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Mini Biographies of Scots and Scots Descendants (Mc)
Daniel McLachlan of Avondale

DANIEL MClACHLAN 2nd McLachlan of Avondale in Australia
second born child & first born son

Daniel McLachlan, the first born son of Daniel McLachlan & Jane McPherson,  was born on the 16th day of October in the year 1852, at the property of "Sorn Bank" near Bathurst, where his father, also Daniel McLachlan, was working as a farmer. In the following year, little Daniel was baptized in the old St Stephen's Presbyterian Church in Bathurst by the Reverend Kirkpatrick Dickson Smythe on the 22nd April 1853.

While a toddler, Daniel began his  "apprenticeship" to the ways of Scots manhood. He would have been seen imitating & then in reality, working with his father on the fields of  "Sorn Bank".  One daughter had been born before him & four more daughters were to be born after him, before the second son was to come along. Thus Daniel, the son, had very much expectation upon him to strive for the pinnacles of the best of manhood.

This  "apprenticeship"  to the father was to continue from the farming occupation through the several aspects of the gold mining work into the keeping & administration of business of the victualler, (including aspects of banking, etc.).  Part of the administration work of McLachlan's inn necessitated networking with other inns in the surrounding districts.

During this work on behalf of the family business, Daniel McLachlan was duty-bound to call upon the "Willow Glen" inn by the ford crossing of the Fish River near the village of O'Connell. (During the twentieth century, a bridge crosses the Fish River at this place).

The innkeeper was a widow, by the name of Marie Spenser. This lady had a daughter very strong in body, mind & spirit, by name also Marie Spenser. She was renowned in the district for her adventurous nature & also for her great prowess in horse-riding. (Of course, this was done as it was expected in those bygone days,   that is .. females rode ..."side-saddle"). Marie Spenser had already developed a firm friendship with several of Daniel's sisters, especially the middle sister, Mary McLachlan, who was the same age as Marie herself. 

In 1869,  Marie's mother had married for the second time to a mature age mounted-police constable, John McBride. The couple moved into Oberon to operate the Oberon inn as the hotelkeepers there. Young Daniel McLachlan still came calling .... on hotel business, of course. By about 1871, the almost nineteen year old Daniel McLachlan & the thirteen year old Marie Spenser, had become very good friends & often Marie would ride part of the way with Daniel as he set off to McLachlan's inn.         

With the tragedy of the death of his mother, young Daniel McLachlan  left Mitchell's Creek & went to Samaurez Ponds near Armidale,  where (according to Trade Directories of the times)  he was working as a carpenter in the development of the property of the great entrepreneur pioneer, Francis White. The young man, Daniel McLachlan had a hand in the building of the  "White"  mansion. 

In the years following,  on the same property, Daniel McLachlan was involved in the digging of dams & the making of roads.  In about 1875 if not beforehand, Daniel McLachlan, the eldest brother, was joined at the "White" property by his brother, Duncan McPherson McLachlan. Duncan was involved in similar occupations to his brother. 

On one of his trips to Molong for the weddings of his sisters, firstly Elizabeth in 1877 & then Mary in 1879,  Daniel McLachlan passed through Oberon, & sought out Marie Spenser. As the parent of each of these young people was totally against the union of the pair in marriage,  Daniel & Marie had to resort to subterfuge if they were going to become a  "couple".  Young Daniel encouraged Marie to come away with him ...  (She probably did not need any enticement)  ...  to start a life together. They went to the  "White" property & began their strong loving union of about forty years.

On the 24th day of January in the year, 1880,  their first  child, a baby girl, was born. She was named Alice Jean. "Alice" was for the maternal side of the family;  &  "Jean" was for Daniel's beloved mother. In December 1881, Marie McLachlan sufferred a fall from a sulky & accelerated the birth of her second child, the first born son, the first Daniel, of the next  "McLachlan" generation. The death of young Mary nee McLachlan Sherringham in October 1881, was possibly another reason for the calamity.

The little one, born prematurely, lived only one day.  What sadness beset Daniel & Marie. The next unhappy event was the death of Daniel's father on 1st February 1882 at "Avondale".  Because of this sorrow, & concern for Marie in her next pregnancy, Daniel McLachlan invited his youngest sister, the then sixteen year old lass, Agnes McLachlan, to come to assist Marie in the household.

