Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
Mary Jane Cain reminiscences of Coonabarabran, New South Wales and district, 1844-1926
Mary Jane Cain Formerly Griffin Born at Toorawandi Feb 1844
After living with my parents at places already mentioned were they have resided I went to work for different people who’s names are given here under. I worked for a Mr John Miller at Kianbri then for a Kennedy Brothers who owned a place called Mount Lennandra. After being there some years I went to Wetalabah to people who lived near Mc Masters by the name of McGregor who was also a cousin to the Mc Masters. I lived with those people until I married. It was Duncan McMaster’s stockman George Cain (known as Yellow George at that time. I was married in Mr Mc Gregors best parlor. The Mc Gregors moved then quite close to C Bran on a selection they called Hawthorn Hill they lived there a great many years and had a large family I quite remember when their dear daughter Mary Ann McGregor was brutely murded (there) one of the sons Mr Duncan McGregor as lived they ever since his parents death. All other members of the family are in different localitys at Present.
I should have said I was Married by the
Rev. Alexander McErven.
P.S. in speaking of murders I quite forgot to mention in Orrs time on Garawilla there was also a brutal murder commited but he payed the penalty well in both cases they did both murderers were hung in Bathurst Meagher was hung for the Garrawilla murder & ( Newman) for the murder of Miss McGregor.
The place Gooragilla near Garrawilla was also purchased by Mr Ebenezer Orr from people by the name of Joseph Launt & son’s. Mr McDonald owned it before Launt bought it. During the time Launt was mustering his stock after he sold his land just as they were in the act of drafting the cattle they were by some means arrested by the Police Chief Constable Ward were here at the time, There was a young chap in company with Launts at the time by the name of James Lowrey who was shot dead by ward the Police man. George & Joseph Launt ( brothers) was arrested & a young man named William Percial whom they had hired he was a halfcaste. Those three were tried in Coonabarabran & committed for cattle stealing, which should not have been as the cattle were all their own with the exception of a few but they were not given a chance to draft them. I must state that the police at the time the arrest was made. Were all very drunk. Then a the sessions at Mudgee the Launts each received 10 years sentence & Precial got three years & was sent to a place call Cockatoo Island some where near Sydney. this would be in (1864)
After the Launt Brothers done flur five years I got a petition which every one signed knowing that they were treated wrongfully & had them liberated at five years. I presented the petition to Thomas Gordon Danger who was at that time member of Parliament. The same Constable Ward was very shortly after this was shot by a Chinese Bushranger wilst trying to arrest him
on a place called Barneys Reefe on returning from a session & Mudgee.
Father Dumphey was the priest that officiated at my mothers wedding he also Baptised me. he was the first priest you who came to the castlereagh.He was afterwards drown while attempting to swim the river at Mudgee after returning from Coonabarabran.
Mary Jane Cain
(M.J. Cain) My Parents (Sept 30 1920)
Eugene & Jane Griffin
My father first came here from Ireland with people by the name of Roberts & Mother came here with people by the name of Rogers. They were married by a Priest in Muswellbrook. They worked on different stations. Bomera Warmambin & other small places. they then started dealing. they had a small cart drawn by two good horses. The used to get there goods from a firm in Maitland (Owen & Beckett) . They travelled from place to place from here to Maitland till at last they were overtaken on Walders Range by some Bush Rangers who’s names were Long Tom the Jew boy & Appossum Jack. Mother & Father not having much cash the bushrangers were quite satisfied to get the goods or what ever food there was. nothing serious occurred. After this my father came back & settled down at Bomera as mentioned in another part. A man Joseph Stafford who was partners with my father during this time also settled on ula Bomera he married also a Miss Budsworth. Stafford then went to the Turon diggings. My father remained about here from one place to another had & had a considerable amount of
The first doctor came to Coonabarabran sometime in the (60) his name was John Cockburn he lived here for many years before his death took place his wife mostly did nursing & was also able to give first aid to any suffers. His brother David Cockburn was Pound keeper at the time he also had the Post Office. All this family died here except one daughter of Dave Cockburn”s who is a Mrs James Mathews who lives at Baradine at the present time.
