Mantle Maker; Teacher; Housewife. Emigrated in December 1886 to Australia.
I remember that my mother told me she taught school when she was still only a student herself. I had never heard that her mother, although inexperienced, had to take classes. I don’t know how she managed it at Watsonville with a two year-old and a baby. She would certainly have been able to teach needlework as she was a
mantle maker before she married — in other words a dress-maker. That would be why in the old photographs they are wearing such beautiful, elaborate dresses. The inspector’s report on my mother’s teaching was very good. She was always good at controlling children, but didn’t need to raise her voice or get angry.
She said that in some places where they lived in the outback it was so dry and barren that they didn't have any fresh fruit or vegetables, and she blamed poor diet then for her ill health later in life. She said that when it did rain at Aramac, it flooded round the school, and they had to walk on the fence posts to get there. I couldn’t imagine how they did this until we went there and saw the fence made of big sawn off tree trunks.
My mother once taught in Beaudesert. There were quite a few Aboriginal children in the school. She didn’t like them as they used to steal, and they used to pinch the other children! You musn’t say that these days. There was a big Convent also in the town, and on the way home in the train she used to see the Nuns asking the children how many cattle their parents had etc, in view of asking them for higher fees.
My Grandparents finally bought a house and settled in Norman Park, Brisbane. My father told us that when my Grandfather was dying, they propped him up and got him to sign a will leaving the house to his son, my Uncle John Allen. My Grandfather died one day and Grandmother the next day. She died in agony with a tumour which burst. It was a typical Qld house with a big area underneath enclosed with lattice. I often visited the John Allens there.
Uncle Jim and Auntie Barbara Pringle lived further up the street (25 Power St, Norman Park) in a similar house. They had big verandahs around them, which did for extra bedrooms when needed. 
When Watsonville was the Far North’s Cultural Centre
Along with Montalbion and Irvinebank, Watsonville is a place that old timers get very nostalgic about. Situated in a valley that was almost devoid of grass and surrounded by rocky hills where only goats could thrive, its people nevertheless had the reputation of being the most hospitable and friendly in the North. It was also a centre of entertainment and sport, from the late ’Eighties to the early ’Twenties.
Watsonville’s population at various times was as follows:
Seventy years ago all young men within a radius of thirty miles who wished to learn to dance came to Watsonville. They came on foot, on horseback, and by buggy and coach. This then prosperous mining township had good singers, splendid violinists, a brass band, and a School of Arts library stuffed with the best literature of the day. Watsonville was perhaps the cultural centre of the Far Northern mining fields.
In sport, it held its own for half a century. As long ago as 1888, its tug-of-war team was invincible and held the championship for a decade. It was said their anchormen were trained by being pitted against the pin-horses of a team. Watsonville's footrunners were of Olympic standard. Old timers remember the Wilesmith brothers, Charlie Wessells, and Jimmie Gibbs.
But it was at rifle shooting that the Watsonville men really excelled. This tradition has lasted till the present day. Tennis was another very popular sport and one in which the ladies could participate. Hilda Roos held the N. Q. Championship for many years. One of the town’s first champions was a tall youth named Speigelhauer. He, like hundreds of young men from the mining fields, gave his life in World War I.
Old timers speak of some of Watsonville’s citizens, most of whom made their final homes in other Tableland towns or in Cairns as Watsonville faded.
The town was surveyed on 9 March 1882 by William J. White. It was a tin mining centre and initially called Great Western, then Tinaroo, before settling on Watsonville, after Bob Watson, an early prospector. In 1880 there were four hotels (Crowley’s Australian, Joy & Gaben’s Exchange, J. Manning’s Reefers Arms, and Hides & McColl’s Watsonville), stores owned by Smith and Hides & McColl, as well as A. Gibson’s bakery and J. Moore’s butchery. In 1881 J. Weitzel also had a hotel and J. Carthew a store. In 1884, Watsonville had six hotels and four general stores; and by 1885 this had grown to seven and five. Some of the hotels were Pascoe’s Albion; the Commercial owned by Duncan Montgomery, Halpapp, H. Wessels, then Jim Leinster, the Post Office by Jimmie Gibbs, and the Royal by Theodore C. Bird). Of the stores there was the ubiquitous Jack and Newell’s and another owned by Goble. Butchers included Halpin Brothers, Leinster Brothers and Toy’s. Ben Joy, Henry and Charles Wessels, George Fraser and Bill Goffat were blacksmiths. Ah Bung and Ah Ke were market gardners, and Dr Bowkett was the doctor. A post office existed from 1881 to 1963. Baker shops existed and a branch of the Queensland National Bank. Ramp had the first battery on Jamie Creek, served by a tramway from the Great Western mine. Demster’s Bishoffs mill on the Walsh River was run by a Pelton wheel, driven by flumed water power. Ramp’s battery was later moved here and incorporated into it.
There were two mills in 1912 with a total of 20 heads treating 37 tons a day.
The town was noted for its hospitality. In a way it was perhaps the cultural centre of the north, but sport was its long suit. The tug-of-war team was invincible for a decade. Famous for athletics and rifle shooting, the town also had some champion tennis players. The last hotel in town, Hobson’s Albion, burnt down in 1954.
|Population:|| 200|| 262|| 248|| 264|| 277|| 10|
Today new homes are being built in the town although it is a tiny community not a town, and some ruins remain.
Dates of birth for Thomas and Catherine are taken from Qld teaching records. This looks very reliable as each has signed opposite the date.