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Historical Sketches of Presbyterian Parishes within the Presbytery of the Murrumbidgee (from) Centenary History of the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales (1905).
In 1905 a history of the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales was published, written and edited by Rev. James Cameron. In a section called 'Historic Sketches of Parishes' the publication incorporated a collection of historical accounts of each parish within the various NSW presbyteries. Cameron made the following comments regarding the compilation of material for that section:
In preparing the Historic Sketches of the several charges I have experienced no small measure of difficulty and delay. The congregational records have in many instances proved defective, and in some cases undiscoverable. But from one source or another the main facts in each case have been got, and I have to acknowledge my indebtedness to the brethren who have aided me by sending material for these sketches. [Preface]
Rev. James Cameron died prior to the publication of Centenary History of the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales. A short biography of the author is available on-line. Reproduced below are the histories of the parishes within the Presbytery of the Murrumbidgee, as they were published in 1905. The parochial divisions of the Presbytery, as treated in the book, are:
[Source: Centenary History of the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales by Rev. James Cameron, M.A., D.D., Sydney, Angus & Robertson, 1905, pp. 297-306.]
PRESBYTERY OF THE MURRUMBIDGEE.
BALRANALD AND MOULAMEIN.
Balranald was for many years connected with the Victorian Church, and among the ministers who occupied the field in these days may be mentioned the Rev. James Groundwater. Since it became attached to the New South Wales Church, the first minister who appears on the list is the Rev. Alexander Hardie, settled in 1887. Called to Tasmania, he was followed in 1890 by the Rev. James MacAndrew, M.A. After him came the Rev. A. G. Michie, in 1894, and he was succeeded in 1900 by the Rev. J. J. Jennings, who resigned in 1904, after faithful work in trying times, amid stringent drought conditions. Since then his place has been taken first by Mr. J. McMurtrie, and then by Mr. George T. Hughes, who has been in this parish since January, 1905.
There is at Balranald a tasteful wooden church, with seating accommodation for 150. It has, however, an embarrassing debt. With Balranald, Moulamein – fifty-five miles off – is associated, where there is also a wooden church capable of holding 100. There are fourteen out-stations which receive monthly visits, including recently, Euston, which is really part of the Wentworth parish – too long neglected by our Church, since the Rev. R. Johnston Smith used to visit there. The working of such a parish involves a vast amount of traveling, but it is our Church's work, as most of the land-owners are our own people. There are some very superior homesteads, though they are generally far apart.
Balranald is the centre of the parish. The preaching stations around are Canally, recently owned by Mr. Alexander Lawrence, whose wife is a niece of the late Sir James MacBain; Paika, owned by the late Mr. Peter Macpherson, loyal and generous for thirty years past, whose son, Mr. Walter A. Macpherson, is following in his father's footsteps and is the most liberal supporter of the Church there to-day. Oxley township is sixty miles away.
Moulamein is the largest preaching centre next to Balranald. Twenty years ago it was a self-sustaining charge, having its own resident minister – the Rev. A. McNicol being inducted in 1878 and resigning in 1880. The Rev. J. Groundwater was minister from 1882 to 1884, his parish including Balranald. In those days the late Messrs. Thomas Linton, John MacVean of Mooloomoon, Grant and Childe of Cunninyeuke, T. Armstrong of Noorong, --- Mein of Moolpa, and --- Turner of Nyang, were the outstanding supporters, and while they lived there was no lack of funds. They have all passed away, but at Noorong Mr. J. Armstrong still supports the Church of his fathers.
The Presbyterian stations around Moulamein are:– Nyang (Senator Simon Fraser), Windouran (Mr. Alex. McBean), Woorooma East (Mr. J. J. Armstrong), Cunninyeuke (Messrs. Grant and Childe), Moolpa (Mr. P. Mein), and Lyle Park (Mr. W. Robb). In order to give each preaching centre a fortnightly service and visit the stations once a month, the minister had to travel five thousand miles a year by road.
BERRIGAN – FINLEY.
