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The Tamworth Daily Observer (NSW), Friday 27 September 1912

Armidale News.

SERIOUS RIDING ACCIDENTS.

ARMIDALE, Thursday.

The seven-year-old son of Mr. H. White, Rockvale, sustained serious injuries through a horse dashing into a tree. He is now in the local hospital.

James Fitzgerald, son of Mr. Joseph Fitzgerald, of Cunderang station, sustained concussion of the brain through a horse falling whilst mustering cattle. He is now in a very critical condition.

Evening News (Sydney, NSW), Wednesday 20 August 1924

ROUGH ROAD

Of Country Doctors

KEMPSEY, Wednesday.

The road of the country medico is a rough and a hilly one.

Late on Monday a doctor in Kempsey received word of an accident on the upper reaches of the Macleay. He immediately set out in his car, accompanied by the matron of a private hospital. When they arrived at George’s Creek, about 40 miles up the river, they had to ride eight miles on horseback. Arriving at their destination in the early hours of Tuesday morning, they found that the patient was the 2-year-old son of Mr. J. P. Fitzgerald, of Kunderang Station. He had caught his hand in the cogs of a chaffcutter. An operation was performed there and then, and the major portion of three fingers removed. The patient was then brought back to hospital in Kempsey.

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July 22, 2013 at 8:00 am

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A week on the Macleay – article 4 of 5 (1928).

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The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate (NSW), Saturday 19 May 1928

A Week on the Macleay

Interview with Mrs. H. A. McMaugh at Kempsey.

THE EARLY SETTLEMENT OF THE UPPER MACLEAY.

(By F. A. FITZPATRICK).

Article No. 4.

(Continued).

Opposite the mouth of the Nulla Creek, and on the opposite side of the river, is the picturesque little home of Elsinore. In the early forties, before Pee Dee was formed, J. McMaugh, senr., purchased Elsinore, and went to live there. It was during his residence in that place that the wild blacks were so troublesome, and Mrs. McMaugh, senr., used to dress in her husband’s clothes when the men were away, to frighten them. It was almost a common occurrence to see their camp-fires on the mountain at the back of the house. After a time a dispute arose about the boundaries between Wabro and Elsinore. At last it was decided that the Elsinore home stead was on the Wabro boundary. Consequently, the home was abandoned and the run known as Pee Dee Station was formed.

A few miles above Bellbrook, on the other side of the river, is Burrega Farm, the property of the Scott family. In 1854 Eardley Murray Scott, then a mere youth, came to the MacLeay and found a home at Pee Dee, where he secured some education from the tutor who was employed to teach the young McMaughs. He became an expert horseman, and obtained a good knowledge of stock. When William Smith purchased Long Flat Station, and his manager (Stewart) was killed, he gave Eardley Scott the management of’ the station. Scott remained there for several years, and married my sister. Subsequently he purchased Burrega, and as the years went by he added to the place by buying adjacent land, and so formed a good home and a valuable property. He had a large family of sons and daughters, most of whom were born at Burrega. He was much respected by all who knew him, and was an industrious, honest, high-principled man. His death a few years ago was greatly regretted, and a great loss to the district.

The next place of interest is Pee Dee Station, the old home of the McMaugh family. Before the station was formed John McMaugh, senr., had charge of the different places owned by Captain Steele, who was a great speculator, and owned much property in different districts at that time. He was first at Five Day Creek, and then Towal Creek. The latter place was later sold to J. Warne.

After leaving Elsinore, Pee Dee was the McMaughs’ permanent home. My husband’s earliest recollections are of the mobs of cattle galloping with noise like thunder, being pursued by the blacks; and some of the milkers would come home with spears stuck in them, and he often saw the men pulling them out. Many of the cows were killed and eaten by the blacks.

In the year 1854 a traveller came one day to Pee Dee, and asked Mrs. McMaugh for a night’s lodging. During the afternoon another man arrived – a man named, Dr. Milham — who said he had been stuck up by a masked man, and robbed of his watch and chain, but stated that the robber did not get any money, as he had it hid den in his shirt. He had £200, and was on his way to New England to buy horses. The traveller who had arrived before Dr. Milham left Pee Dee very early next morning, and when the latter arrived at a place called Trappo, a few miles on his journey to New England, the same masked man who had robbed him before came out of the scrub, and covering him with a revolver said ‘Hand out that £200 you have in your shirt.’ The masked man was the traveller who asked for a night’s lodging at Pee Dee the night before, and of course overheard Dr. Milham’s statement about the hidden money, and having his mask off he was not recognised. The bushranger was a man named Wilson, and he took his quarters up in a scrubby creek near Burrega, and continued his evil doings for some time, defying the police and causing much excitement.

