Cowra in Days Gone Bye by J C Ryall 5/ (Pages 38 to 50)




Published on 15 February 1924


Road Superintendent

Amongst the most popular of Cowra’ s Government officials must be included Mr. Arthur J.C. Single, Road Superintendent, who was at first stationed at Grenfell, but removed to Cowra in 1878 by direction of the Chief of the Roads Department on the grounds of centrality; it being considered that the district could be worked more effectively from Cowra than elsewhere. While resident in Grenfell, Mr. Single identified himself with all public movements, and came to be regarded as a most exemplary citizen. Consequently his transfer to Cowra was strenuously protested against and strenuous efforts were put forth by prominent Grenfellites with a view to inducing the Chief Commissioner to reverse his mandate, but that official was adamant.

Thus on the completion of Mr. I. J. Sloan’ s cottage (now Mr. W.A. Stokes’ residence), Mr. Single and his wife and family entered into occupation thereof. The system of road construction in those days was altogether different to that of the present day. The officers in charge of districts were provided with plans and specifications which they were religiously bound to adhere to. No opening was left for initiative or originality, their duties being confined to recommendations, laying out work, measurements, and seeing that contractors strictly complied with the prescribed conditions. Not being competent to express an opinion as to the merits of anyone system over another, I will not attempt to pose as a critic, but I have no hesitation in averring that the quartzite roads laid down under Mr. Single’s supervision withstood the strain of very heavy and continuous traffic for many years.

Mr. Single, who hailed from the Nepean, was a member of a well known and very estimable early pioneer family. He was a typical Australian physically and temperamentally, being tall, stalwart, and fearless in the discharge of anything which he conceived to be a duty. He had a remarkably attractive personality which enabled him to win legions of friends. He was an active townsman and one who took a keen interest in local affairs. Having purchased a property at Holmwood, he went to reside there with his family. A few years later he was afflicted with opthalmia, and this necessitated his making frequent visits to Sydney to undergo treatment at the hands of an eye specialist.


Butter and Cheese Factory

Eventually he became totally and hopelessly blind, thus he was compelled to retire from the Government service. About this time a company was formed with a view to establishing a butter and cheese factory with an experienced manager in charge, and to this Mr. Single was one of the principal suppliers, he having secured a herd of dairy cows in the meantime.

After a brief and somewhat chequered existence, during which it was evidenced that the great majority of farmers of the district did not take kindly to dairy farming, hence that the supply of milk was too limited to continue operations successfully, therefore the directors were reluctantly compelled to close down. The new company was formed with strong directorate to undertake the manufacture of butter and cheese, with bacon as a side line, a site for the factory having been secured (where Newling’s cordial and aerated waters factory now stands), the requisite building was erected, and an up-to-date plant was installed. This necessarily absorbed a large proportion of the subscribed capital.

A capable manager having been secured, the production of butter was at once entered upon. In the floating of this concern, Mr. Single largely interested himself, and evidenced his confidence in its success by purchasing a herd of dairy cattle, and becoming a milk supplier. Experience, however, unfortunately proved that the milk yield by the herd was so deficient in butter fat, as to make its value very unprofitable to the supplier, thus Mr. Single’s investment was not the success anticipated. Despite the most discouraging influences the factory was kept a going concern, until it became only too evident that the great bulk of the farmers of the district did not take kindly to dairy farming, hence, as the supply of milk was wholly inadequate to justify a continuance of operations, the directors were reluctantly compelled to close down. The factory was a failure from the very outset, seeing that a much higher price was paid for the milk supplied than the market price of the butter warranted. The manufacture of cheese, notwithstanding the very high standard of the article produced, was also a failure.

It was hoped that by continuing to keep the factory open that the farmers of the district might be induced to eventually become suppliers, but hopes in that connection were never realised. . The failure of the company and the closing down of the factory was a very bitter disappointment to Mr. Single. Some years later my oId friend and his family left for St. Mary’s, and there he ended his days.


