Exactly one hundred years ago on 7th August 1876, a small school was established on the south side of Neerkol Creek to provide educational facilities for the families of railway and quarry workers and those engaged in the dairying industry. Many changes have occurred in that time.
The school was relocated on a new site in 1914 because floods regularly prevented attendance, while enrolment which stood at between 70 and 80 for many years fell to 9 in 1966. The district too has changed and will soon have no dairy farms, while it continues to develop as an area where families may settle to enjoy the advantages of country living with employment opportunities available in nearby Rockhampton.
Most people have happy memories of schooldays. This is in no small way attributed to the part schools played, as our country grew, in the gradual elimination of class consciousness. Children entering the school gate from a stratified society forgot the social distinctions extant at the time and played and worked happily together as equals. As later events, particularly the wars, but also the trials and hardships of pioneering, placed our people in the position of living and working together for a common cause.
Stanwell past pupils fondly remember the good old days.
Mrs Clara Crosthwaite, in Davis Street Rockhampton is the grand daughter of Stanwell provisional School's courageous second Head Teacher, then Mrs Emily Taylor.
Mrs Crosthwaite's mother, Margaret Florence Millikin, was the daughter of Emily's second marriage. Mrs Crosthwaite's daughters Mavis (Mrs Ken Corrie) and Margaret (Mrs Ken Ward) carried on family traditions by following the teaching profession. Mavis at private kindergarten level, and Margaret (a B.A.) at Clayfield College and the Rockhampton Girls Grammar School.
Mrs Crosthwaite remembers her grandmother as a woman of remarkable courage and optimistic outlook. Two years after Mr Taylors death, Emily married Mr Milliken, and later Margaret Florence was born. Emily has taught school at Stanwell and Rosewood Crossing, and later at Dingo.
But she returned to her original profession - nursing - about 1904 when as Mrs George Neil, she came from Dingo to establish a nursing home in Denison Street, under the guidance of Dr Parry. The nursing home remained well known for many years, and will readily be recalled.
One of the first pupils at the Stanwell School was Lydia Connor (nee Gay). She was born at the Stanwell Railway Station during a flood. Another early school pupil, Eileen Connor, was the first child from Stanwell to pass the Scholarship examination.
Details of the Gay family came from Mrs M.E. Esmond, Lucknow, Kabelbara Siding, Clermont line. Mrs Esmond wrote of her mother, the former Mary Ann Gay, "there were seven children in the family of John and Mary Gay - Mary Ann, Lydia, Hannah, Henry. The father John Gay was on the railway line, using a team of horses he bought from New South Wales to build the railway line to the West. He brought a piece of land on Stuarts Creek, now known as Gayside".
Mary Ann married John Walsh O'Shanesy of Kabra, Lydia married Timothy Connor and Hannah married Jack Connor. Henry and George Gay were at the Boer War, and later joined the police force. William finished up head of the Railway Department in North Queensland. John lived his life, after leaving the farm, as owner of the first hotel at Kabra. He came to Emerald, bought a hotel there, and became Mayor of Emerald. He started the town's water supply scheme during his term of office.
Mr J Chapple remembers an incident connected with the Mr Chapple who owns the land the first school was built on. When the land was auctioned after the school closed. Mr Chapple was forced to pay five hundred pounds for the leasehold. He later sold the land to Dobsons.
Two lads G Acutt and Hanrahan, gained a name for themselves by using snakes in the manner of whips - cracking off their heads after picking them up by the tail.
Mr Jack Munck said that W.A. Munck built a house which cost one hundred pounds for the materials while the wages for the builder totalled twenty-five pounds. Mr W.A. Munck had jumped ship at Moreton Bay, and later married one of the passengers who had been on the same ship, a Maria Dorothea Neilsen. While she was in America she cooked a meal for King Edward. She was Otto Neilsen's Aunt.
Before 1902, W.A. Munck used to take butter to Mt Morgan, and during the 1899 - 1902 drought, which was most severe, his cattle died from tick fever. There used to be about ten teamsters around Stanwell. Some carted timber to be burnt in the mine and others carted props for the mine. In 1902 during the drought water was carted from Stanwell to parched Mt. Morgan for use in the mine. Trenches were dug along Neerkol Creek to allow the water to drain to the pumping place.
Everyone will remember Mrs Christensen who was a midwife, and lived about 200 yards from where Sven Munck's home was built much later. In 1920, the then 25 year old Jack Munck won the buck jumping contest at the Rockhampton show. Mr and Mrs John C Judas lived for a while in the first church built in Stanwell.
Mr W.J. Dwyer, of unit 1, "Gredores" 26 Swain Street, Holland Park Brisbane, wrote: "Mrs wife's (Pearl) mother, then Frances M McClelland, was born in Warren on November 11 1883, and at five years of age walked with her brothers and sisters to attend school at Stanwell.
The distance was a good three miles, and the children had to cross a creek and walk along the railway line. They would shelter under culverts in adverse weather." It seems that when Frances McClelland was about 15 years old, the family moved to Mt Morgan. She later married L. Coates, Hotel Proprietor in Rockhampton who died after retirement in Yeppoon in 1949, leaving six daughters and two sons.
An uncle of the Misses Lawrence - long and respected residents of the more modern Stanwell, Jesse Henry Osborne, of Ben Street, Yeppoon. Mr Osborne was born at Warren Gatehouse in 1884, and was enrolled at the old Stanwell School in 1890 to spend eight years receiving education there. Mr Osborne, remembers that Mr Thompson was the Head Teacher, and because of the large enrolment 72 children, had the assistance of his sister (Miss Thompson), who had no previous teaching training.
Mr Toohery (?) took over after Mr Thompson's transfer and promotion. Mr Osborne went on to become a railway porter in 1908 and retired in 1950 as a guard. Two of his sisters, Mary Ann and Rose, attended the provisional School under the head-teachership of the resourceful Mrs Emily Taylor. Mr Osborne's father, mother and two sisters came out from England, While Mr Osborne and another brother and sister were born here. Mary Ann (mother of Ruby, John and Annie) Lawrence took over the Gatehouse at Stanwell. One of Mary Ann's daughters contributed the information that the Osborne's had travelled from England on the sailing ship "Southern Bell" arriving in Rockhampton in March 1874 after a four month journey. The ship almost came to disaster in a storm and the main mast had to be cut away.
Mr Foster was Head Teacher during the childrens school years. Much later he left the teaching profession to become a Dentist in Rockhampton and afterwards, an Alderman in the City Council. He died as a result of a car accident about 1916. Mr Jesse Osborne recalled the severe effect the 1899 - 1902 drought had on the animals. He saw birds fall dead off boughs of trees and koalas and possums die in great numbers. Most creeks were dry and not a drop of water to spare.
He remembers that Harry Hill owned the first Hotel on the school side of the railway line, which was burnt down: and Charlie Christiansen owned the first butcher shop: there were many dances at Stanwell when the school of arts was built: Mrs McManus used to be in charge of the library.
These stories and many more from families mentioned below are published in the Stanwell S.S. Centenary booklet.
Wilfred Robertson, Bill Williams, Mrs Hilda Chong formerly Hilda Marxsen, Dan Connor, Mrs M.A. Boyes formerly Miss Margaret Grey a teacher at Stanwell, Peter Connor, Barnard Family, George Jones, John Albert Toon, Hawley family, Joseph Little Hill from England, The Chardons.
A big thank you must go to Mrs Marxsen for kindly loaning us her book on the Centenary of the Stanwell State School.
The above information was taken from our journal the "C.Q.Genieologist" March 1987.