5. Louis and Cunnamulla

First the history:

Louis George Darchy was born at “Gelam” in 1859 or 60 and must have had a happy carefree childhood under the shelter of his older brothers and sister, and with a younger brother George to play with. He entered Scotch College on 3 March 1871 when he was about eleven.  He left after a few years after winning a prize ….  but re-entered with his youngest brother George Thomas on 5 April 1875.  He was a member of the First XI in 1877, the year his father died – yet another of the Darchy boys to show great prowess at cricket.

Early photos show a sensitive young man, full of hope and eager to experience life to the full. Initially he would have been very much a young gentleman of leisure, with “Oxley” and other family leaseholds running well under his elder brothers and brother in law Thomas McFarland.

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The second photo is believed to show Louis (standing) and most likely George (seated) and would have been taken about 1880.

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Louis married Helen Murray Brown at “Tuppal” near Deniliquin on 3 July 1883.  Two years later they had a little son Thomas Rutherford Darchy in June 1885, but sadly Helen died of ‘phthisis’ (TB) on 10 September that year and the baby eight days later on 18 September, both at “Tuppal”.

Perhaps in an effort to drown his sorrows Louis went overseas and joined his sisters Susan and Rose Ann, most likely with their mother Susan. According to a Court Circular published in The Times he was presented to the Queen at Aix-les-Bains  on 18 April 1885 together with his sister Susan.

Louis returned home alone on the ‘Carthage’ in December 1885; the ladies on the ‘Massilia’ in Feb 1887.

Louis married his second wife Anna Nina (“Nina”) Doherty in March 1895 at Wentworth NSW, near “Tarcoola.”  It was the time of the bank foreclosures and it is not certain whether “Tarcoola” was still in Darchy hands. It is doubtful Louis was leading an affluent life at that time. Nina had been governess to Louis’ brother Michael’s children Amey Maude (later Murray) and Frances “Jig” (later Killen), and their brother Tom, when the family were living in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area.

Louis and Nina’s daughter Nina Lillian was born 1897 in Mildura.  Another daughter Nancie died as a baby in 1900.

The marriage was not a particularly happy one and after the children were born the couple mostly lived apart although Nina did join Louis for the last four years of his life.

Louis wrote to his daughter:

Yanna Station 20 June 1909.  ((In Paroo Shire, Qld – off the Mitchell Highway near Wyandra.)

My darling little daughter,

Your letter of June 13th came to hand on Saturday telling me of the nuns having received a letter from Mt. T Darchy of Headingly Station (Dick Darchy, father of Vada and Betty). Well my pet he is your cousin, my nephew. I have often spoken to you of my brother Frank, well this Tom Darchy is his son and it was to him that the Cloncurry post office people sent my missing letters and he knowing I was here kindly sent them on so all have arrived as I wrote to the good nuns when I received them for I did not like for them to have any doubt on the subject. Well by the time you get this note (for note it is only) you will have said goodbye to dear Mum for a while for she will leave two days before you get this unless they have an evening post delivery on Saturdays now. I hope she will have a good trip and she will arrive quite good after her long journey. …. I suppose you heard Aunt Rose is married…. (Lil was later to live with Rose for a time). 

Goodbye my pet try your hardest to learn quickly. From your loving Dad xxxxxxxxxx.

Louis was joined at “Yanna” by Nina soon after he wrote that letter. Most likely she travelled by coastal steamer from Sydney to Brisbane or Townsville, then by train or Cobb & Co. coach to Charleville.

Louis Darchy died in Charleville, Queensland on 2 January 1910. He and Nina had been working as a married couple at Yanna Station for about 6 months before arriving at Hackett’s Hotel in Charleville (which incidentally burnt down a year later). He died by strychnine poisoning, self-administered.

Back to the present (July 2016):

I have long wanted to revisit Charleville. In 1971 my first husband Geoff and I drove straight through, as i did not know the family history then. Here is a page from a booklet I published about that trip:

Dave and I visited the cemetery but it was impossible to find Louis’ grave site. Since Darch and Jan took the photo above, the cemetery has been badly flooded, probably more than once, and many grave markers displaced. It was obvious that despite careful efforts by cemetery volunteers many grave locations can probably never be determined with certainty. Louis’ remains may or may not still be there; they could have been washed away by the river. Perhaps that is where he would prefer to be.

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We visited Charleville’s Historic house Museum built in 1889. Louis would probably have visited it when it was a bank. A couple of old photographs caught my eye – these would be from Louis’ time in the area.

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A charming museum worker helped search all their photographs, and turned up the following – first, Hackett’s Hotel ….

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… and then – two photos of “Yanna” Station! Nina most likely worked as a cook so it is spine-tingling to think she just might be in the second photo.

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Here’s another old hotel, note the wide street, and the courthouse where the inquest on Louis would have been held.

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In 1910 Louis was listed in the electoral roll as being an overseer at “Clonagh” station north of Cloncurry. Here is a photo of the country near Cloncurry which I took some days after our visit to Longreach. There had been some good rain in the previous month. I imagine the country around “Clonagh” would be similar.

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