Chickenhouse Chronicles: 1950 Holy Land Visit


My great grandmother, Katherine Thomas Philips, had a younger sister named Alice, who married Edmund Garstin.  They had two daughters:

The eldest, Martha “Pattie” Thomas Garstin, born 1888, died in a mental institution, Normansfield Hospital, Teddington, in 1935.

The second daughter, Eloise “Emily” Thomas Garstin, was born in 1889 and died in 1970. Eloise, a name our mother never mentioned, played a pivotal role in my grandparents’ lives. Eloise was financially independent, thanks to a trust established by her cousin, Frederick Peirce. Eloise lived most of her life in England. She never married, traveled extensively, and wrote very descriptive letters.

The following picture and letter is written by Eloise from the Holy Land.

1949-50 was a very turbulent time in the Mideast. An estimated three quarters of a million Arabs fled the area that became Israel. Almost that many Jews immigrated to Israel from Arab countries and Europe.

It’s interesting to note that even though the Holocaust is only five years in the past, Eloise empathizes with the Arab people who have been displaced by the Jews.



1950-11-08 Eloise Garstin correspondance from Cairo Egypt (3)



1950-12-31 Eloise to Philips. Holy Land visit. Exquisite historical and biblical detail. (2)

1 Comment

  1. Bonnie says:

    What a perfect letter and photo to post for Easter Sunday! She talks about visiting the Garden of Gethsemane, the site of the Crucifixion, and the Tomb of our Lord… All Very Moving Places. What a brave woman, to travel all alone! Thank God you rescued these 50 year old letters and photos from the leaky old chicken house!


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