Boy's outfit worn by William Nicholas Zell

Contributed by: Gilgandra Museum and Historical Society

Outfit worn by William Nicholas Zell and made by his mother Mrs Lilian Zell copy of Receipt for the sewing machine used by William's mother to make the outfit photo of the William Nicholas Zell  (in outfit) with his father in front of the Tooraweenah Pub
  • Australian dress register ID:

  • Owner:

    Gilgandra Museum and Historical Society
  • Owner registration number:

  • Date range:

    1892 - 1893
  • Place of origin:

    Tooraweenah, New South Wales, Australia
  • Gender:

    Male, Child
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Object information

Significance statement

This garmet is important as an example of clothing that has been passed down through the years since the early 1890's by the Zell Family. It was machine sewn on a Singer sewing machine purchased in 1890 by the Zell Family. This family have been innovative farmers in the Tooraweenah/Gilgandra district since the 1880's.

Author: Shirley Marks, 12 March 2011.


Calico coat/dress with button up front and pleat at the back

History and Provenance

Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information

Kasper Zell & Anna Maria (Mary) Kirchberg were married on 18 November 1851 at Erbach, Rhine, Germany. Kasper & Mary left Erbach and sailed on the "San Franciso" and arrived in Sydney in 1852. They settled on a large property "Eureka" near Kiama where they had a family of nine children - Sophia (b.1853), Adelaide (b.1854), Andrew Joseph (Anton) (b.1856), Mary (b.1857), Kasper (b.1861), Margaret (b.1862), *William (b.1864), and Barbara (b.1865).

Kasper worked for James Rodd Captain Charles. He obtained a certifcate of naturalization in 1860.

Unfortunately Kasper died from stomach cancer after spending 15 years in his chosen homeland on 12/1/1867.

Mary later remarried J.B. Gardoll, and with her nine children, moved to the Mudgee area.

Do you have any stories or community information associated with this?

The Zell Family are long term residents of the Tooraweenah and Gilgandra Districts and have added greatly to the viability of the Gilgandra Shire, both in farming and participation in local organisations.

Easter Saturday & Sunday 1983 saw the first organised reunion of all branches of the family of the late William & Lillian Zell, founders of "Bringle," Tooraweenah. William was the second last child of Kasper & Mary Zell who married in Germany in November 1851 before departure from Erbach Hassau (Hesse, West Germany) sailing on the "San Francisco" for Australia.

How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?

The costume relates to the Zell Family's connection with the local area, particularly in the Tooraweenah district.

It documents that most of the clothing in early times was produced by the women of the family.

The photograph of the Hotel on which the dress is shown, no longer exists, therefore shows the building and dress of the period.

The copy of the receipt from the Singer Manufacturing Company shows that sewing machines existed in 1890 and the cost of twelve pounds and ten shillings would have been a considerable sum at that time, so the family would have been fairly affluent.

Where did this information come from?

Information passed down through the family to Mr Andrew Kasper Zell, son of William Nicholas Zell, also from the book "Truth Prevails - William Zell's Ancestors and Descendants 1785 - 1999." This book was compiled by Len Zell and Leonie Zell and published in 1999. The books "ANDY - Andrew Kasper Zell's anecdotes as told to Len Zell" (2003) and "DULCIE - Dulcie June (Howard) ZELL's anecdotes as told to Max and Len Zell" (2005).

This garment has been exhibited

This garment is currently on display in Allan Wise Gallery at Cooee Heritage Centre, Gilgandra

  1. Place of origin:

    Tooraweenah, New South Wales, Australia

  2. Owned by:

    This outfit was donated to the Gilgandra Museum & Historical Society by Mr Andy Zell, son of William Nicholas Zell

  3. Worn by:

    William Nicholas Zell

  4. Occasion(s):

    Believed to be first meeting with his grandmother (Rose Hannah Harris) at Tooraweenah late 1892 or early 1893

  5. Place:

    Outside old Tooraweenah Hotel

  6. Designed by:

    Mrs Lillian Zell

  7. Made by:

    Mrs Lillian Zell, mother of William Nicholas Zell.

