The five women pictured in the splendid Angus McNeil photograph at Kempsey Museum, is that of the Wilson sisters - daughters of George and Sarah Wilson, farmers of Moonebah.
George Wilson was the eldest son of Frank and Hannah Wilson of Penrith and was born in 1845 in Mulgoa. At the age of 18 he moved to the Macleay River and the following year married Sarah Marra, the daughter of Ann Bannerman and step-daughter of Arthur Bannerman of Sherwood.
Ann, nee McGiff, had married Arthur in 1851 after her first husband, John Maragh, drowned in the Macleay River attempting to swim from East to West Kempsey, leaving her with five young children.
From "Maragh", the surname evolved through "Marra" to "O'Meara". Sarah Marra's elder brother, William O'Meara, was a leading and respected citizen of Kempsey and at the time of his death in 1930 had been a councillor since the beginning of local government here.
George and Sarah selected land at Mooneba, part of the former pastoral run leased by William Ducat, and were to have a family of twelve children.
Apart from farming, George was involved in the carrying trade and transported cedar, as well as ore from the antimony mines.
The photograph features five of George and Sarah's seven daughters, with their eldest daughter Hannah Eliza Dyson (nee Wilson) seated second from the right. The next eldest would be Annie Kane, followed by Mary Ann Coleman, Florence Hand, and Kate Stephenson. The other two Wilson sisters were Elizabeth Carroll and Amy Hudson. At present, the only other Wilson daughter identified is Florence Hand, standing in the middle of the photograph, and any other information would be welcomed.
The preponderance of dark clothing suggest the women may have been dressed for a funeral, possibly of their grandmother Ann Bannerman nee McGiff who passed away in June 1915 in her one hundred and first year.
Ann McGiff was born in Pearcetown, County Westmead, Ireland on Christmas Day in 1814 and arrived in New South Wales on the emigrant ship "Mary Ann" in December 1837.
Following the death of her first husband, she married Arthur Bannerman in 1851 and kept the Bush Inn at East Kempsey with him for several years. They later moved to the property Gordon Bush at Sherwood. Besides her five children with first husband John Maragh, Ann had a further seven children with second husband Arthur Bannerman. Arthur passed away in 1878.
At the time of Ann's death, she was said to have had 68 grandchildren, 119 great grandchildren and four great great grandchildren. Many current residents of the Macleay can claim Ann Bannerman, formerly Maragh nee McGiff, as an ancestor in their family tree.
The Macleay River Historical Society currently has vacancies for volunteering in our Research and other departments. If you or someone you know are interested please complete an Expression of Interest from our website www.kempseymuseum.org or call in at the Kempsey Museum, South Kempsey Park.
More history by Phil Lee: The story behind the 1880s rustic chair housed at Kempsey Museum