Member of Old Shoalhaven Family

Mr. Morton, a member of the old Shoalhaven family of that name, was Mr. Single’s successor as Road Superintendent, and that gentleman was in turn succeeded by Mr. J.V. Bartlett, a Victorian engineer with a varied experience, who, after being transferred from Cowra to another district, invested in silver mining at Burrangong, from which he realised sufficient wealth to retire from Government service and live privately in affluence.

Mr. A.F. Osborne was Mr. Bartlett’s official successor here, and that gentleman held the position until the passage of the Local Govenment Act, when the post of road Superintendent was abolished. Mr. Osborn’ s services on leaving Cowra were transferred to the Harbours and Rivers Department, and as an officer of that branch of the Government service he was later engaged in making certain surveys, and collecting essential data in connection with the Wyangala Dam Scheme. His reports in that connection are both comprehensive and valuable, and will doubtless be the basis of any Department estimate of the cost of constructing such a national asset.



 Published on 29 February 1924.

The Public School

The destinies of the very limited number of pupils attending the Public School were watched over by Mr. William J. Quick, a gentleman with a most lovable disposition, who succeeded in winning the affection of his pupils and the esteem and admiration of the entire community.As a citizen he might be classed amongst the ideal as he never shirked any onerous duty that was cast upon him, and as these were principally of a secretarial character, it will be realised that the lion’s share of operations invariably devolved upon him. He was also the moving spirit in organising and carrying out local entertainments, and he on such occasions was always one of the performers as a vocalist and reciter. He was an active member of the Anglican Church community, also one of the School of Arts, the management of the Cricket Club, the Amateur Dramatic Club, and in fact every local Public institution or movement included this very worthy and most estimable gentleman amongst their live members. One small class room was all the accommodation that was required for the school, and the teacher’s residence was a truly miserable structure, which if in existence to-day would on account of its unsanitary condition, be strongly condemned by the health Authorities.. After the lapse of some years, Mr. Quick was transferred to Cargo, and later to March, near Orange, where he died in harness almost a score of years back.

Mr. J. H. Smith, an ex–congregational Minister, succeeded Mr. Quick, and he very capably filled the position until he was promoted to the head teachership of Penrith Public School. Amongst the succeeding teachers were Messrs. Snodgrass, Rickard (brother of Sir Arthur Rickard), Irvine, and Booth.


The First Town Band

The latter had been band master at the town in which he had been previously stationed. Thus one of his first efforts after his arrival in Cowra was in the direction of forming a town band. With that end in view he got in touch with a number of old residents, and eventually succeeded in prevailing upon them to take the initial steps towards the establishment of a town band. A meeting having been called, the enrolment of prospective band members, some dozen or more, was accomplishments, and this difficulty was overcome by townsmen becoming responsible for the cost of the number required, and subsequently ten townsmen contributed £10 each towards the band.

The contributing townsmen commissioned the bandmaster to purchase the instruments, and he in turn placed an order with the house which agreed to pay him the most liberal bonus.Those who had so generously purchased the instruments naturally desired to take a hand in the control of the band. Hence they framed a code of rules and regulations under which the services of the band when the occasion arose should be given gratuitously to certain local institutions. Under the tuition of their instructor the band made such rapid progress that in the course of a couple of months it was able to master fairly well half a dozen popular airs. It must not be understood that the bandmaster was sufficiently enthusiastic in the cause of music to devote his services to it without recompense. On the contrary he was paid a weekly fee by the bandsmen, and in addition was entitled to the lion’s share of the funds derived from engagements.

At that time frequent efforts were put forth to supplement the funds of the local hospital, which was then being kept open with much difficulty, and of course the services of the band were requisitioned on all such occasions. These frequent calls without recompense evidently incensed the bandmaster and those under his control to such an extent, that a strike resulted, and all the instruments, some in a very battered condition, were one night left at the establishment of Mr. H. Geary, a member of the band committee, without a word of explanation. Of course the committee were heavy losers in the transaction, as only a very small proportion of the cost of the instruments was derived from their sale later. The ultra clever bandmaster with funds contributed by the rebellious bandsmen, purchased a second lot of instruments, another bonus being doubtless forthcoming from the Sydney establishment.

