Mary Bannister Russell asked her older sister, Kate Turnbull, to write her memories of her family's early years (before Mary was born) in Australia. She wrote her response twice. At the end of one response she writes: "I am afraid this is not very helpful for you. I get confused. I must have lost the first paper I wrote, so hope you accept it." There are some unique aspects to each story that make it worthwhile preserving both. This is a blend of the two stories. The parts in red & Italic are the first story ("Queensland"), and the parts in black normal font  are the second ("Australia"). The original letters, in Kateís handwriting, are located in my Document and Certificate File, Documents #57 and 58. Clyde B. Russell, Editor, 15 February 2001.

AUSTRALIA

by Kate Bannister Turnbull, first child of Prudence Morley and George Bannister.
Written at age 88, at the request of her sister, Mary Bannister Russell

I understand I was born in Queensland, Australia in the bush at Torren's Creek in 1886. I don't know where mother and Dad arrived when first going to Australia. I believe he started in the gold mines, which was his reason for going. In no time Mother was expecting me, and wanted to get near to the township. It seems the only means of transport was a bullock team and wagon. On the way she took ill with dysentery, and needed plenty of water. It seems there was only a ration for each person on the journey so they decided if they came to a homestead she would be put off the wagon so Dad must have had a tent which he put up near to Torren's Creek. According to Mother, there was a woman there whose help Mother sought, being a young woman. I don't know how long after that I was born in that tent. I have heard mother say that if she wanted this woman, she would light a fire outside, to seek her help. The time came when I wanted to make an appearance, hence my arrival in a tent, near this creek.

I don't know how long she stayed in the tent. My next memory is living in a house in a field. I suppose I would be around 5 years by then. There was George, William, Daniel, Thomas Covoria. I remember playing around them. George took sick. I remember Dad kept us outside and played with us. We had a swing and a horse. In no time this boy died. A month later our little brother took the disease and he died. Poor Mother must have been broken hearted. The Doctor told Mother she should leave this house. My next memory is a small corrugated house right opposite the cemetery gates. There was only one or two rooms, and Dan and I had to sleep on the floor. In time another baby boy came, and I suppose this is where we met Grannie Bland. He did not live many days, and I remember he was carried across the road in his tiny white coffin, and was laid beside the two other boys. The grave is fresh in my mind.

I understand I was born in the bush in Queensland. My first memory would be when I was about 6 years. I had three brothers, George William, Daniel Morley, and a little boy Thomas Covosa. My first memory - we lived in a wooden house in a big field with a veranda around.

I remember going to school from there with some of the boys. Mother kept a goat for milk, hens for eggs, and Dad kept a horse. One day George took sick with Diphtheria and we were not allowed indoors, so my Dad kept us out and played with us. I kept looking in the window and saw mother nursing him. Sad to say he died and I guess Mother and Dad would be sad. A month later Thomas took diphtheria  and Mother was awfully worried, and the same thing again. Dan and I were out doors with Dad and as I kept looking in at the window, I saw Mother nursing him with long tubes from steaming kettles. We had a swing and were not able to play with other children because of the dip.  Sad to say Thomas died just a month after the other boy died. I remember we moved to a very small corrugated iron house. There was only two rooms and Dan and I slept on the floor.

We lived right in front of the cemetery gates and we had Chinese families near by, so had Chinese to play with. Sometime after, Mother got another little baby boy and he only lived a few days. I can remember somebody carried his little white coffin across to the grave where the other two were buried and he was laid in the same grave.

There was a Chinese family lived near us and a lot of Chinese gardens where we were sent to buy lots of fruits - a bunch of bananas for 6 pence [about 12 cents]. The Chinamen used to go around with two baskets yoked on their shoulders selling their wares.

I learned to be happy there although I didn't know any other. My next memory is moving to a bigger house in Bridge St., Charters Towers. There was a stone bridge across the road and water would run under, past our house. There were huge boulders around and under this house which we liked to play and climb on. Dad must have been in the gold mines here, for I can remember standing on a stool to a bench and scrubbing his white cotton caps he wore in the mine. We had a galvanized hut shower, where we took many a shower to cool off.