The township of Berrigan, which started into existence about the year 1888, is in the centre of a large agricultural district. It formed, at first, part of the Jerilderie charge, but in 1894 it was constituted a separate parish. Various preachers were sent by the Home Mission Committee to supply ordinances, of whom Mr. John Valentine, student for the ministry, remained the longest and was most successful. It was through his efforts that the excellent brick church was built. His early death was much lamented, and a porch was added to the church at Berrigan as a Memorial. The first settled minister was the Rev. Alexander McLennan, who was inducted in January, 1900, and translated in the following year to Korumburra, in Victoria. The Rev. John Joy Thorp, who succeeded him, was inducted in November, 1902, and is the present minister.
The Berrigan church will seat 200 worshippers. A good site adjoining has been purchased for a manse, and a considerable sum was subscribed for site and manse during a visit of the Rev. John Walker. The principal preaching centres outside Berrigan are Finley, Savernake, Daysdale, Langunya, Myrtle Park, and Waugamong. The district is a prosperous one. A large number of the leading landowners are Presbyterians. The Drummonds, now of Lockhart, did good service here.
The office-bearers are:– Berrigan: Messrs. J. Pyle, J. Jones, William Pyle (central treasurer), J. A. McConaghy (central secretary), A. Dalgleish, A. Robertson, R. Gardiner, R. McGeoch, J. Marcus, J. Johnston, D. Gillespie, R. Templeton, D. Dickie, and D. Beattie. At Finley: Messrs. C. McAllister, W. Blair, J. Blair, and W. Kirkland. At Savernake: Messrs. W. W. Killen and A. J. McDougall.
The Deniliquin parish belonged originally to the Victorian Church, and was supplied by ministers of that Church. The first in the field was the Rev. Peter Mercer, D.D., who in 1865 took the oversight of this district for some years, and rendered good service amid many disadvantages. In 1872 he was succeeded by the Rev. D. Shanks, who carried on the work till his death, in 1873. He was followed by the Rev. F. Souter in 1876, by whom steps were taken for the building of a church. The result was that in that year the first Presbyterian church in the Deniliquin district was completed, and in due time opened for worship by Dr. Mercer, the cost being £1,700. Mr. Souter resigned in 1878, when the Rev. James Macarthur was called and inducted. He continued to minister until 1882, but ultimately resigned and went over to the Church of England. He was followed in 1883 by the Rev. W. M. Mackie, and during his incumbency a manse was built at a cost of £900. Up till this time the Deniliquin parish was in connection with the Victorian Church, but now the New South Wales Church took it over, and Mr. Mackie, being desirous of maintaining his connection with the Victorian Church, resigned in 1885. After a considerable vacancy, the Rev. David Allan was inducted in 1889. He laboured with much acceptance, and during his ministry a splendid school-house was built, the gift of Mr. Alexander Landale of Wandook Station. In 1899 Mr. Allan resigned, and was succeeded in January, 1900, by the Rev. Robert Welsh, who did excellent work until his demission on 31st March, 1905.
The Presbyterian Church establishment in Deniliquin is very complete and imposing. Church, manse, and school are all handsome buildings, standing on an extensive site in a central and commanding position. There is no debt on the property, owing largely to the liberality of Mr. A. Landale (the son of a Church of Scotland minister), who – along with his brother Robert (recently deceased) – has always taken a great interest in the Presbyterian Church. The parish has a yearly income of some £500, and is able to pay a stipend of £300 per annum. There are six elders and thirteen managers. There are eight outside preaching centres, most of them twenty-five miles from Deniliquin. The parish is well organised and prosperous.
ELDERS:– Messrs. William McKenzie (deceased), James Watson, Henry Mathewson, John Kelly, Robert Hunter Landale, James Robertson, and Peter Sinclair.
Services were started at Hay in the year 1868 by the Rev. S. A. Hamilton, who was sent up by the Victorian Church. The district over which Mr. Hamilton ministered embraced the whole of the north-western portion of Riverina, extending as far as Wilcannia and the district west of the Darling, in which the town of Broken Hill now stands. The ministry of Mr. Hamilton was continued until 1887, when the parish was transferred to the Presbyterian Church of New South Wales, within which State it lies. Mr. Hamilton was followed in 1888 by the Rev. John McIntosh, M.A., who held the pastorate for two years, when he went to Victoria, where he has a parish. To him, in 1891, succeeded the Rev. Wm. Robertson, M.A., who was greatly esteemed, and retained the pastorate for nine years. On his retirement in 1899, the Rev. Richard Jennings was inducted in November of that year, and was the esteemed pastor until May, 1905, when he resigned. Under the faithful ministry of Mr. Jennings the parish prospered, despite the recent disastrous years of drought.
