ANGUS SOMERVILLE  FLETCHER.    Data Capture, emails and general Blog Page, etc. for the family branch in USA
 

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To: info@edwardtenner.com

31 January 2008

1 Terry Street
Nannup. 6275
Western Australia
1st February 2008
Dear Sir
I have come across your interesting article on the tilting chair by Lorenz and Peter Fletcher while trying to contact my relatives in USA.
There is strong reason to believe that the Fletcher in your article is a son of Sir Angus Somerville Fletcher, born in South Africa, and the youngest brother of my grandfather. In one of his letters in my possession from 1951 he mentions that his son Peter was at Stevens Engineering Institute. His age would fit with the age mentioned in your article.
Your article suggests that in 2004 he was still alive in Florida, and that you had at some stage had contact with him.
I would be most grateful to you if you are in any way able to put me in touch with him or his family, or able to suggest any further means of approach.
My reason for wishing to contacting him is to ask him to fill out details on a family archive/website, and also just to re-establish contact with this branch of our family.
My email address is mcanleister@yahoo.com
Yours faithfully
Neil Fletcher
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Dear Mr. Fletcher,

Thank you for your message. Coincidentally I spoke on Monday at a university in Daytona Beach. Peter Fletcher lives nearby. He could not
attend but we spoke on the telephone.
I'll call him again and with his permission will send you his telephone number. I am not sure about his current e-mail address.
If you are not already in touch with Peter's brother Angus, he also might be able to help you. He is a leading literary scholar here:

http://www.dactyl.org/thought/Fletcher_New_Theory.html
http://www.villagevoice.com/arts/0402,winter,50182,12.html

Unfortunately he was very busy when visiting Princeton and I never got to meet him.

And I could have written an article for a historical journal on Sir Angus, who was the first head of the British Information Service in NY before he became a consul in Buffalo, and also presided over the search for the United Nations headquarters. It would be worth looking up his name in the historical archives of the NY Times, now available free online:

http://www.nytimes.com/

I look forward to reading more about the history of the Fletcher family.

Sincerely,
Edward Tenner

http://www.edwardtenner.com/
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Dear Mr Tenner

I am utterly amazed to be on the brink of contact with our US branch of the family, and cannot tell you how grateful I am for your help in the matter.
The breakthrough came from the Stevens Engineering Institute link in an old letter of Angus' recently submitted by a family member in South Africa. This lead to your comparatively recent article in which your statement " And Peter Fletcher, now 75 and an industry consultant in West PalmBeach, Florida, finds it ironic...." lead me to believe that you had been in personal contact at some stage. The Florida information strengthened the identity with a detail of another Angus F. letter of 1954 in which he says
"Peter is in Florida where his boss has his winter office....." This letter also says "Angus has his big exam on the 16th......" "Donald....has just told us he expects to marry next year..." I believe Donald was with the NY Times and was going to try that route next, but didnt quite know how to go about it.
I will send you links to our website shortly. ...................
With many thanks and best wishes,
Sincerely,
Neil Fletcher
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Dear Mr. Fletcher,

I've spoken with Peter Fletcher. Please feel free to call him in Florida at 386 345 4262. I wish I'd had more space in my most recent book for Peter's recollections of his life, and I am sure that you as a kinsman will find them all the more fascinating.

For the context of reclining chair history, you might want to look at Our Own Devices, described on my website. I am not sure about Australian distribution, but if you are interested it can be ordered from any larger American online bookseller. There is a full chapter on the history of the reclining chair, based in part on hours of conversation with Peter and consultation of the archives of Anton Lorenz in the Vitra Design Museum archives
near Basel.

Sincerely,
Edward Tenner

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Note by N.F.:  I phoned Peter in Florida and got his postal address , and wrote him a letter giving my email address. Jean responded................

