My Mother's Family

Tough Times in the Far West 

My mother's parents were married in St Paul's Church of England, Cobar, on September 29, 1910.  He was Isaac Bateman of Cobar, labourer, aged 27, born in Forbes, NSW. Father: Isaac John Bateman, miner, deceased. Mother: Margaret surname not known (deceased).

She was Barbara Thorburn (centre, in dark dress, early 1900s) of Tiltagara Station, south-west of Cobar, "private life" aged 21, born in Cobar, NSW. Father: John Thorburn, born in Woodend, Victoria on September 18,1868. Mother: Elizabeth Jane (Livingstone) who was born at Bedlington, near Newcastle-on-Tyne, UK, in 1867. Elizabeth's parents were Richard Livingstone and his wife, Sarah Winter. It appears that he was involved in the fishing (herring) industry in England. They came to Australia in 1879 at at the behest of a relative already here. After initially trying to find gold, they went into a Hansom Cab business in Sydney, Hotels in western NSW, chicken farming in western Sydney and finally kept a Store  there.

Elizabeth Jane met her husband to be,  John Thorburn, at Tiltagara Station where she was a companion to Mrs Brigstocke, wife of the owner, Charles A. Brigstocke.
Tiltagara Station was owned by the Brigstocke family until 1899 when the long drought, the problems caused by rabbits and the sudden death of Mr Brigstocke meant that the mortgagee took over the property.

In all, the Thorburn family spent  about 35 years  at  Tiltagara,  initially as employees of the owners and afterwards as caretaker/managers for the mortgagees.

Isaac and Barbara Bateman had three children: Right (seated): John (Jack), Left: Burt and Jessie (Peg) in the middle. Jack had contracted poliomyelitis as an infant. It affected his right leg rendering it useless. It is artfully disguised in this image.

By the time I was born, the Thorburn family had moved in close to Cobar where Granny Thorburn (left) very firmly ruled the roost. Her husband had died in 1922. The stable household consisted of Granny, a daughter, Mildred, and husband, her two grandsons Burt and Jack, and,  after my father died, my mother and me.
Some of my earliest memories are of this house and the things that happened there. It had a vegetable garden and small orchard tended by the Jack and Burt. I remember a large copper for washing and making soap and boiling ham. There was a tiny circular lawn, probably no more than 3 metres diameter, which was kept going with any spare water available. It must have had great sentimental value because Cobar is a very dry place.  On weekends, friends of my mother and uncles came to play tennis on the clay court.
At Christmas, other members of the family would come to stay including Granny's other surviving daughter, Sarah (Sadie), her husband, Percy Waite, and their daughter Wilma (Billie to me) who was my age and childhood confidante. Billie died on April 1, 2008 in hospital in Sydney and is buried in Nyngan, NSW, where she lived all her married life with her husband, Keith White.

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