Before Mr Sawds sold his property to Mr Hill there were people in his Hotel by the name of (Lovells) they came from Bomera here. Mr & Mrs. Jonathan Lovell. They had a family of four daughter I do not know what became of three of the girls but one remained here until quite recently she being ( Mrs W.R. Davidson who was Government surveyor here for a good many years he Mr Davidson died here but after his death took place his wife went down the country I don’t exactly know where there was a fairly large family of Davidsons)
A place about twenty six miles was owned by an old Pioneer by the name of Mr James Orr & Robert Campbell his brother in law who was a large merchant in Sydney at the time. Mr James Orr was unable to manage the property therefore he sent for his brother Ebenza Orr to Morten Bay which is now called Queensland. This would be about the time of the Ballarat diggings were opened in the year 1857 or 52 to my recollections. All the white people that were engaged on this property at different work left to go mining.
The Aboriginals then came to Mr Orr’s rescue all the sheep were left to starve & the crows were eating them alive. Mr Orr also sent home for a coloured race of men called Coolie men. They seemed not to be able to understand how to manage sheep or any other things they used to be continuely loosing the stock infact they were often lost themselves. My Mother & Father then went to help Mr Orr to collect sheep, dogs 5 men & all . he Mr Orr then decided to send those men to their home. He then got some Chinamen out & a good many other settlers done like wise. The Chinamen seemed to manage better as they turned out very good shepherds & shearers as well, infact good all round men on the station. But the Aborigenals those days were greatest favourites & they never forgot they had a good kind & generous master in Mr Orr or I should say Orr Bros. Mr Orr also had a manager on his out station called Goolkin
his name was Thomas Baccon he was also a good man his wife used to cook for the shepherds. Orr Brother then sold this property out to a Mr Loyd & Whittycombe & Iredale. Mr Iredale was manager. Shortly after Loyd & Wittycombe sold their shares to Mr Iredale he then had it on his own a Mr Humpherys was then manager for Iredale. Orr Bros then purchased a place called yaminabah from a Mr Charles & Matthew Fitzsimmmons, brothers. Mr Orr was also in parteners with a Mr Collis of Bungle Gully. He Mr Orr then bought a place named Garrawilla from a Mr G.H.Cox that I should think would be in (64). He then bought another station gooranawa from another Mr King Cox & from this same person he Mr Orr purchased another station call Ulamambri. Belar was another place purchased by Mr Orr from a Mr Tom Wangar. In the meantime James Orr returned to England. Mr Ebeneza Orr then sold out to a Mr Shannon & Mr Jennings his brother James returned for the sale. A Mr H. Kelly was put to manage Garrawilla & Rogers Brothers managed Ulamambri. Gooranawa was sold to a different person by the name of Mr Heatherstonehaugh. The names given here in the different stations was a big lot of country which has since been cut up in small blocks & owned by different persons which have changed from one to another pretty frequently. I must state that the (Orr) Brothers were greatly missed as I have stated before they were most generous & kind hearted to every one alike.
I am giving the names of a few other pioneers but I can not give the occupations of some of them .
Mr Kenneth Murchison a scotchman resided here a good many years in the early days his wife being a Windsor native she remained here for a number of years after her husbands death. She Mrs Murchison died in Sydney Last year they only had a son & one daughter who married & is living in Sydney or thereabouts at the present time. Mr Kenneth Murchison was properioter of the (Blight Watchmen newspaper). The office which he purchased from a Mr Douglas & Mr Evan’s. That same Mr Douglas owner to new Blight Watchman Office at the present time.
The Clarion Office is also owned by a Mr M.J. Hennessy a very old person whos father was one of the older pioneers in the early days lived on the Maquarie River.