Inspector Ross was in charge of the police then, and the men were named : Clogger, Sergeant Dempster, and a few years, later Dangar, and Porter were in the Force. Lieutenant Polding and Sergeant Scott had charge of the black trackers, and when the wild blacks attacked the whites or did any misdeeds, these men came up and took heavy toll of the marauders — shooting them down without mercy.

As Wilson continued his daring robberies, the police were kept busy, and often arrived at Pee Dee at midnight and demanded the assistance of John McMaugh, senr., to help them try and secure the bushranger. However, they were not successful but they must have given him a fright, as he made his escape to New England, and was shot there. The police seem to have had great power in those bygone days, as a man named Anderson, who had a place called McKenzie’s Creek ,not far from Bellbrook, was called upon to supply rations to the police when they were hunting the bushranger. He refused to comply with their request and on their return to the police station at Belgrave, they reported the matter to the Commissioner, who at once sent Clogger to burn Anderson’s hut down — which they did very effectively.

The conveyance of the mail up to a few years after the cuttings were completed, was carried out on a packhorse, and arrived only once a week, and was very often detained a fortnight at Pee Dee or some other place, owing to the river and creeks being in flood.

There was no resident Clergyman in Kempsey, and about every two years Caonon O’Reilly, from Port Macquarie, and the Rev. T. Tyrill (afterwards Bishop of Newcastle), called at various places on the upper river on their way to New England, and baptised the children, etc.

Duffy, who was overseer of Towal Creek, then the property of’ Mr. Warne, was fishing in the river, when the blacks speared him, and the weapon passed through the flap of his trousers. My husband remembers seeing the garment and having the holes pointed out to him where the spear went through.

An old shepherd named Carrol was minding some sheep at a place called Smith’s Flat, 15 miles from Pee Dee. John McMaugh, senr. (my husband’s father), went up to count the sheep, and when he arrived there were no sheep or shepherd visible. While he stood at the door of the hut, wondering what had become of them, a huge blackfellow wearing Carrol’s shirt came in view, and on being asked where Carrol was he struck his chest defiantly. McMaugh had a gun and powder, but no shot, so he drew a nail from the hut wall, rammed it in the gun, and fired, hitting the black in the leg. Immediately about a hundred blacks appeared; but they were often frightened when one of their number was hit, and so in this instance they all ran for their lives. McMaugh then went lo look for Carrol, and found him two miles further on with his throat and head cut by a tomahawk. He rendered what assistance he could and then took the wounded man to Five Day Creek, where he was then living. Mrs. McMaugh helped to bind up the man’s wounds; and some idea can be gathered of the extent of his injuries, when the gruel they tried to strengthen him with came out through the hole in his throat when he tried to swallow. Yet he eventually recovered, although it was weeks before a medical man could be procured from Port Macquarie — there being none on the Macleay.

In 1845 Kunderang Station was the property of a Captain Goblin. He had two shepherds and their wives there, and they were found dead — murdered by the blacks. It was quite a week after the tragedy that the bodies were found, and about 800 sheep were also missing. The matter was reported to the Commissioner (named Massey) at Kempsey, and he in company with John McMaugh and several men from the station, tracked the sheep to where the blacks had driven them. They found a large number of blacks camped under a cliff, who immediately showed fight. A battle ensued, but the white men were well armed, and a great number of the blacks were killed. The only casualty on the other side was a horse. The men took cover behind the trees and fired on the murderers. A few of the sheep were found; but the blacks were so numerous that they killed and ate twenty a night.

About the year 1849 a man named Chisholm had charge of Kunderang. He was a married man and had a family, the youngest a boy of three years of age who was in the habit of going to the milking yard for a pannikin of milk. While his mother was milking one morning, he got his milk as usual, and when his mother returned to the hut be was nowhere to be found. A search was made by all hands far and near, and kept up for a week; but the unfortunate child was never found. It was always supposed that the blacks were hiding in a thick scrub near by, and carried off the boy; so his fate will never be known.

The cedar cutters killed by the blacks, the only escapee of the party being G. Spokes, were getting cedar at the head of the Wilson River, very near the Macleay. They were supposed to be free men, and may have been working for Major Innes.

The first cedar cutters on the Upper Macleay were a family named Thompson. As there were no roads then, the timber was floated down the river and creeks to Kempsey. As many as 200 logs have been counted at the one time lying at the mouth of the Nulla Creek, and there must have been a great many more uncounted.

