Ellen Louisa Cole (1874-1943)

On this day September 28 in 1943, my great-grandmother Ellen Louisa was buried at Woronora Cemetery, New South Wales. Although born a Cole she had been married twice, firstly to my great-grandfather, Alfred Charles Bray, and sometime after his death to Walter Clark, but that is part of her story.

Ellen Louisa was born on January 22, 1874 on the large rural property, Gidleigh, near Bungendore NSW. Both of Ellen’s parents, Frederick William Cole and Ellen (nee) McFarlane were also born in NSW and were married at St. Phillip’s church in Bungendore. Ellen Louisa was the tenth of their nineteen children, although not all of them lived to adulthood.

Frederick was a sawyer and labourer who worked on several properties in the area near Bungendore including Foxlox and Carwoola as well as Gidleigh. We can only imagine that both his wife and children would have been engaged in work in those properties. As quite large rural stations these supported sizeable communities and facilities such as a school which Ellen Louisa would have no doubt attended.

Ellen Louisa Bray

By the age of twenty years Ellen Louisa was to be found at Balmain in Sydney when she married Alfred Charles Bray at St. Thomas’s church in Balmain South on February 15, 1894 with the permission of her father. At the time Alfred was a sorter at the General Post Office but later became a mail train guard and as a result the young couple moved several times while raising their family. Hurstville had become the Bray family home where they had settled with their eight children when tragedy struck.

Alfred Charles Bray – Funeral Notice

On the foggy night of March 16, 1914, the mail train on which Alfred was working collided with another train at Exeter in the Southern Highlands killing 14 people including Alfred. At the time it was the worst rail disaster experienced in the country. Ellen Louisa was left with several children still at home but was eventually granted some compensation for herself and the younger children. She continued to live at Hurstville and was remembered as a strong woman that is no doubt a result of her early years in the bush.

In 1923, at the age of 49 years, she married widower and tramway employee, Walter Clark at Redfern. It is believed that she outlived Walter because she was again living at Hurstville when as Ellen Louisa Clark died at the age of 69 years. She was buried next to Alfred Charles Bray at Woronora.




On a recent drive back from Canberra to Sydney taking the road through Bungendore was hard to resist. The wood craft gallery in that village is one of my favourites but the area was also the stomping ground of my Cole and McFarlane ancestors. In this regard the main point of interest was St Thomas’s Church cemetery at Carwoola where many members of these two families were buried.

Across the years from the 1840s to about 1900 family records indicate events across the Molonglo region including locations such as Gidleigh, Carwoola, Foxlow, Black Ranges, Bungendore as well as others at nearby Gundaroo.

St Thomas’s Church is on the Captains Flat Road as are Carwoola and Foxlow stations. Captains Flat Road is a pleasant drive off the King’s Highway through undulating wooded country of the Cuumbuen Nature Reserve which then opens into the pastures of the “sheltered fertile” Molonglo Valley. St Thomas’s church is perched on a small rise surrounded by trees that conceal all but the spire and even though I had been there previously, I almost drove straight past it.

The first settlers in the Molonglo Plains area had arrived in about 1820. Thomas Rutledge, who was one of the earlier major land holders, lived at Carwoola and he gave land near the homestead on which the St Thomas’s church was built (between 1872 and 1874). Thomas Rutledge and many of his family were also buried at St Thomas’s cemetery.

The Carwoola station whose name comes from the aboriginal word Carrowillah and means “where the water meets the plains”. Thomas Rutledge commenced building the homestead in 1849 and extended to grand proportions in 1874. Foxlow is further south and was established in about 1835 by John Hosking, who gave his name to nearby Hoskinstown, and it was named after his wife Martha Foxlow Terry.

Gidleigh station which is closer to Bungendore was owned by Admiral Phillip Parker King, son of governor Philip Gidley King, from about 1833 and was named after his home in Devonshire and later sold to Thomas Rutledge. By 1870 Thomas Rutledge owned Gidleigh, Foxlow as well as Carwoola.

My third great-grandparents, William Cole and his wife Martha Sophia (Skinner) had arrived in Australia from Kent in 1838 aboard the Amelia Thompson. By 1847 they were in the Molonglo at Black Range and had started a family. My other third great-grandparents, Scottish Charles McFarlane and his Irish wife Elizabeth (Welsh) also arrived in the Molonglo within a couple of years.

The families were connected when in 1861 their children, Frederick William Cole and Ellen McFarlane married at St Philip’s Church, Bungendore. The children of Frederick and Ellen’s were recorded as being born variously at Gidleigh, Foxlow and Carwoola.

The drive through the Molonglo valley and Bungendore to visit my relatives was a pleasant detour which I know I will take again.