Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Christina Sterland Lee

What better place to start the stories of the women in my family tree than with my grandmothers. This is a photo of my Nanna, on my fathers side of the family, when she was about five or six.  It is taken from a school photo, at Nelligen School.  Nelligen is a small settlement on the Clyde River on the South Coast of New South Wales.

I have many childhood memories of Christmas time gatherings at my Nanna's house in Milton where all the cousins, aunts and uncles would gather for the annual festivities in Nanna and Pop's old wooden house.  The kitchen would be a hive of activity, with Nanna making the traditional Christmas pudding in huge bowl and all the children taking turns to stir the pudding for luck.

Christina Sterland Lee was born on 29 May 1901, in the small trading town of Nelligen, on the banks of the Clyde River. She was the daughter of George William Lee (1859-1936) and Catherine McGregor (1866-1945). Christina or Teenie as she was called by her friends was the fourth child and first daughter in a family.  She had  four brothers and four sisters.  At the time of her birth her family lived in 27 Vincent St Nelligen (NSW 1901 Census) .  The children were not short of company with their cousins living  in two houses next door.  (These were the families of her father’s brothers Thomas and Albert Lee).

Nelligen 1908
Her grandfather Thomas George Lee (1832-1936) was born in Clerkenwell, St James, Islington, England and came to Australia in the early 1850’s.  He was one of the earlier settlers in the Nelligen District and for many years ran the local store, that was a major supplier of goods to the local district and over the Clyde Mountain to the Braidwood district.

While Christina was still at school her family moved to “Acacia Farm”  about 8 kms north of Nelligen on the Clyde River.  The farmhouse was surrounded by fruit trees and the family grew vegetables and raised cattle.  This farmhouse was to see many family gatherings and reunions over the next eighty years.  I remember visiting the farm as a small child, when it has been passed on to Christina’s younger brother George Alexander Lee (better known as Jordie). 

Three of  the Lee boys  (Clyde, James and Norman) moved to Sydney and joined the police force and her sisters married and lived locally.  In 1923, at the age of 22 Christina met and married Malcolm Michael Shepherd  a returned WWI soldier,  whose family had been involved in carrier business between Nelligen and Braidwood since the early 1860’s.  Their first child Muriel passed away when she was 11 months old.  Three more children, Malcolm, Colin and Nancy followed and the family settled into the district. 

However, Christina’s happy family life was soon to take a unhappy turn.   In March 1931 her husband Malcolm was knocked down and seriously injured by a tree.  He survived the accident but didn’t fully recover, passing away at the age of 40 in the January of the following year.

While hauling logs to Backhouse's Benandarah mill, Malcolm M. Shepherd was knocked down by a rebounding sapling. He was taken to Moruya Hospital in a serious condition

In the very difficult economic times of the early 1930’s Christina was left with three small children to raise on her own.

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