HerStory

Isabella Elizabeth McCOY

Also known as: née Pope, Bella, Ina

Born: 1891

Died: 1971

Special Achievements:

1926-28 - One of two nursing sisters of the Australian Inland Mission appointed to Adelaide House Hospital, Alice Springs, Northern Territory.

Additional Information:

Written on the back of the drawing:  One of the first two sisters at AIM arriving in Alice in 1926 to open the hostel.  Married an officer in native affairs or welfare branch as it is now known and lived in Alice until 19??.  Foundation member of AS CWA and among other facets of CWA work has always shown a great interest in garden, flowers, and the annual CWA flower show.


Resources

  • References

    Lockwood, Douglas.  Fair Dinkum:  Beyond the Furthest Fences.  pp. 133-134.
         On June 24, 1926, the hospital was officially opened, to be described by Flynn as “a spot in the very heart of the bush, where all might come at times to forget that they are in the bush.”
         “Our very love for the bush,” he wrote, “demands more retreats of this kind which breathe their benediction.”
         The place rapidly became the centre of the town, and it was significant that the two men in the district who were most opposed to it were the first patients.  Sisters Ellen Small and Ina Pope were the first two nursing sisters to be appointed.  They had reason to believe they were in the country to do a much needed task.  At Horseshoe bend they met a man seriously ill, so instead of continuing to Alice, Flynn about-turned and raced two hundred miles through rain, heavy at times, back to Oodnadatta, to get him on the fortnightly train to Port Augusta.  They arrived with just two hours to spare.  The Sisters did not forget that trip, nor did they forget their resumed journey.  The car bogged repeatedly, and while they put planks and matting on the track, the Superintendent alternated between driving the car and wielding a shovel.  Flies swarmed around them in myriads.  Flynn contracted a bad hand infection and had the honour of being their first patient when they finally reached Alice Springs.
         From the moment the hospital was opened, the work increased rapidly, the part played by the staff in community affairs broadened, and within a few years the outpost had settled itself so firmly within the basic structure of the town, it almost managed to erase the memory of the horror of the days before it was there.  Sisters Small and Pope were the midwives attending Lottie Kerr when baby Ann was born.


  • References

    Noske, Myrtle.  (2005).  Where Ever Thou Goest (A Life in the Mulga Country).  Richmond, South Australia:  Hyde Park Press.  p. 14.
         Sister Pope, who was on the nursing staff there, later married Billy McCoy, who at that time was running a mail service to outlying pastoral properties.  They lived on the property facing the river directly behind us and had built a small corrugated iron cottage at the rear of their block near our back fence to live in until their bigger home was finished.  His mother then continued living in this cottage, until she decided to move back south to other family members.


  • Image - ADELAIDE HOUSE McClelland Sisters Pope and Small

    from NPWHF CD labelled PHOTOS - McClelland


  • References

    Pioneer Wall
    John Flynn Memorial Church

    ELLEN DOROTHY LITTLEJOHN (nee SMALL)
    NURSING SISTER OF THE AUSTRALIAN INLAND MISSION WHO
    JOINTLY WITH SISTER ELIZABETH McCOY (nee POPE)
    ESTABLISHED THE FIRST HOSPITAL IN ALICE SPRINGS
    IN THE ADELAIDE HOUSE 1926-28


  • References

    Petrick, Jose.  (2010, November).  The History of Alice Springs through Landmarks & Street Names.  St Marys, South Australia:  Openbook Howden Design and Print.  p. 124.

         Mrs Isabella (Ina) McCoy, (nee Pope), was born in Bowral, NSW in 1891.  She trained as a nurse at Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, then trained as a mid-wife.
         From 1926-28 she and Sister Ellen Small (Mrs Bill Littlejohn) were the first two nursing sisters at the AIM [Australian Inland Mission], Alice Springs.  The sisters had to cope in isolation with all medical emergencies, accidents and epidemics.  There were no antibiotics or X-ray machines.
         When the sisters needed a doctor’s advice, one sister had to travel 3 km by horseback or horse drawn vehicle to the ASTS [Alice Springs Telegraph Station].  The telegraphist would take down the message in Morse code and send it to Adelaide.  There, the doctor on call would be summoned to the Post Office to give the telegraphist the advice to send back to the sister.
         The first operation performed at the AIM was by an army doctor visiting CA [Central Australia] in 1926.  While the doctor was at Arltunga, he saw an Aboriginal man with a large cyst on the back of his neck.  He told the man he would remove the growth at the AIM.
         The doctor returned to Arltunga the next day to collect his patient, who was missing.  The patient was walking the 130 km to the AIM where he arrived before the Doctor.  The doctor removed the non-malignant tumour which weighed 3 kg.
         …
         Mrs McCoy died at Kiama, NSW, in July 1971.  Plaques on the Flynn Church Memorial Wall commemorate her and Sister Littlejohn as the ‘Pioneering Nursing Sisters of the AIM Hospital.’
         …  He and Mrs McCoy were survived by their son Ron.


  • Image - It Goes to Show How Old the AIM is

    It Goes to Show How Old the AIM is Mrs Isabella McCoy (nee Pope) and Ellen Small were the first two Australian Inland Mission sisters in Alice Springs, arriving in 1926. The sisters had to cope in isolation with all medical emergencies, accidents and epidemics. There were no antibiotics or X-ray machines. When the sisters needed a doctor's advice, one sister would travel three kilometres by horseback or horse drawn vehicle to the Alice Springs Telegraph Station. The telegraphist would take down the message in morse code and send I [sic] to Adelaide.

    ct for NPWHF


  • Image - It Goes to Show How Old the AIM is

    It Goes to Show How Old the AIM is Mrs Isabella McCoy (nee Pope) and Ellen Small were the first two Australian Inland Mission sisters in Alice Springs, arriving in 1926. The sisters had to cope in isolation with all medical emergencies, accidents and epidemics. There were no antibiotics or X-ray machines. When the sisters needed a doctor's advice, one sister would travel three kilometres by horseback or horse drawn vehicle to the Alice Springs Telegraph Station. The telegraphist would take down the message in morse code and send I [sic] to Adelaide.

    ct for NPWHF


  • References

    photo in the museum:  Women at the Heart


  • References

    The NPWHF "CWA caicatures by Butch Peverill & George Scott Brown" states her husband's name was William (Billy) McCoy, and that his job was "First truck driver for Wallis Fogarty, later District Welfare Officer."
    Lived at Bungalow (Telegraph Station).