The church at Hay was erected during the pastorate of Mr. Hamilton. It is a brick church of picturesque appearance, with tower and steeple, and has accommodation for 150. It was opened in 1872 by the late Rev. Dr. Nish, of Bendigo, who encountered some rough experiences on his way thither. A brick manse was built in South Hay in 1875, on a site of two acres granted by the Crown. A school hall of wood was erected at the rear of the church in 1892. Wilcannia, Hillston, and Narrandera, formerly connected with Hay, have now become separate charges, but Carrathool still forms part of the Hay parish. There a neat wooden church was erected in 1884, and regular monthly services are held.
ELDERS:– The first kirk session consisted of Mr. W. Threlkeld, J.P., who had been originally ordained in Scotland, Mr. John Gordon, road superintendent, and Mr. D. M. Mackenzie. Mr. Threlkeld died in 1889, Mr. Gordon has left the district, and Mr. Mackenzie resigned about sixteen years ago. On 12th July, 1891, Messrs. John Andrew J.P., Robert Gibson, J. P., Joseph Hews, and John Johnston, J.P., were ordained. The first-named resigned about 1893, and has since died. Mr. Hews is session clerk.
The parish of Hillston was inaugurated in the year 1888. The work was carried on by the following ministers, who supplied as Home Mission agents:– The Revs. W. F. Brown, J. Davidson, W. F. Craigie, J. McKee, and J. McAndrew, M.A. In July, 1893, the Home Mission Committee sent the Rev. J. J. Jennings, when he was called to be the first settled minister, and was inducted in February, 1894. Hillston is situated on the Lachlan River, 500 miles west from Sydney. It is a large pastoral centre, and in those days all the large stations were owned by Presbyterians. Besides the town of Hillston, in which services were held fortnightly, regular services were conducted at the following preaching places:– Mossgiel, sixty-five miles north, Alma Station, sixty-five miles west, Gunbar Station and farming centre, forty-five miles south, Bunda farming centre, twenty-five east. Gunbar was the most important congregation, most of the large families being Presbyterians, while Gunbar Station, the largest in that part, was owned by the late Mr. John Armstrong, an esteemed elder of our Church and a member of one of the best-known Presbyterian families of pastoralists in Victoria and Riverina. In order to supply ordinances regularly to these distant preaching centres Mr. Jennings had to travel 5,000 miles every year, travelling during the five and a quarter years of his ministry 28,000 miles within the parish.
Mr. Jennings demitted the charge in December, 1899, on account of its being drought-stricken. No minister followed for six months; then the Rev. James Adamson, M.A., was sent, but only remained a few months. He was followed by Mr. J. E. Moffatt, Home Mission agent, who remained until February, 1905, when the Rev. Alan McDougall, M.A., took charge. Within the outer circle of the parish the following stations and homesteads were long visited every month:– Mooral (A. MacKay), Vieta (H. J. Carr), Merri Merrigal (J. Broatch), Willandra (A. Laird), St. Andrew's (A. J. Rathie), Ravensfield (Wilson Bros.), Alma Station (Lewis Bell), Angora (G. Turner), Merungle (D. Tully), Cowl Cowl (C.V. Reid), Camp Plain (J. Varcoe), Gunbar Station (J. Armstrong) and twelve homesteads on Gunbar, Audreylea (T. Bennett). Mount Hope was included, and services held during 1902-3. Mooral (Capper Webb) is now one of our centres. This district is far too large for any one man to work, and it should be provided with an ordained minister and an assistant. The only elder living is Mr. John Gibson, senr.
