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The Avondale Poets
Barbara McLachlan


McLachlan of Avondale in Australia
Barbara  McLachlan
sixth born child & fifth daughter 

Miner's Hut - Trunkey Crk  NSW  - remains of miner's hut
Miner's Hut - Trunkey Crk NSW - remains of miner's hut

Barbara McLachlan was born on the14th day of December in the year 1860 to the couple, Daniel McLachlan & Jane McPherson.  Possibly there were signs of difficulties before this child's birth & Jane might have gone urgently to the home of the midwife,  Mrs Turner of Kirkconnell,  between   "Sorn Bank" closer to Bathurst NSW  & Mitchell's Creek closer to Lithgow NSW.

Baby Barbara McLachlan does not appear to have been born at the same location as the previous four children & yet the family was still residing at  "Sorn Bank"  at that time.  Once more, it is significant that the first name was not prepared for the new arrival. Again, it seems that the couple, Daniel McLachlan & Jane McPherson, probably had their hearts set on the arrival of a second son. After all, it was eight years since the birth of the one & only son in the family that to that date numbered seven children. 

When the little girl was registered at Bathurst on the 31st day of December, 1860, she was mentioned as ... "unnamed". The little daughter, however, received her Christian name on the occasion of her baptism.  On the 19th February 1861, at the old St Stephen's Presbyterian Church in Bathurst, the baby girl was baptized with the name of  "Barbara",  by the Reverend James B. Laughton.  (A photograph of the old St Stephen's Presbyterian Church is included with Barbara McLachlan's story.)

The name of "Barbara" was of ancestral honour on both sides of the family,   "McLachlan"  &   "McPherson".   At that same period in family history,  there was Barbara McLachlan, the second sister of the new baby's father.  This particular Barbara had been baptized in 1829,  at  "Hareshaw Hill",  Parish of Avondale, Lanarkshire SCT. 

There was, however,  also Barbara McPherson,  a niece or cousin of  Jane  nee McPherson  McLachlan who was the wife of Alexander McLachlan,  Dan's brother.  Alexander McLachlan was born at  "Hareshaw Hill in 1832 & was to remain in SCT to continue working on the farm at  "Hareshaw Hill".  Angus McLachlan,  Alexander's  son,  was to continue on that farm until post World War Two.  The descendants of Alexander McLachlan still live in SCT to this day  (2004).

The little baby girl born on 14 December 1860 in NSW & given this beautiful name of  "Barbara",  most probably received the name in honour of the McLachlan ancestry.   Barbara McLachlan,  Dan's sister, born in 1829 in SCT had been sponsored in 1858,  by her brother, Daniel McLachlan,   baby Barbara's father,  to come to the then colony of New South Wales, along with her brothers,  William & John McLachlan. Dan McLachlan was probably relying on her to come out & assist his toil-overwhelmed wife,  the mother of their children.

At the last moment, however, Barbara McLachlan, the sister, reneged.  When her brothers arrived in the colony in 1859,  Barbara was not with them.  It is easily able to be estimated that Daniel McLachlan,  Barbara's father,  was bitterly disappointed with the non-arrival of his sister, Barbara McLachlan.  

Possibly immediately or otherwise very early in little Barbara's life, it was recognized that she was not an able-bodied, fit & healthy baby.  Soon Barbara became the special responsibility of the eldest daughter, Jane McLachlan, while her mother prepared for the birth of the next child in 1862. Little Barbara was to continue in the caring & capable hands of her  "big  sister",  Jane,  through the rest of her short life.

Barbara McLachlan was to accompany Jane McLachlan when she married Andrew McDonald on the 6th January 1875 in Bathurst. It was to Andrew's great credit that he accepted responsibility with Jane for the care & keeping of the fifteen years old, invalid sister, Barbara.   

