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A Centenary of Schooling, 1869-1969
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THE SMALLS AND SWAN CREEK
Much of the early history of the Swan Creek area is inevitably bound to the first family of the area. From the first settlement in the area throughout the rest of the 19th century, the Small family was prominent.
The first man to discover the Clarence Valley and recognise its potential as a cedar-getting and pastoral area was Richard Craig. He informed the Governor of the time but the Governor did not appear very enthusiastic about it. Craig then mentioned it in discussions he had with Mr. Thomas Small, of Kissing Point, and Mr. Francis Girard.
Thomas Small, of Kissing Point, was a son of Sergeant John Small, who came to New South Wales as doctor's dispenser on Governor Phillip's flagship, the Sirius, in 1788. Both of these gentlemen became interested and Girard despatched the "Taree" and Small despatched the "Susan" to the Big River. It is thought that the "Taree" was first to reach the mouth of the river, but refused to negotiate the bar at the entrance, The "Susan," on the other hand, was successful and so this vessel, with the Small party on board, was the first boat to enter the Clarence River.
Of the Small's connected with Swan Creek, the most prominent was William. At the time of the establishment of the Swan Creek Station, in 1840, William was only 12 years old. He was born on December 14th, 1828. He had an elder brother, Thomas, who settled in the Ulmarra area. It is believed that Susan and Elizabeth Islands in the Clarence River were named after two of William's elder sisters by the same names.
While Thomas Small senior regarded Kissing Point as his home, there is evidence to suggest that he spent a considerable amount of time, if not all his time up to the marriage of William, at Swan Creek. Claims were made against him in the Court of Requests by John Avery for payment of timber and Henry Alderson who claimed that Thomas Small junior had unlawfully possessed himself of Alderson's bullock. Thomas Small junior claimed that he had bought the bullock from Thomas Small senior of Swan Creek.
However, it was around the time of William's first marriage that Thomas Small senior left Swan Creek and returned to Kissing Point, where he died on November 12th, 1863. It is reported that Thomas Small senior weighed between 23 and 26 stone.
William Small married Miss Ellen Wilcox in 1852 and she bore him a son, Thomas, before dying in 1855. It is generally regarded that from the time of William's marriage the management of the Swan Creek Station was left to him. It was around the time of this first marriage that the house, on the hill on the western side of the highway and overlooking Swan Creek, was built. The original house still stands to-day and is now owned by Mr. Cecil Want. The house is made of cedar, felled and pit-sawn on the property: the bricks being made from clay quarried from a hole near the road at the present Swan Creek bridge.
After his first wife's death William made many trips to Sydney. It was on one of these trips that he met Elizabeth Mary Neale whom he married at her father's home in Parramatta on August 12th, 1858. His second wife bore him four sons and five daughters.
William Small was made a magistrate before 1859; he was Returning Officer for the Clarence Electorate for some time; he gave the land for the old Swan Creek Public School; he was one of the first shareholders in the C, & R.R.S.N. Co. and one of the founders of the C. P. & A. Society.
His brother-in-law, George Neale, came to South Grafton and was a successful storekeeper. In 1861 he and William Small advertised beef for sale at one penny halfpenny per pound.
William Small appears to have been a prolific buyer and breeder of stock. It has been said that the Swan Creek stud of drought stock was looked upon as one of the best in the colony-certainly not surpassed in Northern New South Wales. As far as cattle were concerned, he believed in Shorthorns. Some of the horses owned by him were Prince Imperial, Honesty, Royal Lincoln, Plantation, Perfection, Agnes Rose and True Briton. Most of these, if not all of them, were purchased in England and transported to New South Wales. This was a costly business as evidenced by the complete price of 540/13/3 pounds for Prince Imperial. William was an excellent horseman and it is believed that his balance as a horseman was so good, that it is said he usually did without a girth to his saddle.
During the seventh decade of the 19th century there was considerable agitation in the district for the construction of a school. It is interesting to note that William Small purchased a Shorthorn bull in the latter half of the 60's, the bull being calved on January 4th, 1865. The fact that he named the bull "School Master" would signify the agitation for a school.
On September 21st, 1868, William Small wrote a letter, signed by himself and other residents, to the Secretary for the Council of Education requesting that a school be erected at Swan Creek. On November 17th, 1868, William Small received a letter from R. E, Webster, for the Secretary for Council of Education, informing him that the funds voted by Parliament for public instruction for the current year would not justify the Council in incurring any new expenditure. It was only five months later that a decision to build a school was made. One further point of interest in connection with the school is an account for school fees received by William Small in 1876. The fees for Master George and Master Edward were 6/6 each with books 2/- for the quarter ending June 23rd.
William Small was a large landowner in the area and it is interesting to note that in 1885 for Portion 413 which was 200 acres of grassland he paid 18/- in rates, the Fair Average Annual Value of the property being assessed at £18.
