Thursday, November 28, 2013

Those Places Thursday – Araluen 1859 – Home of the McGregor and McPherson Families

In piecing together the story of the McGregor Sisters, I have spent quite a few fascinating hours
Sydney Morning Herald 29 June 1859
scanning newspaper articles in TROVE, reading about life on the gold fields in the Braidwood and Araluen district during the mid-1800’s.  It is easy to be side tracked as you flick from one article to another.  There are vivid descriptions of floods, snow falls, harsh conditions, lucky finds, accidents, bushrangers and of course the inevitable reports on the amounts of gold found in the previous week.  I was thrilled to find that one of these multi themed reports actually mentioned the McGregor and McPherson families, and thus giving me a clue as to how the McGregor Sisters parents James McGregor and Margaret McPherson met.  They were married in the Presbyterian Church at the nearby settlement of Jinglemoney, on the 23 June 1859, just a few days before this article was published.

It seems from the article that the McGregors and McPhersons were making a good living from the gold fields. It was fascinating to see part of the article report on recent snow falls.  I wonder if James and Margaret had snow on the day of their wedding?  

I hope you enjoy the sections of the article that I have included below, and I am sure you will agree these articles from the past bring to life the conditions that these pioneering families lived and thrived in.

Sydney Morning Herald Thursday 30 June 1859 page 5

(from our correspondent)

“After a storm comes a calm” This proverb is at present being fully verified.  The excitement caused by the elections is now over, the most pleasing reminiscences of the late contest being the contributions made to the different charities of the town by our newly elected member.  But the political excitement of the people has subsided, and a different one is rising in its stead by the unexpected advance in the price of all sorts of supplies.  From 4d. beef has gone up to 6d: from 18s. flour rose to 28s.; from 4s. potatoes rose to 7s.; and everything has taken, this last fortnight, a similar advance.  Heads of large families look, in many instances, dejected, and speak of a rise for their labour.  The rise at Sydney on groceries has been responded to here.  The weather is very dry; the diggers and farmers generally, complain of drought, and many storekeepers are becoming reluctant of furnishing supplies on credit.  A copious fall of rain, without flood, would overcome the unpleasantness that has taken possession of the minds of the community.

Where sufficient water is obtainable on the diggings the results are most satisfactory.  Last week a part of ten, on the Lower Araluen, obtained 96 ounces of gold, and a small company adjoining it, procured above 60 ounces.  On these diggings those who have their work opened and a good stream of water are doing well; indeed, it is rare to hear complaints from people who possess the first-named advantages.  A rush has lately taken place at Mericumbene and on the Moruya river.  Where, a few months ago, the wild beasts of the forest were the sole inhabitants of these regions, now tents, huts and comfortable homes are to be seen, inhabited by healthy and industrious people.  Stores, bakers and butchers’ shops, and public-houses are providing the necessaries of life to hundreds, from Braidwood to nearly Kiora, a distance of above forty miles. The last escort that left town took 2335 ounces of the precious metal.  The greatest part of that amount was procured at the Araluen diggings.  Considering the trouble and expense of getting supplies down there, things are cheaper at Araluen than at Braidwood.

During the last two months McPhersons’s and McGregor’s parties have realised an average of 40 ounces per week; the party is composed of four partners and a few hired men.   Like the auctioneers, we may well say, speaking of the lucky arties, the list of names is too numerous to mention.  At the Little River, and the neighbourhood diggings, the miners are doing pretty well – there, none but persevering people can expect to do well; the chances are very uncertain, but when you do hit upon the lead, it well deserves the title of “luck”……..

Mr Surveyor Ardill and his staff are now engaged to find the boundary line of Messrs Roberts’ property at Araluen, with the Government land.  Latterly there has been so much law work on this question, that the diggers have resolved to have it settled’; they therefore joined together to defray a surveyor’s expenses, and very soon a great annoyance will be stopped.  The same gentleman has also instructions from the Government to survey and mark out a grant from the Crown to the Catholic community of these diggings for the erection of a church, a schoolroom and a reserve for a burial ground. …..