We seemed to be a long time in this house. We went to a big school there. Mom and Dad went to a Church of Christ. They were both in the choir and sang hymns heartily. The minister or pastor was a big man. I saw them both baptized on the same evening.. I can see them now although at that time I did not know the meaning of it. I can remember one of the members had a little shop and we kids used to run down a field to spend our half-pennies or pennies on her home-made toffee. [At the top of this page Kate writes: "P.S. I remember Dad had an accident to his face. Had so many splinters of rock in his face." - ed.]  I well still remember I had to have a 3 pence  copy book and Mother would send the 3 pence the next day. I was tempted to spend it on toffee. This woman was curious where I got 3 pence for toffee. She asked Mother, 'had she given me the 3 pence for the book?' Of course I got a thrashing for it. I never did it again. We often did our school lessons on the veranda, I was so hot. The school was built high above the ground and the wash basins were under the school. We had to leave our dinners there, and the goats would go under and eat all they could get hold of.

Mother used to send me to the Chinese gardens to buy pineapples, melons, and bunches of bananas for very little money. Not long after, we moved again to a big house; it looked big to me, a veranda all around. There were huge rocks at the back and many under the house, which we could climb and play with. I remember there was a bridge over the road, and if there was any rain, it would run under this bridge. And we did not have a lot of rain. They called this Bridge Street. I remember the beds had 4 posts, and a mosquito net was round the bed to keep them out.

I loved going to the school there, wash basins under the school, and we could keep any clothing under. But some times the goats would go under and eat what they fancied. Many of us kept our dinners under there; we were not allowed to take them in the classroom. We often had our lessons under the veranda - it was cooler.

Every time we went home at dinner time, we always went to the shower, which was a corrugated room outside the house. The same after school closed. Dad used to wear cotton scull caps for work. I had to stand on a stool and scrub them on a table. I suppose I would be 7 years and was beginning to take notice of things by now. I remember the chapel - a corrugated building. The Pastor was a very tall man, I think his name was Houghton. I remember that Mother and Dad were baptized the same night. They were both in the choir, and how we sang [Sankey's ?]  hymns with all our might.

While we were in this house Dan and I took measles. I had a heavy dose, Dan not so bad. We had mosquito nets around the four poster bed. He was always climbing up these. Then the Doctor said Mother should get me away for a change. I was sent to the minister's house. They had no children. Our only transport was by the milk float. They used it to come to and from Church. I thought this great fun. He was a very tall man and used to lift me high up. He brought me a kangaroo. I remember going with him to the road to meet the float and I carried it [the kangaroo] to the house. I didn't have it long before it hopped away. There is no way of catching it. They had hens and I remember one Sunday night a few of the members came up for an evening and supper which consisted of a big meat dish with fried bacon and fried eggs all round the rim of the dish. Mother and Dad were there, and I wouldn't go home with them. I did afterwards.

A time came and Dan and me took measles. I was very sick and the doctor said a change of air was what I wanted. I was sent to the Pastorís house. He lived a long way out of town and used to come to chapel in a milk float. I was taken there in one and had a good time. They had no children. He bought me a kangaroo, but it soon hopped away again. She gave me a wooden doll and dressed it in black velvet. After Sunday night service members used to end up going to their homes for the evening. I remember at the Pastorís home there was a big meat dish with fried eggs all round the edge and bacon in the centre. When it was time for them to go home, I would not go with them, but had to later when I was better.

I must have been only seven years when we got another baby brother in March, 1893 and then we were being told we were going to England! That didn't mean a thing to me. I remember Mother's things were sold on the premises by an auctioneer. We slept in a member's house that night. I understand the baby was only seven weeks old. We left early the next morning for a long train journey to Brisbane to the docks. When we got there I was scared. I had never seen the sea before. Dad told me our ship was right over there a long way out. I screamed and kicked and didn't want to go. I wanted to stay with Dad. As a kid I didn't know how we could get over there. In the end he came with us on the tender and saw us on the ship. He was staying longer. So Mother came alone with three of us. I don't know how long we were on that boat before we docked at Melbourne, I think. The same thing happened. We slept over night in a house or hall. I don't remember seeing much of the city. I suppose Mother could not lug three of us around, one a baby in arms. We sailed away from there to Sydney.

Time passed and Mother got another baby boy and she was making plans for leaving Australia for England. I remember the day. All her goods were sold on the premises. A long screen was spread across with the words SALE TODAY in red letters. That night we had to sleep at a member's house. In the morning there was a big tin of biscuits for the baby. The day came. I had not seen a train up to now, and it seemed such a long journey, when we arrived at the docks and the sea. I had never seen the sea or ships. Dad said our ship was way over there for us to get. I screamed and kicked and wanted to stay with him.

