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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Samuel Southwell

Born: 1843; Died: 1928; Married: 1. Harriet Bembrick; 2. Eliza Stear

Samuel and Samson - the brothers Southwell.

Samson and Samuel Southwell were born about 20 months apart and maintained a close relationship throughout their lives. They were amongst the first teamsters to take provisions to Kiandra when the rush set in to the gold diggings. They had learnt their skills from their hard-working father Thomas who began working as a teamster between the Ginninderra District and Sydney carrying produce and wool in season on the down trip and returning with supplies for himself and other settlers (Samuel made his first trip when he was 9 years old). Samuel drove his own team to Sydney until the southern line reached Goulburn.

Until wagons became available, he made these trip with a bullock dray and team, sometimes taking as long as six weeks when wet weather reduced the roads and tracks to quagmires. Thomas usually had one or more of his sons with him, but Sunday was a day of rest for everyone including the bullocks as he would never travel on the Sabbath. The southern railway had reached Marulan in 1868 and Goulburn in 1869 making the long haul to Sydney unnecessary and he left the carrying business to his sons.

Samuel and his wife Harriet (nee Bembrick) were the first couple to marry at the small Parkwood Church on 26 October 1863.

Samson married Elizabeth Veness in 1862 and initially both brothers resided near their family home Parkwood.

They realised that there was not enough land for them to eke out a reasonable living so they went looking for land. The two brothers spent time looking for good land and eventually selected in 1874 in the Spring Range area beyond One Tree Hill.

Samuel chose an area on Cow Flat Creek which he named Cow Hollow. He selected 40 acres more in September 1876 and added to his holding some years later by purchasing a small property, Fairview, near One Tree Hill from Thomas Cavanagh. He then changed the name of his home property to Fairview. He took his young family to his selection at Cow Hollow on 15 October 1874 and he toiled hard working far into the nights clearing his land for cultivation. His wife, Harriet, died on 15th April 1876. He remarried on 29th January 1878 to Eliza Stear.

Samson settled about ¾ mile away, calling his property Wattle Park as there were many wattle trees on the land. He took up an additional 80 acres of land in June 1876. His wife Elizabeth died suddenly in February 1903 aged 64. Samson remarried in January 1906 to Catherine Penman (nee Kelner).

Both brothers became very successful farmers and graziers, though they suffered a severe setback in the 1880s when they lost many sheep from a disease then known as catarrh.

When their father Thomas died in 1881 his Parkwood property was sub-divided as he had bequeathed it to his four surviving sons of his first marriage: Thomas, Samson, Samuel and John in recognition of their help in the pioneering days.

By the turn of the century the brothers were both growing wheat, maize, oats and potatoes as well as grazing sheep and some cattle. Samson engaged in dairy farming as well.

Samuel and Samson were part of a group that wrote to the Minister for lands in 1875 applying for 30 acres of land for a school. It took until 1877 for the land to be approved. Bedellick School was opened and operated until November 1903 when a fire destroyed it.

Taking the lead from their devout father the brothers were active in the Methodist Church and even after moving to their new homes attended Parkwood Church until Wattle Park Church opened in 1882, taking their families by horse and dray.

The brothers and their families were some of the main supporters of the new Wattle Park Church. Services were originally held in Samuel and Betsy's home and Betsy initiated a form of Sunday School in her home. She gathered her own children and others around her and told them stories from the bible. A Sunday School was established in association with the church in 1882 with Samuel as Superintendent, an office he held for 46 years. Betsy taught the Kindegarten class herself.

Samson died in August 1914. Samuel died in December 1928, aged 85 years. His funeral was one of the largest that had been seen in the district.

[Gillespie, L. The Southwell Family Pioneers of the Canberra District 1838 – 1988 Canberra Publishing & Printing Co. 1988].

Samuel Southwell (1843 – 1928)

The Wattle Park Methodist Church was crowded on Sunday morning last when Rev Ellis Thomas conducted a memorial service in connection with the late Samuel Southwell.

In his opening remarks the preacher gave a short resumé of Mr Southwell's life, as follows:

Samuel Southwell was born at Parkwood near Hall on 24th June 1843. He was one of a large family who owed mush to their parents. Mr and Mrs Thomas Southwell, hardy and saintly pioneers who lived in what is now the Federal Capital Territory. Samuel Southwell grew to manhood under influences that made for a strong and saintly character. He early became inured to hardness. His father made frequent trips to Sydney with the bullock team, and his first trip with his father was made when he was only nine years of age and he was placed in charge of a horse and cart loaded for the Sydney market. Later on he drove his own team to Sydney until Goulburn became the terminus of the railway line. With his brother he was amongst the first teamsters to take provisions into Kiandra when the rush set in to the gold diggings.

His training and varied experience prepared his for his part as a pioneer. In 1863 he married [Harriet Bembrick] and settled at Belconnon [sic]. He and his bride were the happy recipients of a large family Bible and hymn book to celebrate the fact that they were the first couple to be married at the Parkwood Church. His wife was the means of his conversion but was early called to her reward.

He decided to move and selected "Fairview" with his brother Samson as neighbour at Wattle Park. On 15th October 1874 he brought his young family to "Fairview". He worked hard toiling far into the might clearing the patch which he would plough the following day. Gradually things began to take shape until in 1878 he married again [Eliza Stear] and was spared to celebrate the golden wedding last year.

In the great [Methodist] revival at Weetangera in 1875 he received a great uplift which left its mark upon the remainder of his life. After settling at "Fairview" he drove regularly to the services at Parkwood, with his family, in a one horse dray, having to start at 8 am to be in time for the service. Later on services were held in Wattle Park house, leading to the erection of the present church about 48 years ago. Mr Southwell was one of the original trustee sand took a keen interest in the affairs of the Trust right to the end of his life. He was a leader of the Class which met after Sunday and he revelled in the cottage prayer meetings which were held in various homes.

He ever regarded a remarkable dream which he had as a definite call to continue in Sunday School work and was appointed the first superintendent, a position he held to the time of his death, a period of 46 years, being beloved by all associated with the Sunday School, which is one of the most unique in the State.

It had been Mr Southwell's ambition for many years to have a School Hall erected and it was one of the great moments of his life when he was privileged to lay the foundation stone on 13th June 1928, and great was his rejoicing when the Hall was officially opened on 18th August.

One of his most cherished possessions was an illuminated address presented to him on his 80th birthday in commemoration of over 40 years superintendency of the Sunday School. He was a foundation member of the Band of Hope which has regularly met for over forty years. Possess of a fine voice he used his talent for many years as a member of the choir. His life has been a constant witness for Christ. In uprightness, honour, integrity, generosity, but above all piety he ever manifested Whose he was and Whom he served, and was highly respected by all classes in the community......

He will ever be held in affectionate remembrance by all who were privileged to know him and labour with him in the Master's vineyard. Above all his widow and family of three sons and six daughters, together with two stepsons, mourn the loss of a faithful and loving husband and father – one whose life and character will ever be an incentive to follow in his steps, as he was a follower of the meek and lowly Jesus.

His funeral was one of the most largely attended ever seen in the district, and as his body was borne to its last resting place the scholars of the Sunday School marched in front and then formed a guard through which the encoffined remains were carried to the grave.

[newspaper cutting, unsourced]

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