Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Thankful Thursday - More Discoveries at the SAG

Lunch Time Discoveries in the Rocks – McGregor Family Bible continued

In mid-November, I wrote about my first visit to the Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG) and my fortunate acquiring of James and Margaret McGregor’s family Bibles.  At the time of that visit one of the staff at SAG advised me that the Bible was part of an estate and along with the bible were a number of files, letters and photos relating to the McGregor, Kinnear and McPherson Families that I should check out.

Finally, last weekend, I was able to allocate some time to venture into Richmond Villa again.  Earlier in the week I made arrangements with the SAG Archives to have the files pulled out and ready for me on Saturday morning.  Tingling with anticipation, armed with my camera, Ipad, pencils and paper, it was time to catch the train and head into the city.  I wondered, what new clues would I unearth today?

Upon arrival, I was greeted in reception area with my new SAG membership card, two envelopes of photos and four files of documents and advised that I had the place to myself for the morning.  Settling at one of the tables next to one of the Bay Windows in the lovely parlour area that looks out over the “Rocks” and Sydney Harbour I started to work my way through and amazing collection of research that was started by one of my distant cousins, Gordon, in the late 1960’s.  The collection held numerous hand written letters to historical societies andlocal identities from areas where the McGregor’s and lived and other relatives.

There were two exchanges of letters that stood out, one with the owner of the property Gingamona (near Braidwood).  The McGregor family had owned and lived on a small plot of land that is now part of this property.  Mr Hill was excited to share his knowledge of the property, and the link with the McGregors.  The other exchange of numerous letters was between Gordon and my father’s sister, Aunty Nancy. These were very special, because Aunty Nancy was the person who encouraged me the most when I first started researching the family tree, and we worked and shared information on our family history for many years.  It was delightful to read the letters which spanned over 20 years comparing and sharing notes and new discoveries, putting together pieces of the family tree puzzle together.   

Soldier from the 42 Regiment of Foot
In our world of the Internet, and online documents, and quest for instant information we tend to forget what it was like to research for family information pre Internet. Each folder held, carbon copies of letters that had been painstakingly sent to numerous people such as local churches, diocese, and Registry Offices in Australia and Scotland, each giving family details and seeking more information on where they came from, other relatives, and their military service.  Wow!  It was a lot to take in.  He had actually been successful in obtaining the military record for Margaret McGregor (McPherson)’s Grandfather Captain Donald McPherson, and there was a copy in the file!! He served in the 42 Higland Regiment of Foot from 25 June 1811-31 March 1831.  (Ah, another story to write!)

Over the past couple of months, as background to my blogs on the McGregor sisters,I have been reading and researching as much as I can about the McGregor/McPherson family. As  I made my way through the letters, photos and newspaper cuttings quite a few things clicked into place, answered some questions and posed even more.

Bushrangers - Clarke Brothers
One thing that did intrigue me was that in a couple of letters it was mentioned that his grandmother, Jessie McGregor, remembered being held up by bushrangers when she was a child living in the Braidwood Araluen district. However, they were allowed to move on, no one hurt or anything stolen.  What? I thought, I am sure I read somewhere recently in trove a similar story.  Will have to go back and check this!!   

Goodness,  two hours had passed before I knew it! It was time to start making some copies for later research!  After a quick call to my husband to let him home I wasn’t going to be home for that late lunch, I carefully made my way through each file, taking photos and making copies of documents of interest. 

Finally, at around 3.30 pm, with tired eyes but a happy mind, I bid farewell to the SAG staff member, handed her back the files and made my way home with bag full of photocopied letters and documents, to be perused and pondered over in my quest to unlock the stories related to the McGregor and McPherson families.


  1. What a great opportunity. I have lots of paper documents left to me by my mother and simply not enough time to go through them. What a fantastic find!

  2. Time is the element, isn't it. At present I am drowning in new family tree bits and pieces with very little time to sort and assess them. I guess we will get to it all one day.