In the early days, Jerilderie and adjacent districts had to depend on Victoria for ministerial supply. Among those who laboured in these districts were the Rev. Dr. Mercer and the Rev. W. B. Hutchison, M.A. The latter was inducted into the charge of Urana cum Jerilderie in 1872, resigning the next year. Services were also conducted by the Rev. Cuthbert Featherstonhaugh (Church of England) and the Rev. J. B. Gribble (Congregational) and of these services the Presbyterians were glad to avail themselves until a minister of their own Church could be obtained. In September, 1880, the Rev. John Dykes was inducted as first minister of Jerilderie parish. In 1884 a handsome brick church was erected, costing £1,000. To this the late Mr. David McCaughey of Coree Station was the largest contributor. The name of Mr. McCaughey deserves to be held in enduring honour among us, for the loyal-hearted zeal he uniformly displayed on behalf of our Presbyterian cause. In 1883 a neat wooden church was built at Argoon. In 1887 the “Thomas Fulton Memorial Church” was erected at what is now known as North Finley. At Wilson, on Yanko Creek, a building which had been erected for school purposes was, in 1881, enlarged to serve the purpose of a school-church. And at Broome, in 1882, a building was erected to serve the double purpose.
Shortly after the settlement of Mr. Dykes a movement was initiated for the erection of a manse. The fact that within about twelve months the manse was completed at a cost of slightly over £1,000, and paid for, was mainly owing to the donations of the following gentlemen:– The brothers David and Sir Samuel McCaughey, M.L.C. (Goolgumbla), their uncle, Sir Samuel Wilson (Yanko), Mr. G. F. Simpson (Nowranie), Mr. W. Peterson and Sir Frederick Sargood (Warnamurra). To these gentlemen or their heirs and representatives the Church has been, and is, largely indebted for steadfast support. Of others who have given hearty assistance a large list might be mentioned, but space forbids. We cannot, however, pass over the names of two ladies: Mrs. G. F. Simpson, of Nowranie, and the late Mrs. Thomas Fulton, of Springfield. We should also mention Mr. Edward Killen, Carneraig, Mr. Alex. Wilson, formerly of Coree, and M.L.A. for the district, Messrs. Wm. and Robert Ross (Argoon) and S. Wilson (Carrah). Mr. Dykes still carries on his good work in this wide and important field, the present year completing the twenty-fifth, or semi-jubilee term, of his pastorate.
PREACHING CENTRES:– Jerilderie, Argoon, Broome, Wilson, Mairjimmy, and Finley. The Berrigan district – for many years past of the Jerilderie parish – is now a separate parish.
ELDERS:– The following are the elders since the inception of the parish:– Messrs. Edward Killen (removed), William Morsland (deceased), James Mudie (deceased), S. Parker Wilson, Alex. Erskine, and John McGrogan.
Occasional services were first supplied by the Rev. G. W. Adam, of Urana. About the year 1882 the Rev. J. J. D. Jennings was sent as Home Mission Agent to Narrandera, and by him the services were commenced which issued in the formation of the parish. The first minister settled was the Rev. H. S. Buntine, in March, 1888, and his pastorate continued for two and a half years. He was succeeded by the Rev. D. Fenwick in May, 1891, who ministered for a year and a half. After his departure the parish was supplied by the Home Mission Committee until, in May, 1894, the Rev. D. McKay Barnet, B.A., was ordained and inducted. Mr. Barnet, who laboured untiringly and acceptably in this wide field, was translated to Wollongong in 1903, and was succeeded in March, 1904, by the Rev. W. H. Bradley, the present minister.
There is a brick church in Narrandera, built in Mr. Jennings' time, and five other churches (wooden), two built in Mr. Buntine's pastorate and three in Mr. Barnet's, namely, at Cowabee, Grong Grong, Darlington Point, Colinroobie, and a very fine church at Whitton, built by Mrs. W. J. McGaw, of Kooba, in memory of her husband. This she did through the Centenary Thanksgiving Fund. There is a brick manse at Narrandera. There are eleven out-stations where Sunday services are held, and eleven more where week-night services are maintained. It must be evident from this that the position of a minister in such a charge is no sinecure. For the past four years an assistant has helped in the work, mainly through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. E. Ross, of Uri Park, Darlington Point. This parish should be divided ere long. A new church is much needed in Narrandera, in keeping with the importance of the town, and is now (August, 1905) within the region of practical politics, owing to the generous gift by Sir Samuel McCaughey, M.L.C., of Yanko, of three thousand guineas to the Centenary Fund, half of which is allocated towards the building of a new church at Narrandera to cost about £2,500.
