Martha Jane A Dover (1888 – 1964)

Martha was born in Carcoar on 30/11/1888.

She married to Roderick John Larkin in Murrumburrah on 26/08/1913.
Roderick was born in Nu Mu, Victoria on 11/08/1885.

Roderick died in Auburn on 21/06/1963.
Martha died in Auburn on 28/07/1964.

3 stories written by “Tophanrobyn01” on Ancestery.

Martha was nan’s sister. They were competitive all their lives. Nan (Emily) told me that as a young woman, she had driven Mattie in a sulky. In order to terrify Matt, Em drove one wheel up onto a verge, leaving only one wheel on the ground. That is pretty naughty.

In middle age Mat tried to give me ‘chockos’ (wild growing vine veggie) with soap in middle. This was to be given to Nan to cook as she loved chockos. So there was a sense of humour going through their lives despite the many sad things that happened.

One huge disappointment for Mattie and Rod was the failure to have children. I stayed in school holidays at their Water Street Lidcombe home and they were extremely kind to me. Rod walked me to Parramatta once to buy chickens. He had promised me a black chicken but alas the one black chicken had been promised to someone else.  

Mat and Rod kept a large vegetable garden plus always a chook run. To enter the vegie garden you had to go through the ‘hen house’.  The hen house was run by a major rooster.  This rooster took one look at me in shorts when I was about 10 and attacked, leaving me with a neat hole in my thigh.  Dangerous times.  Rod was very generous in making sure we left for home with plenty of his produce.

 Mat and Rod always had 2 houses. Mariong, Lidcombe and Kensington are what I remember.  From the census entries they lived in Harden during early years.  This makes sense as Mat’s sister Emily raised her family in Harden.  The house in Kensington was rented to my grandmother Emily and her family. Emily and my grandfather George suffered financial disaster in Harden. This after losing a son when he drowned at age 10. So much to bear but when they came to Sydney at least Mat had a house for them.

I have written some of my memories of Uncle Rod and Aunty Matt in Mattie’s profile.  Rod was my Great Uncle, married to my grandmother’s sister.  He was very kind to a little girl who came to stay occasionally in his house during school holidays.  This was in their house in Water Street Lidcombe.  Before retirement Rod was a Train Conductor.  This job would have taken him all over the state.

He was a great gardener.  There was a very large enclosed vegetable garden behind the chook’s shed which was behind the house.  My mother and I never left there without armfuls of freshly picked spinach or whatever vegetable was available.  He always wanted to give us something.

The house was an old Edwardian style timber with neighbours on one side, a large empty block on the other and an open canel at the back.

Rod and Matt both had a good sense of humour.  Rod’s family were in Victoria.  I think he missed them and at one time he and Matt came very close to adopting a young relative who had become orphaned.  They wanted to legally adopt this child but for some reason the family in Victoria wanted it on a casual basis.  Mattie knew their hearts would not bear a parting once they loved the child.  I believe this was a great disappointment to them both.  They would have been great parents.  The great sorrow of their lives were that they could not conceive a child.

I remember that they both suffered from Diabetes in their later years.  Rod had a “man shed’ in the garden which included a bunsen burner for testing if their sugar was high.  This involved tablets dropped into urine (no way round it). In those days it must have been much harder to control and audit.  I hope they were not on injections.

I was lucky to have Rod and Mattie in my life.  I was very fond of them and cherish their memory.  They were part of a generation who came up the hard way and did not forget who they were and where they came from.

The first home of Mattie and Rod Larkin I remember visiting as a child was a house in Mariong.  This would have been in the 1950s.  Our troop consisted of my grandmother Emily (Mat’s sister), my mother Daphne (Emily’s daughter), my cousin John Platt and his cousin Bobby Fitzpatrick.  From Kensington to catch a train.  Unfortunately the train we caught did not quite go to where we were meant to disembark.  A story unfolded that would be retold many, many times over the years by my mother.  The train conductor assured my mother (who obviously thought she was in charge) that it was simply a matter of walking across some open fields to reach the location of the house.

This was probably and obviously a time of pioneering in the Mariong area as habitation was nowhere in sight.  Ahead lay open, overgrown fields but with no choice and a lot of faith, our intrepid party set off from the safe sactuary of the train.  During this journey we covered rough, tough ground, brambles and the like, but nothing was to compare to the presence of a Bull!  A big, baleful bull who sent shivers up our spines.  My nan was a country woman, born and bred but I don’t remember too much confidence coming from either of our adult companions.  We did reach Mat and Rod’s home and while regaling them with our adventures quaffed down cups of tea and cakes.  Myself, John and Bobbie were served outside on the verandah with special small china cups.  Unfortunate Bobbie broke one of Mat’s little china painted cups but there certainly were no recriminations.  I think Mat and Rod enjoyed children.

Ironically, Uncle Rod had spent many years working across the state as a Train Conductor.  I don’t remember Rod driving a car over the years but he built an extension onto his house in Kensington which stood the test of time and was originally intended for occupation by his nephew by marriage George Platt, his wife and child.  In fact this is where that family lived for the next 12 to 13 years.

Mat and Rod were both diabetic.  In those distant days this meant testing tubes held over a flame to check their sugar status.  I’m thinking that they would have had to take insulin in some form, possibly injecting themselves.  This part they did not discuss with me.  Mat always called Rod “Roddie” and there was definitely a great fondness and respect between them.  Over all the holidays I spent with them I don’t remember any harsh words.  They had each other but were a great help to Emily’s family of which I am grateful to have been a part.   In her later years Mat spent time in Auburn Hospital.  It was while Mattie was hospitalised that Rod took a fall while attempting to repair a roof problem at his house in Auburn.  I believe he fell from his ladder.  This was truly sad as he died while recuperating in hospital.  Mat was not to be reunited with her Roddie.  Mattie survived but lost a leg to diabetes and returned to an empty house.  Mattie lived alone in Auburn by mastering the use of a wheel chair.  Her brother Lenus was busy building an extra bedroom onto the house in Bexley when Mat passed away.  If she had survived longer she would have lived with Emily, Willie, and Lennie.  Lenus was younger then his sister Emily by 20 years but it is evident that the family had strong ties and never drifted far apart, especially in times of need.

I can tell you how strong a woman Mattie was in one true story.  After losing her leg and manovering around her house in a wheel chair she hired a “lawn mowing man”.  One day her lawn was mowed and the tradesman paid.  This man returned a little later, knocking on Mat’s front door.  He demanded money from Mattie, a lone, disabled woman.  No telephone in her house by the way.  Mattie wheeled away and went to her room, seemingly to get the cash demanded.  Mattie returned with a rifle!  Pointed it at the man and told him he would be a dead man if he ever came back.  He never did.  The Dover women were a tough breed.