Collection MS 1382 - Diary, correspondence and miscellaneous papers of missionary service on the Island of Tangoa, New Hebrides (1931-33).

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AU PMB MS 1382


Diary, correspondence and miscellaneous papers of missionary service on the Island of Tangoa, New Hebrides (1931-33).


  • 1931-1994 (Creation)

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Reels 1-2; 35mm microfilm

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F.J.C. (Frank) and Rita Paton were Presbyterian missionaries in Tangoa (Vanuatu) from 1931-1933. They married in Ballarat in April 1931 and in May 1931 left for Vanuatu.
“Rev. Dr. John G. Paton’s eldest son, Rev. Robert Robson Paton could not serve in the New Hebrides because doctor declared him medically unfit for work in the tropics. But he was pleased that two of his sons were able to go. Frank was te first of the third generation. He worked as assistant to Rev. Fred Bowie, the Principal of Tangoa Teachers’ Training Institute (TTI) and District Missionary of South Santo. Frank was a teacer supported financially by the John G. Paton Fund.
At Tangoa, Frank built a workshop for the TTI students where they could do repair and maintenance jobs. After returning to Australia, three children, Barbara, David and Ruth, were born. Frank undertook pastoral work and preaching in NSW, then taught at Caulfield Grammar School and Scotch College Melbourne. Rita died in 1982. Frank subsequently remarried.
Frank writes the following, “After my early days at school I began work in the city of Melbourne but decided that I really wanted to become a school teacher. So for some years I did a lot of study and teaching. We married in Ballarat, Victoria, and set off in 1931 for the Tangoa Training Institute (TTI).
The Rev. Bowie was the principal and we were the only assistants. There were 60 students, of which about a dozen were married.
We set our clocks every fortnight at sunrise, for 6am, because at that time we met in the Hall for prayers and study. 8-8:30 was breakfast time, 8:30-10 school work; 10:15-12:30 practical work in the plantation and weeding and gathering coconuts for copra, while my work was on the buildings etc., to see that they were in good order. For this work I could call on as many helpers as were necessary for any building and carpentry jobs.
The afternoon was for the students to work in their gardens over on Santo, except that we always needed to keep at least four of them in case anything unexpected suddenly had to be done. Rita took the married women for school work in the afternoons. All sorts of things might suddenly become urgent problems – for instance, the baker’s oven developed some cracks and, as the two students who looked after the bread making usually baked every Tuesday and Thursday, they had to do it on Monday and Friday that week and I had to attend to and supervise the dismantling of all the bricks and make sure that the “new” bricks were quite sound before rebuilding the oven ready for the Friday baking. (The oven was about six feet long, four feet wide and four feet high.) At one time, we found that the workshop was in a bad way. White ants or similar unwelcome guests had made it unsafe. It had to be pulled down, the timber burnt and a new one built.
Often in the evening, the students would practice singing new hymns in the Hall and as our house (“Number Three”) was only about 50 yards away, it was a joy to listen to. The hymn books had tonic solfa notation and the students were wonderful sight readers.
(From They served in Vanuatu by Jungwirth, Fred, 1988, 2nd ed., p.39)

Diaries 1931-1932.
Various correspondence 1931-1939.
Drafts of various writings (memoir, etc.) 1950-1971(?).
Documents relating to Tangoa Training Institute and Presbyterian Church of New Hebrides 1970.
Printed material relating to New Hebrides 1951-1993.
Documents relating to The Pacific Theological College, Fiji, 1970(?).
Newspaper clippings 1931,1994.

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Mrs Barbara Dean, Surrey Hills, Victoria.

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