|Archie McLean was
born on what was to become Australia Day - the 26 January - in 1889, in
Geelong, Victoria. His only sister Sarah had died at birth, so Archie became
the middle child of three boys. With his father in his mid-fifties, and
mother steadily going blind and deaf, Archie grew up without a lot of parental
supervision, and was described many years later by his wife Mabel as 'an
urchin on the Geelong beach front'. Despite this, he was an avid reader,
and read and studied anything that came to hand - particularly the Bible,
no doubt from the example of his fiercely religious father Norman.
He became a dairy
herd husbandman, and worked for Jones's Friesan and Jersey Stud at St.
Albans near Geelong, and later managed a Friesan Stud at Sunbury for Tweedales
of Geelong. He married Mabel Gear on the 7th June 1913 at the family church
- St Andrews Presbyterian in Geelong.
Mabel was the third
child of seven, the daughter of a marriage similar to that of Archie's
parents, between a Welsh/English father and a Scots mother, both
immigrants from Britain in the gold rush years. A page on each of the Gear
and McPherson families will be on here in time. Mabel was born on 17 September
1889. Both Archie and Mabel were to retain their Scottish heritage throughout
their lives. Archie played the bagpipes, and played with the Commun Na
Feinne Pipe Band in Geelong, and won many competitions and trophies for
his piping, until an injury to his left hand cut short his piping career.
Mabel often wore the tartan, and passed on a love of Scotland to her children
After the wedding,
the pair began work as a married couple for the Hope family of Darriwell
near Moorabool, Archie as an animal husbandman, and Mabel working in the
big house. By a twist of fate - and not having any idea of this history,
their grandaughter Val (me!) was many years later engaged to marry old
Mrs Hope's grandson Tim. This relationship only lasted 3 years, and the
marriage didn't eventuate - but this bit of history rather tickled all
involved at the time, and I was teased unmercifully by my fiance! Mabel
told me of the early connection soon after we met. The classlessness of
Australian society allowed this relationship without the bat of an eyelid,
and I had been totally acccepted by the rather well-to-do Hope family.
Archie and Mabel
left their employment with Hopes when they began a family, and Archie worked
at Polar Ice Works in Geelong for 35 years, mostly delivering ice in Chilwell
and Newtown. They lived at St Albans Street, St Albans for 20 years, then
bought a house in Hope Street, off Kilgour St, East Geelong. (It's likely
that this 'Hope St' was also named after the Hope family, but I'm not certain
and Mabel's Family
||3 April 1914
||7 July 1983
|Catherine May Jane
||8 June 1916
||16 Oct 1990
||28 Sept 1919
||4 July 1945
||17 Sept 1921
||17 Aug 1958
||5 July 1926
||11 July 2003
*Note: Evelyn was
born on her mother's birthday :-)
More to be added
on these soon...
My father found Archie
to be a rather dour man - a term often used for Scots! This appears to
have largely been that no-one was good enough for the McLean girls, and
my father's credentials were very critically appraised by Archie and Mabel...
more of this on my parents page... Mabel had a wicked sense of humour,
a trait also passed on to some of her children and grandchildren! She and
her sister's squabbled over everything, but were fiercely loyal to each
other, and also supported each other through thick and thin. A close knit
family that were prepared to take on all comers, and were long in forgiving
those seen to have done any harm. This was to lead to a major rift with
my family after the death of my mother.
The final years of
Archie's life were spent in Frankston in Melbourne, Beechworth, and Stanley.
He died on the 9th September 1964 at Beechworth, but was living 10 kilometres
away at Hurdle Flat Rd. Stanley. He is buried at Geelong Eastern Cemetery
Lawn Section D25.
Mabel lived to the
age of 95, was confined to a wheelchair for the last years of her life,
after two falls had led to broken hips. She lived with her son Neil in
the house at Hope St, that had passed on to him, for many years after Archie
died. I remember visiting her on one occasion in my early teens, and being
fascinated at the lift that was set up at the entry to her granny flat
out the back that allowed her to get in and out unaided. When her care
became too difficult she entered Grace McKellor House Nursing Home in East
Geelong - where her father-in-law Norman had worked as a coachman almost
a century before. My main contact with my grandmother was in these years,
we wrote until she could not see or remember well enough to write any more,
and I remember the pleasure I took in reading her very shaky, spidery letters.
I last saw her at Grace McKellor, where she mistook me for my long-dead
mother, and took my two children, then aged 2 and 5, for a ride on her
lap in her wheelchair - pelting down the hallways, and yelling out "make
way, make way" to everyone in her path. I followed behind laughing uproariously
and somewhat afraid for my babies!
Mabel told me that
time that she "just wanted to see another Christmas", and she did. She
died on the 28 December 1984, and is buried with Archie at Geelong Eastern
Cemetery Lawn Section D25 .