- Family albums
- Family histories
- Family tree
(1796-1864) Daniel Ferguson
Daniel Ferguson migrated from Scotland to South Australia in 1838. He became farmer and became an influential member of the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of South Australia. He was also a miner, a district councillor, educator and church elder.
Daniel Ferguson was born at Muirkirk, Ayrshire on 11 February 1796, the 6th of the 11 children of Alexander Ferguson and Mary McMichael. He was named after his grandfather, Daniel McMichael, also the name of the Covenanter martyr.
Daniel Ferguson spent his childhood in Muirkirk. The town was expanding as the opening of the iron mine drew more workers to the area. He had a brother, William, 3 years older than him and 3 older sisters and 4 younger sisters. He was 20 when the family moved to Auchinleck, then to Sorn.
Daniel was 31 when he married for the first time. The Sorn parish register recorded, "Daniel Ferguson and Elizabeth Campbell both in this parish, after being duly proclaimed in order to marry, were married 10th Apl 1827 - 2d." Their first child was born three months later, the parish register noting, "Ferguson, Charles Cliff, lawful son of Daniel Ferguson, Blackside end and Elizabeth Campbell, his spouse, was born 24th July and baptised 9th Sept 1827"
In a departure from traditional naming patterns, Daniel gave his son the same name as that chosen by his sister Susanna Ashmore for her son, Charles Cliff. A second child, James, was born on 5 September 1828 followed by a third, Alexander, named for his paternal grandfather, on 11 July 1830. Alexander died as an infant and his mother Elizabeth either in childbirth or shortly after.
Daniel remarried two years later. His second wife, Helen Ritchie was his second cousin. She was born on 5 October 1806, the daughter of Gilbert Ritchie and Margaret McCall, who was a great-niece of Mary McCall, Daniel's grandmother. Helen Ritchie's father had taken over the tenancy of Eastside Farm where Daniel's father Alexander was born. Daniel and Helen's first child, Elizabeth, was born on 21 October 1833. Another son, Alexander, was born on 7 April 1835, followed by Gilbert on 28 December 1836, the day when the colony of South Australia was officially proclaimed a colony.
In 1835, Daniel lived at Dalruscan, a farm about 5 miles from the town of Lochmaben in Dumfriesshire. The farm, which still exists, is on the Dumfries to Bealtoch Rd near Kirkmichael. Daniel was involved in community life, elected as an elder of the Barras Church. Built in 1816, by the Reformed Presbyterians, whose roots lay in the Cameronian movement, it could seat 800 worshippers.
On 10 January 1837, Daniel's father died at Sorn. His father had had helped his children establish themselves, although more assistance was given to his sons and he lent Daniel and his brother William £600 each in 1832. The loan to Daniel was increased on 19 June 1835 by another £360. Interest was added, but Alexander specified that "interest upon whatever sum has been received by our son Daniel shall not exceed one hundred pounds sterling" noting "the said William Ferguson has been in the habit of paying me interest on sum advanced to him, whereas his brother Daniel has not done so."
After bequests had been paid to his daughters and his wife provided for, Alexander left the residue of his estate to be "equally divided between our two sons William and Daniel Ferguson, whom I hereby nominate and appoint my residuary Legatees; and seeing that they a considerable time ago received from me the sum of Six Hundred Pounds Sterling each, which will be reckoned to them with what interest may be due thereon as if paid to them after my decease, so that in adjusting this and calculating the interest due my Trustees will see that upon the whole my Residuary Legatees have equal shares."
A year after his father's death, aged 42, Daniel Ferguson decided to migrate to the new colony of South Australia with his wife and five children. He farewelled his mother, knowing he was unlikely to see her again. Just before he left, he sorted out his financial affairs, giving his sister Janet Murray a draft for £12 payable on sight, dated 4 June 1838. According to family legend, Daniel refused an uncle's offer to finance his move to the new colony.
