Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sunday's Obituary - Donald McDonald 1834-1913

Today I would like to share one my recent TROVE discoveries which relates to my great great Grandfather Donald McDonald.  Over the years, I had heard the stories from my father about Donald and how he came to Australia from Canada.  His death certificate states that he was born in Williamstown, Ontario Canada. However, I couldn't find any reference as to how he travelled from Canada to Australia.  You can imagine my excitement when I found this obituary in TROVE at the end of last year.  Not only does it give details of his adventures as he followed the gold mining trail, but also provides clues and links to his life in Australia.  A great starting point in putting together Donald McDonald's Story!!!

Death of an Old Identity

Braidwood Dispatch and Mining Journal, 16 April 1913

Another old Braidwood district identity has gone by the way of all flesh.  On Monday 31 March, at the age of 79, there passed away at the residence of his son, Angus, at Cattai, in the Hawkesbury district, Donald McDonald, a name widely known and justly honoured in every place it was his lot to be sojourn.

Deceased was a native of Glengarry, Canada; and Ralph Connor the Canadian author, has depicted with marvellous power the character of the stock from whom he sprang.

His family were well connected and highly honoured in their American home and the history of Canada as well marked with the deeds and aspirations of his kin from the early days of the Hudson Bay Company right down to the present time.

The marvellous tales of wealth so easily acquired on the gold fields of California enticed him at an early age to leave home and kindred, and many and rare were the tales he recounted of the life and dangers of the early California days.

Australia at that time was almost a terra incognita to the average American, and only for the "bug bear" of Botany Bay for incorrigible boys would perhaps have been almost non-existent.

Royal Hotel, in goldmining town of Yacendandah
But the discovery of gold by Hargreaves and the marvellous tales of prodigious wealth to be had for the seeking soon spread across the Pacific, and into every hole and corner of the world, and its echoes were heard among the hills of California and were heard by the hardy young Canadian and his mates and the tempting bait was too much for resistance and the Pacific was faced on board a brig which now would seem hazardous and dangerous for a short coastal journey.  

Post Office in Araluen
Arriving in Sydney he secured employment for and then began his mining life.The fields of the north and west were first tried; and later the fields of Victoria were essayed; chiefly the Ovens and Yacendandah, until the discovery of gold in the Braidwood District. Little River, Araluen and Bell's Creek were the scenes of his mining ventures here and the deep cutting of the granite bar at Bell's Creek will forever stand as a monument of his mining prowess.

With the decline of mining he engaged in the timber industry, first as manager for Mr Tippet at Reidsdale and afterwards as proprietor of the same place. 

Then followed a sojourn at Mogo in the Moruya district still in the timber line, until failing health caused his retirement, and he came to live with his daughter (Mrs Lynn Shepherd) on the haunts where he had spent his previous years.

The vigour of the climate decided hi to move to a more congenial home, and for the last 18 months of his life he lived with his son, as staged above. 

Deceased was a man of immense personal strength, as honest as the sun, and upright in all his dealings, taking a deep interest in manly sport and pastimes, and was a keen politician.

During the great floods of 1860 on the Little River his bravery was the means of saving several lives, and no danger him or no call was unheeded in the causes of humanity.

His family, all born in the district, consisted of Malcolm (Woodburn), Angus (Cattai), Annie (Ms Lynn Shepherd, of Braidwood), Donald, Denis, and Alexander of Sydney and Michael of Forbes. His wife predeceased him by 12 years, and her remains were interned at Mogo.

The funeral cortage was numerously attended and his remains were laid to rest in the Catholic Cemetery in the historic town of Winsor, the burial service being read by Rev, Fr. McDonnell and the funeral arrangements carried out by J. Chandler of Winsor.

1913 'Death of an Old Identity.', The Braidwood Dispatch and Mining Journal (NSW : 1888 - 1954), 16 April, p. 2, viewed 23 February, 2014,

Kelly Gang:


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - James McGregor's Grand daughters

It is always exciting when something you write or post links you with family members.  This afternoon, my Facebook page, Family Stories: Photographs and Memories, I was contacted by a cousin who had come across my blogs on the McGregor/Lee Families by pure accident.  She was quite excited to see the stories on her ancestors.

Her great grandmother Mona Lee was my Nanna's, Christina Lee, sister and they were the daughters of Catherine McGregor and George Lee and the Grand daughters of James McGregor and Mary MacPherson.  So especially for you cousin, I have posted their photo for you.  I look forward to catching up with you soon.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sentimental Sunday - Walking in the steps of my Great Great Grandparents James and Margaret McGregor

For the last two weeks, I have taken advantage of some free time on the weekends to do some hands on research visiting sites in Sydney that are linked with the McGregor Family.