The little group set off to  "seek their fortune"  at the goldfields of Trunkey Creek, near Blayney NSW,  located fifty six kilometres west from Bathurst on the Goulburn Road.  One of our kith & kin, Grace nee Buckley Platt,  lives at Blayney NSW during this era.  When the writer was on her way to visit Trunkey Creek in 1995,  to search for evidence of the McLachlan- McDonald extended family's time at Trunkey Creek,  she called in to meet & begin to get to know her McLachlan cousin, Grace.  Hence included with Barbara's story there is a photograph of Grace & the researcher-writer.

Dot nee McDonald in  1913- her father- Robert McDonald born 1875 Trunkey
Dot nee McDonald in 1913- her father- Robert McDonald born 1875 Trunkey

Early in 1875, the little McLachlan-McDonald family group journeyed with Andrew's brother, Alexander McDonald, his wife & family. There they established a claim where they hoped to find gold.  They lived in  miner's huts of the type of dwelling of the days gone by.   Although the village was a bustling place with many pubs in that time, the location claimed was most likely to have been away from the village of Trunkey,  out in the  "back blocks"   so-to-speak.  A description of Trunkey Creek as it is today but reminiscent of the days of the booming gold mining era,  is as follows:

"The hills around Trunkey Creek are honey-combed with abandoned mine shafts & mullock heaps & together with the crumbling mudhuts & brick chimneys are the only remains of the gold rush age".  

Lesley   nee Blackwell   McKenzie on research trail in 2003-  her gr mother  Jean nee McDonald born 1878 Trunkey
Lesley nee Blackwell McKenzie on research trail in 2003- her gr mother Jean nee McDonald born 1878 Trunkey

In the years of the late twentieth & the early twenty first centuries,  there is a new type of interest & development occurring at Trunkey Creek.  This seems to be especially in connection to the tourist industry.  Several attractive locations may be seen & visited there - including the resurrection & the restoration of some of the historic buildings that had been allowed to become  "tumbledown".

There is also an inviting & comfortable restaurant called "The Billabong Tea House"  where delicious meals & treats are able to be had.  The hostess attends to each patron's needs in a courteous & capable manner.  On the walls of this establishment are many framed pictures of the places of yesteryear. There are both some restored old photographs as well as photographs of the freshly renovated buildings of the past.  Professional artistic sketches are available of these locations as well.

Grace nee   Buckley Platt &  researcher Alison @ Blayney NSW 1995 en route Trunkey Crk
Grace nee Buckley Platt & researcher Alison @ Blayney NSW 1995 en route Trunkey Crk

While the  Billabong's hostess makes sure food, beverages,  furnishings & decor, & most especially efficiency of service is on offer;  the photographer- artist of the framed pictures on the walls,  is also able to discuss the objects of his art.  The name of the photographer-artist is Gordon Holland.  Several copies of some of his fine work is included as part of this story.  

The buildings featured in Gordon Holland's work were able to be seen in reality in the years when Barbara McLachlan with family members was living in Trunkey Creek so long ago.  Possibly the  McDonald family & Barbara McLachlan were living in a  "Miner's Hut",  similar to the one featured in the  "Gordon Holland"  photograph.  There is also the very slim possibility that this group of relatives was living in that very same  "Miner's Hut".    

Because of the present interest & industry associated with Trunkey Creek, there is no indication of this locality sliding into the category of the "gold-mining ghost towns". Other places that once reigned as rip-roaring booming places in the olden golden days, such as - Mitchell's Creek, Hillgrove, Stewart's Creek, Dalmonton, Oberon & Gallymont etc., of the "McLachlan of Avondale in Australia" family history past, could be described as vapourizing or being like the tantalizing "Brigadoon" of the fantasical past, or close to such a type of "existence". Nevertheless, it could be, however, that Trunkey Creek is endeavouring to live again albeit in another guise.

Allan & Colin Carr-gr sons Agnes  nee McLachlan - FH explored Trunkey Crk   in 2003
Allan & Colin Carr-gr sons Agnes nee McLachlan - FH explored Trunkey Crk in 2003

The times of course, were very hard, but there were bright spots along the way.  Later in the year 1875,  Barbara McLachlan was to become  "Auntie Barbara",   to the baby boy, the first born son of Jane McLachlan & Andrew McDonald,  who was given the paternal ancestral name of  Robert. That name was in honour of the males of the Buchanan & McKinnon families, ancestry of Andrew's mother, Elizabeth McKinnon.