Mr. William Small was a leading citizen of the district and earned a name for open handed generosity and kindness which endears his memory. He never, at any time, visited the Richmond River area. The old Small home at Kissing Point was left to James Devlin, who was a half brother to William and Thomas Small.
By Crown Sales and selections the station lost all the Ulmarra and Clarenza flats very early, but a greater misfortune came about through the Belmore Sugar Mill at Ulmarra. This was the first sugar mill on the Clarence. It was completed in 1869 and turned out disastrously for all concerned. The shareholders lost their capital and two directors, William Small and Edward Creer, who had become personally responsible, were heavy losers as guarantors. By this and other responsibilities undertaken for others, William Small became deeply involved, and was finally left a poor man. His declining years were clouded with financial difficulties. He died in 1905 at the age of 77.
The late Mr. Joseph Chard, who was born at Goose Swamp, in 1885, was a twin son of the late George and Eliza Chard, an old pioneering family of the Ulmarra (district. As a lad he worked for the late Mr. George McFarlane on his property at Swan Creek, and whilst there finished his schooling at the local school. Later he also helped with the farmwork on the property of his brother-in-law, the late Mr. Allan McPhee.
In July, 1908, he married Miss Hannah Preston, third daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. George Preston, of Ulmarra. After some eight years spent share-farming on several dairying properties in the Coldstream district, they moved to Dorrigo. In May, 1919, they returned to the Clarence River with their young family and bought a river-bank farm at Clarenza off the late Mr. Duncan McPherson. After a couple of years they sold it to a Mr. Weilly, and later bought Mr. Owen Collins property, on which stood the old Swan Creek brick school and residence. At that time the old school building was used as a barn. -Mr. Chard demolished it, selling most of the bricks to the late Mr. Charlie Watkins, and using the timber in the erection of a new barn on the farm. He also added a new kitchen and dining-room to the residence some years later. Here the family resided for many years, engaged in dairy-farming, maize-growing and pig-raising, also establishing a very good stone-fruit orchard and vegetable garden.Their family of nine children all received their education at the Swan Creek School. Mrs. Chard was a good cook, and in those days baked all her own bread for the family. She was also a keen gardener and loved her flower garden.
Joe (as he was known to most) was a handy man with tools and a self taught carpenter, and did many building and repair works in the Swan Creek, Ulmarra, South Grafton and Yamba districts. In 1924 he levelled the Swan Creek School floor and put a door at the end of the classroom.
Tragedy struck the family when the second eldest son, Earl, was accidentally drowned at Pillar Valley in 1931, at the age of 16 ½ years. ln 1936 they purchased the adjoining property off the late Mr. and Mrs. John Donoghue, and moved into that residence. The old school residence being later demolished.
A daughter Ruby taught Sunday School for some years in St. Mark's C. of E. at Swan Creek; later training as a kindergarten teacher at Waverly College prior to going to Yarrabah, Qld. as a missionary teacher, where she met and married Mr. Jack Turner. also a missionary. She died at the early age of 33 years, leaving two small sons, Michael and Joseph, whom Mr. and Mrs. Chard reared. These two grandchildren also attended Swan Creek school making the third generation of the Chard family to receive their education there.
A son Albert enlisted in the 2nd A.I.F. in 1940 and was with the 4th Battalion in the Middle East and New Guinea. He returned home in 1945 to help work the farm. After the death of Mr. Chard and Albert in 1957-1958, most of the property was sold in 1960 to Mr. and Mrs. Fred Blackadder, and Mrs. Chard made her home with a son and daughter, Ray and Camellia, at Blacktown, until her death at the age of 86 years, in 1965. The only property at Swan Creek now belonging to that branch of the Chard family, is a block retained by their youngest son, Mr. Jim Chard.
William Duckworth was born at the Hunter River on September 23rd, 1850. He settled on the Serpentine and married Julia "Goodie" Want. They moved to Swan Creek and rented a farm from John McPhee. William and Julia Duckworth had eight children-Bob, who married Lil Davis and lived at Swan Creek, Harwood and Maclean; Bill, who married Ethel Layton; John, who remained a bachelor; Mary (Mrs. Donoghue); Emma (Mrs. Tom McNamara, South Grafton); Isabel (Mrs, Jack Jarrett, South Grafton); Hanna (Mrs. Matt Cusack, Palmers Island, then Sydney); Alice (Mrs. Ira Allen, Sydney). The Donoghue children all attended the old brick school. Bob and Bill purchased a farm at Harwood and divided it. Later Bill and Ethel moved to Swan Creek where they purchased a farm an the point of Swan Creek. They had three children-Margie (Mrs. Ivan Kelly, Swan Creek); Doris (Mrs. Roy McPhee, Swan Creek); Ted (married Hazel Ryan). Ted and Hazel took over the Swan Creek farm and Bill and Ethel purchased the farm near the Swan Creek Bridge from the Layton Estate. Ted and Hazel had four children-Susan, Barbara, Jim and Geoffrey who attended Swan Creek Public School.
