Robert and Euphemia Durie

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Robert and Euphemia Durie by Ken H. Durie

Robert and Mary (Park) Durie of the Glasgow area of Scotland had 8 sons and 1 daughter. 6 of the sons emigrated to Australia. The eldest son Robert was born at Temple, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland on 14 Feb 1828 and was christened at New Kilpatrick Parish, Dunbartonshire, Scotland on 11.3.1828. At the age of 21, he married on 31 Dec 1829 at Auchinairn, Western District of Cadder, Lanarkshire, Scotland, Euphemia McMurdo, (19 Years old) daughter of Thomas McMurdo and Janet Craik.

On 15.6.1852 they arrived on the “S.S.Standard” at Adelaide, Australia with their daughters Euphemia and Mary who was born at sea. Robert worked at Kapunda S.A. for some time, but the lure of the gold rushes attracted him to Bendigo, Maryborough and Eaglehawk. They came to Ballarat in 1853, where first, he filled the position of mine manager at the Working Miner’s Claim at Sebastopol, then for 12 years he was the manager of the No. 4 Shaft of the Band of Hope and Albion Consols Registered at Redan ( a suburb of Ballarat). The underground work affected his health and in 1873, he left the mining industry. On leaving he was presented with an illuminated address and 35 soverigns.

He and his 2 sons Robert (17) and Thomas (12) arrived at Thalia (near Wycheproof) in 1874, the rest of the family Euphemia (wife), Mary Park, Agnes and Archibald, followed in 1877. Both Robert Snr. And Robert Jnr. selected land, which is still in the hands of descendants – Tom and Keith Kerr (Mary Park’s grandsons)[2000]

Robert Snr. Took an active interest in public affairs and in 1877 was elected a councillor of the North Riding of the St. Arnaud Shire. This necessitated a trip of over 50 miles each way for some meetings, others were held at Donald; this was usually done on horseback. He held the office there until the Wycheproof Shire was created ((in 1895) where he again served until he resigned owing to failing hearing (1900). He carried “the Appreciation of all who admired his straightforward, honest, and unflinching adherence to his principles.”

Life in a pioneering area was not easy - lack of medical attention, few roads, shortage of water, no telephones, no refrigeration, no ice-chests, stores having to be brought long distances by horse and dray and loneliness were just a few of their trials. Wheat had to be carted to the nearest railhead at St. Arnaud, 50 miles away again by horse and dray. Later the railway line reached Wycheproof, 13 miles away. In drought time, water was brought in from Bendigo and sold to the settlers. In spite of water shortages in 1885, “Mr. Durie presented the Ensign editor with two peaches, together weighing one pound.”

Education facilities at first were non-existent and the youngest daughter, Janet, stayed with her married sister Mrs. Euphemia Boothman, in Echuca to attend school until 5th October 1888 it was certified by the Education Department that “Janet Durie had been educated up to the standard of education required by the Education Act of 1872”.

The original log was built of pine logs, timber for the home was difficult to transport, the ceiling of the dining room was made of Kairi Pine from the old Redan School and the floors were of Murray Pine. This home was known as “Ellerslie” and stood until 1934, when it was burnt down. Tom Kerr replaced it with a modern home on the same site.

Robert was one of the founders of the Karyrie Prebyterian Church. Throughout his life, he was greatly helped by his wife Euphemia and, when he died on 10 April 1905 at 77 years of age, she felt her life’s work was done and died on 13th May 1905, at the age of 75 years. Robert and Euphemia had 13 children :-

bulletEuphemia

bulletMary *

bulletRobert*

bulletRobert Thomas*

bulletMary Park

bulletThomas

bulletWilliam*

bulletAgnes

bulletAlexander*

bulletJames William*

bulletArchibald

bulletJanet

(* Denotes died in infancy)

There is an historical information section on Overseas Duries included in '750 Years of Duries' by Dr Bruce Durie. Click Here

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