Summer 2005

St Marys & District Historical Society Inc - Quarterly Newsletter

Happy New 2005

Towards the end of 2004, our members - along with the Sisters of Mercy and the St Marys Development Committee, celebrated the Mamre Bi-Centenary in the company of Professor Marie Bashir, Governor of NSW. The turnout from the public and the publicity from various local papers and other organisations made the day a rounding success.

Society & Family members dressed in 1804 Costumes

Governor Bashir with President Norma Thorburn & the 73rd Regiment
< Sister Mary Louise Petro of the Sisters of Mercy who run the “Mamre” project.

On the day, Alderman Dianne Beamer handed over the lease of Mamre to the Sisters of Mercy for another 20 years. School choirs from several district schools entertained the public and distinguished guests to the delight of the Governor, who was seen to move from her seat to stand in front of the children and join in the singing. The celebrations were a joint venture with the Craft Fair held by the Sisters of Mercy at Mamre every year. Everyone who helped with the organisation was particularly pleased with the way the public enthusiastically joined in the celebrations to make the day the most successful and financially rewarding for Mamre to date. Even the weather that threatened rain from the outset, held off until the festivities were winding down.

Everyone in the town was saying weeks after, what a thoroughly enjoyable day and what’s on the agenda for next year??

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Vale Kevin Dwyer
On the 15th December, 2004, we lost one of our most valued members. Kevin was a member of the first St Marys Historical Society along with his wife Margaret and they were both members of our Society for many years - Kevin being our Vice President right up to 2004. It is fitting to say that Kevin was a staunch believer in the value of St Marys as a community and was always ready to talk about itwith a passion. Kevin moved from his ancestral home Cranebrook House, known as “McCarthy’s Farm” at Cranebrook to St Marys in 1968 with his new wife Margaret, and one of his greatest achievements was the establishment of the Don Bosco Youth Centre at Mamre Road. In 1995 he received the Order of Australian medal (O.A.M.) and in 2003 he received the Centenary Medal for services to the local community through local government and as a volunteer. He was a Patron and member of several groups and clubs in the area and was a past Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Councillor on Penrith City Council. Our thoughts go to our member his wife Margaret, his daughter Ann and her family.

From Amsterdam in Holland to Australia

My parents, Pieter & Willy (Willempy) Hoevers (Hoovers) and three daughters (including me) - Jacoba (Jackie), Jeannette and Aleida (Leida) arrived in Sydney in March, 1951 and went to the Bathurst army camp. From there we went to Greta camp for a couple of months then moved onto Sefton for about a year and a half. We finally made our way to St Marys arriving around 1953 - 54. We stayed with Mr Anks in Desborough Road. He owned five acres with about 10 garages on it - one of which we made home for about 3 years. These times were good times but hard on Mum and Dad. We children adjusted very easily because we were young. Dad worked in Granville at the time as a nickel plater and rode his bike to and from Mr Druitt every day as this was the only transport at the time because the roads were still dirt. Mum worked at W. E. Cuckson’s zipper factory for a while, then my Dad changed jobs to a plating shop in the Dunheved Circle at St Marys. Dad bought this shop later on and with Mum as his “offsider” enjoyed many years of working for himself. Our brother Pieter was born in 1963. Us girls all went to St Marys Primary School for a year and then moved to Colyton Primary. Pieter went to St Marys North. Jeannette went to Penrith High School. My children, Sharon, Steven and Jacqueline all went to St Marys High, she married Warren O’Brien. Jeanette worked at McRobinsons Chocolate Factory for a time, then McCosker & Bryns. I worked at Anthony Squires in the St Marys Industrial Area for a while. My parents lived in Catalina Street at North St Marys with us kids for some years and they had a big hand in starting the Rembrant Club in Dunheved where some of Dad’s oil paintings hang on the walls.
Submitted by Jackie O’Brien - Lauder


The St Marys & District Historical Society meets every 4th Saturday at 1 pm - at the St Marys Arts & Craft Centre 2 - 6 Mamre Road, St Marys.


Website -

This Newsletter is a free publication. Articles in this Newsletter may be republished if permission is given by the Society.

