The photograph that changed everything

Image: Raven Moore Mason, my great-grandfather

Elizabeth stayed with us in Sydney for a few days, during her visit to Australia in August 2013. Over dinner, one evening, she mentioned that she had some interesting family photographs of our British ancestors to show me. There was one in particular that caught my attention; a rather stern sepia photograph of our maternal great-grandfather, Raven Moore Mason, taken around 1870. Elizabeth believed that Raven had some connection with an Australian company called Mashfield Mason.

I went onto the internet and found the name Mashfield Mason, but to our amazement, Mashfield Mason wasn’t a company name, it was the name of a gentleman, who had lived and worked in Sydney in the mid 1800s. Could Raven Moore Mason be his son or perhaps his grandson? This had implications far beyond anything we’d anticipated; had we discovered possible Australian ancestors that no one knew about? We were hooked!

It took us most of the evening to find just a small glimpse into our past and we realised that learning more about our mysterious Australian forebears was undoubtedly going to be a lengthy and protracted exercise. But I promised Elizabeth, faithfully, that I would continue my research into Mashfield Mason, after she returned to South Africa, and I would keep her updated about my findings.

This promise was to take me on an extraordinary journey…

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