Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Outdoor Kitchen

It was some time in 1905 or 1906 and John who was always known as Jack and his wife Rachel who hated her name and went by the catchall Sis, had been married about six or seven months. They were living with Sis’ parents on their property "Rose Valley Farm" in Texas, Queensland. Jack decided he should get to and build an outdoor kitchen for Sis and so he set to work. Over a number of weeks the job progressed until finally it was finished and Jack felt quite proud of what he had achieved. It had all the requirements of a modern kitchen with an outstanding oven, the stack of which proudly pointed into the air high enough to carry all the smoke away.

Its not known how long after but it was probably a year or so and Sis was working in the kitchen with the oven fire burning away making its usual whooshing sound as the smoke rose through the chimney when the disaster struck. That stack of which Jack had been so proud, suddenly collapsed and came down over Sis, setting fire to her sleeve and severely burning her. She was saved by her sister who was able to throw a bucket of water over her. She was months in care and when she finally recovered her arm was fused to her body so that she couldn’t lift her arm over her head. That was why about fifty years later, although I didn’t know it then, I used to peg the clothes on the clothesline for her which led me to having many enjoyable talks with Nanna.

My cousin Margarette says that John never forgave himself for, as he saw it, not having built that stack correctly. She told me that at about 90 years of age, not long before he left us and with Rachel herself some years gone, he confided in her that he still felt guilty about it.

My grandfather John who I was named after, was a truly wonderful man. What a shame it was that he felt he had to carry that guilt for the whole of his life.


  1. How sad! I wonder whether there is a Justice Department 'fire inquest' file at Queensland State Archives. My Web site (look under 'Tips for Queensland Research') has brief advice about inquest records.

  2. My grandmother didn't die in the fire so do you think there would be an "inquest" for this incident?