The snow storm that passed over our district on nomination day has left behind traces of its presence.  Numerous trees have been thrown down; branches had to give under the weight of the snow, and many horses shied at the novel sight – thus causing not a few accidents.*
*Citation: BRAIDWOOD. (1859, June 30). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved November 25, 2013, from

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lunch Time Discoveries in the Rocks - McGregor Family Bible

McGregor and Kinnear Family Bibles
As mentioned in my recent blog, Matrilineal Monday - The Ladies of the McGregor Family
I recently received a copy of a family photo of James and Margaret McGregor with a large group of their children, their  partners and grandchildren.  Even more exciting,  each member of the family was identified by name. 

For the last two weeks I have been digging out all my notes, old letters, pouring over old maps, researching in TROVE and other on-line sources, so that I can put together the stories of James and Margaret McGregor’s daughters (who are all depicted in this photo) as my next project on “The other half of my family tree - stories of my female ancestors”.  This has taken me longer than I thought, as I have been discovering new leads and  getting side tracked on interesting family stories.

Over the weekend, I experienced one of those family tree serendipitous moments. A message popped up on my ancestry site, “Are you a direct relative of James McGregor and Margaret McPherson?  If so can you please contact me”.  Puzzled, I sent back a quick response advising that they were my great great grandparents.

Imagine my surprise, when she advised me that she was a volunteer for the Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG) and that she had been trying to find someone connected with James and Margaret as  the Society had a their family bible and wanted to pass it on to a direct descendant.  I was a little gobsmacked!!  Especially by the timing, and the relatedness's to my recent research into the McGregor Family. 

It was with great excitement I ventured out in my lunch hour today, down to the headquarters of the SAG, which is situated in the beautiful historical area of “The Rocks”, near the Sydney Observatory.  I was greeted at the door by one of the volunteers, (who I think was just as excited as I was, at having found a family for the Bible).

We went into what must have been a very ostentatious lounge/parlour room of the beautiful Richmond Villa which had huge bay windows that looked out over Sydney Harbour.  When I inquired as to who the house belonged to I was advised that it had been a private home of architect Mortimer Lewis and the SAG was lucky enough to be given the use of the premises by the State Heritage Council.

We sat down at a small table and the bible was pulled out, very  old, with a brown paper wrapper as its
binding was long gone. This small ragged bible must have so many stories to tell!! Inside the bible there is a page that lists family births, deaths and marriages, all written in different handwriting depicting the different ownership of the book as it was handed down through the family.

 Then!! when I looked through the pages, tucked in between the pages amongst some small dried pressed flowers was a small letter, written by James McGregor, to his daughter Jessie Kinnear (nee McGregor).  He had written this note to her when he passed the Bible on to her for safe keeping. 

However, the discoveries were not over.  The kindly SAG volunteer said, "after looking this I think we may have some other documents that are linked to this Bible".  So we headed downstairs to the storage area.  On the shelves were stacks of family bibles, of all different sizes and in all different states of repair.  Amongst these Bibles we found the two bibles that the SAG volunteer was referring to and yes!! they were also connected to the McGregor family, in particular to James and Margaret McGregor's youngest daughter Jessie Kinnear.

These wonderful discoveries prompted me to join the SAG, as it seems there are some more files, letters etc related to the McGregor Family in their library.  About an hour after my arrival, I struggled out with three family bibles that are at least 170 years old. As I hailed a taxi to help me get back to work, I pondered, what stories will these books reveal!.  

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sunday's Obituary - William Taylor 1833-1928

Colne Times 3 June 1928

General  regret will be express  in Colne at the death of Mr William Taylor of 62 Alkincoats Road, and formerly of Duke Street, which occurred on Wednesday morning.  Mr Taylor would have been 95 years of age if he had lived until Sunday.  So far as we have been able to ascertain he was the oldest inhabitant of the town. For some time he had resided with his son-in-law and daughter, Mr and Mrs Joseph Hartley, at the above address.  He was predeceased by his wife, who passed away in January of last year at the age of 86.

The late Mr Taylor was born at Burnley, and was a son of the late Mr Richard Taylor, of Lower Hood Hollow, Burnley.  Mr Taylor was formerly in the employ of Colne Corporation, and prior to the incorporation of the borough, of the old Local Board, as Building and Streets Inspector. He held that position for a period of about 20 years, retiring 20 years ago.