Migration to South Australia
The principles on which South Australia had been established differed from those of other colonies. South Australia was designed to be self-supporting. There was no convict labour and instead of granting free land, it was sold and the revenue raised used to create an emigration fund to pay for the passage out of farm labourers and tradesmen. Agents were appointed in major cities and ports to handle the sale of land and selection of emigrants. In Leith, the port from which Daniel Ferguson sailed, Messrs Allan and Son and Messrs Adamson and Co were the official agents.
The Fergusons left Scotland from Kirkalldy Roads Leith, on 28 June 1838 on the "Catherine Jamieson." They reached South Australia on 1 December 1838, after a journey of 5 months. When Daniel Ferguson arrived, South Australia had a population of only 5,770, making his family amongst the early pioneers. Thirty-two ships had arrived that year, carrying 3,142 emigrants. Just two years later, the population had expanded to 17,000.
In preparing for the trip, emigrants could consult such guides as Henry "Capper's South Australia Containing Hints to Emigrants". Capper advised caution in selecting the ship to sail on, stating "all persons should inspect the ship they intend to proceed on, choose their berths, see that there is a good height between decks, and proper means to secure a free ventilation." He gave practical hints for fitting out the cabins and deciding what to take on the journey. "Care should be taken that the door is not in the centre as much room is lost in that case, sea chests in a cabin are inconvenient. Chests of drawers are far preferable. Large nails and hooks to hang things on are useful, as also are a few shelves. Everything should be securely lashed to the bulkheads. A tin can with a swing handle and a spout, for saving water in, is useful. Raspberry vinegar is a very essential article to mix with the water when not very good. A few camp chairs would be very convenient. Horsehair mattresses are to be preferred to feather beds. A crate of crockery and glass, and a supply of useful cooking utensils are absolute necessities. The emigrant must calculate upon not being able to have linen etc washed during the passage (about four months) and consequently should be provided with a sufficient stock. It should be remembered that this will last a long time afterwards in the colony. Calico should be substituted for linen and a very fine flannel will be serviceable. Striped shirts are much more economical and are generally worn in all the colonies."
A barque of 317 tons, the Catherine Jamieson was captained by W Hutchinson. It carried 30 passengers and a cargo listed in the manifest as "35 casks of pease, 7 casks of split peas, 24 casks bottled ale, 100 casks oatmeal, 54 package goods, 600 garden chairs, 1 box hats, 5 cases, 1 cask sundries, 2 bundles spades, 11 bags nails, 102 barrels pork, 100 barrels flour, 7 bales thread, 2 boxes biscuits, 638 deals, 31 bales, 8 cases, 27 casks 49 jars, 8 boxes merchandise, 6 bales linen, 6 boxes sundries 3 iron frames, 3 long frames, 3 wheels and 3 boxes, 195 oil casks in sakes, 40 barrels pork, 20 barrels beef, 18 barrels oatmeal, 9 packages furniture, 20 boxes fish 60 tons salt 54 casks in shakes, 14 crates earthenware, 6 bags barley, 23 firkins herrings, 1 box hams, 4 casks sugar, 350 boxes glass, 4 cases pianoforte". The Catherine Jamieson was later wrecked at Table Bay in 1860.
Amongst the cargo were the possessions that Daniel Ferguson had brought with him from Scotland to start his new life, some of which still survive. Folding chairs taken out on the Catherine Jamieson and owned by later generations of the family are still in good condition. Christening gowns and baby clothes of fine muslin have also become treasured family heirlooms, as has Daniel Ferguson's personal seal.
Settlement at Gawler Plains
Daniel Ferguson settled at "Bank Flat" on the Gawler Plains, one of the first settlers in the area. On 14 January 1839, David McLaren, Colonial Manager of the South Australian Company, claimed the second survey to be granted in the Colony, known as The Lyndoch Valley Special Survey. He described it as highly valuable for agriculture and "in a great measure unencumbered with trees and ready for the plough".