Jeremiah and Mary Donoghue came to Australia from Ireland and settled at Lawrence. They had six children-Dan, who moved to Broadwater; Jerry, who married Alice Poole and settled at the Five Mile, Woolgoolga Road; Jim, who moved to Sydney; Kate (Mrs, A. Shepherd, Swan Creek); Mary (Mrs. Kiely, Mullumbimby); John, who was born in 1872 and who in 1896 married Mary Duckworth, who was born at Swan Creek in 1876. John and Mary Donoghue settled at Swan Creek, near where the Swan Creek bridges are to-day. They had 11 children, three dying at an early age. The surviving children were Kathleen (Mrs. Roy Aspinall, South Grafton, now Brisbane); John Wilfred (married Anne West) -he served in World War I and World War II-Seelands; Alice May (Mrs. William Grebert, Dorrigo, then South Grafton)-her daughter, Mrs. Ingledew, now lives at Swan Creek; Mary Dagma (Mrs. Dave Ryan, Coldstream);-her son Doug is chairman of Ulmarra Dairy
Co.; Robert James (married Joyce McGregor) Seelands; William Jeremiah (married Val Dixon) Seelands; Merle Florence (Mrs. Allan Muller, Brisbane); Joseph Colin (married Merle Dixon) Seelands. All eight Donoghue children attended Swan 'Creek Public School. The Donoghue family moved to a property where Mrs. Whyatt now lives and then to a property between Chard's and Smith's. In 1933 the family moved to Seelands where to-day Robert, William and Joseph have adjoining properties.
Mr. Bill Eggins lived on the hill at Swan Creek near the old creamery. His eight children-Sam, Bill, Irwin, George, Ada, Annie, Flo and Bertha all attended the old brick school. They are all deceased. Ada married Mr. Bert Small, of the well-known pioneering family of the district. The family later left Swan Creek and moved to Corindi. In June, 1913, his son Bill returned to Swan Creek and took up share farming on Mr. George Small's property. His children-Elva, Jean, Mary, Vera, Annie, Jack, Roy and Edwin all attended Swan Creek Public School. Elva, Jack and Roy are deceased. Mary( Mrs. Davis), whose husband was killed in a car accident, now lives with her mother in South Grafton. Jean (Mrs. Burt) lives in Madang where her husband is a building inspector with the Housing Commission. Vera (Mrs. Rutland) lives in Lao where her husband is a carpenter with the Housing Commission. Annie (Mrs. Williams) is a school teacher at Gosford where her husband teaches at the High School. Edwin, who married Elizabeth Taylor, lives at South Grafton. Edwin has three boys-William, Thomas and Michael. William is a successful rower with the South Grafton High School.
In 1850 Stephen Hills purchased 33 acres of land situated at Clarenza, for the sum of 291. On his death the property came ,into the possession of Catherine Hills, his only daughter by a second marriage. She later married John Gillies, who emigrated from the Isle of Skye, Scotland. He carried on the management of the farm which was devoted to agricultural pursuits, for many years. The children of the marriage, who all received their primary education at Swan Creek school, were Mary (Randwick), Catherine (Mrs. G. Alford, Grafton), Joan (Mrs. J. Longmuir, Gunnedah) and John (Sydney). For a period of 10 years the property was subsequently managed by Mr. G. Alford, now manager of the Grafton Dairy Co. While under his management the property was devoted to dairying interests. It eventually passed into the hands of the present owner, Mr. T. Want.
Hercules John Green was born at Lower Portland on the Hawesbury River on the 8th September, 1887. He was reared in a home built by the convicts. He started school at the age of 13, at Upper Halfmoon Beach, his teacher was Jessie Tembie (there was no school until then). He only went to school for one year.
He worked a rented farm and operated the punt at Sockville for two years. Upon his father's death he returned to his old home farm. At the age of 22 he left home to go to Dorrigo on the North Coast to cut cedar. He came up on the S.S. Catalina to Ulmarra where he stepped off the boat with £3 left. He took a job at Calliope, working on a farm for his uncle, Archibald Green, for El per week and keep. He worked for 22 weeks, then moved to Swan Creek to work for Jack Green, his cousin-the property was a part of Wilcox Estate. He remained in Swan Creek for about two years and then returned to Calliope again to work Arch. Green's property on a share farm basis. He worked Arch. Green's two farms for two years while Arch. had an extended holiday.
