When I started my family history research in the 1980’s, I knew nothing about my great grandmother, Pauline SANDMANN HOUSE. All I knew was her name. Everything I’ve learnt about this amazing woman, whom I’ve come to admire greatly has come from my research using Trove. She had a business in Corowa, NSW at least from 1898 to 1911 and possibly again in 1920.
Pauline was born to Prussian immigrants, Maria SCHULTZ and Johann SANDMANN in the outer northern area of Melbourne in 1854. She was the 4th of 5 children and was only 6 years old when her father died. Her mother remarried 2 years later, had 4 more children and moved to the Gippsland area of Victoria with her new husband.
In 1877 at the Lutheran Trinity church in Melbourne, Pauline married Albury man, James HOUSE. He was 20 years old and a compositor at the Albury Banner and Wodonga Express. I wonder how they met? The newly married couple lived in Albury from the time of their marriage and had 5 children; Percy (1878-1938), Mildred (1881-1923), Hilda, Clarice (1886-1967) and Raymond (1889-1928). Sadly, they buried their 2nd daughter, Hilda when she was only 1 year old and even more tragically, James died of Phthisis when he was only 31 in 1889 and Pauline was pregnant with their 5th child, Raymond. James was the Foreman at the Banner by the time of his death and his obituary in the paper was very complimentary. It reported that staff from the Banner and the Border Post were his pall bearers.
While I don’t know yet what Pauline did between her husband’s death in 1889 and before she bought a business in Sanger St in Corowa in 1898; I noticed that her first advertisement stated she was “late of Carlton and Albury” which suggests she spent some time in Melbourne before moving to Corowa. Pauline was listed as being in the family home in George St, Albury in the 1891 NSW census; this was the same home that the family was in when her husband died. I do know that her husband left their house to her in his will and his obituary stated that she was “comfortably provided for”. As all her siblings and mother were living either in the north of Melbourne near where the historical village of Westgarthtown is now (a must see place when next in Melbourne www.westgarthtown.org.au ) or farming in the Gippsland area; I’m surprised that she didn’t move to be near them.
Corowa Free Press, Fri 4 March 1898
In March 1898, Pauline took out her first advertisement in the Corowa Free Press announcing that she and her son had bought the business of Mr Parkin. She then took out another advertisement announcing the opening of the shop of “Mrs House and Son”. The son would have been her eldest son, Percy who would have been 19 at that time. He was only there a few years as I’ve found him working as a Confectioner in Collingwood, Melbourne in 1904.
From time to time, the House family are mentioned as debtors to the Corowa hospital in the Hospital report in the Corowa Free Press so I presume the shop was supplying fruit and vegetables to them.
Corowa Free Press, Fri 9 Feb 1900
According to reports in the Corowa press during the family’s time in Corowa, the family were involved in church and community organisations.
I’ve taken this fantastic image from the Visit Corowa Region Fb page and they got it from the Corowa Federation Museum and I hope they are happy for me to use it. If not, I’ll remove it. I wonder if any of my great aunts and uncles are in the picture.
The year after their arrival in Corowa when Clarice was 13 years old in September 1899, she attended the Children’s Fancy Dress ball in aid of the Corowa hospital in a pale green empire dress. The paper published a very long descriptive list of what each girl was wearing. There were 130 children dancing that night. This list is a wonderful resource for any genealogist. This event was held in the School of Arts and soon the family would be living next door with the next business that Pauline bought.
Corowa Free Press, Tues 26 Sept 1899
In March 1900, Mr R. Alston collected £1 15 shillings for the NSW Patriotic Fund and Pauline was named as a donor of 1 shilling.
Corowa Free Press, Fri 16 March 1900
A month later, 10 year old Raymond (Ray) won the second prize in the Fourth class at the St John’s Sunday school evening held in the School of Arts. The prize giving was preceded by a number of musical and spoken items by members of the congregation which the Corowa Free Press wrote about in great detail.
Corowa Free Press, 20 April 1900
A year later, it was Clarice’s turn when she won 2nd prize in the First Class of Sunday school.
Corowa Free Press, Fri 12 April 1901
By 1901/2, Pauline’s business entry was listed as “House and Son, Fruiterers and Greengrocers” in Hall’s Post Office Country, Business, Professional and Pastoral Directory”.
A Very Impudent Theft – This was the headline in the Albury Banner and Wodonga Express which reported that Pauline’s daughter saw a man, dressed in top coat and cap come into the shop on a Friday night and take £4 from behind the counter. On Monday morning, the money was mysteriously returned under the door. This was also reported in the Melbourne paper, The Argus.
Albury Banner and Wodonga Express, Fri 10 July 1903
A number of the advertisements stated that Pauline’s first shop was opposite the Australian Hotel and the second shop was next to the School of Arts on Sanger St which I understand is now incorporated into the Memorial hall. A later news item mentioned her daughters assisting her in the business.
