Who first slept in this house? Loma Linda, Northgate
Who was the original owner of Loma Linda, a large, distinctive house on a ridge in Northgate, originally occupying acres? We were told there was a link to Bundaberg sawmills, where timber was especially milled and used in the house's particular wooden features, and the family had been resident there for at least 40 years since 1914.
A search of the 1914 Queensland directory did not show the streets of Northgate. Heads-of-households’ names were simply listed for this “outer suburb”. A solution was found in a CD-ROM of the 1922 electoral roll, as it is possible to search this by street name. It showed 11 family names in Love Street, Northgate and provided the electoral division and subdivision. There were no house numbers, but in some cases, preceding the street name, were a few house names or names of owners with whom the voter was resident. This 1922 list enabled a quick search of the alphabetical list of names on the 1914 roll on fiche in the division of Lilley, subdivision of Nundah. Only one enrolled family, resident in 1922, was present on the 1914 list – Skyring.
The Skyring link to Bundaberg
The link to the timber mills of Bundaberg was established with a search of the free Trove historical newspapers. An advanced search with the words "Skyring" and "Northgate" provided the connection. The obituary of Mrs Emily Skyring of Northgate in the Maryborough Chronicle of 3 July 1926 outlined her background as an early immigrant. She and her husband opened the sawmills on the Burnett River, Bundaberg in 1884.
The house name
The social notices of the day - “at homes” and holiday sojourns at the seaside in Trove - referred to the Skyrings’ Northgate house name as Rosecleer (bright rose). The household consisted of Emily Skyring, her eldest daughter, Sarah Ellen, and other daughters, Lily Rose, Rose May and Violet Emily at various times. Later electoral rolls show the house name had changed to Rosellen, combining elements of the names of Emily’s daughters usually in residence. There was no reference to this house name variant in Trove newspapers, which usually extend only to 1954. Other references in the newspaper showed the breakup of the estate and changes over time as family members died.
In 1959, Sarah Ellen and Lily Rose died, but the home had become a boarding house, as happened with many older larger homes.
State Library of Queensland’s newspaper clipping files under Brisbane- residences-L provide an article from the Courier Mail of 31 May 1981, confirming that Loma Linda (beautiful hill) was the name current at that time, and explaining that only two families had owned the place. The timber, specially selected for the original owners, was sent by train to Nundah then by dray to Love Street.
The Skyring family
Shipping, birth, death and marriage records, newspaper items and biographical files showed that in 1833 Daniel Skyring arrived in Sydney on the Esther with his wife and three children. By 1844 he was in Brisbane with his expanding family, and was among the first people to purchase land in Moreton Bay, which was newly opened to free settlement. Henry Albert, the second of his children to be born in Moreton Bay, had successful timber mills in Bundaberg, among his other business interests. In 1866, Henry married Emily Jones, who had arrived in Moreton Bay as a three year old on the Parsee in 1853. She bought the Northgate land and built the house after she was widowed.
The house in Love Street, variously known as Rosecleer, Rosellen and Loma Linda, is an interesting link to the Skyrings’ timber interests in Bundaberg and to two early pioneer families. At a time when Brisbane is changing dramatically, it is intriguing to note such connections still exist as special tangible links to the past. The increasing availability of resources allows us to explore these house histories.
To find out more about house history resources, view the webcasts of our recent House Histories presentation at /audio-video/webcasts
Stephanie Ryan, Senior Librarian