William and Jessie Cambage are historic figures in Cooroy, having been two of the first residents to settle into what was an almost non-existent country town and create a life. Today, their descendant, Kennedy McGrath honours them by Sponsoring a Christmas Star on the Ri-Con Cooroy Christmas Tree to share their story.
William and Jessie (nee Kennedy) Cambage arrived in Cooroy from Milton NSW on 6 October 1911, at first taking up land at ‘Happy Jack’ on the Mary River with their children – Eva Mary, John Fisher, Melba Jessie, Emma Ann, William Donald, Isobel McPherson, Marjorie Daisy Fisher, Sarah Fisher, Flora Elizabeth, Edna Jane, and Amy Violet.
Of their children the elder 7 were born in Milton NSW and the younger 4 were born in Cooroy, where they had originally moved for the sake of their children’s education. William owned many farms in Cooroy from 1911 to 1949, he was a great family man who was well respected in the community.
For a number of years, he was a director of the ‘Wide Bay Dairy Association’. This Association operated butter factories in Cooroy, Gympie, Maryborough, and Wondai. He also served as a Councillor on the Noosa Shire Council from 1933 to 1949.
William was a foundation member of the Cooroy Bowls Club and a keen and well respected bowler until his death on 15 August 1951. Jessie predeceased William having died on 28 September 1941 and both are buried in the Cooroy Cemetery. Marjorie Cambage’s ashes are also with William and Jessie.
Their daughter, Eva Mary, married William Mark McGrath at West Cooroy on 26 July 1922; they later operated the farm there until the early 1940’s. Together Mark and Eva raised a large family – Billie (deceased 1925), Marie Gladys, Elsie May (deceased 2014), Alan Mark, Eva Jean, Dorothy Merle, Walter Kennedy, and Errol John (deceased 1974).
Both Mark and Eva died in 1979; their ashes are now interned in Cooroy Cemetery with their son Billie. Kennedy McGrath currently lives in Cooroy, Alan in Pomona, Marie in Sydney, Jean in Brisbane, and Dorothy in Warwick. Ruth Kerr, a grand-daughter of William and Jessie Cambage frequently visits Cooroy where she owns property. Ruth’s mother Sarah Fraser (nee Cambage), and father, Roy, are also buried in Cooroy Cemetery.
If you’d like to honour someone – past or present you too can “ Sponsor a Christmas Star ” which costs $200. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or to find out more about Christmas in Cooroy visit www.christmasincooroy.com.au.