An other old pioneer Mr Jethro White who came here from Coonamble in the year 1 built a large store & dwelling where he resided till his death they were a large & respected family his property as long since been sold, his widow is still living here and is a very feeble old lady about 88 years of age. Her father Mr Geo.Tailsby was at one time manager for different ones around at the time he being a most trust worthy man. Mrs. White also had a sister Mrs Mackey who lived quite close her & also a Mr. Geo Tailsby a brother who lived at Willow Vale on the river who before coming here owned a large station on the Maquarie which he sold.
William Carlow an old pioneer came from Capaty (or Capetree) a place somewhere in Mudgee. Some time between the year (40) and (50) and settled on a place Dandry 10 miles from here. This man had a good few mixed stock. Those people lived at Dandry for a good many years & had a large family which as all died except one an old Lady about whose age must I think be about 79 years however she is very feeble. Her name is (Mrs Mathews) her husband David Mathews was an Englishman his death took place some years ago. They also had a large family which runs up till the present time to the fourth generation.
There was also another old Person whose name was James Cooper who took up a home called Wittinbri he was a boot maker by trade he also had a lot of mixed stock, he had a large family all daughters no sons. He Mr Cooper & his wife & his brother all died there. His family have nearly all died also with the exception of two living are single Sophia and Emma. The married daughters were Mrs Leithead, Mrs Davis, Mrs Landers. Sarah died (single) Mrs Leithead & Davis both left large families. Mrs Landers left one child. I must state Mrs Leithead and Davis also died.
James Leithead the eldest son is at present living in Baradine & is known as the cattle king. On account of his numerous stock (cattle) & land which he owns. Two half caste boys were reared from very small boys with those people Coopers. There named being George & Harry Slater who are very old men & living about the districts at the present time.
Which was owned by an old Poineer by the name of William Field who was at first a carrier. he then got too feeble & sold out his drays & bullocks. He then kept the store and hotel business and had a farm also in fact it was a station on a small scale. He had a large family of four sons and three daughters. He Mr Field bought a block of land in the centre of the town C.Bran & built an Hotel for his son William who kept this buisness on till his death his widow kept the buisness on & has had a large two storey building erected and is still keeping same at the present time. Mr William Field snr died shortly after having bought this land which his son William lived on. And the rest of his property at (Nandi) was shared out among the other members of the family which are nearly all in this district at the present time.
In writing about Mr Robert Nelson I should have said his son Alexander Coonabarabran is still residing in this town and as had a very large family of 10 sons and 2 daughters. having had 6 inlisted in the last war of which 5 sailed & 4 returned one being killed in action the 6th by some means was unable to sail but remained an officer and is still engaged in the Military Barracks Sydney. This is their names given under Frank, James & Albert (neb) & Percy returned. Alexander (killed) & Claude who is still in Sydney. The Police Barracks which is here at the present time was built by their Grandfather Mr. John Neate about 1880.
This place is situated on the castlereagh river
Mobbla. Was taken up some time in 1856 or 57 by a
Mr David Watt & McMaster,
Mr Watt having been an Hotelkeeper in Murrurundi which he sold out before joining parteners with Mr McMaster. They had no stock when they first settled on this place as my father Eugene Griffin always supplied them with beef. Duncan & John McMaster were their names. some time after Duncan McMaster & a halfcaste boy called yellow George who’s proper name was George Cain. Came up. Mr Watt then went to his own property Ulinda where he remained for a good many years he also owned a good many other propertys with as regards land which I cannot call to mind but his son David Innis Watt is at present on this station Ulinda & owns a great many other valuable places & is I think a very wealthy man. Old Mr David Watt also had a Manager who’s name was Mr. Kennedy (John) I think was his name. At the time Duncan McMaster & the dark boy by came they brough their stock. They then owned Wetalabah Mobbla & Pine Ridge. Duncan McMaster then come to Binnia Downs on his own & built a home. his son John McMaster is living there at the present time. Duncan McMaster on going to Sydney, sent a man by the name of James Leslie to manage this property for him. He Duncan McMaster then lived the rest of his days in a nice home in darling point sydney where he & his wife both died. His son John then came up to Binnia
Mr John McMaster of Wetelabah.
