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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Richard Shumack

Born: 1816; Died: 1887; Married: 1. Ann Shoemaker; 2. Eastern Jane Armstrong

Richard was one of seven sons born to Peter and Eliza Shoemaker of Kilfinane, County Limerick, all of whom emigrated to Australia. Brothers George, Samuel and William (with his wife and two children) arrived on the 'Resource' in 1840. Peter, Joseph and John (with his wife and two children) arrived in Sydney on the 'Lascar' in October 1841. Richard was the last to arrive - on 31 August 1856 - on the 'Bermondsey' with his wife Anne (Shoemaker) and their four children. Peter married Ann Shoemaker in Rathkeale, Limerick in 1840. According to his son Samuel, Richard and his wife had stayed on in Ireland to care for their aged parents. Four brothers settled in the Bathurst area; Peter, John and Richard settled in in what was to become the Capital Territory

Richard was listed as 'Farm labourer or House Servant and Coachman'; Anne as a Nurse. Richard was stated to have five brothers already in the colony - William, Peter, George, Joseph and Samuel; John had already died in 1849, but his widow Margaret and their children were still living at the house they had built at St John's Glebe, and were able to provide a welcome and temporary home for the newcomers. Of the brothers, Peter alone was in the Canberra district, the others living in Bathurst.

Richard first worked for the Campbells at Duntroon. Immigration records show that George Campbell paid ₤25 for Richard's family - ₤20 towards the cost of their passages and ₤5 emigrants benefit before embarkation. They were at Duntroon for two years, living in a two-roomed house of slab and bark construction, initially using their cabin trunks as furniture. Mrs Campbell helped them financially by giving Anne some part time work as a laundress.

In 1858 Richard heard that William Davis Jnr of the Ginninderra estate had a vacancy for a shepherd at ₤60 a year with three rations, to replace Thomas Flint who was leaving. He got the job and for the next eleven years the family lived at the Emu Bank outstation. The benefits included a paddock of four acres for the family's own use, which Richard sowed with wheat in 1859. After a year at Emu Bank, ten year old Samuel was entrusted with a flock of sheep on the Round Hill run (Mt Painter); his younger brother John was to be assigned the Bandicoot Plain run (Gungahlin).

In 1865 Richard selected 100 acres of land at Weetangerra (Portion 14), where they completed their Springvale homestead in 1868. Samuel and brother John would work for William Davis during the day, then get on with building their future home. Although the area was in the grip of drought they found the property had a waterhole that never went dry, and through hard work they transformed Springvale into a flourishing farm. (It was not until the 1880's that farmers built dams in this region to store water). Despite droughts and flooding rains they grew wheat, raised cattle and pigs, and were able to expand their holding. According to Samuel his father's initial 100 acres was gradually extended until he, John and George had substantial adjoining properties:

"In 1872 my brother John and I took up some land for our brother George who was not eight years of age. In 1875 John and I started to work on our own account and when this separation took place George had 300 acres of land - John had 260 acres and I had 240 acres"

Samuel later recorded that the 'Squire of Ginninderra' was not impressed:

William Davis - who was father's employer and the squatter on whose land we selected - has 20,000 acres, excluding some thousands of acres of Crown land for which he paid very little, yet he resented our efforts to strike out for ourselves and laughed at what he derisively called 'Shumack's Folly'. 'Three years', he said, 'will see Shumack and his family sadder and wiser, for shortage of water will drive them out.' His prophecy miscarried!

At Easter 1869 William Davis gave the Shumacks notice to quite Emu Bank, and the family from then on lived together at Springvale. Joseph Hall moved into Emu Bank.

Anne Shumack died in 1873. They had eight children together. Samuel records that his two young daughters Phoebe (15) and Emily (12) ran the household following Anne's death - and worked in the fields as well. Richard remarried in 1880 at Gunning to Eastern Jane Armstrong, with whom he was to have another five children. Around 1877 he bought out the local holdings of Mark and Samuel Southwell (263 acres) and a couple of years later Samuel removed Mark's slab cottage to his block at Round Hill where it became known as Rosebud Aviary. Richard died in 1887 and is buried at St Johns in Reid.

Samuel Shumack married Sarah Winter in 1893. They lived at Springvale homestead until their land was resumed in 1915, when they moved to the Hunter Valley. Richard's daughters Phoebe and Emily married brothers Abraham and Isaac Blundell, while his sons Samuel and George married the Winter sisters Sarah and Isabella.

Springvale homestead was still standing in 1957. When Cook Primary School was later built on Samuel's land, children playing on the school oval found it became very boggy after rain. Could this be the site of Samuel's spring? Today the site of Springvale is marked by a heritage sign on a bike path between Redfern Street and Biffin Street in Cook. The homestead is commemorated in the naming of Springvale Drive, and Richard in the naming of Shumack Street, Weetangera.

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