The Ponting Family

Under southern skies: pioneers at Rosewood

When George Edward (Ted) Ponting married Shirley Webster in 1949, they brought together four pioneering Queensland families, including John and Margaret WEBSTER from Scotland who immigrated from Scotland in 1857 and James and Selina (Hill) PONTING. These families had ties to the Rosewood area.

After four years working on the Tarampa Station, and several years farming at Grandchester, the Webster’s moved to South Brisbane, to help their son David Webster build his bakery and catering businesses.

James Ponting was twenty-one and Selina Hill only seventeen when they married in 1863. James and his friend Charles Freeman were licensed hardwood cutters who were saving to buy land and raise their families. The young men selected land on the Mount Flinders Run at Tallegalla in the Rosewood Scrub: and this is where they stayed until their deaths in 1925.

The five eldest Ponting sons (Albert, identical twins James and George, Henry and Arthur) moved north of Kingaroy around 1906 and selected their own farms at Wondai. The girls married into the Beavis, Boughen, Harrison and Neumann families.

James Ponting’s oldest son, Albert was 49 years of age when he married his second wife in 1917. He had two sons late in life – the elder was ‘Ted’ Ponting – my husband Tom is Ted Ponting’s youngest child. We’ve been interested in the family and how they related to Queensland’s history for several years. After a career in academic research, I finished work in 2021 and took up the challenge of answering these questions: what sort of people were the Pontings of Rosewood, who left their homes to come to Queensland? How did they respond to life in a new country; and how did they view their place in the world?

James and Selina lived through times of change and upheaval in their own countries and came to a land of opportunity, uncertainty and great challenge. They raised twelve of their fourteen children to adulthood. Selina died in 1904 and was spared from the loss of a son and a grandson in the Great War. James strikes somewhat as a larrikin – but one who worked with a strong sense of social betterment for his community. Selina, as the publican at the Commercial Hotel in Rosewood was a strong, independent-minded woman who instilled the importance of family in her children.

Contemporary documents leave a rich picture of these people and their place as Rosewood pioneers. One of my favourite stories is found in the National Library’s Trove newspaper collection from 20 January 1908. The article is called ‘Notes by the Way’ and describes an encounter with the bewildering Ponting twins! If any readers have photographs of members of the Ponting family, I’d be thrilled to have contact with you through the editor.

Jane Ponting 2023.


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