The reconstructed band subsequently discovered the worthlessness of their mentor and threw him over. The latter eventually became so unpopular that his transfer to another district was inevitable. That was Cowra’s first experience in connection with the organisation of a town band. Mr. Fred Homann, who had been for some years associated with Wirth’s Circus band, did his utmost to keep a band together over a lengthy period with varying success. Other conductors followed, but until Mr. Cecil Bergin was given control little or no progress resulted. The band under that veritable musical enthusiast’s skilful guidance is now a real live institution and long may it continue so.



 Published on 14 March 1924.


Exceedingly Popular School Teachers

Following the transfer of Mr. Booth to a teachership elsewhere, Mr. James Rickard, brother of Sir Arthur Rickard, the famous Sydney land salesman, was headmaster here for some time, and both he and his better half became exceedingly popular. Mr. Robert Irvine was another teacher whose popularity was indubitable. Besides being a capable and painstaking instructor of youth, he was a townsman who did his utmost to forward and conserve the best interests of our public institutions. To the local cricketers he was a tower of strength and much of the prowess of the local club in those days was due to his experience and skill. Mr. Thomas Howard was another teacher who closely identified himself with public affairs.

He also took a prominent part in cricket, golf, tennis and kindred sports. Under his direction the pupils of the superior public school devoted some attention to agriculture, horticulture, floriculture, orchardry, etc., and the cultivation of a very creditable garden plot resulted.

Shortly after the death of his father, who had been successful in establishing an extensive store-keeping business at Parkes and Peak Hill, Mr. Howard retired from the Education Department to join his brothers taking over control of the Peak Hill branch for a time before proceeding to Parkes, where he now resides.

Mr. Moore, the Next Incumbent

Mr. Moore, the next incumbent of the academic principalship, was not long in demonstrating in a most manner his devotion to the cause of education, and his skill in inducing the pupils under his care to take a keen interest in their work. He also succeeded in imbuing his teaching staff with some of his own enthusiasm as a teacher, and contrary to the spirit which

actuated some of his predecessors, he, from the very outset insisted in according the fullest possible credit to his subordinates for the advancement of the pupils under their care, During his occupancy of the principalship of the school here, Mr. Moore was indefatigable in his efforts to raise the status of that institution with a view to the establishment of a High School here. As a townsman he was ever to the forefront in giving valuable practical support to our various public institutions, and was an ardent promoter of all that pertains to athleticism. He was one of the principals in promoting Cowra’ s first and only Eisteddfodd, and much of its success was due to his untiring efforts. Mr. Moore’s departure from Cowra was due to his promotion to a school at Broken Hill, and some years later he was further promoted to the charge of a school at Wallsend, where he is now located.

During holidays our good friend invariably finds time to visit Cowra, where he can always rely upon being accorded a right hearty welcome by his old acquaintances. Mr. R.A. Shields, another experienced teacher with exceptional academic attainments, and was one who was equally enthusiastic in his efforts in regard to the establishment of a High School, was Mr. Moore’s successor. Being of a somewhat unobtrusive disposition he did not take a very active part in public affairs, but in any movement he evinced an interest he was an active practical worker. Upon its being decided to establish an intermediate High School at Cowra, Mr. Shields was transferred. to the charge of one of the schools at Wallsend, near where Mr. Moore is located.


First Principal of the Intermediate High School

With the arrival of Mr. Hayes as first principal of the Intermediate High School a new epoch in local educationalism was entered upon, which will furnish material for future comment. Later Mr. Hayes severed his connection with, following his promotion to the inspectorial staff.

Before passing on may we add that since its establishment the Intermediate High School has made such rapid progress as to render its advancement to that of High School inevitable in a very brief space of time.


