Sarah Ethel Marsland Ba
Sarah Ethel Marsland Ball
by Great -Great Granddaughter Melanie Evans
On April 9th, 1863, the McKenna family arrived at Fremantle from Ireland having boarded the ship “Burlington” at Southampton, England.
Alice McKenna was the fourth child of Terryn and Margaret McKenna. When she arrived in Western Australia she was just fourteen years of age.
In 1865 Terryn McKenna was appointed the first police trooper of the Katanning area and, accompanied by his wife and children, he set up camp at Twontkwillingup” (the place of frogs) and later known as the “Police Pools”.
Terryn and Margaret were Katanning’s first settlers.
They camped in the bush near Police Pools for a year after which Terryn left the police force and took up land at Arthur River.
From there Alice went to the Bayler family at York to act as governess to their small children.
The family are unsure of her educational qualifications as all her schooling had been done before she came to this country.
While in this employment she was to meet again a shepherd who had been working in the Katanning district.
Thomas Gibson Haddleton came from London and arrived on the “Cumberland” on January 26, 1840.
He had been working as a shepherd-cum-drover moving a little further from York every year, during which time he had become quite familiar with the Katanning District.
In 1864 Thomas took up a selection of land, “Coompatine”. Although there were other drovers and sandalwood cutters moving through the area, this was the second selection of land to be taken up in the area.
Alice McKenna married Thomas Gibson Haddleton in 1866 when she was 18 and he was 35.
They settled on Coompatine although there are no clear details of their first dwelling.
However, it is recorded that their first son, Thomas Edward, was born at Police Pools making him the first ever white boy born in the Katanning district.
In the late 1860’s other settlers came into the district.
It is a challenge to even think about their existence in the late 1860’s and 1870’s.
he family shopping was done in Perth which meant a 21-day trip by wagon twice a year or a trip to Albany which was a fourteen-day trip. Visitors were few and all the travel there was, was on horseback or with a wagon.
From these humble beginnings they became a well-known pioneer family (of the Katanning district).
Alice had a family of thirteen children, five boys and eight girls, all of whom survived to be mature adults. This was very unusual at the time as a lack of medical facilities resulted in many infant deaths. As well as mothering thirteen children Alice became a well-known figure in the district.
Education was another problem. Alice did her best to help educate her thirteen children with the evenings being the only time available in their busy days. She had assistance from an old man by the name of Wilson who was a very good teacher. He would stay for about 12 months then move on elsewhere for from twelve months to two years before returning and the teaching assistance would be resumed.
In 1890 the first Katanning school was opened. Alice Haddleton was a member of the school board for a number of years.
She was a remarkable woman and was renowned for her many feats and is said to have reaped and hand bound an acre of wheat a day. A performance considered good enough for a qualified man.
She had a far reaching reputation as a midwife and travelled miles through the bush by horse and trap, often during the night, to perform these duties.
An important event in their lives was when the railway line passed three miles from Coompatine and Alice was able to supply camps along the track with farm produce.
In 1889 completion of the railway and declaration of Katanning as a town site took place.
In 1898 the Katanning Road Board came into existence and Thomas Haddleton was one of the first members. This is only one of the district organisations that they were involved in. They participated in all sporting events in the Moojebing area.
As the district became more settled the families took turns at entertaining their neighbours who would travel by horse and cart and on horseback. They made their own enjoyment from games of hockey, cricket, kangaroo hunts, sports, and picnic race days.
When Thomas passed away on the 3rd of January, 1903, Alice and her unmarried daughters shifted into Katanning, leaving the farm to her eldest son.
The next 18 years saw Alice become an out-standing woman in the district being actively involved in many different things. Her strong Catholic faith never wavered and she was a fundraiser for the first Catholic church.
Alice is still remembered by old timers in the district today and older members of her family still talk about her dominating personality. She is remembered with respect and admiration.
When she died in 1921 she left 57 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Never having been out of the family Coompatine is still a Haddleton farm.
This essay by 14 year-old Melanie Evans was Written about her Great-Great Grandmother Alice Haddleton, in September, 1979. It was awarded First Prize in the Senior Section of a competition conducted by the B.P.W. Club in September of that year. Dates were confirmed by Melanie through records at the Battye Library at the time of writing.
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