Ruby Mary McLEAN
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Thomas Rofs McLEAN
(Cir 1829-1882)
Mary (Margaret) GORDON
Joseph GALE
Pauline KALOFF
Kennith McLEAN
Alice Maud GALE

Ruby Mary McLEAN


Family Links

Patrick LUBY

Ruby Mary McLEAN 384

  • Born: 12 Nov 1890, Queensland Country 384,837
  • Marriage: Patrick LUBY on 26 Dec 1914 in Queensland Country 836

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Ruby attended school at Townsville North State School, enrolling in 1900.

The school opened on 4 July, 1887 with twenty-eight pupils.

The school is now called Belgian Gardens State School. However, its original name was Townsville North State School and it was situated in the suburb of German Gardens. The name of the suburb was changed during the first world war and the school's name followed suit in 1930.

During the second world war pupils shared the grounds and buildings with military personnel who established a hospital and a field artillery battery.

The school has had sixteen principals since its establishment. Within the school grounds is a small creek bed winding its way through a dry tropics rainforest, which even includes an open air classroom.

The school's history is chronicled in a highly respected publication first printed in 1987 and updated in 1997.

Some of the school's current students are fourth generation.

The administration block is part of the original school building opened in 1887.

Ruby's headmaster in 1898 was Mr John Henry Peak, who was headmaster at Belgian Gardens State School from 15 October 1894 to 3 December 1903.

John Peak was born in Drayton, Queensland, in 1865 and was appointed pupil teacher at the Drayton State School in 1880. In 1886 he was transferred to Mundingburra in Townsville as an assistant teacher and remained there until 1893, the year in which he maried. His appintment to Townsville North as headmaster in 1894 was to continue until 3 December 1903, when he died in an accident at the age of thirty-eight.

During this period as headmaster the school was enlarged with a second building being built on the southern end to accommodate the increase in attendance as the area became more closely settled. At the time of his death, one week before the Christmas holidays, he had several children attending school. One son, William, served in the First World War and his name appears on the school honour board.

Mr Joseph Tuffley followed Mr Peak as Headmaster of Belgian Gardens State School, from 1 January 1904 to 15 May 1922.

Joseph Tuffley was born in Rockhampton.

Way back in the past when the Belgian Gardens State School comprised two classrooms on low blocks, a tin shed and two earth closets, there existed a concrete drain with square smooth sides and a water tap . This tap was situated where the "BIG SCHOOL" joined onto the "LITTLE SCHOOL". The school has been vastly extended and improved since then but I notice the drain still exists. I'm not sure about the original tap. So what! What was so special about a concrete drain?

The drain was important because that was where we used to sharpen our slate pencils and clean out the ink wells.
Today's school desks tend to be small, table-like structures, made to accommodate one student only. In our day, a school desk was quite long. At least five children sat side by side on a form behind each desk. In front of each student's position there was a slot or rack into which the essential slate was meant to be inserted. A small narrow and shallow trough was provided in the top of the desk to hold the slate pencil or, on special occasions, the pen. Slate pencils were common. Everyone had at least one, whereas pens were a special issue. There was also a round hole in the desk beside each slate slot. This was to hold the ink well. The ink well itself was seldom present. Like pens, ink wells were only filled and issued when an ink writing session was imminent.

There were at least two good reasons for this policy. Pen nibs, when broken off, made a very effective point for a paper dart. Ink wells, particularly full ones, made a good repository for small pieces of blotting paper and dead flies. There was, therefore, a need for an "ink well cleaning" session prior to the "ink well and filling and issuing" session which preceded each ink writing lesson.

Even today I have not decided whether being selected for ink well' cleaning duty was a privilege, earned by good scholastic effort and behaviour, or a punishment for misdeeds. It was indeed a grubby business which left the participants in somewhat of a blue-black mess. After all of the preliminaries were completed, copy books would be produced and the writing lesson would commence.

It was not always practical to collect and store full ink wells after lessons, so there was usually a good opportunity to poke a few pieces of paper and an insect or two into the odd ink well. Thus the ink well cleaning ritual was perpetuated.

If by chance the seat in front was occupied by a girl with long plaited hair, it was possible, and it has been known to happen, that the end of one of her plaits would be dipped into the ink well-not really a good clean joke.

