When Minnesota-born Frank Osborn volunteered to join the US army in 1941, he expected to be discharged by the following January – he wasn’t. Instead he found the love of his life on the other side of the globe.
At an officer graduation party at the School of Arts in Brisbane, Frank, then 24 years old, laid eyes on a beautiful Australian girl Rhona Jones. At the time, Rhona was working for the US Defence Force in Brisbane’s CBD. He offered her some PK chewing gum as long as she gave him her phone number. Rhona wrote her number on the back of the chewing gum wrapper and their love was sealed: they were engaged just three months later.
Frank was then assigned sea duty on the Contessa, an American transport ship which sailed to and from Port Moresby carrying fuel for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Rhona returned to her family’s home in Sydney. After months at sea, the Contessa docked in Sydney Harbour for repairs on Christmas Eve 1944. Frank was off like a flash making a bee-line for Rhona. A wedding was organised in ‘double quick time’ and they were married at St Marks Church, Darling Point on 3 January 1945 (shown in the photo above).
Three weeks later Frank shipped out again in the Contessa this time bound for California so the ship could be repaired. He then journeyed to the Philippines just in time for ‘mopping up’ and the final days of the war. Major Frank Osborn was discharged from the US army in January 1946 and he set about creating a new life for Rhona and himself in Minnesota.
Frank bought a hardware business and organised for Rhona to board the ‘Brides’ Boat’ and join him. But Rhona missed the boat: she had appendicitis and could not sail. Frank organised a visa, said goodbye to his family and departed San Francisco on the Monterey, arriving in Sydney just in time to celebrate 4th July 1946 with Rhona –18 months after they had married!
Frank and Rhona established a new home in Sydney where they raised two daughters. Frank only returned to the US and his home-town Minnesota once in 1974.
Frank’s daughter and son-in-law, Chris and Bruce Moore’s passion for family history is leading them to Minnesota later this year. Having already visited the Moore’s ancestral home in Ireland, Chris and Bruce have decided to trace the Osborn migration across the United States.
‘Everyone’s favourite subject is themselves and their family. Our interest in our family’s history started years ago, when our children asked where they and their grandparents came from. That simple question ignited our interest to delve into our family’s past and to discover if we had any living relatives that we were unaware of,’ explained Bruce.
‘Recently, a friend recommended visiting the Ancestry.com.au website. Blow me down, we discovered family members tracing back to the 1600s. Ancestry steered me to US state links where I discovered extensive family information including gravestone engravings and obituaries.
‘We now have 3000 names in our family tree and a greater understanding of who we are and where we came from; and the journey is still continuing. We have traced the US Osborns back to 15th century records and the Moores back to 1740 Irish Parish records.
‘Chris and I have never been to Minnesota. We’re looking forward to meeting cousins for the very first time and visiting various cemeteries and towns piecing together the Osborn history,’ said Bruce.
Although Chris and Bruce may not have any PK chewing gum wrappers in their history, they do have a shared passion for their family’s story and their own brand of love at first sight.
Story by Bruce & Chris Moore – Ancestry.com.au members