|Country of Origin||Ireland|
|Date of Birth||c1849|
|Year of Arrival in Australia||c1866|
|Submitted by||Gladys Adcock|
James McQuillan was born about 1849 in Ireland, probably County Derry. He was the fourth surviving child and third son of John McQuillan and Mary Anne Kaylay (Kelly). He had two older brothers, John and Rodger, and an older sister, Helen or Ellen Mary (Mary). It is probable that the family came from the townland (i.e. rural area) of Ballynease near the small village of Clady not far from Maghera on the eastern boundary of County Derry, Northern Ireland.
James\’ father at some time set sail for America, proposing to set himself up in the land of opportunity as so many of his countrymen had done, and then send for his family to follow him. However, he died on the voyage, only a day out from New York. His eldest son, John decided to try Australia rather than America. He had friends who had made the voyage to Australia. They sent back favourable reports of the conditions in the newly self-governing colony of Queensland, so on 11 April 1863, he sailed on the ‘Rockliff’ arriving in Brisbane on 28 July, aged just eighteen. After landing, he made the long trip by bullock dray to the new municipality of Toowoomba.
He found work fencing for some of the settlers around the Toowoomba township, and, in 1864/5, when the first railway line in Queensland was being built between Ipswich and Grandchester; he obtained work on its construction. He later worked on the line from Helidon to Toowoomba. Before long he had built a house to be ready for the arrival of his mother and his brothers and his sister. They arrived about 1865. The family\’s first foray into farming in their new land was at Cabarlah, just north of Toowoomba. That farm proved too small, so when land originally taken up by Tooth brothers at Perseverance, about 30km. farther on, was opened up for closer settlement in 1871, they decided to try their luck there. The brothers and their mother selected portions 1, 2, 3, and 4 in the Crows Nest Parish. James, then about 18 years of age, selected portion 3. Five years later he selected portion 15 in the neighbouring Ravensbourne Parish. They, together with Thomas Murphy and William Ambrose, were the first selectors in the Perseverance area. All the selections would have required that a house be built, so the brothers must have built at least five houses between them. The timber for the houses was felled on the property and hauled to a pit where it was sawn with cross-cut saws. The cedar trees were too large to be hauled by the horse and dray team, so the logs were cut into manageable sizes so they could be snigged through the bush.
James married Catherine Zoeller (Kate Zeller) on 5 June 1880. Kate was the youngest of seven children of Franz Hainard (Frank John) Zoeller and Catherine Beutel. Franz Hainard Zoeller died in April 1862, and in July of that year his widow, Catherine, married William Scholmier. Their daughter, Annie Catherine Scholmier, was born about 1863. John McQuillan married Annie Catherine Scholmier in 1883. Kate Zeller, wife of James, and Annie Scholmier, wife of John, were, therefore, half-sisters.
James and Kate set about raising their growing family in the little house James had built. Rodger was born in 1881, followed over the next twelve years by James Henry, William John, Bridget, Catherine, Charles, Daniel, Patrick and Francis. In 1896, the eight-month pregnant Kate fell from a horse. The baby was lost and Kate haemorrhaged badly and died on 10 March 1896. James died in Toowoomba on 14 September 1901 from pneumonia. At the time of his death his children were aged from twenty down to eight.