Ellen Cross nee Pegus – 1876

On 9 December 1875, there was a decision made that a Telegraph Office could be established, at St Marys. (1) It was announced on the same day that Miss Ellen A H Pegus, a probationer at Paddington Telegraph Office would be appointed Junior Operator at South Creek, and the next day she was also appointed Postmistress at St Marys. (2) Mr. Hackett’s cottage at South Creek was rented for twenty pounds per annum. (3) And it was beside the creek and it had previously been the “Woolpack Inn”. (4)

Just before Christmas (5), the chief telegraph office announced that the new premises would be ready for occupation as soon as the necessary fittings were completed, and arrangements were being made for carrying the branch telegraph line to that office. (6) There was some confusion of where the fittings would be coming from during this period. The NSW Electric Telegraph Office, Burwood thought the fittings would have to be supplied from Sydney. (7) There was a suggestion that they wait until Miss Pegus was installed at St Marys as telegraph operator before they took steps to amalgamate the Post Office and the Telegraph Office and she could then see what fittings are needed and file a report. (8) In other correspondence on the matter, a letter sent early in 1876 (9) by the General Post Office to the Postmaster at St Marys was replied to by Mr Matthew Webb, junior. (10) The letter stated ” As it is intended shortly to amalgamate the Post and Telegraph Office at St Marys, be good enough to inform me whether you have any fittings to dispose of which may be of use to your successor.” (11) Matthew Webb, replied, ” I have no office fittings that would be of any use to the new office.” (12)

Miss Ellen Louis Antoinette Pegus was appointed on 13 January 1876. (13) Miss Pegus was trying to negotiate a better salary than what was being offered as there is a note on her file, (14) “Miss Pegus might be informed that if she is not satisfied with her remuneration she had better tender her resignation signed” WH. Two days later “Inform Miss Pegus that the business of her office will not justify an increase.” (15)

Following representations from Mr J S Smith, MP approval was given in August 1876 for the provision of money order facilities, and the establishment of a branch of the Savings Bank at the St Marys post office. Ellen married Joseph Cross, from New York, America on 6 June 1876, (16) but she failed to inform ‘head office’ of her change of name and on 3 January 1877 there was a note from the Cashier saying that the signature cannot be recognised as E Cross until she reports her marriage officially to them. She replied on 5 January 1877 to the Cashiers office giving her date of marriage as 6 December 1876. This date was six months after it happened; maybe she might have had to pay back some money if she told them the true date.

In February 1880 the postmistress (Mrs Cross) advised that the cottage, comprising four rooms was too small for her family and she had been compelled to rent two adjoining rooms for eight pounds per annum. One room was used for the office, and another was described as ‘scarcely habitable. She asked the department to pay the extra rent.” (17) In the same month (18) the storekeeper was told to supply fender fire irons and floor cloth for the post office. (19)

Thomas R Smith MP asked the Postmaster General of New South Wales, Saul Samuel, (20) “for the erection of an official building “at St Marys for a Post Office. A site was purchased from Mr G. T. Bennett, the wagon builder, for seventy-five pounds in 1880. This was adjoining the Presbyterian Church with a frontage of fifty feet, and a depth of three hundred and twenty feet. (21) In December 1881 the tender of Mr L Pickup, for the erection of a brick post office, and residence to cost six hundred and ninety pounds, and to be completed within six months was accepted. He did not complete the job and was reported to have left the colony. (22)

Bennett Wagon

In 1882, Mrs Cross made another unsuccessful application for an increase in salary (23) but statistics revealed that the expenditures exceeded the revenue by almost one hundred pounds.

Australian Archives, Files SP 32 Series Post Office St Marys

Some time later the Post and Telegraph Office moved back into one of those three attached terrace cottages, where the post office had been some forty years before. (24)

Mrs Ellen Cross may have talked about moving or being transferred because A Pegus asked the Post Master Generals Department on 29 July 1882 about the position of Post and Telegraph Mistress at St Marys, South Creek. She felt she would be qualified for the position, as she had been the postal assistant for the last few years. There was also a letter from a Mr Pegus addressed to Sir Alfred,

“As my daughter Mrs Cross is likely to be removed from here shortly will you kindly interest yourself to procure the situation for my daughter, Agnus who has been honorary assistant for the last six years. Her Grandfather is Captain Pegus and her brother Frederick has worked for ten years in the accountants’ branch of the Post Office.” (25) The department replied “there is no vacancy at St Marys so far as this office is aware.” (26) Two months later Mrs Cross was appointed to Leichhardt. (27) Agnus Pegus did not get the position, after all that effort. Mrs Russell, a widow with three children from Jerilderie, attained it. (28)


  • Australian Archives, SP 32 Series, Post Office St Marys.
  • Australian Archives, B 7377, 10 December 1875
  • Australian Archives, B 7344.
  • Unnamed writer, St Marys Post Office History Local history Section, Penrith Library. P 3
  • Australian Archives B 7344. 21 December 1875.
  • Australian Archives, B 7704.
  • Australian Archives, telegram sent from Burwood on 27 December 1875 to the General Post Office.
  • Australian Archives , B 7822.
  • Australian Archives, 6 January 1876
  • As Matthew Webb senior died the previous year, I presume it was the son replying.
  • Australian Archives, B 238.
  • Australian Archives, B 238, 11.January 1876
  • Australian Archives, B 428, 1876
  • Australian Archives, 16 February 1876
  • Australian Archives, 16 February 1876 and 18 February 1876
  • Pioneers Index, 1788-1888, Marriages and marriages in St Marys Magdalene’s records have the marriage as 6 June 1876 but the SP 32 Series, Post Office, St Marys, Australian Archives have the marriage as being 6 December 1876.
  • Australian Archives, B 1940.
  • Australian Archives, 20 February 1880
  • Australian Archives, B 1707.
  • Historical Officer, Australia Post, Penrith City Library, Local History Collection.
  • Unknown writer, St Marys Post Office History, Local History Section, Penrith Library, p 6
  • A A Evans, St Marys Post Office History Local history Section, Penrith Library. p 3
  • Australian Archives.
  • A A Evans, St Marys Post Office History Local history Section, Penrith Library. p 3
  • Australian Archives,
  • Australian Archives, B 8595, 15 August 1882.
  • Australian Archives, 13 October 1882
  • Australian Archives.