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Archives Outside - For people who love, use and manage archives

Can you date this photograph? [Wedding Procession, Comboyne District]

A moment in time…..

Here’s one for Valentine’s Day. This is an image from one of the (North) coastal photographic collections held at the University of New England and Regional Archives.  It has notes that suggest this is a photo of the first wedding procession in the Comboyne District, although this appears to be have been added after the initial message.  “Believed to be the wedding of Ann Jones & G. Brown first Wedding to be celebrated at Comboyne.”

The closest match I have been able to find for this  from Births, Deaths and Marriages is a George Brown marrying Annie Jones in the Post Macquarie district in 1904, (Ref 2003/1904).  Again, as with some of the other images we have collected over the last 50 years there are no details about photographer.

Front of image

Larger version on Flickr

P10282 Granny's House

Reverse of image

Larger version on Flickr

P10283 Reverse of P10282

We have many other undated photographs in Photo Investigator and on our Flickr account. If you know the dates or any other interesting facts about these images please let us know.

  • Carolyn says:

    Possible clues:


    The Sydney Morning Herald Saturday 29 May 1954 PAGE 13:

    WINGHAM, Friday. Mr. George Brown, the last original pioneer of the Comboyne Plateau near Wingham, has ‘ died, aged 74.

    February 14, 2011 at 4:26 pm
  • michael lightfoot says:

    Here is the marriage record from the NSW BMD index:


    so the photo was taken in 1904

    February 15, 2011 at 5:40 am
  • Debbie says:

    This photo appears in the book:
    The Good Old Days Volume 2 (From Barrington to Harrington and around the Great Lakes) compiled and written by Jim Revitt 1980, page 42.

    In the description it tells us that
    – the Jones family were from the south coast
    – they (Thomas Jones & family) took up their selection in March 1900
    – within a month of taking up the selection they were joined by other selectors Brown, Marchant, Graham & Humphries
    – in the photo is the original Jones family house and in the background the first store (it looks like it is just left of centre on the horizon)
    – the photo in the book credited to Mr & Mrs J Fitzpatrick, Wingham

    It also mentions that the Jones family were not the first to settle there. Two O’Shaughnessy brothers took up selections at the Comboyne in the 1880s but the govt closed the area to settlement. Left in isolation, ‘their lives ended in tragedy and failure’.

    A family tree I have seen shows a daughter-in-law of George & Annie died in Comboyne in 2005, so there were family in the area at least until recently. It also shows George as ‘George Samuel H Brown’, which if correct, according to the NSW BDMs is born 1879 Burrawang, the son of William & Jane. Burrawang is also near the south coast so perhaps the families knew each other before arriving on the Comboyne?

    The following website states ‘In 1899, Thomas Jones, later to be known as the “Father of Comboyne” and his three sons selected land on the Comboyne.’

    I would suggest contacting the group listed at the bottom of the above page. They meet every month to share stories and are putting together photos and stories for The Comboyne Local History Collection.

    February 15, 2011 at 2:13 pm
  • Debbie says:

    Further to my previous message…

    The following page of The Comboyne Country House also has the photo but states ‘The Comboyne Country House cited in the background prior to the verandah being constructed.’

    So the ‘the first store’ in my last message is the ‘The Comboyne Country House’ now?

    It also states ‘Tom Jones and James Brown each returned to the South Coast to collect their wives and children.’

    So if the George Samuel H Brown (son of William) on the family tree I saw is correct, how is William Brown connected to James Brown? Because a photo on the following page shows James 3 eldest sons were children (definitely not old enough to marry!)

    February 15, 2011 at 4:01 pm
  • Debbie says:

    Me again :)

    The marriage notice was in the Manning River Times according to the Gow Newspaper Indexes online. However there is no date listed (you have to purchase the CD (1898-1907) for that sort of detail).
    Brown George Marriage Comboyne
    Jones A Miss Marriage Comboyne

    February 15, 2011 at 4:19 pm
  • michael lightfoot says:

    Burrawang is between Robertson and Moss Vale (adjacent to the Wingecaribbee swamp) on the Illawarra Highway. More southern tablelands than south coast.

    A search in Trove newspaper articles ( for revels the obituary for George Brown in 1954 plus a couple of other relevant articles, but no marriage details.

    February 15, 2011 at 5:20 pm
  • Fiona Sullivan says:

    @Carolyn Thanks for the link to the TROVE article. It was tantalisingly brief!

    @Michael Lightfoot great catch on the BDMs and TROVE.

    @Debbie Some amazing detective work! You’ve given the staff at UNERA some great information to go with that photograph. I know that they are thrilled. I would love to know the answers to some of your questions about the Brown family too.

