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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
John Shumack

Born: 1847; Died: 1896; Married: Mary Maria Read

John Shumack was the son of Richard Shumack and Ann (nee Shoemaker). He was born in Ireland in 1847.

Aged nine, he migrated with his parents as bounty migrants on the Bermondsey in August 1856. The Shumacks eventually worked at Palmerville estate and resided at Emu Bank, before settling on their own selection at 'Springvale' in Weetangerra.

John's brother Samuel Shumack was the early historian of the region, whose recollections preserve a number of stories in which John appears with his brother. Both John and Samuel accumulated land surrounding the initial Springvale block and spent their lives farming. During his youth he worked as a shearer throughout NSW.

In 1882 John married Mary Maria Read, the daughter of Hugh Read and Eliza (nee Shumack) of Tallagandra. She appears to have been his first cousin, once removed, as Mary was the granddaughter of his uncle John Shumack and Margaret (nee O'Toole), who had settled on land near St Johns, Reid.

John and Mary had six children together. At first, they boarded with John's brother, Samuel, but eventually contracted a builder named Parker to construct their own timber house at Weetangerra. He was an innovative farmer. In 1891 he sowed a patch of Farrer's new wheat and helped Farrer prove that his strain was rust-free.

Tragedy soon struck the young family of Shumacks. His brother recalled:

Their daughter Sophia, who was three years of age, fell into a tub of boiling water and died within a few hours. In February 1891 twins were born - Marian and Henry. Henry died on 20 November 1891, and the mother six days later. Thus in three months three members of the family passed away.

Mary had died aged only 28 years. John's death was also premature. He died in 1896 at the age of 49 from pneumonia contracted, it is said, after getting wet when ploughing.


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