Let's now recall slate pencils and slates. As many people will remember, a slate was a slab of natural black slate material enclosed in a wooden frame. The slate had a smooth flat face on which it was possible to write using a slate pencil. Slate and pencil were the standard writing instruments for at least the junior grades.

The slate pencil was a short round bar of slate a little thinner than an ordinary pencil, sharpened to a conical point at one end. It needed re-sharpening from time to time. Hence there arose the need for the "slate pencil sharpening procedure". This was performed by rubbing the pencil against the side of the concrete drain mentioned" earlier. A little water provided by the dripping tap assisted the operation and usually dampened down the operator as well.

While on the subject of slates and slate pencils, how many students and teachers of the old days can remember the almost supersonic, teeth-on-edge screech it was possible to make by holding the pencil vertical to the slate and rubbing hard?

It will also be remembered that slates needed to be cleaned. This entailed erasing the previous writing attempts so that the surface could be used again. In theory this operation was performed with a wet sponge. In practice it was often done with a smelly piece of wet rag, or, in extreme cases, and when the teacher was not looking, by spitting on the slate and rubbing with an elbow - or even by licking the slate all over.

These days, I am led to believe, writing practice, even in the junior classes, is done using ordinary pencils or ballpoint pens on paper. There is now no need for ink wells and the ink well cleaning performance or for the slate pencil sharpening ritual.

Modern day students and their teachers are missing out on a lot of fun!

Still looking back on many happy memories
Congratulations Belgian Gardens.
Eric Rains 1927 -1935

In February 1886 a public meeting was held in German Gardens. A building committee was formed for promoting the establishment of a state school.

The site of the Townsville North State School, Number 509 was secured on 5 June 1886. A building contract was signed between William Bright and Education Department on 25 January 1887 to construct the main school building and teachers residence. By 4 July 1887, the school accepted it's first pupils. The first teacher was Mr. James Gill, who had come to Townsville from England where he had been a teacher for 11 years. The 29 year old Mr. Gill remained for 1 year before being transferred. A report to the Department at the end of 1887 detailed enrolments as 48 - 22 boys and 26 girls.

On 26 January 1896 Townsville was struck by Cyclone Sigma. It appears the school was undamaged as 50 nearby residents sheltered in the school after their homes were unroofed or destroyed. At the end of 1896 a play shed was built. By 1897, the school recorded 142 enrolments.

On 9 March 1903, when Cyclone Leonta arrived in Townsville, neither the school nor the population was as lucky. The school building was partially unroofed, the teachers residence suffered severe damage and 10 lives were lost in the Townsville and Bowen areas. In 1902, enrolments at Townsville North State School rose to 268.

During the Great War of 1914 - 1918, the suburb of German Gardens was renamed Belgian Gardens in honour of our ally, reflecting the ill feeling toward Germany. However, no action was taken regarding the school until 1930.

Enrolments dropped by half from twenty years earlier, to 107 in 1922, increased slightly to 157 in 1927 and 164 in 1932. Down to 159 in 1937, a huge dive in numbers during the Second World War to only 53. As the population returned to Townsville after the war, enrolments recovered to 122 in 1947.

Late in 1954, A and C buildings were raised onto high piers, providing shaded recreation areas underneath. Two additional classrooms were also established, one of these was transferred from Central State School. There were 243 students and 5 teachers at the close of 1954.

Enrolments in 1956 grew to 255, with expectations of 300 in 1957. This prompted the building of B wing. The teachers residence was moved to corner of Potts and Taylor Streets to allow for the new building. C wing was extensively renovated in 1960, D wing was completed in 1961, parallel to A wing. In 1967 another classroom was added to the end of B wing, making a total of 5 classrooms. 1968 saw part of the C wing verandah enclosed and again in 1971. The original high peaked ceilings of A wing disappeared behind a false ceiling, a part of the remodeling which changed 3 classrooms into 2 storerooms and administration offices.

Cyclone Althea, 1971 produced minimal damage to the school buildings. The teacher's residence however suffered a fate more akin to many other buildings in Townsville. It was so badly damaged, it was completely removed in January 1972. Enrolments at this time had grown to 379. In light of an expected surge in growth of the suburbs surrounding the Belgian Gardens School; a suggestion was made of reclaiming "the gully" at the western edge of the school grounds. The idea was not approved.

