|Country of Origin||England|
|Date of Birth||8/24/1862|
|Year of Arrival in Australia||1882|
|Submitted by||Ross Wallace|
Samuel Dunn was the son of Samuel Dunn and Sarah Ann (nee Baker) and was born on 24 August 1862 at Burnham Overy, Norfolk, England. His father was the innkeeper of the ‘Jolly Sailors Inn’, and was also involved in fishing. The family later moved to Hunstanton, further along the Norfolk coast.
Young Sam became a boatman. At the age of 20, he decided to emigrate to Australia, and on 13 March 1882, he left London as a free passenger on the schooner “Chyebassa” arriving in Mackay, Queensland, in May. Sam’s shipmates on the voyage were twins Henry and Bob Howard, also from Norfolk.
Sam worked at various jobs around the Mackay district, and by 1886 had a steady job as a road overseer on the construction of the original Old Bowen Road from Mackay to Bowen.
He met Susan Howard, sister of Henry and Bob, who arrived in Mackay in 1886 on the steam ship “Bulimba”. They were married in the same year – on 24 December – at the Primitive Methodist Church in Mackay. Sam was then 24, and Susan was 17. Susan had been born in the village of Ringstead, Norfolk, on 24 January 1869 and was the daughter of Robert Howard, an agricultural labourer, and his wife Eliza (nee Staines). Her mother died when Susan was 13 and her father when she was 15. She came to Australia with her brothers Tom (and family) and John.
Sam and Susan first lived in Sydney Street, Mackay, then moved to Walkerston, and then to St. Helen’s (later called Kolijo).
Around 1890, Sam bought 120 acres of farm land on Sandy Creek, Chelona (approx. 10 miles South of Mackay), and commenced growing sugar cane. They lived in a one-roomed iron house with a detached kitchen. In 1895, Sam applied to select another portion of land, 104 acres, adjoining his first block. He named the farm “St. Edmund’s” after his home in Norfolk.
Sam and Susan had 13 children – Samuel, Robert George, Edward Ernest (Ned), John (Jack), Alan, William Roy (Roy), Gladys May, Lilian Rose, Susan Flora (Floss), Edith Daisy (Daisy), Dorothy Ruby (Ruby), Howard and Dulcie Grace. Susan’s sister-in-law, Sophie Howard, who was a midwife, delivered all the children, except Floss who was born in hospital.
Sam was fair with blue eyes, and in later years had snowy white hair and moustache. With very little formal education, he had a smart head for figures and was an avid reader, often reading into the early hours of the morning. Susan was tall and thin with dark hair – a perfect mother, always very calm and capable.
Sam built a timber house of four rooms, with verandahs on two sides. Later, a long room was added for a dining room and kitchen, and as the family grew, the boys slept in a separate building. A windmill was built and water was laid on to the house and laundry. However, the water was too brackish for clothes washing and buckets of water had to be carried from the water tanks. Washing would take Susan all day as everything had to be washed by hand. As they lived on the banks of the creek, they frequently went fishing, crabbing and prawning, the fish often smoked for keeping.
Before the turn of the century, Sam had Kanakas (South Sea Islanders) working for him on the farm. Their quarters were away from the house and Susan cooked for them. At this time, horses were used to pull the wagons of cut cane which was lifted out by winch and chain on to the cane trucks for transport to Homebush Mill. Most of the children had ponies and horses, while Sam and Susan had a buggy (four wheels) and a sulky (two wheels). It took an hour and a half to drive into Mackay for supplies so it was usually an all-day journey.
In 1893, the Chelona State School was opened. It was a one-teacher school and all the Dunn children attended there.
Around 1899, Sam returned to England with his brothers-in-law, Henry and Bob, but Susan remained at home. She said the only way she would go was if “she were posted in an envolope” as she had been so ill on the ship out from England. Sam was away for 12 months.
In 1913, Sam applied to buy the land he had selected, the original lease being for 20 years, so the family farm was now freehold. He also bought property at nearby Sandringham Lagoons where he ran cattle. The house and farm were devastated by the 1918 cyclone and Sam and Susan lost a great many of their possessions, especially things of sentimental value which they had brought with them from England – not to mention their crop of cane. During the cyclone, they sheltered in the school, then spent six weeks with their neighbours while they rebuilt the house.
In the late 1920s, Sam and Susan moved to a house in Gregory Street, Mackay. Sam died on 9 November 1932, aged 70. Susan stayed on in the house and died at the age of 86 on 20 July 1955. They are both buried in Mackay Cemetery.