The Maitland Weekly Mercury April 1, 1905
Early Pioneer Colonists. ,
(BY Rev, J. STEWAT.-
Tho pioneers of Wliite Australia are rapidly passing away, and it seems a pity that more is not being done to collato the useful items of information available, before thu line which is so surely becoming thinner every day disappears altogether. I am writing specially with reference to tho company of brave, true, patriotic men and women, who free,! adventurous pioneers, came to Australia, from 1835 on to say 1865, and. of whiom. only a comparatively low can now be found, with, memory l'resh and clear, to tell their tale. I am led to writb this, partly because l;c injjf on holiday for: the first time on the Richmond River, X have met so/many,- who are either original pioneers, or. sons) and daughters of pioneers, and in the case of the latiber often running well, into.^ ^ the allotted span of human life. As the eitni' of ono of tlio pionwefs myself, I 'have a,Uvays iield the best type of the early ?Aus;traUan..ia so-.hig'h. an esteem as almost to amount to venera tion, and X 'liavb found great' pleasure, here upon tho Ricluiionil,. as elsewhere,- in any tra vels, in tracing! . out tho: early history until it would not be risiky to venture tho sugges ti,on, '-'Give him orie 'oiv two links1 inr family, history concerning the early life,' say in tbe! Hunter River district, :and iho 'will. soon hiako a chain o,f interesting lacts.' : To-day I am. seeking qdmo missing links, onid 'I. liope : J may find jtheny during my; delightful holidc^i;' eit'hur upon the Richmond, or. tho Clorena}/ or Tweed, because X; know what, a Strong tide of human migration set in from the Hunter in 'the ? closing years of thie fifties toz wards these three rivers, witli their magnifi cent wealth of natural, -though undeveloped,: resources. And so 1 am iutpiiring as, I' move about for some ol the passengers by one of tho vessels which came to Sydney in 18-12, and so far I have found no sign, but 1 am confident I .shall be successful, and so I hope* to see- this in . pn,nt and circulated throughout tjie mother State, which I am; proud of as my birthplace, as I am equally proud of Sunny Queensland a®) mjy ample field of life .and work since Septeuiljpr,. 1857. And so I statie a few facts which I know will be read 'Wi'th very deep interest by. many, not only,, locally, but far, far away,' even boyond. the boundary: of our Australian Commonwealth. It was on tho IGtli of Septom'lxa-, 1841, that tlio fine clipper ship, Ann Maine, under, the skillful command of Capta'in Tlvom, sail-: ed out of Dundee ('Scotland) with over 300' passengers bound .for Port Jackson. Nob Botany Bay,' for unlike many who left Great Britain for Australia, and) wore landed at Botany Bay, they were willing voyagers to wards tiie Now Country, 'and they might safely be described as ''besit of the best/ for in most cases tJiey were the brightest and most enterprising ot the best types of family life in England, Ireland aind Scot-, land. Most of them wore young, and in' every way, as far as physique and mental and moral qualities wore concornetl, they were cq.ual, jjf nob superior, to the best typo of inimi'gran'ts to Australia in 1905, and certainly better than tho sample of the men ancl women who came under tho freo, or even assisted, schemes of immigration- in the la tor years. The sihip made a 'good run for that period, and the anchor was dropped in Port .1 ackson on January 17th, 1S42. As I am wrilfcing. here from memory, I will bo thankful if any of tho folk wlio came by the Ann Milne will correct or even verify ; my dates and statements. But I feel fairly ! \vell entrenshed, for I derived my fnforma- \ ti, on at first hand; from several of those who remember their ju-rivoil so well, and who still survive' in lovely -.sunny Queensland, to verify many of tile :? interesting memories of that pioneer period in the history of free, white Australia. .: 'v Among the /Ann .Milne folk I will only mention a few whom I have known person ally,. I remember, for instance, how often I heard in my boyhood that' Jean Duncan reached her :14th /birthday ju^t as tho ves sel, like a; /HvnngVci-ealtioii of beauty, glided gracefully in bet(W-een the north and south hea/ds (of tins U-'fUtit'iiul- Sydney : harbour. And Joan's fathpr,;aihd.'m.dt)her; welie tiliere, a. ve;ry worthy couple; formerly known; asf'Jeoms I»un cam and aVgnefi Ross, -'aaid who '''cam' fraii Bre chin.' ' Her two brothers, Charles and Da vid, sturdy lads, were also tlierfe, and wero regarded as general .favourites, because of their droll Forfar dialect and pawkv ways. Thero was also a trio from bonny Stratli .tay, Pea'thshiro — John, Janet, and Margaret