It was then that he had the misfortune to shoot himself whilst trying to catch a young magpie for his girlfriend, Bertha de Ville. He was operated on in South Grafton at Clarence House Private Hospital, by Dr. Alcorn, Dr. Henry and Dr. Page (later Sir Earle). The poor type X-Ray could not find the bullet (he still carries the .22 slug). Broke, he returned home again to Lower Portland for a short period of corivalesence. On returning to the Clarence he was offered a rented farm, owned by Mr. Stuart Jefferies. Cows, farm implements and furniture were provided on time-payment by Ulmarra businessmen (these men were Mr. Retallic, Austin Carlton and Walter Fitzgerald). While living there he married Bertha de Ville and they stayed a further two years. After buying his father in-law's lease on Wilcox Estate (now Charlie Watkins') he moved back to Swan Creek. Bertha was born at Coombaja, an out-station on Yulgilbar, on the Upper Clarence, on 8th February, 1888 where her father, Harry de Ville, was employed as a stockman. No doctors were available and her mother was tended by a mid-wife from Yulgilbar Castle, who rode out on horseback. So remote was their dwelling that her mother didn't see another white woman for five months. It was in this home that the bush ranger Tommy Ryan was captured.
Her mother had been approached by Ryan, who had come in from the jungle during a cyclone, soaked to the skin, cold and hungry, when he (Ryan) was convinced there was no-one around except the children. He came in for a damper and tea and sat by the open fire until he went to sleep. When police and others arrived Ryan woke and ran out the door, being tripped by Mr. de Ville. He was then taken into custody by police. Up until the time of her death, she (Bertha) could remember Tommy being tied to the verandah posts, his hands to one and his feet to another, so tight that his buttocks barely touched the verandah boards. There he remained all night. Bertha felt sorry for Tommy because the verandah leaked and water dribbled down on him all night. The de Ville's later moved to Upper Orara where Bertha went to school. They later moved to Glenreagh and then to Buchanan's property at Ulmarra. After remaining on Wilcox Estate for three years, Here. and Bertha
moved to their own property at Woodford Dale, where they suffered two floods in one year. Almost broke, they sold out and came back to Swan Creek where they bought a 53 acre paddock on which they built their home and dairy. (The property is now owned by Tom Smith). This tool@ place in 1923. The property has gradually been increased. Here. purchased John Gillies' property, Ellem's (formerly known as O'Grady's) and Weeks' (formerly known as Bultitudes). The family property now consists of 178 acres.
Here. and Bertha had three children, Doris, Mrs. D. Mortimer, Corndale, via Lismore; Charles, later Lt. Col. Green, D.S.O-., S.S. (U.S.A.), who died of wounds as leader of the Australian Battalion in Korea, at the age of 31 years. Charles rose from the ranks to see service with the 2/2nd Batt. A.I.F., his number being NX121. He saw action in the Western Desert, Greece, Garrison Duty Ceylon, Italy and the Wewak area New Guinea. When given command of the 2/11 Battalion in New Guinea, he was the youngest Battalion Commander in the Australian Army. He was awarded the sword of the Japanese General Kato on the defeat of his forces. Alvan stilt lives in the old home. All three served during the war-Doris, Air Force; Charles, A.I.F.; Alvan, Militia. Mr. Green's ambition to make use of the waters of Swan Creek came good when he was the first in the district to use Irrigation in 1942. Success came quickly. Being a lover of draught horses, he purchased the Clysdale Stallion "Standard Bearer," which won him many prizes. He followed this with a Guernsey Cattle Stud, "Arramlu." His good cattle soon brought a demand for milk, and a n)ilk-run was started to Grafton in 1950 and has now grown to the biggest private run in Grafton.
Being a great believer of putting something away for a bad time, he was rewarded when he won first prize in the R.A.S. Championship Farm and Fodder Competition, Coastal division, in 1950. He followed this by winning the Farm and Fodder Competition conducted by the Clarence P. and A. Society. He served two terms as an Alderman on the Ulmarra Municipal Council as well as being made a Justice of the Peace. He served as President of the P. and C. and Hall Committee for a number of years. For many years he did veterinary work for fellow dairymen along the river when there were no vets.
John Kelly, on his arrival from the old country, settled in the Mid-Clarence District at Lower Ulmarra. His son, George, worked on his father's farm and after his marriage to Miss Selina Bailey in 1892, he took up dairying at Deep Creek. In June, 1905, he moved to Clarenza, where he settled down as a farmer and grazier. Mr. Kelly endeared himself as a neighbour to the residents of the district. As there was no hall in the locality, his home was always open for church services and meetings held in the interests of public movements. He was a prominent exhibitor at local and district shows, specialising in draught horses, hacks and ponies. He was a well-known horse and cattle judge, officiating at shows from Murwillumbah in the north to Bega on the South Coast. He was President of the Ulmarra Agricultural Society. He entered enthusiastically into all bodies to do with farming and the district. He spent many years as President of the Swan Creek Parents' and Citizens' Association. lt was during his period of oft!ce that the extension of electricity to Swan Creek was opened by Mr. Gordon Wingfield, M.L.A., at the school. George and Selina Kelly had three sons and four daughters, Victor (Mt. Edgecombe), Ventry and Ivan (Clarenza), Leila, Isley and Verlie (Clarenza) and Elva (Harden). Ventry Kelly was a Shire Councillor on the Orara Shire and a member of the C. P. & A. Society for many years, He is now Chairman of the Clarence Co-operative Meat Society. Mrs. Leila Ford (nee Kelly) has been a keen supporter of the Red Cross and other women's activities in South Grafton for many years.