Of all the stations on the Upper Macleay in the old days Moparrabah was the largest. It was then owned by Major Innes, and had about 3000 head of cattle on it, of no special breed — Durhams, Herefords, etc., had of then come into fashion.

Wabro and Towal Creel were the next largest, and carried nearly the same amount of stock. At Wabro there was upwards of 1000 head of horses as well — many of them wild — and traps were built to catch them in, and in latter days, they were shot.

Each station had its own brand. They used a diamond at Moparrabah; Wabro, B.P.; Towal Creek, W.; Long Flat, M.I.; Pee Dee used the well known I.M.;. Toorooka’s brand was S within a circle. The runs of those stations were unlimited — there being no selectors in those days of wild blacks. Some of them had 100,000 acres, some 60,000, and so on.

The notorious blackfellow, Blue Shirt, was responsible for many murders. He belonged to a tribe on the Nambucca, and was never employed by white people, as he was always wanted for his crimes, and a reward was offered for him.

Previous to, the arrival of the German family on the Nulla Creek, named Sauer, and in the very early days, a man named Sparks formed a station there and had two men in charge. One of them showed great kindness to the blacks, and gave them tobacco and rations. He was often warned of their treacherous nature. One morning his mate, a man named Dick Sole, was Milking the cows some distance from the hut when he saw the blacks dragging, the body of his mate towards the creek. He at once made his escape, and got to Elsinore, 8 miles way and reported what had happened. The police were sent for and they found the body in the creek. They then, went in search of the blacks, some of whom were shot, and others taken prisoner. Through an interpreter they gathered from one of the captive blacks that the murdered man employed two friendly blacks to cut a tree down, and while be was showing them the place to cut it, they hit him on the head with the axe and killed him. The place was then abandoned as a cattle station— the stock all being purchased by John McMaugh. Many years afterwards a police station was formed there.

A man named Duffety left his wife unprotected at Towal Creek Station, when the blacks surrounded the house and carried the woman away a prisoner. So cunning were they that they carried her away to the head of the Macleay, and hid her for three weeks in a gorge under the tablelands, at a place called Boosers, at Moonee Plains. She was at last recovered by her husband, assisted by the police and other men. The blacks did her no harm, and having the rations they had stolen from the station, they had plenty of food, it seemed a trying ordeal for a woman to be forced to live three weeks with wild blacks, but in those days, most of the females were hardened and indifferent to what fate had in store for them. Then they were more like men. It was a common occurrence for stockmen to change their wives with one another, or sell them for a pound of tobacco or a bottle of rum. Some of these women had never seen a side-saddle, and when Mrs. McMaugh arrived with hers, they eyed it as a curiosity, and made trips on purpose to see it.

Coming events cast their shadows before — and like the girls of today, they all rode astride. Most of them were wonderful horsewomen. Mrs. Supple, senr., especially, could break in a young horse with the best of the men, and yard a beast with the most expert stockmen at that time.

John McMaugh, senr., seems to have been a man of great character. He was very hospitable, a good manager, generous to a fault, and perfectly fearless. Pee Dee Station was known from New England to the mouth of the Macleay for its kindness and hospitality. There was ever an open door, and no one was ever sent away empty. He was the first man to find a track from George’s Creek to the tableland (Geogla), one of the first stations formed on New England.

(To be continued.)

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A Week on the Macleay – article 3 of 5 (1928).

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The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate (NSW), Saturday 28 April 1928

A Week on the Macleay.

Written for ‘Port Macquarie News.’

(By F. A. FITZPATRICK).

Article No. 3.

On March 28, 1928, the writer was introduced by Mr. G. S. Hill, of Bungay, to one of the few remaining old original pioneers of the Macleay River — in the person of Mr. H. A. McMaugh. Mr. and Mrs. McMaugh now reside at East Kempsey,

Though over 77 years of age, Mr. McMaugh is still an active man, has a remarkably good memory, and can tell some interesting stories of his experiences on the Upper Macleay in the days long since passed. Mr. McMaugh informed the writer, at the outset of the interview that he had lived in the Manning district over 50 years ago.

‘Yes,’ he proceeded, “I lived at Coopernook for some, time. I was born at Five Day Creek, on the Upper Macleay, 77 years ago. My father and mother were amongst the very early settlers on the North Coast. I was reared at Pee Dee. You have heard of Pee Dee. Of course you have! The late Con O’Sullivan presided over the destinies of Pee Dee till his death. Mrs. O’Sullivan and some of the family still have it. Pee Dee is a fine property.