kjmwu.ii, — »i,iu.uKiy uimiaui. or L ur- jv.ppin branch of the prolific Stewart tree. J ohn was the youngest, antf he reached liis 20th birthday on the 1st of February, after he landed at Sydney, from whence he went up the Hunter and out to Matthew Gogg's sta tion, Gamnioii Plains, as carpenter, on an engagement of two years, at £20 per year and rations. After serving two years, he received an I.O.U. for £40, and walked to Maitland and found that he was ono of the fortunate few who received gold to tho full valuo of Matthew Gogg's p.n., and ho folb himself a rich man. So ho went to Dr. Scott at Wallalong, on the I'atorson, and lie took a farm and remained thero till tho floods of 1857, during which period he mar ried .lean Duncan, whose father was also a tenant on Wallalong till ho died in 1855. In 18-1-7 I was born to John and .lean Stew art, and both father and mother lived to see twelve of their offspring (six sons and six daughtea-s) grow up to manhood and wo manhood.. In 1857i father removed to More ton Bay, a locality with a very unsavoury rcputlattio.n, attid' settled at. a place called Bald Hills, 12 miles from Brisbane, where I spent a few hours very happily with liim on the 3rd of this month, just before leaving for the Richmond. I would fain have brought him with me to let my friends see the man who has fulfilled God's end in our creation j so well, and to whom God lias been so i good, in letting liim enter upon his 84th. j year. I rejoiced with him as lie passed his 83rd milo-.sione, and found him enjoying good ! health and spirits, with all his senses clear, : his memory faultless, and with a set of sound teeth, almost without a blemish, which he .sometimes has spoken of as 'Lho set I grew in Scotland on plain broSe.' | Among the Anne Milne folk was Thomas ! Gray, a giant from Rosslvire, who learned ; tho shoeniaking in his native country, and: whose sewn work was known over a wide j territory, with Brisbane as a centre. He, i too, served two years on a. station | almost, on the extreme frontier line of set- I tlement in Northern Australia in 1842, and ; at the termination of that period ho set up in Brisbane as a cordwainer. In 1815 ho j was married by ltev . .1. 1). Lang (Scots' Church), in Sydney, to Janet Stewart, and shortly alter one of Llie finest young couples' ever seeii in Moreton Bay reached Brisbane, and went into their home, though but a humble one, in George-street, near Queen street, and where the business which was then bc-gun, is still carried on. He died there under a severe attack of English cho lera, nearly 30 years ago, 'deeply regretted by all who knew him, and one of '''Nature's truest gentlemen.' His widow lived, on that spot till 55 years had passed, and in her 80th year left her three stalwart sons and three vigorous daughters to carry on tho business which her helpmate and. sho had so industriously and honourably established that the reputation lasts, and I am pleased to say is being maintained to this day. And tliore was John Connolly, ft strong, laughter-loving '-'boy' from the South of Ireland, who married Margaret Stewart, and who after farming for a time on tho Paterson migrated north to Moreton Bay, settled within a short distance of the Post Qffico in Brisbane, and began clearing tho scrub and tilling the soil in; the central fifties. Tho ' West End State sph'o.ol is pitufitod near John Connolly's old homo. John was carrying the muils on horseback between Brisbane and Ipswich, 24 miles apart, when father, took his wife and family to Moreton Bay, and ho was drowned in a way which nover had any explanation, in the Brisbane River, about 1858 or 1859. His widow, now SO yoais of age, and with a memory as clear as sunshine, lives at Sandgate, twelvo miles from Brisbane, .where I spent an hour with her and father, only, a few .weeka ago. It was amusing to hear them talking with such zest of enjoyment of the evlents of tho early, twenties, thirties, and forties. 