Cowra’s Roman Catholic School

We now hark back to 1878 when Cowra’s Roman Catholic School with its very limited roll of pupils was under the control of Miss Purcell (later Mrs. Collins). The school was then conducted in the old church, which was later used as a class room by the Nuns. On Miss Purcell’ s retirement from the teachership, a Convent was erected and a community of teaching Sisters of the Order of St. Joseph assumed charge of the school. Owing to the very limited accommodation available for both the Nuns and pupils the Sisters had to contend with many difficulties and disadvantages in the pursuit of duties. Eventually temporary provision was made for the housing of the pupils through the conversion of the large weather-shed into a school room. The recall of the Sisters of St. Joseph to the Mother House at Perthville was followed by the arrival in Cowra of a community of Nuns of the Order of St. Brigid.

With the advent of the Brigidines an era of success was inaugurated. There was such an increase of pupils that it became necessary to erect a large school-room for the primary pupiIs. also to make additions to the Convent for the accommodation of an increased teaching staff, also for boarder pupils. The capabilities of the Sisters as teachers became so manifest that their powers were often taxed beyond endurance, but they nevertheless perseveringly continued at their post of duty and systematically  provided for every contingency. Through their high academic attainments and undoubted skill as teachers, they succeeded in raising their school tor a High School status. Thus all the subjects included in a High School curriculum are taught by these talented and intellectual Sisters.

As teachers of music they have shone out conspicuously, as has been evidenced by the distinguished success of their pupils at the various examinations conducted by accredited experts. Under their cultured care and direction all the essential feminine accomplishments are acquired, and in addition the spiritual requirements of those under their tutelage are provided for. Care is nevertheless strictly exercised not to interfere with the religious convictions of non-Catholic pupils. When the additions to the primary school, the contract for the erection of which has been recently let, materialise, ample accommodation for the needs of pupils will be met: And upon its completion it is the intention to equip the school with thoroughly up-to-date appurtenances. We understand that the Very Rev. Father O’Kennedy is determined that the school in every respect will be equal to the very best educational institution in the State.

The Ladies Seminary

In 1878, in addition to the schools mentioned, Miss MacDonald conducted a ladies seminary in a weather-board tenement belonging to Mr. Alfred R. West, where the Union Bank now stands. After a comparatively brief existence the closing of this academy eventuated owing to lack of support. Later on efforts were made to establish a boys’ school, firstly by Mr. Thomas who had been previously a tutor in the employ of Mr, D.C.J. Donnelly, and later still by an adventurer named Cockburn. Dismal failure resulted in both instances.



 Published on 21 March 1924.


Cowra Churches

In respect to Churches, Cowra was considerably behind the times. The edifice used by the Roman Catholic body was so diminutive as to only be sufficient for a very small section of worshippers. St. Raphael’s was then in course of erection, the walls only being near completion.  The spiritual needs of the congregation were attended to by Father Phil Ryan, a splendid type of Irishman, who was beloved by all who knew him. He was stationed at Carcoar and visited Cowra fortnightly. St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church was the only other sacred edifice then in existence. As to whether this church or that used by the Roman Catholics was the first erected is questionable.  Mr. William Duggan, who claims seniority in respect to birth amongst Cowra’s natives, maintains that the last named is entitled to the distinction, and some old Presbyterians are equally positive that old St. Peter’s, which is now used as a Sunday School, was the first.

Union Protestant Church

The latter was claimed to be a union Protestant place of worship, on the ground that the cost of its erection was equally borne by all the Protestant bodies. However, as it stands upon the property of the Presbyterians, that denomination is quite within its rights in claiming it as their exclusive property. However, when the church was not being used by the Presbyterians, its use was freely granted to the other Protestant denominations. For a considerable length of time the spiritual needs of the Presbyterian congregation were supplied from Carcoar by the Rev. J. Adam, a Minister whose unselfishness and kindly nature won for him the lasting esteem of all sects and classes. He left behind him a name to be long revered. Later Cowra was attached in the Grenfell charge, when the Rev. C.W. Philip became the officiating Minister, services being conducted monthly. At that time the Anglican body was wholly dependent on the generosity of the Presbyterians for a place to worship in.

