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EDITOR : This is the story of William and Mary Anne Munro as remembered by their grandson Charlie Munro and granddaughters Jean Carrington, Mabel Morgan and Flo Staunton and updated from existing records by Cynthia Mooney.
William and Mary Anne Munro were married in Lochie Luff on 4th January, 1875 just before coming to Australia. They departed London soon after, for a journey that was to take them 5 months. They arrived in Rockhampton on the ship “Sepia”, on 18th June, 1875. The ship’s Captain was a Munro and there was a William Munro who was very prominent in the business community, in Rockhampton when they arrived. This William Munro was one of the trio of businessmen who won the tender to construct the first bridge over the Fitzroy, the abutments for which were hewn by Grandfather William. We don’t know if this is purely coincidence, or whether the ship and/or the destination were chosen because of some connection.
Grandma was a great singer. She sang on the ship coming over, raising funds to add to what we presume were meagre resources. She won a singing competition held on board and the prize was 10 shillings – a considerable sum at the time. A lovely singing voice, or at least a love of music has been passed down the generations. Grandma was still singing beautifully up to the time she passed away.
Grandma Mary Ann has said that when they arrived, the only way across the Fitzroy River was by jumping from stone to stone at low tide. Having said that, research would indicate that there was a punt or barge that crossed the Fitzroy River in operation during the years our Munro’s lived in Rockhampton. However, there was a toll for everyone except school children to cross on the barge. So maybe Grandma meant that there was no “free” way to cross the river at that time. Could this have been her Scots blood showing through?
The township was mainly timber and there was no work at that time for a stonemason but a Mr William Black gave William work at the Glenmore lime kilns and he worked there 6 months. The following 12 months, he worked on a bridge at Alligator Creek, Yaamba. Then a bridge over the Fitzroy was begun, so he and another man, Mr Kennedy, hewed the stone for the abutments. After, he got similar work on construction of the North Street Goal, which was a mile from the town.
By the time his younger brother John had joined them from Scotland arriving on the ship “Strathern”, on 3rd May, 1876, William was working on the construction of the western railway. John joined him, but sadly he was killed in an accident at Comet (6/11/1878), and William was injured so badly that he spent the next 3 months in hospital. In spite of these events, they must have written favourably about their new home for it appears that the rest of the family emigrated as well. In 1881, Alexander and Isabella Munro, with their children Ann, Catherine and Isabella, along with Alexander and Margery Findlay (Mary Ann’s parents), Alexander, Duncan and James (her brothers), with Jessie, and a child Margaret Findlay, all came out to Rockhampton on the “Famenoth”. The “Famenoth” berthed in Rockhampton on 30/7/1881. We presume they then went on to Emerald as Alexander, William’s father, died there on 6/4/1909 and Isabella, his mother, died in Rockhampton on 23/3/1916. Alexander Findlay, Mary Ann’s father, died in Springsure, aged 76 on 2/7/1908 and her mother, Margery, in Emerald in 1887. It seems that the Ann, recorded as an immigrant on the ship “Famenoth” is thereafter known as Mary Ann, went on to marry a Hargreaves. Mary Ann, the daughter of William and Mary Ann married a Kirby. Isabella, the sister of the immigrant William, married a Fred Walker, and they lived in Maryborough. When he recovered from his accident, William returned to working on the construction of the Western Line and was put on “light duties” – shovelling coal! He continued working with the railway until it reached Emerald. His wife joined him there; he was the fireman and she was a passenger on the first train to cross the Nogoa River. Grandfather, with a mate, had to work on the train to Bluff, change trains to return on the Emerald train, so that the whole family was on the first passenger train into Emerald.
By this time, they had two children, Isabella Marjeri (born 14/10/1875) and Alexander (born 8/8/1878). Sadly, Isabella Marjeri died on 15/10/1881, so when William and Mary Anne’s next child was a girl, born 3/1/1882, she was also named Isabella Marjery. She is believed to have been the second white child born in Emerald. She is also believed to be the first born to a resident, the other child being born to drovers moving through. They went on to have Jane, William (born 11/9/1886 and died 15/10/1888) Mary Anne, William (the second), John and Lillie Bethel. All these children were born and raised in Emerald.
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William and Mary Ann Munro