Agnes came & was of great assistance to Marie during her next pregnancy & in the delivery of the little one. The baby was a little girl born on the same birthdate as Auntie Agnes & the Auntie Barbara who had died in 1876 at Trunkey Creek.  The little girl was given "Agnes" as her second name in honour of  the young aunt who had helped her into the world. The baby's full name was ...Mary Agnes McLachlan & she was born on the14th day of December 1883. 

Daniel McLachlan as Agnes'  "big" brother, was duty-bound to see that his sister, Agnes, had a "good man" with whom to walk through life.  Duncan McPherson McLachlan was still living & working with his brother, Daniel. 

Together, the two young men, began their search for the best man that they could discover to become the life-partner of their young sister, Agnes McLachlan. They agreed that Andrew George was to be the one.

Daniel & Marie 1884Fortunately,  Andrew George thought that Agnes McLachlan was a most worthy candidate for his future spouse.  Agnes McLachlan seemed to have been impressed with the gentleman enough to agree to marriage. So on the 4th day of June in the year 1884, the pair was married in the St Peter's Anglican Cathedral at Armidale. Daniel & Duncan were the witnesses to the union.

After the birth of twin daughters, Maria Elizabeth & Lillian May McLachlan, to the couple, on the 17th day of September 1885,  at the property of "Eversleigh" in the Dumaresque shire, Daniel McLachlan gained the contract to build a section of the Armidale  to Grafton road in the hardship-pioneer way when the horse was the facilitator of the great exercise. The portion of his father's estate that was his, probably financed the opportunity that for a time improved his work status & therefore his family's lifestyle.

During the time of  "running his own business",  a fifth daughter was born to Daniel & Marie McLachlan. She was  given the beautiful names of  "Grace Marion".  She was born on the 20th day of October 1887. At about this time, Duncan McPherson McLachlan departed for  "Avondale"  in Yullundry-Cumnock to decide what he would do with his "portion"  from the Daniel McLachlan "McLachlan of Avondale" estate.

Road & dam originally built by Dan McLachlan & crew circa 1886 Armidale to Grafton Road

In the latter part of the nineteenth century, the well-recognized climatic complications .... "droughts & flooding rains"  beset the landscape. As fast as road was built it was washed away & so on. Economic depression hit the finance situation disastrously until Daniel McLachlan had to  "give in". 

Daniel McLachlan sold up all gear, equipment, horses & other collateral,  paid the men that he employed; & went to work with the gold-mining company at the newly thriving gold-rush town of Hillgrove near Armidale. (Hillgrove in the twenty-first century is what in Australia is described as a "ghost" town).

Hilgrove Mine in 1920's, after its heyday
Hilgrove Mine in 1920's, after its heyday

During the time at Hillgrove,  the family resided at John Street, Hillgrove. At that time, Hillgrove was a highly regarded town of NSW.  It was the first town in the rural regions of NSW to connect electric light to the buildings - houses & shops etc.,  on a big scale.

Also for over a decade it possessed a leading, most progressive demonstration school of the NSW education system. The school was under the entrepreneurial leadership of a gentleman by the name of Henry Tonkin. Certain subjects were taught to university level such as - geology. The teaching & learning of this subject was enhanced by the practical work done in the gorge & creek of the area.

Each of the McLachlan offspring gained very good to excellent results in their education @ the Hillgrove Demonstrations School. Several of Daiel & Marie McLachlan's children were invited to do the university entrance examinations; but their parents did not agree. 

Although there was fledgling electricity, there was not yet even the most elementary electronic communication into everyone's home.  Thus the forms of entertainment & edification were reading & story telling of fact & fiction.

Daniel McLachlan was a great teller of the stories of old, be these fact or fantasy of the old days & ways of his land of ancestral origin, Scotland. Especially was this so in regard to the Douglases of Avondale castle situated in the border territory of  Scotland & England.

Also the poetry of Ayrshire's Robert Burns was read & recited very regularly in this family; & also presented by one or other of the elder daughters at social gatherings,  such as -  community concerts.  Another writer whose works were told, read & discussed in the household, was - Sir Walter Scott.

As time went by the writers of Australia,  their "new home" land, such as - Henry Lawson, Adam Lindsay Gordon, & Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson, were read, recited & discussed as well.  The English writer, Charles Dickens, was yet another author, with whom this McLachlan family was most impressed.

