Slip of paper could hold the key to old mystery

By PETER CATON

WHEN Jaki Ruth decided to do a little volunteer work for the Uki and South Arm Historical Society, she had no idea the experience would open up a mystery dating back almost a century.

Society researcher Mary-Lee Connery discovered an old, folded slip of paper that was a 1950 copy of a marriage certificate bearing the name Cunningham, which had no obvious connection to Uki or the Tweed.

But Jaki, who had recently moved to the area, recognised the names, Norah and Reg Cunningham, who married in Devonport, New Zealand in 1908, as her paternal grandparents.

"My jaw dropped for about three hours," she said. "I'm a Cunningham but we don't have any long-term relationship with this area."

She said Mrs Connery had been given the piece of paper some time ago with other material and was also at a loss as to its relevance to the Tweed.

Jaki said she had always understood her grandmother had, at the age of about 16, run off with her grandfather. But the certificate showed Norah was 18 when she married and the marriage was witnessed by her parents - possibly indicating Norah and Reg had "come back" to marry.

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The 1950 date on the copy certificate also fitted in with a family story about her grandfather having tossed the family history overboard from a boat on the way to Australia from New Zealand around that time.

But Jaki said her grandparents had always lived in either Sydney or New Zealand and to her knowledge there were no family connections to Uki although some of her parents' brothers and sisters took on names such as Wall, Brooks, Sharman and Weatherall, which had been known around Uki.

Jaki is keen to hear from anyone in the Tweed who knew of Norah and Reg Cunningham in a bid to solve the mystery of how a piece of paper recording possibly the most important event in the lives of her grandparents surfaced in Uki.

She can be contacted on (02) 6679 7183.



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