Cram Family and the Sassafras Saw Mill

The Cram family  have been in the Illawarra for many years, initially around Balgownie, ie Cramsville, and then spreading further with one descendant, Robert Benjamin Cram, a son of William Anthony Cram and Margaret Rea, living at Wyuma, high up Rixons Pass, Woonona, tucked under Bulli Mountain. Although the Cram family did not live at Sherbrooke per se, members of the family have strong timber connections with Bulli Mountain – eg  Robert Benjamin Cram and two of his brothers,  Jack and Arthur Cram,  built and operated the Sassafras Mill up Rixons Pass Woonona (see more details below).

Also at least one Cram married into a Sherbrooke – Bulli Mountain family, eg Oliver “Ollie” Cram married Margaret Ellen Bishop, who had lived at Sherbrooke.

Hence they are included among the families as part of the Sherbrooke and Bulli Mountain website.

William Cram married Margaret Wheeler 

  • James Cram b. 1826 Newcastle upon Tyne – arrived in Newcastle, NSW in 1860 – James was an underground Mine Manager at Mt Pleasant Colliery in 1866 – and later a storekeeper of Cramsville Balgownie in 1919. He had married [1] Sarah Hedley in 1853 at Newcastle upon Tyne before emigrating to the NSW Colony, and later [2] to Alice Frost in 1866 in Wollongong. In 1885 the Crams were pushing for the railway at Fairy Meadow ie Mt Pleasant, Cramsville and Balgownie, where they were in business. (see Illawarra Historical Society article on Balgownie including mentions of Crams and Cramsville)
    • William Anthony Cram b. 1854 Cramlington or Northumberland, Mining Engineer – married Margaret Jane Rea – in 1889, William had developed a patent for a brake for wheelwrights.
      • John A Jack Cram
      • Robert Benjamin Cram b. 1875 Fairy Meadow, Civil Engineering Contractor, in 1907 a Robert Cram was contracting for the South Bullli Jetty, at Bellambi, and in 1908 carrying out repairs to Towradgi Bridge, Port Kembla Drain in 1910. He married Amy Victoria Anderson – they lived high up Rixons Pass Woonona, under Bulli Mountain
        • William Thomas Cram b. 1899 Woonona, Jetty Supervisor, Plant Supervisor, Ship builder, Beekeeper  married Annie  Dorothy Mawer
          • Kenneth Cram
          • Reginald Cram
          • Lawrence Neil Cram
          • Eric Cram
          • Elizabeth Cram
        • Olive Victoria Cram b. 1901 Woonona – never married
        • May Isobel Cram b. 1902 – never married
        • Robert Gerald Cram b.1905 Woonona – married Nancy Ellen Halliwell
        • Amy Thelma Cram b. 1907 Woonona – married Francis James Napper
        • Ruth Alexandria Cram b.1910 Woonona – married [1] Jan van Voorst and [2] John Crosby Browne
      • Arthur E Cram
      • Oliver A Cram, Engineer – married Martha Ellen Bishop who had lived in Sherbrooke
        • Muriel Cram
      • Elsie F Cram
    • Anthony Cram b.1859 England married Alice Adlington
    • Ephraim Cram b. 1861 Sydney married Rachel Pankhurst – sadly in 1900 it was recorded that an Ephraim Cram of Balgownie was in bankruptcy.
      • Grace Pankhurst Cram b. 1906 Wollongong married George Colin McPhail
    • Mary Cram b. 1864 NSW
    • Edward G Gram b.1866 d. 1866
    • Margaret Cram b. 1867 NSW
    • James W Cram b. 1869 NSW
    • Caroline Cram b. 1871 NSW married Thomas Thompson
      • Alice Jane Thompson b. 1893 Wollongong d. 1922 – served in Salonika as a Staff Nurse in WW1 and awarded Medal for Military Merit Fourth Class which was conferred by the  King of the Hellenes – married Dr Theo Allen
      • James Thompson
        • Delores Thompson
        • Juanita Thompson, Artist
    • Eleanor Cram b. 1873 NSW
    • John W Cram b.1875 NSW
    • Edward Cram b. 1878 NSW
    • Martha A Cram b. 1880 NSW
    • George B. Cram b. 1882 Balgownie
    • Alice B Cram b. 1884
    • Sarah Cram b. 1887
    • Thomas Cram b. 1893 d. 1893

In 1917, three of William Anthony Cram‘s sons Robert Benjamin Cram and his brothers Jack & Arthur built the Sassafras Saw Mill on the old road up Rixons Pass to Sherbrooke. The map below shows the location of the Sassafras Saw Mill, and also the Cram land, which was neighboured by Gaunt, Charlesworth, Hales, Hicks and Henning properties.

