Chapman Valley History

Life Members

Chapman Valley Historical Society Life Members

Barbara Sheilds 1929 - 2021

Life Member CVHS - Barbara Sheilds

In 2015, Barbara Sheilds was awarded Life Membership of the Chapman Valley Historical Society. This story is dedicated to Barbara and her achievements.

Barbara has been a member of the Chapman Valley Historical Society since its inception in 1981. She and her husband, Vaughan were part of the crowd of 200 who met when the Shire decided to demolish the Road Board Building at Nanson. This icon was saved by “people power” and a meeting saw the formation of the Chapman Valley Historical Society. In 1983 the Shire handed the building to the Historical Society – this small building was the beginning.

Barbara’s first official office-bearing position was that of secretary in 1984, and over the years she held each of the major roles. Her belief in the society was shown during 2003 and 2004, when she held president, secretary, and treasurer positions—just to keep the museum running!

Barbara has been President for many years and has seen the Museum grow with new buildings and acquisitions. There have also been a few challenges, like seeing a cyclone take off the roof soon after the “Historical Timeline” was mounted on the walls in Room 1, begging and pleading for funding for extra buildings, a new roof, repairs to the pressed tin ceiling in the Road Board Office, and the painting of the cement floor. Also challenging was applying for grants, as it’s only over the past few years that we have had the Shire Staff do this for us.

Fundraising over the years when grants were few and far between became a necessity for the Society and Barbara was a great motivator for these – an Annual Fair in October, fundraising dinners and luncheons, afternoon teas and District bus tours with herself as the guide all raised much-needed funds.

Barbara and Vaughan attended the museum every Wednesday from 1997 until Vaughan died in 2010 – Barbara added and arranged displays while Vaughan was repairing, making, painting, and restoring many items in the various rooms.

Barbara had no previous experience in computing or typing, but she wasn’t going to let that beat her; she just put her mind to it and reproduced the family history sheets from Austin McDonnell’s book that we see in the white folders around Room 1 and the laminated history and photos on our walls. In 2009, there seemed to be a need for a souvenir or memento of the museum, so Barbara and Paige Finci put together a booklet, “A Brief History of Chapman Valley,” which we sell today.

Barbara is dedicated to the Valley having been born, bred, schooled, farmed, and lived here. She is passionate about all things “Valley”, and firmly believes in the Museum being a showcase for our pioneers; however, sometimes she can be swayed when viewing items that are not purely “Chapman Valley” such as the Clarrie Milne Collection, the Humble Wool Press and Rupert Weller’s restored engines, and of course, our Museum is all the better for these.

In the last few years, Barbara’s health has suffered but even though she has not been visibly active, her wealth of District knowledge is paramount to our Society.
Barbara will be humble and say many others have done great things, but really, it was because of her driving force that this Museum expanded from the Upper Chapman Road Board Office to the only community-based tourist attraction in the Shire of Chapman Valley.

In June 2013, Barbara was granted the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for recognition of her community service.

RIP, March 27, 2021

Phil Snell - 2016

Phil Snell Life Member CVHS

Phil, wife Janet and 3 children arrived in Australia from England in 1969. At first, the South West of our state beckoned but things didn’t work out and on hearing of a small farm at Yetna producing wheat and sheep, they moved to Chapman Valley. Phil had been born on a similar farm in England which ran cattle and grew potatoes.
Janet and Phil quickly became part of the community, both enjoying an association with St Luke’s Church at Nanson.

They both attended the public meeting when the Upper Chapman Road Board building was threatened with demolition and were at the forefront when the Chapman Valley Historical Society was formed. When it was deemed a shed was required to house some of the donated machinery, Phil worked alongside Bill Hayward and acquired a shed from Feri Koscis’ Fibreglass Company at a bargain price of $2000.

Phil was elected President in 1995 and held this position until 2001. He is involved with the working party every Wednesday and for many years opened the museum to the public on a Sunday. He was dedicated to having the Donor Forms of the items donated to the Museum filled in correctly.

His commitment to the Museum was such that he would attend the Midwest Chapter of Museums meetings held twice each year.

Each week Phil brings fruit cake for morning tea and until recently also saw him arrive with a bottle of milk.

Phil Snell was awarded Life Membership on the 16th of March 2016.

Delma Attrill - 2023

President Peter Batten, Delma Attrill, Dorothy Stokes, Pam Batten

President Peter Batten, Delma Attrill, Dorothy Stokes, Pam Batten

Delma Attrill became a member of the Chapman Valley Historical Society when it formed 42 years ago in 1981. She was one of the 33 citizens concerned that the Upper Chapman Road Board building would be demolished. I’m sure at that time it was never envisaged that within 14 years, the group would be working towards establishing a museum on this heritage precinct in Nanson.

The early aim of the Society was to keep the community supportive of the decision that had been made, which was to restore the Upper Chapman Road Board building. Delma was one of the members that set up a display at the Chapman Valley Show each year, to raise that awareness. It worked well and in the first year membership grew to 72. The group took on the catering for the Show Ball and Delma willingly supported this initiative.

On the 24th of September 1983, Delma coordinated the memorabilia for the official re-opening of the Upper Chapman Road Board building. How fitting that this ‘Murphy Day’ is being held 40 years after that reopening. Today is a day when we can reflect on the achievements of the Chapman Valley Historical Society, and in particular Delma’s involvement. As I have read through the minute books of the Society, there have been many times when the membership was minimal, and they were close to disbanding. Delma was always there, first becoming an office bearer in 1985, taking on the treasurer’s role. She was involved in the market days that were held in the grounds of the heritage precinct and over the years Delma has told us how the small group prepared and served a three-course meal with only hurricane lamps for lighting, to raise funds to put a concrete floor in this shed.

It was Delma who took on the secretary’s position around 2005 when the group was really struggling. She ably fulfilled the position until 2012. Delma has dedicated a great deal of time and energy in to recording the timeline and history of the Chapman Valley area. She also initiated the purchase of a laptop and sought a suitable database programme, to number and enter data for the thousands of objects the heritage centre has in its collection. This was the start of significant growth and change within the heritage precinct.

Delma has contributed greatly into developing and making this Heritage Centre what it is today. We know that we can always call on her to give us a hand with catering if need be. And we ‘Thank’ her sincerely for the way she has embraced this ‘Murphy Day’. It has been a joy to share her excitement for the initiative. Congratulations and ‘Thank You’ for the dedicated service you have provided over the last 42 years to the Chapman Valley Historical Society.

Written by Pam Batten September 2023