After some years both he & his wife died at Wetalabah. This place was left to his son John who also died after a good many years & was he left the property to his son Hugh McMaster who lives there at the present time.
Old Mr John McMaster also had a son. Hugh. The second John Mc Masters Brother & Hugh McMaster owns a big Station called (Premier) & is residing there at the present time. Adjoining this is another station Rockgedgiel owned by a Mr James McMaster a brother of (Hugh’s) also a son of the first John McMaster. This station Rockgedgiel when Mr McMaster bought it was owned by a Mr Andrew Louder & the station (Premier) bought also by Mr Hugh McMaster was owned by a Mr Charles Lawson whose home was at Putta Bucca (Mudgee) A man by the name of C.P. Bayley was his manager. I should have stated that (Watt & Mc Masters were cousins) & (Lawson & Bayley were cousins)
The propertys Purchased by Mc Masters were all in the first place owned somehow between the Bayleys & Nelson Chas Lawson. During Lawson’s time there was people here old pioneers by the name of bed Beddingtons who lived at Beddington Springs. I think there is some of those people at present living at Brindley Park Merriwa. The first old Pioneer that lived on belar Creek as I have already mentioned afterwards being owned by Mr Dangar. His name was William Hayes & his managers names were Edward & William Parsons. those brothers then sold to Dangar which afterwards sold to Mr Orr as before mentioned.
his residence was some where towards Mudgee & after his resignation there was a Mr Alexander Mc Ewen whos son Mr G. B. McEwen is an auctioner at the present time. The Catholic Priest Father Rigney used also visit here from singleton. The Church of England Minister was a Mr Wilson he used also to visit here as there were no churches Where as at the present time there is four churches & a Salvation Army barracks. The Hotel purchased by Mr Neilson at the time mentioned was also rebuilt there as been also a good many changes in the the keepers in it at the present time there is a two storey brick building still owned by R. Neilson although Mr Robert Neilson as been dead some time his son William Thomas Neilson still keeps the buisness. There was a man by the name of Edward Lyons who was an old man here at the early part of this time who built a Hotel in John street he then sold to a man by the name of Bruff. he was a solicitor. he Mr Bruff then sold out to a Mr George McHugh who then sold out to a Mr John Lee, McHugh died shortly after he sold out. Mr Lee built or should I say had a fine two storey brick building erected & he then sold out & that Hotel as also changed hands a good many times. Opposite this Hotel is a small wooden cottage which was a small goods store kept in the early day by a Mr & Mrs McDonald.
Was as follows.
One Hotel a very rough building owned by James Westen he was a married man with two children a boy & a girl. As well as being an Hotel keeper he owned a good lot of stock mostly cattle & horses. His head stockman was his nephew Isaac Highland. Mr J. Westen retired for two years & went to Maitland his son then being blind & his daughter then married a man by the name of (Swanson) who was a stock keeper at Yarragan a place 9 or 10 miles from C.Bran. During Mr Westen’s absents a Mr Sam Highland had charge of the hotel. Westen then returned & sold the Hotel to a Mr Alfred Croxon Westen then returned to Maitland & settled there. Mr Croxon kept this buisness for some time. This was some time in the sixtys (60). Croxon then sold his buisness to two brothers John & William Kerr (Scott people they were). Mr Croxon lived privately quite near on the river & had a good lot of stock sheep & cattle & horses. He Mr Croxon lived here until his death his wife then died about two years following. They had a very large family 9 sons & one daughters one child a boy died & all the other members of the family are still living as far as I know. There are a good many of the sons in this & adjoining districts at present. During Kerr’s time which was about 62 or 63 as near as I can recollect. The land was then taken up in blocks. The Kerrs were both single men one was a carrier or in other words a teamster William Kerr & his cousin John Mc Cubbin were the carriers
