Archibald Currie's Obituary

I have typed out Archibald Currie's obituary onto this page; there is an illustrated biography on a separate page.

Lismore Northern Star, 12th April 1916 -


A life of great usefulness and energy was brought to a close early on Tuesday morning of last week by the death of Archibald Currie about two months before he had attained his eighty-ninth birthday.  Sixty three years of residence on the Richmond River with the hardships and privations of the early days had failed to deprive him of robust health in his old age and in spirit and body he was hale and hearty right up to a week last Saturday, when a weakness came over him to which he slowly and peacefully succumbed.  He was a native of Dunoon, Argyleshire (Scotland) and he came to Australia 63 years ago as one of the crew of a sailing vessel.  Very shortly after his arrival in Sydney he sailed with a captain named Charlie Currie, no relation to him, for Ballina, then the solitary and rarely visited entrepot of the great scrub which stretched away for mile upon mile, unbroken and forbidding.  Timber getting was the sole attraction in this wild part and it was only the dauntless who saught a livelihood in the rugged forest where white man's foot had scarcely trodbut it was here that the venturesome young Scotsman, full of vigor and ambition, staked his fortune.  Abandoning the seafaring career he became a cedar getter on the lower Richmond, hewing down large quantities of this valuable timber between Ballina and Wardell.  After two years of roving amongst the wilderness of trees he went to Sydney and was married to Susan Hutchison, who came out from Dundee, and whom he brought back with him to the North.  In the time that he had spent on the Richmond he had come across the promising rendezvous of timber getters at the confluence of two creeks where there now stands the flourishing city of Lismore, and he saw the possibilities of the place and, with his wife he started the first store in Lismore near what is now the racecourse, carrying on, besides, considerable trade in cedar.  This establishment together with the natural conveniences of the situation from a timber getting point of view and as a distributing centre was responsible for the growth of quite a prosperous little settlement and twenty-one years later - about forty years ago - increasing business justified him in building what was then a pretentious store in Bridge street.  The identical building is still standing and the business is carried on by his son, Mr J.R.Currie, whilst next door to it he erected the house in which he resided right up to about three weeks ago when he moved into a new house which was erected on the adjoining allotment.  Although not of a controversial disposition Mr Currie was a consistent advocate and worker for all that made for the advancement of the town and district and for the well-being of its people.

The municipal administration that Lismore had in its early days is often referred to with pride, but it is but few ratepayers today who know how much they really owe to those who took upon themselves the arduous task of laying the foundations of Lismore as a town.  It required a vast amount of foresight and sagacity in those days, not to mention constant energy, to fill the responsible post of an alderman, and the excellent roads, the wide well laid out streets and the efficient services that the residents have enjoyed now for many years are a grand and lasting monument to the capable men who so devoted their efforts for the good of the community.  Such a man, and one to whom the deepest gratitude of the people of Lismore would have been due even though this had been the only direction in which his public spirited-ness found vent, was Archibald Currie.  Although he never aspired to the Mayoralty, the unassuming characteristics which were so charming a feature of his personality being typical of his municipal activities as any, he was a conscientious and hard working alderman who was influenced by naught but the good of the community, which he had been elected to serve.  There were only six Aldermen in the first council on the Municipality of Lismore, which we elected under the Municipalities Act of 1867 in the year 1879, and he had the distinction of being one of that number.  The full council was composed of the late Mr James Stocks, who was elected Mayor, the late Mr George Larkin, the late Mr Archibald Currie, the late Mr Edmund Coleman, and Mr Edward Walker Allingham (now of Newcastle) and Mr James Barrie, who still resides in Lismore.  The auditors for the municipality at that time had to be returned by the Electors, and the choice fell upon the late Mr John Ramsden Scoks and Mr Vincent John Norris, who still resides in the town, and reached the ripe age of 95 years on March 10th last.  Mr Currie remained in the Council till 1882 and was re-elected in 1885, retiring permanencly in February 1888.  While in and out of the Council he took a keen pioneering interest in the municipality and, like the other aldermen of that period, his energies were far from being confined to flights of rhetoric.  If assistance was required in the making of a road, the building of a bridge, or other public work there was no man more ready to do his part than he was.

