Frances Ethel Ashurst Kenny
Beatrix Rose Kenny
by Grahame and Rosslyn Thom
Frances Ethel Ashurst (Ethel) Kenny, was born at Ulimambra Station near Coonabarabran, New South Wales on 28 November, 1879. Ethel grew up first on Ulimambra Station, then lived with her parents in Victoria at Berwick. Her father was station manager for a short period at Innamincka, and at Lawn Hills Station, near Burke, NSW. Herbert then moved to Yass, NSW as a station inspector for the PFA Company (probably the Pastoral Finance Association). It is not known if Rose and their children also lived at Burke and Yass. They moved north in about 1890 to New Koreelah, NSW where the two younger brothers were born. Ethel was probably educated at home.
Ethel did not marry but lived with her younger sister Beatrix at her Warwick home “Killowen”, providing companionship and overseeing the household for her sister who affectionately called her “Tam”.
Warwick, in southern Queensland, is a town about 130 kilometres south west of Brisbane. Patrick Leslie and his brothers, as squatters, settled in the area in the 1840s, naming their run Canning Downs. In 1847 the NSW Colonial administration asked Patrick to select a site on his station to be called Cannington. However the town, on the Condamine River, was called Warwick and land sales were held in 1850.
In 1871 the railway reached Warwick, causing rapid expansion of the town. Together with Toowoomba to the north, the two towns became administrative centres on the Darling Downs; a fertile agricultural district. Today (2015) around 13,000 people live in Warwick.
Killowen was an old farm on the outskirts of East Warwick when bought by Beatrix’s husband Arthur Devine about 1907. He renovated the old homestead, turning it into a rambling, iron-lace verandahed Queensland country home, surrounded by an acre of gardens. These gardens were typically Edwardian, including a tennis court, orchard, specimen pine trees and a large vegetable garden which became Ethel’s domain. Not only did Ethel keep the household supplied with fresh vegetables but she produced delicious grape, tomato and fig jams. Ethel was a sportswoman, playing tennis and gaining the title of Queensland Open Badminton Champion.
During the 1914-18 war, a small newspaper article in the Warwick Daily Mail read as follows:
“Interesting Gallipoli Souvenir. Miss E. Kenny, sister of Mrs A. Devine, Killowen, East Warwick, has become the possessor of an interesting souvenir of the Gallipoli campaign which was given to her brother, Sergeant-Major H. Kenny, while serving in Palestine. The souvenir is a Gallipoli Star, a decoration awarded to Turkish soldiers who distinguished themselves during the campaign on the Peninsula. The Star is in silver set in red enamel, with a crescent over two inscriptions in Turkish signs. The Star is attached to a ribbon in red, crossed by two white stripes. A photograph of one of these Stars was recently given in a Sydney paper. The souvenir was presented to Sergeant-Major Kenny by a wounded Turk in appreciation of kindness shown him on the battlefield. Sergeant-Major Kenny, who is in the 7th Light Horse. has been on active service in Egypt and Palestine for four and a half years.”
During her last days, Ethel converted to Catholicism and died at Warwick General Hospital on 17 February 1959 aged 80 years. She is buried at Warwick Cemetery with her sister Beatrix eventually buried alongside her.
Beatrix Rose (Trixie) Kenny was also born at Ulimambra Station, New South Wales on 11 March, 1883. However her father bought New Koreelah Station, NSW near Killarney, South West Queensland in about 1890 where Beatrix and her siblings spent their youth. Later the Kenny property at New Koreelah was called Windyhaugh.
Beatrix was schooled at home with her siblings and eventually moved to the Warwick General Hospital for nursing training, being listed in the 1905 Australian Electoral Roll as a nurse at the hospital. At 25 years, she married Arthur Henry Devine (40 years) at Warwick on 3 March 1908.