At Christmas time in 1903, she advertised that she had “Christmas Novelties, such as have never before been seen in Corowa”
Corowa Free Press, Fri 20 Nov 1903
Maybe, because her late husband was a compositor for 20 years, she composed great advertisements for her business and changed the products and services offered over time she was in business. She continued to advertise twice weekly thru 1904. One advertisement stated that
“The Refreshment Rooms are Cool and Well-Appointed, and every Comfort will be found by Patrons”
In December 1904, there was an advertisement in the paper stating that a lady had lost her ring between Mrs House’s and Levy and Co. Perhaps some one might be able to help me locate which side of the School of Arts her business was on from that information?
Corowa Free Press, Dec 1904
In June 1905, the Corowa Free Press recorded that Pauline had purchased Mr W Holland’s business and intended to run both businesses. The next advertisement states that the new business was next to the School of Arts also in Sanger St. The advertisement stated:-
“Mrs House desires it to be remembered by her customers that in future the tea rooms will be carried on in the shop near the School of Arts, and special convenience will be found by ladies’ afternoon tea parties. Special attention will be devoted to this department.”
Corowa Free Press, Fri 16 June 1905
Running 2 businesses must have been too difficult as later that same year, a Miss Burgess advertised that she had taken over Mrs House’s business opposite the Australian Hotel and asked for “A share of public patronage is respectively solicited”.
Corowa Free Press, Fri 20 Oct 1905
Also in October, Pauline promoted her “Afternoon Tea and General Refreshments Rooms” and by December, she was calling her business “Corowa Sweets and Fruit Shop”.
“Having removed from the Shop lately occupied by me Opposite the Australian Hotel, I desire to draw Special Attention to my Present Location. All kinds of English, American and Colonial Confectionery of the Best Quality.
Pauline also advertised for “A Useful Girl” for the shop in December; there was no indication of skills required but I do love the job title.
Corowa Free Press, 20 Dec 1905
The Christmas decorations mentioned in this advertorial get another mention in the New Year when Miss House (presumably Mildred) was lighting a kerosene lamp in the front window which set fire to some of the paper decorations. Luckily, there was a play on next door at the School of Arts and the B.B. band which was playing out the front included 2 firemen who found some buckets and water to douse the flames before the Fire Brigade arrived. 
Corowa Free Press, Fri 26 Jan 1906
This fire was also used as an example a few days later of how much Corowa needed an access to a water supply while in “water famine” as it could have easily spread to other shops and houses. It must have also been an exciting night for the audience in the School of Arts when “the drop scene came into contact with one of the gas-jets forming the footlights”.
Corowa Chronicle 31 Jan 1906
Earlier in the month, on New Year’s Day, Pauline’s youngest daughter, Clarice married David Burgoyne HAIG, a saddler at her mother’s home (presumably behind the shop) and moved to Albury. The marriage by the Presbyterian minister, Rev. A. McWatt Allan was reported in both Corowa papers with great detail of the dresses worn by the bridal party. Later, they came back to Corowa as at least their 2 daughters were born there in 1908 and 1913. The girls were named after their Auntie Mildred and their mother, Clarice.
Corowa Free Press, 5 Jan 1906
In December, there was news of Mrs House’s Summer Garden. The Corowa Chronicle described it most eloquently.
”A Summer Want Supplied
Mrs. House, who has always been up-to-date in her methods of purveying delicacies and fruit to the public, has now had a Kiosk erected at the rear of her premises, 20 x 30. The structure is well ventilated and cool, the floor being covered with tan. The appointments consist of a number of small tables spread about the room, which is decorated with palms and pot plants giving it a very cool appearance. It is the intention of Mrs. House to light this room with arc lights. There are also private tea rooms, which are largely patronised by ladies and gentlemen who like the cup that cheers but does not inebriate.”
In Dec 1906, Pauline’s advertisement tells us she had set up a “capacious canvas house” (a marquee, I guess) for the serving of cool drinks and refreshments during the summer months. The paper obviously continued to encourage her to advertise with them by writing very positive advertorials for her business. She was way ahead of her time offering outside areas to consume food and drink in.
Corowa Free Press, Fri 7 Dec 1906
From Trove, I learnt that my grandfather, Ray, now 15 years old played football for the Starlight[s] Football club and held some of their meetings at his mother’s shop. One night, the newspaper reported that Ray presented the members with “travelling caps” in the red and black colours of their club for their forthcoming trip to Albury using Crawford & Co’s drag.
Corowa Free Press 21 Dec 1906
I do wonder if the Starlights were the junior side for the Corowa Football club? I would appreciate any information on this club that anyone might have and be willing to share. I will do a separate blog post on the Starlight Football club sometime soon.
This flyer was kindly sent to me by Heather Hall, Secretary, Corowa Historical Society
The advertisements continued through to 1909 when she started calling the outside room, The Kiosk.
Corowa Free Press, Fri 22 Jan 1909
In July 1910 when Ray was 20 years old, he participated in a couple of Poster Skating Carnivals held at the School of Arts, these were organised by Messrs Bufford Bros in aid of the Corowa Hospital. Participants were required to turn up in an advertising poster and judging by the list of attendees, their costumes and where they lived, it was very popular and people were prepared to travel long distances to participate. The first time, Ray went as Champion Tobacco and the second time as Kandy Koola Tea.  Again the article in the paper is a treasure trove of names for the genealogist.