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Excuse a small delay in getting back to you. Dad sends apologies for misspelling your email address = the delay! Hope we got it this time. He received your letter and this weekend we'll set him up on Yahoo for direct correpondance. Patience is required with him as he's 78 (I think) and he trips up sometimes with this "new technology!"
Jean
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Date: Mon, 4 Feb 2008
From: Jean <jeantherigger@yahoo.com>
Subject: Fletchers

Hello Neil,
Jean Fletcher here, sending this for my father, Peter Fletcher. Until he gets set-up with the internet, you can contact him through my address. I do not check my email every day but do speak with Dad that often, so you will get a reponse within a few days.
Looking at the family tree, you are down the line from Pat Fletcher, Angus' brother?
I and my father look forward to further correpondance soon!
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Extract from email J(e)P_Neil

8. I have picked up on some of your Garrick/Sir Angus comms. When I was in the USA in 1956, I met and stayed with Angus and Helen, whose house fireplace was located in East Hampton, Long Island. Donald was the eldest brother, who married a girl of Greek descent called Bess. Donald worked as a heavy on the desk of the New York Times. they never produced any children, as far as I know. I also met Peter, who was a newly-qualified engineer. He cracked a design for a lounging chair which was very successful. There was a younger brother Angus, whom I never met. Donald and Bess were very nice, quiet, serious people, who took me around New York sights and some good restaurants. I liked Peter and my impression was that he was available for a good piss-up. I have numerous letters in the files from Angus to RA and Ben.

[Dear J(e)P. Pantazi doesn't sound exactly Greek to me. Hope to find out in due course. But meanwhile aren't you getting a bit muddled up with something nearer home? N.F.]
[20th Feb 08. Dear J(e)P - So glad to see the memory is still OK,. Your most humbled cousin..... N]

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Ian McAnleister <mcanleister@yahoo.com> wrote:
Jean
Until we fix the site catalogue it will be easier if I attach some files in the meantime.
I have attached seven files.
There are a few more, from another computer. Let's see if you get these OK.
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17 Feb 08
Hi Neil
Sorry that it's been several days before I replied. I have forwarded this to my cousin Katherine, Donald's daughter, and to Angus at the Getty. Katherine seems to have retained the most knowledge of Sir Angus and Lady Helen, grandmother (Helen) lived with Donald's family the final 15 or so years of her life and still has grandparents belongings, letters, etc. So I imagine can be a great source for your research as well.
I was not able to access the web site from the library today, there are so many firewalls and general blocks here. will try again from different branch tomorrow, share with Dad, and perhaps send intial info regarding Angus' family tomorrow.
Btw, I think all us grandkids have taken a look at Margeret Mason's book/ myspace web site. Is that what you're working on?
More later..
L Jean
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20th Feb 08

Hi Neil,
Another small delay. I'll stop promising specific reply dates, just as soon as I can :-) I did forward the other messages you've sent ( and I will with this one as well) to Angus and Katherine. Katherine is excited as I to be a part of this (despite what you surmise)! I suspect you may hear from them soon.
Yes I was able to open the attachments and the letter from Sir Angus (just not the web link). My mother recalled correspondance between Thomas and Angus. And I thought it amusing to read what Dad's dad thought of my Dad at that turning point in his life!
I have documented most of my immediate family members, but not in the format you explained. I will rearrange and probably fill in the rest in the next day or two (I'll send something in the next email).
I believe Dad has records of correspondance with Hugh from 5-10 years ago. That will be a little slower in coming. But it will!
More soon...
Jean
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20th Feb 08
Hello Neil!

One more crazy cousin from the US to add to your email address list! I'm so pleased that Jean has been in touch with you. I still have a copy of a letter that "Young Hugh" wrote to my father back in the '70s and I've often thought about seeing if I could track anyone in South Africa down. What a thrill to read your email!
For purposes of your tree... My father Donald Stewart Fletcher was born in New York City on November 11th 1926. My Mother Bess Pantazi Fletcher (1st generation Greek American) was born in Johnstown, NY on July 2, 1918. They were married in New York City on January 8th, 1955. I was born Katherine Stewart Fletcher January 8th 1960. (Yes on their 5th anniversary!) My father died May 25th 1986 (brain cancer) and my mother died this last December on the 21st 2007 (complications from a fall in Sept 2005). Both died in Connecticut where we have lived since 1960. I married James McGowan Connor on August 25th 1990. We have no children. We live in Redding, CT.
I'm interested to read that Angus was the youngest of 9 children. I'm certain that my father always told me that he was the youngest of 13! You also mention a web site. I'd love to get the address so I could log on too...and I'm very interested in checking out the family tree!

I'm looking forward to further correspondence with you! Right now it's dinner-time so I must sign off for now!

Cheers!!!

