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Carver, Lauristina

Family background

Lauristina Carver was born in Tuena, NSW, in 1872, the eighth of nine children to Charles Murray Carver and Hannah Jane nee Mayne (stepdaughter of teacher Mrs Emma Mayne). The births of Lauristina and her siblings show the family lived in Braidwood, then Queanbeyan, before moving to Tuena, where her father was for a short while schoolteacher, then bailiff for the small debts court. In 1885, Lauristina's mother died, and the family returned to Queanbeyan soon after, where her father became manager of a general store.

Pupil Teacher: Queanbeyan Public School

In 1889 Lauristina, now sixteen, was appointed Pupil Teacher at Public School. After a three-month probationary period, her appointment was confirmed, with headmaster James Dunlop reporting she showed promising teaching ability and was conscientious with home study. Despite this encouraging start, she struggled with the yearly exams required to advance her through Pupil Teacher training. By August 1892, having been promoted only one stage in three years, she applied to become teacher of a small school stating 'I consider that I am sufficiently qualified for the position I seek (and) am willing to take a school in any locality'. This request was likely motivated by financial need, with the district inspector reporting that her father was going to 'break up his home' and as a consequence Lauristina needed to support herself. A month later she was appointed to Gungahleen Public School, the first of eight small schools she would have charge of over the next fifteen years.

Gungahleen Public School

Lauristina commenced teaching at Gungahleen in September 1892, receiving an annual salary around £70, more than twice the amount she received as Pupil Teacher. She taught for almost two years, until the school was converted to half-time due to falling enrolments.

Bullenbolong Provisional School

In July 1894, Lauristina began teaching at Bullenbolong, a remote locality near Berridale. The small school, which had recently reopened, was conveniently situated on the property where Lauristina lodged. After a year, she passed a classification examination which made her eligible for a position in a larger and less isolated school. When she was subsequently transferred the Bullenbolong parents expressed regret that 'Miss Carver the excellent teacher ... has received instruction to leave' noting how their children had 'improved under her intelligent and kind tuition'.

Canyan Leigh Provisional School

In September 1896 Lauristina started at Canyan Leigh near Marulan. At inspection two months later, her teaching skills were rated as 'Fair', and her ability to organise and discipline a school as 'Very Fair'. Soon after this, she closed the school for a week to attend her father's death bed. Upon returning to duty at Canyan Leigh, she was informed that due to steadily growing attendances it would soon be converted to a Public School. Despite the salary increase this conversion would precipitate, Lauristina applied for removal to a school of higher grade.

Long Reach Public School

In July 1897 Lauristina commenced at Long Reach, also in the Marulan district. While she initially expressed some discontent with the appointment, the consistently rising enrolments accompanied by erection of a new school building, appear to have changed her opinion. Accommodation was however a persistent challenge, with Lauristina noting after four years, 'I have at last succeeded in getting a very comfortable residence'. Shortly after this victory she was transferred from Long Reach.

Cawdor Public School

Lauristina's next appointment was to Cawdor, near Camden, in July 1902. This was a six-month position replacing the regular teacher who was on leave. Her duties in that time apparently included escorting the pupils to a garden party held by Colonel and Mrs. James Macarthur Onslow on their property, 'Gilbulla' near Menangle, where 'the time was taken up with games of all kinds ['Camden News', 6 November 1902, p. 4]. At the end of the six months, Lauristina was briefly sent to Crown Street Public School in Sydney, before appointment to a small school in the Snowy Mountains area.

Yarrangobilly Public School

Lauristina's journey to take up duty at Yarrangobilly School in February 1903 was a challenge. After travelling from Sydney to Gundagai by train, then by coach to Tumut, she then journeyed the last forty miles on a mail coach 'driven by an old man over sixty years of age, who comes half way the first day and then camps in a tent', compelling her to 'sit by the camp fire until daylight, there being no accommodation house within miles'. Her trials continued after arrival at Yarrangobilly where it transpired 'the living is of the roughest kind'. A particular issue was the school's location on the stock route: the cattle often making their way onto the verandah and the attendant drivers' language 'worse than coarse'. In addition, the water tank needed repairs and the creek was 'infested with snakes'.

After ten months at Yarrangobilly Lauristina applied for removal, stressing the school's 'unsuitability for a female teacher'. The inspector validated her grievances and recommended a male teacher be appointed, but this took several months to eventuate. Meanwhile Lauristina received a negative inspection report – the first of her career – which she attributed to her health being 'broken' by Yarrangobilly's conditions. She advised the Department she was contemplating resignation unless appointed to a more favourable location and in September 1904 was assigned to Winburndale Public School near Bathurst, where she taught for two months before being moved again.

Badgery's Creek Public School

Lauristina's appointment to Badgery's Creek in October 1904 was well received by the residents who had been petitioning for a new teacher since late 1903, the incumbent so unpopular many parents had removed their children from the school. An early sign of satisfaction with Lauristina's abilities was the increasing attendances, with approximately 30 students at the school two months after her arrival. A year later the community acknowledged 'the good progress the school has made during the time it has been under the direction of Miss Carver'. In January 1907, she became more closely associated with Badgery's Creek as she married local farmer Arthur John Longley. She resigned soon after, having completed eighteen years' service, the community's welcome paradoxically leaving it without a teacher.

Later life

Lauristina's married life was lived on a series of farms - initially at Badgery's Creek, then Eastwood, then Castle Hill - the produce consistently winning prizes at agricultural shows. She had three children, one dying in infancy, and lived to the age of 91.

Carver Lane, Gungahlin, is named after her.

[Biography prepared by Joanne Toohey, 2024. Sources include NSW school teachers' rolls 1868-1908, NSW school and related records 1876-1979, historic newspapers, NSW births, deaths and marriages index, probate documents, and 'Early Education and Schools in the Canberra Region', (1999) by Lyall Gillespie.]


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