Corowa Free Press, 8 July 1910
I believe that Pauline must have been a very strong and resilient woman to have left Albury where she had lived for 20 years. I admire the way she reinvented her business constantly to attract new clientele. She had a difficult life but in my estimation, she was resilient and a survivor. I would love to have a picture of her and the family if anyone has one to share with me.
By 1911, Pauline’s time in Corowa was coming to an end; she was now 57 years old, had been widowed for 22 years, brought up 4 children on her own and successfully run 2 businesses in Corowa. Again the wonderful Corowa Free Press told me that in August that year she had been away “for health reasons for the past four months in Melbourne and Sydney”.
Corowa Free Press, Fri 4 Aug 1911
It also said that “Mrs House states that she intends to personally conduct the business in the future” which implies there were problems while she was away. By December, she had sold the shop to J. W. Doughney who pledges in the first advertisement to “work to maintain the high reputation that Mrs. House has invested it with for the past few years.”
Corowa Free Press, Fri 29 Dec 1911
By now, her eldest son, Percy was married and living in Melbourne, her eldest daughter, Mildred was married to Thomas McRae, a policeman and living in Sydney. Her younger daughter, Clarice was probably back in Corowa as her daughters were born there in 1908 and 1913 and Ray was possibly still with her but he was certainly in Melbourne in the ensuing years working as a salesman. He met and married my grandmother, Alma Lennon in 1916 in Melbourne and lived there till he died 12 years later.
There was a Mrs House who in March 1920, bought Miss Whinray’s business, “The Crystal Fruit Café” opposite the Australian Hotel (possibly Pauline’s first business) in partnership with a Miss Osborn.
Corowa Free Press, Fri 23 March 1920
I have no proof yet that this was Pauline or perhaps her daughter in law, Florence. It seems likely there is a family link, but I haven’t had any luck yet in confirming it. In July that year, the business was defrauded by a woman presenting a cheque which the bank refused to pay on because the signature wasn’t right and the actual cheque was 20 years old and that form was no longer used.
The partnership only lasted for 18 months and it was reported in the Corowa Free Press that it had been dissolved and Mrs House’s share had been acquired by Miss Osborn’s father.
Other than that, Pauline spent the rest of her years in Melbourne where sons, Percy and Ray lived. I’ve found her listed in one or two Victorian directories as a Confectioner so she kept on working for some time..She had more grief and sadness to face. Her daughter, Mildred took her own life in 1923 in Sydney after losing her baby; her youngest son, Ray predeceased her when he died of kidney disease at only 38 years age in 1928. By the time she died in 1930, only 2 of her 5 children survived her.
The Corowa Chronicle reported in Feb 1925, that “Mrs House, an erstwhile resident of Corowa was holidaying with friends in town so she obvioulsy retained her links to Corowa well after she went to live in Melbourne.
Corowa Chronicle, Sat 21 Feb 1925
Her obituary in the Albury Banner and Wodonga Express was very generous as she hadn’t lived there for 32 years.
Albury Banner and Wodonga Express Fri 24 Oct 1930
 Marriage certificate held by J. Gay
Albury Banner and Wodonga Express, 28 June 1889
 Corowa Free Press, 4 March 1898
 Will of James W House held by J. Gay
 Albury Banner and Wodonga Express, date
 Corowa Free Press, 4 March 1898
 Sands and McDougall Victorian Directory 1904
 Corowa Free Press 19 July 1898
 Corowa Free Press, 26 September 1899
 Corowa Free Press, 16 March 1900
 Corowa Free Press, 20 April 1900
 Corowa Free Press, 12 April 1901
 Hall’s Post Office Country, Business, Professional and Pastoral Directory, 1901
 Albury Banner and Wodonga Express, 10 July 1903
 Corowa Free Press, 20 November 1903
 Corowa Free Press, 29 November 1904
 Corowa Free Press, 20 December 1904
 Corowa Free Press, 9 June 1905
 Corowa Free Press, 16 June 1905
 Corowa Free Press, 20 October 1905
 Corowa Chronicle, 20 December 1905
 Corowa Chronicle, 20 December 1905
 Corowa Free Press, 26 January 1906
 Corowa Chronicle, 27 January 1906)
 Corowa Chronicle, 31 January 1906
 Corowa Free Press 26 January 1906
Corowa Free Press, 7 December 1906
 TROVE, Australia’s amazing free digital newspaper collection from our National Library
 Corowa Free Press, 21 December 1906
 Corowa Free Press, 8 July 1910
 Corowa Free Press, 29 July 1910
 Corowa Free Press, 4 August 1911
 Corowa Free Press, 29 December 1911
 Corowa Free Press, 23 March 1920
 Corowa Free Press, 9 July 1920
 Corowa Free Press, 30 September, 1921
 Corowa Chronicle, 21 February 1925
 Death certificate held by J. Gay
 Death certificate held by J. Gay
 Death certificate held by J. Gay
 Albury Banner and Wodonga Express, 24 October 1930