Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

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    Brooch given to Clara Saunders by miner Paddy Hannan in thanks for her nursing skills, courtesy of Dorothy Erickson.
    Details

Exhibitions

  • Karlkurla Gold: A History of the Women of Kalgoorlie-Boulder

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Saunders, Clara (1878 - 1957)

Born
1878
Died
1957
Occupation
Hotel owner, Midwife and Nurse
Alternative Names
  • Lynch, Clara
  • Paton, Clara
  • Williams, Clara

Details

Clara Saunders, accompanied by her mother and younger sister Susan, arrived in Southern Cross in Western Australia in 1892. She worked for her brother in law Tom Farren at the Club Hotel. In 1893, aged fifteen, she travelled alone to Coolgardie to take up a new job at the Exchange Hotel assisting the housekeeper Mrs Fagan.

Clara and Mrs Fagan also provided nursing care for miners ill with dysentery and typhoid, feeding them nourishing food and caring for them in clean and comfortable surroundings. One of these miners was the successful mining pioneer Paddy Hannan, who discovered gold at Kalgoorlie. He gave Clara a gold nugget in recognition of her service to him.

Clara continued to work in hotels, running the dining room at the Great Western Hotel in Bayley Street where she met her husband Arthur Williams who ran the billiard room at the same hotel. Clara married Arthur Williams on 1 July 1894. She was the first settler woman to be married in Coolgardie. She wore her gold nugget mounted on a brooch for good luck on the day.

Arthur and Clara moved to Goongarrie, where she continued to nurse and care for ill prospectors and act as a midwife to local women. She had two children, Lillian and Mary.

Arthur died in 1902 and Clara took over the licence of the Mt Morgans Hotel, running the business. Successfully until her second marriage to Joseph Lynch. Clara, Joseph and their two sons John and Edward sold the hotel and began farming in Narrogin. They lost their farm during the Depression and Clara opened a boarding house in Marvel Loch. Joseph died in 1939 and in 1944 Clara married for the third time to John Paton.

She died in 1957 at the age of 80.

Sources used to compile this entry: 'Coolgardie Wedding, 1894', in Outback Family History, http://www.outbackfamilyhistory.com.au/Coolgardie/coolwed.htm; Criena Fitzgerald and National Foundation for Australian Women, Karlkurla Gold: A History of the Women of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Australian Women's Archives Project, December 2012, http://www.womenaustralia.info/exhib/wikb/wikb-home.html; King, Norma, Daughters of Midas. Pioneer Women of the Eastern Goldfields, Business and Professional Women's Club of Kalgoorlie-Boulder &​ Hesperian Press, Victoria Park [W.A.], 1988.

Digital resources

Title
Brooch given to Clara Saunders by miner Paddy Hannan in thanks for her nursing skills
Type
Image
Source
Dorothy Erickson

Details

Dorothy Erickson

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ISSN 2207-3124