Recently we discovered my Grand Father was half indigenous.
There are a few versions of the story but we believe he was born out of wedlock by whom he thought to be his elder sister, Katherine. She was about 20 years older than he was.
Katherines parents raised him and his younger brother Dan, whom we believe to also be Katherines child, as their own and it was never spoken of again.
The timing of Katherine reaching maturity as a young woman and the timing of the Poppy and his brother Dan’s birth show a definate timeline of change in the family.
Poppy and Dan’s darker skin was always written off as a throw back to a mixed bloodline of Irish & Spanish. No one ever doubted it even though every other child in the family up to that time had been basically pale skinned and definitely looking like they were from Irish decent.
He grew up with the nickname of Slockee, which we have now discovered is an old Aboriginal family name from the Murwillumbah region of NSW, Australia. We believe poppy knew the story and kept the secret from the rest of the family. It was sadly a different time back then.
The picture of Poppys heritage came to light before the passing of my Uncle Bob in 2007. He revealed a few details to my cousin Tricia before he died. This intern triggered memories that my mum has. Mum can remember regular visits from indigenous families when she was little and poppy going fishing with other indiginous men from the Byron area before the family relocated to Sydney.
Katherine eventually married an indigenous man. We believe the surname to be Nugent or Noonan. Sadly Katherine died at a young age of about 45.
A few of us are trying to find out more, mainly because we want to but in some ways because we need too.
It won’t change anything but it may reveal something quite wonderful.
Poppy died of cancer in his 60’s in the late 1960’s. I can remember the last time I saw him at Liverpool hospital through the window into his ward. He waved and smiled at me.
I remember sitting on my poppy’s knee in the lounge room in his favourite chair in the corner. I can still see his face today.
There was a sadness behind those big dark eyes of his.
Love you poppy and that is all that counts to this day. Hopefully we can find out more of your past and therefore more of our own heritage.
Say hi to Nan and the rest of gang up there.
The journey from white to black – A tribute to poppy
This story is part of my heritage and is more widespread thru the community than we may realise.
In memory of Poppy “Slockee” Baker