Katherine
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From Wendy 20 Feb 08
A gratifying message from Katherine - makes it all worthwhile doesn't it? Closest I came to that branch was in 1976, the year Aussie and I were married, and went to the USA. I had Lady Helen's phone number from Winkie and had a short conversation with her then. I remember her saying, "I am very old now." So Katherine is her granddaughter? Therefore her father (Donald) was one of the three sons ... and the message from <jeantherigger@yahoo.com> is Katherine's cousin, daughter of Donald's brother Peter. That leaves one more brother..................
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20th Feb 08
Nf_Katherine
Just a note to say how pleased I, and I am sure all the rest of the family are, to be in touch with you and the other Angus family cousins in the USA........................etc.............

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21 Feb 08
Hello Neil,
Well the formating allowed me to double check on a couple dates, though the copy and paste is lacking. Oh well. Hope you make sense of it. I will try to get Dad's images to you sooner than later, hold tight!
L Jean

F92 Peter Stewart Fletcher, b. December 16, 1928. Bronxville , New York
married November 11, 1958, lives in Oak Hill, FL
divorced 1976
Leila- Lee Ricketts, b. April 2, 1934, Babylon, New York. Mom lives in Boynton Beach, Florida

F92X1 Roderick -Rory- Stewart, b. August 11, 1959, Roslyn, New York (twin)
Married March 9, 1985
Dina Marie Barborini, b. February 14, 1961, Forest Hills, New York
F92X1a: Ryan Stewart, b. July 9, 1990
F92X1b: Tyler John, b. September 7, 1991. Rory's family lives in Pleasantgarden, North Carolina. rdfletch@bellsouth.net

F92X2 Raymond -Ray- Stewart, b. August 11, 1959, Roslyn, New York (twin)
Married March 3, 1989
Laura Ann Lee, b. November 14, 1963, New Jersey
F92X2a: Stewart Raymond, b. April 26, 1990
F92X2b: Anna Lee, b. May 5, 1992
F92X2c: Christina Lee, b. October 30, 1997. Ray's family lives in Jacksonville, FL
raymanfletch@gmail.com

F92X3 Jean Stewart, b. May 23, 1961, Boynton Beach, Florida. I live in Deland, FL
jeantherigger@yahoo.com

F92X4 Andrew Stewart, b. August 30, 1962, East Hampton, New York
Married June 1, 2002
Kris Palmer, b. December 3, 1965, West La Fayette, Indiana
F92X4a: Katherine -Katie Mills, b. May 17, 2007, San Jose, California. Andrew, Kris and Katie live in San Jose, California. fletsch_98@yahoo.com
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21 Feb 08
From Katherine

Yes, I think it is very exciting to have found one another. I'm very curious to learn about what you and other family members are living through politically and socially. I need to learn more about the African countries. I'm ashamed of how ignorant I am.

I'm at work right now taking a break so I'll make it short and sweet just now and answer some of your questions. Yes, my mother's maiden name was Pantazi. You'll see Stewart is the middle name of all the children in my father's generation as well as mine and Jean and her brothers. My grandmother Helen, Angus Somerville's wife who I believe you met at Fireplace, was Helen Muir Stewart before she was married. (Did you know she also lived in Rhodesia? She and her brother Donald were sent there for the dry climate. She and her mother were the only members of her immediate family that did not succumb to turberculosis. She had two sisters, Jean and Archina. Her father's name was Archibald and I can't think off the top of my head what her mother's name was. It will come to me. Interestingly, her first language was Gaelic, then she learned English in school and learned Swahili in Rhodesia. Not too many people in this country anyway can make that claim!) I digress... My father was a newspaperman until his death and my mother, for most of her life, was a legal secretary. After she "retired" she served as the Registrar of Voters in Redding for the Democratic party for 12 years until she was 84 years old! I work for Prudential Connecticut Realty in the Relocation Department working with Corporate Transferees and Jim has his own Painting Company called Old Glory Painting and Restoration.

I'll see about getting some pictures to you.

All for now!

