For this weeks Ancestor – I chose to do a family rather than just one ancestor – there are 2 blended families in the Middlebrook clan, and I had previously covered the Simpson family. This time I have done a page on the Sullivan-Middlebrook family
When James Thompson Middlebrook married Julia Ann Sullivan he inherited a family with 5 children aged from15 year old Frank down to 8 year old Dorothy. Julia was a pupil-teacher at Pearoa School and in 1886 married Arther Walter Sullivan who had recently become the headmaster at the school. Walter died aged only 47in June 1901, leaving Julia a widow with a family of 5 children to support. It is said she and James met on a “widows cruise”. James however was not a widow but was recently divorced from his first wife Elizabeth who had deserted him some years earlier. He and Julia married in December 1902 and for some years they resided in Opua where James was employed by New Zealand Railways. In October 1903 they had their first child together- Farrer Middlebrook, followed by twins Nelson Bartle( Bart) and Eva Rhys in 1905. Julia’s last child was Charles Russell (Known as Russell) . Some time after Russell’s birth the family moved to Auckland. Sadly Frank, the eldest son was killed in the Dardanelles on May 19 1915.
For the rest of the children religion features strongly with Bertha and Phyllis both becoming Nuns (one Catholic, and one Anglican) and Farrer becoming an Anglican Minister) but perhaps the strongest trait in the family is the huge artistic talent.
From Julia , to Eva, Farrer and Russell, each was extremely talented in the fine arts, Eva was a commercial artist at the time of her marriage, Russell becoming a great sculptor- both he and Eva attended Elam Art School. Russell and Farrer are responsible for lettering and sculpture on the Auckland Museum.