Anglican Church

The spiritual requirements of the congregation being in charge of a catechist, who was subordinate to the Grenfell incumbent, who attended in person at stated intervals. Thus, when Cowra’s first resident rector, the Rev. J. Young, arrived, he was faced with the difficulty of having neither church or residence. He was, nevertheless, quite equal to the occasion and readily adapted himself to the situation. The only available tenement for a residence was the weatherboard cottage belonging to Mr. A.R. West, which had just been vacated by Miss McDonald.

Like all pioneer ministers, Mr. Young had to contend with innumerable difficulties and trials. The parish, which then included Canowindra, Mount McDonald, Morongla Creek, and Koorawatha, was in a state of chaos, being wholly disorganised.

Such centres as Woodstock, Westville, Holmwood, Back Creek, Wattamondara, Darby’s Falls, and Walli did not exist. It being Mr. Young’s first Ministerial charge he lacked experience in church work, but, as his heart was in the cause, he did not allow minor obstacles to thwart him in the discharge of his duty. As a townsman he was a tower of strength to every public movement he identified himself with, and was particularly active in establishing the School of Arts, for the accommodation of which a room at the old Court House (now the police barracks) had been granted by the Justice Department.

With the passage of time the inconvenience arising from the congregation not being provided with a place of worship of their own, became so acute that it was eventually decided to make a vigorous effort to raise the requisite funds therefor. The step adopted, on the suggestion of Mr. J.C. Ryall, was to advertise in the daily press for designs, a premium being offered for the one approved. In response to the advertisement in the city press, quite a large number of competitive designs came to hand, and, after much careful consideration the one furnished by Mr. Elphinstone, architect, Sydney, was selected. The next step was to invite tenders for the erection of a building on the lines of the approved design, but when these came to hand the amounts were so much in excess of the architect esti- mate and the amount the committee was prepared to guarantee, that their rejection was inevitable.

The design was then referred back to Mr. Elphinstone, with a request to make such alterations therein as would bring the cost within the means of the committee. The re-modelled design, according to the views of contractors was still in excess of the committee ‘s limit, hence it was decided to cut out the tower spire and belfry, also the vestry, and to reduce the proportions of the building generally. In addition it was decided to dispense with plastering the internal walls. The contract for the erection of the church in accordance with the altered plan was let to Mr. Foley, builder of Bathurst, who also provided the seats. Some time later through the efforts of a number of ladies the walls on the inside were plastered, and Mrs. A.J.C. Single succeeded in raising sufficient funds to purchase the bell now in use.

After the Rev. J. Young’s appointment to the charge of George’s Plains, he was succeeded here by the Rev. Mr. Pollard, an exceedingly kind and gentle minister, who owing to the delicate state of his health, was wholly incapacitated from systematically working so large a parish, hence after holding the position for a brief period he was relieved of the charge and transferred to a more compact parish.

The next incumbent, the Rev. J. Kimberly, an exceedingly bright and energetic minister, who took an active part in public affairs, and particularly cricket, a game in which he excelled as an exponent. Under his direction a number of bazaars were organised with a view to raising funds for a rectory, but his efforts in that connection, although successful to a great extent, were not equal to the estimated cost. His aims in respect to building a rectory were frustrated through his death following an attack of enteric fever. There was no hospital in Cowra at the time. He resided at a cottage of Mrs. J.E. Taylor’s, at the corner of Brisbane and Liverpool Streets. Mrs Kimberly and children were first attacked by the fever and when they became convalescent, the maid was prostrated. As no nurses were procurable in Cowra at the time the whole care of the patients devolved upon Mr. Kimberly, who, owing to the severe strain, was wholly unable to combat the attack when he encountered it in a violent form. The circumstances attending his death were exceedingly sad, especially as he left a wife and young family with very limited resources. Some idea of the energy and pluck of the lamented minister may be gained from his early history.

He was engaged as a light goods porter at a grocery establishment in Sydney, and during his spare hours he devoted himself assiduously to the study of essential subjects and thus qualified himself for admission to the University. While at that institution his only means were 2/6 per week, which was received from a fund. When asked how he contrived to subsist upon such a small allowance, he replied: “1 paid 1/- per week for the use of a room, and bread and an occasional savaloy absorbed the 1/6!” After securing his B.A. degree he entered Moore College and in due course was admitted to holy orders.