Katherine
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Dear Katherine

Many thanks. Briefly - the lives of the other family members etc. Some of their news you will come across in the various blog pages. I tend to shorten most of the detail they send in emails about life in Zimbabwe, in the belief that most who read them are going through or have been through, the same thing themselves....But I am sure you will get a picture. I have all their emails anyhow on file. In the case of my wife Elwyn and I, we are now living in Western Australia, semi refugees really, ....
I did not know the house was called Fireplace. Is this so?. You might have seen in the extract of emails I sent you (above) that cousin John, (who curiously returned from the trip to the US in question spelling his name with an "e"), says "When I was in the USA in 1956, I met and stayed with Angus and Helen, whose house fireplace was located in East Hampton". I have for several days been wondering about this detail of the fireplace, and could only conclude that John, seized by a moment of whimsy, had wanted to introduce an image of not lost family , - hearth, log fires burning, apple pie and so on..... He is very much the older brother to us all. But you have to pull him up on spelling now and then. When he was in the States he worked on the King Ranch in Texas, and brought some Santa Gertrudis cattle back to Rhodesia. He also rode bulls at rodeos over there. Maybe this has something to do with it...
re Helen Muir Stewart. Apart from the romantic account of her nursing Angus, and being born in the family farmhouse, given in Margaret Mason's book, I believe the family in Afrca knew nothing more about her. A couple of months ago I was sent a letter from the Thomas family written by Angus in 1951 in which he definitely states that Helen was familiar with the Cape Colony and the Orange Free State (OFS). This was very interesting, as I am sure none of us knew she had ever been to Africa. So on this point could you please try and remember as much as you can. Did she ever meet Angus in Africa.? Are you clear she was sent to Rhodesia and not one of the South African colonies/both? We would like to know more about her family. etc Did her mother also go to Africa? Where did her family live (in Scotland?) Where did she go to school.? She would not have learned Swahili in Rhodesia. If you are sure on this point it is likely she was sent to Kenya or Tanganyika rather than Rhodesia? But Angus definitely says she knew South Africa, which is next door
Till the next.........
L
Neil
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22 Feb 08
Hi Neil,
I spoke with Katherine last night. We both are like teenagers about this "new" family discovery, in a somewhat self-absorbed fashion, trading what we remember as fact vs. story...
Anyway, we are close and have been in each others weddings and such, share a special bond being Fletchers (Angus Sommerville is quite the legend). I suppose those are the stories to be told here? Did you know his portrait is available on the National Portrait Gallery of London www.npg.org.uk ?
Dad knows most of the dates for Angus if you don't hear from him in the mean time. I will try and help Dad with his contributions this weekend. We'll see.
The email addresses are ok to publish on the family web site. Jean-the-rigger is from my years as a parachute rigger, worked the industry, jumping from perfectly good airplanes... A friend assigned the name while he set me up with email years ago and I never changed it. I have almost 1000 jumps but have't jumped in about 6 years. Dad was a paratrooper while he was in the US Army. (I'll work on scanning his photos and send if you're interested). Fortunately, they don't use those type parachutes anymore! Ow!
Dad does, by the way, feel the lift offs, the doors rattle, a delayed roar, etc. I live another 30 niles away and you can't miss the sonic boom when the shuttles reenter. It's quite amazing. Every time.
More in a couple days
love Jean
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From Winkie. 24. Feb 08
Dear Neil,
Thank you for communications - interesting. I corresponded with Angus when I was contemplating looking up a post grad place at Yale.
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From Flick 27 Feb 08
Hi Neil,
After Mom died I found letters from Lady Helen Fletcher, she and Mom kept in touch till she died. They are in the lost box.
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29th Feb

IT'S Raymond S , happily married to Laura L with 3(17-Stewart R, 15Anaa, 9 Christina)
We will have to keep in touch its 1 of those things my father Peter always would tell us"you know you have family in S. Africa"
We too have family scattered all over the US oregon, Cal, colorado, maryland n carolina, conn. etc.
Afrca,not so far that we can't conect via www at lest were not going to the moon to find a Fletcher. The Fletchers in Tallahassee,FL
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2nd March

