Saturday, November 29, 2008

An Introduction

Franklin Edwin Alcorn was born at Boonah, Qld, on July 8 1891. A man whose only vice was tobacco, he died of cancer at Rockdale, NSW, on December 8 1958.

What follows is an outline of his life written some time ago by his daughter, Joyce Favelle.

"Franklin Edwin was the 7th child of William and Elizabeth Alcorn. After reading Ivan Alcorn's biography, I now know for sure that the 'telling of tall tales' really was and still is an inherited gene. So I'm pondering on the stories of Franklin's childhood and youth as told to me by my mother, Lily.

Were they tall tales? Was he pulling Lily's leg or were they fact?

For instance, were all the children of William and Elizabeth thrown into the dam on their farm at 4 years of age and told to swim out? Not one of the 12 children drowned in that dam in Boonah, so perhaps it was a fact.

Did Frank preach his first sermon as a lad standing on a box under a tree? Did he have to find his own way from Boonah to Melbourne Bible College as best he could, working on properties as he travelled for food, a bed, perhaps a lift to the next town or property?

Did he introduce himself to Lily on a St Kilda footpath by raising his hat and saying 'Good afternoon'? A rather forward approach for those days. If so, Lily must have cheerfully answered, being also rather forward.

I'll now refer to Franklin Edwin as Dadda, which will come more naturally.

When Dadda graduated from the college (the above photograph was taken at about that time, 1915. LF) he was given the Church of Christ parish in Brookton, WA. The church had been built for the Baptist churches in 1909. It is now , as I write, a place of worship for the Calvary Presbyterian Church. Still standing, it was a well built brick building with a baptistry. The manse in which my parents lived was a small wattle and daub house, next door to the church.

Being established with an income, Dadda sent for Lily who travelled across to Perth by ship, taking much luggage with her, including her piano. Frank and Lily were married in 1915 and settled down very happily in Brookton.

While in WA, Francis (Frankie) was born in 1920 and Jordan, who only lived a few days, in 1922.

The Anne St City Church in Brisbane, as far as I know, was Dadda's next appointment. Whilst there he was secretary to the Gypsy Smith Evangelical Campaign, which experience probably equipped him for his secretaryship to the Council of Churches in NSW.

I was born in Brisbane in 1924, and in 1927 we travelled to Sydney by ship where Dadda was to take up the parish in Rockdale. I should say Dadda and Mumma, for the parson's wives were a very real part of the team in that era.

FE, the name by which many people referred to Dadda, was a dedicated evangelist believing in full immersion baptism and also in the pastoral care of his congregation, his 'flock'. He travelled many miles by bus, train and shoe leather to pray with and tend to the needs of his people. He was not a yes man so had his critics; but he refused to neglect his flock under any circumstances.

The phone rang constantly and many knocks on the door came late at night and in the early hours of the morning, most of those ordinary appeals, some quite extroardinary. There were many requests for a marriage on the spot.

I well remember young Hilda knocking on the door at about 1am. 'Could the parson please go home with her and talk her father into letting her into the house.' She'd arrived home later than expected so her father had shut her out. Of course, the parson went home with her even though she lived about a mile from our home, in an area known as Bexley Gully.

Another extroardinary request came from a parishoner who lived in Sutherland, eight railway stations away from our Rockdale. 'Could the parson please come right away?' The lady's son had been doing odd jobs with a circus and he'd arrived home in the early hours of the morning with an elephant, which was now in her backyard. Life was never dull, quite full of the unexpected."

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