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This letter is in the collection of my Aunt Dorothy who has offered it to me as part of putting together the family story. With the information on the headstone erected by George Crean Martin at St. Nicholas, Ardglass, Co. Down and with the help of a legal letter seeking the ancestors of Jane Martin of Ballee, I have been able to situate Richard Binney Orr within the family. Thanks to further research by Wendy Jack, I have been able to add more information. His wife was Mary Anne BETHUNE and they married in Queensland on January 1871. His parents were Rev. Samuel John C. ORR and Mary MARTIN of County Down, Ireland.

 

State School,
Darkey Flat,
Via Warwick,
Queensland,
Australia,

1st November, 1896
My Dear Uncle George, [1]
            I got your letter of 16th Sept. yesterday, just 45 days after you wrote. I was indeed very much surprised to get your letter. I thought I was forgotten by all at home. I got one letter from Wm. John Martin which I answered. I have made no money having just been able to pay my way. I owe no debts & just manage to clothe, feed & educate the family on my income. You will receive this letter about Christmas & you can think of me when taking your dinner, the snow and frost outside then, if God spares us to see that time, I will have mine in the hottest part of our year with the thermometer at 100 degrees in the room. This land of ours is a beautiful, rich country. We sadly want men with a little capital to come here & farm it. Our land laws are very reasonable – Farms can be got from 80, 160, 235 acres at 2s.6 an acre & 10 years to pay; or other richer lands can be bought at from £1, £1.5 up to £4.10 per acre from government at 20 years to pay it. The grazing lands in large areas are rented from government on a lease of years at about 3/4d the square mile. The place I am living in now is both a farming & mining district. The mining from what I have seen is not a profitable business except for a few. The school teachers here are all government officials, are all liable to be sent to any part of the colony at the Minister of the Education Department order. Expenses are paid in first class of train or steamer, and in the country you are provided with house and water free. I receive about £3 a week the year through. Where I am now is about 200 miles west from our capital Brisbane. The nearest town is Warwick, 21 miles off. It is about the size of what Ardglass was when I left home. It is the centre of farming, mining and Station properties. The stations are the large grazing lands rented from government & having thousands of sheep or hundreds of cattle grazing on them. Horses and cattle also sheep are very cheap compared with home prices. They are not housed in winter although they have the feed there. Although we have sharp frosts in July-August we have no snow. I have not seen snow since I left home. Horses are so cheap that nearly everyone in the country keeps one – we could not get about without them. One wheat harvest in this country will begin in about a week from now. Some of the farmers here tell me their crops look like a 30 to 40 bushels to the acre which will be sold to the flour mills at 4s the bushel. After the wheat crop is taken off they will immediately put in maize corn which will be harvested at the beginning of winter. Thus they can easily get two good paying crops in the year all without manure. The greatest drawback against the wheat is rust and drought. I married in January 1871 and our family living is 2 boys and 3 girls. There (sic) names and ages are Evelyn Mary Bethune [2] 24 years this month; Gertrude Letitia [3] 19 years last Sept; Cuthbert Donald [4] 17 years last June; Edgar Cyril [5] 10 years last Jany, and Violet Irene [6] 7 years last August. They are all at home except the eldest boy whom I have apprenticed to the foundry in Warwick. This is his second year there. Lettia Jane [7] lives at MacKay about 800 miles from here. She married before me. I have never been at their place but she tells me it’s a nice place but very hot. They have cattle and grow the sugar cane. She has a large family & paid me a visit with two of them about 2 years ago. They are very well off up to this last year when the “tick plague” and “redwater” killed off thousands of cattle in that part of the colony. These men who are graziers on a large scale are catted squatters. I forgot to say all our railways are government property so far. All we are short of is a larger population, such as factories would give us. We can produce our food and clothing products in abundance but we want the consumers. I am my dear uncle your affectionate nephew, R.B. Orr [8] H.T.
[1] George Crean Martin died April 24, 1899 and was responsible for erecting the tombstone listing the many family members at St. Nicholas Church in Ardglass, Co. Down. He was a son of Allan and Jane Martin and an uncle to Richard Binney Orr. Richard Binney Orr was the son of his sister, Mary Martin who married an Orr whose first name we do not yet know.
[2] Evelyn Mary Bethune Orr, born November 10,1872
[3] Gertrude Letitia Orr, born September 1877 would be the date as computed from the letter, however the Queensland Indexes to Births, Marriages and Deaths give us her birthdate as February 21, 1880.
[4] Cuthbert Donald Orr, born June 21, 1879
[5] Edgar Cyril Orr, January 30, 1866
[6] Violet Irene Orr, born August 15, 1889
[7] Letitia Jane (Orr) born January 18, 1849 at Strabane, Co. Tyrone, Ireland, married a Richard ATHERTON and died Apr 4th, 1934 in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
[8] Richard Binney ORR, born February 18, 1847 at Killough, Ardglass, Co. Down, Ireland and died November 18, 1921 .

 

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