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Annie Atchison, born Castlederg, 1830, died New South Wales, Australia 1915

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Annie Atchison, born Castlederg, 1830, died New South Wales, Australia 1915
The late Mrs. Hillier
Taken from “The Watchman, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
August 19, 1915

Transcribed, Compiled & Submitted by Len Swindley, Melbourne, Australia

On July 16 last, at Wattle Flat, there passed away MRS. ANNIE HILLLER, aged 84 years and 9 months. She had lived in and around the old mining township for 48 years and for 18 years in the town of Bathurst itself. The late Mrs. Hillier had some very interesting, though dangerous, experiences in her early days in this country, which seem to be very ancient history indeed compared with modern conditions, even in the country districts. She was born in the year 1830, at the residence of her grandfather - DR. ROBERT ATCHISON, BLOOMFIELD CASTLE, CASTLEDERG, CO. TYRONE, IRELAND. Her parents, MR. AND MRS. SAMUEL ATCHISON emigrated to Australia in the year 1837, in the ship "Coromandel," taking well over five months on the journey, leaving their eldest child, afterwards Mrs. Hillier, in Ireland with her grand-parents, to be educated. At the age of 18 years she joined her mother and family in Bathurst [N.S.W.] (her father having died in the meantime). It is interesting to note here that Mrs. Hillier had never been in a train in her life. On her arrival here, she was met at the boat by a relative, driven to Parramatta (which is as far as the train went in those days), and there mounted one of Cobb and Co.'s coaches bound for Bathurst. This journey took three days, and cost well over 20 for fare, hotel expenses, etc.

Before coming to Australia, Mrs. Hillier (then Miss Atchison) was a teacher in the same Sunday-school as the COUNTESS BERESFORD, OF BELMORE CASTLE, CASTLEDERG, who was aunt to the EARL OF BELMORE, one-time Governor of N.S.W. She continued Sunday-school work almost throughout the whole of her life, having been in connection with the Wattle Flat institution for well over 30 years. Her knowledge of the Bible was intimate and thorough, and it has often been said (and truly) that she knew it word for word-from Genesis to Revelations-and could quote book, chapter, and verse with equal ease. Indeed, history of any description was her "forte," and she was the local authority on such subjects.

A predilection for Bible study apparently belonged to the whole family, for the REV. CUNNYNGHAM ATCHISON, so well known in Presbyterian circles in early days, and who built the present Presbyterian Church at North Sydney, was Mrs. Hillier's uncle.

With regard to Mrs. Hillier's family connections, their ramifications have spread far and wide throughout the Empire now the GENERALS HAMILTON (at present fighting for their country in Europe); the ATCHISONS, of the ATCHISON RAILWAYS, of Canada; and, nearer home, the OSBORNES, of New South Wales; are some representatives. MRS. R. GOWLAND, of Bathurst, is the only surviving near relative (sister) of the late Mrs. Hillier.

Shortly after Mrs. Hillier's arrival in Bathurst she married JAMES McCLAIR, and eventually proceeded with him to Hargreaves, then in the beginning of its gold boom; and portion of that neighbourhood is to-day known as McClair's Gully. Those were the times of the much-dreaded bushranger, whose principal form of livelihood .in this particular neighbourhood was, of course, "holding up" the gold escort, guarded by mounted troopers though it was (the Government having undertaken the escort of gold in the year 1851). Mrs. Hillier was concerned in several "hold-ups," and, to a delicately-nurtured girl, such experiences must have been the more trying; but she was a woman of undaunted will and courage as well as of dainty upbringing, and continued to accompany her husband from mine to mine as they broke out. Those were the times, too, when every type of man was doing the same thing, when the "gold fever" was rampant.

Truly, it can be said that Mrs. Hillier had a tenacious hold on life, for not more than three or four years ago she suffered a burning accident serious enough to cause the death (by reason of shock) of many a younger person, and serious enough to incapacitate her for some months.

For fearlessness in times of danger and need, Mrs. Hillier was noted. For instance, it takes a woman without fear (there's many a man who would "rather not"), and with unflagging energy, to start from Wattle Flat for Bathurst, on foot, at midnight, in order to reach her destination in the very early morning. Yet such was Mrs. Hillier's practice until within a couple of years of her death. She scorned such means of conveyance as horses and traps, preferring the necessarily popular "shanks' pony."

There is only one of her four children alive to carry on the parental character and traditions, but it is not so much as a peopler of this Australian land that Mrs. Hillier pioneered, but as an exemplar of a good heart, a sound purpose, and a strong self-control-all of which can accomplish much. She was frequently "up against" (to use modern parlance) discomfort, in ability to procure even necessaries, and dangers to life and limb (bear in mind her girlhood's training); but, in spite of all these, there was no turning back, or grumbling at her lot, from Mrs. Hillier. She was of the steadfast, virile breed that hails from Scotland and the North of Ireland (which originally came from Scotland, of course), that always forms such splendid foundations on which to colonise new countries.


Bathurst Times” July 19 1915

MRS. ANNIE HELLIER [sic], an old and highly respected resident of Wattle Flat, died at Sofala on Friday evening, at the; advanced age of 85 years. The deceased lady was the eldest daughter of the late MR. AND MRS. SAMUEL ATCHESON who lived for many years in Durham Street [Bathurst], and was a sister of MRS. GOWLAND, and aunt of MR. B. FREEMAN. Mrs. Hellier had lived in the old mining township of Wattle Flat for the past 48 years, and had been married twice. Her first husband was MR. JAMES McCLAIR. MR. JAMES McCLAIR of Russell Street [Bathurst] is the only member of this family left. The remains were brought to Bathurst for interment. The burial was in the family ground in the Presbyterian cemetery. Rev. J. H. Robertson officiated at the graveside. It was a private funeral, taking place on Saturday afternoon.


N.S.W. Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages online index

Death Reg. #11406, 1915

Annie Hillier, died Wattle Flat, N.S.W. Parents: Samuel & Rebecca

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