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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
James Courtney Moore

Born: 1881; Died: 1962; Married: Minnie [Murty]

James Courtney Moore was born on 29.12.1881 at 'Fairvale', Bulgar Creek, the property of his father, William Moore. James was the seventh of ten children born to William and Catherine Moore and the fourth of five sons. James’ grandparents, Richard and Margaret Moore, were born in County Cavan, Ireland and had arrived in the Canberra/Queanbeyan district in 1841. James’ father, William, was Richard and Margaret’s oldest son.

James’s mother, Catherine, was the daughter of Alexander and Elizabeth McKenzie who were married at Lanyon on 22.4.1842. Alexander was from Dundee, Scotland, arriving in Australia in 1835 and Elizabeth Louisa Bass was from Dublin, Ireland, arriving in Australia in 1840. Alexander and Elizabeth spent their married life in the district and retired to a three room slab cottage on 'Fairvale'.

Numerous relatives lived in the immediate area of Bulgar Creek. Across the Murrumbidgee, at Condor Creek lived Catherine Moore’s sister, Sarah, who was married to John Blundell. ‘John and Sarah were married at St. John’s Church, 23.10.1862 when they were both only 19 years of age. They raised a family of ten children on their isolated land at the foot of the mountains’. (Cotter Country by B. Moore). On the nearby property of 'Greenhills', lived William Moore’s brother Richard, his wife Agnes and his family of eleven children. Cousins were in ready supply close by and many more were scattered throughout the Canberra/Queanbeyan district.

The Bulgar Creek Provisional School was opened in 1878. All local children attended. James McGee and John Clough were the teachers. The school was closed in 1906. (Warm Corner by B. Moore)

As was typical of the times, the children soon learned to be useful workers as all members of the family were involved in the workings of the family farm. During James’s childhood, his father had land at Bulgar Creek and at 'Warm Corner', the Burra, an area south of Queanbeyan. William and his sons worked both properties, often travelling between the two locations. As teenagers, James and Harry also took stock to the high country for summer pasture. Shearing was another source of funds for the young men. Both James and Harry spent several months of each year shearing in the district and as far away as the Riverina region. Both were expected home in time for the shearing of the families’ flocks of sheep and harvesting of crops.

Life at Fairvale was not without its lighter side. ‘The Fairvale home of William Moore was the centre of social evenings, especially after additions were built to cope with the growing family. The long verandah extending the full length of the building proved to be an ideal location for dances. Music was supplied by Frank McGee and Ernie Moore on violin and Vern Buckmaster on accordion’. (Warm Corner by B. Moore) . Cricket was very much a part of any recreational activity which occurred during summertime in the district and Bulgar Creek fielded its own cricket team at district matches. Although organised sport was not a part of James’ life, he was a good lef-handed bowler and respectable batsman whenever he had the chance to play.

James had four brothers. Richard was the eldest, 14 years James’ senior; then William, 7 years older than James; Alexander was 2 years older and Harry was 4 years younger. Richard and William, the two older brothers, bought out the family interests at Burra. Richard stayed on the Burra property until 1917, but William sold to Richard and moved on to employment at Gungahlin station in the Ginninderra area. Alexander left the land and joined the police force in 1903. Harry was to become James’s partner in their farming pursuits.

In 1907, James’s father, William, built himself a new house in Queanbeyan, on Lowe Street, to which he and Catherine retired. At this time James and Harry signed an agreement with their father to lease 'Fairvale' (867 acres). William had been at 'Fairvale' since the early 1870s when the land had first become available for lease. At 'Fairvale' wheat and oats crops were grown and wool sheep were bred. James and Harry also held the lease of their father’s 400 acres at 'Sunnybrae' on the Queanbeyan River. In the early 1900s, James and Harry had purchased their own land in the Burra district. James had 686 acres known as “The Bend” and Harry had 'Calabash', which was 1850 acres. These blocks were mostly unimproved land used for grazing in the summer.

