Captivated by someone from the past – Dorothy Lindsay Johnstone

How does a person I’m investigating become something more than the others I am researching?  Sometimes someone gets under your skin and you want to know more.  The Johnstone family as a whole has been a bit like that for me lately.  My great-grandmothers brother Andrew has certainly captivated me and I will write about him soon.  However his daughter Dorothy Lindsay Johnstone has recently captured my interest.

She was named for her mother’s family her mother’s maiden name being Lindsay.  Dorothy’s parents were Andrew Johnstone and Nellie Lindsay.  Dorothy never married and ultimately donated her body to the University of Melbourne for medical research.  She was born in 1902 at Box Hill, Victoria and died on August 17, 1985.

She was nine when her father was killed.  The family was living in Collingwood where Dorothy worked as a boot machinist.  On the Victorian electoral rolls she is working as a boot machinist from (at least) 1925 until 1928.  In the Victorian Government Gazette of April 28, 1926 she was place on probation as a nurse class III for the ‘hospitals for the insane’.  By 1931 she was registered as a nurse living and working at Mont Park.  She was continually registered in the electoral rolls at Mont Park until 1954.

Coincidentally my grandmother on my mother’s side Elsie Linda McKnight worked at Mont Park as a nurse during the 1920s.

Elsie Linda McKnight
Elsie Linda McKnight

Just before Dorothy worked there I assume.  There is always the chance their dates and paths crossed.

In the next electoral roll of 1963 Dorothy was still a nurse but her address was 21 Grieve street, Macleod.  By 1977 she had moved from Macleod and was living in Waverley avenue, Ivanhoe.  I would guess she remained here until shortly before she died.  When she died she was living or staying with her nephew Raymond Zimmer in Springvale, son of her sister Adeline Myra.  Sadly Adeline had passed away in 1942 when she was thirty-eight years old.

Dorothy named her niece and nephew both children of her sister Adeline as her executors.  She left money to her two nephews, niece, sister Bessie and to a cousin Evelyn Joyce Behrend nee Gibson.  She married Robert William Behrend who seems very elusive thus far.  Evelyn was the daughter of Myrtle Evelyn Collier and Benjamin Harold Gibson.  Myrtle was the daughter of William Collier and Elizabeth Johnstone.  Elizabeth was a sister of my great grandmother Nellie and of Dorothy’s father Andrew.

Gibson Evelyn001

Above photo is of Evelyn Gibson but I’m not sure which of the girls she is.  Perhaps she is in the centre.  Maybe someone can tell me.  Who are the men?  I haven’t found a WWI record for her future husband Robert William Lachmund.

Much of this information was found from Dorothy’s will and then looking at other wills.  Evelyn Lachmund’s will gave the details of her parents unlocking the mystery of how she fitted in.  Victorian wills can be found online until the mid 1920s on the Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV) website then the index on PROV enables you to request and view them in the reading room at North Melbourne.

I wonder if she was called Dorothy or Dot or another diminutive of Dorothy?  What did her niece and nephews call her?  It seems she was close to them.  Her mother lived with or near her for much of her life.

Does anyone have any photos of her or her siblings or parents?  Do you have memories or information about her?  It’s interesting how someone can reach out across the years and touch you.  This family has been and continues to do that for me.



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