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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Anne Shumack

Born: 1821; Died: 1873; Married: Richard Shumack

Anne was born in Ireland c. 1821. Her parents were George and Catherine Shoemaker.

At Rathkeale in Ireland in 1840 she married Richard Shumack. Her new surname, therefore, was a version of her own maiden name, as Shumack is derived from 'Shoemaker'. They were not related, as no link has been found with the German antecedents of her husband's family who settled in Ireland in the late 1720s. Anne was to have eight children with Richard. One died in infancy and three were born in the Canberra district after their arrival as bounty migrants on the Bermondsey in August 1856. On the ship's immigrant list Anne is identified as a nurse, from Rathkeale, Co Limerick, with a brother, Amos, already in the colony at Goulburn.

Her son, Samuel, recorded the events of their arrival in his recollections.

We saw the Canberra Plain for the first time ... from a point close to where Wells Station homestead now stands ... Our journey from Sydney occupied three weary weeks, and we were happy to rest as guests of my Uncle John's wife and family [in modern-day Reid].

At first the Shumacks worked for the Campbells at Duntroon, where they lived in a three room slab and bark house, initially using their cabin trunks as furniture. Mrs Campbell helped the family by giving Anne some part time work as a laundress. All the family wore home-knitted stockings, and Richard made all their furniture in the evenings or on Saturday afternoons. True to his name, Richard was also a 'shoe maker', making boots for the whole family, while Anne and the girls made clothes.

In 1858 Richard took employment with William Davis (junior) at Palmerville estate, where they lived at the Emu Bank out-station. In 1869 Richard selected their first block of 100 acres at Weetangerra, where they built a home which they named Springvale. Samuel reported the tension with Davis concerning their decision to take advantage of the 1861 land reforms and to become free selectors. He wrote:

William Davis - who was father's employer and the squatter on whose land we selected - has 20,000 acres, excluding some thousands of acres of Crown land for which he paid very little, yet he resented our efforts to strike out for ourselves and laughed at what he derisively called 'Shumack's Folly'. 'Three years', he said, 'will see Shumack and his family sadder and wiser, for shortage of water will drive them out.' His prophecy miscarried!

Anne died in 1873 at the age of fifty two. She was buried at St Johns. Samuel records that daughters Phoebe (15) and Emily (12) ran the household following Anne's death - and worked in the fields as well. Richard remarried seven years later to Eastern Jane Armstrong. He died in 1887.

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