Stephen & Mary Ann Russ
|First name||Stephen & Mary Ann|
|Country of Origin||England/Ireland|
|Date of Birth||1861/1858|
|Year of Arrival in Australia||1880/1881|
|Submitted by||Ross Wallace|
Stephen (Steve) Russ was born in the village of East Lambrook, Somerset, England, on 25 April 1861, the fifth of eight sons born to Samuel Russ and Elizabeth Masters. On 17 June 1880, Stephen left Plymouth, England, on the steamship “Carnatic” at the age of 18, and arrived in Mackay, Queensland, at the end of September. He was granted a “free” passage which meant he had to pay one pound and then reside permanently in Queensland.
He became a ploughman on Palms Estate. Several years later, he took up land at Walkerston where he remained for many years growing sugar cane. He later moved to Uruba in the Pioneer Valley where he had a cane farm and lived for about 25 years. He named his property “Somerset Farm” after his birthplace. He was a shareholder at Marian Mill for many years.
He was about 157 cms. tall and heavily built. He had a strong Somerset accent, a habit of saying “Be Japers” and used strong language when it was needed. He was not a great conversationalist but was on good terms and respected by his neighbouring farmers.
Mary Ann Governor was born in approximately 1858 in Moneydig, Co Londonderry, Ireland, the daughter of Joseph Governor, a farmer, and Margaret Jane Kennedy. She was one of at least eight children. There is a discrepancy about her age as no birth record has been found, and on both the immigration list (1881) and her marriage certificate (1885) her age is given as 26. On 20 August 1881, she sailed on board the ship RMS “Almora” from Plymouth which arrived in Mackay on 27 October. She travelled with her brother Stewart.
Mary worked as a domestic servant. On 5 March 1885, she and Stephen Russ were married in the Primitive Methodist Church in Mackay. They had four children: Ellen (Nellie) (born 1885), Elizabeth Emily Masters (Lily) (born 1887), Stewart Frederick (born 1889) and Marguerita (Reta) (born 1891). All the children were born at Walkerston. They attended Walkerston State School and later Te Kowai School.
Mary was small and slim – a “genteel” and fastidious person – the opposite of her husband. She was a Presbyterian of the old school, fairly well educated, and she loved her garden.
At Uruba, the farm house was of two storeys. The top floor had a verandah along the front and one side, four bedrooms and a formal lounge, seldom used. Downstairs was the kitchen, dining room and living room; it also had verandahs front and back and one side. There were open front stairs and undercover stairs at the back: a traditional Queenslander. The laundry and bathroom were semi-detached at the rear.
Stephen Russ died at the farm from a heart attack on 9 June 1931 at the age of 70. His wife Mary died on 22 March 1934 from cancer. They are both buried in Walkerston Cemetery.