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Sarah Elizabeth Bruxner (1857–1941)

from Northern Star

A daughter of pioneering families of the last century and one of the outstanding figures in the life of Tenterfield, Mrs. Sarah Elizabeth Bruxner, died at her residence, "Hillview", Tenterfield, at the advanced aged of 82 years.

Mrs. Bruxner was the eldest daughter of the family of 11 children of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Barnes, of Dyraaba, Casino. Her death marks about the end of an epoch in the history and development particularly of the northern part of New South Wales, and, to some extent, of Australia itself. Henry Barnes, her father, was a Cumberland man. He came to the Richmond River in 1842 as overseer to Mr. Clark Irving. He rose to be one of the largest pastoralists in the north and a great stud master. In partnership with the Smiths, and, for a time, the Bundocks, he assisted in building up some of the finest herds of cattle in Australia and from his properties as many as 1500 bulls went out in one year to establish the great herds in northern Queensland. It is safe to say that many of the best Hereford herds in that State owe their origin to this man's enterprise and forethought.

On the maternal side, Mrs. Bruxner came of even older pioneer blood. Her mother was a Hindmarsh, whose parents were married in Port Macquarie in 1836 and who, with a young family, cut their way up the Hastings River to the north-east tablelands, ultimately reaching Tenterfield and taking up property at "Fairfield," or what is now called Drake. From there they migrated to the Clarence and one of the earliest pastoral leases was taken up by Walter Hindmarsh in the early forties. This man from Cheviot then pioneered the Tweed and his first farm was near Murwillumbah.

His wife, Mrs. Bruxner's grandmother, was the first white woman to ride from the Clarence to the Tweed, and the sons and daughters of these two pioneers played a most important part in the subsequent development of the north-cast corner of the State as well as penetrating even out to the Northern Territory.

It is no wonder that Mrs. Bruxner was a fighter all her life, loving the country in which she spent her long years, and keeping abreast of the times in a most astonishing manner.

In 1879 she married Charles Bruxner, a young Englishman who had migrated to Australia and after gaining experience in Queensland under Mr. Smith, of Gordonbrook, purchased Sandilands, which became the home of the late Mrs. Bruxner until she came to live in Tenterfield upwards of 20 years ago. She was married at Dyraaba, at her own home, and rode to her new home at Sandilands in pouring rain, swimming the last creek to get there. She was one of the finest horsewomen to be found riding sidesaddle and sharing every kind of pursuit that the men folk followed.

Her family were all born at Sandilands before roads made it possible for prompt medical attention and help. She was a great manager and builder and her garden all her life was her joy. She probably knew more about stock than most men and up to the end of her life took a keen interest in anything pertaining to the land.

Before she took ill, she thought nothing of being driven hundreds of miles a day, over roads that she could remember as bridle tracks and over which she travelled as a girl in bullock waggon or spring cart. Mrs. Bruxner took more interest in public affairs, both local and international, than many young people and read the newspapers from end to end.

All her life she had been most bountiful to others and her children have been her constant care. She has seen the great pastoral age of this part of the State in which she and her relatives played such a part pass to a period of more intense settlement and change to new industries. She always accepted the change, knowing it was in the interests of the country. Through the action of her brothers and sisters and herself hundreds of people have been successfully placed on the land, and nothing gave her more pleasure than to visit places that were thriving centres to-day, which she could remember as cattle-camps in her early days.

Hers was an individualistic, strong character which enabled her to be a wonderful guide, philosopher and friend to those with whom she came in contact.

Mrs. Bruxner lived to see the bridle tracks over which she had carried her son, Michael, transformed, under his guidance as Minister for Transport, into modern highways and by-ways. Hers was a life interwoven with the story of the development of northern New South Wales.

Mrs. Bruxner was the mother of four children, one of whom predeceased her, as did her husband, who died in 1915. The elder son, Henry, settled at Beaudesert and for 35 years has been closely associated with local government in Queensland. He is also a director of the Beaudesert butter factory and of many other companies and spends considerable time in North Queensland and the Northern Territory, being a competent judge of stock. Michael, who served his country in the Great War, rose to the lank of Lieutenant-Colonel and won the Distinguished Service Order. Shortly after his return to Australia, he entered politics, as representative of the Northern Tablelands electorate, and has continuously represented Tenterfield in the State Parliament. He was quickly marked out for Cabinet rank and as leader of the Country Party of N.S.W. has held the office of Deputy Premier and Minister for Transport for many years.

Miss Agnes I. Bruxner has been her mother's devoted and constant companion, sharing all her interests and ministering to the needs of her advancing age.

There are five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

A keen lover of flowers, Mrs. Bruxner was patroness of the Tenterfield Horticultural Society from its inception in 1930 until the time of her death, and took a keen interest in the beautification of Bruxner Park, even before its designation as such. A generous supporter of the Red Cross Society, Mrs. Bruxner's interest never flagged during the 1914-18 war, the interval of peace, or this war. A service was held at Christ Church of England at 10.30 to-day, after which the remains were conveyed to Sandilands for burial.

Original publication

Other Obituaries for Sarah Elizabeth Bruxner

Citation details

'Bruxner, Sarah Elizabeth (1857–1941)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 26 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Barnes, Sarah Elizabeth

27 May, 1857
Casino, New South Wales, Australia


19 February, 1941 (aged 83)
Tenterfield, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


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