Bowning, NSW. Hidden Gems.

Grannie Brown’s Medallion Quilt.

Women are often missing in action in our histories. Everyday people doing everyday things don’t usually get much attention, especially women. While recently researching Bowning there was plenty to be found on Trove and elsewhere on the activities of men. In the process, I happened upon Grannie Brown’s quilt at the Powerhouse Museum  with the images found here. The Museum provides some very interesting information. The quilt was made by Amelia Brown of Bowning between 1857 & 1900. It came to the Museum through the family of Margaret Swann of Elizabeth Farm in Parramatta which kept it as a precious heirloom. Margaret Swann appears to have been president of the Women’s Suffrage League. However, Margaret Swann was also the wife of William Swann who was the headmaster at Bowning School between 1877 and 1880 and presumably met Amelia at that time. Amazingly, the quilt was featured in last years Labours of Love exhibition in Sutherland and also used ‘on the logo for the bicentennial exhibition Quilt Australia 88’.  It also provides her maiden name, which was Parsons and that she came to Australia with her husband & seven children in 1857.

Back in Trove we find that Amelia’s husband, John Brown, died at Oak Vale Farm at Bowning on 29 September 1884, aged 74, according to the Evening News. A similar quilt on the National Quilt register says Amelia lived from 1817-1905. It is also in the Powerhouse Museum’s collection and is dated 1857 when Amelia first came to Australia. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a death notice for her on Trove but there is an Amelia Brown who died at nearby Boorowa, in 1905, on the NSW Births Deaths & Marriages, perhaps that is her. Neither Amelia nor her husband are listed as buried at Bowning, although it may just mean they don’t have a headstone & more research is required.

Grannie Brown has unknowingly made a place for women in the history of Bowning and Australia. Perhaps there is much more to the story. We have a few clues now but there are sure to be many more stories. Perhaps in time, we’ll learn more or even unearth a photo.

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