The Negus Family
George Oswald Negus (Os) was born in Maryborough on 25 April 1873. His father had emigrated from Surrey, England to Maryborough, Queensland where he married in 1868 and established his family. Os was the third of eleven children born to George and Betsy (nee Hall) and became an engineer, working in Maryborough as a cycle manufacturer in Kent Street from 1904-1909. He married Alice Louise Wiles (29/02/1872-21/07/1965) in Maryborough on 30 September 1908.
He moved to Brisbane and worked as an engineer, living at Kent Road, Wooloowin for a time before moving to Montville to become a farmer in 1919. George purchased the parcel of land originally selected by Alfred Smith along what is now Western Avenue. The 58 acre block had been sold to Ralph Dart when it was first sub-divided in 1898 and remained Dart property until his death in 1918. The property then was called ‘Couldridge’.
A road, a dirt track down to the property of Mr C.H.(Harry) Bundy cut across his block and ran down the western boundary. This track was known in the 1900s as Bundy’s Lane, then in the 1920s as Negus Lane and today we know it as Negus Road. From Western Avenue the road winds south towards the dam for about two kilometres. It was the track to Baroon Pocket used by those aboriginal groups coming from the north to share in the Bunyi Bunyi gatherings. Today there is no access to the dam or Baroon Pocket from Negus Road.
George and Alice were in their mid-forties when they arrived in Montville. They immediately advertised for ‘a first-class man for the orchard who must be able to handle a team’ The job would be permanent to the right man and a house was provided.
The couple had no children, but they became very involved in the Montville Community from the moment they arrived. Alice was the secretary for the Montville Branch of the Red Cross Society in 1919 and became President in 1920. Os became president of the Montville Fruit Growers, Farmers and Progress Association. He presented the medals to Private Hifton and to Mr. W. Greber for his brother Cecil who had been killed in action as part of the Welcome Home for Soldiers returning from the First World War. Alice put together a programme of songs for the occasion.
In 1923, Os’s nephew, fourteen-year-old David Oswald Negus¹ was enrolled at the school and must have stayed with Os and Alice after his father was left on his own.
In July 1927 Os and Alice returned to Brisbane for Os to take up his engineering again, but they were back by October 1928.
The decades of the twenties and thirties were critical years in shaping the direction of Montville’s development and the men and women of Montville formed a close-knit community. The names of the menfolk are recorded at every local meeting- names including J.T. Woof, C. J. Wyer, C. Bowser, A.E. Brown, W. Skene, J. L. Millett, S.M. Dart, A. Bowser, J.J. Thomas, L. Gordon, J. Ruddy, R. Woods, R. Woof, J. Witten, A. Bramwell, R. Haynes, A.E. Butt, C. Dart, T.H. Brown, and Swain and Macdonald from Flaxton.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Negus were committed members of the Methodist Church. Os was a local lay preacher for more than 25 years and was known to so ably hold forth that congregationalists feared they might not get away to their luncheons after a Sunday Service. Their time in Montville throughout the twenties and thirties was filled with good deeds. At the Annual Harvest Thanksgiving in 1928, Os sang a solo, “The Better Land” and Alice too was a soloist. They were part of the Sunday School Scholars, a special chorus. Alice was president of the Methodist Ladies Church Help Society in 1930-31. She always contributed baked and handmade offerings to the Wistaria Fete organized by the Methodist ladies, and to the QCWA where she was also an active member. She is mentioned specifically in the organizing of the 6th Annual Ball in 1934.
In 1929 Os worked alongside J. W. Mannion and H.O. Dick on the Road Opening Committee for the opening of the Palmwoods-Montville road. Os put together a descriptive memento booklet on the road and district which was well received. The Committee were responsible for organising the actual opening ceremony, the official luncheon, the sport and entertainment for the day.
Os and Alice returned to Brisbane and purchased a home in Lyndon Street in order for Os to return to his trade, which he followed both in Queensland and in Newcastle (N.S.W.). With the establishment of the war industries at Rocklea Mr. Negus was appointed in charge of the repair maintenance shop. He held this position until ill health forced him to relinquish it. Between 1938 and 1942 Os and Alice returned to their Montville home at Christmas and Easter. A fierce storm in October did extensive damage and is reported verbatim from the Nambour Chronicle.