Three younger members of the family - Miss Christina Livingstone, Mr. A. J. Livingstone and Mr. A. H. Livingstone attended Swan Creek Public School between the years 1904 and 1910. After this period they attended Grafton Public School and Grafton High School. Miss Christina Livingstone and Mr. A. J. Livingstone are residing in Sydney and Mr. A. 11. Livingstone is living at Clarenza. After arriving in Australia from Scotland, the parents of these children first settled for a short time on the Williams River, a tributary of the Hunter River. They came to the Clarence River in the year 1858 and purchased land in that year, this land being among the first farmlands sold on the Clarence by public auction in Grafton, Mr. A. H. Livingstone occupies this land now. Thus the farm has been in the family name for Ill years. The pioneer parents of the family were deeply interested in the education of their children and saw that they seldom missed a day at school. Considering the distance from school and the absence of public transport facilities, this achievement was remarkable.
Edward Layton was born at Swan Creek and became a saddler in Grafton. He and his wife Eleanor purchased portion of William Small's property around 1902 and moved there. They had 13 children-Alfa, Frank, George and Marion dying at an early age. The other children were Albert (Copmanhurst); Ethel (Mrs. Duckworth, Swan Creek); George (Grafton); Maud (Mrs. McCullum, Brushgrove); Marjorie (deceased); Florence (Mrs. Arthur Watkins, Ulmarra); Gordon (Queensland); Grace (Mrs. Albert Mann, Tully); Edward (Gosford). The last six children attended Swan Creek Public School. Edward assisted his father on the farm and after the death of Edward Layton senior, Edward junior joined the A.M.P. Society. The farm was purchased from the Estate by Bill and Ethel Duckworth (Ethel being a daughter of Edward Layton senior).
John McLachlan and his wife Mary arrived in New South Wales on November 13th, 1848. They sailed from Plymouth on August 12th, 1848 in the "General Hewitt," which was under the command of Captain Gatenby. Both came originally from Argyleshire, Scotland. With them came their four sons - Allan, Hugh, Duncan and Donald and their two daughters-Sarah and Flora. After disembarkation the McLachlan family proceeded to the Williams River, where relatives had settled. Being dissatisfied with farming results, the whole family moved to Ulmarra in the year 1858, where John McLachlan obtained a farm by a Crown grant by purchase on June 24th, 1858. This farm passed on to Donald, the youngest son, in 1881. In 1923 it went to his son John McKenzie McLachlan and in September, 1965, it was purchased by Mr. N. C. Buchanan, of Ulmarra.
Of the original family, Sarah married a Mr. McKinnon, from South Arm; Flora married Archibald McFarlane, from Lower Southgate; Allan remained a bachelor and died in 1929; Hugh married Miss Mary McFarlane, of Carrs Creek and he died in 1928; Duncan married Miss Ann McDonald, of "Dunfield," and he died in 1929; and Donald, who received the original selection, married Miss Margaret McLeod, and he died in 1929. The present McLachlan property, now owned by Duncan Blumer McLachlan, was purchased by his grandfather, Duncan McLachlan, on January 30th, 1874. This property was adjacent to the original McLachlan selection. The present property passed from Duncan McLachlan to his son, Lachlan Stewart McLachlan and thence to the present Duncan Blumer McLachlan. Lachlan Stewart MeLachlan's wife was Bessie Rose Blumer. Her father, George A. Blumer, was Inspector of Schools in the Grafton area from March, 1913, to December, 1915.
The descendants of "Red" John McPhee who travelled to New South Wales were Allan and Catherine McPhee (nee Weir) who had lived at Stronian, Loch Sunart, Argyleshire. Allan died in 1852. Their family included John (Black John), Thomas, William, Donald, Alexander, John (Red John), Duncan, Ann and Mary. After settling on the Williams River and being subjected to floods, the family moved to the Clarence River. It was Red John who actually selected land at Swan Creek, while the others went to Southgate and the Coldstream. Red John married Ann Cameron. They had 13 children Allan, Catherine, Mary, Flora, Ann, Arthur, Duncan, Donald, Minnie, John and Alexander, who were born at Swan Creek, and Charles and -Margaret who were born at Harwood. Four of the children, Ann, Arthur, Donald and Alexander, died of diphtheria.
