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


  1. Fabulous find and most interesting story... thanks, I sure enjoyed it :-) Catherine

  2. A fascinating time in Australian History, made all the more interesting if your ancestors are involved