One set of my great grandparents were Wangaratta based James Edgar Gordon MOORE, almost always known as ‘Gordy’, and Caroline Anne (nee RITCHIE). When Caroline died tragically in August 1933 after she caught influenza and succumbed to the ensuing pneumonia, Gordy was left with seven children. Albert Edgar (Bert) had been married to Agnes (nee CORDY) for 12 months, Richard James (Dick) was 21, Edna May was 19, Alma Caroline was 17, and little red-headed Jack (Bluey) was only 10 years old. As I mentioned in the obituary for my grandmother, Alma gave up work and remained home at 9 Moore St Wangaratta to care for Jack and maintain the family home. But by 1940 Alma had married and moved to Swan Street after a new home was built there, and in the next few years Jack was off following his dreams as a mechanic and avid motorcycle racer.

So by 1945 Gordy had probably spent a few years living alone at Moore Street. It is not known how the next stage of his life unfolded but on the 13th January 1945, at Holy Trinity Church in Kew, Gordy married for a second time. His bride was Minnie LEWIN, who was six years younger than Gordy. Minnie was the daughter of Clement KIND, an engraver, and Patience BRITTLE, and had lost her first husband Hubert Leslie LEWIN in 1934 at the young age of 45. But how did Gordy and Minnie meet? Minnie was born in Brunswick in 1892 and her only child was born in Melbourne in 1920. At the marriage Minnie gave her occupation as a saleswoman. One can only guess that perhaps Minnie was selling the types of things that Gordy needed for his cycle repair and general mechanics business in Murphy Street Wangaratta. Witnesses to the marriage were Lesley J Whelan, Minnie’s daughter, and J or I Montgomery. I am leaning toward this witness being John Ian Montgomery, a brother-in-law to Gordy’s daughter Edna, and soon to be husband to Gordy’s first cousin Alice Rebecca Blair.

Marriage of James Edgar Gordon Moore to Minnie Lewin. From left: Minnie’s son-in-law and daughter Kevin & Lesley Whelan, Minnie, Gordy, Gordy’s daughter Edna and son Dick, and Edna’s husband Les Montgomery.

The marriage obviously had the support of both families but sadly this was not one with a happy ending. Minnie moved into the old family home at Moore Street, Wangaratta. She is recorded on electoral rolls as living there until 1954. But after that there is a gap in the records until Minnie’s death in Melbourne in January 1961. Gordy lived on a few more years at Moore Street, before age caught up with him and he went to live at the Ovens & Murray Home in Beechworth.

So what happened to this marriage? At the time of her death in 1961, Minnie was living in Mentone, not far from her daughter Lesley who was living in Highett. Minnie’s sister May had lived at this same address in Mentone until her death in September 1954 so this suggests that Minnie returned to Melbourne in 1954. Had she gone back to nurse her sister but never returned to Wangaratta? Was Minnie homesick? She had after all, always been a city girl and Wangaratta was a long way from her only daughter, and her siblings. Or was Minnie becoming infirm herself and decided that being near her daughter, and nieces and nephews was a better option? Another factor may be that Gordy could be badly behaved. Comments were made in the family several times of his treatment of his oldest son Bert, and how the abuse drove Bert to leave Wangaratta temporarily for a job in Melbourne. Alma also commented about Minnie that she had no idea what happened.  “One minute she was there, and the next she wasn’t”. Perhaps time had dulled Alma’s memory, or Gordy had not been forthcoming with details, but the mystery remains of what happened around 1954 and how Gordy and Minnie split. If anyone from the KIND or LEWIN families knows I would love to hear from you!


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