After the family moved to Harwood, the eldest son Allan took over the farm. This farm is now occupied at present by Roy McPhee, who was Allan's son. The property is said to have been purchased for £ 3 per acre. The first seven children of Red John's family attended the Swan Creek School. Allan married Harriet Chard and
their family of five-Daisy, Lily, Roy, Jean and Hedley, all attended the school. Roy married Miss Dot Duckworth and their family Daphne, Lesley, Ronald, Allan and Kay all attended the school. Allan McPhee, a very strong man, strained his heart doing heavy work on his windmill and died in 1915, aged 53 years. His sister, Catherine, married an Englishman, William Penn, who was twice shipwrecked near Melbourne. They finally settled at Swan Creek.
The members of the McFarlane family who attended the Swan Creek Public School were descendants of Duncan McFarlane who arrived in Australia , with his family, on the "British King" on 28th February, 1839. A native of the Isle of Mull, Scotland, Duncan was the son of John McFarlane and Ann Colquhoun, his wife. Aged 47 years on arrival , Duncan's family comprised John (23), Duncan (16), George (15), Sally (21), Anne (20) and Grace (17).
It was son John who moved to the Clarence River. After residing with his father at "The Mullion," Yass, for some time, he accepted service under the Denominational School Board and later the National Board of Education. He taught at Moruya, Iona, Brookfield and Mulconda. In 1858 he purchased a Crown land allotment of 58 acres in the parishes of Ulmarra and Clarenza. In 1861, John McFarlane went to and became a pioneer of the Ulmarra district, where he resided until his death in 1886. In 1848 he married Mary Stuart, who was born in Ardnamurchan, Argyllshire, and arrived by the George Fife, 1840, The issue to this union was Duncan, a nonagenarian, who at one time was Mayor of Grafton for five terms, a well-known pioneer of the Clarence, historian and veteran journalist. In 1886 he married Matilda Bondfield, a native of Grafton.
Marion wedded the Reverend Allan McDougall. She died in Sydney in 1932. Mary married Dugald Henderson, and resided c)n the Clarence, Richmond and Tweed Rivers. She died in Sydney. John resided for years on the Clarence, and afterwards entered business in Sydney. For 27 years he represented the Clarence electorate in the Legislative Assembly. He died in Sydney in 1915. George resided on the Clarence for 60 years. After farming experience he engaged in store keeping at Ulmarra. He married Mary Ann McIntosh of Ulmarra. He died in 1946, aged 89 years. Grace married A. Smart, at Grafton. For several years she resided in Sydney, where she died. Alexander pursued the culture of sugar cane on the Lower Clarence for several years. Then he entered the Customs Department, Sydney. He married Jessie McPherson. Alexander died in 1914. Cyrus entered journalism and served on country presses, then on dailies at Perth, Hobart and Brisbane. He married Miss Stafford Smith, of Adelaide. He died in Brisbane in 1930.
Succeeding John on the Swan Creek property was his son George. George and Mary McFarlane had a family of 10-Mary Gyda (Mrs. Reg Fernon); Violet Margaret (Mrs. Perc W. J. Maxted); John (married Lilian Jane Rayner); Charles Calvin (died 1917 War) ; George Clarence (Tommy, killed on road 1920);
Effie (Mrs. Donald Stewart); Ivy Aglair (Mrs. Angus McLeod Munro); Cyrus Stuart (married Jennie Kidd); Annie Elizabeth (Mrs. George Parker); Duncan (married Elva Dargen). These children all attended Swan Creek Public School. Succeeding George on the farm was his son, John. John and Lilian McFarlane's family comprised of Catherine Mary, George Charles, Marion Jean and John Douglas. These children also attended Swan Creek Public School. George Charles is now Principal of the Tocal Agricultural College at Paterson. John Douglas is a lecturer at Syciney University. Marion Jean's husband has won a Churchill Scholarship for Aboriginal teaching. In 1937 the family moved to Coffs Harbour and in 1943 to Sydney, the farm being sold to the late Mr. Jarvie McPhee.
John Nicholson came from Scotland and settled on land at Harwood where he grew sugar cane and had his own mill-the remains of the mill can still be seen to-day. His daughter Margaret Nicholson married James Walter Paine and they settled at Swan Creek on the bank of the Clarence River where Swan Creek enters the river. Trees planted by James Paine are there to-day. James and Margaret Paine had four children-Percy and John, who moved to Sydney and are now deceased. Leila (Mrs. Webster) still lives at Maclean. Eva (Mrs. Munro, Grafton) was born at Swan Creek in 1885. She married Ernest Donald Munro, who was Mayor of Maclean for many years. All these children attended Swan Creek Public School. After the children grew up and left the district, James and Margaret Paine moved to Chatsworth. Mrs. Munro recalls the floods of the 90s when neighbours' animals were caught in the flood waters and would be washed onto their verandah.
