Welshman’s leap of faith
ONE hundred years ago the family of John Henry Williams from Wales settled at Malmoe, and recently 67 of their descendants gathered to celebrate the occasion.
JH, as he was known, set sail from Wales on the SS Orvieto on September 29, 1911, to find land and build a home for his young family.
At the time of his departure, his wife Elinor was expecting their fifth child.
By the time she arrived in 1912 on the SS Ophir, Elinor had five children under the age of five – Megan (Jamieson), Gwenfron (Mossman), Enid (Jamieson), Ieuan Williams and Clwydwen.
JH had settled on land on the Burnett River at Malmoe and built a very basic home before the family’s arrival.
Although not eager to leave her large loving family and her homeland, Elinor gave JH her support because he had been so keen to come to this great unknown land.
Two more daughters were born in Australia, Myfanwy (Farmer) and Edna (Croner), but sadly little Clwydwen passed away and was buried on the family property while Elinor was in Eidsvold Hospital giving birth to Edna.
Descendants gathered at the home of Edna’s daughter, Laurel Wallis, to celebrate recently, and Gwynfor Williams, a cousin from Wales was a welcome guest for the weekend.
At a special church service led by Gaye Tyler, 46 family members joined the Uniting Church congregations of Eidsvold, Mundubbera and Gayndah. The service acknowledged the family’s Welsh heritage by beginning with the Welsh national anthem sung in both Welsh and English.
It concluded with a rousing rendition of John Williamson’s Give Me a Home among the Gum Trees. The service, followed by lunch, was a celebration of JH and Elinor’s great faith all those years ago when they regularly held Methodist services in their home with a meal to follow.
HUGE GATHERING: Some of the many descendants of the Williams family gathered for a photo during the celebration of 100 years in Australia.