Alice Ewers was born on 9 November 1882 at Murrumbidgerie, just west of Geurie. She was the fourth of five children born to Jonathan Ewers and Jane Butt. Jonathan worked as a timber hauler around the Dubbo area, after stints in the Illawarra, Albury (where he married Jane) and Young. Both the Ewers and Butt were ‘old’ Australian families, arriving in the first 40 years of English settlement.
Alice spoke little of her upbringing, though she recalled the fears of local residents of the period when the Governor Boys (as she called them) ranged the area as bushrangers. She recalled being told to ‘lock the doors’ at night – something that was never done in her part of the country in those days.
Alice secured an early connection with Eumungerie. When she was just nine in 1891, her elder sister Edith married George Barwick from one of Eumungerie’s first families. This established the first of several connections between the Ewers and Barwick families, and of course, Eumungerie.
Sometime at the turn of the 20th century, Alice met a tall railway contractor called Edward (Ted) Albert Hewett. Ted came from a railway family in Richmond (NSW), but subsequently was transferred to Eumungerie. Alice and Ted were married in Dubbo on 19 October 1904.
Ted’s work as a fettler on the new Coonamble branch line was steady, especially as the line was in a period of growth. The family started like many in those days, living on railway property in a makeshift cabin. Life in Eumungerie must have agreed with Alice and Ted, for he never sought a transfer away in over 35 years of work there as a fettler.
Shortly after their marriage, Alice and Ted were able to purchase a block of land on the corner of Railway and (Coalbaggie) Emu Streets. Ted then built a home of vertical ironbark planks, which stood well into the 1980s. The house never had electricity, internal plumbing and relied on tank water. All cooking was done on a small combustion stove which was always alight. Although just two bedrooms, family celebrations at Christmas and Easter would see more than 20 people take up residence!
The marriage was productive; within nine years they had four girls – Doris, Beulah, Zillah and Alice (junior). Life involved a cycle of social activities surrounding village dances and fund-raising once the Great War commenced. Numerous newspaper articles available on the National Library’s Trove website tell the story of Alice, on organising committees, baking cakes and generally helping out.
The 1920s started with the birth of Douglas, Alice’s fifth child and only son. He was much doted upon by his mother and four elder sisters. During this decade, Alice’s daughters Doris and Zillah both married and left for Melbourne. Daughter Beulah married William McMillan and moved up town to their property at the north end of the railway yard. Later the youngest, Alice junior, married the eldest son of Eumungerie’s station master, Arthur Jones, and moved to Wollongong. Annual holidays were taken, thanks to a free rail travel for railway employees, in Victoria, Sydney and Wollongong. Good fortune occurred in 1936 when the entire Eumungerie fettling gang of three, including Ted, won 100 pounds in the State Lottery.
Eumungerie Happy Days at School Picnic 1941
*Australian Electoral Roll, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1943, Roland MacDougal, Rosedale, Eumungerie, NSW.
**Gilgandra Weekly and Castlereagh, Thursday 23 April 1942, page 1. Singapore Escape (see image below)
Soldiers AIF Sister Entertained 1942