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No 166   August 2018

Page history last edited by Ghistory Volunteer2 2 years, 3 months ago

                                                              ALEXANDRINA LIBRARY SERVICES

August 2018                                                        No.166                                by Helen Halm and Carolyn Tucker

Carolyn Tucker’s foray into family history began when she discovered family journals, photos and the book
Enquire within about Everything (Newsletter No. 165). This led to her involvement with the Strathalbyn
History Room and a major production The Exodus of the 1870’s from the Strathalbyn region.

Spurred on by enquiries from people whose forebears had lived in Strathalbyn she began two years ago to
search births records. With the help of other volunteers Pam Graves (genealogy) and Andrea Crawford, now
an expert in searching lands titles, over 400 records have been established. Some are conjecture where
unusual names appear later in other regions, rather than fact, so the work is unpublished, but enquiries from
families whose forebears spent part of their life in Strathalbyn Council area are welcomed –

Carolyn marvelled at the fortitude of families who left their homeland, pioneered in the small villages
surrounding Strathalbyn, then were forced to move on as pioneers again, north or south from their new
homes and even interstate. A glimpse into Trove – Southern Argus revealed problems – exhausted soil, red
rust in wheat crops and drought.

One family whose details Carolyn is confident about is that of her great-great grandfather-in-law. Some of
this has been gleaned from The History of Ewen & Rachel McDonald & Descendants. The story of Rachel
McDonald’s descendants can be found inserted in The History of Donald & Christina McLean a book available
in the Strathalbyn Library’s History Room.

What follows is an excerpt from The Exodus of the 1870’s:-* “EWEN & RACHEL McDONALD [nee McLEAN] of

“Balmerino”,  Lower Finniss. Ewen was an Overlander, Shepherd, Farmer and Grazier. On his arrival in S.A in 1838,

he went to Sydney and was engaged with other men to take a flock of sheep from there to S.A via the coast. That mob

was the first to be successfully overlanded.

The overlanders enjoyed great prestige among the settlers and were treated as heroes. For the next six years,

Ewen worked on stations near the Murray River then three years cattle droving from Melbourne to Adelaide. In

1847, he married Rachel, the daughter of his employer, Donald McLean for whom Ewen was a Shepherd. Ewen and

Rachel acquired a large area of farming and grazing land from Lower Finniss to Milang. His first Land Grant was for

77 acres in 1849, Section 2399 in Finniss Special Survey, Hundred of Hindmarsh. They built a large home on the

eastern bank of the Finniss River, called “Balmerino” which, under later ownership, was renamed “Watulunga”.

Their eldest daughter, Annie married Walter John Tucker of “Lake View”, Sandergrove in
1871. Attracted by the news of good land available in the Wimmera [known well in his droving
days], Ewen and Rachel sold “Balmerino” to William Rogers in 1873 after 16 years at Lower
Finniss. Ewen purchased 319 acres for £320 and the final payment was made in 1883. With the
younger nine of ten children, ages 7 to 23, they moved in 1874 to their land selection, five miles
south of the tiny settlement of Noradjuha, 22 miles south-west of the “small town of Horsham”,
Victoria. Until Noradjuha had a Post Office in 1877, their address was C/O the Natimuk P.O. The
older children also made land selections which were, at first all worked together with their parents.
Farming and grazing success there meant their decision to move with the ‘exodus’ was the right
one. Ewen died in1905, age 87. Rachel died in 1908, age 85. Both were buried in the Nurrabiel
Cemetery. There are no headstones. Section 200 Alexandrina, CT (c) XIII 100. Lots 68, 70 to 73
West Milang, 79, 2368, 2369 Hundred of Alexandrina. And many more in Alexandrina. CT XXV 224
& XXIX 236.


[For more information about the exodus to Victoria, refer to “History of Ewen & Rachel
McDonald and Descendants” by Jill McDonald. It was inserted by permission in The History of
Donald & Christina McLean.]”

I was intrigued by the lengths taken to bring gold back safely from Victorian goldfields – embedded
in the axle bed of Ewen’s dray and of the way the family coped with food shortage towards the end
of their journey to Natimuk. Also, having left a large home built on the River at Lower Finniss, Rachel, a 50
year-old experienced mother of 9 and more senior than the scores of young marrieds settled in Natimuk and
Noradjurah, was in demand to assist with childbirths. This while helping make some kind of home for her
large family with whatever materials were available. What resourceful people.
The Exodus contains entries relating to families from Angas Plains, Ashbourne [formerly Finniss Flat],
Belvidere, Blackwood Park & Doctor’s Creek, Bletchley, Bull’s Creek, Dry Plains,
Finniss [formerly Queens Own Town], Finniss Lower, Giles Flat & Giles Creek, Hartley, Salem & The
Bremer, Highland Valley & Wheal Ellen Mine, Lake Plains, Langhorne Crk., Mosquito Crk., Tolderol,
Long Valley, Milang, New Hamburg [Willyaroo since 1917], Point Sturt & Clayton, Red Creek & St.
Ives, Sandergrove, Strathalbyn, Strathalbyn Mine and Woodchester.
We will bring you other stories in later editions of the Newsletter. Well done Strathalbyn History Room.


For photos see pdf file


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