“BUILDINGS DAMAGED Two storms on Wednesday evening (21/10/1942) met in the south-west and broke with terrific fury on parts of Montville. Buildings on Mr. C. M. Dart’s property had their roofs carried away. Some of the iron was hurled hundreds of yards away across the property of Mr. G. O. Negus. His substantial house, workman’s cottage, waggon and pack sheds received the full force of the wind. The main house had its roof and portion of the wooden structure removed. The house itself was shifted completely of its blocks and carried eight feet to the next row of stumps. The verandah roof was blown away and the contents of the house, the property of Mr. Breakwell, deluged with water. Mr. and Mrs. G. Breakwell, who work the property, were in the dairy sheds at the time, and their children were alone in the house. A large window was broken, and in the kitchen crockery and glassware overturned and smashed. The children had a remarkable escape. In places, orange and mandarine (sic) trees were uprooted and Queensland nut trees were snapped off like carrots.” (Nambour Chronicle 23/10/1942)
Os and Alice Negus worked tirelessly for the betterment of their Montville community. Os passed away on 01 May 1944 at his home in Brisbane. He was 71. Alice survived him for a further twenty-one years passing away on 21 July 1965 at the age of 93.
¹ David was born in 1909 in New Zealand and later became a teacher transferred to Texas in 1932-3 but lived most of his life in Toowong. He married Mary Philomena Lennon and they had one daughter. His parents were Arthur Edward Negus – a moulder in the New Zealand Reserves in 1917 and later a storekeeper at Toowong. His mother was Florence Ethel Kenyon (b 13/3/1879) They were married in New Zealand in 1907.
Ancestry – Family Trees for Negus and Breakwell families
Nambour Chronicle 7/3/1923 p7; 6/11/1925 p9; 23/10/1942 p5; 09/05/1952;
Geoffrey Breakwell was born on 26 May 1908 in Wyong N.S.W. His parents were Frederick L. Breakwell (1861-1947) and Florence A. Gascoigne (1883 – 1971). He married Zelma Edna Morris (Edna) in February 1930 in Gosford, NSW. They had three children. Alan John born in Wyong NSW in April 1931, Pamela Ann born 1933 and Reginald Geoffrey. Pam and Reg were enrolled at Montville State School in 1941 and Alan in 1946. Geoffrey enlisted with the 6 Battalion Volunteer Defence Corps Qld on 06/2/1942 and was discharged 12/1/1944 (Q205100). Although they were married in the Church of England, they became involved with both the Church of England and the Methodist Churches during their time in Montville. Edna was a fine pianist and was in demand at the Montville Xmas Tree event, the Children’s Fancy Dress Balls, the ACF Fete, School Break Ups, the Patriotic Committee Fete and Carnival. At the School break up in 1946 she was presented a writing companion as a token of the school’s thanks for her ongoing interest and help in playing the piano and assisting with the school’s fancy dress balls. The family remained in Montville as dairy farmers until at least 1949. After that they are recorded as living at 78 Khartoum St, Gordon Park in the 1950s and from 1954 until 1978 at 32 Shakespeare Street Coorparoo where Geoffrey was a carpenter and Edna was a shop assistant until about 1970. Edna died in 1981 and Geoffrey died in 1997.
About the Breakwell children. It seems that Alan never married, Pamela married Brian Linley Gaskill and had two children Gayle Pamela (who married Wayne Broad) and a son, Mark Andrew Breakwell.Reginald Geoffrey Breakwell married Beverley and had one son, Gary Alan.
NOTE: Although the report in the Nambour Chronicle 23 Oct 1942 names C. Brackenell as the caretaker of the Negus property, there is no record of any person living in Montville at this time. I believe it is actually G. Breakwell and his family that are featured in the story and that this is simply a journalistic error. MHG has taken the liberty of reporting the storm story with the name of the known caretaker, Geoffrey Breakwell.