Diamond Wedding Ten Years Ago

It is almost impossible to write of Mr Taylor without making reference to his wife.  It will be remembered that Mr and Mrs Taylor celebrated their diamond wedding in July 1918.  They were married at Gill Church, Barnoldswick on July 15th 1858, the ceremony being performed by Rev. J.C. Miller.  They had 16 children, of whom only four are living - two sons and two daughters, one son being in Australia.  They had also had nine or ten grandchildren and some great-grandchildren in Australia.

For many years Mr. and Mrs Taylor were the oldest married couple present at the annual old folk's tea given by the Mayor and Mayoress of the town, but Mrs Taylor was unable to go in 1927, and she died soon afterwards.

It will be remembered that Mrs Taylor was one of the lady veterans of Colne Ambulance Association, and held the position of Lady Superintendent of the Nursing Division for 28 years.  For her ambulance work in the town she was elected an honorary serving sister of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in England.  Both Mr and Mrs Taylor had been connected with the Church Colne Parish Church, and the  mission Churches - St James and St George's, Alkincoats.  It is interesting link with the past to recall that Mrs Taylor's parents were married in the Colne Parish Church 110 years ago.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wedding Wednesday - Jessie Taylor and Alfred Smith

Jessie Taylor and Alfred Smith - 8 January 1921

My husband's grandparents, Jessie Taylor and Alfred Smith were married at the Presbterian Church, Marrickville, NSW, on the 18 January 1921. Alfred was a World War I veteran, who had experienced the ANZAC landing first hand. At the time of their wedding his occupation is described as a printer.  Jessie was employed as a clerk and prior to their marriage she lived with her family at Dolls Point, Sydney.

Jessie and Alfred spent their entire married life living in Tempe, NSW and raising their two sons and two daughters.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sentimental Sunday - William John Herbert - Uncle Bob

William John (Bob) Herbert

William John Herbert (1985-1972), or Uncle Bob as I knew him was my grandfather (Roy Clarence Herbert)'s half brother.  He and his wife Florence (nee Beaumont) were my mother's favorite Aunt and Uncle.  They lived in 97 Wolfram Street, Broken Hill. I remember as small child visiting Uncle Bob and Auntie Florry every time our family traveled into town (Broken Hill) from Nuntherungie, the station  where we lived.

Uncle Bob was born in the mining town of Burra, South Australia.  His parents were John Herbert and Louisa Seaforth. John was only seven years old when his mother Louisa died from Cholera. His father, was left with four young children remarried Caroline Hornhardt.  William, along with his siblings attended the Burra State School. He worked in the mines in Burra and then when the first World War broke out he enlisted in the Army. (Service Number - 3703).

At the end of the War he moved to Broken Hill, met Florence Beaumont, married and settled into their modest home.  Uncle Bob was an avid collector of stamps, spending his spare money on first day covers and newly released stamps. It was his enthusiams for stamp collecting that sparked my childhood interest in stamp collecting, and whenever we received a letter or card from Auntie Florry, there would always be a couple of older stamps from his collection on the envelope, especially for me.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Time Out - Family Tree Burnout

It is November!!
Five months since I last posted a blog!!  I am not sure where the time has gone, but today I received a gentle shove that has given me the motivation to get back to writing about my family history.

I wonder if other bloggers have experienced the need for a little time out, whether it is due to life commitments or just the need to sit back and reflect a little. 

In May I headed off to England to explore some of our family tree roots in Lancashire, Cambridge and Northumberland.   After linking up with fellow researchers I  spend a month visiting old family haunts, graveyards, churches, libraries, farmhouses and pubs.  We wandered through narrow cobbled streets with old census records, tramped through fields with turn-of-the century maps, ate  picnic lunches while sitting amongst family gravestones, had tea and cake with long lost cousins and sipped on a pint or two in an old family pub.

I gathered and collected hundreds of pictures on my camera and Ipad, bought numerous books on local history and was such a frequent visitor to the Colne Library, that the locals were asking me how to use the computers and if I had a key to the toilet. 

Following my month of research, I headed off to visit family and friends in Europe with my husband and all my research was packed into two large postage boxes and set off by Surface Mail, back to Australia.  On my return home I eagerly awaited the arrival of my “Boxes”.  They finally arrived about 4 weeks ago.   However, the motivation to get back into family research mode didn't arrive with it. I think I was suffering a little from research/travel burn out.

I would be interested to hear from other family historians/bloggers if they have had the same experience and how they motivated themselves to get back into it.

That off my chest, lets get back to writing.