I believe Ray just needs to add more punctuation in his messages to be clearly understood. I'll call him this evening and straighten him out! (just kidding - still quick to tease each other)
As I sent the tree info so far, Dad lives in Oak Hill, Florida as you know, Mom (Leila Ricketts Meade (she remarried) lives in Boynton Beach, Florida.
Rory and Dina's family is in Pleasantgarden, North Carolina, and Ray and Laura live in Tallahassee, FL.
I am in Deland, Florida, just inland from the east coast by 20 miles (too far I think, but the skydiving brought me here. Dad really has a neat spot, not so developed it's become anemic).
Andrew and Kris live in San Jose, California just behind a cousin on mother's side of the family.
I understand Ray's mention of Oregon, Colorado, and Maryland as states where Laura's father and brother's live. Laura's family is close too, and that applies to childern and cousins ages, on her side, as well.
All the children are at home right now but Ryan (Rory's oldest) is going to college in the fall.
What I can tell you of Angus is he is a year younger than Dad (so that would be 1929), he's married to Michelle (don't know her madien name) but I don't know the date of their marriage, 15-20 yrs ago anyway. I'll see if I can get the information to add to the tree...............
. ..........Dad seems to think this is all important. Katherine and I are in it, at least for the fun. Perhaps that neither of us have children, we appreciate the more extended family, but not that the other's don't!
More later, I'm running out of time on the computers!
Love,
Jean
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2nd Mar
From Flick
Have you received any work done by Angus (Sir Angus Fletcher USA) on the genealogy of the Fletchers? I found 1959 Xmas card from him saying that he would be sending Mom and Dad a form to fill in for his 'genealogical work of the Fletchers' - I haven't found any sign of the form though.................
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Flick
Please scan and send the card saying Angus was doing the genealogy N.   ===================================                                                                                                                                                    

From Flick 3rd March
The earliest letter I have found from Helen is dated 18 Sept 1952. It will be difficult to scan as the ink is faded and the paper is thin and written on both sides. I will try when the scanner at work is operational again - I'm moving office so everything has been shut down for a few days. (I work at home or on one of the post grad computers and use the general office equipment when mine is down....in case you wondered!!)

Its to my Mother at the time of Tom's death, unfortunately it's not complete, but its interesting - she talks about her three sons ..."who are twenty two, twenty three and twenty five." If it doesn't scan I will retype it.
Have also found some photos Angus sent Mom - one of the - 'New pulpit and panelling in Jura church. Natural coloured oak.'
- written in someone else's writing and Angus has written - 'This is the church in Jura in which father worshipped in the first third of the 19th century. The present minister (1954) is very proud of the panelling he has just had put in & to which I contributed, also Archie's widow, who also gave the font in his memory.'  ..........will scan and send with the photo of a Highland heifer called after Helen - 'Lady Helen of Killeanadal' - bred by the minister of the church!
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From JP. 5 March 08

I have read the letters of the girls USA. When I met Helen, I cannot remember her saying that she had ever visited Rhodesia. I might dig up more bio on the Eaglesim family as I wade deeper into the piles and files. Jean the Rigger sounds like the sort of bird we could have used in the war here. She would have fitted right in with Patrick, Glenn Batch, and the 3 Hull brothers, who all won their wings. Would have been a family affair. I was boarded out because of my knee, and you were the only one who puked so much your instructor broke all the rules and refused to fly with you on your first 6 hours of solo. I don't forget much, cousin.

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12th March

Hi Neil

Dad has a working email, though a letter may take awhile. Between his typing skills and his vision, it's a bit of a struggle. Let me see what I can do to get his account of things. He did say to me that he did not recognize anyone from the Christmas pic at Umvutcha. I thought the man standing more by himself, under the tree looked like Angus. Dad disagreed. I have better eyes but it's his dad.
I was able to scan some pictures a couple days ago but don't have the files with me just now (give me another day or two), including a group photo of all the Peter Stewart Fletchers taken this past summer. Probably the first of all together in 30+ years! I'm running out of time here.
More later :-)
Love Jean

