b. 29 January 1872 at ”Oakbank” Gullengutta,
Warialda district near Graman NSW
(parents: Alexander Dill Gamble and Fanny O’Donnell)
d. 18 March 1945 at her son Erle Speers home Parramatta
Aged 73 years
Interred Northern Suburbs Cemetery General Section C6 Grave 0043
Married 21 April 1897 at “Oakbank” aged 26 years to Julius Ewald Speers.
(Parents: Alfred Speers formerly Arndt and Antonie Steinheimer)
Clara was the sixth child and third daughter in the family. Along with her siblings she learnt to read and write from daily readings of the family Bible delivered by her Father.
Clara was only 12 years of age when her Mother died and some time following this, went to live with her elder sisters Fanny and Catherine in Urabatta Street, Inverell. It was here Clara became apprenticed to a local dressmaker in Inverell. Family tell of Clara running across the bridge on her way to work as she plaited her hair.
Clara met Julius Speers, a young school teacher of German descent who had been born in Tamworth 1874 and by 1894 was teaching in the Gurley, Edgeroi and Terry Hie Hie district. Julius was known to the Gamble family through an association Clara’s father Alexander Dill Gamble had with Julius’s father, Alfred Speers.
Following her marriage to Julius, Clara would travel with her husband to the half time schools where he was teaching at Eulah Creek and Bullewa Creek and would teach the girls needlework. At this time the couple were living just east of Inverell at “Paradise” in a tin roofed slab hut dwelling.
Julius E. Speers with "Clip" - a good servant. c.1905 or earlier
Clara was always a popular member of the district and was held in the highest esteem.
Fortunately for future generations, Julius was a keen photographer, taking many photos of family, old schools, scenes and rural life, preserving our history and often making the better photos into postcards for sale.
Julius moved the family through the Narrabri district. From 1899 to 1908 Julius was teacher at “Attunga Springs”, Moore Creek. Later he developed an interest in farming, however Julius fell off a large haystack onto a pitch fork which pierced him. Young son Erle, pulled the fork out and Julius spent a week in hospital. Perhaps this is the reason we see Julius becoming Postmaster at Attunga and living with the family at the Australia Arms Hotel, ten miles out on the Tamworth to Manilla Road, a staging post for Cobb and Co with their north-west mail to change horses.
While moving through the Narrabri area, Clara was washing the clothes by hand and accidently threw her wedding ring out with the used water, she was unable to find it in the mud. Twelve years later it was found in the dust at Narrabri and returned to Clara in Moore Creek. The ring had been identified by the inscription.
Bible studies always played an important role in the Speers family’s life. In 1919 a Pastor Salton, Seventh Day Adventist Minister, would peddle his bicycle 10 miles to Attunga from Tamworth to visit the Speers family for studies, often staying for days, assisting with daily tasks and introducing the family to the art of vegetarian cooking. This resulted in Julius moving the family south to Cooranbong in the same year.
In 1921 Clara travelled back to Tamworth after her brother Cornelius lost his wife Ina to Tuberculosis. Cornelius and Ina had one surviving daughter aged 4 years, named Ina Morna. Cornelius was unable to care for his daughter as a lone parent, due to his transient employment. Clara returned to Cooranbong with Ina Morna and thereafter raised her niece as part of her family.
By 1922-23 Julius had become fanatical about matters. A Mr Bell poisoned Julius’ mind against Seventh Day Adventists and Julius forbade the family to go to Church, on one occasion even pulling his daughter Cordelia Winifred out of Church by her plaits.
Clara took the children and left Julius to live in part of the Cooranbong Health Retreat, opposite the Church and where Kressville Retirement Village is today. Young Ina Morna would sit on the gatepost, watching the teams of bullocks taking logs to the sawmill and also to warn Clara if Julius was coming to cause trouble.
Clara and the children lived here along with the Middletons, Fairfowls and Miss Neibuhr, the teacher. Julius was then living at Eraring (Lake MacQuarie), unemployed and writing poetry. Requiring an operation on his kidneys he would use a silver device to drain his bladder. After pushing it too far he deteriorated and died in agony from infection in 1951.
The” Retreat” was built to nurse many patients with Bubonic Plague, brought back from war by soldiers. It was next to the cemetery and the graves of victims were many and shallow due to the clay subsoil. After rain bodies came to surface and the smell was very bad. Later the ”Retreat” was to become treatment rooms and it was divided into flats.
Clara eventually moved with the younger children by boat to Adelaide to be with her daughter Adele Brown to assist as her babies arrived. It was here that young Olga began her nursing training with Matron Clapp. Olga went on to nurse at Renmark and Royal Adelaide Hospital, while Ina Morna went to Nailsworth High School and later worked for Ken Brown a family cousin and dentist, as his dental technician.
Clara eventually lived with her son Erle at Parramatta. Erle had a taxi service and his wife Lydia helped him. Clara kept house, cooked and cared for their four children. It was here at Erle’s home that Clara died, her daughter Olga coming to nurse Clara in her final illness.
Together Clara and Julius had seven children:
Cordelia Winifred, Clara (seated), Beryl, Olga, Carl (seated) & niece Ina Morna
b Narrabri 9 Sept 1898
m Lydia Sprengel 4 children - Gordon, Allan, Audrey, Elaine
b Narrabri 23 December 1899
d 31 January 1965 Victoria, Australia.
b Narrabri 27 December 1902
m Lionel (Bon) Brown 1927 4 children – twins, Ken and Ormond, Delmae, Brian
b Tamworth 3 August 1905
d December 1993 Blue Mountains NSW
m Loloma Burns 4 children – Geoffrey, Phyllis, Elva, Cecily
b Tamworth 27 May 1907
m Alec Pye 7 January 1946 2 children Shirley b 1948 John b 1949
b Tamworth 20 November 1909
d 25 April 1914
b Tamworth 12 August 1912
d 27 February 1989
m Wellesley Davey 10 February 1937 5 children – Heather Joy, Carolyn Faye, Pamela June, Eva Clare, Sheryl Anne