WONDER WOMAN: Josephina Pugh with her husband William.
WONDER WOMAN: Josephina Pugh with her husband William. Jenny Sharp

Wooroolin mother turned midwife extraordinaire

JOSEPHINA Pugh never planned on becoming Wooroolin's go-to midwife, the role simply fell into her lap.

Mother to 11 children herself, Josephina delivered countless babies around the Wooroolin area throughout the early 1900s.

Born on Christmas day in 1881 at Rattray, Perthshire in Scotland, Josephina Keay Stewart immigrated to Australia with her parents in January 1883 aboard Shenir, a passenger ship bound for Maryborough.

Upon leaving school Josephina began working as an assistant for a doctor in Gympie, enabling her to attend many home births and learn a thing or two about the procedure herself.

She married William Henry Pugh in 1902 and the couple began their impressive clan with the birth of their first two children before relocating to the Kingaroy district where several more children followed suit.

Josephina's first experience as a midwife came while the family were living on a farm near Memerambi after a neighbour asked her if she would deliver her baby.

The Pugh family bought a farm in West Wooroolin in 1914 where they lived until the 1940s.

Over the years Josephina delivered countless babies, all the while pregnant herself or breast feeding one of her own offspring.

One particularly notable delivery she attended was that of Roy Radunz.

Mr Radunz served as president and secretary of the South Burnett Race Club for 50 years.

In 2016, Roy and his wife Glenis were made life members of the Wondai AP&I Association for their work with the Wondai Show.

The 92-year-old Wondai local and Order of Australia Medallion recipient recalls the Pugh family and their mother fondly.

"One of the very first people to nurse me was Ethel Esther Pugh, known to her family as Essie,” Mr Radunz said.

Josephina's granddaughter Jeanette 'Jenny' Sharp (nee Gustafson) said it wasn't uncommon for the older daughters to help their mother out when she was attending a birth.

"My mother Ethel once told me a story of when the older girls looked after their baby sister.

They had to walk through the paddocks and climb through fences to get to the neighbour's farm so Josephina could breastfeed her.”

Josephina Keay Pugh passed on August 5, 1936, in Kingaroy after falling ill with pneumonia.

She was laid to rest in the Memerambi Cemetery, where her husband William joined her after passing away in 1965.

It is not known exactly how many babies Josephina delivered, but of all the births she attended not one mother or baby died.

If anyone reading this article has a birth certificate of an ancestor with Josephina Pugh listed as the midwife, contact the South Burnett Times to receive Jenny Sharp's details.

Mrs Sharp is attempting to compile a list of all the births her extraordinary grandmother attended.