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5.04.2008

Hello Neil,
I hope these are usable. They were scanned at school, JPGed at home, tranferred to library on my flash drive.
All are from Dad. Angus and Donald is self-explanatory and I'm going by Dad's identification of who the baby is!
Family pic is of Angus, Donald, Peter, Lady Helen, Sir Angus. I imagine it is in the late 30's - early 40's at Fireplace (the name of the estate).
The homestead pic is of an unknown location, but in a file Dad has of his fathers (Angus) pictures. Appears as a sod roof on the house? Perhaps someone else can identify?
Relatives are of other unidentified cousins. Dad thought RA is one of the figures. Does anyone recognize the house or children? Dad has some photos of his fathers time in the military, they're an assortment of men but you may be able to identify your uncles who were in the army with him? (Did I understand that right?)
And the summer 07 pic is of Peter's whole family, from the latest who is almost 11 mos. now to his ex-wife (my mother)! Starting in the back: (the 3 brothers) Andrew, Ray and Rory,
(Andrew's wife) Kris, (Ray's son, nearly 18 yrs.) Stewart, (Rory's sons) Ryan and Tyer. Back to the middle line: (Mom) Lee , (Ray's middle child) Anna, (Dad) Peter, (me) Jean, and (Ray's wife) Laura. That's (Rory's wife) Dina holding the baby (Andrew and Kris') Katherine and (Ray's youngest) Christina. So there ya have it!
I'll send more mystery pics if that's OK. I wonder if it's better to send the war pics on a page as a PDF? Or would you perfer separately as JPegs; you could edit easier?
I'm working on Dad and getting his stories on page...
more soon, Jean
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5.04.2008

Many thanks for the wonderful photos......
The old photos from Africa - very surprising and welcome. I am quite stunned by the one of the old white building with waggons outside. Won't say anything more about it just yet - need to study the possible location on GoogleEarth. The probably later photo of the other house with people is also a most valuable addition - again I won't say anything else just now. But I can only suppose that for Angus to have kept them they must have been of some core importance from a family point of view.
N
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7.04.2008

Oh good that the pics forwarded OK.
I did not know Ray had already sent photos! He has such a beautiful family (I enjoy the girls so much), I'm glad he jumped right in!
Dad said in retrospect he really was unsure on what the covered wagon photo is from. But I thought the hills in the background were more likely South Africa than, say, the American west (I don't know that Sir Angus even traveled to the western States).
Also received a short email from Angus at the Getty, quite tied up with the events there but enjoyed the nostalgia as well. He indicated he'll call soon, so I hope I can find out his interest and future efforts to share in this. (I feel optimistic)
I return to class tomorrow after spring break and will try to get the chance to scan some letters to Dad (and Donald) from Hugh the second. Perhaps you already have copies of his correspondance?
So has all of your immediate family moved to Australia?
Excuse my redundant questions if this is already on the web site. I am a bit time-restricted on the internet and have not looked very thoroughly!
Still working on getting stories from Dad. We'll get together later this week and I'll forward.
Enjoy your winter, I'm looking forward to our long hot summer (hopefully with lots of rain minus the form of hurricanes)!
love Jean.
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Dear Peter and Jean