 Published on 4 April 1924


Other Incumbents

The Rev. Mr. Jobson was the next incumbent, and shortly after his assumption of office the rectory materialised. After Mr. Jobson had been transferred to Grenfell, the Rev. Mr. Everingham was in charge for a few months, and when he left for West Australia the Rev. Canon Gaer was appointed to the charge of the parish. The latter was followed by the Rev. Seymour Smith whose personality and geniality combined to make him deservedly popular with all denominations and particularly with his own flock. He became associated with all public movements, and was a leading spirit in promoting entertainments and social re-unions.

Following his transfer to Parkes the Rev. F. Gardner, of Forbes, was appointed to the vacancy. The new incumbent was all that could be desired as a minister, being a man of high intellectual attainments and an excellent preacher. He was also a man who took a keen and lively interest in matters affecting the progress and prosperity of the town and district. When he resigned the charge with a view to devoting his energies to the cure of souls elsewhere, the Rev. John Parr was appointed to the incumbency, and he soon succeeded in winning hosts of friends; hence, when he was transferred to the Mudgee parish general regret was expressed.

The Rev. H.H. Mirrington, who is still with us was Mr. Parr’s successor, and may he long remain with us in the fervent wish of his many friends and admirers here.

Cowra’s first Presbyterian Clergyman

Cowra’s first Presbyterian clergyman was the Rev. Mr. Evans, a Welshman, who was wholly inexperienced in respect to the ways of the Australian bush, hence was unsuited to a parish like Cowra. His occupancy of the charge was very brief, consequently he was not afforded sufficient time to manifest his powers as a minister. The Rev. Barry-Browne, who was next called to the charge, was quite a recent arrival from Scotland, but he nevertheless soon adapted himself to his environments and became very popular. While in Cowra his views in respect to Presbyterianism underwent a change in favor of Episcopalanism, hence he became a candidate for holy orders in the Anglican Church and was accepted.

His ordination at Bathurst followed, and later he was appointed rector at Wellington, a position he still holds. About a tear or so back his very estimable wife, who was a model minister’s wife, departed this life.

The Rev. James McAndrew, the next minister, was also a Scotchman. He was a broad-minded man who had passed many years of his life in London, where he held a position on the literary staff of the “Times”. He was well versed in journalism, hence before becoming a minister he had the advantage of a wide and varied experience. He has now charge of a district near Dubbo. His place here was filled by the Rev. Simpson Miller, an Irishman, whose large- heartedness and geniality won him legions of friends. His popularity was unbounded with all sects and classes. He had a most attractive personality, and he was every man’s friend.

He married Miss Leslie of Hunter’s Hill, but his wedded life was of brief duration, as during her husband’s absence from home, while on a visit to Sydney, she met with a sudden seizure to which she succumbed before his return, in response to an urgent call. He was so prostrated by the very sad event that he could not settle down here again, hence he immediately resigned the charge and left for the city broken down in health and energy. Eventually while in charge of Wollongong, he passed away quite as suddenly as his much lamented wife. The blow was too much evidently for a man with such a sympathetic, kind, and affectionate nature.

The Rev. Ewan Thompson, who filled the breach, was a warm- hearted Scotchman, who soon succeeded in making many friends. He was a man of fixed views and opinions and was fearless in the discharge of what he conceived to be his duty. While occupying the ministerial office here he was called upon to decide matters concerning the right of the congregation to let upon building lease a portion of the unused land of the church. Having become thoroughly seized with every phase of the question, he took a determined stand, from which all the tactics adopted by the opposition failed to move him. He left, Cowra to fill a vacancy at Gladesville, and while there he became so prostrated from an attack of neuritis as to be incapacitated from further duty. After being a practically helpless invalid for some years, he died at Manly a year or so ago. His son Ewen, is a medical practitioner in Queensland, and his other sons Roy and Noel, have good clerical positions in the city.

