CONNOR (O’CONNOR) FAMILY
John Connor worked in Sydney first, then joined in exploring the area inland from Port Macquarie until he was employed by Captain Rapsey on the old storeship, the St. Michael. Moored at Morpeth, the end of the navigable reach of the Hunter River, the St. Michael was the supply depot for the convicts cutting cedar, the soldiers guarding them, the bush constables and others in the district. As the settlement developed the quantity of stores passing through the St. Michael increased. In 1832 the two steam packets, Sophia Jane and William the Fourth commenced a regular passenger and mail service, plying twice weekly between Sydney and the Green Hills (Morpeth).
Alcorn's Inn stood on rising ground where the old and the new tracks met on the Singleton (southern) side of Fal Brook crossing at Dulwich Farm. This was becoming a favourite place for camping and resting the working bullocks. James Glennie's house was on elevated ground upwards of a mile nearer Singleton. The present bridge at Camberwell is 3 miles in a downstream direction from the site of Alcorn's Inn. On lst January 1832 a Post Office was established at Alcorn's Inn, to be the most northerly inland Post Office in the Australian Colonies. Mail was carried up there once a week by the Mounted Police. James Glennie was the contractor in 1832 for the supply of rations and forage to Mounted Police operating in the upper districts, and rations for the lock-ups at Darlington, Merton and Invermein. At Glennie's store travellers could purchase flour, beef and some other necessities.
Moses Connor married Anne Farrell at Glennie's Creek in 1840 and their daughter Mary Anne was born there 21 March, 1841. Then came John in April 1843 and Michael 22 June 1845. Three more babies were born to them but when John returned from the whaling trip to the Southern Ocean with a group of men from some of the ships that had been trading between Sydney and Morpeth he found Moses and Anne in a sad state. Two of their babies had died and they believed this was due to the bad climate.
They wanted to move further north. John and Moses together procured a horse and dray and began preparations for the journey.
Even then another little boy died and Anne was very distressed. The departure was delayed but Moses felt they must move away from that area. Finally the two men with Anne and the three remaining children Mary, John and Michael set off on the long trek that took them to Ipswich.
Ipswich was the free settlement fifteen miles up-river from Moreton Bay, the former Penal Colony, now becoming a busy port. Ipswich had a newly developed coal mine and was growing as the centre for the large land holdings being taken up in the Brisbane River valley, over the mountains and across the Darling Downs.
It was in Ipswich that John met Mary Murphy, the Irish governess to one of the families he was welcoming to Australia. They were immediately attracted to each other, John felt this was the woman who could, and would as he soon learned, help him to settle down and build a truly Christian home. They were married by Rev. William McGinty who with Father Hanly were the only two priests working in this vast northern section of the Colony. Their marriage was celebrated on 15 August 1854, in Ipswich.
The Connor men were not happy with the work and conditions that they found in Ipswich and did not settle comfortably, so that when they heard of the successful gold findings at Rocky River (Uralla), they once again packed their families and belongings into the dray and travelled south. John having his new bride with him, Mary a little sad at leaving behind her sister, but Ellen was employed in a good family and was content that Mary must go.
The journey would have taken some months for it covers a distance of three hundred and fifty miles or nearly five hundred kilometres. For most of the way the track, now the New England Highway, follows the top of the Great Dividing Range. As soon as they reached Rocky River the men lost no time in staking their claims and then set up their homes.