In 1974, C wing was used as the Library containing in excess of 4000 volumes. The P&C raised the proposal of a separate "modern" air conditioned library. The preservation of the investment in books as much a concern as space and comfort. In December 1975, St. Columba's Catholic Convent school in Belgian Gardens closed. A number of former students came to School No. 509 driving the enrolments toward 450. Beginning at the end of 1976 construction of the new library allowed C wing to become 2 classrooms. Officially opened in September 1977, the "modern" Library unfortunately missed out on the promised air conditioning, due to its enormous cost.

The Pre-School was built in 1980 on the location of the former teachers residence. Classroom accommodation in other areas of the school was still tight. A de mountable building was transferred from Central State School to provide 2 more classrooms near the eastern end of D wing. It was just in time for the 460 enrolments of 1982.

July 1986, the Centennial Year of School No. 509, 403 current students and a huge number of former students looked back at what the little school in German Gardens had become. And they were very proud.

The 1990s saw more growth in the suburbs surrounding Belgian Gardens due to a renewed interest in the "family" atmosphere of the suburbs. Along with this was a desire to enrol their children at one of Townsville's most respected and loved schools. For the family atmosphere has always existed at School No.509.

The Cool Schools program initiated by the Queensland Government means every classroom is now air conditioned. Thirty years after the idea was first raised, "the gully" has been reclaimed and landscaped to provide additional playing space for the 520 students who enjoy the experience of attending a truly unique school.

In the Electoral Roll of 1913, Ruby's occupation is listed as Housemaid.

In the Electoral Roll of 1913, Ruby's residence is listed as "Cromarty, Ayr Line".

Cromarty is located 1300.18 kilometres from Brisbane.

Our fist hint of Ruby's existence was from some informatin from Claire Smallwood, and a letter found in family papers.

In his later life, it appears that Arthur Smallwood undertook some family history research. The "brief note" he sent to his Uncle Rees McLean sparked this generous reply.

Rees is a very young man in the photograph here, while his correspondent, Arthur, is a mere baby in his grandmother Emily's arms. The lady is unknown. We estimate this photograph was taken about 1924.

4 Juanita Av
Towradgi 2518

(approx Oct 1979)

Dear Arthur,

Was so surprised & just as pleased to receive your brief note, sorry for not making an effort to answer sooner, but age (75) with an overdose of arthritis has not helped me, but conditions have improved, so I will make an effort to try and help with the big problem that you have set yourself. I don't really think I can be of any great assistance to you. But anyhow I will do my best and you can discard what you think is useless.

As far as I know, Aunt Jue (Mrs Seip) was a cousin of my mother. (Not sure of that). (Aunty Joan would know - Claire) She married Andrew Seip (of German descent), and that is as far as I can go with that. They lived at Yarbala (?) siding, 15 miles from on the Ingham Line. (Margin note - "arrow south") He was a timber getter. I remember the shack well. It was a dirt floor ~ the frame work was all bush timbers. It had a Galvanised roof, but all the rest of the shack was corn bags. It was a very primitive life they lived.

As far as my mother is concerned, I may be a little more informed.

Her name was Emily Frances McLean Orton, and she married Murdoch McLean, who I am led to believe did not have a second name. Thus Murdoch McLean. There seems to be an argument somewhere along the time, that the McLean should be spelt MacLean. Some of the family used Mac. But my father spelt Mc. I am told that was caused by the name being spelt wrong on my father's birth certificate. Not sure of that. Have no knowledge of my father's parents. But as far as I know he (my father) had 1 Sister, and that her name was Jessie and she married John Byers, who was a tailor at Ayr. I think you would be more informed about that family, than I would be. He also had (my father) had three other brothers and their names were Alex, John, and Thomas, there could possibly be another brother. I am not sure of that. There was 3 other children named MacLean that lived at Proserpine. Kenneth, Gordon and Jessie. (Pencilled margin note in female handwriting - "Mum's cousins"). I don't know who they were sired by. You may remember Ken. He lived somewhere you, when you lived at Highgate Hill in Brisbane. Gordon was a bootmaker, and he also had a business somewhere in Brisbane. I think Jessie turned into a religious crank (pencilled margin note in female handwriting - "Mona, Ken's wife did") and one of them had a son that was a cook on a leper station. Still on the MacLean side there was a Ruby MacLean. She married a Patrick Luby and they lived at West End in Townsville, where they had a plumbing business. (note from Claire: Ruby and Patrick lived upstairs of the plumbing business - opposite a big Catholic Church). I think she was connected to the Proserpine crowd. I think she was a cousin of ours in some way. Leaving this space in case I think of something else.

