Monday, March 31, 2014

Mystery Monday - Donald McDonald

Life on the Gold Mines
Recently I posted a blog on the Worldwide Genealogy - A Genealogical Collaboration about the “Genealogical Culture Shock"  I was experiencing in my quest to discover more about my Great Great Grandfather Donald McDonald.  To assist in getting my head around the gaps in my knowledge of Donald's life and family, I thought I would examine the information that I do have and try and identify any leads that will assist in solving the mystery of Donald’s life before he came to Australia. 

Donald McDonald came to Australia in the late 1850's with a group of miners from the Californian Gold fields.  These miners became known as the Yankees in the mining district of Bells Creek at Araluen and newspapers of the times reported that they succeeded in etching out a reasonable living from their lease.

While working in the district Donald met and married an Irish lass, from County Clare, named Margaret
St Bede's Braidwood
Hallinan, they were married on the 11 August 1864 at St Bede's Catholic Church, Braidwood. Donald and Margaret had eight children, one girl, Annie (who was my great grandmother) and seven boys, Malcolm, Angus, John, Donald, Denis, Michael and Alexander.

With a large family to support, and a decline in the mining in the district, Donald sought employment in the rapidly expanding timber industry.  To start, he managed a Timber Mill at Reidsdale for Mr Tippet and later purchased this mill.  From here the family moved to another  and started the first Timber Mill in the village of Mogo on the South Coast of NSW in the Moruya District. 

An Article written by Donald McDonald's son Angus Joseph McDonald "Tall Timber", describes the life of the timber cutters working for Donald's Mill, and the size of the enormous trees being felled for timber.

“A reference to an applicaton by Mr Hugh McRae for assistance in repairing the road to his sawmill at Reidsdale brings memories of the troubles the teamsters endured in the long, long ago in bridging the distance from McDonald’s Mill to the main road.Some of the trees felled at that old mill, me thinks, would lose nothing in comparison the the best in any part of the State.

One forest giant in particular, was staight as a gun-barrel, was attached by Jack and and Charlie Behringer from a 14ft platform, and the first 25 ft of the trunk was left where it lay – too big for jinker or sawgate to accommodate.  Then 98f of longs were cut to the first branch, above which a 16 ft log almost 3ft in diameter was taken."

Donald retired after the death of his wife and the onset of ill health.  He moved to Braidwood to live with his daughter Annie and her husband Lynn Shepherd II.  Then in the final year of his life he moved to live with his son Angus in the Winsor district north west of Sydney.  It was here in on the 31 March 1913 he passed away.  (Wow, just realised that was 101 years ago today!!). 

Now to the mystery of his life prior to his arrival in Australia.  To assist me with moving through my "Genealogical Culture Shock" I have made a list of the clues that his obituary as provided and this will be my starting point to exploring all possibilities. From his death certificate we know that Donald was born in 1834  Williamstown, Glengarry Ontario, Canada and his father was Malcolm McDonald.
  • He was born in Williamstown, Glengarry District of Canada.
  • His family had connections with the Hudson Bay Company and possibly still did at the time of his death?
  • He experienced a lot of adventures on the gold fields of California, from here he and a group of mates (who were later referred to as the Yankees), traveled to Australia to seek their fortune in the Australian Gold fields.
  • He traveled to Australia on a brig and from the tone of the obituary, this journey was quite an adventure in itself. I wonder what stories Donald told his family about his time on the gold fields and the journey to Australia?
Somewhere in this list of details there must be an important clue that will help me unlock Donald's heritage.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Wistful Wednesday - McGregor Family Photographs

One of the documents that  I found among the SAG McGregor Family files was a faint photocopy of two family pictures of the McGregor family with a note underneath explaining who everyone was.  

These two photos are so valuable for the McGregor Family History, and demonstrates that the McGregor Family  took a number of large family group photos. The photos show us that James, Margaret and their family were a close knit group, spending considerable time together.  James and Margaret McGregor are seated in the middle of their children. You can see the faint outlines of their faces and their family likeness.   I believe that the first picture would have been taken some time in 1889 as Isabella and George Wheeler's twins babies (Lily and Walter), sitting on their parents knees were born in 1889. 

