Millicent Emily Kenny (1881-1960)
by Grahame and Rosslyn Thom
Early records give her full name as Susannah Millicent Emily Kenny. The names of Susannah and Emily most likely relate to the names of her Aunts (by the Jennings marriage). However, she later dropped the use of the name Susannah.
Millicent, known as Millie, was born at Ulimambra Station, south east of Coonabarabran, NSW, on 6 April 1881, the second daughter of Herbert and Rose Kenny. Her birth was registered by her father who said his daughter’s name was Millicent Susan Emily.
Millie’s first years were on Ulimambra Station after which her family moved to Berwick in Victoria. 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. The family then moved north to New Koreelah around 1890. Her two younger brothers, Jack and Roy were born in 1892 and 1895 at New Koreelah.
While at New Koreelah the Kenny children were educated at home until 1901 by their governess Miss Mary Carter. Millie lived on the New Koreelah property from about nine years of age to her early twenties when she went to work for the Commercial Bank at Casino. It was from Casino in March 1908 that she travelled to Warwick to be bridesmaid at the wedding of her sister, Beatrix. A postcard from Trixie in New Zealand, while on her honeymoon, to Millie in Casino, remains in the family records.
At Christmas 1908, she went for a holiday to a property at Tweed Heads owned by friends of the Kenny family. Here she met Frank Sellars who had recently arrived from England and was working on the property. By 1910, Frank and Millie had decided to marry and they left for the home of Frank’s cousin, Thomas Edward Thorpe, in Townsville. On 7 February 1910, Frank and Millicent were married at his cousin’s house at Hyde Park, Townsville. Below is an excerpt from the Townsville Bulletin –
A quiet and pretty wedding was solemnised on Monday, February 7, at 5 p.m. at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. T.E.Thorpe (cousin of the bridegroom), Hyde-park, Townsville, between Frank, fourth son of Mr. J.C. Sellars, Manor-house, Evedon, Sleaford, England, and Millicent, second daughter of Mr. Herbert Kenny, East Maitland (late of New Koreelah Station). The ceremony took place in the large drawing-room, which was a mass of beautiful flowers, the Rev. Frank Bourke officiating. The bride, who was given away by her brother (Mr H. Kenny), wore a beautiful gown of white satin, made in the Empire style, mounted on glace; trained skirt, soutached and finished with padded hem; the bodice had a square yoke effect of tucked chiffon, with sleeves of same, and spray of orange blossom on the corsage; embroidered tulle veil over coronet of orange blossom (lent by the bride’s sister, Mrs. Arthur Devine), and carried a shower bouquet of white flowers and maidenhair fern, tied with white satin streamers. Miss Ethel Kenny (sister of the bride) was bridesmaid, in white muslim, made semi-Empire; hat in palest pink shades, tied with black velvet strings, and carried a shower bouquet of pink roses and maidenhair fern. Mr. J. H. Blain was best man. The bride travelled in a smart tailor-made coat and skirt, hat to match.
Congratulatory telegrams were received from friends and relatives including, Jessie Ridley, Geo. Needham Walker & Family, Dennis, Trixie and Arthur Devine and Mother and Father Kenny.
Prior to the wedding, Millie received a letter from her mother, Rose, written from Morpeth, New South Wales, dated January 23rd:
“My Dearest Mill,
This is the last letter you will get as a single girl. I suppose you are leading a life of wild excitement & are very happy. I have to part with Bert in the morning & shall be a bit down for the day. To-day he is 22 – he has been a dear good boy to us. I hope Frank will not collapse before the wedding day he must be nearly mad by this. Well my child I wish you all the happiness you deserve as a good daughter & good sister. May your life be ever bright & fair. Love from us all & your loving Mother,
Rose M. Kenny”
Frank must have been advised of business opportunities in nearby Bowen where he established a real estate business in 1910. The newlyweds established their new home in Gordon Street, Bowen.
Bowen is located on the shores of Edgecombe Bay on the north east coast of Queensland. It is halfway between Townsville and Mackay, and by road it is 1130 kilometres to Brisbane. Bowen is on a peninsula with the Pacific Ocean on three sides and the Don River’s alluvial plains to the west.
Edgecombe Bay was discovered by Captain Henry Daniel Sinclair in 1859, naming the locality Port Denison after the colonial governor of New South Wales, Sir William Denison, 1854-1861. Two years later Sinclair led a group of settlers by sea, and George Elphinstone Dalrymple led another party overland from Rockhampton. They met at Port Denison on 11 April 1861. Next day the two parties decided to settle there and re-named the future town as Bowen after Queensland’s first colonial governor Sir George Ferguson Bowen.
Bowen’s economy was first based on agriculture and beef cattle. Both continue today, and also farmers grow crops such as tomatoes, mangoes, rockmelons and capsicums, while coal is mined nearby. The population of Bowen in 2011 was just over 10,000..
The real estate business established by Frank Sellars is still operated by son Frank and grandson Brian. Frank Sellars and Company celebrated 100 years of trading in 2010.
Frank and Millie had four children:
Rose Millicent, born 8 January, 1914, Bowen, Queensland
Frank, born 7 April, 1924, Bowen, Queensland.
After the birth of their first child Rose, Millie received the following letter from her mother:
My Dearest Mill
So glad to get your letter & know you & the little daughter are so well and strong. What a happy little Mother you are & what care your baby will get. It is a blessing from God to know you are safe & well. What poor Baby could have had as name than her Grannys but it was a very nice complement for you & Frank to pay me. May the little girl have a brighter & happier life in the years to come than I have & may she be the greatest blessing to you & her Father. Yes you were pretty sudden at the last & it was best so you had no time to think. How nice that you can nurse your baby on the breast, it is great joy to a Mother her baby is her very own then, I shall be glad to get your next letter & hear all particulars. Jack never mentioned if Frank had his license to sell. We are all well here. Much love from Mother to you all.”
When Rose was ten years old she wrote to her grandparents and received the following reply from her grandfather:
Blacktown 19th Aug ‘24
I was very pleased to get my first letter from you, and ought to have answered it before, but have been rather busy lately, so I hope you will excuse me.
I was quite surprised to get a letter from you, I had forgotten how long ago it was that I had seen you and Joyce, and that you must be quite big girls now, and I am sure you must be able to help your mother a lot now.
You must enjoy going out to see Aunt May and Uncle Bert. I wish Bowen was not so far away, I would like to see you all.
May sent us some snaps. The house looks nice in the snap. You must be having nice weather at Bowen now. We have had an awfully cold Winter, and still have white frosts nearly every morning. Your little brother must have been born lucky, fancy him winning the wedding cake. I suppose you go out to see Uncle Evans sometimes. He must be pretty busy now. It would be nice if your mother and father could take another trip down to Sydney and come and see us.
Give my best love to your mother and Joyce, and kind regards and good wishes to your dad. With best love to yourself
Your Aff’ate Grandad
Travel was a major undertaking in the early twentieth century but there were many trips to her sister Trixie and family in Warwick and to her parents in Sydney. The last trip to Sydney in 1930 before her mother died included photos of the Sydney Harbour Bridge during construction.
Millie had considerable artistic talent with a number of treasured paintings still in the hands of her family. She also enjoyed gardening and tended a large garden at her home in Gordon Street in Bowen. Letters to her mother often discussed the state of her garden.
Millie lived out her married life in Bowen and died in 1960 aged 79. She is buried in the Bowen cemetery.