On 11 March 1879 the new Gundaroo Bridge, spanning the Yass River, was officially opened by local resident Mrs Charlotte Massy. Who was Charlotte and can we deduce why she was given this honour?
Charlotte was the eldest daughter of Bute Stuart, a Scottish-trained doctor who, tragically, was widowed twice. The heart-broken Dr Stuart emigrated to Australia and set up a medical practice at Parramatta. From here, the well-educated Charlotte (her grandfather was the English painter John Boultbee) obtained the position of governess for the Campbell family at Duntroon.
She married Charles Massy in 1851 and started her married life at Fairfield and then at Bairnsdale, properties in the Gundaroo district. Later, the Massys, with a family of nine children, built a thirteen-room house which they called Stoneville (renamed Bowylie by the new owner).
Charlotte became a legendary lady who helped improve the lives of the people of the Gundaroo community. For example, her efforts to procure government aid resulted in the opening of the Nelanglo public school, ("But for Mrs Massy no efforts would have been made to get a school established" in Gundaroo by Errol Lea-Scarlett, 1972).
Although not a Catholic, Charlotte Massy chaired a building fund committee set up to construct St Joseph's Church. It is no surprise then that at a public meeting held at the Gundaroo Court House (Queanbeyan Age 18th January 1879) Charlotte was chosen to name and open the Gundaroo Bridge.
Charlotte is buried with some family members in the Gundaroo General Cemetery.