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Salvatore Adolfo Marchesi (known as Dolph) accompanied his brothers Federico, Giuseppe (Joe), and Tomaso to Australia in the 1850/60’s. You can see details of the ships in which they sailed, on the the Emigrants page. They went to work in the gold mines around Bendigo, north of Melbourne, Victoria. When the gold ran out, mining continued for antimony.

Antimony is a poor conductor of heat and electricity and has many consequent applications in the electronics and other industries. It is toxic, and eventually Dolph and many others became very ill with “miners disease.” He died in 1920, but we have these letters which provide a brief picture of life for a miner and his family in Australia at that time.

When Dolph became too ill, the letters were written by his wife Elizabeth Marchesi-Hester. The spelling and punctuation are unaltered to retain the flavour of the correspondence. We reproduce a copy of the original letter of 31 December 1911, together with transcripts of this and the latest dated that we have.


St. Kilda
Dec 31/1911

Dear Joe
has Dolph was riting you a few lines I though I would rite a you a line. You will see by the above adress we are away from home, as Dolph has been so ill for a long time he has been ordered away down to the sea & I am glad to say he is much better it is his lungs the Miners Compliant he is suffering from but he is a lot better since we came down. I took a furnished room & the use of the kitchen to do my own cooking for him. I have my only boy with us for a change we go in bathing every night & it is lovely, we see Ellen & Jackie very often they come out & go down to the beach & we have a great time Jenny looks well after her trip home why did you not make a match with her when she was there you wont get the chance again some one els will have her but I think she is a ent out old maid by the time you get this letter we will be home so wishing
you a happy New Year I am your ever loving Sister in Law
E. Marchesi

South Heathcote
Oct 13 / 1919

Dear Joe
        I am writing a few lines to you hoping you are well I am sorry to tell that Dolph is verry ill again & he ask me to write a line to you we have had the Doctor & he said he could do no more for him. I had to send for all my children that was away. Poor Dolph he has gone to a shadow we are doing all we can for him & giving him as much nurishment as he can take but he takes so little & cant sleep at night. & the Doctor gave him a draft & it took no affect on him. I have two of my
daughters home with me looking after Dolph. One is married & living 150 miles from home & has a son. Well dear Joe Heathcote is the same old place but all the old people are all gone. Old Mrs J. Hall is still alive & in bad health. I have not had a letter from Mrs Hechle for a long time & I have wrote 3 letters & got no answer I got a paper a few week ago. I have been expectin a letter to say she had left England she has had a Irying time while the war was on. it is a god send it is over.
But it has made a great change in the living & food lime [?] but we are not two bad. We are milking 4 cows & making all own butter it is only 1/6 a lbs & egges are 1/- a doz & meat is 18 a lbs & mutton I get it from private people for 5 £ a lbs & lovely meat. Heathcote is verry quite no mining doing only at Costerfield the Antomy & it is a big mine I have one son in law working at it. My son Fred is clark in Kitchens & Sons the big soap factory in Melbourne he is coming 21 & will be a bigger man like Dolph. I have Kittie home the single one all the rest are married. We all hope he will soon get better. Well I have no more hoping to give you better news next letter. Love to you from all

I am your ever loving Sister in Law.                 E. Marchesi

P.S. Dolph sends his love to you & all.                 Lizzie          rite soon

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