Francis James Shepherd came to Australia from England and settled on the Clarence. Around 1870, he married Miss Annie Sexton, who had come from Ireland. Annie Sexton, prior to her marriage, worked as a domestic for William Small at the Swan Creek Station homestead. Of the marriage there were 11 children, seven girls, Annie, Mary, Nell, Sally, Rachel, Clara and Eva; and four boys, Lewis Napoleon, Albert George, Michael Francis and Sonny, who died at four years of age. The girls, in the above order, marr4ed Andrew Watkins, Joe Watkins, William McGregor, Jean Deville, William Knox-Chandler, Thomas McLear and Charles Wilkinson respectively. With the exception of Sally, who began married life in the district before moving to the Tweed and finally retiring in Sydney, all children remained in the district. Clara and her husband Thomas McLear both attended the old brick school together. 'Clara, who now lives on the Pacific Highway between Swan Creek and South Grafton, is the only child of the original family still living. She is 89 years of age. The daughters of Francis James Shepherd gave birth to 39 children.
As far as the boys are concerned, Lewis Napoleon married a girl "Green" from Tucabia. He took up a selection at Pillar Valley and later retired at Wooli; Albert George married Miss Kathryn Donoghue, the children of the marriage being Eileen Mary (now Mrs. Les Austin) and Joseph Francis; Michael Francis married Hilda Mary Ellem and they had eight children-Merle, Monica, Nola, Norma, Rex, Bill, Dick and Colin (deceased). Dick is still living at Swan Creek and Rex has only just recently sold out and moved to Junction Hill. Michael Francis retired in 1948 and resided in Grafton.
Thos. Smith was born in County Cavan on March 17, 1857. At the age of 16 he migrated to Australia by sailing vessel. Due to bad weather, the six month journey was very tough. This would have been a terrible ordeal for him as he had never seen the sea until he boarded the vessel. On arrival in Sydney he boarded another vessel to sail up the coast, landing at Brushgrove. Here he was met by his sister, Bridget. After a rest, he went to work at anything he could find. Hard working conditions prevailed in those days and he often made special mention of the sugar mill at Southgate. His wife, Mary (nee Lattimer) was born May 18th, 1869, at Clarencetown on the Williams River. The Lattimer family left Clarencetown and settled at Lawrence. Thos. Smith married Mary Lattimer in 1894 and from that time began his life at Swan Creek. He rented a farm from Mr. Allen McLachlan and resided there for the rest of his life until his death in 1933. After Mr. McLachlan died he bought the farm about 1900. He began farming maize, potatoes and cane. Once dairy farming began in a fairly big way he gathered a herd of milkers. He took his milk to the creamery at Swan Creek for separation until separators came on the market and the creamery closed down.
He was a great lover of horses and went in for breeding all kinds, particularly racehorses. After his death his wife Mary remained on the farm until her death in 1961 aged 92 years. The family consisted of nine children-four boys and five girls. They were Andrew (Port Macquarie); Thomas (Grafton); James (South Grafton); Eric (Tex, of Swan Creek); Dorrie (Mrs. Stone, Ballina); Winnie (Mrs. E. J. Clifford, of Evans Head); Edna (Mrs. Fernance, of Sydney); Sheelah (Mrs. L. Knox, of Gladesville); Nell (Mrs. Eric Lees, of Inverell). All the children attended Swan Creek Public School. Tex purchased his father's property and still resides there.
Alfred and Arabella Whiteman moved from Pillar Valley, where they owned a grant of land, to Swan Creek around 1900. They rented a property along Swan Creek from Mr. Roles. After Alfred Whiteman's death at Swan Creek, the family moved to South Grafton. One daughter, Gertrude (Mrs. Burrows, Sydney) attended Swan Creek Public School. A granddaughter of Alfred and Arabella Whiteman, Mrs. Blackadder, lives at Swan Creek.
John Watkins and family settled in Swan Creek during the second half of the 19th century. During this time he was share farming on the Wilcox Estate. Of his children, William, Andrew, Joseph and Charles all farmed in Swan Creek. All of their children attended the Swan Creek Public School. Around 1900 Charles, a son of John Watkins, left the property and later, in 1921, returned as owner of that same part of the Wilcox Estate which his father had share-farmed. Charles Watkins successfully farmed this property for 44 years until his death in July, 1965. He reared a family of three sons and three daughters-May, Ernie, Victor, Jessie, Marjorie and Lyle. Victor died 25 hours after his father. In 1937, at the age of 17, Lyle died as the result of injuries he received in a motor accident while an employee of the Railways Department in Sydney. After marrying Phyllis Carroll, from Chatsworth Island, in 1941, Ernie spent nine years in Newcastle before returning to Swan Creek. His three children- Royce, Warwick and Dallas all attended Swan Creek Public School. Ernie was active in all district affairs. Like his father, who successfully exhibited his draught horses at the Ulmarra Shows, Ernie has been a successful exhibitor of vegetables and farm produce at various shows. During the depression years Ulmarra Show ceased to function. Charles purchased the pavilion, pulled it down and carted it by horse and dray to his property. Ernie left the district in July, 1966, and moved to Grafton. With his departure the name of Watkins ceased to be on the roll of the Swan Creek Public School. The property was bought by Bert McKay and his wife Jessie, who was a daughter of Charles Watkins.