 My great Grandfather George Lee is there standing behind my great Grand Mother Kate (Catherine) on the right hand side of the first picture. They were married in 1888, so if my estimation of the date is correct, they would have been expecting their first child William who was born in 1889. Perhaps this photo was taken on the occasion of their mother, Margaret McGregor (nee McPherson)'s 50th Birthday which would have been on the 8 December 1889.

 Looking at the people in both pictures, I believe that the top picture was taken first.  The children in the front of the photo are wearing similar clothes however, I think they look a little older.  The women in the second photo are holding bouquets of flowers, could this photo have been taken at the time of one of the McGregor's Weddings?  So many unanswered questions?

  It is wonderful to have these photocopies, but I really do wish I could see the originals or copies of these photos!!  I do wonder where they are now.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Thankful Thursday - Childhood Movie Memories - #52SharingMemories -

I am very thankful for all the wonderful memories of my childhood and it would be a shame if these memories were lost so, Sharing Memories is a wonderful way to record your history and the social history of the times that you lived in.  It is these everyday accounts of our lives as children and teens that will some time add colour to our history.

Last year, motivated by Lorine Schulze‘s blog, Olive Tree Genealogy’s prompts of #52 Sharing Memories I started to write some posts on sharing Childhood memories.  I have to admit, I certainly did not meet the 52 posts requirement, however, I really enjoy writing about childhood memories, so will endeavour to write a few more in 2014.  Yesterday, I saw on Lorine's Blog that the prompt for Sharing Memories this week was Movies.   What a great topic!  so I thought I would share a couple of my going to the movies experiences!!

Growing up in the outback of New South Wales meant that heading off to the movies on a Saturday afternoon with friends was not an option.  However, there was always room for innovation and we still managed to have a “Movie” night every now and then. We were living on Nuntherungie Station, about 120 miles from Broken Hill and 45 miles from the opal mining town of White Cliffs. One of the owners of a nearby property Kurrunera Station had a small plane and his flying licence. Recognising that people of the district were missing out the latest entertainment from the Silver Screen, he thought it would be great to provide the local people with the opportunity to see some of the latest movies.  So arrangements were made with the movie theatre in Broken Hill to every couple of months pick up a copy of a movie, and fly it to his property for a “Movie Night”. 

A movie theatre would be set up in his Woolshed. The word having been spread to all corners of the district  by two way radio and the local people would drive for miles over dusty dirt roads to his property for the big night. 

Wool bale - great Movie seats
The children would all sit together on the bales of wool that were set up in front of the screen, and chatter amongst themselves. One has to remember that these children sometimes went weeks without seeing any other children other than their siblings.  The local graziers would catch up on the latest wool prices or discuss the lack of rainfall and the wives, happy to have an occasion to dress up, would compare notes on their children and life on the land, as they set up the plates of cakes, scones and other goodies for everyone to share at interval.

The first movie I can remember seeing at the Woolshed Picture Theatre was the Disney Movie The Miracle of the White Stallions. It must have had quite an impact on me as I remember being fascinated by the fact that the Lipizzaner horses from the Vienna Spanish Riding School were born black and as they grew older turned white.  I also clearly remember the scenes of the second world war and the valiant effort to save the horses from the Nazis.

The second movie that I remember seeing at the Kurrunera Station Movie Night was not such a big affair.  There had been heavy rainfall in the district and many of the roads were cut. This meant the numbers attending were quite low, so the movie was shown in the homestead.   The movie was, The Titanic, again as I was a young girl  the memories of this movie remained with me for a long time. I remember burying my head in a cushion when the ship went down.  (Lucky it wasn’t the more recent version of the movie, as I might of suffocated.)

A couple of years later our family moved from the White Cliffs district and lived on a number of other properties, one of these was near Gulargambone!  Here was another great movie experience, the outdoor and indoor Magestic Theatre.  In the winter the audience sat inside, however in the summer the screen was set up outside with rows of deck chairs set up for the patrons. Nothing better than sitting in the striped deckchairs, with your bag of popcorn, under the starlight watching the latest movie.  As I was the older sister, my job was to chaperon my three younger sisters on our movie outings.  This certainly limited the  opportunity to sit with any of the boys from school that I fancied.