The local Warwick paper reported:
“Orange Blossoms Devine – Kenny
A marriage of much interest was celebrated at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church on Tuesday, 3rd instant. The contracting parties were Mr Arthur H Devine, youngest son of Mrs E A Devine, “Evandean”, Warwick, and Miss Beatrice (Trixie) Rose Kenny, youngest daughter of Mr and Mrs H Kenny, “Windyhaugh”, New Koreelah, NSW. The Rev Father Potter performed the ceremony. The bride, who was given away by her brother, Mr Evans Kenny, wore a very handsome gown of white uncrushable satin, richly embroidered veil, and pretty wreath of orange blossoms. She carried a very pretty bouquet of stephanotis and eucharis lilies. Mr C A C Chauvel acted as best man, and Mr H P Bergin, groomsman. The bridesmaids were Misses Ethel and Millie Kenny (sisters of the bride) and Miss Keene Cullen (daughter of Mrs David Cullen, Maryland Station). The former wore elaborately trimmed white Swiss muslin frocks, large white leghorn hats, trimmed with tulle, and large cherry coloured roses. They carried bouquets of white and red roses, tied with ribbon to match. The last named, a fair little maiden of 8, was very daintily dressed in white Swiss muslin; hat to match. She carried a basket of blue and white flowers tied with blue ribbon.
The wedding breakfast was held at the Cafe Victoria, about 40 guests being present. Among those noticed, Mrs Kenny (mother of bride), wearing a very handsome black satin dress, hat en suite; Mrs E A Devine (mother of bridegroom), attired in black brocade trimmed pretty jet trimmings, and bonnet to match; Mrs W Pierce, Lemon Tree Station, black colienne, glace slip; Mrs W Pierce, Evandale, black silk canvas voile, glace underslip, black jet bonnet with touches of eau-de-nil; Mrs C H Holmes, storm blue striped brocade with touches of pink cord; Mrs S Hannaford, brown silk costume, hat en suite; Mrs Alfred Devine, rich dress of black crepe-de-chine, trimmed black and white silk appliques, black and white chiffon hat, large plumes to match. Others were: Mr and Mrs David Cullen, Mrs Daveney, Mrs D Smith, Mrs Claude Newcombe, Mrs and Misses Cullen, Mrs Mackay, Mr and Mrs Meston, Captain and Mrs Webb,. Miss Madge Cullen wore smart white costume, Miss B Smith white muslin dress, with smart floral hat, Miss Mackay pretty white Swiss muslin, Miss Corina Mackay, lavender floral muslin; Miss Holmes, stylish costume of oyster mouselaine-de-soie, green hat trimmed with bunches of cherries; Miss Vera Holmes, pretty frock of blue crepe-de-chine, hat en suite; Miss Hope Mathews, white dress, pretty chip hat to match; Miss Pearl Devine, sweet little frock of eau-de-nil silk. The wedding cake was made and given by Mrs David Cullen, Maryland station.
Mr and Mrs Devine left for Brisbane in the afternoon en route for New Zealand, where the honeymoon will be spent. The bride’s travelling dress was of heliotrope eolienne, elaborately trimmed with velvet and silk motifs. Hat of burnt straw, trimmed with pink primulas and heliotrope and floral ribbon, and lined with pale pink satin. The dresses of the bride and bridesmaids and the bride’s trousseau were supplied by the Misses Gannon and Donkin, and the millinery by Allan and Stark, both of Brisbane.”
Arthur Henry, the youngest son of Philip and Elizabeth Ann Devine, was born on 3 September 1868 at Whetstone Station west of Inglewood, Queensland. After leaving school he was associated with his parents on Bodumba Station, in the Gore district until their retirement to Warwick in about 1904 when Arthur purchased the grazing property known as Melva (approx. 5,000 acres), in the Pikedale district . While retaining Melva, Arthur bought a small estate on the outskirts of Warwick in 1907 which he renovated extensively prior to his marriage.
