The Skerman family of fifteen with their mother Alice. Percy Skerman is fifth from left in the back row.
The Skerman family of fifteen with their mother Alice. Percy Skerman is fifth from left in the back row. Contributed by Ray Humphrys.

Developing the Waverley farm

For Percy Skerman, it was going to be a big change in his life.

It was March, 1908 when he arrived at a small railway siding on the Bell line surrounded by open plain. He had seen the advertisement for a ballot for land of the Jimbour Estate and had applied for a block in the Dalby Ballot. He had drawn one that very day.

Later around the railway siding grew the township of Kaimkillenbun. Here he was starting on a raw, undeveloped block of land but this would be his own.

Percy was no stranger to farming as he had spent many years on his parents’ land on the South Pine River near Brisbane. His grandfather and father took up land adjacent to the river and that was where Percy learnt his farming skills. His father Fredrick died at the age of 48 leaving his widow, Alice, and a family of fifteen, the youngest being about one year of age.

After his father’s early death he and his brother continued on with their mother, working the dairy farm. The arrival of a young school teacher who offered to take over the role of Sunday school teacher at their church caught his eye and in 1906 the couple was married.

Her name as Wilhelmina Mitchell.

After the birth of their first child Marjorie, Percy knew he would have to strike out on his own so he planned to settle on his block at Kaimkillenbun.

Percy Skerman set to work on his new block of land to build a small cottage to live in. When it was finished he sent for his wife and daughter. They travelled by train to the Square Top siding which was the closest to his farm and the family settled in.

He was still fencing his land and building a four bail milking shed. When finished he bought 40 milking cows which would begin to give him a living. However, a drought later in the year was a trial for them as water became very scarce and he had to agist his cattle for a time.

There was a Government well just outside their northern boundary which was a later called Harding Well and water was obtained there

His neighbour Ernie Harding who lived on Morna Lea suggested that work together and dig their own wells and this they did starting Percy’s well first. They struck water at 8 metres. Near the bottom they discovered several broken animal bones which suggests what may have happened in past centuries. They fixed a wire windless with a five gallon drum and the water as winched up and poured by hand into a wooden trough.

They then set to sink a well for Ernie and struck water at nine metres. Near the bottom they were in for a surprise as the came upon the skeleton of a man. It was composed of fine dust. However a double tooth was found as sound as the day it was in use. Perhaps it was another Talgai man.

Percy and Mina Skerman continued to develop their farm Waverley and raise their family.

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