I’ve Just Met a Girl Named Maria!

Published: Monday, 03 March 2014

Delving this week through the earliest records of the Ashburton Baptist Church, I’ve just a met a girl named Maria.

Not exactly a girl but Mary Maria Upton had the energy of a young woman.

19 Fuller Street Glen IrisOpen Home

Maria lived in 19 Fuller Avenue, Glen Iris (pictured) with her husband, William James Upton and their five children, Nellie, Will, Hilda, Arthur and Millie.

Check out her house here on Google Maps because her house was always open to visitors, newcomers and because her house was always open to visitors, newcomers and people needing friendship. When Ashburton Baptist only had a rented hall, Maria’s home was always available for prayer and business meetings.

They said of Maria that her hospitality to visitors was without limit.


Use My Car!

Few people in the church or the community had cars in the 1930s but Maria’s car was always available when required for the work of the church. Whatever special work of any kind needed to be done she was ready to undertake.

Enthusiastic Founder

Maria was a foundation member of the Ashburton Baptist Church and when the records were written up she was described as “one of the most enthusiastic, loyal, energetic and faithful workers.”

Women in Leadership from the Start at ABC

Maria was one of three on the first committee that established the Ashburton Baptist Church. She pioneered a tradition that has continued at ABC of women serving in leadership. Maria died on 2 November 1935 but “she was spared to see the Church formed, the building erected and the work established before God called her to higher service.

Steadfast Faith

In Loving Memory MariaDuring a discouraging period when helpers died or departed the district, the establishment committee met to discuss whether to abandon the Ashburton ‘cause’ because of a lack of resources. Maria was part of the trio that agreed to carry on. After this watershed meeting Maria was deputized to approach the Baptist Union to request an experienced pastor to follow the succession of College students who had filled the pulpit.

A special minute highlighted Maria’s worth when the church wrote:

“It is not too much to say that without her energy, generosity and devotion the cause would have died in its infancy.”

Doesn’t it make you want to sing the words and tune?

‘Maria, Maria, Maria, Maria…Maria!

I’ve just met a girl named Maria,

And suddenly that name

Will never be the same to me.


Geoff Pound


[1] Family Notices supplied by Ros Otzen: 

UPTON-RANDALL On 16th April, at the residence of the bride’s parents, by the Revd. J. Ingham, Wesleyan minister, William James, second son of J.G. Upton of Camperdown, and Mary Maria, third daughter of W. Randall, Slatey Creek, St. Arnaud. Camperdown Chronicle 19 April 1884

UPTON On 2nd November 1935, at private hospital, East Malvern, Mary, the beloved wife of William James Upton, of 19 Fuller Avenue, Glen Iris, and loved mother of Nellie (Mrs. Price, Will (Sydney), Hilda (Mrs. Nuzum), Arthur, Millie (Mrs. Fiffey). Peacefully sleeping.

Argus 4 November 1935

[2] Special Minute, ABC Church Meeting Minutes 22 January 1936. Cited in the upcoming history of the Ashburton Baptist Church by Ros Otzen.