James lived all his life at Bulgar Creek until his marriage to Minnie Frances Murty, 13.10.1913 at St. John’s Church, when he moved to the Murty home, 'Gledeswood', near Hall. James, better known as 'Jim' or 'J.C.' in his adult life, continued to work 'Fairvale' with his brother Harry. Jim’s father, William, died in January of 1913 and his mother, Catherine, died in 1914. Harry and Emily continued to live at Fairvale for a number of years.

Jim and Minnie started married life with a baby already part of the family. Minnie was caring for Walter Murty, the baby son of her brother, John, who died in 1912 as a result of an accident. Walter’s mother, Daisy, was unable to cope with single parenthood and had left Walter in the care of Minnie. Also living at 'Gledeswood' were Minnie’s father, Donald Murty and his brother Jim. Jim Murty was often away either working as a shearer or as a hauler of goods.

Jim and Minnie’s first child, Harold Colin (known all his life as Colin) was born in 1914. A year later, there were three little boys in the family when Donald McKenzie was born. In 1917, Marjorie Catherine was born, followed by Minnie Helen Kathleen (known as Helen) in 1920 and Curtis James Bass in 1922. With the growth in the family came improvements to the homestead at 'Gledeswood'. The home which had started out as a slab hut in the 1870s became a fine residence in the 1920 when additions were made to the improvements started in 1913.

Jim and Minnie’s children all attended the Hall school, which opened in 1911, for the first seven years of their education, then the boys went on to two more years schooling at Telopea Park School. The girls attended Church of England Girls Grammar School in Canberra as boarders. Walter went to school at Fort Street Boys School in Sydney and later in 1931, took up a position as a teacher at Telopea Park School. Walter purchased a car when he started work at Telopea and was able to transport Donald and other local boys to school each day.

Minnie was frequently heard to say that ‘Jim was sending boys to do man’s work’ and maybe she was right, although hard work was how Jim had been brought up by his own father. When Jim decided to move his flocks from 'Fairvale' to 'Gledeswood' in the early 1920s, Walter, at 9 years of age, was considered old enough to assist. The trip took two days and the first night they camped in the Coppins Crossing area. They finally reached 'Gledeswood', late on the second night of their trip. (Gledeswood Memories by W. Murty)

In 1926, Jim and Harry bought Block 34 from McCarthy and the Belconnen Block from Palmer. The brothers named their new land ‘Glenmoor’. Jim also bought property north of 'Gledeswood' at Nanima creek about 12 miles by road from 'Glenmoor'. With the purchase of 'Glenmoor', Jim and Harry ceased to lease 'Fairvale', which had been resumed by the Federal Government in 1912, and also relinquished lease rights to several other paddocks in the Yarrolumla area to which they had had short term rights. Harry and Emily left 'Fairvale' to live in the newly constructed house at 'Glenmoor'.

The land at 'Glenmoor' was considered to be 1st class grazing land but also suitable for dual purpose farming. As a breeder of strong Merino wool, Jim went as far away as South Australia to purchase rams. One of the early trips is well remembered by Don. The trip was made by Jim, his friend Dudley Kruger and Don, in the Buick Tourer, and was weeks in duration. Travel by car was slow due to the poor condition of roads. Don remembers the outward trip was to “Koonoona” stud, near Burra, in South Australia with the return via Melbourne, well over two thousand miles. The family made buying trips to South Australia for many years, the last trip being in the early 1960s. ‘The 'Koonoona' stud was known for breeding the strongest, most robust-woolled stud flocks, suitable to the harshest of environments’. (Massey, ‘The Australian Merino') These large framed, strong wool sheep were quite unpopular with the local shearers.

