Aberdeen Press & Journal, 11 February, 1999
Your story on “The forgotten emigration’’ (Press and Journal, February 4) brought to mind accounts of my own family history in Patagonia.
My father had been among the first of the pioneer settlers in that part of the world, having first gone to the Falklands as a shepherd in 1884. He crossed to Patagonia in 1891, basing himself on land owned by another shepherd from the Falklands, and then going on expedition on horseback to look for land of his own. The land was so deserted that on one such journey with a few companions, he covered 450 miles in six weeks without seeing another human being. After seven years, he found some suitable land within 100 miles of his base, returned there, and drove his flock of sheep north to found the farm, which he called Estancia Bahia Laura. On modem maps of the area, there is a valley called Canadon Anderson, which is probably one of his resting points on the journey. The farm buildings were very primitive, for there was no decent timber to be had, and wells were dug because there was no good surface water.
In 1908, he purchased materials from Britain to put up proper buildings, including two two-storey dwelling houses, one for his brother’s family, who joined him from Scotland. The farm was sold in 1924 and is owned currently by a family of Spanish origin, but the original dwelling houses looked much the same when visited in 1992, preserved because two-storey buildings were so unusual in Patagonia in the pioneering days. Also preserved in the house were some old documents of my father’s, dated back to 1907 As he was a keen photographer, I still have many negatives dating from around 1908 onwards, including a fine one of a dance in the open at the farm about 1912.