While living in Hillgrove, three sons & another daughter were born. There was Daniel in 1889,  Ronald in1890,  Ella Clarissa (Ellen Clare)  in 1893;  & Angus was born in the year 1895. Sadly though, the little daughter, Ella, died at the beginning of 1894,  & one of the little sons, Ronald, passed away in September 1894.  

These two deaths were only two of many as the town was ravaged by disease.  The reason for the disease was due to the polluted state of the Baker's Creek that watered the town. Thankfully, the two sons, Daniel & Angus were to be born healthy  & continued that course into maturity.

At about this time the religion, The Salvation Army, came into Hillgrove concerned for the religious plight of the folk of the gold-mining towns  ... locations frequently described as  "God -less" places. Marie McLachlan was particularly eager for the children to have some form of blessing cremony before God as none of the children had been baptized.

Thus the children were dedicated to God in The Salvation Army.  Baby Ella McLachlan's funeral was conducted by an officer of The Salvation Army.  Toddler Ronald 's funeral was with the Methodist minister officiating.

In about 1897,  Daniel & Marie McLachlan moved the family to the area called West Hillgrove or Metz, just a few miles away across the Hillgrove gorge. There they made a home at a house on a property called  "Glengrove".

Metz scene in 1920's

Daniel McLachlan was still a gold-miner & he was working on the Sunlight Battery. This gold-mining work involved a cage running from one level of the gorge to the other. Frequently there were accidents.

The first birth of the McLachlan family at Metz, happened on the 2nd day of March in the year, 1898. The parents welcomed another little daughter, whom they called Phoebe Mabel McLachlan.

Phoebe was joined on the 1st day of March in the year 1901, the year of Australia's Federation, by the last child of the family, another bonny daughter, Eva McLachlan. Lilly McLachlan, the younger one of the twins, was the daughter who was "deputy mother"  by this time,  in the McLachlan household. 

The first decade of the twentieth century brought much change to the family of Daniel & Marie McLachlan family.  Two weddings happened. One was in 1904  & the other in 1905.

The first was the marriage of Alice Jean McLachlan to Fred (Moses Frederick) Rixon, in the Methodist Church at Hillgrove;  while the second was of Mary Agnes McLachlan to Jack (John Alfred) Day in The Salvation Army Barracks also at Hillgrove. Daniel McLachlan proudly escorted each daughter up the aisle to her waiting bridegroom.

In the year, 1905, Daniel McLachlan gained his first grandchild, a grand son, Ronald Alexander Rixon.  The following year, he was presented with his first granddaughter, Julia Agnes Day known as  "Poppy".

The name, "Poppy" was given to the pretty little baby girl immediately she was born,  as her colouring was as ...  vivid as a richly scarlet-red poppy. ("Poppy" was to to have a baby brother, Douglas John Day, Daniel McLachlan's third grandson, fifth granchild, in 1909).

The changes in the McLachlan family were happening very quickly. In 1906, Marie Elizabeth McLachlan left to train as a Salvation Army officer in Melbourne, Victoria. Grace Marion McLachlan departed to work initially as a governess with a well-to-do family on a successful farming property.

Daniel McLachlan, the eldest surviving son went to work as a farmer on a local property. Soon the family consisted only of the three youngest children with the younger twin, Lilly, caring for them.

Mining accidents were happening regularly at the Sunlight Battery. The time came when Daniel McLachlan, the father, was badly injured in one of these mining accidents. He lost one of his legs; & began to take more & more solace in alcohol. 

In a newspaper of the local press, "Hillgrove Guardian",  in 1906,  there was a report of Daniel McLachlan before the local court,  concerning gold in his possession that it was claimed was not his to have.  Finally, however, the judgement cleared him of any wrong doing.

Nevertheless, it seemed to Marie, his wife, & to Daniel McLachlan, himself, that it would be better if he was to leave Hillgrove & Metz.  This then was what he did.

Sometime during 1907,  Daniel McLachlan collected his portable essentials & few treasured possessions & prepared to depart for the property of  "Glenroy", in Duri near Tamworth, NSW, to the home of his eldest daughter, Alice Jean & her husband, Fred Rixon; by this time, Alice & Fred had two bonny children.

Thus Daniel & Marie McLachlan separated. Just as in the present age it is the children who suffer the most.  It was to be the younger son, Angus McLachlan, who was then aged twelve years, that would suffer greatly. Almost immediately, Angus McLachlan began his multiplicity of  "running away from home"  episodes.