Mr. Thompson’ s successor in Cowra, another Scotchman, the Rev. George Cranston, was also a strong man, who readily grasped the situation and steered his course accordingly. He took a very keen interest in political, economic and social questions, and was a keen and powerful debater. Through his efforts St. Peter’s Debating Society was established with a good membership, and while he was at the head of affairs good progress was made, much interest being taken in the debates by a large section of the community. In public. movements, especially those of a patriotic nature he was particularly active, his addresses on such occasions being masterpieces of oratory. Cowra was evidently too circumscribed a field for so gifted a minister, hence he was transferred toBaImain, a charge which afforded him greater scope for the exercise of his endowments. After leaving Cowra his better half, a most estimable lady, who was loved by all who had the pleasure of her acquaintance, passed away after a brief illness.

Later Mr. Cranston embarked once more on the matrimonial sea, his second wife being a daughter of Mr. I.J. Sloan, of North Logan. The Rev James Barr was the next minister. His association with the town and district has been so recent that little need be said concerning his good works. Shortly after entering the ministry in Scotland he went to England, where he officiated for a space. Later he embarked for Tasmania, and, after officiating there for some years, he came to N.S.W. and had charge of the Yass district for a term, whence he came to Cowra. He is a broad-minded man with most liberal views in respect to politics and social problems,

During the war he was a recognised leader in all patriotic movements. He proved himself a most painstaking and capable organiser, and his very successful efforts in raising funds for patriotic purposes will long be remembered. He was one of the foremost in farewelling departinq local soldiers, and was equally prominent in extending a hearty welcome to them on their return home. Two of his sons saw active service during the ever memorable war, one of whom, on his return, settled on the land in this district.After departing from Cowra, Mr. Barr was engaged in filling vacant pulpits for some time, but latterly he has been once more given charge of a district. His departure from Cowra was keenly deplored by a large section of our community.

The present officiating minister, the Rev. W. Parton Shinton, an Englishman, was not long in charge when he was prostrated by a nervous breakdown, which for a time had the effect of incapacitating him from work. We are, however, pleased to be able to add that the gentleman is no longer invalided, hence he has been able for some time to discharge his sacred office, and may he be long spared to continue to do so is the earnest wish of his many friends.


 Published on 11 April 1924


St. Raphael’s Church

Since referring to the early days of Cowra in a former issue we have been informed that a tradesman who was engaged in the erection of both churches that the first place of worship in Cowra was erected in 1858 by the Catholics, while the Rev. Father Murphy was in the spiritual charge of the whole of the Lachlan districts, and that the first Presbyterian Church was not erected until 1861, three years later. The first mentioned structure connects St. Raphael’s Church with the Convent, and is now used by the Nuns as a community room, and the old Presbyterian Church is used for Sabbath School purposes.

It will be observed that in the early sixties Father Murphy’s parish covered an immense area, in which the centres of population were scattered by long distances. The little church at Cowra, shortly after its completion, was opened by the Right Rev Dr. John Bede Polding, Archbishop of Australia. When the writer became a resident of Cowra in 1878 that large-hearted and immensely popular divine, Father Philip was parish priest at Carcoar, with which town Cowra was then associated. Mass then was only celebrated here once a month. Finding that the growing needs of his flock demanded the immediate erection of a much more commodious place of worship, Father Ryan devoted his energies to raising funds for the purpose, and was so successful in that behalf that he lost no time in instructing Mr. Gell, architect, of Bathurst, to prepare plans and specifications for an edifice, which it was believed would meet requirements for many years.

The erection of the building promptly followed the preparation of the plan, hence when I came upon the scene the rubble granite walls had reached a height of 6 or 7 feet. Some months later the building was fully completed, and this event was commemorated by a most successful bazaar in support of the building fund being conducted within its portals by the ladies of the congregation under the direction of Mrs. J.R. Atkins. This was immediately followed by a concert in the new church, at which all available musical talent of Cowra, Canowindra, and Carcoar were enlisted. On that occasion the late Mr. J.M. Cullen, of Carcoar, demonstrated in a convincing manner his versatility as a comedian by contributing a very large number of humorous character songs and dances in an inimitable manner, his local sketches being exceedingly clever. Over £500 was netted by the combined functions.

