Letters of Fred Parker to his cousins Kate and Annie Watson

[written on Queensland Trustees Limited letterhead]

Forest Hill Estate,
Gladstone Rd.,
South Brisbane

Feb.19th 1914.

My dear Cousins,

You will see that from the above address we have again moved. Harold and I bought a piece of land between us and have built houses alike on a beautiful site overlooking the river and plains. We can see for miles around and on clear days we can see the Toowoomba Range 100 miles away. We are very high up. In the immediate foreground we can see the river at three points as we are right at the bend of the stream and we are high above its very high and rocky banks. On the opposite side there are some very pretty farms, nicely cultivated and with their varied greens and dark background of scrub they are very delightful and refreshing to the eye. The house is very nice and comfortable inside and is altogether the most comfortable place we have ever been in. I have gone in for several new ideas in the design (I drew the plans and details for the place myself). Between the hall and drawing room, I substituted an arch and railing for the partition. This is very effective and pretty and lets the light and air into the drawing room, a great advantage in this climate.

This sketch will suggest something of what it is like. We have water and gas laid on. Gas stove. Enamelled bath and I have built in the kitchen a Hoosier? or baking cabinet for Jessie. It is really a cabinet in which we can keep all her baking and cooking materials and utensils. The baking board folds up like an escritoire desk and behind are flour, essences, dripping etc all out of sight. The cupboard below with doors contains all the patty pans, cake tins and the other noisy paraphernalia up above the jars of cereals, rice and other pudding stocks? are neatly arranged on shelves. Jessie just goes to this and lets down the baking board and everything is to her hand. In fact I say the cake is half made because the job is half done. Jessie deserves it because she is a fine cook and she does a lot of it too. I also have a pan cupboard in which all the other utensils are kept out of sight behind sliding doors. We have a dresser and pantry besides, so it is no trouble to keep things nicely sorted and ready to hand. The house has three bedrooms, study, drawing room, breakfast room, kitchen and bathroom, with verandah 8 feet wide on two sides. I have been very busy getting the garden made doing it thoroughly, trenching and screening the soil. I have put in 24 rose trees, 20 dahlias, some carnations, and a lot of asters. The latter are blooming beautifully just now and make a fine show, and the dahlias are just coming to their best. I am going to put in violets, sweet peas and pansies for the winter. I am very fond of gardening and put a lot of time and hard work into it, but the results well repay you.

This is a rough sketch of the front view of the house, it really makes the house look smaller than it is but it will convey an idea of the design.


This really is a very domestic letter but it will all be news which you will not likely get from the others. Katie has posted a letter to Winifred this mail. Yours affectionately Fred…

[to cousin Annie]

Marley Street
South Brisbane

Feby 27th 1923

My dear Cousin Nance

Your letter to mother has remained unanswered for some time because she has been physically unfit to do so herself and it has been more than I care to do to tax her for the information because when I have been able to sit down to write it out she has not been well enough to do it.

She is seriously ill and I think she will not be long with us. She has an internal trouble for which the Doctor can do nothing more. She does not suffer any very severe pain but just lies about and takes very little food and is gradually thinner. She took this decided change about 2 or 3 months ago, & although she has been away to the seaside she was no better on her return.

I have gleaned the following particulars which are necessarily vague & limited owing to the fact that my mother was married & and away from home & saw very little of your mother during the early days of her meeting Uncle John. Here is what she says

  Eleanor Cook was the daughter of Ralph & Jane Cook who were identified with the Ballast Hills P. M. Church Newcastle. Jane Cook her mother was a preacher & a class leader for many years and even after being laid aside by paralysis the class meeting was held in her presence at her house. Ralph Cook with others was deputed to found the church[?] at Byker. The Rev John Watson was appointed to this circuit and during his ministry the acquaintance which led to the betrothal of Eleanor Cook & John Watson was begun. Aunt Ellie was a scholar at Ballast Hills & afterward a teacher in the sunday school. Your father I know ministered at North Shields & Spennymoor but all that & his south african will be well known & easily obtainable by you. They were married in Nelson St Church.

With love to you & yours

Your affectionate Cousin