‘I lived at Pee Dee till I was old enough to get married. I went to Coopernook later, and there married Miss Caffrey, and resided at Coopernook for ten years. I think there is a place on the Upper Manning to-day that is known as ‘Caffrey’s Flat,’ called after my wife’s father, who was killed through being thrown from his horse between Wingham and Taree.

‘After leaving Coopernook, I went to Wabra Station, on the Upper Macleay. I bought the station. At that time there were 5,000 cattle on the station, and at least 1,000 horses. The whole run comprised something like 60,000 acres. I held Wabra Station for about seven years. When I sold the station Mrs. McMaugh, the family and myself came to reside in Kempsey.

‘Yes, I had money in the early days. I paid £13,000 cash for Wabra Station. I had good and bad luck during the time I held it. However, the fact is that the Bank of N.S.W. got it at the finish. It’s just another instance of the ups and downs of the man on the land in Australia — more downs than ups.

‘So far as I know, Wabra Station has since been cut up into what are considered ‘living areas.’ and sold. I have been living in Kempsey ever since selling out.

‘Yes, I was in Kempsey in the year 1864, and the biggest flood I ever clapped eyes on occurred in the Macleay at that time. The floods of recent years have been trifles compared to the one that deluged the Macleay district in the year 1864.

‘There was no direct road to West Kempsey at that time— I am speaking of 1864. And, again, there was no road between Kempsey and Armidale —only a bush track. The people today sing out loudly about disadvantages they now have. The early pioneers did not complain — it was useless. They just worked and worked and kept on working. It was a case then of working your own salvation out — or going to the wall. Some went to the wall — but they did so after paving the way for others, and made their battle easier.

‘My late father was one of the organisers who took on the task to get a bullock team through to Armidale from Kempsey. The party— led to a great extent by my late father — cut a track up by way of what is known as ‘The Guy Fox.’ Do you know that it took six months for that bullock team to reach Armidale from Kempsey. To-day one can leave Central Kempsey at 9 o’clock in the morning, and be in Armidale by 4 o’clock in the afternoon, or a trifle later. Yes, things have progressed since the days when my dad and mother toiled on the Upper Macleay. Why, to-day you get to Armidale from Kempsey in an hour or so by aeroplane. It’s really marvellous.

‘My father was managing a station for Captain Steele at Belgrave in the early days. In fact my father was the first to establish Towal Creek Station for Captain Steele. The Hill Bros, own the station property to-day. ‘The Australian aboriginals were very bad those days. Some or them were most troublesome— but one can not wonder that they were, seeing that the white men were taking their hunt ing grounds from them. My father had many narrow escapes from being killed by the blacks on the Upper Macleay in the very early days of settlement. The blacks on one occasion killed a man at Long Flat, on the Upper Macleay, cut his head off, and stuck it on a pole.

‘Yes, the blacks also ‘killed two shepherds and their wives at Kunderang Station, for years owned by the late Mr. Joseph Fitzgerald. Mr. Fitzgerald died there not so very long ago, as the result of a riding accident. The blacks. on that occasion also drove away 1,000 sheep.

‘My father was one of the party that went in pursuit of the blacks with the police. Sergeant Clogger, I believe, was in charge of the police and trackers. No. Lieutenant Polding and Sergeant Scott had charge of the black-trackers.

‘I well remember a bushranger named Wilson, who frequented the Upper Macleay. However, Mrs. McMaugh has some particulars recorded in regard to Wilson. Wilson was once put up the chimney at a hut near Pee Dee. This was at Jim Dunn’s hut. The police happened along suddenly, and for a while Jim hardly knew what to do. The police asked for a pannickan of tea, and the only thing to do was to make a fire outside and boil the billy. The policemen did ask what the idea was in making the fire outside at the open, chimney, but evidently a satisfactory answer was a big lump of butter in his pocket when he went up the chimney, and the heat of the chimney melted most of it. Jim said the butter was dripping down into the fireplace. However, Wilson made his escape while the troopers were having some tucker. ‘My father once left the station on the Upper Macleay with a mob of cattle for Port Macquarie. He left an old man in charge during his absence. My mother was also there. A party of blacks evidently knew my father had gone away, and came to the homestead, asking for ‘Bacca.’ The old man left in charge cleared out when he saw the blacks. However, just when it looked as though there would be trouble, a whip cracked, and the blacks made off — thinking that stockmen were coming.

