is not as easy as it used to be. Let alone the ravages of age!
I have an old trunk which I will get hauled out of the garage and see if there are any documents or photos that might be useful. Don''t know when this will happen - probably not until the Xmas Holidays when Tony is on leave to help.
The annual Fletcher picnic must have been fun. I had no idea so many Fletchers were in Aussie.
Cheers for now,