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Family Photo Friday – Ivy Cordelia Harris

This post is a short story based on the life of Cordelia Ivy Harris (1898-1984), a 2x great aunt and is based on fact (see Bibliography).

The Promise

14 June, 1941

Ivy’s first thought after waking was that she had woken as Mrs Ivy Neimann of Lismore for the last time. That afternoon she was marrying her persistent Frank and would become Mrs Cordelia Kearns of Rose Bay, Sydney.

As Ivy looked around her bedroom, she saw her blue wedding ensemble. Even though it was 1941 and wartime, Ivy was determined to look her best. So blue it was. Not white and certainly not black. For far too many years Ivy had worn black.

Ivy’s thoughts took her back to another place, another war and another wedding; her first wedding in March 1917, to Moritz Niemann, or Manny as he was called by everyone. They were both nineteen. Ivy clearly remembered her gown, all white crepe de chene, silk and lace. She could almost smell the tuber roses in her bouquet.

She remembered when Moritz drowned only nine short months later, tangled in a barbed wire fence in the flood of 1917. Ivy’s thoughts raced through the decades since that day. She remembered the birth of their son Albert four months after Moritz drowned; the 1920s spent looking after Albert as well as her nephews and nieces. The 1930s were taken up caring for her parents.

Ivy would never forget how the smart, popular and Irish Catholic Frank Kearns made her feel alive and wanted during those long years. Frank was the only person who called her Cordelia.

She recalled every angry word of the family battles over Frank’s religion and the promise that they would wait and marry after Ivy’s parents died. The wait was over. Their promise had been kept.


Death Certificate of Albert Moritz Niemann, Registration of Births, Deaths & Marriages, NSW, 17555/1917

‘DROWNING CASE’, Northern Star, 14 November 1917, p.2.

Marriage Certificate of Albert Moritz Niemann and Ivy Cordelia Niemann,

Registration of Births, Deaths & Marriages, NSW, 2904/1917

Marriage Certificate of Frank Alan Kearns and Iris Ivy Cordelia Niemann,

Registration of Births, Deaths & Marriages, NSW, 1651/1941

MR. F. A. KEARNS – Farewell Dinner and Presentation’, Northern Star, 20 March 1936, p.10.

‘Wedding, Neemann – Harris’, Northern Star, 22 March, 1917, p.4

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