When I reached high school age, my parents sent me to board in St Faith’s Girls Hostel in Dubbo, so that I could attend Dubbo High School, as they felt it would provide me with better schooling options.  St Faith’s was a Church of England Hostel where about 40 girls from the surrounding districts lived under the guidance of Matron.  Every Friday night, the girls were allowed to go to the local picture theatre, We would all assemble with our 40cents admission at the front of the Hostel after dinner, and our Matron and her Samoyed dog called Yetti, would escort us to the theatre and then meet us at the end of the movie to escort us home.  These were fun times, when I was exposed to all the movies of the late 1960’s, with flower power, spies, Easy Rider, James Bond, Dr Strangelove, to name a few.  There was always the smuggling of hot chips into the back seats of the theatre, hoping the usher wouldn’t be able to smell them, and of course the odd rolling of jaffas down the aisles if the movie was a little boring.

Thank you Lorine for posing the Sharing Memories prompt of “Movies”  it has brought back so many fun memories. I would love to hear others childhood memories of going to the movies as  I am sure there are some good stories out there. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mappy Monday - Jinglemoney Araluen

Last week I posted a picture of James and Margaret McGregor, who were married on 23 June 1859, in the Presbyterian Church, Jinglemoney, a small settlement in the gold mining district of Braidwood, New South Wales, Australia. One of the responses posted on this blog commented on "what a great name Jinglemoney was!!"

So today I thought I would share with you a copy of a map of Jinglemoney, that shows the McGregor Land Allocation. This land is now part of the present day station, Gingamona.

Map showing the McGregor Crown Grant in the Parish of Jinglemoney (Lot 41)

In a letter written by Mr Russell Hill, from Gingamona Station, Braidwood (in 1968), he describes how Peter McGregor (James McGregor's father) acquired the land.

Letter from Russell Hill
"As I am the owner of the original Crown Grant to Peter McGregor of 100 Acres in the parish of Jinglemoney dated 18th August, 1856 (the Crown Grant is in my possession) on the 10th June, 1857 he sold it to Mr James Laing of Bungendore for the sum of 200 pounds sterling.  The conveyance bears the signature of Peter McGregor in a bold but faltering hand. ........

The following information I have no documentary evidence to substantiate but believe it to be correct in every detail - Peter and James McGregor lived together at Peter's residence on the 100 acres Crown Grant as Mr James Liang did not take up residence there till about 1863.  James share farmed a portion of Captain Morpys "Gingamona" holding during the years 1856 to 1863 and Margaret McPherson (his wife) was connected with Captain Morphys household staff".

James and Margaret McGregor lived in the Araluen district for a number of years before moving to seek their fortune in the goldmining district of  Bombay River, on the Shoalhaven River.  From here they moved with their family to Booth Street in Balmain, Sydney. (Photos of their home there can be found on my post, Sentimental Sunday - Walking in the footsteps of my great great grandparents, James and Margaret McGregor)

Finally, as a point of reference, below I have posted a map of the present day Braidwood District that shows Jinglemoney and Bombay Crossing, Shoalhaven.
A indicates Jinglemoney and B shows Bombay Crossing

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - James McGregor and Margaret McPherson

Margaret and James McGregor

Today I would like to share with you a recently discovered photo of Margaret (nee McPherson) and James McGregor.  Margaret and James were my great great grandparents and they were married on the 23 June 1859, in the Presbyterian Church, Jinglemoney, in the Braidwood district of NSW, Australia.  They lived in this district for a number of years before moving to Balmain Sydney.  Margaret and James are the parents of the McGregor sisters who feature in my series of blogs on the McGregor Sisters.  Also, I recently wrote of the day I spent exploring the area where they lived in Balmain, in my post Sentimental Sunday- Walking in the Steps of my great great Grandparents - Margaret and James McGregor.

This is such a lovely picture of them both.  I wonder when it was taken? I think it must have been a special occasion, possibly their 50th Wedding Anniversary which would have been in 1909.