Mangowine Pioneer Jane Adams

Merredin Mercury, 12th September 2001

Jane Adams was the first woman to settle in the Nungarin area, and after her death in 1934, the people of the Nungarin District contributed to a fund to erect wrought iron memorial gates at the Nungarin Hall. The gates were officially opened by the Lieutenant Governor, Sir James Mitchell, at Nungarin’s Show Day, September 23rd 1936. After later renovation work on the hall, the gates were moved to their present site at the formal entry to the Nungarin Cemetery.

Jane’s parents, Charles and Mary Glass, were married at Lockloy, Aldearn, Scotland on 22nd September 1848. They set sail for the Swan River Colony soon after, arriving in Fremantle on board the Ameer on 11th February 1849.

A family bible in the possession of the Glass family records February 22nd, 1851 as Jane’s date of birth, which would make her 83 years of age when she died.

Jane married Charles Adams at the Wicklow Hills School at Toodyay on 6th November 1868.

In 1875, Charles took over the grazing lease at Mangowine, and Charles and Jane moved there with their two young daughters, Elizabeth (then aged about 4) and Annie (twelve months).

They had earlier lost their eldest son, Edwin, in tragic circumstances when he drowned in a well at Jurakine during a trip back to Toodyay.

At the same time they lost a second son, David, who died at birth.

Jane and Charles were to have twelve children, the last eight born after the move to Mangowine. Amy was born in 1876, Alice in ’78, Minnie in ’80, Charles Jnr in ’82, Henry in ’85, Kitty in ’87, Thomas in ’89 and John in ’91.

In 1887, Jane undertook the maintenance of official rainfall records at Mangowine. The regime of daily registrations was maintained until the time of her death forty-seven years later.

After the discovery of gold and the subsequent declaration of the Yilgarn Goldfield in 1888, prospecting teams passed through Mangowine and life became even more hectic for Jane as she provided meals and lodging to the men passing through. An extension was built to the homestead and this was used as a wayside Inn for many years for the prospectors and travellers going to and from the Goldfields.

The completion of the East-West Railway through Merredin in 1893 diverted the gold-rush traffic, and Jane’s life resumed its normally busy pace.

In 1895, while away from home droving sheep to Merredin, Charles died suddenly. He was camped at Nukarni Rock when he died.

His body was returned to Mangowine for burial.

Jane was only 46 years of age, with 9 children at home, the youngest only 4 years of age.

Jane’s third eldest daughter, Amy, accepted a position as governess-companion with the Butterlys at Yellowdine.

She fell ill with typhoid fever in 1896, and died in Northam Hospital. Jane rushed to Northam to be with her, but Amy died before her arrival. Jane contracted the disease herself, and gradually recovered to return to Mangowine to take up the threads of her life again.

In 1897, Jane gained the contract for fortnightly delivery of mail from Kellerberrin through the district.

The mail tender was valued at £35 p.a., and the journey took a week to complete.

Jane’s son, Charles jnr. who was only 15 years old at the time, did the deliveries.

The ensuing years saw the gradual development of agriculture in the district and the introduction of the Civil Servants Re-Settlement Scheme in 1909.

Once again Mangowine was the hub of activity as Jane was called upon to supply meat, vegetables, fruit, milk and eggs to the new settlers, as well as copious amounts of encouragement and advice.

Jane died on 9th November 1934, aged 83 years. She is buried in the Nungarin Cemetery, General Section, Row B, Grave 9.

Jane Adams had seen the district grow from a few isolated shepherds grazing flocks east of Toodyay, to the establishment of a town and thriving agricultural Road Board with a reliable water scheme, and bulk handling facilities at the railhead in Nungarin.

In 1974, well known Western Australian historian, Rica Erickson, wrote a one-act play paying tribute to the life of Jane Adams. Nita Pannell delivered the premier performance from the verandah of the re-sited Baandee Rest Room at Mangowine. Jane Adams is fittingly remembered as one of our most remarkable pioneers.

The Jane Adams Memorial Gates at the Nungarin Cemetery have historic and social significance as a commemoration of one of the very first settlers in the district, and one who has played an important role in the development of Nungarin and the Eastern Wheatbelt of Western Australia as a whole.