Friday, 21 September 2012

Beginnings of the romance

Beginnings of the romance: as per Leslie Macdougalls’ diary.

The Meeting:

17 April 1911 – Leslie took the train from Queenstown to Strahan and to Zeehan in the morning, then at 4 pm the train to Burnie.

- - - - - I was joined by my old friend Arthur Tregear. He was accompanied by Mrs. Wells and Miss. Wells, the mother and sister of his fiancée, who were also the wife and daughter of the Station Master at Zeehan.  They were all travelling together to Hobart.  He at once introduced me to them, and I soon came to the conclusion that Miss.Wells was about the most charming young lady I had ever met, as she was certainly one of the prettiest.  Many as have been the charming girls I have at different times come across – to some of whom I have almost become engaged – I remember none who from the first held me in thrall as did Miss. Beatrice Wells.  The journey from Zeehan to Burnie has the reputation for being the most tedious railway journey in the state.  Nevertheless to me it seemed in her presence to pass all too quickly, and when the train came to Guildford Junction for refreshments I put a few judiciously chosen questions to Tregear and learned her age, and leaned also to my very thorough satisfaction that she was “fancy free”.  This made me keener than ever to cultivate her acquaintance as much as possible and it was an added pleasure to know on reaching Burnie that they were all spending the night at “Oakleigh” which was also my stopping place.  I helped them with their luggage and we all had supper together before retiring to our respective apartments.

18 April 1911
I rose at 5.20am and breakfasted and entrained for Launceston at 6.25am, and had the pleasure of occupying the same compartment as that wherein Tregear and his ladies were travelling.  I found that my first impressions of Miss.Wells were intensified on further acquaintance. - - - - - - - I had previously ascertained that they would be visiting Launceston on their return and staying a few days in the northern city, so I asked to be permitted to place my services at their disposal when they did so, and my offer was very graciously accepted, and Miss.Wells promised to send me a card to notify their arrival in Launceston.

25 April 1911
To my great satisfaction I found that there was a postcard from Miss.Wells announcing that she and her mother expected to reach Launceston this afternoon and remain till Thursday.  I accordingly went to the Station at 2pm to meet the incoming express with them aboard, and escorted them to “The Metropole” - - - - - - In the evening Mrs.& Miss. Wells accompanind me to the Albert Hall where the Launceston Competitions were still being carried on.  Miss.Wells looked more charming than ever.  I had a very enjoyable evening with her  - - - - - - -

26 April 1911 (During their visit to Launceston Leslie took them to Patterson Street Methodist Church to see the grand organ,  went up the clock tower at the Post Office to see the mechanism of the chimes, visited the telephone exchange, and recorded their votes in connection with the great Federal Referendum dealing with unification and control of monopolies).

27 April 1911
I went along to the station and bade farewell to Mrs. & Miss. Wells who left by train for Burnie at 3.20pm. It was satisfactory to me to learn that they would be remaining in Burnie till Saturday and then proceed to Zeehan, as that was the day I expected to return home also, and we should thus have another delightful journey together.

29 April 1911
Mrs.& Miss.Wells did not disappoint me.  They were on the platform and I managed to secure a first class compartment for the exclusive use of our party through nearly the whole of the journey.  And throughout it I took every opportunity to become further acquainted with Miss.Wells, to the evident amusement of the elderly ladies present and to the utter boredom of my dear little sister Gwen.

The Proposal:

8 November 1911
Marriage of Winifred Alice Wells to Arthur Melville Tregear with Leslie Stuart Macdougall officiating. The marriage was held at the Station Master’s home in Zeehan.
- - - - - The bride entered escorted by her father and attended by her sister, Miss.Beatrice Wells.  I have never seen a more beautiful bridesmaid than Miss. Wells appeared that day, clad in a charmingly simple white all over embroidery gown and wearing a large black chip hat trimmed with miniature daisies - - - - - - .

9 November 1911 in Zeehan.
- - - - - My thoughts were constantly dwelling upon the sweet girl who had been the bridesmaid at yesterdays wedding and the longing that for weeks and months past has been becoming within me more and more intense to win her love.  Ever since I first met her in the train going to Burnie last Easter Monday (17 April 1911), and especially on those memorable occasions where on since then have had opportunity to renew her acquaintance she has held a place in my thoughts and affections such as no other did, and though in view of the difficulties at home through my brother Hugh’s illness, I have for years set aside all thoughts of marriage, her coming across my path has never the less made all the difference to my views on this matter.  My dear old friend Charlie Dugan has been urging me to “make the plunge” and propose to her, and even went so far as to threaten calamity if I didn’t “fix it up” during my present visit to Zeehan he would reduce the value of the wedding present he intended to give me by one pound.

