#52Ancestors: Maiden Aunt – Aunty Cas had a very bad habit

Another great story from Kendall Gibson, Wellington New Zealand

Alvilde Caspara Larsen 1877 – 1942

Cas was named after her mother’s favourite cousin Alvilde Caspara Olsen (a well known photographer in Oslo). Cas was the 6th born of the 11 children of Hannah and Nicolai Larsen who had emigrated from Norway to New Zealand in 1873. There were 3 girls, with Cas being in the middle. Her older sister Martha and younger sister Sena both found work as domestic servants when they left school. Cas worked at home alongside her mother (who had been widowed in 1888). With a farm to run and 7 brothers (living) it must have been full on domestic duties.

When Hannah retired from farming in the early 1900’s Cas got a job as a house maid at a hotel, the ‘Café de Paris’ in Palmerston North, NZ and continued to live with Hannah. But Cas had a bad habit, a very bad habit, she liked to play cards for money – but she wasn’t very good at it. I expect the hotel was the very worst environment for someone with a gambling problem like Cas. One family story describes how Harry (one of Cas’s brothers) regularly sent money to his mother Hannah. When asked if the money he was sending was enough she replied ‘What money!’ Cas had been intercepting the payments, probably telling herself she was sure to be able to double or treble the amount at the card table.

Unsurprisingly Cas was not very well off when she retired and lived in poor circumstances in a rented garage. Further family memories say she had red hair and a terrible temper. She died in Oct 1942 aged 64.

We are, however, enormously grateful to Cas as she left us a most precious legacy. Despite her straitened circumstances she had treasured and kept intact Hannah’s collection of family photographs, carefully preserved artifacts and mementos of Hannah’s life and family back in Norway. This is a resource I have been able to draw on to tell our family stories. She may not have achieved the riches she wished for in life but we are richer because of what she has left us.



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