St. Raphael’ s Dedicated

In due course the new church, St. Raphael’ s, was dedicated and opened by the Right Rev. Dr. Quinn, Bishop of Bathurst. We may here remark that it is a matter for regret that the architect responsible for the design did not make adequate provision for climatic influences, also that he was so short-sighted as not to design a structure to which additions could not be made, as the occasion demanded from time to time without interfering with the symmetry of the main structure. St. Raphael’s as it stands to-day is far from being equal to the needs of the congregation, and with the progress of time this impression becomes accentuated. Indeed it is abundantly manifest that the day is not far distant when steps must be taken to provide a sacred edifice more in harmony with the proportions of the congregation, and the prospective increase of population.

In 1878 or 80 the Rev. Father Ryan was joined here by his brother, the Rev. John Ryan, who shortly after his ordination was advised by his medical attendant to leave Ireland for a more genial climate owing to lung trouble. He was a refined, cultured gentleman with a most engaging disposition, and a most interesting conversationalist. Finding the Carcoar climate too rigorous for his frail state of health he came to Cowra, and under Mrs. Daly’ s kind care and attention he appeared to make good progress, but shortly after returning to Carcoar he was again prostrated by a recurrence of his complaint, and the end came shortly afterwards.

The Larqe-hearted Father Phil Ryan

The loss of a brother with such a lovable disposition was very keenly felt by the large-hearted Father Phil, who never seemed to be the same man afterwards. In fulfilment of a long cherished desire he in 1882 returned to Ireland and became a Carthusian Monk at Mount Malleray, the scene of his early school life, and there he died 26 years later, on October 1st. 1908.

On the retirement of Father Phil from the Carcoar parish, Father Daveren was appointed to the vacancy. The new incumbent of the sacred office was a scholarly man of a gentle and retiring disposition. As a theologian he was regarded as particularly sound and convincing. He, however, lacked push and initiative, and furthermore his business instincts were far from keen. After a couple of years he was transferred to another parish, and Father McGrath, who some years later while in charge of Rockley was created Archdeacon, took up parochial duties at Carcoar. Shortly after Father McGrath’s appointment the Rev. Father J. Milne Curran, who later held the office of lecturer on geology at the Sydney University, came to Carcoar as curate. Following the appointment of the two priests last mentioned to other parishes, the Rev Fathers J.J. Horan and Hanley came to Carcoar in the capacity respectively of parish priest and curate.



 Published on 1 May 1924

The Rev. Father Horan

The Rev. Father Horan having succumbed after a lingering illness to phthisis, the Rev. Father Hanley was appointed to the charge of the parish, and Rev. Father O’Kennedy was then transferred from Parkes to Carcoar as his assistant. some years later Cowra’s claim to being separated from Carcoar, and being made a distinct parish, were recognised by the Bishop of Bathurst, and upon this taking place he (Rev. Fr. O’Kennedy) was appointed for life Cowra’ s first parish priest, and the first occupant of the fine presbytery, which commands an elevated position overlooking the Church property.

Rev Father O’Kennedy

    Credit must here be ascribed that rev gentleman for the very prominent part he took in designing and supervising the erection and raising of funds for the completion of the fine structure. The Rev. P.J. (now Archdeacon) Doran was the Rev Father O’Kennedy’s first curate. The latter rev. gentleman shortly after becoming resident of the town became associated with all our public institutions and took a prominent part in the management of our hospital and the P., A. and H. Association. He particularly interested himself in the cause of education, and with the concurrence of the Rev. Father O’Kennedy, did all in his power to raise the status of the Convent School, devoting particular attention to the matter of equipment and the comfort of the pupils. In the meantime the Rev. Father was particularly active in bringing about erection of the fine brick primary school now in existence, which is a vast improvement on the make-shift which it replaced.

……To Part SIX.