New historic book on Manning Valley

Published author: "My ancestors were the catalyst," Katherine Bell says of her long journey to publishing the book.

Published author: "My ancestors were the catalyst," Katherine Bell says of her long journey to publishing the book.

A family reunion 16 years ago sparked an interest in Taree resident Katherine Bell that gave birth to two theses and a book.

The book, titled Life in the Lower Manning Valley: the first 30 years of settlement, is now published and available for sale at the Wingham Museum.

Katherine’s family, descending from Thomas Wootton and Mary O’Donnell, has lived in the the Manning Valley from the 1830s.

At the time of the family reunion in 2000, Katherine was working as a nurse full-time and studying history at university part-time.

Since retiring three years ago Katherine has spent her time volunteering at the Manning Valley Historical Society and working on her book, which is a result of her work on her Honours thesis followed by a Masters thesis.

The book covers of number of themes of colonial history, including the lives of convicts, settlers, emancipists, immigrants, and Aboriginal people.

“I’ve tried to make it an inclusive history of everyone who was in the Manning Valley in the period 1827 to the late 1850s,” Katherine said.

“I’ve used local and family history to illustrate the general themes.”

Katherine said what makes her book different to other history books is she was more interested in telling the stories of the system the people lived in and how they negotiated that system.

The book costs $25 and is available at the Wingham Museum.

For further information call the Manning Valley Historical Society on 6553 5823.

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