Bulli Mountain Map - 1850's

Bulli Mountain Map – 1850’s

The three Cram brothers, Robert Benjamin, Jack and Arthur,  brought in a  a boiler, steam engine and fly wheel by two teams of bullocks up Bulli Pass and along the Escarpment for the Sawmill according to Westie Hapgood. Westie’s father Alex Hapgood helped clear the site. The Sassafras Saw Mill burned down in 1923 and was rebuilt, then burned down again in 1925-26. It was not rebuilt after that. Members of another Sherbrooke – Bulli Mountain family, the Kimbrey’s, cut and logged softwood for the Sassafras Saw Mill according to Westie. There were Sassafras Mill Flying Foxes used to get the timber down the mountain as quickly and cheaply as possible according to Westie. It was then loaded into Government Railway wagons – to be sent to Botany. More information about this part of the Crams is contained in Westie Hapgood’s book “Deep Valleys, Tall Timbers, Tough Men and Women“.

Crams were involved in mine development (ventilation shafts and water bores), and were possibly involved with the South Bulli Mine around the time that G Sellars was Superintendent.

Later The firm of Cram Engineering, formerly in Woonona, specialised in mining equipment, such as the “Wombat” mine roof bolting machine. The company was bought out by some of the employees, and is now Cram Fluid Power operating  at Unanderra.

Four Lancashire Boilers, possibly in use at South Bulli Colliery, perhaps of similar type to that used in the Sassafras Saw Mill.

Four Lancashire Boilers (30Fx8F working at 120 lbs psi), possibly in use at South Bulli Colliery, perhaps of similar type to that used in the Sassafras Saw Mill, which was brought over from South Bulli mine.

As for the wider Cram family – they seemed to have been a diverse bunch – some details have been included … however mostly these may not relate to the branch of William Anthony Cram and wife Margaret Rea‘s branch  …

  • They seem to have been associated with the Towradgi area in the 1870’s and into the 1880’s.
  • From 1881 there were Cram’s who’d moved further north to Austinmer and Clifton. Later they were at Austinmer.
  • In 1882 George Cram was representing the Working Class when there were moves to set up an Agricultural Society in Wollongong .
  • Also in 1882 James Cram and others were prosecuted for having incorrect weights in their possession – though he and the others feigned ignorance, but nevertheless they pleaded guilty and were fined.
  • In 1883, George Cram, nephew of James Cram (b. 1869 ),  nominated for a casual vacancy for Alderman of the North Illawarra Council, however the result is as yet unknown.
  • In 1884 the Cram’s seemed to be associated with a petition for a railway station at Unanderra,
  • Also in 1885 the Cram’s were also at Mt Kembla. However by 1886 a George Cram was involved with the Friendly Societies in Bulli, being a miner at North Bulli (Austinmer in 1888), and in 1889 he was District Deputy in the Mines.
  • While in 1890 a James Cram had applied for a Publican’s license,
  • Also in 1890 a Cram came before HT Hicks JP being charged with intimidation at Austinmer pit.
  • By 1893 there were Cram’s playing cricket for Bulli, and some Cram’s were in Woonona in 1897, and still by 1913.
  • Later in 1896 A Cram nominated for Middle Ward of North Illawarra Council, and was elected. He stood again for office in 1899.
  • George Cram contested for a position on North Illawarra Council in 1903 against Robert Spinks and others.
  • In 1905 Crams were playing British Association Football (Soccer) for Balgownie.
  • In 1912, there was a George Cram in Thirroul,
  • In 1913 Robert Cram was before the courts for allowing stock to stray. And 1914 saw George Cram contesting Bulli Shire Council.
  • Other Crams were installing the electric lighting in the northern Illawarra, 1914-1915, and a bridge over Hewitt’s Creek at Lachlan Street Thirroul.
  • George Cram was lobbying for the connection of Henley Rd and Kirton Rd Austinmer in 1915.
  • For decades the Crams had been involved in their local churches, eg Wendy Cram and her late husband Phil Cram had been well respected and long  active members at St Augustines Bulli Anglican Church for decades – they are believed to be part of the William Anthony and Margaret (Rea) Cram branch.

Reference – article by Mick Roberts on the Cram Family

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by John Fenwick on January 20, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    Michael is not a descendant of the Crams.
    Don’t believe that there were any Crams associated with the dairy industry at Albion Park


  2. Posted by John Fenwick on December 6, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    According to his birth certificate a copy of which I have, Anthony Cram b 1859 was born at Mt Keira on 29th May 1859


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