24B. BELL LASSETER.

"Pearl Bell, ~ please communicate with Lewis H. Lasseter. Fullers Hotel, Bourke Street."

Kalgoorlie Miner, 5th July 1920.

 

Harold Lasseter, as he is usually known, was born Lewis Hubert Lasseter on 27th Sept. 1880 at Bamgamie, near Meredith, Vic. he used these first names, with the minor and perhaps inadvertent variations of Louis and Herbert until 1923 when he began naming himself Lewis Harold Bell Lasseter, the change of name is usually attributed to the influence of the American author, Harold Bell Wright and his 1923 bestseller, 'The Mine with the Iron Door', a reasonable conclusion given the authors names and the timing and theme of his work.

However the names Harold or Harry and Bell had some significance in Lasseter's life several years before Harold Bell Wright's bestseller appeared on Australian bookshelves. in Jan 1914. 'Captain' Lewis Lasseter wrote to Henry (Harry) Beauchamp Lassetter seeking a family connection to the distinguished military officer and Sydney businessman, and in early July 1920 Lasseter placed two ads in the Kalgoorlie Miner seeking the whereabouts of Pearl Bell, Lasseter had good information, he knew exactly where to place the ads.

Pearl Bell and her older sister, Agnes Ellen, were well known in the Boulder/Kalgoorlie area, the Ballarat Star reported the marriage of A. E. Bell from Creswick, Vic. to A. J. Langdon from Boulder at Perth on 14/12/1904, the Star also noted that Mr. Langdon's late father, Joseph Langdon was from Creswick, the same district as the Bride. In May 1910 the Kalgoorlie Miner noticed Miss Pearl Bell at the Westcott Tippet wedding, evidently Miss Pearl May Bell, now aged 21, was visiting her well established sister, Mrs. Agnes Langdon at Boulder. Miss Bell returned to Kalgoorlie in late 1915 and on this visit caught the eye of successful businessman Myles Sharkey of Boulder, their engagement was announced in the Miner on the 21st January 1916 and they were married on the 27th of April that year.

While the pioneering Bell sisters were establishing families and comfortable homes in Kalgoorlie, Lasseter was in America where he married Florence Elizabeth Scott at Clifton Springs N. Y. on the 29th Dec. 1903, he returned to Australia, via Adelaide in Dec 1909 with his wife and five year old daughter Ruby, he then moved on to Tabulam, New South Wales, where he subsisted as an odd jobbing hobby farmer until 1915, in early November he began something of a Boer trek from Tabulam to Melbourne where he successfully enlisted on his second attempt on 21st Feb. 1916.  Eight months later he was discharged from the Army as medically unfit. "old injury to right eye".

In June 1917 when Lasseter reckoned Pearl Bell to be working or resident at the Tower Hotel, Mrs Pearl Sharkey was visiting her sister at Merriden for three months, introducing her newborn son to family and the wider world, Lasseter meanwhile was resident at Campbell Street Collingwood and living on charity. He had made very little progress by July 1920 when his ads appeared in the Kalgoorlie Miner, his application for a loan of 250 pounds from the Repatriation Dept. to set up  business as a bridge builder was rejected on  the 6th  and again on the 13th, the authorities noting that Lasseter was two years too late with his application and he had never served overseas. At this time a well travelled Mrs. Sharkey was preparing to visit her family in Creswick, no doubt it was time to introduce young Lawrence to his Grandparents, Catherine and William Bell.

It would seem that at no point in time or place did Lewis Hubert Lasseter and Pearl May Bell cross paths and there is no apparent connection between the two persons, unless it be the locale, and that is the Creswick, Ballarat, Meredith area where the name Lasseter was well enough known for various reasons, and the name Bell was numerous and influential, especially William 'Baron' Bell, resident of Creswick, as were Pearl Bells parents, and a fearless gold mining and real estate entrepreneur, said to have turned over a couple of fortunes, wealthy and generous and the father of ten children. Perhaps Lasseter's advertisements were fishing with mistaken identity. No doubt the ads were brought to Mrs. Sharkey's attention and her response, if any, is unknown  all though I can't help thinking that the Bell sisters and their husbands may have contemplated a little sport with Lasseter and his presumptuous enquiry, not every lady cares to be associated with a Kalgoorlie hostelry.