My first trip was to the Field of Mars Cemetery, Ryde. This cemetery has an online deceased search that can be used to search for family members and the plot they are buried in.  There is also a map provided that shows you the different denominations.  Armed with hat, suncream water and camera, I worked my way along the rows of graves in the Presbyterian Section of the cemetery, carefully checking for familiar names. To my delight, James and Margaret McGregor's grave was easily found and just next to it was their daughter Christina Sterland (nee McGregor) who passed away suddenly when she was only 30 years old.
James and Margaret McGregor

Christina Sterland (nee McGregor) 1870-1901
This afternoon I ventured out on my second McGregor adventure, and caught the Ferry to from Circular Quay to the suburb of Balmain.  James and Margaret McGregor with their family, moved to Balmain in 1878.  My plan was to see if I could find the house they lived in (7 Booth Street, Balmain) and take some photos of Gladstone Park.  It was reported in James' obituary that he had been employed by the Balmain Park to look after Gladstone Park, which coincidentally is bordered by Booth Street.  

As I climbed up the hill (from the ferry stop) to Gladstone Park, passing the beautiful old sandstone cottages, I couldn't help wondering if my Grandparents had walked along this same road.  Where had they shopped?  Where did their children go to school?  Did they play any sports?  

The first stop was the local library, where I checked out their local history books and obtained the contact details of the librarian who specalises in local history.  Mental note to self!! take the time to contact her this week! Then it was time to see if I could find the family home in Booth Street. Sure enough, opposite to the park, there were a number of historical cottages, including No.7. The mystery for me is that, the house next door (No. 6) was familiar!!  When I visited the SAG last week, there was a photo of this house among the pictures in the files I had looked at.  Another questions? What was the significance of the house next door to the McGregor Family? Had the house numbering been changed?
Booth St, Balmain
 I crossed the road, following in the footsteps of my great great grandfather, James McGregor to Gladstone Park. The Park that in his later years (as mention in his Obituary) he had been in charge of while working for the Balmain Council, and the park that he enjoyed sitting in after his retirement.

View from Park back to home in Booth Street
Some of the Beautiful old trees in the Park.
I took a few quiet moments to contemplate in the shade of the old trees and wondered if James had sat near here? Did he plant some of these beautiful trees?  I hope I will be able to find more details about his time working for the Council and his connection with this park.  It was then time to follow his  (and the rest of the McGregor family) footsteps through the park, and down one block to the historical Campbell Street Presbyterian Church.  Again his obituary advised that James and his family had been members of this church for over 18 years.
Campbell St Presbyterian Church

I have to say, visiting and following the footsteps of your ancestors has a much different feel to that of researching on-line.  It is far more personal.  It has been a rewarding weekend, though there are still many questions to be answered.  

Sunday's Obituary - James McGregor (1833-1917)

Among the files that I looked at last weekend at the Society of Australia Genealogists (SAG) was the hand written obituary for James McGregor (my great great Grandfather). A photo of James, his wife Margaret and their children and grand-children, can be found on my blog, The Other Half of my Family - stories of my female ancestors,  where I have started to write the stories his daughters. 

Obituary of James McGregor

Published by local Balmain/Rozelle Newspaper Copied by Miss Hind (Rita)   2nd Cousin of G.A. Kinnear of Willyama Avenue Fairlight, who has Original.

"The death occurred on Tuesday 19th June 1917, at 7 Booth St. Balmain of Mr James McGregor, a resident of Balmain for 29 years, as the result of an accident which took place 5 weeks previously.

Mr McGregor was born in Glasgow in 1833 and came out to Australia in 1849, where he settled in the Braidwood district, on a sheep Station. He married Miss Margaret McPherson at Braidwood on 213 June 1859.  After spending 3 years on the Station, he followed mining pursuits in Braidwood, Shoalhaven River and New Zealand until 1878, when he came to settle in Balmain with his wife and family.

While in Balmain he was employed at Vickery’s Tannery, Callan Park Asylum Buildings and was later employed by the Balmain Council in charge of Gladstone Park. He retired in 1907 and it was one of the pleasures of his remaining to spend some of his time in the park and view the growth of the trees which he had so carefully nurtured in their young days.

Mr McGregor was a thorough Christian in word and deed, being a member of St Paul’s Rozelle and for the past 18 years of Campbell Street Presbyterian Church.  For many years with his family, he took an active part in Good Templary as a member of “We Hope to Prosper” and “Haste to the Rescue” Lodges, and remained a consistent total abstainer to his death.  He was also a member of the Grand United Order of Oddfellows which he joined 53 years ago.

He leaves a widow, who is in her 77th year, seven daughters, two sons, 28 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

The Rev. Geo. Cranston of Campbell St Presbyterian Church conducted the service at the house, and also at the Grave, Field of Mars, where his body was laid to rest in the presence of a large number of relatives and friends."

Gladstone Park, Balmain, Just across the road from James McGregor's home in Booth Street, possibly where James sat in his last days, enjoying the pleasures of the park that he had cared for while working for the Balmain Council