Mary’s Story

Flirting, cocky, marriage and settling down

Late in 1909 Uncle John sailed for the United States, but without me. I delayed my return by three months until the following February to sail on the Seydlitz to meet up again with the German steward, Emil Jackschowsky. I boarded the ship with a sulphur-crested cockatoo.

The postcards sent from the ship tell of the journey…

“The cockatoo cried so the first day that was on the ship that they gave him beer to drink then they said he wanted more”

20th Feb 1910
“We have had a very pleasant voyage so far and at present it is very warm I am having a fine time of it I am going on all the time up to the present I have received two offers of marriage if I take the one’s I suppose I would have to live in Germany and the other well what I can make out of it would be way out in the wilderness somewhere about Adelaide and that would never do and the best of it is when I talk and [joke] with a different one then they get their hair off and I just do it to tease them it is the fun of the world”

From Algiers 11th March
“must write a little about Cocky. Now he is commencing to talk much plainer now. I have got to be as always so careful of these foreigners in port for they always want to exchange something for him. This morning one of them put a hard boiled egg in his cage then they tried to tell me that Cocky laid an egg. They are always teasing me about him.”

Antwerp 18th March
“Cocky terrible sick. Two days he did not eat anything and vomited nearly all the time but gave him some oil and he is alright again now. It may have come from a change in the climate.”

Pittsburgh 4th June
“I must write a little about Cocky. He is the dearest and most affectionate bird ever born. I have him at Bertha’s and the minute he sees me or hears my voice he is that delighted that he flaps his wings and talks for all that is in him. He can say now “Cocky want a cracker”.

When the Seydlitz docked at Colombo, Ceylon, I purchased the most exquisite wedding dress. Emil followed me back to America where we both found work at a mountain resort near Pittsburg called Ohiopyle. Our relationship blossomed. In 1912 we were married in a Lutheran church in Pittsburgh, on the very day that the Titanic, making its maiden transatlantic crossing, met a tragic end. Soon after our wedding Emil became very ill and I gave Cocky to my cousin, Minnie Kruse Bamburger. Cocky was too noisy for poor Emil. In 1937 when Minnie died, Cocky was given back to me. He lived happily until April 1946.

Two years after we married work was difficult to find in America and we decided to move back to my family in Australia. There was the cottage to return to and it appeared there were better work opportunities. Our intention was to first travel to Germany and stay for two months visiting Emil’s relatives. I sent a bank transfer of £408 to Melbourne on 6th June and then a further £40 10 shillings on the day we set sail.

We left the United States on 11th June 1914. Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated on 28th June. We arrived in Bremen and stored our trunks there on 7th July.

World War I broke out officially on 1st August, when Germany declared war on Russia. Two days later Germany also declared war on France and invaded Belgium. These events intervened with our plans in a most dreadful way. Emil was conscripted into the German army. He was still officially a German citizen and had to comply. I was left to fend for myself.