‘My mother used to put on men’s clothes when the men were away from the station, and she also knew how to use a gun. My father captured a 1 noted black in the early days, known as ‘Mogo.’ A reward was offered by the authorities for the capture of ‘Mogo.’ The reward was fixed at £50. My father blackened himself, and went into a blacks’ camp at Towal Creek, where ‘Mogo’ was camped. He overpowered and captured him with the assistance of others with whom he was accompanied. ‘Mogo’ was taken to Belgrave Police Station, and was later shipped to Sydney. He died on the vessel. My father did not get the reward. The police authorities in Sydney, instead or seeing that he got the reward, told him ‘to be more careful with the next prisoner he took charge of’ — to bring him along alive.

‘Kangaroos and wild cattle were plentiful on the Upper Macleay in the early times— as also were wild horses. We shot about 500 wild horses on Wabra Station just after we bought it. My father was a great horseman. I could ride most animals that ever looked through a bridle in my young days. I once went from the Upper Macleay to the New England district for the purpose of riding a noted buckjumper of the time. I rode him to a standstill.

‘I remember Warwick Racecourse (on the Macleay River) when it used to attract the people from near and far— all the people there were then to attract. They used to have great racing— no bookmakers and no ‘pulling horses’ those days. They raced for the love of the sport. The Oakes and Moore families had some great horses — as also had the Chapman and the Cheers’.

[Photograph on NLA Trove website]

TWO ANCIENT MACLEAY ABORIGINALS.

The above represents the photos of two ancient Macleay River Aboriginals. Both of them have long since been called to the folds of their fathers. Old Charley Warna —the shorter of the two black fellows — died at the age of 118 years. The tall blackfellow was known as ‘King Billy.’ When the photo was taken he was just on the verge of 100 years of age. ‘Why, the Oakes family had 200 horses drowned at Seven Oaks in the 1864 flood. In addition, 500 cattle were drowned on the Macleay. Two blackfellows were also drowned at Seven Oaks, and at least four people lost their lives in the flood at Kempsey proper.

‘There were no roads and no bridges in the early days. I also remember that where the Macleay River runs now below Kempsey there was a house and land property. The 1864 flood altered things. The original Seven Oaks Station was on the opposite side of the river in early times to where it is to-day. The old homestead was washed away by the 1864 flood.

‘An old blackfellow once told me a story about Trial Bay. It was to the effect that a Miss Madden came from England, and was on her way to Port Macquarie. However the boat was caught in a storm, and was blown into Trial Bay. The blacks had never seen a sailing vessel before. Some of the sailors got ashore, and were speared by the blacks. Miss Madden was captured by the blacks. The late Johnny Spokes could have given a lot of information about this matter. Johnny Spokes only died a few years ago.

‘Yes, Johnny Spokes once had a narrow escape from being murdered by the blacks, on the Upper Macleay. They knocked him on the head, but he got away. The blacks settled a party of cedar cutters. I remember the blacks chasing a mob of cattle down the river when I was at Pee Dee, and they had to be driven off — that is to say the blacks.

‘I remember Wabra Charley, who used to work for the Panton family, and whose remains are buried in the Kempsey cemetery. The grave is marked by a broken pillar to-day, and the inscription is scarcely readable. It would be a good idea to have the inscription attended to before it is completely obliterated. Wabra Charley was a faithful servant to the Panton’s. I remember well when he died, and the circumstances. The inscription should be renewed. ‘The most of the fat cattle in the early times were sent to feed the prisoners in Port Macquarie Gaol. £1 per head was a fair price for fat bullocks those days. Cedar cutters were numerous on the Upper Macleay, where cedar cutting was the principal calling.

‘Mrs. McMaugh and myself have reared a family of 12 — seven boys and five girls. They are all alive to-day. My mother kept a big store and butchery at East Kempsey in 1864. She did much to help the flooded out people in the big flood of that year. ‘ Nearly all the people lived on corn meal bread when I was a boy, and bark houses were all the fashion. ‘By the way, a horse was once found at the head of Willy Willy Creek that was supposed to have been left there by Wilson the bushranger. It was really the offspring of Wilson’s animal. The scrub was very dense in the locality. Willy Willy Creek runs under a large rock, and it is called the Rock Bridge. Very few white men have seen it. This place is situate at the foot of a very high mountain, known as ‘The Black Hill,’ and another known as ‘Jacob’s Ladder.’ About 65 years ago a shepherd was killed in a hut at Fetor’s Creek by the blacks on Towal Creek Station. William Dufty (the overseer) saw a blackfellow near the hut. They chased him on horseback, and ran him into the Macleay River at Trappo Flat. The blackfellow swam to a rock in the middle of the river. The men threw stones at him from each side of the river for several hours, but the black used his tomahawk as he would a heilaman, and every stone was skilfully guarded off.