The following year, 1876, however, was to be a very tragic year for the newly married couple, Jane & Andrew McDonald.  There was the death of the second child of Jane McLachlan-McDonald & her husband, who was  "born dead" & registered as ... "unnamed".  One is able to be assured that in their optimistic minds the couple had envisaged the name ready for the son or daughter.

At about the same time, Jane's sister, Barbara McLachlan ... "lost her battle with life" ... also. She died on the 6th May, 1876, at Trunkey, NSW. Barbara McLachlan,was last visited by a medical attendant on the same day. The medical attendant was Dr Smith & he had diagnosed the illness as "Dropsy" which had been happening over a period of four months.

Probably the use of the sickness name of "Dropsy" was an effort to describe the condition of "epilepsy". (Because of the distance in time & the lack of further data, it is impossible to verify that assumption). It is known that the condition of "epilepsy" has done & does affect descendants of "our original McLachlan family"; either the "petit mal" or the "grand mal" forms. Thus it is considered highly likely that the doctor of the time was endeavouring to describe the illness of "epilepsy". In any case, Dr Smith caused to be written on Barbara McLachlan's death certificate at registration, the description, "Dropsy".

On the 12th day of May in the year 1876,  the sixteen year old, Barbara McLachlan was  "laid to rest" in the cemetery at Trunkey Creek. The undertaker was ... Charles Thomas March & the witnesses to the burial were ... her brother-in-law, Andrew McDonald & his brother, Alexander McDonald. 

Although several of the descendants of Barbara's siblings have searched the Trunkey Creek cemetery for her last resting place,  nobody as yet has discovered it.  Among these seekers have been Colin & Allan Carr,  the twin grandsons of Agnes  nee McLachlan  George.   Photographs of Colin & Allan Carr are included with this story.

where McLachlan chn bapt -St Stephens Presb Ch Bathurst NSW opened1835 & closed 1872
Where McLachlan chn bapt -St Stephens Presb Ch Bathurst NSW opened1835 & closed 1872

Actually Allan & Colin Carr,  in their retirement,   have taken up almost full time the pursuit of gold mining & fossicking.  They enjoy this hobby immensely;  & are partially at least,  addicted to it in the same way in which,  during his lifetime, their maternal grandfather,  Andrew George,  Agnes McLachlan's husband,  was before them. Thus,  when they were exploring in the Trunkey Creek area,  Allan & Colin Carr  searched for the final resting place of  young Barbara  McLachlan.  Thus far,  they too, have been unable to locate any sign of where she might be resting.

There may or may not be a headstone with an inscription for Barbara McLachlan.  The kith & kin of the teenager, Barbara McLachlan,  did not stay in the Trunkey Creek district for long following the two deaths,  Barbara McLachlan & her niece or nephew, the little   "unnamed McDonald".  Thus the headstones for the two deceased family members might never have been erected.

On the 25th day of May, 1876, the death of  fifteen year old Barbara McLachlan was registered at Carcoar. The registrar there was ... Edward J.S. North. The informant was  ... Andrew McDonald, brother-in-law of Trunkey Creek.

The teenager, Barbara McLachlan, must have been a  "treasured"  sibling as her lovely ancestral  name of  "Barbara"  was bestowed in loving memory on the baby girls of   ...  Martha McLachlan-Buckley,  Agnes McLachlan-George,  &  Barbara's younger brother,  John Angus McLachlan.  

N.B. Special acknowledgement of the artistic photography work of Gordon Holland
 - "The Billabong Tea House ", Trunkey Creek  NSW  Australia

researched compiled & written by -
Alison Elizabeth McLachlan-Crowe
for the "McLachlan of Avondale" Descendants' Reunion
held @ Bathurst NSW AUSTRALIA
on Saturday 17 May 2003


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