Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Witches in Allman Street?

There once stood a fine brick cottage in Allman Street, Campbelltown that both fascinated and terrified locals.  The cottage was home to a woman called Susan Merritt and her daughter Sarah.

Susannah Marie Merritt, formerly McGuanne, was born in Campbelltown in 1847. She completed her schooling away from Campbelltown at Ursuline Convent and returned home at 18 years of age. In about 1871 she moved with her husband Frederick Merrett to the Allman Street cottage. Her obituary described her life as that of a "cultured woman living a sheltered life with her books, her birds and her flowers".

Frederick died in 1887 and left Susan at home with their daughter Sarah. The pair kept very much to themselves and never seemed to shop. They wore long black robes and were rarely seen in daytime except when driving the house cow at dusk to nearby Austin Park to have it milked. Apparently children associated Susan and Sarah with witchcraft and were scared to walk past the house at night.

Susan died on January 27, 1935 aged 88. Many heirlooms treasured by her were sold in her later years. A letter of Lord Nelson belonging to her was sold to the Mitchell Library.

Sarah lived on in the house until her death in 1945. Both are buried in St John's Catholic cemetery in unmarked graves.

Those who remember the house recall a fish tank in the front garden, with a large garden on the eastern side of the house, flush with the footpath. The house was on the southern side of Allman Street between Oxley and Lindesay Streets, but closer to Lindesay Street.





Sources:

McBarron, Eddie et al, 1985
Campbelltown 1930-1940: Dumaresq Street and Environs
Campbelltown: Campbelltown City Council

Campbelltown-Ingleburn News, February 8, 1935

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