PREACHING STATIONS:– Narrandera, Darlington Point, Cowabee, Grong Grong, Sandy Creek, Cuddell Siding, Whitton, Tubbo, Brobenah, Colinroobie, Quondong Park, Kerarbury, Kooba, North Yanko, Yarrabee Park, Bynya, North Gogeldrie, Bygoo, Dunn's Mill, Mount Ida, Mumbledool, Berrembed, and Bolero.
ELDERS:– Messrs. A. G. F. Mann (removed to Hay), Joseph Annand (removed to Melbourne), W. E. Ross, John Clark (removed to Leichhardt), David Hannah, R. H. Millington, R. H. Hankinson, H. Kook, J. Leitch, and A. McKersie.
Urana was taken over from the Victorian Church in 1887. Previous to that date ministers of different Churches had supplied services more or less. The Rev. W. D. Hutchison, M.A., was inducted minister of Urana-Jerilderie parish in 1872, but only remained one year, when he returned to Victoria and was settled at Clunes. The Rev. George Wilson Adam was the first Presbyterian minister of the separate parish of Urana. His term extended from 1878 to 1887. The Rev. Matthew Bell, his successor, was inducted in 1888, and resigned in 1904. Both the ministry of Mr. Adam and of Mr. Bell were fruitful of good results. Three churches were built in Mr. Bell's time, one at Urana, one at Old Goree, and one at Boree Creek. They are of wood, and seated each for 120. There is a fine brick manse; and six out-stations are supplied with regular services.
When Mr. Bell went to Urana, there was a debt on the manse of £950, and it was wiped off promptly, mainly through the exertions of Mr. George Watt. The committee gave liberally, the Hon. Wm. Halliday and Sir S. McCaughey leading. The Rev. George Adam, Mr. Bell's predecessor, was held in much esteem, but being up in years could not do much in the way of making the Church visible.
The following were leading men, and members of the Church committee during Mr. Bell's ministry:– The Hon. Wm. Halliday (Brookong), Sir Samuel McCaughey (Coonong), Messrs. D. Robertson (Goree), Donald McLarty (Bundure), George Watt (Cocketgedong), Hugh Thomson, Alex. MacKinnon (Upper Yanco), James Innes, Joseph McCulloch (Urana), Archibald Crawford (Urangeline), Duncan Rankin (Goonambil South), G. B. MacKinnon (Goonambil North), Dr. Conway MacKnight (Urana), Messrs. Wm. Grant (Urana), and Lachlan McBean Grant (Butherwah).
When Mr. Bell resigned, in December, 1903, he was presented with £125 at a public meeting, presided over by Sir S. McCaughey, Coonong; Mrs. Bell also receiving a purse of £50. She collected in Urana for the Church, and was prominent among its workers. The Rev. W. C. Moulton – recently arrived from Western Australia – was inducted as minister of this parish on 15th June, 1905.
PREACHING CENTRES:– Urana, Boree Creek, Old Goree, Clear Hills, and Urangeline. Services also at selectors' houses, squatters' stations and shearing sheds.
