Most of our ancestors were city or rural urban dwellers. The experiences of those immigrants who arrived with little but soon purchased rural properties, represent the transformation of the bush in the 19th century, with all the attendant hardships and challenges that entailed. They cleared virgin forests and created viable farms. John Blow laboured for 13 years before purchasing 300 acres of Crown Land in the fertile Foxground Valley in 1851. His sons and grandsons continued to successfully farm in the Illawarra district for many years. William Adams faced the same challenges when he took up his 100 acres at Cambewarra in 1851. In 1871 William and his son John Adams sold the farm at a profit and selected Crown Land on the North Coast at Duck Creek, later Alstonville. John took on clearance of the Big Scrub to establish sugar cane on his 200 acres only to lose his conditional purchase due to insolvency brought on through the need to build his own mill. William’s daughter Jane and her husband John Campswere successful selectors at Cambewarra from the 1870s.
John McAllister and Archibald Campbell first worked as shepherds on Glenlyon Station after arriving at Moreton Bay. John purchased Lot 1 in the Mole River Valley and his wife Jennett McAllister (nee White) managed the property, ‘Reedy Creek’ for 30 years, significantly enlarging her holdings after his early death. A memorial on the property (now ‘Innisbrae’) celebrates the McAllister pioneers. Archibald Campbell, a widower at 37 years, who purchased Crown Land at Bryan’s Gap, Tenterfield, was supported by a clannish network of relatives and friends. He became a successful farmer and like his sons, contributed to the local economy and society.
Economic and social conditions led our Scottish forbears to join the mass exodus of Scots in the 19th century, mostly as families but sometimes alone. Influenced by the promises of John Dunmore Lang, some were assisted migrants; others made their own way. For some, the decision to migrate brought security and even wealth; for others at least improved circumstances despite their constant struggles. With them came their Scottish heritage.
First to leave in 1838 was a lowlander, Thomas Adam, a well educated cabinet maker, who could see no future in Kilmarnock where opportunities for his class were rare. A number of ancestors left Scotland in the 1850s, some escaping the slums of Glasgow and Paisley after they moved there to work in industries. They include a coach builder from Argyllshire, John McCallum, his wife AnnMcArthur, their three children (1860), Archibald Campbell and his wife Mary Elliott (1855) as well as his parents Hugh Campbell and Ellen Gilmore (1863). The Campbells had left their agricultural life in County Tyrone to work in the Paisley cotton mills. They were not the only ancestors from Ulster who identified as Scots in NSW. John McAllister and Jennett White (1856) from County Antrim, like the Campbells, became pioneers near Tenterfield; William Adams and Mary Ann McIntyre hailed from Donegal (1838).
Findlay Duthie, a Scottish mariner from Aberdeen, sailed to Melbourne with his brother on their ship ‘Gem’ (1853). The last of the Scottish ancestors to arrive were a mariner JohnMontgomery,his wife Sarah Stevenson (1885) who also saw the promise of a better life for their four children than they had experienced. David Stevenson, a coal miner in the impoverished towns of Ayrshire died young, leaving Sarah’s mother Sarah Stobo, struggling to support her daughters as a muslin sewer in Irvine.
Published as The Campbells are Coming’ in 1996. Second edition 2010. ISBN 978-0-9578150-5-6
The Campbells and McAllisters were pioneering immigrants of the Tenterfield district. Ulster traditions and colonial events shaped their lives. Successful farmers became soldiers who trained with the original Light Horse regiments, went to London for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and served with pride in the Boer War, World War One and the Second World War. Deep grief was endured as a result with seven deaths and six more family members wounded and maimed in the First World War alone.