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Biographical Dictionary - Coorow, Carnamah, Three Springs


"Glad" Gladys May GERSCH / GRIFFITH

Born 5 May 1916 in Athenna, South Australia [55]
Daughter of "Ernest" Heinrich Ernst GERSCH and "Louise" Augusta Johanne Louise HANDTKE [P88]
Her father and brother Albert left South Australia and travelled to Western Australia in search of farmland [P88]
Left South Australia with her mother and siblings Laurence, Edgar and Rita and arrived in Western Australia in May 1931 [P88]
Resided with her parents and siblings on farmland in Goomalling [P88]
Resided with her parents and siblings on farmland at Caron, West Perenjori in 1933 and 1934 [19]
Resided with her parents and siblings on LEISHMAN Bros' Gregorfields Farm in Winchester in 1935 and 1936 [5: 5-Jun-1936] [25] [P88]
Attended the Mad Hatter's Leap Year Ball at the Carnamah Hall on 29 February 1936, wearing apricot floral silk voile [5: 6-Mar-1936]
Resided in Winchester until her marriage in May 1936 [5: 5-Jun-1936]
Married Ernest Llewellyn GRIFFITH on Friday 29 May 1936 at the Caron State School in Caron, West Perenjori [5: 5-Jun-1936]
     She wore "a charming gown of white knot crepe with long cowl sleeves and the skirt forming a train" [5]
     Her veil was held in place with a coronet of orange blossoms, and she carried a bouquet of pink roses, carnations and fern [5]
     Miss "Dorrie" Doris BOOTH of Carnamah was her bridesmaid, and wore "pink crinkled coutil" [5]
Resided with her husband in Caron, West Perenjori in 1936 [P88]
In 1937 shifted with her husband to Dunromin Farm in Carnamah-Winchester, which was leased from FRANCIS Bros [P88]
Resided on Dunromin Farm in Carnamah-Winchester 1937-1976 [P88]
For three months before and after the birth of her third child she was assisted on Dunromin Farm by her sister-in-law Marjorie [P345]
     She was unwell and before the birth spent time with her parents in Carnamah, while her sister-in-law cared for her children [P345]
     Following the birth of her daughter Margaret her sister-in-law stayed on for a month, and then returned to her home in Caron [P345]
Member of Carnamah's branch of the Country Women's Association - was Secretary in 1954 [0: image 04772]
Financial Member of the Carnamah District Agricultural Society -1971 [13]

From The Countryman newspaper, Thursday 23 August 1973:
All Roads Lead to North Midlands Show - Top Exhibitor Lauds New Show Concept
    "The two-day North Midlands show is one of the best things that could have happened in the region, according to veteran Carnamah show exhibitor, Mrs Gladys Griffith. In fact, she believes the new regional show should encourage more people to take past as exhibitors. Mrs Griffith has been a prominent exhibitor at shows for most of her life, and for the past six years has won the main trophy at the Carnamah and North Midlands shows.
     She began exhibiting before her marriage when she lived at Perenjori. After her marriage she moved to her husband's property about seven miles east of Carnamah and has not missed a show at that centre. Though her main show field is her needlework, Mrs Griffith has exhibited poultry, farm produce, cooking, preserves, knitting and crochet, dressmaking, arts and crafts and flowers.
     About five years ago she decided to exhibit at the Perth Royal Show for the first and only time. She put in 20 entries in various sections and to her surprise won 13 prizes for her work. However, she decided it was too much of a hardship to have to take work down the 200 miles for the show judging, particularly when it meant the involvement of the whole family to help her out. 'Cooking has to be done at the last minute and therefore to go to Perth you have to travel down during the night before the judging,' she said. 'This is why the bigger keener competition at the North Midlands show become more attractive for exhibitors,' she said.
     Mrs Griffith is not only an exhibitor but has been a show steward for many years, though in retirement now. However, on the farm she has plenty to keep her hand in and for the past 25 years has done all the cooking for the shearing team when it is working on the property. Mrs Griffith and her husband Ernest have raised a fine family of four children and have eight grandchildren."