During the evening I seized an opportunity for conversation with Miss. Wells while she and I were alone.  I invited her to go for a walk with me on the morrow afternoon, which to my great delight she graciously consented to do.  I returned to the parsonage for the night, fully resolved that during our walk together on the morrow I would entrust my life’s happiness to the issue of one great question.

10 November 1911
The day was inclined to be somewhat stormy, but with intermittent sunshine.  Hardly a promising day for a most enjoyable walk with an exquisitely beautiful young lady - - - - -
At 2 pm sharp I presented myself at the Station House and Miss.Wells, looking more radiant than ever, was ready and we set out together for an afternoon ramble that I suppose neither of us will ever forget till our last hour.  We made our way across the Little Henty River and along the beginning of the overland track towards Queenstown for about one mile and came to an old abandoned mining claim where there some odds and ends of timber lying around and a rough humpy erected for shelter.  Here we sat for the greater part of the afternoon discussing matters of great moment to both of us, and at last, taking my courage with both hands, I told her of my love for her and asked her to be my wife.  How shall I record the delight I experienced when I found that my sentiments were reciprocated and that she was willing for better or worse to join her lot with mine!

We came back to Zeehan light hearted as a couple of school children and my happiness was great indeed.  Unfortunately a prior appointment hindered me from taking tea with her so I bade her a temporary farewell at her house and went on to the house of  - - - - -
As soon as convenient after tea I took my departure and hurried back to the home of my beloved, and took the earliest possibility of aquainting her father of my desire and securing his consent which he was good enough to give very heartily.  We then had a delightful evening together: one of those evenings that defy description in cold matter-of-fact black and white.  I returned for my last night at the Parsonage in an ecstatic state of bliss - - - - - .

11 November 1911
I rose at 6am and went to the Station to leave by the 8am train for Strahan.  Beatrice was down to see me off.  I bade her farewell all too unwillingly, but consoling myself with the hope of seeing her again at the Flower Show at Strahan.

29 November 1911
- - - - - - On her finger there glistened a beautiful 5 diamond engagement ring that I gave her yesterday to seal our compact.  We went for a walk and it was bliss all the way.
- - - - - - - We returned to her home shortly after 10pm and had a delicious time together in the conservatory. (Engagement ring cost thirteen pound ten shillings – Leslie received ten pounds stipend per month.  Dawn has the engagement ring and it will be given to Susan). Note: Leslie started calling Miss.Wells Beatrice after they became engaged.

Old mine at Zeehan where Leslie proposed to Beatrice on 10 November 1911

Leslie and Beatrice celebrate their 1st anniversary of meeting (on the train between Zeehan and Burnie on 17 April 1911)
Beatrice Wells 17 April 1912
Beatrice Wells 17 April 1912
Beatrice Wells 17 April 1912
Beatrice Wells 17 April 1912

Beatrice Wells 17 April 1912

Beatrice Wells 17 April 1912

 Sarah Macdougall (Leslie's Mother) wrote a letter of welcome to Beatrice Wells 20 November 1911

November 20th 1911,
C/- Mr. Lithgow,
Charles Street,

Dear Miss Wells,

Leslie has written to let me know that you have each met your fate or in other words, have found out that you care for each other enough to marry and plan your lives together.  Leslie enclosed me a photo of you and I must say I like the face very much of my future daughter and I hope dears that you will have a very happy future before you both.  I hope some day to see you.  I told Leslie sometime ago, that I had my suspicions about him when he told me about a very nice young lady he had met on the train at the time Gwen went to Queenstown.  Well time has proved I was right I am glad he had decided to marry as he is not getting any younger and it is not wise to loose the best years of ones life by..........excuses………much.    

I have not been well for some weeks, a bad cold on the chest and with that and the constant anxiety I am undergoing on account of Hughies illness.  Most likely Leslie has told you I have been away from home over two years so that I can look after him and see to his meals.  He’s been in this hospital so you will understand I am not very cheerful being parted from my family and home, but I could not think of leaving my boy with no one to look after him.  They are very good at this hospital.  They let me go to him and sit with him every day for which I am very thankful.             

I know my dear Beatrice for I suppose I may call you that.  I am going to write Leslie a few lines so will close, with kind regards to your Mother.

Believe me, yours sincerely,


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