Part 4 of the story of the Welsh family will bring forward some conclusions about them that are based on the accrued familiarity of this writer as well as historical facts. If it brings them to life a little, then all the better.
David and Eliza's marriage was I conjecture a love match. It turned out that David was brilliantly fortunate in his choice of wife. Eliza came from a background where the pursuit of survival may not have seemed worthy of its rewards. Whereas the polluted and industrialised lifestyle south of Glasgow in the 1840s had little opportunity, the Nambucca gave her the chance to shine.
In settling at the isolated Talarm, the couple replicated farm life in Scotland far away from the industrialised low lands. It was there that Eliza's commonsense and fortitude backed by the income and labour of David led them to success in dairy farming.
In producing children, the couple had another achievement which must have been the envy of other families. With little or no medical help and their hazardous lives of labour you would expect some of the children to not reach adulthood. Yet all 11 of their children survived and were in fact still alive when their parents passed away. They produced 84 grandchildren.
As mentioned in part 1 the Scottish held education in high regard. Even without a local school the Welsh children benefited from home study so much so that when David applied for government assistance in 1880 to establish a school, his eldest daughter Margaret was put forward as the teacher.
The small number of enrolments again remind us of their isolation, with nine Welsh children and three Frank children being the available students. It cannot be stressed too greatly how a good home education would have benefited the Welsh children as the standard of education of rural children at the time was very poor.
Part 2 Pioneering the Nambucca
Margaret went on to be a student teacher at Bowraville and then to a position at Grace's Road and other schools. At the time the administrative burden placed on teachers in isolated places was great. There is a letter written by her to account for an incorrect quarterly return being sent and describes how she sent the replacement after a horse ride and an 18 mile row down the river at night.
Margaret's life as a teacher ended when she married the Danish immigrant Charles Johnson at the age of 32. It is said they replicated the lives of her parents in cedar cutting and farming.
Eliza and David's children were brought up in the Free Church of Scotland. They built a little church which lasted until it collapsed in a gale in the early 1920s. A new church was built by the family in 1928.
David died in 1901 from pneumonia caught from working down a well. It is said that as he lay dying he told Eliza he was leaving her a "terrible burden". His will left all his estate to his "beloved wife".
Eliza survived David by 20 years and continued to expand the family holdings. In 1904 she applied for an additional conditional purchase of 242 acres. Their second home was insured for 250 pounds in 1911. She died, also from pneumonia, in 1921, and was buried next to David on the hill above Talarm.
The Welsh descendants left accounts of their lives which mirror the working days of their parents and grandparents. Granddaughter Lila Johnson's diary is an example. An entry from the 9th of June 1908, quoted verbatim, describes the endless toil which eclipsed youthful milestones. (Note that Robie and Ingie are her siblings and the house was also the post office from where telegrams were sent.) It seems a fitting quote to end the Welsh's story.
"Got up early. It was very cold but there was not much of a frost. After milking I had breakfast, nursed Robie for a while then took Ingie for a walk, cut up the pumpkin and did a bit of washing, took a telegram, helped get the dinner ready, then took another wire, after dinner minded Ingie, sewed until milking time, finished rather late, after supper fed Bell. It was my birthday today. I am fifteen years old."
For further information readers are referred to the excellent Welsh family histories, Down Vanishing Years by Jennifer Hume MacDougall and The Welsh Ancestry by H. G. Welsh.
This article was written from these family histories and used the resources of the Nambucca Headland Museum and the Bowraville Folk Museum.