& Mrs McCubbin was house keeper for John Kerr she being his cousin. Up till this time the Hotel & Mr Croxons residence we the only two houses. Then Came a Mr Robert Nelson from Moredavale a very small Station at that time he Mr Nelson erected a large store. Which he afterwards put an addition to for an Hotel also he had the store & Hotel as well that then being the second Hotel he Mr Robert Nelson kept both those buisness on till his death which took place a good many years after his wife then kept the buisness on for a few years & married again to a man by the name of John Enright & then sold out to a man by the name of Mr Sawds Mr & Mrs Enright then went on the land a few miles away. There is different ones of each of those families the Nelson’s & Enrights about these parts at the present time. During this time William Kerr the carrier met with a serious accident which caused his death his brother John went out of his mind with the shock of Williams death. Their property was then purchased by a Mr Robert Neilson & a Mr Caddell it was known as R. Neilson & Co This firm then made a great deal of alterations in the buildings & also erected a large flour mill which is still standing just a near the present Polie Station. I should have said in Mr James Westens time he owned a Water Mill in the river where he used to grind his own wheat as he always had a small crop in. In Mr Alfred Croxon’s time the police stationed here was Chief Constable Charles Thorpe, George Helem’s & Henery Goldsmith they were both
under (Constable Thorpe). The first clerk of petty sessions was a Mr Pagis. He was a married man with five or six children they lived in a bark hut built on the opposite side of the river to where the other buildings were at that time. There was no lock up at this time but there was a very large gum tree with two big bullock chains fastened to it were they used to secure the drunken prisoners. All police court cases used to be tried in Mr Croxons parlor & any short sentences that at to be done they were taken about a mile & ½ up the river a place called Nandi owned by a Mr William Field who had a store & Hotel. it was the stable of this Hotel that acted as a lockup at that time. I remember two prisoners escaping from there while on remand. I will not mention their names. After that there was a log building erected for a lockup a man by the name of William Grose and Mr Smith we the contractors this building was erected whe the post office is at the present time. After this the buildings then went up rapidly The place which Mr Sawds bought off Enright was then pulled down he then erected a new building & sold out to a Mr John Hill who came from Mudgee this would have been in about the year (75 or 76). Then they was a Mr Michael Mealey who was a stone mason built a stone goal which stands at the present time. he came from Mudgee. The first scotch minister was a Mr Stewart he used to visit here
Publeb (!) particular meaning of aboriginal words.
Was owned by two old Pioneers named Mr. Hale & Mr Durham. By whom my parents were employed as here given here. My mother was engaged in shepherding the sheep & my father was dairyman & attended to farm which consisted of wheat & tobacco the tobacco was manufactured & sold to different ones. My father & mother resided with those people a good many years before I was born. Their names being Eugene Griffin & Jane Griffin. My father was an irishman & my mother was a full blooded aboriginal who was brought up with people by the name of Cox. old pioneers also who lik lived in the Mudgee district. My father being a soldier & fought in the penisula war. he came to this country with people by the name of Roberts. My parents moved to an place called Mucca Mucca which was also owned by the same people. Shortly after this Hale & Durham disolved partnership. Durham took his stock to a place named Wombo. Hale remained at Bomera a while he then had a manager a Mr William Clark Mr Hale went to Windsor where he died. Mr Clark managed the station then death till his death which took place at Bomera At Mr Clarkes death all the Property was left to Mr Andrew Towns he being a relative of Mr Hale this would be some where about between 1850 & 1860. A Man by the name of Mr Samuel) Hole then was manager.
After this Bomera Station changed hands a good many times I cannot think what the later hands names are. There was an old man taken a way by the name of Joe Budsworth & an old man Sam Freeman both those men were very feeble but being such faithfully servants & Mr Town’s being so kind hearted it was his wishes for them to go to Windsor his home
Oakey Creek not far from Bomera & Bando were owned by two brothers William & Mathew Allison.