Eulogy for Mrs Gladys May GRIFFITH prepared by her daughter Mrs Kay MARTIN:
     Gladys May Griffith (nee Gersch) was born on 5th May 1916 at the family home just out of Ceduna in South Australia. She was the third child to be born in the family, with two older brothers, and so was very spoilt. While a toddler she used to love to play with her little dolls and tiny Chinese paper umbrellas on the bags of wheat stored in the shed. She had great fun sticking the umbrellas into the wheat bags but was constantly teased and annoyed by her two brothers. Later on another brother and a sister were born, so the big ones had some other ones to annoy.
     One Christmas their father woke them all up at 4.00 o'clock in the morning, and told them all to get up and come and meet Santa, but by the time they had all gathered in the lounge he said "Sorry! You're all too slow - and to late - he's gone now!" This brought lots of tears and disappointment to them until they all found a white enamel plate each, filled with lollies and nuts, so of course Santa the best then!
     In 1920, the grandfather gave Glad's father a very productive farm at Urania, which had a very big homestead. This farm was considered to be the best farm in the area at the time, but when Glad was six years old her father sold out for a very large sum of money. The family then went to live in Adelaide, where the children all attended the best of schools, and always had the best of anything they wanted. Unfortunately the father became involved with another gentleman who convinced him to invest very heavily in Goodrish Tyre Company. This company eventually went bankrupt, and so the family lost everything.
     At 13 years of age Glad had to leave school and managed to get a job with a cousin. This cousin taught Glad many domestic skills as well as how to make her own clothes. For a sum of five shillings (equal to 50 cents now) a week, she had to get the breakfast, take the kids to school in a horse and cart, help with the housework, pick up the kids from school, help with the homework, help with the evening meal, attend to children's bath times and do any mending. She learnt a lot there!
     On her 15th birthday, the family left Adelaide by boat to start a new life in Western Australia. They managed to get work on a farm at Goomalling, then moved to Perenjori and then moved to Bunjil. It was while at Bunjil hat Gladys met Ernest Griffith on his 21st birthday, and eventually began to 'date'. Then the family again moved to Winchester.
     In 1936 Gladys and Ernest were married, and after a year had their first daughter Joy. They were very proud and happy, but due to times being very hard, they found it extremely difficult to get work. Ernest was willing to take on any job available and often found he had to go to Geraldton to saw wood for the railways to burn in the locomotives. This led to Glad and Joy going with him.
     About this time they heard of a small farm at Carnamah close to Glad's family, that was up for lease. Gladys finally persuaded Ernie to take the risk of settling on this farm and try to make a life. They then had another daughter, Kay, so life was even tougher.
     As on most undeveloped farms in those days, facilities were very limited. Water was very scarce, the only supply being a dam close by. This was filled into a drum which sat on the back of the verandah and had to do for everything. After a lot of hard work by both of them, and the usual droughts, floods, fires and depressions, they had another daughter Margaret. Glad was still determined to try and have a boy - she didn't care if it took ten times! Fortunately after another couple of years, they finally had a son, Allan, who is still on the farm. They were so proud of him, and of course he was utterly spoilt.! Then the doctor laid down the law, and said "NO MORE KIDS", but they had their son and heir, so were content with the family complete.
     When Allan was two years old, the family moved from the old weatherboard shack to the "big new house" and Glad was so happy and so proud after all their hard work and strict saving to get it built. About ten days after moving, the old house caved in when strong wind blew.
     Gladys and Ernest did a lot of work for the Carnamah community, especially the C.WA., P. & C., Football Club and Bowling Club inaugural members.
     In 1975 Gladys and Ernest left the farm to Allan and moved to Safety Bay where unfortunately Ernest passed away after only six months retirement. Gladys was then on her own in the new area but she kept herself very busy with the church, where she became Women's President, and helped to found the Living Waters Lutheran School. She also played bowls, went dancing and loved to go swimming each day. She became very friendly with another widowed lady, and together they went on many bus trips, train trips, overseas tours and cruises.
     Eventually time caught up with Gladys and in January 2007 she moved in to Chrystal Halliday Nursing Home in Karrinyup. She kept herself very busy there too and joined in anything that was happening. We had a lot of fun making hats and outfits for Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Easter bonnets , Melbourne Cup hats, and Christmas outfits. She loved to go to bingo and the church service, and joined in footy tipping.
     Finally time and heart problems caught up with Gladys, and at 7.30 a.m. on September 13th 2012, she closed her eyes and went to sleep on last time, to go to live with God. God Bless Gladys and Ernest Griffith. R.I.P."

Reference:  Carnamah Historical Society & Museum and North Midlands Project, 'Gladys May Gersch / Griffith' in Biographical Dictionary of Coorow, Carnamah and Three Springs, retrieved 18 August 2022 from [reference list]

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