Joseph Watkins came to the Clarence River from Mangrove Creek, Hawkesbury River, with his parents John and Selina Watkins. At the time Joseph was only six or seven years of age. The trip was made by horse and dray and took several days. They first settled on Woodford Island and then afterwards moved to Lower Ulmarra. They later settled on a farm just below the Ulmarra punt. While living there, a large sailing vessel was washed ashore near the farm in the 1870 flood. Horse teams and bullock teams were used to try and refloat the vessel, but to no avail and it was finally burned. Joseph married Mary Shepherd in 1889. Before the marriage Mary attended the old brick school. Joseph Watkins died in 1920 aged 55 years and Mary Watkins died in 1937 aged 64 years. Of the marriage six boys and three girls were born. All children attended Swan Creek School. Percy and Clive are both residents of Grafton; Arthur and Bertha are both deceased; Vera lives in Casino; Laura lives in Wauchope and Joe, Frank and Jack are all in the Sydney area. For 48 years until 1947, the name of Watkins was continuously on the roll of the Swan Creek Public School. After a lapse of two years the children of Ernie Watkins began attending the school. During World War 1, Clive and Percy both enlisted. Clive was seriously wounded in 1917 and was repatriated home in 1918. Percy was a prisoner-of-war in a German prison camp during the war. For 14 years Clive was honorary secretary of the Swan Creek Parents and Citizens' Association as well as serving for two years as a councillor on the Ulmarra Shire Council.
Zacch Wilcox was born in Tralee, County Kerry. He was a professional soldier who rose to the rank of captain and fought in the Battle of Waterloo where he was crippled. He married a Miss Carter, of Tralee, and came to Australia about 1820. In Australia he was in charge of a regiment at Victoria Barracks. When discharged on half pay, he opened a boot shop in Hunter Street, Sydney, where he remained until his death in 1850. He had seven daughters (eldest born in Ireland) and one son, Thomas. One of these daughters married a man named Moore, who later became a Lord Mayor of Sydney and after whom Moore Park is named. Another daughter, Ellen, was the first wife of William Small - they were married in 1852 and she died three years later.
It was his son, Thomas, who came to the Clarence and took up a selection at Swan Creek sometime in the mid-nineteenth century. He married Sarah Jane Fry in 1878. Their family was three daughters-Elizabeth, Jane and Kate and three sons-Thomas, Henry Fry and Francis. The three daughters married and went to various centres on the North Coast. Henry farmed in Swan Creek until his death. Thomas bought part of the estate, sold it to the late C. A. Watkins and moved to Kangaroo Creek. Francis, who was born in 1884, was among the first enlistments in the First World War. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in the field and was awarded the Military Cross and mentioned in despatches. He married W. Bartlett, of Wardell, in 1920 and farmed in Swan Creek until his death in 1952. He was a guarantor and first President of the Swan Creek Hall Committee. His family consisted of three sons-Francis, Clarence and Stanley. Francis is farming at Alstonville and Stanley is an employee of the Postmaster General's Department in North Queensland. The Wilcox Estate was many acres, part of which is now owned and farmed by Clarrie Wilcox.
William Want and his wife arrived from England via the Hunter River at Swan Creek about 1861. With him came his family Sarah (later Mrs. Eggins, of Clarenza); Myles, a bachelor; Anne (later Mrs. Want, of Maclean) and Edward (of Clarenza, later Lavadia). There were two other children, Bill and Elizabeth who were born at Swan Creek. Elizabeth later became Mrs. James Thompson, of Upper Corindi. Bill, famous for his cricketing feats, made his home permanently at Clarenza. Edward's son George was the father of the present Want families of Swan Creek; these being Cecil, Mary, Will and Trevor. The original property of William Want is still owned by the family. After several floods the family was forced to secure land on the hill on which to build a home. This house was built in 1874 and is still occupied by the descendants. Five generations of the Want family have lived in this house; William, the original owner, who died when he was 89 years of age; Edward before he moved to Lavadia; George, who bought it from the estate (he died in 1965, aged 78 years); George's family and then Trevor's family for a period. The present Trevor Want, who has a Friesian Stud, "Clarendon," has shown a great deal of interest in district affairs. He is at present a Councillor on the Ulmarra Shire, Chairman of Trustees for Clarenza Flood Reserve, as well as being President of the Swan Creek Parents and Citizens' Association.