Margaretha Ient

Letters from Margaretha Ient (Rita Alexander)

These were written by Rita Alexander (known as Margie), who lived in Zimbabwe. She was the daughter of Frederick (Fred) and Florence Ient. Fred was the eldest son of Karl Ient from his first marriage. Rita (Margaretha Flora Elena) was born on 24 February 1911 and died in January 1999.

Letter of 1988

I visited Pat Risley (Pat is Thomas Ient’s [b. 1897] daughter) in August 2007 and made a copy of this letter.

Extract from letter dated 2 July 1988, from Marguerita (Margie) Alexander (daughter of Frederick and Florence Ient), Mvurwi, Zimbabwe, to Thomas Ient, London SW15:

August 4th 1914. ...

I was being carried by my Dad and we were on our way to catch a tram to the Zoo when we met Charlie and talked for a bit and he said he was on 'reserve' and had been called up. I recall he spent the afternoon at the zoo with us and the elephant pinched the bun I was eating and I cried. I remember Grandpa, a stern man, and Grandma – so smooth and placid. There is a picture of Grandpa in the Albert and Victoria Museum, I’m told, taken with Sir Aston Webb the Architect and all the stonemasons and builders. Grandpa drew beautifully; I remember being shown some of his work. Dad’s and Charles’ mother was from Berlin. I remember the Huguenot Cemetery well as it was on East Hill before the old Council House. I used to cut through there on my way to dancing at Mr. Webb’s in Geraldine Road. It was a peaceful place and well cared for...

Letters from 1992

When I visited my cousin Diana in Bermuda in 2006, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go through some of her family papers and I came across an interesting collection of letters relating to Ient family history.

The Letters came from:

Malvern House
PO Box 44

Letter of 5 January 1992

Dear Diana,

You will be surprised no doubt to hear from a total stranger named Rita Alexander, that's me, but I was an Ient and your mother was my youngest aunty. I remember her as a pretty young girl with a bunch of curls hanging over her shoulder. I was bridesmaid at her wedding to your Dad, together with my cousin Frances (Charles and Nellie's daughter), who died of TB in her teens. I guess we are kind of second cousins, extremely far removed as I am 80 now.

I remember the wedding so well, the family home in Warsill Street and my granny who was an absolute darling. I have heard from Pat and Ted who have told me that Pauline is 90 and very quiet and what a good daughter you have always been caring for her. I wanted to ask you first, before writing to her, if you thought that it would be ok, or might it unsettle her or would she remember me? Maybe she'll remember the wedding and how we wore pale yellow silk dresses and carried baskets of daffodils.

I didn't see much more of your parents after and heard that they were going to Bermuda and thought it was a most glamorous thing to do. I do seem to recall getting a postcard from the Red Devils Café and understood your parents were running a successful business. Pat tells me that you are a business woman and have been with the largest store in Bermuda for a long time. Your mother also worked in a big store in London together with your Aunty Kate. She was a lovely lady and cherished Gran until the very end, when Gran died in her arms.

I would like very much to link up a little, if you think it is a good thing to do. Have you any old family photographs when Roddy went to see Aunty Kate? I must have been about my nursing business as I started in children's nursing at 16½ and then went on to St Mary's and in '38 set sail for Rhodesia where I've been ever since, through all the troubles and changes. I returned home several times and in fact was in the UK and LA last year in the wet summer. I now live in a cottage in a retirement centre which is very nice, and for a while acted as matron and then sister-in-charge. I only retired last year and kept fit walking my border collie and doing yoga. I will not make this a screed. I'd just thought I would like to get in touch and it would be a happy thing to hear from you.

Wishing you both Happy New Year and sending love from memories of the past.



Letter of 5 February 1992

A letter dated 5 February 1992 from Margie (Rita Alexander) gives more information about Kathleen and Pauline working in a shop in London called Hunt & Coles. It was a drapers, but she also mentions that it sold hats, dresses, materials and hardware. The following extracts are taken from this letter:

Uncle Charlie fancied himself as a baritone and sang ‘My Fiddle is my Sweetheart’. Charles, I fancy must have been musical because I think he was a bandmaster. He seemed to me as a child most dashing. I don't think I have a postcard of the café but will look in my scrapbook and also send you a snap of myself and my step-daughter by my first husband. She was a dancer with the Royal Ballet, the Festival Ballet, a cabaret artist and a teacher. She is now a master teacher and coach of ballet in Los Angeles.

I married Hugh in 1970, after 5 years of widowhood. He had 4 teenage children, 3 girls and a boy and after 25 years with Lewis and 5 years partly in Canada I returned to Rhodesia and again on a nursing circuit nursed Hugh's wife in a terminal illness. We liked each other and eventually we married. Hugh and I were married 15 years when he died of a coronary.* Hugh worked for Jean's husband and I became the sister-in-charge of this home...

Love Rita

*In 1985 Hugh died.

In a subsequent letter from Margie in Zimbabwe to Diana (undated) she wrote:

Great Granddad Philip and Granddad Gottleib both married twice and they originally came from Germany.

We have no information about Great Granddad's first wife (Granddad's mother) who had two children, Louisa and Gottleib, both of whom came to England. His second wife had five daughters, all of whom went to America.

Of Granddad's two marriages we know nothing about his first wife but she is believed to have been French and my Dad can remember his father visiting Paris when he was a boy, where presumably he still had friends and/or relatives of his first wife. His second wife (our grandmother) came from the Oxford area.

As a result, of Gottleib's children only Tom, Pauline and Albert survive. Of the grandchildren, Frances died when she was 19, about 1931; Tommy was killed before the war when his parents were in Hong Kong, when he was quite a little boy, and David died about 20 years ago when he was 30.

Of the remainder all have married except Len.

Most of the information about Great Granddad has come from correspondence which my youngest daughter has had with the American descendants, but she can find nothing in the letters saying what his work was. Granddad was a stonemason/draughtsman and grandmother's father was a bricklayer.

Love Rita

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