The Cronin Family
The following records were compiled by Herzl W Baker in 1978
from notes taken over a number of years during conversations
with his mother-in-law Mary Ann WALTER (nee CRONIN).
Mary Ann Walter, daughter of Michael Cronin and Elinor Bridget Cronin (nee Noonan), was born at Kojonup in 1870.
Her family was then living on a farm at Mallitup which was rented from Solomon Drolfe, the first settler in the Broomehill – Eticup area.
Their nearest neighbours were the Treasures of Martinup.
Michael Cronin was a son of Patrick Cronin of Youghal, County Cork, Ireland and was born on September 4, l842.
In 1854, aged 12 years, he sailed on the “Berkshire” with his parents, brother John and sisters Margaret, Mary and Ann and arrived in Fremantle in March 1855.
Michael Cronin was educated at Bishop Hale’s School in Perth, and later moved with his family to Pinjarra.
He left there in 1861 for Kojonup where he worked on a farm for two years, and having gained experience, leased a farm at Mallitup (now Pallinup) where he remained for seven years.
Michael Cronin married Elinor Bridget Noonan, daughter of William Noonan, who was stationed at Kojonup as a sergeant-in-charge of the convict depot, from which the Perth-Albany road had been constructed and maintained.
In 1875 be moved to Glen Cove farm, which he had taken up from the Government two years previously, 17 miles northeast of what was later to become the town of Katanning.
With him was a ticket-of-leave man, John Collins, and together they erected a slab and dab house of sheoak poles, mud walls and thatched roof of blackboy spines.
It was erected as a makeshift but was to be occupied continuously until after Michael Cronin’s death on June 23, 1931 aged 88.
He held a freehold of 1,400 acres at Glen Cove (later shortened to Glencoe) and a pastoral lease of 20,000 acres on which he grazed sheep for wool.
In the meantime, he cut many loads of sandalwood from his own land and the adjacent bush.
From Glencoe, Michael Cronin carted his sandalwood and scoured wool to Perth Albany at six monthly intervals, to whichever port offered the best price, and returned laden with stores, clothing and farm plant.
in the 1870s there were four farmer settlers in the area that was later to become Katanning:
- the Ouartermaines of Yowangup
- the Grovers of Indinup
- the Haddletons of Coompatine
- the Cronins of Glencoe
The town of Katanning was proclaimed in 1889 shortly after the completion of the Great Southern Railway which was opened to traffic on June 1 of that year.
Michael Cronin was a foundation member of the Katanning Road Board, proclaimed in 1892, and served on it for ten years.
He had earlier been gazetted as a Justice of the Peace for the Katanning Magisterial district by the English Government and dispensed justice from the bench of the old Katanning Police Court.
Michael Cronin lost his wife in tragic circumstances in 1885.
She was thrown from a horse-drawn trap during pregnancy and became desperately ill from internal injuries.
She was moved to the Grover home, Indinup, five miles west of the present town, while her husband rode on horseback to Albany to get a doctor.
The doctor was away and, when he returned to Albany, set out immediately for Indinup, but she had died before he arrived.
She left a family of five sons and five daughters; William, Edwin, Mary, Agnes, Elinor, Johanna, Donald, Francis, Florence and Harry.
Mary Ann Cronin, third child and eldest daughter, then took over the management of the family at the age of 14 years.
She also led a busy life shepherding sheep, minding cows, helping in paddocks and doing a variety of household chores.
At various times the family employed a governess and other peoples’ children also attended classes.
During wagon trips to Perth and Albany with her father they both collected flora specimens for Baron Ferdinand von Mueller, one of Australia’s celebrated botanists and founder of the Melbourne Botanical Gardens.
The specimens were sent by post with a description of their habitat.
The following three specimens sent were new discoveries and were endowed with the family names:
- Anthrixia cromnana, a small stiff herb of the daisy family.
- Trachymene croniniana, wild parsnip related to the native lace blue flower.
- Cenospernium croniniae, one of the smoke bushes.
Baron Von Mueller was delighted to receive specimens and sent a small reward payment to Mary each time
She educated herself by purchasing second hand books with the money, and right up to her death was an avid reader.
Mary Cronin recalled the following events in her life which left a lasting impression:
- The day a new chum shepherd drove the family flock of 1.900 sheep on to what he thought was a patch of good feed. In fact, it was box poison and the next day there were 1.545 corpses and only 355 live, but very groggy jumbucks.
- The pain from an abscess as big as a lemon that formed on her groin. Her father rode 40 miles to Kojonup to get a lotion, but on the way home his horse stumbled and broke his collarbone and the bottle of lotion as well. By the time he arrived back at the farm the abscess had burst.
- Her first trip from the wilderness to Perth, 240 miles away. She walked most of the way behind a two-ton load of sandalwood for which her father received 17 pounds ($34). He gave her five shillings (50 cents) with which she bought a second hand copy of Sir Walter Scott’s “Ivanhoe”.
- The wedding of her sister Agnes on June 1, 1889. The whole family, except two sons, travelled with the honeymoon couple on the first through train to Albany on the new Great Southern Railway. It was a family honeymoon one might say.
- A reunion with her brother Donald who served in the Tenth Light Horse in World 1. He was a famous rough rider, horse breaker, and bushman who lived in the north-west where his name was a house-hold word.
Mary Ann Walter (nee Cronin)
Mary Ann was the third child and eldest daughter of Michael and Elinor Cronin of Glencoe, Katanning. She married John Edgar Walter.
Her sisters were:
Agnes (married Phillip White), Elinor (married Patrick Cantwell), Johanna (married William Kelly), and Florence (married Matthew Clancy).
Her brothers were:
William (married Ellen Hassell), Edwin (married Myra Cornelius), Frank (unmarried), Donald (unmarried) and Harry (married Bessie Bungert).
On September 10, 1907 Mary Cronin married John Edgar Walter at Katanning and made a home in the town where they raised a family of two daughters – Mary Edna and Joy Lorraine, and a son John Rae (known as Ray).
John Edgar Walter was a departmental manager with Richardson & Co Ltd of Katanning and he died on April 2, 1937.
At the age of 85, Mary Walter still played 18 holes of golf and was vitally interested in current affairs, reading “The West Australian” from cover to cover each day.
She died in Perth at the age of 104 (officially, 103) on July 2, 1974 and was buried in the Katanning Cemetery in her husband’s grave.
Mary Edna Walter married Herzel William Baker of Katanning in 1931 and they had three children Peggy Dolores, Michael John and Terence David.
Ray Walter married Catherine Keenan in 1937 and they had one son, Peter.
Joy Lorraine married Elgar Smith and they had six children: Laurie Elgar, Noel Francis, Kevin John. twins Eileen Mary and Patricia Lorraine, and Bernard Michael.
Patrick Cronin, father of Michael Cronin, died at Glencoe, Katanning, on June 3, 1900 and was buried in the Katanning cemetery. Michael Cronin also died at Glencoe on June 23, 1931, and was buried with his father in the family plot in the Katanning cemetery.
Mary Ann Cronin’s birth was registered as 1871 however she told us she was actually born in January 1870 and a year later, when her uncle was going into town (probably Kojonup or Katanning) to register the birth of his child, Michael Cronin asked him to register Mary at the same time.
At the birth registration office, Uncle was told there was a fine of five pounds for births not registered within three months, so he changed the date of Marys birth to 1871 to avoid the fine.
Mary said her mother knew she was dying, so she made black dresses for her daughters to wear at her funeral.