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Shoalhaven Munros Part 2 : Mary Jane Munro & Imlay McLaren

EDITOR : In an earlier Shoalhaven Munros story I told you about William Munro & Ann MacKay who came to Australia on the James Moran in 1839. These stories are by courtesy of Mary Lidbetter who has done such a good job of collecting the Shoalhaven Munro's family history. This time we have the story of William & Anne's Granddaughter Mary Jane Munro who married (Peter) Imlay McLaren in 1866 in Bolong, Shoalhaven. And they had thirteen children. The first part is a short story about Imlay McLaren followed by the memories of the family by their Granddaughter, Jean Bryson. It was written in 1983 and she “tells it as it is”.

"Imlay McLaren left Shoalhaven in 1869 and travelled with Alexander and Donald Munro and William Ballantyne by SS Grafton from Sydney to Lawrence on Clarence River, thence overland to Coraki. He took up a selection near Coraki. Imlay later entered the Education Department, taught first at Coraki, then Lower Southgate, Wombah, Palmer's Channel, Woodford Leigh and Broadwater. He retired to Lismore. Imlay McLaren was a teacher at Palmers Channel School (then known as Taloumbi) Jan 1890 to April 1891 and at the Woodford Leigh Public School, Clarence River, in 1891. Imlay's grave is in Tucki cemetery near Lismore bearing the inscription "Imlay, beloved husband of M.J. McLaren, born 6 June 1839 died 1 January 1924."

EDITOR : Now we have Jean Bryson's memories of the family.

"I probably knew Imlay and Mary Jane better than most of the grandchildren. My Uncle Walter had two daughters, Jessie and Kate, who were much older than myself and were young adults, so I never really knew them. However I was the eldest of all the other grandchildren. Grandfather had retired to Lismore and lived in a pleasant weatherboard house in Molesworth Street - away from all the shops. There a spare paddock beside the house where Creamy the pony could graze. I remember the grandparents best when I visited at the age of about seven, and stayed for several weeks. Aunt Vi had taken me over from my other grandmother's place on the Clarence River. We crossed over on the punt at Maclean and had a thrilling ride to the rail-head at Lawrence on what I am certain was a Cobb & Co. coach. From there we picked up a train to Lismore."

"I adored all my aunts and uncles on both sides of the family and I was never homesick whilst in the wider family. The McLarens remained friendly with the Camerons. Grandmother Mary Jane was over 70 at that stage (1913) but she was still a very active housekeeper, serving up the meals and running the home. Aunty Vi worked in Malean's store, among other things demonstrating a knitting machine. Aunty Gladys also worked at Maclean's, in the toy department I think. These two used to take me down to the river to swim, in a wired-in pool. I fancy it was near the bacon factory. A North Coast Steamer was tied up there. One morning a dead pig floated down the river. "Quick, let's get out of here" Vi said.  Aunt Olive also lived at home and did dressmaking in a big spare room at the end of a big verandah. Grandmother helped her will all the finishing steps - pulling out tacking, oversewing and putting on fasteners, etc."

"When the war came and teachers were in short supply, Aunt Olive was employed in the kindergarten at South Lismore and loved it. Uncle Sid, a bachelor also, lived at home. He worked in Brown and Jolley's timber mills, where later he lost several fingers in an accident. Uncle Sid took me to the pictures and was generous with sixpenny and threepenny bits - greatly prized by me who had been given only pennies before that. Grandfather was busy around the place, and always well supplied with clean white shirts - no coloured or aloha shirts for the gentlemen then. He had good book shelves but I can remember them saying he was fond of reading sermons, some of the by a Dr. Witt, I think. At night someone would strum a few tunes on the piano, a Broadwood, and there'd be some singing."  MORE>>

" ... one morning a dead pig floated down the river ..."