‘Lieutenant Polding, who was in charge of the black police at Nulla Creek in the early times, made a raid on the blacks on Five Day Creek on one occasion in particular. The black police used to wear red bands round their heads to distinguish them from the wild blacks, and thus prevent them from shooting each other. The black police took everything else off when surrounding a wild blacks’ camp — everything but the red band. ‘They brought in a black girl on that occasion. She was between 12 and 13 years of age. I remember my mother taking the girl food. However, she would neither eat nor drink, and was sent on1 to Kempsey. Later she was taken to Sydney.

‘Many years ago William Lawrence and I were exploring the Black Mountain on the Upper Macleay. We were trying to get round a very steep siding. My horse tripped and fell. It rolled about 50 yards, and then got caught in some rocks. Lawrence got down and lifted one of the animal’s feet to try and release him. The rocks suddenly gave way, and over a cliff went Lawrence and the horse. I expected to find them both killed. Fortunately, there were a lot of grass trees growing there, and they had fallen on some of these. Lawrence was not much hurt, but the horse was considerably injured. We had to stop at the bottom of that cliff till next morning, and it was one of the most uncanny sights I remember having experienced. It imprinted itself on my memory ever after. Dingoes evidently smelt the blood from the injured horse, and they came in packs to the top of the cliff, and howled dismally throughout the night. We walked about ten miles next day through thick jungle to a selection, where I got a horse to ride to Wabra.’

(To be Continued.)

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June 26, 2013 at 8:00 am

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Drift from Country (1941).

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The Farmer and Settler (NSW), Thursday 11 September 1941

Amazed at Drift from Country

SURPRISE that Australia had progressed so little since the last war was expressed by Brother Gregory, of the Augustine Order, in an interview with ‘Macleay Argus.’

He said that he was amazed at the drift of people from the country to the cities.

Brother Gregory, well known as Jim Fitzgerald, of Kunderang station, Upper Macleay, recently returned from Rome, where he had resided until several months after the outbreak of the present war.

At the end of the 1914-18 war, he went to Ireland and thence to Rome.

Drift from the country was particularly noticeable when he went to the Upper Macleay, said Brother Gregory. There were but one or two families now on large areas of country where dozens had formerly gained a livelihood from the soil.

After visiting his mother in Armidale, Brother Gregory spent a happy time at Kunderang station, now managed by Mr. Alex McDonald, and helped to muster cattle in the ranges.

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New Ursuline Convent Chapel (Feb. 1930).

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The Catholic Press (NSW), Thursday 13 February 1930

ARMIDALE.

New Ursuline Convent Chapel.

BLESSED AND OPENED BY BISHOP O’CONNOR.

Costing £11,600 to build, and beautifully designed and decorated, the new chapel at the Ursuline Convent, Armidale, was formally blessed and opened by his Lordship the Bishop of Armidale on Sunday afternoon, 9th inst., in the presence of a large gathering. Among other clergy present were the Coadjutor-Bishop of Armidale (Right Rev. Dr. Coleman), the Coadjutor-Bishop of Maitland (Right Rev. Dr. Gleeson) and Right Rev. Monsignor Tobin (Glen Innes). The chapel was built by Mr. Doran, a Newcastle contractor, to the plans of Mr. Gannon, the well-known Newcastle architect. Much of the furniture and many of the fittings were gifts from friends of the Ursulines. The High Altar, in pure Carina marble and the chaste work of a famous Italian sculptor, was given by Mrs. Fitzgerald and family, of Kunderang, and the two side altars, also in marble, by Dr. O’Connor. The statues adorning the latter were gifts of the Haren family and Dr. Coleman. Mrs. H. Watson and Mrs. S. J. Murphy gave the sanctuary lamp and pedestal; the Hegarty family, of Sydney, the Station’s of the Cross and the stalls; and Miss Ellie McGlade, the crucifix.

After the ceremony of consecration speeches were delivered in the convent quadrangle. The Mayor (Ald. W. H. Watson) presided, and in his opening remarks said that the new chapel was yet another addition to the many splendid buildings which adorned Armidale and made it so worthy of the title of the “City of churches and schools.” “No one,” said the Mayor, “had contributed more to the city’s architectural adornment than the venerated Bishop, Dr. O’Connor. (Applause.)

Bishop O’Connor’s Address.

