The last resting place for Caroline Greenhalgh with conflicting dates of her birth and death.
The last resting place for Caroline Greenhalgh with conflicting dates of her birth and death. Contributed

Mystery of aged pioneer Caroline Greenhalgh

HER gravestone can be found in the Anglican section of the Lismore cemetery and is shown stark white against the greenery that surrounds it.

Caroline Greenhalgh (nee Panton or Panting) was a Lismore pioneer and a character with mystery surrounding her early life.

While a number of newspapers claimed she celebrated her 108th birthday in 1909, establishing her birth in 1801, records show that she may have actually been born around 1820.

The Cairns Morning Post wrote on January 14, 1909 that at the time she still remembered the departure of troops from England prior to the battle of Waterloo (which happened in 1815), although she was only a child at the time.

The article goes on to say she arrived in Australia in 1822, however, the only records that could be found were of a Caroline Panting who arrived in 1840 on the Lady Mcnaughton.

Another clue to the mystery of her age is found in an article after her death which appeared in the Clarence and Richmond Examiner in 1913 written by someone who claimed to know the aged pioneer.

"As one who knew the old lady much longer than those who rushed to tell the papers her great age, this scribe makes bold to say that Carrie was just about the century mark," it said.

"So ordinarily, intelligent folks should not go far out in making up her probable age."

The article goes on to say that what stood out was Caroline's personality and picturesque attire.

"Up till very lately she was nearly always to be seen with a monkey for company- when she hadn't a bucket and a broom."

Regardless of the mystery, Caroline did come to Australia and married cedar-getter Joseph Greenhalgh.

Her oldest son was the first white boy born in the Lismore area, according to a Northern Star news article.

Births Deaths Marriages records nine children born in the area but anecdotal stories say she had 16 children altogether.

Sadly, Caroline suffered terrible burns in the early evening of Saturday on August 2, 1913 when her kerosene lamp exploded.

Despite being rushed to hospital with horrible burns, she passed away in the early hours of the Sunday.


* 'Grand Old Woman', Cairns Morning Post, Thursday, January 14,1909. Page 4.

* New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828-1896 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007. Web accessed March 23, 2017.

* 'Richmond River Notes' Clarence and Richmond Examiner, August 7, 1913. Page 2.

* ' Death at 87. First white man born on Richmond', Northern Star, Tuesday, February 5, 1935. Page 10

* 'Death of Mrs Greenhalgh', Northern Star, Thursday, August 14, 1913. Page 7.

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