In the 1920s it was possible to hire your own shearing gang. One year, J.C. decided he would do his own contracting and would thus be able to set the standard of work he desired. Shearers were mostly hired from Queanbeyan. Following the first week in which there were a number of hirings and firings one shearer, who obviously had made the grade, was heard to comment ;’I would do better running a taxi service between Queanbeyan and Glenmoor than I am shearing! (D.Moore)

As Jim’s sons grew they were encouraged by their father to work on their cricket skills and the two older boys and Walter, were to become known in the district as talented sportsmen. Don says that ‘Jim considered Walter to have considerable cricketing talent and when Walter was a student of Fort St. Boys School in Sydney, Jim paid Walter’s fare home each weekend in order that Walter could play for the Manuka Cricket team’. Colin and Don were bowlers on the Hall cricket team which won the A.C.T. Premiership three years in a row, from 1927 – 1929. Ironically, Walter was on the defeated Manuka team in 1927 and again in 1929. Colin and Don also played Aussie Rules for many years for Ainslie Football Club and were on the Premiership Ainslie team in 1936. Jim was a Patron of Ainslie Football Club. Curtis also played football for Ainslie.

Sporting prowess was not the exclusive preserve of the boys in the Moore family. Daughter, Marjorie, was to rise to great heights as a cricketer. Marjorie was captain of the N.S.W. Country team for a number of years and was named captain of the Touring Australian team in the late ‘30s, although sickness prevented her touring.

Two sons, Donald and Curtis volunteered for service in the Armed Forces during the Second World War. Donald saw service in Egypt, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and New Guinea between 1941 and 1945; Curtis served in Darwin. Minnie was always very proud of the special pin given to the mothers of serving men and wore the pin constantly.

Jim took an active part in local affairs. He was an active member for many years of the F.C.T. Pastoral and Agricultural Society, who honoured him with a Life Membership upon his retirement. The Moore and Murty families had always been strong supporters of their religion and regular attendance at church was a part of the upbringing of all the children. J.C. was a driving force behind the financing and construction of St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church, at Hall, which was officially opened in 1948. In the book St. Michael and all Angels by Neil Manton, the following was noted by the Rector of the day: “Even so, the completion of the church was not without difficulties. In particular, problems arose in obtaining necessary materials…but by the patience and persistence of a faithful Hall churchman, James Courtney Moore, these problems were overcome”. Upon completion of the building, J.C. Moore, along with his son, Colin, served as churchwardens for a number of years.

Retirement in 1951 took Jim and Minnie to Manly but not away from the running of the properties. Colin and Don were now responsible for the management of “Glenmoor” and Curtis looked after the interests at 'Gledeswood'. Jim regularly phoned his sons on Friday night for a report of the week’s activities and always spent part of each shearing season at 'Glenmoor'. Many changes had taken place in farming during Jim’s tenure in the district – from horses to automobiles! His land was known for producing good quality strong Merino wool and Hereford cattle.

Sadly, Minnie passed away in Manly in June of 1961, followed by Jim in June of 1962. Their passing was mourned by their five children and their spouses, and eighteen grandchildren. They had led a long and fruitful life serving their family, church and community. Both Jim and Minnie are buried at St. John’s Church, Canberra.

Children of William and Catherine Moore were:

Elizabeth Louisa, 17.8.1864 (Mrs.William Hardy);
Richard, 1.1.1867 (Helen Hadden);
Sarah Jane, 21.1.1869 (Mrs.Edward Oldfield);
Margaret Courtney, 21.8.1871 (Mrs.George Gribble);
William, 19.10.1874 (Annie McInnes), all born at 'Warm Corner', Burra;

Alexander, 22.5.1879 (Caroline Luscombe);
James Courtney, 29.12.1881 (Minnie Murty);
Henry McKenzie, 20.2.1885 (bachelor);
Catherine Bass, 17.7.1888 (died as a baby);
Emily Ruth, 25.6.1890 (spinster), all born at 'Fairvale', Bulgar Creek.

[Kindly contributed by Kay Jones (nee Moore)]

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