Mary Ann Granny McNEIL , 18591935 (aged 76 years)

Name
Mary Ann /McNEIL/
Given names
Mary Ann
Nickname
Granny
Surname
McNEIL
Name
Mary Ann /BELL/
Type
married name
Given names
Mary Ann
Surname
BELL
Birth

The Pre 1860 Pioneer Register has her DOB as 1858.

Death

MEMORIUM

The "Granny Bell" Story — A Piece of Early Laurieton History. This is the story of a remarkable woman, Mrs M.A. Bell, more affectionately known as "Granny", who was a legend in her lifetime. Born at Taree on June 27, 1859. she married John Bell in 1878 and from this union came a family of nine children: James, Norman, Anne, Janet, Mary, Roy, Elizabeth and William (the article forgot Donald). Shortly after her marriage they settled on the Tweed River, where, for a number of years, they engaged in cane farming until her husband suffered an unfortunate accident which rendered him an invalid and they moved to Laurieton in 1892. To supplement their earnings, and to support their large family, "Granny" conducted a boarding house and established herself as a professional nurse and midwife, and it was in this calling that she became a legend to all. It would be impossible to narrate the many things that "Granny" did in these early days, for without doctors, and the only transport being horse, buggy or boat, she was undaunted in her efforts to reach a sick bed. She waded through flood water, crossed flooded rivers by boat, and travelled for miles in an open sulky to reach the sick, attend an accident or bringing a child into the world. She was always among the first to arrive at a stricken household, carrying out all that was required to be done without fee or reward. "Granny" will always be remembered, not only as a professional nurse, but on who, on many occasions left her own sick bed, unselfishly spending hours with a bereaved family. Her self-sacrice will always be remembered and cherished with feelings of grateful admiration and undying gratitude by all whom she befriended. Mrs M. Gibson of Kendall recalls "I knew "Granny" very well and have many scars on my body from cuts and also from a fractured skull patched with horse hair, large needle and bandages for me to always remember this great woman". There is no doubt that this strenuous and self-sacrificing labour on behalf of others had much to do with sowing the seed of the full complaint that eventually brought about her death. In 1904, for her many good deeds she was presented with an illuminated address signed by more than 80 residents, and it was these deeds that no doubt, led the officiating Minister at her graveside in 1935 to liken "Granny" to Florence Nightingale. To pay homage to this remarkable woman, many residents, both young and old from the Camden have District and from all parts of the state attended the Laurieton Cemetery on Saturday, January 25, 1975 for the Dedication Service. The service was conducted by the Presbyterian Minister Reverend H. Sharp, and supported by the President of Laurieton Rotary, Mr Doug Mathieson, the member for Oxley, Mr Bruce Cowan and Mr A.E. Debenham, a retired Sydney magistrate who spent many years living in Laurieton and is the author of many books, one being "Without Fear of Favour" wherein he refers to "Granny" and the wonderful work done by her in the Camden Haven. The Leader thanks the Rotary Club of Laurieton for making this story available.

Burial

Her memorial reads:

"A "Legend in her lifetime" for dedicated service as a nurse, midwife and friend to the people of the Camden Haven District 1892-1935. Erected by the Rotary Club of Laurieton.