Artificial grasses and international thoroughbreds raised in Lismore

Published: 27/7/2020
Wilson Family Gravestone
Wilson Family Gravestone

Family cemeteries were commonplace in the early days of the settlers to the Northern Rivers before land was gazetted by the government specifically for burial places. 


One such family cemetery can be found at Monaltrie on the grounds of the first homestead built by William Wilson, known as the 'father' of Lismore.


Within the grounds of this family burial site is the headstone of William's daughter Mary Wilson.


Mary was born the third oldest daughter to William and his wife Jane, in Wollongong on 14th March, 1841.


When the family moved to Lismore, and then Monaltrie, Mary met her future husband, Mr Ramon Edward de Berto Dano Lopez.


Ramon lived at Koolool, the property adjoining Monaltrie, and married Mary on 28th July, 1870.


It was there that the couple had three sons and one daughter.


Koolool was described as 800 acres of freehold and conditionally purchased land, showing in the wooded ridges, rich chocolate soil of a volcanic formation.


The area was mainly used for farming and grazing, divided into seven paddocks.


They experimented and grew leading varieties of artificial grass on the farm, including lucerne, prairie grass, white and red clover and perennial and rye grasses.


Koolool was also a fine stud with a high reputation across the Northern Rivers. Ramon (nicknamed RE de B) was a well-known expert in the area.


It was while they were still engaged that Ramon bought Mary a large and handsome dark blue saddle cloth, considered very useful in the days when everyone got around on horseback.


Tragedy struck, however, only 12 years after the couple were married, when Mary died in 1882.


It seems Ramon threw himself into his work, travelling to England to bring back thoroughbred horses for the stud.   However, in 1886 he sold the farm and left the area, dying in California in 1931.


The sons of Ramon and Mary all ended up in London, making names for themselves in the Boer War, Great War and in architecture.


Originally published on Tales From The Grave Uncovering family history from down under By Samantha Elley



  • '100 years since Lismore's first settler arrived', Northern Star, Wednesday, 2 February 1944, Page 4
  • 'The Richmond River District', Clarence and Richmond Examiner and New England Advertiser, Saturday 31 July, 1880, Page 3
  • 'Marriages', Empire, Wednesday, 31 August 1870, Page 1
  • 'A Pioneer of the Richmond', Northern Star, Thursday 2 January, 1941, Page 4
  • '100 years since Lismore's First Settler arrived', Northern Star, Wednesday 2 February, 1944, Page 4.

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