Mr Currie was a justice of the peace for the State, and he was a man who was thoroughly trusted and respected by all who knew him.  He was an active and valuable member of the Presbyterian Church in Lismore, and for many years an elder.  He took a prominent part in connection with the erection of the old church, now used as a school room, and considering this was over thirty years ago, the substantial nature of the structure is evidence of the foresight of those who had to do with it.  Another institution which enjoyed his special sympathy and assistance was the Lismore District Hospital.  He was a member of the first committee of the institution, and continued to occupy this position till 1914, when he resigned, having occupied the presidential chair two years.  He was one of the trustees for the establishment of the institution, a great worker, a great giver, and a loyal supporter at all times.  He was made a Mason on May 28th 1879, being an early member of the Lodge under the English constitution at Lismore, which was afterwards brought under the New South Wales Constitution, and known as Lodge 77 (Richmond River).  He was a regular attendant till recent years and worked his way up until he attained the highest honor that the lodge could bestow, being that of its Worshipful Master.  He was one of the foundation and an active supporter of the Lismore Agricultural and Industrial Society.  A temperate and industrious man, he occupied the highest official positions in the local lodge of the Sons of Temperance.  Five years after he came to the district he was followed by his only brother, Mr Duncan Currie, who also was for some time engaged in cedar getting and ultimately took up farming, calling his farm after that of his birth place, Dunoon, a name adopted and still retained for the adjacent village.  It is said that ever since the brothers came together on the river they were scarcely ever more than an hour's call away from each other, and they were hardly ever more than a week without seeing each other, but it unhappily occurred that Mr Duncan Currie had gone to Sydney for the purpose of undergoing an operation just before his brother became unwell and was consequently unable to be with him at the last.  With this exception all the members of the family were with him for a day or two before the end.  As reported in these columns recently, Mr Currie was laid to rest beside his wife, who died 19 years ago, and his daughter Elizabeth, who died 24 years ago, in the North Lismore cemetery, of which he was a trustee from the time that it was taken over by the Government up to two years ago.  He is survived by two sons and five daughters, namely Messrs Peter and J. R. Currie, Miss Jessie Currie, and Mesdames W.W.Wotherspoon, H. McClean (Byron Bay), J.Cohen and J. Fredericks.

A readers letter appeared around the same time:

"Old Timer" Casino writes - "The passing away of Mr A Currie, one of the real pioneers of this district and a worthy man, also a member of Lismore's first municipal council, recalls one or two remarkable errors of local history I have observed in your paper of late.  Some months ago, speaking at a presentation on the Bowling Green, in the ecuberance of language incidental to the occasion, your ex-mayor, Mr White, declared that the recipient (Mr Jas Barrie) was the only surviving member of the first Lismore municipal council.  Quite recently in your complimentary reference to Ald C. McKenzie assuming office as mayor, there is a reference to "the late (Alderman) E Allingham".  I am presuming that the material or "copy" was furnished by the present mayor, and also that Mr White was correctly reported, as I never read his repudiation of the statement attributed to him.  Such errors are all the more remarkable coming from the source they do - two old residents who ought to be better informed.  Until Mr Curries death there were three surviving members of the first council, viz. Messrs A Currie, J Barrie and E.W. Allingham (who was on a visit to this district last Christmas).  The other members of the first council (1879) were the last Messrs. Jas Stocks, G Larkin and E Coleman.  Mr White is always so ready to correct others whom he deems in error that I hope he will take kindly to this bump.  I have written that Mr Currie was one of the "real pioneers" coming here, I believe about the time the late Edmund Ross and Edmund Coleman did - about 1855.  To your scribe who followed in their wake it is often amusing to read in district papers of the "passing of a pioneer" - a man who came here from, say, the South Coast, thirty years ago; the "breaking of one of the few remaining links with the chain connecting the present with the past" etc etc.  Allow me to say right here that the pioneers of the Clarence, the Richmond, and the Tweed, were the men who came here in the forties, fifties, sixties and early seventies.  A few of them still remain - men like C Griffith, E Howell Senr, W Yabsley, J Barrie, S Garrard, W H Smith (Wollongbar), V C Norris and a few others.  In the case of many of the subjects of these obituary notices the real pioneers were in their graves long before these dreamt of leaving the South Coast.  If the men of thirty years residence constitute "the pioneers" then we have an endless chain.     

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