Please contact:-



Norma Thorburn 9623-2307

Lyn Forde 9673-3506

(While care is taken to ensure that all articles are accurate, the opinions expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of the Society) Any comments on this Newsletter are encouraged

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Late last year our members enjoyed a tour to the Ebenezer district, taking in the historic sites of Windsor on the way back, thanks to our tour guide John Miller who was knowledgeable on the area. All the members enjoyed the day which included Devonshire tea under the trees near Ebenezer Church. We visited the Schoolmaster’s cottage - some braving the stairs for a look on the second floor and also a look inside the Ebenezer Church and a chance to sign the visitor’s book.

Inside Ebenezer Church

Member Ernie Evans outside The Macquarie Schoolhouse

Our members enjoying morning tea
Members and friends at St John’s Wilberforce - notice the unique 1859 sundial on side of church above our heads.

We have been given this photo and would like to identify it. The back says “Clara & Whippet Car - 13th August 1930.” If you know anything about this picture or the place it was taken, please contact the Editor - Lyn Forde on (02) 9673-3506. Your help would be appreciated.

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Excerpts from Spotlight on Elizabeth “Betsy” Marsden - A Parson’s Wife
(Printed with permission of Penrith Library who holds the copyright - originally researched by Eugenie Stapleton who was the Research Officer of the first St Marys Historical Society - Published 1981)

Elizabeth Marsden (Nee Fristan) was described as “petite, with black hair and sparkling eyes which gave a total impression of pert attractiveness in spite of the sharpness of her nose”. On her way to Australia in 1793 with Samuel, she found out she was pregnant and due to bouts of sickness she spent long periods in her bunk. Their premature daughter Anne was born at 2 o’clock in the morning in heavy rain and gale-force winds and by the time the voyage was over, Elizabeth had a nine day old daughter to look after in what was a penal colony, without the help of the servant girl who came out with them on the voyage but had stolen from them.

Anne was carried ashore in a silk pocket handkerchief supplied by the Commissary John Palmer as there was no layette as Elizabeth wasn’t pregnant before the voyage. There was no home for them so they stayed for four months with the Reverend Richard Johnson and his wife Mary who attended to Elizabeth and helped return her to good health. They were given an apartment in the military barracks at Parramatta and Elizabeth was able to set up her own home. Elizabeth was an excellent horsewomen and rode for exercise whenever she could, often accompanying her husband on his many duties. In later years, she had her own horse and thought nothing of riding to Sydney and back in a day (a distance of some 30 miles). In 1804, Governor King and a party of gentlemen rode from Parramatta to the Nepean River and across to the plains beyond looking for the wild cattle that had been lost seven years before. Mrs King and Elizabeth were also invited by the Governor as they both could ride - they rode seventy miles in one day, side-saddle.


Late last year - members Marion McLeod, Norma Thorburn, Carole Volkiene and Lyn Forde were given the privilege of a first hand - “up close and personal” look at original dresses that belonged to Elizabeth Marsden and daughter, Anne Hassall’s ball gown in the underground storage at the Powerhouse Museum. One of Elizabeth’s dresses dated back to the 1790’s and was later re-altered in the early 1800’s. The most spectacular dress was the ball gown that belonged to Anne. The main thing that struck all of the members was that these two women were only about 5 feet tall and about the size of a modern 10 year old girl. The hand stitching was still in good condition and all the dresses were intact. We were most humble and a little sad when we were shown the original baby dress that was worn by Elizabeth & Samuel’s son John, who was wearing the dress when he died after accidentally falling into boiling water. A bonus was a shirt worn by Anne as (we all thought) was part of a riding outfit. The reason for the visit was a grant given to re-create the dresses and their patterns by hand sewing in the same way the dresses were first created. Once these dresses have been recreated, it is hoped that they will be displayed in glass cabinets. Thanks must be given to Glynis Jones at the Powerhouse Museum who gave us access and time enough to have a good look at everything needed to seen. An added bonus (for which we are grateful) was a close look at an original cabbage tree hat, one of only a handful that has survived in Australia.


Editor & Publisher: Lyn Forde

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