Archibald McKinnon was born to Donald McKinnon and Mary McLeod at Portree on the Isle of Skye,
Scotland on 5th. April 1837
In 1840, the colony of South Australia was in its infancy, the first settlers having arrived
only 4 years earlier, and there was an urgent need for people of all trades to develop the
infrastructure and provide the labour to enable the colony to develop. Scotland was an ideal
recruiting ground for a wide variety of labourers, including agricultural labourers, shepherds,
bakers, blacksmiths, braziers and tinmen, smiths, shipwrights, boat builders, butchers,
wheelwrights, sawyers, stonemasons and many others.
Discovering the possibility of finding work in the new colony and no doubt affected by the
"lean 40's "that made life very challenging for people in Scotland at that time, Donald and
Mary set out on their journey to the new land with their young son Archibald. aged 3 years.
Accompanying them was a young man (listed on the ship's manifest with the single men) named
John mcKinnon. It is not known at this stage whether John and Donald were related, but they
could have been brothers.
Donald, a farmer, and Mary settled in Clare in the north of South Australia where they leased
land (recorded in 1853) and became farmers.
Later two more sons were born, Lochlan Alexander in 1842, and John in 1844.
The three brothers lived in Clare with their parents and, when old enough, went to work as
labourers/shepherds on the large property near Clare called Hill River Station.
Archibald continued to live and work in and around Clare until he was about 28 years old and
then it seems from records that he moved to NSW where he worked in various roles (contractor,
drover) on large properties. One such property was named "Mulara Station", on the banks of
the River Darling. He was working on this property at the time of his marriage to Helena
Johnson (a house-maid born in Brighton SA). Their marriage took place at Pooncarrie on 3rd
Following the birth of their first child, a daughter, Florence Helena, the family moved to
Wentworth NSW where their other six children were born.
Archibald did not return to Clare to live, but spent the majority of his life in NSW, which
was a period of approximately 50 years. There appears to have been limited contact with others
in his family as time went by.
There is no available information to fill out the details of this lengthy period of Archibald's
life, but considering the fact, that at his death, as at the time of his marriage, his
occupation was listed as "labourer', "contractor", or "drover": it is safe to assume that
he followed pursuits such as these during that time.
At this time there is only one anecdote available regarding Archibald, and that is that he
was a "tall man with distinctly red hair". He must also have spent long periods away from
his family following his occupation as a drover, and in fact, at the time of his wife's death
in Gawler South Australia in 1909, he was away droving and his location was unknown.
In 1912,aged 75 years, Archibald McKinnon died of a heart condition whilst staying at the home
of his son Hurtle McKinnon and his wife Myrtle, who lived at Mildura, in Victoria.
There is one puzzle regarding Archibald which until now remains unsolved, and that regards
his first-born son, Francis George. There is as yet no record found of his birth,
However, it is recorded that this little boy died on Hill River Station aged 3 years 10 months
(thus born in 1871) of Scarlatina whilst in the care of his grandmother Mary.
Although Archibald is recorded as his father, there is no mention of the name of his mother
on record of death nor any records of an earlier marriage of Archibald's.
Whilst Archibald was a not a man of property or highly educated, it seems certain that his
work as a drover was an important contribution to the life of the early colony, for without
men such as he, the important work of developing the agricultural potential of the state would
not have been realized.
Story written by
Great-granddaughter of Archibald and Helena