1 havo a very distinct memory of the mar riage of Charles Duncan and Georgina Mc Pherson (whose father and mother came out in 1H38) in Juimury, 185-1. 1 remember tlrntj ] a great number of friends, mosel.y ScottlisK a great number of friends, mostly Scottish tish style, and though I prefer and recom mend the quieter function, with less whisky; and dancing, lit must bo admitted that wed-j dings at that period were great events, sometimes lasting two or three days. This I couide lived for a time- on Wallalong, but xnoy, too, migrated to iiald lulls, jUoreton Bay, in 1857, and with the exception of fivci years spent in Perth, Western Australia, thoy spoilt most of their life in Queensland. They returned about two years ago, and, aro living happily upon a farm near Laidley, 50 miles from Brisbane, ono of the most fertilo areas of soil in Australia. Din September, 1857, David Duncan was married to Jane, youngest daughter of Hugh Stewart, another worthy Highlander, who, with his wife/ left Fort William, Invernes. shiire, about 1837/ and who' lived for many years ''at Va)cy,.,near :tho Paterson township.
A few days after/ their wedding David and Jano Duncan-; left iqr, Moreton Bay for their honeymoon, ;and '? settled beside father at Bald I4ills, and they. haye neyer travelled fail since, as ? far as residence is concerned, for during . the yl7 years they could be found quibo easily,. either at BaUl Hills or Gympie^ .90 'miles north. or at their present home at Gaboolture/ SO miles from /Brisbane. Both Charles and David Duncan followed my i'at ti- er's example in having goodly families. TheroHveiyj no sounds of. complaint in thoso good old days of diminution in the birth rate/ ancl none of tliem. had occasion to be ashamed, of their offspring.: ?. My giandmoth er/vAgnes Duncan/ was 5q years of age when grandfather .died in.:. 1855, and she felt tlio loss: of ber helpmate so keenly that she felt a great' ' desire, to die with him. -But, liko many more of tlie 'rustic parriteh fed,' she found 'dying was ''no' sae eaiy,' and so sUq continued 'to sing,, as she sang so sweetly, and. to work,, as sho did so industriously, ami to tell the funniest and best oh stories of tho Scottish folk lore, till ono -day when she had passed her 90th, year, she grew real tired,- for slio was -not yet sick; and she -'silip^ 'pqSj a/wa'.' ,I-Ior' short;.' well-built form in clay was found by Louisa Mellor— her wid o%Npd daughter with whom she lived in Bris bane, where she had died— standing upon her feet at the foot of the bed, where she had been lying, and 'where she was talking only half an hour before. I was Agnes Duncan's fifrst grandchild, and maybe on that account somewhat of a favourite, and when I trained for our Presbyterian Ministry sho 'said, 'Eh, J eames, I am gay and prood.' Even when she lost some of her marvellous powers of .sight, song, strength, and memory, sho wouldl always recognise me when I 'crooned' the grand old 23rd psalm to- 'Martyrdom,' tho tune to which she had so . often- sung it as precentor, in Hint-on Church, or in tho sim ple sorvices in my father's house, where- wo
