of Descent to Helen Davidson
Sarah Glenmire Farrell (m. David Johnstone Davidson)
James Henry ("Harry")
Helen Glenmire Davidson
Derry/Antrim (Northern Ireland)
John Clark (1787-1888)
Sarah Barclay (1795-1875)
to Garrett Farrell, 5 June 1850, Newstead, (nr Inverell) NSW
20 October 1916
Mary (1858 - 1944)
Sarah (1866-1901) m. David Johnstsone Davidson, 1891, Armidale
|Jane was just
10 years old early in 1845 when she and her siblings were brought by
their parents half way around the world, from the green fields of
northern Ireland to the dry paddocks of the New England area of New
South Wales. In Ireland, her father John was a farm labourer,
and so the day-to-day life on a station property may not have been
all that different for the young Jane.
The first station the family worked on was Moredun (left), owned by Andrew Wauchope, A squatter who had sponsored the family's immigration to Australia. Although the stations in the New England, like elsewhere in Australia, were, by the standards of the British Isles, huge in area, the workers on the properties obviously had chances to intermingle and socialise. As a result, a teenage Jane met up with another Irish emigrant, the considerably older Garrett Farrell, who had arrived in the colony five years before the Clark family.
One of Jane's sons said later his mother had married in 1850 while at Moredun, although the church records, which pre-dated civil registration in NSW, say the property for the ceremony was the nearby Newstead.
Wherever the wedding took place, Jane, along with her parents and siblings, was very soon living and working with Garrett on Ollera station, a pioneering property set up by the Everett brothers in 1838. At Ollera, workers were encouraged to grow their own crops and tend their own livestock, using station facilities as needed. This led to many families remaining on the land there for decades and generations, including that of Garrett and Jane, and the Clarks.
While Garrett worked in whatever capacity the Everetts needed, he was primarily a bullock-driver, often away for days and weeks at a time, taking sheep, wool and cattle to Grafton or Morpeth, the nearest ports both some hundreds of kilometres away. Jane soon adapted to her new life, filling many roles at Ollera, including the community's mid-wife. In one year of the property's records, 1857, she was paid 'wages" of £11 for unspecified work. According to one university researcher who studied the records of Ollera station;
....the wives and children of Ollera's shepherds and labourers supplemented their families income by keeping a milking cow, raising a few pigs, and tending poultry of several kinds....horses, which were an expensive necessity, were often paid-off or taken in lieu of wages, and there are several cases of their purchase by women. Mrs Jane Farrell, whose husband was frequently away with the bullock team, paid £25 for a horse in 1859.
One item in the 1862 records written by the station manager David Mackenzie, amusing to later readers, relates to the birth of his daughter Charlotte Ethel, whose arrival may have been attended only by the midwife Jane Farrell:
The entry for that busy day mentions "only the baby's birth in mid morning and her black hair, and [then] records, with unintentional irony, the unsatisfactory lambing rates produced by one of the shepherds".
By the 1880s, Jane's husband Garrett by then nearing 70, had stepped back from driving cattle herds to somewhat easier work as a shepherd - but Jane continued to be active in looking after the family's livestock ventures which the Ollera management encouraged for its workers. When practical, this encouragement extended to use of the property's facilities, as seen in this letter from Jane to the owners (note - Jane was illiterate when she arrived in Australia according to the immigration records, so either this letter was written for her, or she had somehow acquired schooling along the way):
Jane had a formidable reputation. In the obituaries which followed her death in 1916, it was said that
Mrs Farrell at all times led a most useful and active life, and in her younger days was the first to be called on in case of sickness, and her services were not sought in vain, even though it meant a long ride in the middle of the cold at winter's night.
Jane and Garrett had eight children (four each of boys and girls). Not all the children reached adulthood, and of those that did, only three lived to what could be called 'old age'. Their youngest daughter, Sarah, who married David Johnstone Davidson and who went off with him to the Western Australian goldfields at the turn of the 20th century, died at Kalgoorlie in 1901, her death at age 34 caused by a form of food poisoning.
Sometime after his mother's death, one of Sarah's sons, James, known as Harry, came back to Ollera and its nearby village of Wandsworth, to live with his grandmother Jane. Harry went to school at Wandsworth and left from the village to join the AIF in World War 1.
While Harry was in training in England in 1916, Jane died, without seeing the last postcard her grandson had sent.
left: Jane's grave at the Ollera homestead cemetery
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