When I opened the photo of the white house and the wagons and donkey cart I could hardly believe my eyes. That a photo from the 1860s/70s of Keerom farmhouse in Namaqualand could have been taken in that remote region in the first place, and that it should have survived in America and finally come to light again, was almost incredible.
After a couple of days of thought about it I am now satisfied it is of Keerom, and would take some unconvincing. For a number of reasons. Firstly the granite terrain. The area of Keerom is exactly this, a dry wilderness of low granite hills, many in the form of rounded domes which we call dwalas (from Ndebele/Zulu). They are also typical of much of Rhodesia.
Over the course of the last year I have spent hours, on and off, searching the region around Keerom on GoogleEarth. From a decsription by young Hugh in a letter, and from what I remember of a topographical map he gave me, I was able to follow a dirt road on the satellite image to a farmyard where the road ends against granite hills. Keerom in Afrikaans (Dutch) is literally "turn round".
I managed to make contact with Annelize Erasmus, of old Springbok families with historical connections to Keerom farm, and she confirmed the location I had picked from GoogleEarth. [See emails from her on the website]
What is singular about the dwalas forming the dead end to the road in Keerom farmyard is the orientation of the joint or crack , typical of these granites, which can be seen from the satellite image making two pillows of rock. This crack can be clearly seen in the photograph. The joint runs roughly NE, and in the photo long shadows can also possibly be seen suggesting a similar orientation for the joint there.
It had occurred to me the photo might be American. I am sure there is suitable granite there. But the photo has a definite South African flavour. The white walls of the building is typical SA Dutch, and donkeys were used extensively in southern Africa, and those look more like donkeys pulling the cart than mules. Were donkeys used the same way in US?
Regarding the roof of the building, which you Jean suggest might be some sort of sod. That had not occurred to me. I would have said it was of a type of thatch. Further to the West of Keerom on the Messelpad (the copper tyransport road PF was engaged on building) can be seen on his map a station called Riethuis, in Afrikaans "Reed House". Reed of various sort is used extensively in SA for thatching, a form of roofing there probably much more common than in the USA. In Rhodesia we use "thatching grass", a coarse reed-like specie of grass. Having said that, reeds do need water in streams, or seasonally wet "pans", and the region in question is very dry. Reed might have been brought in some distance by wagon. But regarding sod: On one of our former farms in Rhodesia, called Bradford, full of granite dwalas, was a patch of a type of peat, several feet thick which had formed in a bit of a depression over the underlying solid granite. It once caught fire and smoldered for ages, being impossible to put out. I suppose it could have been cut and used for roofing, and it is not inconceivable that similar material might have been found in Namaqualand, despite the much lower rainfall.
Regarding the photo itself. How big is it, what is it printed on, how thick is it, is there no writing or anything else on it or on the back? It would be interesting to know more about the process used for it, and how it was taken. It does not look like a box B rownie snapshop of any sort. They only became available after the turn of the century I believe. I would imagine this might have been a
set-up photo taken by a camera on a stand. It has a slightly deliberate look about it.
I was at first somewhat taken aback by the apparent size of the house. Had visualised something smaller, or makeshift. But thinking over the information in Annelize's letters, it is entirely likely PF bought the farm with a house already on it that had been the home of
previous large families. It is certain that RA and Pat were born at Keerom, and recently there is evidence from Garrick that his grandfather Tom was born in Namaqualand, though not specifically at Keerom. It is possible PF was in Namaqualand for a while after selling Keerom and before he went to the Millwood goldfields. It is certain Angus would not have been born at Keerom. He would have been only 14 years old or so when his father died. His oldest brothers were already in Rhodesia, and his middle brothers might have been less at home than him. The girls were probably still at home. It seems probable that an old photo such as this would have remained at home until PF's death, and not surprising that it came into Angus' possession. It would perhaps have been more curious if it had gone elsewhere.
It is of course likely that PF stayed in accomodation other than tents after arriving in southern Africa from Scotland. But we have no reason the believe that Keerom was other than our first African home.
Whatever the truth about this photo, it is a wonderful image, and would be a valuable item in any national archive. I think it is very fortunate for us that it has survived, and hope you do everything you can in your family to ensure its safe future.

Regarding the other photo of the six figures on the verandah of a corrugated iron roofed house. Also a valuable find. But am not able to say anything more about it. Why do you think one of the people is RA, and which one? Did you, Peter, ever look at these photos with your father? This photo could have been taken a generation or more later than the Keerom one. And it is more of a modern snapshop. It is likely other members of the surviving older generation might be able to say something about it when they see it.

I have put all the photos on the site except the Keerom one. {link to the New Files - temp on Front Page. ] If you click on one of the Archive Workspace links (#3 I think) on the Front Page you will get a work in progress draft about Keerom (if you have not already seen it) and on it you will see links GoogleEarth images of the farmyard and dwalas mentioned above. Also to letters by Hugh of his visit to the area.
I will put the Keerom one on view maybe next week when my brother Owen gets back to SA from Bulgaria, as he has control over indexing on the site.
Jean re other photos of people in the military - not uncles by cousins of some sort. When you see the tree (shortly!!) you can tell me.
Ditto about where all the family are. Yes, wife and all four daughters in western Aus.
I am sure there are more gems with the family in US. Anything is of interest. Peter, having seen the family photos I can't say you look particularly old at all, and so look forward to written material from you as well as old photos etc.
Love to all
Neil
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19th April
HI Neil,I have been able to look over the Web site/tree a little bit this week and I must say what a treasure this is for us all!Let me add a few missing pieces Dad (Peter-F92, for the records) and I put together over the phone.Angus Somerville birthday is May 13, and Dad thought around 1885 you have 1883? . He died the summer of 1960, no exact date record found yet. Helen’s birthday is July 26, 1893. She passed away Dec. 26, 1988.The romantic story of how they met as injured soldier and war-time nurse, alas, is false. And although Helen and her brother Donald spent some time in South Africa for health reasons, Angus and Helen met much later when Angus went on a visit to Achalladar in Scotland, (Dad’s quote) “like all good Fletchers, to find where they came from”. They married in (beautiful) St. Giles cathedral in Edinburgh and moved to the United States in 1920. When I get more things scanned, I'll send a copy of Helen's obit. that contains some interesting facts about her life. Katherine, please add to or correct if you know anything different!In a recent conversation, Angus indicated he may be able to add something when he gets back to his house in Albuquerque. more later - J
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19th April
Dear Jean
Glad to hear that you have had a bit of a look at the site, but cannot help feeling that a lot of it must be a little remote from your interest. But if you find some of it interesting, then that is a great satisfaction.
Hugh's daughter Celia has suddenly appeared on email and listed quite a lot of material she has at her disposal in the papers left by her father, - including correspondence with Peter it seems - and in due course some more information about Angus might come to light. Schools in SA have opened after a short holiday and so she probably wont be sending anything very soon. ........
............Cousin John(e) who has also been sending material recently has gone off to SA for a month so we wont be getting anything from him. He has in any case been living under difficult conditions with the elections in Zimbabwe and a new round of farm invasions. He is in an district where there are only about 5 out of more than forty farmers still on their farms, and has been for a couple of weeks negotiating on behalf of a neighbour who has been invaded. John, "like all good Fletchers" went to Achallader. I must confess that although I lived in England for almost 13 years from 1962 I never went there ....as a penance I am doing the website.