Daniel Ferguson established his first farm in the area known as Little Para, about 12 miles from the town of Gawler, which was just beginning to be built when Daniel Ferguson arrived in the area. The town was surveyed early in 1839 and the first buildings erected later that year. In 1840, Gawler itself was described as containing "one very good inn, one public house, police barracks, two smith's shops, six dwelling houses and 34 inhabitants."
A visitor to the area near Gawler on 30 October 1839 commented "the first four miles of the road to Gawler was poor soil and rather thickly wooded, principally with the box tree, but known as the Pine Forest; after which the country becomes flat, with some wattles at first and then a perfect plain. About six miles from town, we crossed a dry creek, known as First Creek, and came to the Little Para at 12 minutes past two. Distance from town to the Little Para about 12 miles, and the road very good." The surrounding area however, was largely dry and he added that "in the bed of the river to the east of the road were a few small pools of water. We found no water from Adelaide to the Little Para or from the Little Para to Murray Pass."
The Surveyor General's report of 30 November 1840 showed 160 acres had been surveyed and selected at Little Para. The Southern Australian on 5 January 1841 reported that in the last half of 1840, the entire Para district had 99 acres under cultivation, including 33 acres of wheat, 8 of oats, 6 of maize, 16 of potatoes and another 36 not specified. There were 16,311 sheep, 46 cattle and 27 horses.
The "Southern Australian" of 2 March 1841 added "This splendid survey, belonging to the South Australian Company, and of which they were put in possession only in September last, is rapidly assuming the appearance of a thriving settlement. Although located upon but a few months, it is said to have a larger population already than Gawler Town, its present number of inhabitants amounting to about one hundred souls. The ring of the anvil, the sound of the carpenters hammer, the sawing and splitting of timber in the neighbourhood and the song of the ploughman on the plains are said to give it that air of bustling activity. About two hundred acres will be under cultivation in this survey alone during the ensuing season."
In 1841, Daniel is listed in the census as farming at Little Para, an area about 12 miles from Gawler, with his wife, daughter and five sons. The listing of families under the Lyndock Valley Spread Survey showed Daniel Ferguson's was the largest family. There were 7 other families comprising 14 adults and 10 children, as well as 10 labourers and 5 stock keepers.
Allen's 1844 directory lists Daniel Ferguson as a cultivator on section 47, "Bank Flat," which extended to the bank of the Gawler River. By this stage, he had under cultivation 49 acres of wheat, 5 of barley and a quarter of an acre of garden. He also had 480 sheep, 16 cattle and 2 pigs. Today, Section 47, where Daniel settled, is in the suburb of Hillier, on the outskirts of Gawler, facing Two Wells Road and a caravan park in the Murray Hiller Reserve, the area still semi-rural.
Daniel Ferguson farmed at Gawler for 9 years. During his years at Gawler, another three children were born and he received news of his mother's death in Scotland. Although he left Gawler in 1847, the Ferguson connection with the town continued through his nephew James Ferguson, who later had a store in the main street of Gawler.
The Establishment of Glenunga
In 1847, Daniel Ferguson decided to move closer to Adelaide, where his children would have better opportunities for education. The move also offered Daniel Ferguson the opportunity of playing a greater role in the establishment of community structures of South Australia.
He settled in Glen Osmond, near Adelaide calling his farm Glenunga, from "Glen" of Glen Osmond and an aboriginal word "unga," meaning "near to." The name continues in the Adelaide suburb established on the site of Daniel Ferguson's farm.
In 1847, Daniel Ferguson bought 80 acres of an area designated as Section 271 on early maps of Adelaide and now bordered by Glen Osmond Road, Portrush Road and Bevington Road. When the colony was established, land had been sold in rectangular units, with little regard for topography. Section 271 was originally bought by the Hall family. Some of it was later acquired by the government for a road from Adelaide to Glen Osmond, "without any price or consideration being paid" although the government was to "fence the road where it passes through the sections" at public expense. Section 271 was next sold to Robert Cock, who had arrived on the Catherine Jamieson with Daniel Ferguson. In 1844, he is recorded as growing 137 acres of wheat in the area. He later sub-divided the section, before selling part of it to Daniel Ferguson. Some of the Glenunga site was sold in Daniel Ferguson's lifetime, to William Murray, who used it to establish a jam factory.