only saw a minister now and then before, a church was built in Bald Hills in 1803. T, was not so surprised as many when ''granny) died in a standing: attitude— 'a nerfect pose for statuary,' the doctor said i; for so often when I called' upon her, and 'found her busy at ? work, X would remark, 'Weel, granny you're ayo busy.' ; And she would respond in her cheery way, .-'Ayo busy, Jeames ; I'm thinking I'll dee on my feet*!' I have mentioned that the Ann Milne ar rived in Sydney on January 17, 18-113, and that it was mother's fourteenth birthday. And when 58 years had passed, bringing, many wonderful historic changes in Austra^ lia, tho circle composed of John, Janet, and! Margaret Stewart, who came out from Perthshire^ and Jane, Charles, and David ptincaiiv who 'cam frae Brechin,' remained an unbroken circle, apparently hale and hear-) -ty aftqr their years of strenuous pioneer Service. But in the November of 1899 my brother died in her 73rd year, and in the September following J.anei Gray 'passed, ' not so sick or son;, as tired, in her SGth year, just a year younger than her sisiter, Aunt Crichton, who died in her native land, and \viiose bonny helpmate, ..lames Crichton, died' where lvo had lived nil his life, in Mnd derty parish, Perthshire, in iiis Oifth year, the day after his dear old Minister - died, ' with whom he had been associated as mem ber and ruling elder for .60 years -.or more, and by whose graveside- lie was buried: by a great company of relatives, the Minister 'be- ing only one year younger than the elder I to whom he was so warmly attached. When the sixty-third anniversary of tho arri val of the Anno Milne folk came round last month, the remaining quar tette (John' Stewart, Margaret Connolly, Charles Duncan, and' David Duncan), were hale and liemrty, and X ain confident that if they heard the sound of the Scotch ?'-'fid-' die' or bagpipes, would havo none through o . t Co.;,. ; t ,. i ;
merry mood cry 'hooch !' as they passed and touched hands, as they had so often done in their younger days. My object in writing this history is may be somewhat selfish. I wish, if possible, while L am enjoying my pleasant, profitable holiday in my native State, to meet some survivors of the splendid company of 'leal and true' men and women who came' in tlio Ann Milne, and who worked so ivell and so unselfifcThly to lay the foundations, and build ?up the superstructure of .a free, progres sive, Christian Commonwealth in the sunny land, under the Southern Cross. And since 1 have been -writing this hastily written sketch, entirely from memory, and so liable to fair criticism, I have heurd of tho first of tlii company I am looking for in tho neighbourhood of Lismore, and I hope to see not only Owen iM'Donough and' his bro ther Edward, but others, or tho descendants!-, of others, either here or upon the Clarence, ? or Tweed. .1 shall also he very pleased to bear of any of my schoolmates who enjoyed the training of our beloved, revered teacher, Mr. George Sanders, between January, 1853. and September, 1857, when I played- andie.mil, KU1UU UI ill iii^hjh:;-, VII zenship with Messrs. David, John, Jo-soph, and Samuel See, Brian Broughton Buckley, j .Joseph Lock, Charles 1/ane, Thos. and ( Charles Blain. John and Sarah King, Agnes i and Sarah Stubbs, and the Searies, the Bishops, McMurrays, McLeods, McGregors, and many others too numerous to particula- | rise. A year last September 1 met Angus i McGregor. Joseph See, John Kin.d; and-' some of their relations for the first time for 4(3 years, and if anyone had seen us as wo met in H-inton cemetery, all unexpectedly, as we greeted one another by our schoolboy, names and romped up and down through the quiet graveyard, where our ancestors and friends wwe reverently laiid to rest. iliey I might have thought there was only a short, space between Tarhan Creek Asylum and Ilinton cemetery. So for the time did we old boys forgv't the proprieties and go in for a 'good time.' We had our romp, then wo doffed onr hats, and made the village ring with our clear, strong harmony, as wo j sang the four familiar lines of the Doxology i to tlio Scottish National Anthem, 'Auld | I Hunner.' And then I gathered up the tan- j ' gled thread of precious memory for 50 | years, and pictured our dear master ;viid his i 'faithful hound, 'Tye.' and told how in j that early time he sent John See to l?arlia I inent. Brinn Broughton Buckley to the bar, . Joseph Lock into the surgical profession, l and vours gratefully for promising to pub I Tish! this sketch, to the Presbyterian oulpit ! and ministry. — James Stewart, New Farm, ! Brisbane, Queensland. ? ?