The early settlers of the Lower Darling and Murray Rivers were, so far as we can learn, nearly all Scots and Presbyterians. In 1859 a number of them – the chief of whom were Hugh Jamieson (Mildura), George Fletcher (Tapio), the Scotts (Para), the Piles (Cutheroo), the McLeans (Polio), the McFarlans (Mallee Cliffs), and George Perry (Neilpo) – met and agreed to call a minister. However, the first step they took was to build a manse – the first brick building in Wentworth. There was some difficulty in getting a minister, till the Rev. William Ross, M.A., Ph.D., from Barossa, South Australia, accepted the charge in 1861. He was an Aberdonian, a schoolfellow and townsman of Dr. George Macdonald, the poet and novelist, and was a good, earnest, and scholarly man, who bravely faced the hardships of a vast and peculiarly difficult sphere of labour. Seeing the havoc wrought by drink among the blacks, he greatly exerted himself with the Government to stop the giving of intoxicants to the aboriginals by river men and hotels in part-payment of wages. Three times – despite the great distance to be travelled – he visited the New South Wales General Assembly, and in an address in 1866 strongly urged the union of the Presbyterian Churches of the Australian States. Mr. Ross was not strong and suffered much from loss of voice, especially in the flood-time of 1864. In the Murray flood of 1869 he again became ill, and had to retire. For years he lived in Victoria, afterwards returning to Scotland, where he died in August, 1899. Dr. Thomas, Bishop of Goulburn, soon after visited the district, and persuaded the Presbyterians to have a Church of England minister alternately with a Presbyterian. This, however, proved to be a one-sided and unwise arrangement. The Presbyterians therefore applied to the Victorian Church, which, after a visit from the Rev. Dr. D. MacDonald and the Rev. Allan MacVean in 1878, sent the Rev. R. Johnston Smith, B.A., who was inducted there by the Castlemaine Presbytery in 1879. Mr. Smith took as his district from Menindie to Wentworth on the Darling, and from Meilman Station, N.S.W., to Chowilla Station (South Australia) on the Murray. Mr. Smith was a tremendous traveller and endured many hardships, and gives it as his strong opinion that no minister should be kept in such a parish as Wentworth and the Darling for longer than three years, both on physical and spiritual grounds. During Mr Smith's pastorate a brick church was built at Wentworth, and a wooden one at Euston. The latter was opened free of debt.
In 1883 the Murrumbidgee Presbytery in connection with the Presbyterian Church of Victoria (which until then had spiritual care of Riverina and the West, with the exception of the country included in 1881 in the Germanton parish), was transferred to the Church of New South Wales. In 1902 the Rev. R. Johnston Smith, who for some years had extended his journeys to Balranald – before the Rev. J. J. Jennings went there – retired as emeritus minister of Wentworth, and was placed on the Aged and Infirm Ministers' Fund. The congregation has always been of the nature of a mission charge, with occasional services in the outlying townships. It is sad that for over three years we have had no minister in this vast parish, and it is hoped that an earnest man may soon be found to take up the work.
This charge was originally connected with the Presbyterian Church of Victoria. The Rev. William Webster was the first minister, being ordained on 19th January, 1880, to the charge of Wilcannia and Menindie. There was no church, and service had to be conducted in a hall. Mr. Webster laboured over an enormous area of country – including the Barrier (now Silverton), Bourke, and Brewarrina – for several years with zeal and success, but on his leaving, adverse times followed, and the cause collapsed. After a long interval, the N.S.W. Home Mission Committee sent a minister to visit, inspect, and report. The minister sent was the Rev. Robert Thomson, then at Neutral Bay. Mr. Thomson was so impressed with the capabilities of Wilcannia that he resigned Neutral Bay, and accepted an appointment to Wilcannia, and had the satisfaction of completing the work which Mr. Webster had begun, in the erection of a handsome church of wood and iron. The church cost more than was counted on, with the result that a debt of £300 was left on the building. Mr. Thomson resigned, and the work was again abandoned. A ten years' drought reduced the district to a very impoverished condition, and many of the people left. But in 1897 a renewed effort was made to resuscitate the cause, and the Rev. A. J. Doig, B.A., was sent to re-open the church, with the promise of aid from the Logan Fund. After a year's diligent work, Mr. Doig asked to be relieved, and the Rev. James MacAndrew, M.A., was sent to occupy the field. With Wilcannia White Cliffs, sixty miles distant, was associated, and regular services were maintained at both places. Sunday schools were established, and sundry debts reduced, but the debt on the church in Wilcannia remains. At the end of 1903 Mr. MacAndrew resigned, and the Rev. Alan McDougall, M.A., was sent; but he has now left, and the field is unoccupied. The difficulties of maintaining a charge in a district like Wilcannia, whose fortunes are so fluctuating, are exceptionally great, but the difficulties must be overcome. In the meantime Wilcannia and White Cliffs will be occasionally visited, and services conducted, by the Rev. P. A. Smith, with the Gospel Car.