    I think the question of dating hinges on whether or not the annotation about the wedding (which appears to have been added later) is accurate. If it is we have a date of 1904. If it isn’t then based on the information from the book provided by @Debbie we are looking at c.1900.

    February 17, 2011 at 1:05 pm
  • Debbie says:

    Thanks Fiona, I have a fair bit of my family history research in the Manning Valley area & surrounds… and am such a long way from there! Long distance certainly makes you work for results!

    For anyone with access…

    The index of the Manning River Times I mentioned before is at the State Library NSW (amongst other locations) according to TROVE. However, there is also a book there by the same authors (Rod & Wendy Gow) which could solve what the earliest wedding at the Comboyne was – I imagine it would have been news.

    “Comboyne – chronicles of the early days”
    ‘a compilation of articles from Manning, Hastings and Macleay River newspapers, highlighting the resolution of the pioneers of the Comboyne’ (from the Gow’s website)

    February 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm
  • Rhonda Cetta-Hoye says:

    I had sent a reply but it didn’t go through. without reading the clues, I noted that the man in the forground was wearing a Colonial style , White Panama Straw hat.
    The black band on these was added after Queen Victoria’s death in 1901 as a sign of mourning for her .
    So the photo was after 1901

    February 25, 2011 at 10:33 am
  • Mick Reed says:

    This is a ‘real photo’ postcard with a divided back.
    Divided backs were not permitted in Australia before January 1905 when it was announced in the Post Office Monthly Circular (David Cook, Picture Postcards in Australia 1898-1920 p 27).

    Given that there would have been a bit of delay before the producers of postcard stationery ( in this case ‘Empire’) adjusted, the item is likely to be a bit later than that.

    Lizzie, the sender of the postcard says the house in the centre is ‘Granny’s’. If the Combyne Country House web site( is right, then this is the Jones house. Thomas Jones, the Comboyne pioneer who presumably built the house died in December 1909 which could explain why the house was simply ‘Granny’s’.

    My guess is that the card is around 1910ish

    Of course, it’s possible that the image itself is earlier.

    February 26, 2011 at 9:26 am
  • Fiona Sullivan says:

    @Rhonda Cetta-Hoye I’m sorry about your initial reply Rhonda. I don’t know what happened to it. Sometimes these things turn up in our spam filter but that didn’t happen this time. Thanks for the information about the hat, that definitely gives us a 1901+ timeframe for the photograph.

    @Mick Reed By George I think you’ve done it! The information about the postcard with the divided back is great and certainly deserves an entry in our “Dating Tips” post. That pushes us out to 1905+ as a date for the postcard. When combined with your Granny’s House theorem (which seems quite plausible) we wind up with a date of c.1910 for the postcard.

    Is there a chance this is a picture of a wedding in 1904 that was turned into a postcard in c.1910?

    [Edited because words like is, a, or and and really do matter!]

    February 28, 2011 at 1:44 pm
  • Mick Reed says:

    Hi Fiona

    Granny’s house was a bank between 1911 and 1915 and had a sign on the roof so the photo is either earlier or later. Surely earlier.

    Granny’s house was built in 1900 or 1901. There’s a hedge in the photo that was presumably planted after the house was built. According to my bush ‘experts’, the hedge would be at least five years old in the photo, so that matches with my earlier thoughts on the divided back being after 1905.

    Who was Lizzie, the sender of the card? Granny had a granddaughter, Elizabeth Brown, born 1907, and if it was her, then from the writing, she’d have been 10 or so I should think. which would bring us to 1917 or so. I doubt it’s that late.

    As you suggest Fiona, the image may be earlier than the card and may have been reprinted on postcard paper.



    February 28, 2011 at 3:47 pm
  • William Oates says:

    Thanks everybody for the detailed assistance.

    This stream of information has really added to what we previously had documented at the Regional Archives in Armidale. I am now thinking about the tricky question of adding all this work into the archival records of the repository.

    Fiona, is this blog a permanent archive that we might post as a link into our existing catalogue? Or should we play safe and print and file the old fashioned way? As this material is ‘born digital’ and subject to further addition, it would be nice to capture electronically.

    March 10, 2011 at 1:38 pm
  • Fiona Sullivan says:

    William, it is possible to export an XML version of this page and its comments which I think would be the best way of capturing it. We are doing the same thing with the blog as a whole on a regular basis.

    Finding a way of taking contextual information like this and incorporating it within the boundaries of existing archival control systems can be tricky. It is a challenge Rhonda Campbell often faces when dealing with the “Can you date?” responses. We do have the capacity to link from our finding aids to Flickr and the Archives Outside blog and it is something we are doing. However, links have to be maintained, managed and checked and right now I’m not sure if any of us know where our links will be in 10 years time. Having the XML version on file as a backup will ensure that you have access to the information regardless.

    March 14, 2011 at 9:47 am