I never thought about whose violin it was but now I know that it belonged to my father's great-uncle Jim. Dad's older sister, Dorothy, told me that Uncle Jim played with the Salvation Army band in Warracknabeal, playing on the street.
Jim and his siblings were born in South Australia and it appears that the family moved from Mt Gambier to the Horsham and Minyip districts of Victoria in the 1870s. There were four surviving brothers, Robert (my great-grandfather), William, John and James. James was born at Mt Gambier in 1868. He never married.
When he was about 25 James was working on a farm at Kellalac when he was kicked in the head by a horse. The result was a fractured skull (I was told he had part of his skull removed) and brain damage that affected him the rest of his life.
On 30 October 1894 James Wyllie was admitted to Ararat Lunatic Asylum and discharged 13 December 1894 as 'cured'.
|PROV VPRS 7427 Nominal Roll of Patients (VA 2841) Ararat 1867-1906 Unit 1.
|Ararat (Aradale) Lunatic Asylum, c1880
James was admitted again in 1905 according to this newspaper notice...
|Horsham Times, 12 Sep 1905
... and again on 6 September 1908. This time he wasn't discharged until four years later, on 1 October 1908. This time the police report records that he led a sober and industrious life at Warracknabeal (where he worked in the flour mill) but was arrested because he 'says he is Jesus Christ, prays on his knees on the footpath and tries to impel others to do the same'. Whilst in the custody of the police he was excitable, shouting and praying and was constrained in a strait jacket.
My aunt remembers visiting Uncle Jim at Warracknabeal with her parents but when they approached the house he would disappear out the back so they would just leave the food and other items and just leave. Eventually, in 1937 when he was 60, the Salvation Army rang the family to say that he was in hospital. When he died he was buried in the Minyip cemetery after a service at Warracknabeal. His house was sold and the proceeds divided between his nieces and nephews.