Mathew Allison was a carpenter by trade & William was a squattor. In 57 or 58 they sold Bando Station to some brothers by the name of White. They came from Eden Lassie on the Hunter River those people also bought two other places near here Calga & Terridgerie. It fails me to remember who owned the two last places mentioned at that time.
Allison Brothers then rented their Oakey Creek property to an other Mr James Allison not any relation. Mathew & William Allison & a Mr Downie took up another station Wingadee after some years they sold Wingadee & returned to Oakey Creek & sold the Oakey Creek property to this Mr James Allison for a good substantial some. The two Allison brothers William & Mathew then went home to Scotland. Downie being an Irishman he went home to Ireland. Mr James Allison lived on Oakey Creek untill his death his wife died there also & the property in is still belong to a Mr James Allison his son who as owns Coomo Coommoo another large & valuable home
Bomera - is at the back
Nandi - the back of your head
Gundi - one stringybark tree alone
Bingrygrumble) - Cracking nuts
Binnaway - Wild peppermint tree mostly called woolybutt
Coolah - a junction also
Booya Murry) - A track on a rock
Merrygoen) - Dogs blood
Ramppadalls) - Rough teeth
Uliman) - Apple tree
Goungaramble) - large ants
Billi Billi) - Boiling spring
Yerrenin) - Large gum tree
Mucca Mucca) - Red iron bark tree
Burloo) - A swarm of flies
Weetallabah) - no wood
Bugaldi) - Blossoms destroyed by oppossums
Cyanbri) = Bequick child
Names - Meanings
Mumblebone - Wild turkeys Gobbilling
Nurrung - A Jew Lizzard
Toorawandi) - A rowe of standing stones
Dureewandi) - Grass tree in bloom
Rocky Glen - (Native name Werribone) Ab. speared in the foot
Wagan - A crow
Bando) - Horse fly
Neabeer) - Brown snake
Mollayan - Eagle Hawk
Tooraweenah) - The home of snakes
Wallunberwong) - A heap of white stones like hail
Curban) - A large crack in the ground
Walleninini) - Ugly stones
Dunnedoo) - Small feet
Burra Bee Dee - flying mice
Ghoolendadi) - Eating dirt
Rockgeegil) - A place where they sharpened their stone tomahawks
Gunnungmanman) - (A long water hole) - ) A long liver
Mollywandi) - A scrub of stinted box timber
Purlewaugh) - A lot of sparks
Wingadee) - My fire
(Goorebun) means curlew
Names of places - meanings
Dowan Dounwandi - small mountains of dirts
Ulandery) - A lot of fur skins
Mudgee - sharpening Stone
Walhallow) - An assortment of uncommon stone
Tellabri) - Long tongue
Trinky) - Broken thigh
Gowang) - A full moon
Jurindi) - Where fish breed
Timor) - A large rock
Dubbo) - A Ground grub.
Mea) - Lightening
Gumin Gumin) - Wattle gum
Gooragilla) - Awakened by enmys
Gillabrowindi) - The rising moon
Wingedgeon) - Dissappointed at lighting fires
Eringollin - Burt Burnt all his belongings
Coomao Coomao) - Wild gooseberry
Weemobah) - No fire
Sept 28th.) By M.J. Cain (Queen (1920.
Names of places & their meanings in the native language
Coonabarabran (Town) - means an inquisitive person
Gooranawa (Station) - is an enmy coming
Coonamble – means, Dirty mud
Calga – means, land slip
Tirridgeree – means, rough bushes which grows in creeks
Bulloroara - means a crooked bend in a creek
Belar - means a lot of oak trees which grows in creeks or river banks
Borah - Where manhood is celebrated
Ulamambri - A place where oppossums breed
Garrawilla - Where a big battle had been fought
Mullally - One alone
Talbarea - A shoulder blade
Gunnedah - Motherless
Narrabri - A junction
Boggabri - A wild herb
Wee Waa - Oh its a fire
Pilliga - Oh its the creek
[Transcribed by Lynne Palmer, June Pettit for the State Library of New South Wales]