Henrietta Petrea Holm McManamey was born in Bathurst in 1871 to Danish seaman Frederic Wilhelm Nielsen and Elizabeth Rae, daughter of A. B. Rae, photographer, bookseller and founder of the Western Independent newspaper. Frederick Nielsen anglicised his surname to Nelson and changed his occupation to 'Photographic Artist', working from 1868 to 1871 in a small studio in William Street, Bathurst. Although her father died when she was only four, Ettie writes fondly of the few memories she has of him and the stories she had been told of his courage in the 1870s when he braved the flooded Macquarie River to bring across the mail with Cobb and Co. pioneer, Jim Rutherford. She muses over the common heritage she shared with Queen Alexander, the Danish widow of King Edward VII, and expresses her pride at the one thousand Danish men sent to the funeral of the King, wondering if any of them could be related to her.