That other brother of my father, that I am doubtful about, may have been the father of Ken, Gordon and Jessie. They all came from Proserpine and possibly Ruby. I don't know whether any of this information is much good to you. Only you would know that. But you can destroy what isn't. Think you may be interested in the newspaper cutting my mother was the go-between in that business. A long story and I think I would be the only one with all the details of that business. (The Batak / Bartak Bubble)

Getting back to the Orton Side. It isn't too easy to explain. Maybe you can follow my way of thinking. My mother had only one sister, her name was Edie and she married Rees Thomas. They lived at South Townsville and he had a big Grocery business in Flinders Street, Townsville. They had 5 children, Hector, Charlie, Thelma, Grace, Vera. I only know anything of one of them - That was Thelma. She married Len Emmerson, who was Assistant Manager of the Railways at Cairns. Now retired and living at Cairns, Suburb Redlynch or Redcliffe. I think they only had two children. One turned out to be a scientif big shot in the medical world. I think my mother's mother was killed in a big (inserted in pen - "RAILWAY") accident when they lived in England. I only know of two other Ortons. One was the notorious Arthur that figured so prominently in the Tichborne Case and the other was the one that owed the government a lot of money for taxes. That is quite a story. He made a lot of money through crooked dealings in the mining world and then the government wanted to tax him on it and he wouldn't pay it, because he claims that the money was not made in Australia. When he refused to pay the tax the Government got on to him about all his other business and that was when he tried to leave Australia. But every attempt he made was foilded, because the Gov. had him followed in every move he made. However, he did get away and my mother played a big part in that. I will not go into details of that, because I have a newspaper cutting here that I will enclose with this letter. Funny thing about that cutting is that it must be over 50 years old and I have had it all that time. Several times I have been going to destroy it, but gave it a second though, and at last it is of some use (I hope). Then there was that other rogue, the butcher from Wagga. I am not well informed of him. I had a book here "The Great Victorian Mystery", but I don't know what happened to that. The last I knew of that was I lent it to Gert and I think it finished up with Merle, maybe she still has it. If you dropped her a line she would let you know. I think you would know just as much about him as I do. Will leave this for a few days, apart from that the arthritis is catching up with me.

I have one thing that I think is of some value. It is a case that originally belonged to Aunt Jue. It is a writing case with secret drawers a very highly polished a very compact thing. I would say it is 150 years old. It is about 12" wide, 6" high and I would say the depth would be 10" inches. The whole thing is beautifully inlaid. Too good to be laying in the bottom of a wardrobe.

I haven't gone into my family. I think you would know just as much as I do about them. I suppose you know there were 4 children, not 3. There was another girl, that died when I was a baby. Her name was Myrtle. There was another book (or part of it) that was written on the Titchburne Case, and it was called "The Great Fraud".

There was another cousin, of mine, that married, I will think of his name before I post this. Her name was Mourd, she married a chap from the Gas works and they lived in Philip Street, Hermit Park, Townsville. She was the daughter of one of my father's brothers, but I don't know which one it was.

I think that the chap that married Maurd /Maud Mc/MacLean name was Cec Mundy. He used to read the gas meters for the local gas coy. Have raked this brain of mine and there isn't much more I can think of. But if there is something you can think of, don't hesitate to drop me a line. You have given yourself quite a task and I hope that you can complete it. If you can't, nobody can.

Do hope that you and your family are OK. Saw Ross last May. Spent 6 weeks with Claire last Xmas. In May went up to Townsville for a drive, that was last May. We went up and back in ten days. Really too much of a rush. That is my problem. Putting the time in and at my age of 75, not much energy to go with it. I believe Merle is getting married again next week 3/11/79. I think. If I can find somebody to go with me I will make a trip to Melbourne. I am afraid this is all. I know it is very disjointed. Hope you can sort it all out.




Ruby married Patrick LUBY on 26 Dec 1914 in Queensland Country.836

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