His Lordship Dr. O’Connor, who received an ovation, after congratulating the nuns on their enterprise, said the new chapel would fill a long-felt want. For 40 years the old chapel had sufficed, but latterly, with the Ursuline’s steady expansion, it had proved too small and congested. Few people knew the value of such a chapel. The good Sisters spent a great part of their time there, their prayers commencing at 5.30 in the morning, when most people were snugly under the blankets. It was 48 years since the first Ursulines came to Armidale, and the wonderful spirit of fortitude, faith, humility and charity those pioneer Sisters exhibited still carried on today. In the more material sense they had also accomplished wonders. Only a few years ago they added a new block to the convent, which cost £14,000, and now they had built a new chapel costing £11,000. Dr. O’Connor said that he felt sure that the chapel would not be long left in debt.

The Crowning of a Life Work.

Dr. Gleeson, after affirming that he regarded the new chapel as the crowning of Dr. O’Connor’s wonderful life work, said there was in a convent chapel a sacredness and charm that no other earthly institution possessed. When Holy Church instituted the first religious Orders it had imposed the special obligation on members to pray constantly for the world, especially those who, allured by pleasure, forgot the Almighty and their religious duties. Beyond the daily Sacrifice of the Mass, the intercessory prayers of the devoted Sisters were always being offered, and he (the Bishop) felt that few could resist the impulse to help the Sisters in their noble work of self-sacrifice and denial. (Applause.)

The Ursulines in Armidale.

Dr. Coleman recalled that the first Ursuline Sisters came to Armidale on September 12, 1882, at the invitation of the late Dr. Torreggiani[1]. “Many people,” said the Bishop, “had come to Armidale, made money, and gone their way. The good Ursulines had come to Armidale, not for what they could get out of it, but for what they could give to it, and so long as Armidale was Armidale they would be found the same devoted band, imbued with the same high resolve and the same noble spirit. Their lives were one of utter devotion to the welfare and happiness of others, and there could be no possible estimate of the debt the world owed to such splendid service and self-abnegation.” (Applause.)

Monsignor Tobin, reviewing the work of the Ursulines, traced the vigorous growth of St. Ursula’s College, and congratulated the Sisters on one of their students securing nine A’s in the recent Intermediate examinations. “Take the educational institutions out of Armidale,” said the Monsignor, “and Armidale would be a poor place indeed.” In humorous vein the speaker advised his hearers to take their money out of the banks and leave it in the safe keeping of the good Sisters, who would reward them with their prayers.

The collection, which realised several hundred pounds, was headed by Dr. O’Connor, £100, Dr. Coleman following with £30, and Dr. Gleeson and Dr. McEvoy with £5/5/- each. Afternoon tea was afterwards served.


[1] http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/torreggiani-elzear-4738

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June 12, 2013 at 8:33 am

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A Kunderang / Moona Plains marriage

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The Catholic Press (NSW : 1895 – 1942), Thursday 14 March 1929

Wedding at Armidale.

St. Mary’s Cathedral, Armidale, was the scene of a quiet wedding on the 11th ult., the parties being Jessie Eileen, daughter of the late Mr. Joseph Fitzgerald, of Kunderang Station, and Mrs. H. Fitzgerald, of Brown-street, Armidale, and Mervyn A. Crawford, of Moona Plains, Walcha.

The marriage was solemnised, and Nuptial Mass celebrated, by Rev. Dr. Coleman (Adm.), in the presence of Right Rev. Dr. O’Connor (Bishop of Armidale) and immediate relatives of the contracting parties. On the arm of her brother (Mr. J. P. Fitzgerald) the bride entered the church to the strains of the ‘Wedding March.’ She was effectively gowned in a long sleeved frock of white georgette, richly beaded; over this fell a full-trained beautifully hand-embroidered honition lace veil. Miss Mary Fitzgerald (sister) was the bridesmaid, frocked in orchid mauve georgette, with flared flounce, and hat to tone. The best man was Mr. Desmond Fitzgerald. During the Mass an ‘Ave Maria’ was rendered by the choir.

After the signing of the register, an adjournment was made to the Catholic Club adjacent, where the bride’s mother entertained the guests. His Lordship the Bishop was present, and Rev. Dr. Coleman presided, the usual toasts being honoured. Subsequently, the happy couple left for a motor tour of the Northern Rivers and Brisbane, the bride travelling in a blue check crepe de chine frock, with circular flounces, embroidered in batik of oriental colourings, adding a tucked coat of deeper tones of blue; a beige baku hat, touched with blue, completed a becoming ensemble.

Their future home will be Moona Plains, Walcha.

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May 11, 2013 at 2:22 pm

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Fifty golden years of merit and successful labour

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The Catholic Press (NSW : 1895 – 1942), Thursday 10 October 1918

Ursuline Convent, Armidale

JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS.

