A little bit of family history scandal makes fascinating reading

With a close friend currently doing dairy genomic research in Ireland I was inspired to try and locate my family origins and see if she was close by

Both sides of my family arrived in the Illawarra region of NSW via Ireland between 1830 and 1841.

By the time I found myself back to my dairy roots, my father’s family hadn’t been dairying for 20 years and family history was rarely discussed

But as they were early settlers there is no shortage of family history online and I must admit I was fascinated by the evocative language of the time. The obituaries (see bottom of page) in particular make compelling reading.

And I am so glad I did this research I just would have loved to have known my great, great grandfather. It appears he was a bit of a trendsetter, didn’t mind standing out from the crowd and had his fair share of knockers.

John LIndsay

This is how he is recorded in local history – don’t you love the language

‘John Lindsay was one of the leaders in the dairy industry. John was an innovative thinker, willing to take risks in building up his dairy cattle. He owned a herd of Ayrshire dairy cattle that was the envy of his peers.

Lindsay was born in Ireland, in 1832, arriving in Australia in 1841 on the Orestes.  In 1878, John created a minor scandal when he purchased “The Earl of Beaconsfield’, an Ayrshire bull, for 100 pounds ($200). Local farmers thought this was foolish and extravagant. These cattle enabled him to make his herd outstanding, producing prized dairy products and show animals for many years. A daughter of Lord Beaconsfield named Honeycomb was declared the Champion Cow of the World in 1889 wining 62 ribbons and producing 36 litres of milk per day.

and the fabulous HoneyComb

honeycomb-sepia.jpg

Cows in Australia today can produce up to 120 litres per day and over 23,000 litres per year and some 160,000 plus litres in their lifetime. One of the key visual differences is the length of the cows teats. In 1889 it was preferential for cows to have longer teats because they were milked by hand.

dimples.jpg

Today their teats are much shorter, their udders more compact and cows have been bred to have the ability to produce large volumes of milk from increased feed conversion efficiency ( that is ability to turn grass into milk very efficiently) which means they generate less green house gas emissions per litre of milk produced.

I am confident my great, great grandfather would be very excited about the dairy cows of the 21st century and would be enthralled by the genomic research that Dr Jo Newton is doing in Ireland. I feel a guest blog coming on

*  the obituaries make compelling reading. This is how the death of my great, great grandfather’s younger brother was reported

THE LATE MR. T. F. LINDSAY.
As briefly stated in last issue, Mr. T. F. Lind
say, of Unanderra, died somewhat unexpectedly
at his residence on Friday afternoon. Mr.
Lindsay had been in his usual state of health
Thursday, on which day he was engaged branding
calves. While overheated, he drank rather
copiously of water, and in the afternoon com
plained of severe cramps in the stomach. Dr.
Thompson was sent for, and pronounced the
attack one of British cholera, at the same time hold
ing out little hope of recovery. Though everything
that medical skill could devise was done, Mr.
Lindsay, after a brief illness of less than
twenty-four hours, but which was very severe
while it lasted, succumbed to the dread malady
in the afternoon of Friday. Mr. Lindsay being
widely known throughout the district and
deservedly held in the highest esteem, a very
large concourse of people had assembled at his
late residence at noon (the hour fixed for the
funeral), but a telegram having been received by
the family from an only sister of the deceased
gentleman who resided near Melbourne to the
effect that she was leaving by the express train,
and asking to delay the funeral if possible, the
mournful procession was delayed until 2 o’clock.
The funeral cortege was one of the largest ever
seen in this district. On reaching St. Luke’s,
the coffin was conveyed into the church, where
the Rev. J. Stack, the incumbent, conducted a
short service, after which the body was consigned
to the tomb in close proximity to the graves of
the deceased’s lamented father and mother
and other members of the family, Rev.
J. Stack again officiating. The late Mr.
Lindsay was of a genial and kindly disposition,
and universally esteemed for his many virtues.
For some years past he took a warm interest in
municipal matters, and occupied a seat in the
Central Illawarra Council. He also took an
active part in the formation and furthering of the
interests of the Unanderra dairy factory, of
which he was also a director. Like the rest of
the family of that name, he was a successful
dairyman, and at all times took a prominent part
in connection with the Dapto Agricultural and
Horticultural Society, being an active member of
the committee up to the time of his death. The
deceased gentleman was the youngest member of
the Lindsay family, and was almost a native of
the district, being only one year old when he
arrived here with his parents. He died in the
full strength and vigor of his manhood, having
only reached the age of 49 when he was thus
suddenly cut off. He leaves behind him (in ad
dition to other relatives to mourn their loss) a
widow and twelve children, the ages of the latter
ranging almost from infancy to well on towards
25 years.