My great grandmother, “Nurse Wilson”
Twins, Anna Petronella Gronlund and her brother, Wilhelm Fredrik Gronlund, were born on 29 April 1864 in Rebbelberga, Skane, Sweden; the eldest children of Sven Jonasson Gronlund and his second wife, Sara Kristina Grip.
Another set of twin boys was to follow on 21 December 1867, then another boy, and two girls.
Sven Jonasson Gronlund already had four living children by his first wife, who died giving birth to a stillborn child in 1857.
In 1884, Anna left her twin brother and family behind, to migrate to Australia. She arrived in Brisbane on board the “SS Waroonga” on 15 December 1884, accompanied by her younger twin brothers, Gustaf Edvard and Anders Peter.
Also on board was her future husband, my great grandfather, Carl Wilson, also Swedish. I am unsure whether they were sweethearts in Sweden, or met on the boat on the way out.
Anna and her brothers were sponsored by their elder half-brother, Sven Erik Gronlund, who had arrived in Rockhampton in 1879 on board the “Charles Dickens”. Sven Erik was a master tanner who settled in Brisbane, and had become naturalised on 7 August 1884. The Gronlund tannery operated on the Brisbane River, in Kelvin Grove until the 1950’s.
Anna and Carl married in Brisbane on 31 August 1885, where they began their family, and lived until 1895. They began their journey north in 1897, living in Charters Towers until 1900, then Townsville until 1906, and finally settling in Cairns.
Oral family history has always said that Anna gave birth to 17 children.
I have never been able to authenticate this, only ever finding birth records for eight children.
Anna was naturalised on 23 September 1912. I can find records of her operating as a midwife in Cairns from about 1920, but she may have been carrying on that trade from an earlier date. She certainly delivered a lot of her own grandchildren, including my mother.
My great grandfather died at their home in Draper Street, on 2 September 1927. He was senile, had a fall and fractured his humerus, and developed pneumonia. Anna was devastated. She died on 10 October 1931.
As a child, I heard many stories from mum and my aunts, about their grandmother, who to all accounts, was a beautiful and kind lady.
The Cairns Post published a brief obituary for her on Monday 12 October 1931, followed on Thursday 15 October 1931 with an article about her funeral, titled “Late Nurse Wilson”, saying it was “very largely attended” and listing the names of the 122 floral tributes individually. She was obviously a very well respected lady.
My great grandparents are buried side by side in the Martyn Street Cemetery.
NOTE : The surname is spelt differently in various records: Gronlund – Granlund – Greenland