There was nothing to do but that he went with us in the tender to the ship. Then the same thing happened again when he left us there and he returned to the dock. He was staying over, I learned after, to work for his passage money. I settled down when our ship set off. There was so much to see. I donít remember how long we were before we reached the first port of call which might have been Adelaide. We had to stay over night somewhere to sleep, and board another ship the next day which took us to Melbourne I think. It was a lovely place. We put up again and sailed again for Sydney, our last port of call before the long journey to England.

This was our last change we got on our way for England. I wish I had been older so I could understand everything. I don't remember all the places of the voyage. We called at a lot of places but were not off the boat. The natives would come onto the boat selling their wares. I remember they would worry us kids to give them ship biscuits. They were kept in a barrel for our use. They were as big as tea plates and as hard as a rock - more like dog biscuits. I think one place was Naples. Mother told us to get up on deck to see it lit up so pretty. Suez Canal stands very vivid in my mind. Mother had us on deck. As we looked over we could see what looked like the edge of the canal. It was like a platform and the ship was in the centre where it was deep. There was a desert all round.

I am sorry I donít remember the different places we called at. I remember the natives coming on board selling their wares. They would scrounge for the ship biscuits from us kids. They were kept in a barrel on deck, for our use. They were like dog biscuits as big as plates. As children we soon settled down to sea life. There were rough days and stormy. I remember Dan and I sitting on the floor and sliding to the other side as the ship rolled over. I remember I wore turkey red knickers and they were worn out by [the time] we reached England.

Dan and I enjoyed sitting on the ship floor, and if it rolled we rolled and slided to the other side. We seemed to have been a long time on the sea. My guess is we left Australia in May and we arrived in July at Southampton and got a train to King's Cross. We had a long wait in the station and we ran round till train time for H'pool. We arrived there about 8 PM and met our Uncle Will where we had to stay till Mother got a house. We went to this house in a cab. I was tickled as we drove down Stockton St. to see the streets of houses, a things I had not seen before. Then we had to meet Auntie Annie.

Of the places we passed I remember the rock of Gibraltar but the Suez Canal stands uppermost in my mind. Mother called me on deck and told me to look overboard. She pointed how shallow the sea looked. I could see the underneath, but there must have been a platform, and the ship would be in a deep channel. But I was too young to understand, but I was impressed more with the desert for miles and nothing to see but sand. I believe we were two months on the voyage. I think we would arrive in S. Hampton. But I remember Kings Cross best. How Dan I ran around the station till train time again. That was a long journey to Hartlepool. We got in about 8 PM. and then in a cab going down Stockton street. I was puzzled to see the streets of houses, a thing I had not seen before.

I don't know how long it was before Dad came, I think, Mary, you were about 3-1/2 when we got another baby girl, born on Auntie Annie's birthday, the 29th of Dec. so she was called Annie. That was in Durham Street. I remember a neighbor called Mrs. Pybus. She called you the Belle of Durham Street. You were so pretty, & I used to help to make you pretty, training your hair into ringlets. At this time I left school. It was possible if you passed certain subjects - you could leave at 13. The proper age was 14. [I] expect Mother thought I was more useful helping her. She used to go out washing for those who could pay her 2/6 [2 shillings and 6 pence] for a hard day.

We were to make our home with Uncle Will and Aunt Annie till Mother got a house together and Dad came, which would be a year later. I remember going to school there and children were taken up with my talk and would say "say that again". Eventually Mother got a house and Dad arrived, then after some time I got a little sister which delighted me after four brothers. She was called Mary and I took her to my heart. By this time I would be 10 and quite a little mother. 3 Ĺ years later I got another little sister, Annie. Sad to say, she only lived 1 Ĺ years. Then I got another little sister, they gave her the name of Prudence after my mother. After this you will know the story. Kate.

Of course I was in charge of you children and home. Can you wonder I did not get a long education. When Annie was 1-1/2 years she died. After some time, Mother got another baby girl. She was called Prudence. I was in Service by this time, and had to come home to be house keeper again. We lived in the lower end of Durham street quite near to the school. You would be around 7 years by now. After that we moved to Central Estate. You and Dan would go to Brougham St. School. I remember you qualified for a place in Henry Smith's school but Mother could not afford to pay the fees. When you left school you were put to learn the tailoring trade, (a job I would have liked but didn't get the chance, and Mother thought you were not suitable for house work). I remember she asked me if I minded. So what could I say. And now at this stage you will remember what happened next. We moved back to West Hartlepool, or was it Central Estate when I got married and lived in Cambridge St. I am afraid this is not very helpful for you. I get confused. I must have lost the first paper I wrote, so hope you accept it, & will try to answer anything you want to know.
Yours,
Kate

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