In 1938, Mary Ann Gogerly passed away nearly aged 90.1 Her life had been one of adventure, sadness and resilience. Mary was born to Elizabeth and Henry Alderton in 1849.2 Her father was the first person to operate a soap and candle making business in Sydney. As children, Mary and her sister came across a ship wreck and are now known to be the first people to witness the wrecking of the “Dunbar” in 1857 where 121 people died.3
After marrying Captain John Gogerly in 1869, the couple had eight children.4 A daughter Emily died tragically in 1877 in Balmain when she was severely burned.5 The following year John’s brother William, also a master mariner, drowned.6 In 1882 the Gogerly family moved to Booti Booti on Wallis Lake. Knowing the uncertainty of his work, John transferred all of his property into Mary’s name.7 John had a near miss in 1898, only to die unexpectedly in 1905.8 Mary carried on the farm and raised their six remaining children.
In 1911 a man called Alexander Johnson, known to the Gogerly family, murderously assaulted Mary, her daughter Lily and daughter-in-law Ethel. Johnson was enamoured with Lily and after drinking poison assaulted all three women while the sons were away. Johnson was sentenced to death.9
The Gogerly homestead once stood where the National Parks and Wildlife Service’s Ruins Campgrounds are in 2021. The only remnants of the Gogerly family property and the earliest European settlement in this area are the post and rail fence and small family cemetery across the road from the campgrounds.
Author: Janine Roberts
1 NSW BDM, death index No. 17701/1938.
2 NSW BDM, birth index No. 1522/1849.
3 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 3 September 1938, 5.
4 NSW BDM, marriage index No. 589/1869.
5 SMH, 18 October 1877, 4.
6 SMH, 25 December 1890, 1.
7 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 12 August 1905, 3.
8 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 12 August 1905, 3.
9 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 7 June 1911, 3.