    William Zell (William Nicholas' father) was born on 3/2/1864. He would have moved to Mudgee following the death and subsequent remarriage of his mother. William was aged 9 years when he commenced farm which work which he did for 2 years after which he worked in a local store for a year for 2 shillings (20c) a week. About 1876 his horse riding and handling skills got him a job with Marchant's teamsters who operated horse teams out west delivering goods for Lonergan's Store at Mudgee. One of the Marchants settled near Curban and in approximately 1880 William decided to head that way as it looked like an attractive place. Working at any job that came his way he soon had the funds and confidence to take up his first selection at Tooraweeenah (an area of 60 acres (24 hectares). William's hard work enabled him to purchase and lease more land as finances permitted.

    William married Lillian Selina Harris on 15 April 1889 at her mother's hotel at Tooraweenah. She was a young bride of 17 years, with William being 25 years old. They settled on William's property "Bringle." Their first home was a bark and log hut. William & Lillian brought up nine children - Peter Bown (b.1890), William Nicholas (b.1892), Mary Maria (b. 1894), Andrew Kasper (b.1896), Henry Herbert (b.1899), Donald George (b.1902), Olive Dora (b. 1906), Nola Emily (b. 1909). Harold William (b.1912) was also reared by his grandparents William & Lillian as their youngest son.

  8. Made for:

    William Nicholas Zell

Trimmings / Decoration


Lace around neckline

Fibre / Weave

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye


Mrs Lillian Zell purchased her sewing machine from the Singer Manufacturing Co in 1890. This machine was used by her to make this item of clothing.

  1. Hand sewn
  2. Machine sewn
  3. Knitted
  4. Other


  1. Bias
  2. Straight


  1. Hook and eye
  2. Lacing
  3. Buttons
  4. Zip
  5. Drawstring

Additional material

Other related objects

At the Society's Rural Museum there is on display farm machinery which is on loan from Mr Andy Zell, viz: Portable 3 stand shearing plant with Moffatt Viirtue engine; Wagon with tractor pull (wooden wheels); Oliver Hart Parr 18-28 tractor; 1928 Auto Sunshine Header; 1946 Oliver 90 tractor; Hay Baler, Horwood-Bagshaw engineer; Moffat Virtue hammer mill; 1945 McCormick/Deering tractor W6 model. Andy has also donated a 4 wheel trolley to the Rural Museum.

Andy Zell is an Honorary Member of the Gilgandra Museum & Historical Society Inc. He was instrumental in establishing the Rural Museum by being very active in obtaining a suitable site, quotations for the building of the original shed and providing a substantial donation and also providing loans at minimal rate.


William Nicholas Harris Zell married Elsie Gertrude Vera Rooke at the property "Bringle." Elsie & Will raised a family of three sons, Ronald, Andrew Kasper & John.

Andrew Kasper Zell married Dulcie June Howards 0n 23/1/1945. They made their home on "Greenwood" till moving to "Wilma" in 1985 which was portion of Andy's grandfather's property "Bringle."

Andy & Dulcie's family are Max (b.1945), James (b.1947), Leonard (b.1950), Frank (b.1953), Enid (b.1955), Gregory (b. 1956 - died 1956), Neville (b. 1958).

Andy & Dulcie, in addition to raising a fine family, have been involved in many community organisations with Dulcie being a member of Biddon CWA in the early 1960's who raised the first monies to build a hostel and units at what is now the Coo-ee Lodge Retirement Village. Andy was a member of the original committee who organised the first buildings at this site.

Max served as a Councillor on Gilgandra Shire Council for over ten years, for three of these years he held the position of Mayor. He was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2001 for service to primary industry, local government and the community. In 2006 a new wheat variety ("SUNZELL")was named after Max in honour of his valuable contribution to the Australian Wheat Industry.

Len Zell is a Lecturer/Photographer and Author of Wild Discovery Guides and other publications.

Evidence of repairs

No evidence of repairs.

Insect damage

No insect damage.

Mould damage

No mould damage.


  1. Excellent
  2. Good
  3. Fair
  4. Poor
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