JAMES JOSEPH EATHER 1821-1906
The son of Robert EATHER 1795-1881 and Mary LYNCH 1802-1853.
On his father's squattages near Wee Waa in the north west of New South Wales, and further north on the Narran River, James gained much of his early bush experience at the price of having almost every bone in his body broken at various times.
One of his early reminiscences illustrates the hardships of bush life as well as the toughness of those who undertook it: After a drought the stray cattle were rounded up on a high river-bank and each man was entitled to claim any beast which he could cut off from the herd. James's choice, in trying to evade capture, leaped over a cliff into the river but he pursued and caught it, still on horseback, for bullocks were too precious to be let escape so easily.
Despite his many adventures in the outback, his residence was at North Richmond until 1861 when he took over Thomas's farm at Richmond Bottoms.
James married Bridget Harriet HONAN the daughter of Patrick HONAN and Margaret FLANAGAN, she was born in Croagh a small village about 20 miles north of Limerick city in Ireland. James and Bridget married at St.Matthews Catholic Church in Windsor in 1855.
The benefits of North Richmond, where normal amenities were close at hand, would have been much appreciated by Mrs. Bridget Eather.
She could read, write, sew and play the piano. All accomplishments which were much appreciated after she left the civilisation of Richmond with her husband and several small children for the barely explored wilds of the Bellinger River district. The date on which that difficult journey was undertaken was in 1863 when the Richmond Bottoms proved as unrewarding to James as it had to his brother.
They arrived at Urunga Heads in a sailing vessel and from there on it was hard travelling with a horse and three slides for twenty three miles up the river to the spot where they settled, at Boat Harbour near the later town of Bellingen.
The attractions of the district to which the Eathers came, among the very first who accepted the invitation of paying off their farms under the Free Selection legislation of 1861, were the lush river flats, temperature climate and limitless expanses of virgin land.
At first, however, the only economic use to which the land could be put was cedar-getting. The earliest settlers cut the cedar from the foothills of the valley, axing their way finally onto the Dorrigo plateau and sending out the precious logs on the boats which brought in their supplies.
The land was in it's virgin condition requiring much toil before crops could be sown and it was 1864 before the first blocks, including the Eather's could be surveyed.
There, on what became the "Orange Grove" property, the Eather children grew to sturdy adulthood, the daughters were taught sewing by their mother who had somehow managed to bring both sewing machine and piano to the little clearing in the frowning forrest, and both boys and girls finding their recreation in the Irish jigs which she taught them. She was obliged likewise to instruct the elder children in reading and writing, for a provisional school was not yet established on the Upper Bellinger until 1869 when James Eather became one of the members of the local board.
One of the other members of the board was William Jarrett, reputed to be the first settler on the river. Before many years the link between the two families was made even stronger with the marriage of the eldest Eather daughter, Mary, to Thomas Jarrett.
The Children of James Joseph EATHER and Bridget were:-
1. Mary Eliza EATHER 1856?1933 m. Thomas W Jarrett 1851-1935 in 1875 at Bellingen, New South Wales
2.James Joseph EATHER 1858?1920 m. Millicent Sarah BATH 1867-1960 at Walcha, New South Wales, on 31 August 1885.
3. Abraham Robert EATHER 1860?1860
4. Matilda Sarah EATHER 1861?1942 m. Joseph MURPHY 1860-1940 at
Boat Harbour Bellinger River, New South Wales on 5 March 1889.
5. Teresa Jane EATHER 1865?1886 m. Michael MCCRISTAL 1861-1921 at Bellingen, New South Wales on 25 November 1885.
6. Margaret Charlotte EATHER 1868?1932 m. Charles P KEEBLE 1867-1932 at Bellingen, New South Wales, in 1893.
7. Thomas Charles EATHER 1869?1958 m. Anne BROWNLEE 1879-1933 at
Bellingen, New South Wales in 1899.
8. Abraham R EATHER 1872? XXXX
9. John Louis EATHER 1876?1954 m. Ruth F TAYLOR 1880-? (Queensland) at Glen Innes, New South Wales in 1915.
10. George EATHER 1878 ? XXXXI can't find any record of him apart from an attestation paper on enlistment into the A I F where he claims Mrs. Margaret Keeble is his sister. She is listed as next of kin.
Bridget Harriet died at Bellingen on the 3 May 1886.
James Joseph EATHER died at Bellingen on the 21 November 1906.