THE GORTON FAMILY
THE GORTON FAMILY
The first son of George's second marriage, born in 1833, is said to be the first child baptised (or, perhaps, the first Gorton) in St John's Church, Stroud. He was born at Wallarobba, near Dungog, after his father had left the A.A.Company's employment and taken up a lease at Main Creek. Apart from the years of early childhood when his father was Overseer of Cattle and Agriculture (having returned, at the Company's request, to that position), John lived with his parents at Main Creek. He was a keen pupil, and soon followed his father's example in acquiring expert knowledge of horses and cattle, especially their handling and breeding. John worked with his father on the grazing country leased from the company in the Stroud district, and shortly after his marriage at Main Creek, to Mary Ann Farley, on the 25th of May, 1859, his father backed him in purchasing land in John's name. This initial purchase was completed in 1861, when 100 acres on the Karuah River, at the site of the company's historic "Washpool" was acquired from the company for the sum of 270 pounds. The Washpool was established by the company in 1832 for the purpose of washing foreign matter from the fleeces of sheep to improve (it was hoped) the quality (and the price) of the wool clip. To this end and elaborate construction was built, including a rock weir across the river, as well as yards, pens, races and so on. The rocky ledge of the weir, apart from the name "The Washpool", is all that remains today. It is now a pictureque and popular picnic spot, the pool being an excellent swimming-hole. John Gorton, who became known as "Washpool John" founded a kind of dynasty there, in the family know as "the Washpool Gortons". The actual name of the property was "Glenholme Estate", the area of which continued to grow with further purchases from the company over the years. Until, George Gorton's death in 1871, the "Glenholme" property was run in conjunction with the other grazing properties held by the partnership, "George Gorton and Son", in particular the Upper Manning River runs, known as "Coneac" and "Tibbuc" Stations. After his father, George, died interstate (without having a Will), John was made Administrator of the fathers estate. The only land which George Gorton actually owned were two adjacent allotments of half-an-acre each, in Dowling Street, Dungog (the main street) which he had purchased in 1856 for 10 pounds each. It was here that John's mother had a house built, in which she lived until her death. By leasing land, George Gorton had been able to use his capital for the purchase of further cattle and horses, thereby accuring a good return on his investment in a comparitively short time. This was, of course, at a time in our history when large areas of good pastoral land were available to men of substance and good standing, at a low annual rental. John, however, like his uncle, Joseph Gorton of "Brothers", continued to consolidate his real assets by the acquistion of further parcels of land purchased from the company. According to Shire records for the year 1907, the "Washpool Gortons" held a total area of freehold land amounting to 2,168 acres, including the "Glenholme Estate" at Washpool. Indicative of John's involvement in the breeding of fine cattle and horses, is the fact the pedigree of the champion stock-horse, the mighty "Radium", includes "a Calendar mare bred by Mr John Gorton of Washpool". "Calendar" was said to be one of the finest thoroughbred horses that ever came to Autralia. He was imported from England as a stallion for the A.A.Company in 1838, and the late Mr J Penfold, one-time supervisor of the company's thoroughbred horse stud recalled seeing the great Calendar at Stroud about 1861, and described him as "a fine upstanding brown horse with two white hind feet". John Gorton's Calendar breed would have come to him by way of his father's horses, which included a number of great sire's progeny. It is also true to say, that apart from good horses, many a grazier's cattle were improved by the purchase of a Durham bull bred at "Glenholme" by John Gorton. John died in the year 1904, at the age of 71. He and his wife Mary Ann spent all their married life at their beautiful property, with its sweet grassy undulating ridges and the rich river-side flats, beside the Karuah River at Washpool. They raised a family of seven sons and one daughter, baptised Mary Dolphin (after her grandmother). Mary Dolphin Gorton married the Rev. David Morgan Benjamin, a Welshman, who was Presbyterian Minister of Dungog from 1905 to 1925. John Gorton's son, George, succeeded his father on "Glenholme". George died from injuries sustained by being gored by a bull in 1942. He was aged 81. George's son Arthur Rex (called Rex) followed on until his retirement to Stroud, where he still resides. His son, Max (Donald Max) is the present occupier of "Glenholme" and is John's great grandson.
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