The first incident of the  "running away from home",  happened within a few weeks when Angus went to where his father was  ... at  "Glenroy" ... This behaviour of Angus McLachlan is able to point to how unhappy the young boy was. 

There was one bright happy spot in the lives of the McLachlan family that was still living at Metz.  On the 1st day of June in the year 1908, Lilly McLachlan married Ernest James Allen, in The Salvation Army Barracks at Hillgrove. The couple left immediately for Bellingen in the north of NSW to begin their lives together.

Daniel McLachlan, the father,  was not always at   "Glenroy".  He was often in Sydney to have examinations on the condition of the part of his body from which his leg had been severed & to get an artificial leg.   From very late in the year 1914, when he was in Sydney, he stayed with his daughter, Lilly McLachlan, & her husband, Ernest James Allen & their ...  at that time ... three sons,  Ernie, Alf & Bill, with another baby boy   "on the way"  who was to be born in December, 1914, & be named Fred.

The home of Lilly & Ernest Allen at that time, was at Perrott Street, Rozelle. Lilly's eldest son, Ernie, recalled seeing his grandfather, Daniel McLachlan,  practising walking with the use of his wooden leg up & down the footpaths. 

Ernie also remembered observing the terrible symptoms of the Miners' disease,  Phthisis. (This was degeneration of the lungs & happened as a result of the time spent working underground in the mines.)

Daniel McLachlan, the father, was to learn that his eldest son, Daniel, had enlisted in the 12th Light Horse (Australia) regiment & had fought at Gallipoli & was serving in Palestine by 1916 & 1917. He was to know also that his younger son, Angus McLachlan, was an Infantryman & was seeing service in France.

He was aware that his married daughters were continuing to produce his descendants. His considered-to-be most intelligent & outgoing daughter, Marie McLachlan, was a fully fledged officer of The Salvation Army & serving in Dunedin, New Zealand; while Grace McLachlan was a governess of high repute.

The two youngest daughters, Phoebe & Eva McLachlan, were still at home in Metz with their mother, Marie McLachlan. In 1916, Phoebe & Eva were eighteen & fifteen years old respectively, of "sweetheart"  age in an era when the ranks of Australia's young men (similarly to other parts of the world involved in the "the Great War") were being drastically reduced.

By his sixty fifth birthday on the 16th October in the year 1917, Daniel McLachlan was to realize that  "his days on earth were numbered".  It was the Miners' Disease,  Phthisis,  that was hastening his end. Daniel McLachlan was living at   "Glenroy", farming property @Duri, outside Tamworth in the Northern Tablelands of NSW,  with his eldest daughter, Alice,  when he wrote a letter to his beloved wife, Marie.

In this letter, Daniel McLachlan stated an apology for the  "straitened circumstances"  that had been theirs for the greater part of their life-journey together.  He requested of his daughter to send the letter immediately to Marie at Metz.  

For whatever reason,  the letter was never sent to Marie either before Daniel's death or after his demise. This must have been sad for Daniel McLachlan as he must have wondered why Marie did not come to see him for the last time on earth. 

Daniel McLachlan was sufferring with the final bout of Phthisis for three months before he died. He was in the registered medical care of Doctor I. S.  Douglas. The doctor last visited Daniel McLachlan on the 27th November 1917 at the  "Glenroy" property.  Daniel McLachlan died on the 15th December 1917.

Daniel McLachlan was buried the following day,  the 16th December,  in the Presbyterian portion of the cemetery at Tamworth NSW. The funeral service was conducted by the Presbyterian minister, the Reverend William Beck; & the undertaker was J.H.Legget.  The registration of the death was done at Tamworth on the 17th December 1917. The informant of the death of Daniel McLachlan was Moses Frederick Rixon, his son-in-law.

So ended the life of Daniel McLachlan born 1852 at  "Sorn Bank", Bathurst NSW. At least he had part of his warm loving descendant group around him as he died. There would have been his eldest daughter, Alice Jean,  & her husband, Fred Rixon, with their children who had been born to that date,  Ronald Alexander born 1905, Helen Winifred born 1907, Keith Frederick born 1910,  Marjorie Jean born 1911, Ida Marion born 1912,  & David Moses born 1915.     

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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