On Saturday, September 28, the golden jubilee of Mother M. Cecilia was celebrated in the Ursuline Convent. Owing to the demands and stress of war-time, there was no public festivity in connection with so unique an event, but numerous friends and ex-pupils sent jubilee gifts, letters and telegrams of felicitation.

His Lordship Dr. O’Connor (Bishop of Armidale) was the celebrant of the 7 o’clock Mass, and the college choir rendered some beautiful singing appropriate to the occasion. At the conclusion of the Mass, and in the presence of his Grace Most Rev. Dr. Redwood (Archbishop of Wellington, N.Z.), the Rev. Mother conducted the jubilarian to the altar steps, where his Lordship read special prayers over her, and crowned her with a gold laurel wreath — symbolic of the accumulated merit of 50 years of devoted, self-sacrificing efforts in the noble cause of instruction of youth. After his Lordship had addressed a brief congratulation to the jubilarian, she was again conducted by the Rev. Mother to her stall, and the Mass of Thanksgiving that followed was said by his Grace Archbishop Redwood.

At midday, the Ursulines entertained at a special dinner the Archbishop of Wellington, N.Z., their Lordships Bishop O’Connor, Bishop Dwyer, Rev. Fathers M. Foley, D. J. Carroll, L. Mahony, Rev. Dr. J. Coleman. Among the congratulatory telegrams received during the day was a much-appreciated one from his Excellency the Apostolic Delegate. It was worded thus:

Mother M. Cecilia, Ursuline Convent, Armidale. Unite with Sisters and pupils, past and present, in celebrating jubilee — fifty golden years of merit and successful labour among God’s little ones – Cordially bless you.— Apostolic Delegate.

On Monday, 30th ult, three more candidates were received into the Ursuline Novitiate, alongside of which M. M. Cecilia has laboured in Australia for the past 36 years. Two of the three young ladies received that day are ex-pupils of the Ursulines, viz., Miss Adelaide Fitzgerald, daughter of Mr. Jos. Fitzgerald, of Kunderang Station (now Sister Mary Laurence O’Toole), and Miss Elizabeth O’Donoghue (Sister Mary Clement Hofbauer), daughter of Mrs. Mary O’Donoghue, Armidale. The third candidate, Miss Gladys Evan, daughter of Mr. Philip Kyan, (Janowindra, received the name of Sister Mary Leonard.

Among the visitors and friends were Mr. and Mrs. Jos. Fitzgerald (Kunderang), Messrs. Desmond, Jas. and Chas. Fitzgerald, the Misses Mary and Flora Fitzgerald, Mrs. W. E. Harris, and Mrs. Williams (Booralong), Mr. and Mrs. Philip Evan (Canowindra), Mrs. M. O’Donoghue, Mr. John Donoghue. Mr. and Mrs. Jos. Donoghue, Miss M. O’Donoghue, (Armidale), Miss Frecklington, Miss Teefy, Messrs. Geo. and Vincent Frecklington (Canowindra).

His Lordship Dr. O’Connor officiated throughout the impressive ceremony, assisted by the Rev. Father D. J. Carroll. There were also present his Lordship Bishop Dwyer, Rev. Fathers M. Foley, J. Bischoffs, and Rev. Dr. Coleman. At the conclusion of the clothing ceremony. Benediction of the Most Holy Sacrament was given.

On Tuesday night, 1st inst., the boarders of St. Ursula’s College presented an exceptionally well-chosen and varied programme to a large audience of friends and visitors. Its purport was to welcome Bishop Dwyer to tho diocese and to St. Ursula’s, to congratulate M. M. Cecilia on the attainment of her 50th anniversary of holy profession, and also to congratulate the three now Ursulines on their happiness and privileges. Space precludes detailing the items on the programme; each item had its merits, its special import and message. The long programme was all too short for such an appreciative audience. At the conclusion congratulatory speeches were made by Bishop O’Connor, Bishop Dwyer, and Dr. W. E. Harris.

So great was the enthusiastic appreciation of the audience that by special request of Bishop O’Connor the programme was again presented to his Grace Archbishop Duhig and his Lordship Bishop Shiel on Wednesday afternoon, 2nd inst., who arrived in Armidale at midnight on Tuesday. Their eulogies, added to those of the day previous, were more than reward to teachers and pupils in their efforts to entertain. It was one of the most artistically-finished entertainments of the year.

The pupils of St. Ursula’s College presented to the venerated jubilarian a magnificent brass crucifix for High Altar use, suitably inscribed, as a jubilee memento.

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May 2, 2013 at 8:27 am

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