Thursday, 26 February 2015

Emigrant Tales

McCallum Family

Photo shows Elizabeth at Kearvaig, Durness

A brief account of my McCallum family - Elizabeth Redmond (nee Sands, nee McCallum)

My mother's maiden name was Heather McCallum. She was born into an extensive family on a property named "Balnakeil", near Donald in the Wimmera area of Victoria. The name Balnakeil and  the  names of her  grandfather and great-grandfather were all of the information I had when I began my research. That was about ten years ago. I now have found an enormous family spread all over the world, have meet some very distant relations, had five trips to Scotland, including The Gathering in Edinburgh this year, visited the homes where my ancestors were born and worked, and have in a small way, made a contribution to a musical/ oration called “The Flight of the Arctic Tern” which was performed around Scotland this year as part of The Homecoming activities. 

My direct McCallum ancestor was John McCallum. He was one of nine children born to Iver/Evander/Edward McCallum and his wife Margaret. I think she was also a McCallum. The census records have them at a place called Daill/Dall on the Kyle of Durness near Durness in far northern Scotland. Evander (the name I've used for John's father) was a shepherd and from what we have found in our research in the Library in Edinburgh, the family members were employed by the lease holder of land in this area rented from the Sutherland family. 

The family moved between two shepherds dwellings over a period of about 50 years....Daill and Kearvaig /Kerwick. Both of these buildings are standing today. Daill is used as a holiday home and Kearvaig as a bothy by walkers on their way around Cape Wrath. 
The original dwelling at Kearvaig has been dismantled and rebuilt as sheep yards. A “new” home was built in 1870. Both are in magical spots.....on the beach, fresh water and of course hills beyond! Kearvaig is the closest dwelling to The Cape Wrath Lighthouse (designed by Robert Louie Stevenson’s grandfather). 

With six sons in the family, finding employment and a place to live was always going to be a struggle. Three of the boys came to Australia; John, Duncan and Joseph.

John and Duncan and their wives Mary and Marion sailed for Australia on “The Hornet” in 1854. They docked in Geelong and obtained work as shepherds on large sheep properties in the area. John was later employed by two Scots by the name of Learmonth as a boundary rider on their large sheep holding, “Ercildourne” near Ballarat in central Victoria. In the late 1870”s John and Mary selected land at Corack near Donald, naming it Balnakeil, after the bay near their homes back in Scotland. Mary was a Mackay, related to the Mackays of the Kempsey area of New South Wales, and at the time of her marriage to John, her family operated the ferry across the Kyle of Durness. A ferry (a very small boat really) is still the mode of transport I have to use when I visit the “ancestral” home! No-one lives in this area (Known as The Parph ) now.

John and Mary had one child, Edward/Evander. Edward and his wife Alice had eleven children, nine surviving. My grandfather Samuel was their third child. My mother was the second child of Samuel and his wife Alice. The property has been in the McCallum family until a couple of years ago, but the name Balnakeil continues..... my brother’s  property near Shepparton is named after the bay.  My home has the name Kearvaig.

If anyone is interested or knows any more of my family history I would be very pleased to hear from them.
Phil Redmond, Australia 

Photograph above shows the Maccallum home at Kearvaig, Durness

updated 28/2/2016

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