I think a lot of the womenfolk will be sorry to hear that the romantic story is not quite true.

I wonder how it originated? As far as I am aware all the stuff in the Margaret Mason book about the SA Fletchers came from Hugh. But maybe, as in an old Italian opera, it will in due course turn out to be true after all! My wife would love that. She was a nurse.

I have for a while been on the point of asking Katherine if she has found out any more detail about the story that Helen had been in Rhodesia, and spoken a native language. Other than the Scotch one, that is. I look forward to seeing the information in the obituary. In the photo you sent I thought she looked familiar, but cannot think of where I might have seen her in another photo.

I hope Angus does get in touch.

By the way, in the letter by Angus of the initiation in Grand Central or wherever it was, in the typescript I have left some parts blank because I found the writing illegible. But would appreciate it if Peter could supply the details.

Have added details to the Tree, but also left a question mark at the two possibilities for Angus' birthyear. I must have got the info from the Mason book. Quite possibly more will turn up.

What is the position about the old photos on glass? Any photos of skydiving?
N
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21st April
Dear Neil,
Thanks for the recent update. What excitement to get the photo of Keerom.
We certainly have a large branch of the family tree in the USA ! Fascinating to see all these folks we are directly or indirectly related to scattered round the world...............
Alison
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21st April
Hi, ............ I've had a chance to look at the new stuff - really a good update, especially the Keerom house. It must be the patch of dark northeast of the tin roof in the Google satellite image (even has a sort of Zimbile feel to the house)........... Owen
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21 April, 2008
From: "Katherine Fletcher-Connor" <ksfconnor@hotmail.com>
To: "Jean" <jeantherigger@yahoo.com>, "Ian McAnleister" <mcanleister@yahoo.com>, cvrufuspeter@yahoo.com

Hi! Jean, glad you were able to put the fable of Grandma being a nurse to rest. Finally! I actually think the truth of how they met is far more romantic. It makes me remember once when I was quite small being on a walk with Grandma in the woods at our old house and we came across an abandoned home and she said "you never know who once lived here. You may end up marrying a descendant of the people who lived in this house." (There were lots of abandoned structures in those woods because when they built the reservoir in the 1930s the govt. took a lot of homes under eminent domain. Hence the abandonment of the "Old Mail Coach Road".) By the way, it's worth mentioning that the reason Angus Somerville went to Achallandar was to visit the ruins of the Fletcher Castle and the ancient Fletcher burial ground there which, incidentally, I've visited too. Grandma played in those ruins as a child!

I don't know if Dina has told you but we had a house fire. The house was saved but we've sustained considerable damage. I've really got my hands full which is why no one's heard from me. I did, however, while digging through some old paperwork stumble across a file that Daddy set up called Misc. Letters. I didn't look at it but suspect it has the correspondence I've mentioned from Hugh in it. When life returns to some sort of normalcy (could be months) I'll see what we have.

Katherine
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Last modified 22 April 2008