Following the sale of Melva in 1918 he lived in retirement in Warwick where, although he did not take an active part in public life, he became particularly well known, being a member of the Warwick Club and the Warwick Picnic Race Club. He invested in the business centre of Warwick by erecting Devine’s Buildings on the corner of Palmerin and Grafton Streets providing professional offices on the first floor and the ground floor devoted exclusively to plate-glass windowed shops. He also invested in a grazing property, “Beress” at Karara which was run by his eldest son, Stanley.
Trixie and Arthur lived at “Killowen”, Burke Street, East Warwick, a rambling home with extensive gardens where they enjoyed entertaining their many friends and relatives and reared five children with the help of a cook, nursemaid, chauffeur, gardener and Beatrix’s sister Ethel. Their children were:
Stanley Arthur, born 9 July 1909, Warwick, Queensland
Colin Kenny, born 23 March 1911, Warwick, Queensland
Jack Stuart, born 8 September 1912, Warwick, Queensland
Maxwell Brian, born 19 April 1915, Warwick, Queensland
Beryl Hope (Hope), born 5 September 1920, Warwick, Queensland
Beatrix tended to the acre of beautiful Edwardian country gardens until her old age. She planted one or two of every available pine and cyprus tree, rose covered trellises over flower-bordered pathways, Virginia creeper covered arbours, spreading buffalo grass lawns centred by a stone fishpond and fountain and large pink-flowered hydrangeas growing on either side of the front steps leading onto the wide verandas which wandered around the front of the house. Roses, lagerstroemia (crepe myrtle), hydrangeas and yellow broom were favoured for the flower arrangements in the house. “Killowen” became a setting for many social events which were reported in local and Brisbane papers:
“On Friday evening last Mrs A H Devine gave a most delightful party at her home “Killowen”, in honour of her guest, Miss Pauline Curr. The reception rooms were decorated with a profusion of roses placed in vases and bowls. A “blindfolded” drawing competition caused much amusement, and was won by Miss Barbara Newcombe and Master D Redmond. Dancing was enjoyed on the spacious veradahs, and during the evening Mrs Holmes, Miss Cruice, Mrs Moncrieffe Scott and Miss Kathleen Curr contributed solos. More than 35 guests attended and Miss Kenny assisted her sister in entertaining.”
On another occasion over 100 named guests were reported:
“On Friday afternoon, at their pretty residence, Killowen, Mr and Mrs A H Devine entertained a large number of guests at a most enjoyable and well arranged “at home”. The beautiful grounds were at their best and looked very gay with the pretty green lawns and lovely flowers of every hue showing in pleasing contrast. The spacious verandah, which was converted into a reception room, was made comfortable with easy chairs and lounges. The dainty refreshments from John’s Cafe were served in the lounge at small tables prettily decorated with tall silver vases of bronze and golden yellow chrysanthemums and asparagus fern. Hanging baskets of delicate fern and pretty pot-plants added to the scene, while overhead garlands and festoons of primrose formed a bright and effective decoration. Musical selections were rendered by the Misses O’Neill (violin and piano), and after afternoon tea had been partaken of the guests were kept amused with a “tell me” competition. The lady’s prize (a pretty cut-glass and silver perfume bottle) was won by Mrs Page Gray (Brisbane), while Mr Dickey was successful amongst the men and received a leather pocket wallet.
Mrs Devine received her guests in a becoming costume of grey figured silk eolienne with grey silk embossed trimmings, the bodice and skirt outlined with tiny steel beads ; she added a large black satin picture hat, lined with pale pink and finished with a graceful white ostrich plume. …..(all guests were named).
