BOGGO – Season 2 Episode 5 – Victim of Circumstance – Margaret Dove Fraser
Nine Stories Nine Women – Margaret Dove Fraser- 1.
In celebrating Queensland Women’s week with this year’s theme “Financial security and literacy”; we have chosen to highlight how the lives of women of Boggo Road Gaol were directly affected with financial insecurity and circumstance. Over the next week, we will be sharing the stories of nine women in Nine Stories Nine Women. The first of which we are highlighting with a special episode of BOGGO. In today’s episode we are sharing the tragic story of Margaret Dove Fraser a woman of her time and a direct victim of circumstance. We interview Margaret’s granddaughter Sandra for her story.
Name (with aliases): Margaret Dove Fraser alias Peggy Jones
Native Place: Scotland
Year of Birth: 1899
Trade or Calling : Housewife
Education: R & W
Height (without boots) : 5 feet 3 inches.
Weight: 10 stone 8 pounds.
Marks and Special Features: Nil
Margaret was born in Newmains, Lanarkshire Scotland the eldest child of Robert Maxwell Fleming and Marion Dove. Robert, a labourer was a staunch Presbyterian. It was this religious foundation that would form part of the difficulty for Margaret later in her life.
The family arrived in Townsville and as Robert found work and travelled down the coast, eventually the family settled in Mackay. It is here that Margaret would fall in love with her first husband. James Cole six years her senior.
Margaret and James married at the People’s Evangelistic Mission House in Spring Hill, Brisbane in 1916. James Cole by this time was an enlisted serviceman in encampment for the first world war. James one of fifteen children would leave three short months later. Sadly, he would never come home again having died from wounds received in France. In the year that had passed, Margaret had given birth to their first child, a daughter.
Now without the support of her husband, Margaret would return home to her family, with infant daughter. It is important to remember that at this time, young women (Margaret being just 18 years old) had very few options available to them. They either married or they lived at home with their family or they were on the streets. Margaret would be seeking a husband but, in the meantime, would get by with the help of her family.
It is not known exactly when Margaret met Robert Smith McIntyre. He too was a serviceman that was wounded and sent home from the First World War. However, they were married in 1918 and had a daughter. Sadly, this family too would go through some terrible times. Robert having been wounded would struggle to find work, however, would be involved on the home front aiding in the war. Robert sadly was badly affected by the war, having been wounded and gassed he was prone to numerous health concerns. Indeed, he would eventually be admitted to a military hospital in Stanthorpe for treatment. Over the next two years, he would be in and out of the hospital, however Robert would gradually get worse from complications of Tuberculosis – A very common disease of its time particularly in returned servicemen that had been gassed on overseas battlefield.
Sadly in 1920, Robert would succumb to his Illness and died from Heart Failure. Margaret was again alone, this time with two daughters. Again, she would return home to her family, but only for a few short months.
She would meet her third husband, another returned serviceman in William Alexander Fraser. Things are looking up, her husband is relatively well, though having been twice wounded and unfortunately also gassed, William was all in all pretty good.
Times were not easy, but they made the best of it having a daughter in the following spring. This is where things would take a turn for the worst for Margaret. Whether the couple were not getting along or if it was just the post war depression. Margaret would give birth to a son in 1925, but sadly he would only survive for five short days. The family said their farewells at the Toowong Cemetery.
It is thought by surviving descendants that this is the tipping point for Margaret, she and her husband were not getting along and the sad death of her son pushed Margaret to alcohol to numb her pain. This is where Margaret began her life on the wrong side of the tracks.
Her first stint in Boggo Road Gaol would come in the summer of 1926 for the theft of money from a purse in a hotel parlour. Her excuse was that she was under the influence of drink at the time. She was given a fine or in default a two-month prison sentence. Of course, she couldn’t pay so to Boggo Road Gaol she would go.
Margaret would be in and out of Boggo Road four times in 1926, in all cases for theft to support her habit. Soon after her last stay at Boggo Road, Margaret would discover she was expecting another child, a son. It is not known whether Margaret would continue with her addiction to Alcohol at this time, but it is presumed so. Sadly, their son would only survive a short month after birth succumbing to fever.
Again, this would send Margaret into a further downward spiral, convicted just after Christmas of 1928 for another two months again for theft. This same situation would repeat over and over again for the next nine years. Margaret being convicted several times for stealing simple things, like clothing, beads and makeup from stores such as Woolworths and Coles. Whether it was to make herself feel better, or whether it was for her to sell to support her habit it is not entirely known.
Margaret’s daughters by this time were being raised by her sister and her parents. However, Margaret was not permitted to see them or have anything to do with them. She was a convicted criminal and they would have nothing at all to do with her. Her father, with his staunch, fire and brimstone belief system would not allow this to continue. Margaret was completely cut off.
William and Margaret Fraser would go on to have two more children who were in the care of their father when Margaret took off to drink. Margaret was a victim of her time. Alcohol addiction was rife at the time. Women being married to husbands that had survived the terrors of war, only to return wounded and suffering from what we would now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, then referred to as shell shock. These men would tremble and shake and suffer horribly from their ordeal. This would turn them often into Alcoholics and subsequent domestic related violence would ensue.
It was exactly this situation that Margaret and William would find themselves in. Foolishly trying to keep their family together but all the while suffering the horrible circumstances. William was most definitely suffering from PTSD and we know now was also addicted to alcohol. What a terrible environment to try and survive.
Eventually Margaret would leave William and her two small children. It is not known exactly why but it is presumed that it was all too much. With nowhere else to go, Margaret would be found living in a homeless camp drinking nasty cheap wine known as Pinkies by her sister. All attempts to save Margaret from this life failed. She was an addict.
Margaret was arrested the final time in August of 1935 for the theft of clothing and compressed powder from Coles. She received a three-month sentence in Boggo Road Gaol. William too by this time had lost his battle with addiction and was completely off the rails. The youngest children were placed into state care and would never see each other or their parents again.
Sadly, just two months after the completion of that sentence Margaret was found deceased in a shelter in Victoria Park. She was just 37 years old.
Listen to this weeks episode of BOGGO here for free!
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