A passing timber cutter stopped to talk to Mary Jane Grey. It was about 1870 and she was 12 years old. He was in the area looking for Australian cedar trees. There was a lively 19th century trade in this beautiful red timber in the Hunter and elsewhere in NSW.
The timber cutter asked her what she would get for Christmas. Mary replied that she would get nothing. Her family were very poor. A few days later the timber cutter returned with a wooden doll. He had carved it from a tree branch.
Mary married William Edwards in 1885. She passed away in 1924. They are buried side by side in West Wallsend Cemetery.
A hundred years after Mary received this gift, her daughter Mary Hughes gave the doll to amateur local historian Ern Lambert. He recorded the story she told him. The doll was donated to West Wallsend High School and Community Museum in 1992 in Lambert's name. WWHSCM donated it to Lake Macquarie City Council 30 years later.
If you have information to share about Mary Jane Grey or these many acts of giving, please be in touch. This is Mary's gift to us: connecting us to each other and our shared history. Let's build on what we know and deepen our knowledge of the past together.
This work by Lake Macquarie City Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License