This is the story of three orphan sisters who went on to become pioneer European settlers in the Kiama and Gerringong districts - Cecelia Hindmarsh, Caroline Kendall, and Catherine Chapman.
The mother of the girls, Charlotte (nee Robinson), married three times during her short life. Born in England in 1775, Charlotte married Francis Flower at age 16 and had a son, also called Francis, in 1793. Charlotte later travelled to NSW as a governess, arriving in 1807. She married William Rutter, whom she met on the voyage, that same year. William and Charlotte had three daughters, Cecelia Sophia, Caroline Blake and Catherine Newell, born in 1808, 1810 and 1812 respectively (although there is some contention with the dates).
In 1812, William Rutter died, and a few years later, in 1817, Charlotte married again, to John O'Meara. However, just five years later, in 1821, Charlotte died at the age of 46, leaving behind her three young daughters, who were sent to live at the Female Orphan School in Parramatta. Cecelia was 13, Caroline 11, and Catherine just 9 years old.
Cecelia Sophia Rutter married Michael Hindmarsh in Campbelltown in 1826, whom she met while employed as a housekeeper on the station where Michael was the manager. They lived at 'Alnebank' (although the homestead wasn't built until 1851) on Michael's land that he was granted in 1827, just west of Gerringong. Cecelia and Michael had 14 children over 24 years, including twin daughters who both died in their infancy and were the first to be buried in the private cemetery at 'Alne Bank'. Cecelia died in 1869, aged 62, and is buried in the family's private cemetery.
The second sister, Caroline Blake Rutter, was 'apprenticed' by the Orphan School at age 13 as a servant west of Sydney. By the age of 20 she had moved south to live with Cecelia at 'Alne Bank'. It was here that Caroline met Thomas Surfleet Kendall, who owned Barroul Estate (southern Kiama). Thomas had already built 'Happy Villa' on the Barroul Estate, so Caroline had a home to live in straight away. In 1857, Thomas Surfleet Kendall built Barroul House (recently restored as the cafe at Bluehaven Bonaira). Caroline and Thomas had nine children together. Caroline died in 1891, aged 81, and is buried in Kendall's private cemetery.
The third sister, Catherine Newell, married twice. Catherine had eight children to her first husband, Robert Cooper. When Robert died in 1848, Thomas Chapman, a family friend of the couple, married the widowed Catherine in 1851. In 1856, Thomas purchased 9 acres of land from his brother-in-law, Thomas Surfleet Kendall, and built Hartwell House in 1857/58 for Catherine. However, Catherine died just two years later, at aged 48, and was buried in Kendall's Cemetery.
'Alne Bank' homestead, c.1908, with Thomas Hindmarsh in front.
Hartwell House, c.1960s. During the 1960s, Hartwell House was a Dr Barnardo's home for boys.
Kendall House (formerly known as 'Happy Villa')
'Alne Bank' homestead, c.2002