Margaret Cohen (nee Currie)

Margaret Cohen (nee Currie) 1871 - 1943

Margaret Cohen (nee Currie) was the seventh child of Archibald Currie and Susan Currie (nee Hutcheson).  She married Joseph Cohen at the age of 24, at the home of her father Archibald Currie in Lismore on 2nd July, 1896.  Meg Young told me that Margaret had been engaged to a 'nice Presbyterian boy' but as soon as she met Joseph Cohen she broke off the engagement.  It is great to know that it was a real love match and I am very glad she told me about this.  Margaret and Joseph had all of their children (listed at the bottom of the page) in Lismore NSW between 1896 and 1914.  Around 1914 Joseph opened his own jewellery store, Cohens Jewel Centre in Lismore, which was taken over by Joseph's son Harry in the 1921 and eventually sold by Harry's son. 

On retirement, (around 1923) Margaret and Joseph moved to a house they had built in Ruby St, Mosman and lived there for the remainder of their lives.  In her later years Margaret always wore black when going out and Peter Riddell remembers always being a bit frightened of her as a youngster as she was a rather imposing figure.  Meg Young remembers coming to Sydney to go to the yearling sales and the Easter show and Margaret and Joseph would come along with her family to these events.  She said they were lovely people and Margaret was a very good sewer and knitter.  I commented that the family look very neatly dressed in all the photos and Meg said 'they had style'.  Margaret Parker remembers the family were comfortably off and dinner table talk often revolved around investments and shares.  Their lifestyle was unaffected by the great depression of the 1930's and they entertained often at home with singalongs around the piano when one of the guests obliged by playing.  They could afford luxuries such as travel even at the height of the depression.  Margaret can't remember the family being particularly religious or political.  By all accounts they were a pretty switched on, modern, sociable and stylish family.  The surviving photographs in my grandmothers album circa 1930 are of cruises, days at the beach, trips to the blue mountains and the zoo, always fashionably dressed and always with a crowd of friends.  The photos show a happy, carefree life at a time when the world was a simpler place. 

7 Ruby Street Mosman (probably in the 1930's).  Members of the family are visible on the verandah but it is impossible to make out the faces.  I visited Ruby Street in August 2009.  The house had a second storey added in the 1980's but the original ground floor exterior and the steps are unchanged.  Inside the house the two main living rooms are exactly as they were when the house was first built as if frozen in time.  The fireplace, picture rails and windows are all very dark wood and in the style of the time - I was surprised to find the rooms so unchanged.  The rooms are easily recognisable from the photographs and it is easy to imagine the family inhabiting them.  The necessary updates to the house have been very sympathetic to its original design and have not compromised the feel of the house in any way.  I was able to stand on the verandah and share the view of the harbour that the family would have been so familiar with.  From this vantage point they would have had a clear view of the Sydney harbour bridge being constructed.  The new owner pointed out a box above the kitchen door that is the original servants bell.  Apparently the button on the wall above the palm tree in the photograph of the living room in 1926 (below) is not an old light switch, but in fact a button to summon the servant and the wiring was originally all connected.  Life at 7 Ruby Street appears to have been pretty good!

The Cohen family: Getty, Harry & fiance Phyllis, Miriam and Margaret Cohen.  Taken at Ruby St Mosman around 1926 on the occasion of Harry's engagement.

Cohen family April 1935.  L-R Unknown - (possibly 'Bern' a friend of Miriam), Kitty Riddell (nee Cohen), Margaret Cohen, Getty Cohen, Jim Sully (nickname 'fowler') unknown woman, Bella Fitness, Joseph Cohen, Les Riddell.  The boy in the front is probably Doug Riddell.  Taken at Circular Quay as Miriam Cohen and Frank Caird embarked on their honeymoon.

Cohen family Ruby St early 1930's.  L-R Getty, Margaret Cohen, (unknown at rear), Kitty (foreground), Miriam (behind flowers), Al, Joseph Cohen and Bern.  Al and Bern were friends of the family according to the note in Miriam's album.

Margaret had four surviving children:

Gertrude Susan (Getty)   1897 - 1953                                                       
Henry David       (Harry)   1899 - 1979
Catherine           (Kitty)     1902 - 1987
Miriam                               1914(?) - 1972

She also had three children that died:

Lionel William                   1896 - 1896
Annie Isabella                   1904 - 1906
May B                                1906 - 1906   

While the family had heard of Annie and May, no one I've spoken to knew about Lionel.  This is probably because Lionel was born on
3rd August 1896, a month after Joseph and Margaret's wedding.  Lionel lived for 17 days before dying on 20th August 1896, the cause of death is given as premature birth.  Joseph's occupation is given as a "traveller".  It is understandable that it was easiest to forget about Lionel given the attitudes of the time.  Knowing about Lionel does however give an insight into the circumstances of Joseph and Margarets marriage.  Lionel was buried in North Lismore cemetery but I didn't locate a gravestone.  The NSW BDM dept has the record of Lionels death.  It seems fair that this forgotten son Lionel should have his name listed with Annie and May on this page.    


Annie Cohens gravestone in Nth Lismore Pioneers cemetery

Margaret Cohen holding Margaret Caird 1938

Margaret Cohen with Miriam around 1930, these two pictures were probably taken at Taronga Zoo

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