Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Middlebrook Reunion Venue and More!


We have a confirmed venue and date for the Middlebrook Reunion!

Our big  news for this newsletter is that we now have a confirmed venue and dates.
The reunion will be held at Fairway Conference Centre ,17a Silverfields Takapuna.
For those who are familiar with Aucklands North Shore, this is directly behind( with nice views of) Takapuna Golf Course, and adjacent to the North Shore Events Centre.
The Venue has  a lovely spacious  room for us with large windows and doors that open out on to spacious decks overlooking the golf  course.
The formal portion of the reunion will take place there over 2 days - Saturday January 24th and Sunday January 25th 2015.
Saturday will consist of a more casual atmosphere, with registration, family and group photographs, informational displays.  A Huge Family Tree and individual family trees for each of the 6 family branches. There will be places for you to display and display  any photos or family related items you might wish to share.
The main goal for this day is to allow us all to get to know each other in a casual environment.
Refreshments will be served throughout the day in the form of finger food platters, and tea and coffee, and there will be a cash bar available.
If you can only attend one day, then this would be the day to come as we would love to be able to include as many as possible in the reunion photographs.
Sunday will consist of a formal sit down lunch, with speakers ( calling now for volunteers ) telling the story of the Middlebrook family.
Additional activities will be announced later - these would be optional but could consist of dinner on Saturday night at a local restaurant, and cemetery visits.
Prices will be formalised in the next week and we will be calling for deposits from early June.
There will be an early payment discount put in place also.


Our family is blessed with many many photographs which allow us to get to know our ancestors so much better. Many families have very few if any photographs of their ancestors, yet we have literally hundreds and hundreds. We should be very thankful that those who went before us valued photography so much.
It was probably a little easier for the Middlebrook family, than many others because of Henry ( known as Harry) Whitnall Smith - a professional photographer married into the family in 1902 when he married Jane Thompson Middlebrook (1876-1966) - daughter of John and Mary Anne ( Tucker) Middlebrook,not to be confused with Jane Thompson MIddlebrook (1849-1935) and it appears he became the "go to man" for portraits, for many branches of the family.
This self portrait of him was sent to Jane Elizabeth( Jeannie) (McRae) Simpson and her husband Duncan .

There are many other examples of photos taken by Harry Whitnall Smith from various branches of the family such as this one of Mary Jane (Rea) Middlebrook, wife of Samuel.

and this photograph of Samuel's son John Stewart Middlebrook as a boy

and this as yet unidentified baby photo,

We would love to see other examples of family photographs, taken by Harry Whitnall Smith if you have them

Aromatic Memories of the Early 1940's

by Diarne Poole ( Eldest Grandchild of Phillip and Ellen Winifred Goodwin nee Middlebrook).

Oh, the lovely smell of pikelets cooked on Nanna's Coal range in Hobart Street, Mirimar, Wellington. A real treat for a little girl sitting in the kitchen with butter dribbling down her chin.
When Nanna and Da ( as Phillip was known to all family) left Mirimar for Auckland I only saw them occasionally until I was a teenager, going up on family holidays.
However, I still remember clearly those early days. The scent of Nanna's Ponds Vanishing cream, "Three Flowers" face powder and "Evening in Paris" perfume in the little blue bottle.
Most of all I recall the acrid smell of her little green bottle of smelling salts for when, as we are used to say, she had "an attack of the vapours".
I think this remedy consisted mainly of ammonia!!
In later years in Auckland the aroma of Nanna's roast hogget was so appetizing  and very tender to eat. It was always put in the oven very early for Sunday dinner. "Five hours slow cooking dear" was her standard comment.
I believe, when in Wellington Nanna wouldnt trust the butcher's ready made mince, and would choose a piece of "best blade" and troup across the sawdust covered floor to the rear of th eshop and watch the butcher mince it up for her.
This practice continued for some years- albeit minus the sawdust floor.
Nanna was a great cook. She needed to be as Da would only eat goods that Nanna made. For years she even made her own laundry soap in the basement of their Balmoral Road Home.
I find it rather wonderful and comforting that the simple pleasures of smelling home baking, and the soft scent of cosmetics ( not forgetting the pungent smelling salts) can evoke such fond memories of special times spent with Nanna so long ago.

Your Stories Required

We welcome and would much appreciate your reminiscences or stories relating to the Middlebrook Family for inclusion in future newsletters and on the upcoming website..

Middlebrook Family Website Update

Good progress is being made on the website - it should be up and running before the next newsletter. ( albeit a work in progress)

Who are we??

These two cuties probably come from the Jane Thompson McRae (Middlebrook) branch of the family.
This photograph was taken by "The Art Studio" Whangarei.
From what I can find out about this company consisted of Adela Mary Younghusband and George Woolley  it appears to have been in business in the early and mid 1920's in Whangarei and Dargaville, and later in Devonport Auckland .
This would make these two girls birth dates between approximately 1910 and 20  .-
They could possibly be Beryl and Joyce Simpson ( born 1915 and 1917 ) two of the daughters of Jane Elizabeth McRae and Duncan Simpson, though the family were living in St Heliers in the early 20's so the Whangarei Photo Studio is a bit of a mystery.
If you can identify these girls we would love to know who they are.

Recently Acquired

We have recently acquired copies of the will of Samuel Middlebrook( 1784-1846 - Innkeeper, Millbridge Yorkshire), and  James Thompson ( 1748-1841) Innkeeper, Fairburn Yorkshire ( yes this is the source of all the Thompson references in the Middlebrook family)
The next newsletter will have transcriptions of the wills and information on both Samuel and James.

Middlebrook Family Pictorial History Book

We hope to have available for order and purchase at the reunion, a pictorial history book devoted to the Middlebrook Family.
In order for Lauren to complete this book, she needs copies of photos and in particular, if known, the stories relating to those photos as early as possible.
We would love to cover as many branches of the family as possible in the book, so dig out those photos and scan and send them to Lauren as soon as you can .
If you dont have a scanner one of the committee may be able to come and visit with a portable scanner.
Unidentified photos are also welcome as we have managed to identify quite a few already with comparisons to other photos, and enquiries  with other family members.

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