Digital image of Bertha Whibley as a child standing in front of timber board building, holding a homemade rag doll.

Bertha was born on 4 August 1908 in Kyneton. She was the youngest of 10 children from a very poor family. Her father, Richard Dederick Whibley, was a potato digger and her mother, Johanna Mary Montgomery, a domestic cleaner in her own home and other people's homes. Bertha's father walked out around 1918. Bertha, her mother, and some of her brothers and sisters moved to Fitzroy where her mother scrubbed floors and did people's laundry to 'put food in her children's mouths so they didn't starve'. Bertha left school at the age of 14. She was good at art, and loved pressing flowers in a flower press, making shell plates (some of which survive) and doing oil paintings. She also loved cooking for her family, and 'made the most beautiful apple pies' on her wood-fired stove.

Bertha worked for 13 years in shoe factories, including Raymond's shoe factory (G.N. Raymond, Easy St, Collingwood), where she meet Anita Eckermann, sister to her future husband Francis George Eckermann, who was a mechanic and a heavy vehicle transport interstate driver. He had also worked as a horseback drover, bringing cattle into Melbourne. Bertha and Francis met in 1933 and were married on 15 June 1935 in a Methodist minister's house in Moonee Ponds/Essendon/Ascot Vale.

They settled in Essendon and soon started a family, welcoming two sons and a daughter (who tragically died as an infant). In 1946 they moved to a run-down poultry farm in Forest Hill they bought with the help of other family members, processing chickens and selling eggs. The farm was sold in 1970 for subdivision. Francis died in 1982; Bertha died in 2002.

Description of Content

Small female child with hand in her mouth, holding a ragdoll. Child is barefoot, wearing knee length dress and standing in front of timber board building.

Physical Description

Original: black & white photographic print. Lower left corner missing; other losses; deep creases. Dentist's business card adhered to back of original.

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