Robert Laidlaw, son of William and Rachel (née Andison) Fletcher was born on 7 July 1844 at Morbattle, Roxburgh in Scotland. He arrived in Victoria aboard the Six Sisters in January 1853 with his mother, father, sisters and brother. Shipping records show their ages were:
William — 33
Rachel — 31
Robert — 8
Margaret — 5
Janet — 3
John — 1
He married Mary Harriet, daughter of John and Mary (née Hay) Hensley of Mount Moriac, on 5 June 1873. He became a Barrabool Shire councillor, serving from 1871 until 1886 and 1896 until 1916. He was appointed a justice of the peace for the Southern Bailiwick on 19 December 1881 and on 11 July 1885.
He died on 24 July 1918 at the age of 76 at Ewerby in Mount Moriac and was buried in the Church of England section of the Mount Moriac Cemetery. Mary died at the age of 85 and was buried on 17 November 1942 in an unknown location at the Mount Moriac Cemetery.
In 1875 the families moved to the Shepparton area. John took up a selection at Tallygaroopna and Matilda took up the allotment next to it. John and Mary retired from farming in 1890 and moved into a small cottage in Shepparton where John died on 8 May 1998. Mary died on 29 August 1904 at the home of her daughter at Tallygaroopna. They were both buried in a family grave at Shepparton Cemetery.
A book written by Bob Argus traces the Argus family back to villages in Devon and Cornwall, where the family name was Hargest. The difficulties of his ancestors are described in interesting detail. They were very early settlers of this district where three of John Argus' children married three of Lawrence Trewin's. In the mid 1870s the families shifted to the Shepparton area to gain more land and a better future. Although the book is written as a story it includes maps, documents and family trees.
The Bible Christian Ebenezer Chapel, Sandlands Road (now Hendy Main Road), Mount Moriac was opened with a service on Christmas Day 1856. This was followed by a tea provided by the ladies at 5pm. The cost of the 24 x 18 feet building was £190 of which £120 had already been raised. The tea raised an extra £30. It was built on the west side of Hendy Main Road, north of Colac Road.
On 24 August 1869 church services were disrupted by six lads between the age of twelve and fifteen years who threw rotten eggs and stones at worshippers and into the church. John Argus, who was attending the meeting was struck by a rotten egg.
In 1952 working bees were held to clear away the stone from the original church that had been erected in 1860. As the old church was unsafe after the recent storm damage it was decided to rebuild the new church on the foundations of the old church. Built of Mount Gambier limestone, the cost was £5000. The old steeple was incorporated into the new design. It was hoped to find records of the laying of the foundation-stone (31 October 1858) in a bottle inserted into one of the stones, but this did not happen.
The new church was not as large as the old one which had beautifully carved doors and windows. When it was erected in the early 1860s there was also a presbytery and school. It had been built to serve a much larger population. The Mount Moriac country was once thickly populated. Evidence of this could be seen from the number of deserted and decaying houses fifty years ago. The blocks were relatively small and as families grew the settlers found they could not make ends meet. These farmers often shifted to remote areas where blocks were larger such as in the Wimmera.
A large proportion of the earliest settlers in Mount Moriac were Catholic and as this was the only Catholic church between Geelong and Colac parishoners flocked to it. It was reported that the stone used in the construction of the first church was faulty, and on many occasions the church had to be repaired. In 1869 the walls, erected at a cost of £4,500, were cracking and needed a large amount of money to make them secure. This damage was caused by the loose manner in which the foundation was put in. Alterations were again carried out in 1887. Damage to the church in that year included broken slates, and the destruction of the large stained glass western window which was shattered by a furious hailstorm. In 1929 leadlight windows were broken by someone throwing stones.
In February 2017 more than 200 people watched at the auction when the property was sold for $605,000 to a local buyer.
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