Daniel Ferguson built a home, Glenunga House, in the middle of the property, where his two youngest children were born. It was home to members of the Ferguson family for almost seventy years. The Fergusons had frequent visitors at Glenunga, from a wide circle of family and friends, including the Dobbies, whom they had known in Scotland.
Matthew Rankine, whose wife Jessie came out on the Catherine Jamieson and whose granddaughter later married Daniel's grandson, mentions in his diary visiting Glenunga when he was on business in Adelaide and reciprocal visits of the Fergusons to his home at Angas Plains. On 5 February 1856, he recorded "Started for Adelaide about 4 o'clock. Arrived in time for dinner. Called at Tuxfords about plough. Went out to Mr D Ferguson's where I stayed all night. Spent a happy evening in giving and solving riddles. On 25 April 1860, when Daniel's daughter Elizabeth visited the Rankines, Matthew noted "Elizabeth Ferguson came here this morning and stayed all night, her father called for her. He and son Charles have been to the Lakes looking for a farm. Father (William Rankine) came with them."
The farm at Lake Alexandrina must not have interested Daniel. As well as Glenunga, he also had another farm at Yankalilla and a mill at Parkside. By the time Daniel established Glenunga, his eldest sons had been old enough to share the work of farming and in return he helped them establish themselves.
Daniel Ferguson maintained strong links with his family in Scotland. The family were very close, and after Daniel migrated to Australia, contact was maintained and letters and photos exchanged. On 22 May 1847, his brother-in-law John Kerr noted in his diary, "wrote to D. Ferguson, Australia."
Other branches of the family followed Daniel to Australia. While his brother remained in Scotland, three of his sons migrated to Australia and Daniel's nephews James and Daniel arrived in the late 1850s or early 1860s. James established himself at Gawler as a shopkeeper, marrying Isabella Ferguson, whose father William Ferguson was a friend of his uncle Daniel. Daniel's nephew, also Daniel was a storekeeper at Payneham and in Adelaide. While Daniel's other nephew William settled in Tasmania, his first son was born in South Australia.
Descendants of Daniel's sisters also came to Australia. Daniel's brother-in-law Thomas Bird had settled in South Australia by 1862, searching for a healthier climate for his daughters, who both died quite young. Also in search of a healthier climate, John Smith Kerr spent four years in South Australia between 1862-66.
A second cousin, Hugh Ferguson was a doctor in Strathalbyn, his widow and children later moving to Burnside, near Glenunga.
Daniel visited his family on his trip back to England in 1855. Photos are included in the Glenunga album of nieces and nephews and the grandchildren of his brother William. A book of psalms inscribed "Daniel Ferguson, the gift of his sister Susanna Ashmore, August 13th, 1861" was a treasured possession.
As Farmer and Agriculturalist
Daniel Ferguson's commitment to the development of agriculture in South Australia was reflected in helping set up networks for the exchange of information on agriculture. One such early attempt was the establishment of the Farmer's Club, of which he was a founder and first president. However, it later lapsed and Daniel turned his energies instead to the Agricultural and Horticultural Society.
The Agricultural and Horticultural Society was formed in 1842 when the two societies amalgamated. Daniel's photograph is included in a collection of the twelve "Original Founders of the Society" in 1844. He served for a term as president and was vice-president for a longer period of time. Other founders included James Umpherston, who married Daniel's daughter Margaret and William Ferguson, whose daughter Isabella married Daniel's nephew James Ferguson.
Daniel Ferguson was involved in the organisation of the first large show held by the Agricultural and Horticultural Society, which took place on February 1844, in a paddock between North Terrace and Frome Bridge. Marquees and tents were lent by the government and a grand pavilion, 100 feet by 40 feet held the main exhibits. Although the show was only held for an afternoon, 1,200 people paid admission and 300 names were entered as subscribers to the society. A special prize of ten guineas was awarded to John Ridley for his reaping and threshing machine.
