Monday, November 25, 2013

Matrilineal Monday - Mary Ann McPherson McGregor (1861-1941)

This is the first in a series of blogs about the daughters of James McGregor (1833-1917) and Margaret McPherson (1839-1860) - The McGregor Sisters. Interest in this project was sparked when I was recently given a photo of the McGregor Family by my Aunt. Then, as if to give the project a gentle push, two weeks later the Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG) contacted me advising that they had in their keeping James and Margaret's Family Bible. The Bible proved to be an invaluable find, as inside there was a hand written list of family events, including the birth dates and places of all the McGregor sisters. Writing and researching the story of each of the McGregor Sisters, will I believe, be a journey of discovery, and I hope it will lead to connections with others who are researching this family.

Mary Ann McGregor
Life on the Gold Fields

On the 27 August 1861,  James and Margaret's welcomed their daughter Mary Ann  McPherson McGregor. The family was living and working on the gold fields of the mining community of Araluen, in the Southern Highlands of NSW.  James and Margaret had lost their first child, a little girl at birth in 1860.  The gold mining in Araluen had started in 1851 and the district had become one of the most significant mining areas in New South Wales, with over 15,000 prospectors arriving to try their luck, and in excess of 11 million pounds of gold being extracted from the area.*

The winter of 1861 had been a harsh one with severe flooding devastating and causing havoc to vast areas of the mining community in the Araluen and Major's Creek fields. However, as winter passed life on the gold fields improved. Araluen was known as Happy Valley, one article written July 1861 (just prior to Mary Ann's) birth, states "Araluen - We were much pleased on Saturday last, in paying a visit to the Happy Vally to find that the greatest prosperity prevails throughout the entire diggings; all the claims are realizing satisfactory returns,......The diggings are now rapidly extending along the Plain towards the Farm and this part, it is anticipated, will turn out extremely rich when it comes to be thoroughly worked.  it is really refreshing to see the happy state of affairs in the valley compared with what was the case a few months ago, when devastation and ruin had laid wast nearly all the claims." Braidwood Dispatch**

Entry in Family Bible for Mary Ann McGregor - 25 August 1867
Mary Ann and her family continued to live in the mining town of Araluen until 1870.  The family bible shows the family then lived at Shoalhaven River until around 1877, when James and Margaret packed up their belongs and moved their family to Booth Street, Balmain Sydney.  Mary Ann would have been around 16 years of age at this time.  One has to wonder, how the McGregor sisters adapted to life in the city after spending most of their childhood in the country.

On August 14 1884 Mary Ann married Hugh James McGoogan, in Balmain.  Hugh and Mary Ann continued to live  and raise their family in Sydney.  Their children were: Margaret Mavis, John, James, Hugh and George.

At the age of 80 Mary Ann passed away peacefully while staying with her daughter. Her husband Hugh passed away the following year. 

Entry in McGregor Family Bible  for the death of Mary Ann McGoogan (nee McGregor)

*Australian Heritage, viewed 22/11/13.
**1861 'GOLD FIELDS.', Freeman's Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1932), 27 July, p. 3, viewed 25 November, 2013,

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