The tennis court was well utilised:
“On Saturday, in honour of Miss Madge Smith (Melbourne), Mr and Mrs A H Devine entertained a few friends at a very enjoyable tennis afternoon at their pretty residence, Killowen. Several interesting sets of tennis were played, easy chairs and lounges being arranged for the onlookers on the grounds, in view of the court. A dainty afternoon tea was served in the house, the reception rooms being brightly decorated with scarlet geraniums and narcissi, further enhanced with palms and pot plants dotted about. During afternoon tea Mr Devine rendered several melodious pianola selections. Mrs Devine received her guests in a smartly cut tailored coal and skirt of grey tweed, opening over a vest of soft lace and crepe-de-chene, a large velvet cerise rose adding a distinctive touch. Her becoming hat was of black velvet, the sole trimming being a beautiful white ostrich plume gracefully sweeping the brim at one side. Her sister, Miss Kenny, who assisted in the entertaining of the guests, wore a tennis frock of cream sicilian, over which was worn a creamm sports coat. Her small white felt hat was encircled with a cream pugaree. The gust of honour was in a dainty white tennis costume, with shady hat of black and white spotted muslin.”
Beatrix became well known in Warwick society as patron of the Girl Guide Association and the Red Cross Society, providing her home and garden for an annual fundraising Girl Guides Garden Party and Fete. She won prizes for floral arrangements and needlework at the Warwick Agricultural Show while Arthur won prizes for his fox terriers and racehorses. Beatrix and Arthur travelled to Melbourne for many years to attend the Melbourne Cup and to visit ‘the Aunts’.
An excerpt from the local newspaper social column of the 1950s accompanied by a photograph, regarding Beatrix’s Girl Guide activities, ‘Social Roundabout with Dinah’ read as follows:
“Perfect weather for hut opening and fete –
In warm autumn sunshine last Saturday afternoon Mrs B.R. Devine, patron of the Girl Guide Association in Warwick, officially opened the attractive and long-wanted additions to the hut in Queen’s Park.
Guiders, Guides, Brownies in uniform and members of the Local Association “manned” a variety of stalls which attracted a steady stream of customers throughout the afternoon. We nearly forgot to mention the young Cubs wearing their uniform who attended as customers. They were most welcome!
Mrs Devine was escorted into the grounds by Mrs Church through a double file of Guides and Brownies. In her usual gracious manner Mrs Devine thanked everyone who had contributed either in cash or work to have the hut open free of debt. She said it was a great pleasure to her to have been given the honour of officially opening the hut, named for Miss Dorothy Tilley, who had done so much for Guiding in Warwick over the years.
Visitors were invited to inspect the hut, which is gay and bright with brand new paint. Biggest thrill for the Guides is that there is now room to more than adequately store camping equipment. No doubt they will now want to add to it – it always seems a pity to have an unfilled corner in a room!
Chairs and tables were set out at one side of the hall where patrons could enjoy afternoon tea, a chat and watch the children’s mannequin parade……….(mannequins and clothes were listed).
Mrs Devine wore a parma violet faille frock showing a pleated bodice and gored skirt, and her accessories included a winter-cream, rose-trimmed hat, an amber-set brooch and a long strand of amber beads…….”
Another newspaper article published on the morning of this event began as follows:
“Girl Guides Hut to be officially opened today.
For Girl Guides and Brownies and their friends one of the social highlights of the year has been for a long time the annual garden party held at the home of their patron, Mrs B. R. Devine.
This year they are going to miss swinging from the branches of the huge trees and hiding behind the many shrubs in her spacious gardens.
This afternoon Mrs Devine will officially open the newly completed and debt-free Dorothy Tilley Guide-Brownie hut in Queen’s Park, and this function will take the place of the garden party usually held at her residence.
Competitions, afternoon tea and a variety of stalls will be ‘manned’ by Guides and Brownies and their mothers and a parade of children’s clothing will be presented by Mrs I. Cullen of the Carolyn Salon……….”
Arthur died aged 73 years on 30 July, 1942 leaving Beatrix a widow for nearly thirty years until she died at “Killowen” on 26 November 1971 aged 88 years. Both are buried in Warwick Cemetery – Arthur in the Devine plot in the Church of England section and Beatrix with her sister Ethel in the Catholic section.