Daniel Ferguson was also invited to be a judge at country agricultural shows. In his diary, Matthew Rankine refers to "Daniel Ferguson, a Judge at the first Agricultural Show held on March 5th, 1856" at Angas Plains.
As a vice-president of the Agricultural and Horticultural Society, he was involved in the establishment of its journal, Farm and Garden. He first put forward the idea of a farmers' periodical at a meeting of the society on 24 April 1857. However, the suggestion met with some opposition, and it was not until Edward William Andrew, part-owner of the Register, offered to take responsibility, that it was produced.
Farm and Garden was a professionally produced journal, selling for sixpence a copy. It was published "on the second Thursday in every month" between 1858 and 1863 "under the auspices of the South Australian Agricultural and Horticultural Society." The sub-committee responsible for producing it consisted of "Messrs E. W. Andrews, Chairman, D. Ferguson, G. McEwin and A. Wilson." Daniel Ferguson's name also appears on the masthead as one of the three vice-presidents of the society.
Although it mostly dealt with rural matters, Farm and Garden had leading articles, parliamentary reports, poetry, humorous articles, snippets of general news and a chess column. Daniel Ferguson was a frequent contributor and also quoted for his views. After five volumes, it ceased publication for lack of support.
Photo from Colin and Margaret Kerr "Royal Show" 1983
One subject on which Daniel Ferguson offered advice was deep ploughing. He believed that the common English ploughing depth of 3 to 4 inches was not deep enough in a dry climate. On 1 December 1858 , he wrote "It is just over 20 years today since I arrived at Holdfast Bay and I have been here ever since, one year excepted. It is more evident to me that the deeper the land is ploughed, the more rain it will absorb in the winter months and the longer it will retain the moisture. I would advise the farmer to try one acre four inches deep and another eight inches and I am confident he will find profitable results, particularly in dry seasons"
Farm and Garden of 14 October 1858 stated "Mr Daniel Ferguson, of the Adelaide Plains, informs us that he intends this season, as soon as the crop is off the ground, enclosing a small paddock with a fence sufficient to keep sheep. This he means first to fallow down, and in the proper season, either April or September, to trench-plough, manure, and sow it with 2 grasses. We have just referred to lucerne and Italian rye grass, which he selects on account of their excellent fattening qualities, his object being to try the artificial feeding of sheep - an experiment the results of which will be very interesting."
The Glenunga farm was mainly used for crops, which in 1856 won 1st prize for wheat on the Adelaide plains, despite the appearance of black slugs. The Register of 31 May 1856, noted "we regret to learn that the destructive black slug which had already attacked the barley, is now making its appearance among the wheat. Mr D. Ferguson of Glenunga on the eastern plains, informs us that one of his fields has been much injured, being cut up in patches. His opinion is that the best remedy will be the use of a heavy roller which has been found by experience cuts the slugs to pieces. Some of them are as large as a man's finger." After Daniel Ferguson's death, much of the farm stock and implements he had accumulated was put up for auction. The Observer of 30 July 1864 invited potential buyers to attend an auction, to be held at the farm, Glen Osmond
FARM STOCK AND IMPLEMENTS
Friday, August 5, at 12 o'clock
2 Draught Mares
1 Draught Horse
1 Exc Gig Horse
1 Yearling Filly, 1 ditto colt
2 Horse-power chaffcutters
1 Drill Sowing-machine
1 Spiked Clod-Crusher
1 Roller, 1 Horse-rake
1 Wheel Plough, 2 Swing-Ploughs
2 Pairs Harrows; 2 Sets Swingle-Trees
1 -do- Smith's Bellows and Anvil
1 Winnowing Machine
1 Heavy Wagon, 1 Horse Dray
1 Box Cart, a Sheep Trough
Harness, and a quantity of sundries
A Stack of Excellent Hay
At the Farm, Glen Osmond