Our tough pioneer women

Congratulations to Graham and Denise Fidler, winners of our Mother’s Day contest! Graham tells us that they cut out and kept all of our articles, and referred back to them to find the answers.

Several people have approached us for the answers to the puzzle, so here is the solution.

The mothers included actually came from two early Coolum families. Mum 3, Magdalene White, was the mother of Mum 1, Maud Perry-Keene and Mum 4, Annie Abbott. Mum 2, Mrs Morgan, was the mother of Jack Morgan senior, and mother-in-law of his wife, Mum 5, Nellie Morgan.

In today’s era of strong and independent women it is easy to think that women a century ago were repressed homebodies. These women were anything but that.

Magdalene White, already a grandmother, bought Portion 169, the square-mile area which comprises all of today’s central Coolum, with one of her daughters in 1905, and moved north from Grafton with her husband and family to live in tents for nearly a year. Her grandson, John, was later to write to us about the move, saying: “Why, I don’t know … the country a complete wilderness, and even to have found it would have done credit to a Burke and Wills expedition.”

Her daughter, Piercy Maud Perry-Keene, known as Maud, who bought Green Hills with her mother, was not only a housewife and young mother. In her 40s she ran Coolum’s first guest house, organising beds and meals for up to 30 people at a time in the Christmas and Easter seasons.

Another of Magdalene White’s three daughters, Annie, was a widowed mother of two young children when she moved to the wilds of Coolum. Later, however, she married Robert Abbott, who surveyed Coolum’s first residential subdivision, and produced three more children, assisting her husband on their small farm on the hill above Jenyor Street.

Nellie Morgan, a young bride when she came from Sydney in 1915, also worked with her husband on their farm, as well as bringing up four children. She still found time to serve on local committees. Her mother-in-law never actually lived here, but even to have travelled alone from Sydney to Coolum in 1919 would have required determination.

An Island Surrounded by Land: the history of an earlier Coolum is available from Coolum Library, Betta Electrical and Coolum Newsagencies.

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