Alexander was born in Banffshire, Scotland in 1837 to James and Elizabeth Croll. As a youth he learned the trade of shipwright. According to his apprenticeship testimonial he was attentive, obedient, sober, industrious, honourable and a good workman. During his apprenticeship he shared quarters with another youth named John Wright, the pair ultimately shared life and business together.
In 1855 Alexander followed his trade to many places around the globe including Rangoon and Quebec. He and Wright had planned to work in New Zealand but the disruption of trade due to the Maori Wars saw them make their way to NSW. Their attempts at panning for gold in the Snowy River were unsuccessful so they ventured to the Myall Lakes district. Here they took up pit-sawing and worked for Duncan MacCrae’s mill at Boolambayte Creek. At this time Alexander married Eliza Jane MacKay in 1867.1
Both men continued working with MacCrae until 1872, when Croll, Wright and a third partner John Rodger started the first saw mill at Bungwahl. Two years later Wright moved to set up his business at Tuncurry while Rodger eventually moved to Laurieton. The Bungwahl mill grew and prospered and Alexander’s sons eventually joined the business. Alexander’s health suddenly deteriorated in 1917 and he passed away aged 82.2
His funeral took place at Bulahdelah with his coffin being conveyed 19 miles by river launch to the wharf at Bulahdelah. 32 employees formed a passageway as his remains were taken to the Church of England where the service took place. It was the largest funeral ever seen in the district at the time.3
Author: Marilyn Boyd
1 NSW BDM, Marriage Index No. 2939/1867.
2 NSW BDM, Death Index No. 12240/1917.
3 Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 22 August 1917, 2.