An earlier incident involving the name Bell occurred in November 1916 when Mr. A. Bell co proprietor of Bell Bros. Bakery at Meredith, decided it was time to do something about the long outstanding Lasseter account, 1 pound 2 shillings and seven pence for 8 and a half loaves of bread and sundries, police enquiries on behalf of the State War Council revealed that Lasseter had disappeared to parts unknown, owing Meredith traders more than 18. The State War Council settled these accounts in late January 1917, only to have Lasseter resurface in Collingwood and continue badgering the Council for handouts.

And a final reference to the name Bell although Lasseter may not have been aware of the incident and it would not have had any influence on his choice of names, on Sunday the 5th July 1908 Constable McCormick at Meredith arrested W. J. Lasseter (Lasseter's Father) "on a charge of wilfully and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm on an elderly man named James Bell, aged 75". apparently a dispute arose over the sale of a watch and Lasseter picked up an axe and struck the old man with it on the thigh, inflicting a nasty wound,". Lasseter was allowed bail and presumably James Bell recovered.

Now to Colonel Harry Beauchamp Lassetter, and note the spelling and the initials; in January 1914, Lewis Lasseter wrote to the Colonel evidently enquiring into the family's antecedents and possible connections, citing notes in the Lasseter family bible as evidence and mentioning Captain Kidd, Lasseter failed to understand who he was dealing with. The Colonels honeyed reply would have kept Lasseter busy and broke for quite some time.

The change of name occurred sometime between April 1922 when the country press reported that L. H. Lasseter had 'annexed the men's prize at a novelty night euchre contest, held at the Flinders Naval Base,  and the 27th of Feb. 1923 when the Melbourne Herald reported, "a million pounds scheme for the relief of traffic was propounded today by Mr. H. B. Lasseter of South Melbourne",  at the time Lasseter was writing from 418 Park Street South Melbourne, while Brigadier General Henry (Harry) Beauchamp Lassetter, C. B.  C. M. G.  was in Europe, arguing Australia's position in the world wool trade. General Lassetter by the way was talking sums of 40 million pounds

The earliest official records show that Lewis Harold Bell Lasseter married Louise Irene Lillywhite at Middle Park Methodist Church on the 24th January 1924, Lasseter started his new name under a favourable sign, on  the 4th of July he was elected to the Heralds "Optimists Club" and awarded a certificate of honor for the days Happy Thought "Better to bring one ray of sunlight into the lives of many than to stand in the full blaze of sunlight alone",  in October he announced the birth of his son Robert, significantly using the name Harry Bell Lasseter, and writing from a South Melbourne address. Sometime between that date and Jan 1925, Lasseter and family moved to Kogarah N. S. W. and Lasseter wrote his first letter from there on the fifth of January to the Dept. of Defence with plans to produce a gun that could fire a projectile a hundred miles, he signed this letter L. H. B. Lasseter, his usual form thereafter.

So there may be other possibilities for Lasseters choice of names, and much closer to home than Tucson, Arizona, as for the reasons, Lasseter had become more or less become persona non gratis in Melbourne and thereabouts by 1925 and a variation of a well known name might be advantageous in Sydney, besides there was the bigamist marriage to Irene Lillywhite and two Mrs. Lasseter's in the same district could be awkward.

While on the subject of Lasseter's names it should be remembered that at no time did Lasseter use any other surname, contrary to the musings of Coote and Blakeley. Coote, desperate to find any evidence to support Lasseter's claims grasps a third hand source, Allan Breaden,  via Philip Taylor, "At Buck's place they met a man called Breaden (Bob Buck's uncle), who remembered a young chap named Bell out in those parts thirty years ago. He was making his way through to the west coast", Coote adds that Lasseter served in the army under the name of Bell. Blakeley briefly states that Lasseter had travelled under the names of Cruikshank and Bell and he had travelled through America under the name Bell and he had seen Lasseter's passport in that name. Lasseter never bothered to correct any of the several misspelling of  his name, usually Lassetter and Lassiter, again any confusion or doubt caused may have been to Lasseter's advantage.

 

LASSETERIA

Coote, Hell's Airport, 225   Geelong Advertiser, 7 July 1908, pg 6. Fred Blakeley, People Magazine, 9 February 1955, Dream Millions, pg 2. Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol 9, 1891 to 1939. Kalgoorlie Miner 5,6 July 1920, pg 2. Melbourne Herald, 27 February 1923, pg 3. 

http://eurekapedia.org/William_Bell