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Annie FerdinandPrint Page Print this page

The headstone at the grave site commemorates Annie Ferdinand (1852-1910), who was believed to be the daughter of a Prussian aristocrat.

In the late 1880s, Annie travelled from Europe to Australia to be reunited with her intended husband - an English gentleman she had met in Europe.  After searching Australia's goldfields from Victoria to Queensland, she found him in the mining town of Ravenswood in north Queensland, married to another woman.

The shock was too much for Annie, so she spurned all men, took to wearing sugar bags for clothes and became a vagrant traversing vast distances across northern Queensland on foot, accompanied by a menagerie of animals.  Locals came to know her by the name of 'Annie Bags'.

There is speculation that Annie had some wealth when she died in 1910, but her grave was marked only with a small iron peg.

An old identity passed away at the Townsville Reception House on Sunday afternoon, in the person of Miss Ferdinand, better known as "Annie Bags,"says the "Bulletin."  The deceased was admitted to the Reception House at midday on Saturday, having been sent from the Charters Towers Hospital. She was in a very weak and emaciated condition when she arrived, though she appeared to be conscious, and understood her surroundings at intervals on Saturday and Sunday morning. Her age was given as 59 years, though she looked much older. The old woman, with her eccentricities, was well-known in Townsville, and in fact throughout North Queensland.
Cairns Post (Qld.), 20 April 1910.


For the past year, historical tour guide Rod Jones from Raven Tours has been crowdfunding to get a memorial headstone made for Annie. It was unveiled today, on the anniversary of her death — April 17. Mr Jones said, after researching Annie's life for his historical tour, he was determined to keep her story alive. "After doing the research you kind of have an emotional connection," Mr Jones said. "Then when we saw the gravesite was unmarked we thought we should do something about it. "We thought we would love to get the community involved in this to remember her, and keep her story alive."

Mr Jones's partner Cheryl Toms said as Annie's grave was unmarked it required some sleuthing, and she believed a bit of spiritual intervention helped to locate the exact plot. 

"Rod was taking photos of two markers that were leaning up on a gravesite that was one over from her … I lifted it up and 'Annie Ferdinand' was on the back. "It was quite surreal."

More than 40 people attended the memorial service for Annie Ferdinand at Belgian Gardens Cemetery. Alison Savis came to represent her family who owned the bakery in Ravenswood in the late 1890s. Ms Savis said her great-grandmother would feed and bathe Annie, and give her fresh clothes to wear. Like many north Queensland children, Ms Savis said she was often scolded for looking like Annie Bags.

The new headstone features a poem penned by local author Laurence Murphy who has written a book about Annie Ferdinand's life.

Mr Jones said there was more research to be done on Annie Ferdinand's life, and he was keen to explore a suggested link between Annie and Franz Ferdinand, with Archduke of Austria who was assassinated prior to World War One.
Excerpt from ABC North Qld, 17 April 2019.

 

Location

Address:56 Evans Street, Sect F, Sub 2, Row 10, Plot 200, Belgian Gardens Cemetery, Belgian Gardens, 4810
State:QLD
Area:AUS
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -19.245679
Long: 146.787698
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Details

Monument Type:Grave
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Community

Dedication

Actual Monument Dedication Date:Wednesday 17th April, 2019
Front Inscription

In Memory of
Annie (Bags)
Ferdinand
Departed this life
on 17 April 1910
`Broken hearted` 

Aged 59

Annie Ferdinand

From a noble Prussian
family, she was
a lady of fine fashion,

Who cast aside her
regal robes for
wretched rags,

For the gentleman
she loved and who
professed to her
 his passion,

Was a rogue who
changed her into
Annie Bags.

Rest in Peace

Source: MA
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