Saturday, 10 May 2014

What Did Your Ancestors Do? – Shepherd Family Carriers in the Braidwood District

Lynn Shepherd III Bullock Team in the Main Street of Braidwood taking boiler to Araluen

In my last post "Visiting Past Connections- a Reflection on the Influence of the Gold Rush on our Family History" I mentioned that my father’s family were involved in the carrier business in the Braidwood district. Last week, quite by coincidence,  I received a phone call from a cousin who advised me that Braidwood was celebrating their Back to Braidwood 175 Years”.  Deciding that this was too good an opportunity to miss, I made plans to return to Braidwood for the celebrations.  Seven generations of the Shepherd family have lived and worked in the Braidwood District since the late 1840’s and it was a good chance to catch up with relatives and follow up on some family tree research.

Braving a cold wet drizzly day, my sister and I set out to join the community to celebrate 175 years of the old gold mining town of Braidwood.  We had a wonderful day watching the parade which featured modes of transport through the times, even a bullock waggon hauled along by  a band of very content cattle.  During the parade there was a re-enactment of the  local bank being held up by a band of whip cracking bush rangers on horseback.  However, the display that really caught my attention was organised by (coincidentally) another distant cousin in the old Braidwood paper shop.  This display featured over 500 large photos of local families and their connection with local industry.  The Shepherd family featured strongly in this display with amazing pictures of the family members and their involvement in the carrier industry. Photos and a description of my return to Braidwood can be found in my recent post "Thankful Thursday - Back to Braidwood 175 Year Celebration".

A little back ground history on the Shepherd family.  (This is very abridged as the Shepherd Family branches now spread far and wide).  Lynn David Shepherd(I) (1795-1845) came to Australia with his wife Elizabeth Mariner and family in 1825 as a member of the Veteran Corps. When he retired from the regiment he was given an allotment of land at Bongbong.  Following Lynn Shepherd I’s death the family moved to the Araluen a gold  mining settlement in the Braidwood district. Elizabeth Shepherd remarried Richard Chappel in 1848 in Braidwood and they continued to live in the Araluen district until their death.  Initially the family were attracted by farming and mining for gold, however they soon recognised that there was an opportunity to provide carting services within the community and out to other centres such as Goulburn and Nelligen.*  
Lynn and Elizabeth's sons, followed by their grandsons worked together, helping each other in the carrying and logging business, transporting wool, gold, timber, mining equipment and stores between the various settlements, gold fields and even as far as Sydney.
The carriers played an important part in supporting and establishing the economy of the district carrying goods to the mining settlements and in later years the timber cutting industries, carrying produce such as timber, wool to the commercial hubs of Goulburn or to Nelligen for shipment to Sydney as well as the transport of mining equipment and boilers between mining centres.  This was a tough way to make a living, camping by the side of the road and travelling on substandard roads that were no more than dirt tracks.  The road over the Clyde Mountain from Braidwood down to Nelligan was particularly hazardous, with many horse teams coming to grief over the side of the mountain. 
Shepherd Brothers resting before taking their teams over the Clyde Mountain
The horse teams and bullock waggon teams were critical to the survival of the early settlers in the remote outlying areas of this area. They travelled along the tracks through all types of weather, some coming to grief as they traversed the precarious roads. One such incident is described "On the evening of October 11th, 1915, the 11 horse team of Johnny Rogers went over the precipitous side of the Clyde Mountain road, near Cabbage Tree Creek.  In the morning all except for 2 horses were found dead.  Such a tragic accident was nothing new in the history of the district, as the steep mountain ridges and flooded rivers and creeks had been a danger and a barrier since the first days of settlement."** 

They travelled through dust, snow and floods with mud up to the axle of their waggon.  One of these hazardous journey's is described in my blog about Angus Shepherd "Angus Shepherd - A story from TROVE"

Searching through TROVE  there are numerous articles that mention the exploits of the Shepherd Family  and other carriers of the district, describing their arduous journey's, pulling extremely heavy loads and providing much needed supplies for those in the outlying areas.

There are many many stories to tell about the escapades, hardships and adventures that were experiences generations of the Shepherd family in the Braidwood district. They lived in a colourful and exciting time, a time of bush rangers, gold mining and discovery.  They along with the other carriers of the district played an important and pivotal role in the settlement of the district.  

I am sure others have some interesting stories to relate about their ancestors and the industries and work they were involved.  It would be great to hear some of these tales!!!

Waggon fully laden with sSupplies at Nelligen on the Clyde River - ready to make the journey over the Clyde Mountain to Braidwood.
* The Shepherd Book, (2001) compiled by Helen Jamieson.
**Braidwood Heritage (1983) Historical Photos and text by Netta Ellis, p.46.


  1. Another informative and most interesting post. I have mainly farming stock as ancestors although there are also railway plate layers, publicans, policemen, carters, lighthouse keepers, milliners and ironworkers. I have found their occupations mainly from marriage and death certificates. I have been led off on wild goose chases a couple of times when following leads from family recollections. This has been because the family member concerned has been told something like 'He had a position with British Rail' and assumed that the position was an important one when actually it was a rather menial one.

  2. A wonderful post and great images. A great example that we need to mine those documents for occupations and then look up what many of them meant at that time. Oftentimes in the USA, directories an occupation is listed which helps between those census dates.

  3. thanks, searching our family's occupations does give us more of a sense of who they were, and in the case of what tied the together as a family.


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