James White, Founder of Burrangong Station (15 continued).
By 1849 drought had set in and many squatters had walked off their land, the creeks were drying up and even the Lachlan River was reduced to a trickle. James White had sunk a number of wells in the Burrangong Creek and as it was one of the deepest creeks around the wells were dug deep enough to tap onto the underground springs.
The water was hauled up in buckets and poured into troughs. Sarah, John Whites’ daughter, and her friend Jane worked ten hours a day filling the troughs with water from the wells and thereby managed to save many of Uncle James’ sheep and cattle. Many of the other creeks were full of dead and dying cattle. Many trampled to death in a desperate bid for water.
Sarah Cowell was concerned about her daughter Keziah and the children over at Rossi Creek. James decided to send a stockman over with enough supplies to see them through.
Despite the assistance with supplies Keziah did not survive through the drought and died in 1850 and was buried in the Burrangong cemetery near James White’s homestead.
Swankett sold his Rossi Creek licence and Sarah Cowell stayed in William Gardener’s house with Thomas Swankett.
The drought broke in June 1852 and by this time James had lost 3000 cattle. As it often does after a drought the rain did not stop and severe flooding was the result.
Eighteen year old Sarah White was invited to the Bland Station by Mrs. Perfect, the housekeeper, to help out with the Regans.
During the devastating flood that followed the drought Denis Regan saved the day by swimming out and rescuing Sarah and the others from the floodwater which was surrounding the homestead.
Denis built a bark hut on top of a nearby sand hill in which they survived for six days until the water subsided.
Denis and Sarah formed a strong relationship after this and Denis eventually asked Sarah to marry him. Denis and Sarah were married at Yass on October 16, 1853.
On December 4 of the following year Sarah’s sister Eliza married Denis’ brother William. Denis continued to manage The Bland Station and William took over the management of the adjoining Bland Creek Station.
The third brother Long John Regan when on to explore and map more of the land to the west. Sarah’s cousins James and Tommy took over the management of The Little Narraburra.
James White and his brother Thomas never returned to their birthplace in Van Diemen’s Land and Thomas’ holdings from Bagdad were left with Uncle James at Burrangong for safe keeping. Van Diemen’s Land was given self government in 1856 and the name changed to Tasmania.
Sarah Regan gave birth to three girls and two boys. When Sarah’s stepfather George Groves died Sarah and Denis visited Sarah’s estranged mother in Victoria.
Denis and Thomas White used the opportunity to sell 200 head of cattle on the Victorian market which was booming due to the Victorian gold rush. The rush for gold in New South Wales was not far away.
To be continued.
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