John Maxwell with the graves of his forebears, with one being 140 years old, on a property in Upper Kangaroo Creek.
John Maxwell with the graves of his forebears, with one being 140 years old, on a property in Upper Kangaroo Creek. Caitlan Charles

Family restores 140 years of history

IN THE heat of the day, on a property at Upper Kangaroo Creek, six men worked to restore a part of their family history.

Two graves, which lay in ruins, one as old as 140 years, connected John Maxwell, Stan Pitkin, Ken Ellem, Bradley and John McLennan, and Mitch Pitkin to their forebear, James Maxwell.

James came to Australia from Scotland in 1853 with his wife Janet, and their children Mary, Johanna, Thomas, Jane and Elizabeth.

The family travelled to Moredun Station in New England for work before settling in Nymboida and then Kangaroo Creek at the family property, Maxwelton.

John Maxwell, Stan Pitkin, Ken Ellem, Bradley and John McLennan and Mitch Pitkin restore their family graves on a property in Upper Kangaroo Creek.
John Maxwell, Stan Pitkin, Ken Ellem, Bradley and John McLennan and Mitch Pitkin restore their family graves on a property in Upper Kangaroo Creek.

It was James Maxwell's direct descendants repairing his grave on Sunday, and that of his wife Janet, who had died in 1877.

Yamba resident John Maxwell grew up in Upper Kangaroo Creek, near Maxwelton.

"(The grave) was always there and my forebear died 140 years ago on the third month of this year and we used to see it, we used to see it falling to disrepair," Mr Maxwell said.

"It just got to a point where it really started to worry us.

"I have another two friends who are distant relatives of the same people and likewise, they felt really bad about the disrepair.

"So we just said 'no, come on, we've got to fix this'."

The graves, now virtually unreadable, had fallen over and one had sunk into the ground.

"The cattle used to rub up on the fence ... in the end both headstones had fallen, so we rebuilt it all," Mr Maxwell said.

 

At one point, Mr Maxwell said there were a number of people living in the Grafton area.

"There are a lot of Maxwells, but in the last 20 years or so, I don't think there is one Maxwell left in Grafton," he said.

"At some point in time there were probably 30 or 40, from six or seven different groups, grandparents and aunts and uncles, but they've all gone."

At the cemetery in South Grafton, Mr Maxwell said there were quite a few Maxwells buried.

"There is a whole corner there where there are 15 graves that were all (Maxwell descendants)," he said.



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