Reverend George Davidson Buchanan (1853 - 1920) - One time Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in the Colony of Queensland
George Davidson Buchanan was born 9 November 1853, Oskaloosa, Iowa, USA, the son of Mr. George Davidson Buchanan, a merchant. He grew up in Virginia.
He received a BA from Waynesburg College, Pennsylvania and subsequently trained for and practiced as an attorney in Ohio for a short period.
In pursuit of a ‘higher’ calling, he entered the Western Theological Seminary at Allegheny, Pennsylvania in 1876, and graduated and was ordained 1879. He married Martha Elizabeth “Mattie” Banks and they had two sons, James Andrew (1878) and George Arthur (1880).
He initially was called as the minister at Aisquith-street Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, Maryland.
In 1883, he was called to the Cairns Memorial Presbyterian Church, corner of Powlett and Hotham Streets in East Melbourne, Victoria.
After a very successful period of ministry, he accepted a call to the Wickham-terrace Presbyterian Church, Brisbane, Queensland in 1889, where he remained until 1897. During this time he travelled to Scotland and Ireland in 1892-3 to recruit Presbyterian ministers for the Colony of Queensland, and was the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in the Colony of Queensland in 1894. While at Wickham-terrace, he had a very successful ministry; however, it was marred by significant church disputes over his adoption of ‘Higher Criticism’.
In 1898 he was called to the Presbyterian Church in Goulburn and despite a call to a Sydney church in June 1899, he ceased to be a minister of the Presbyterian Church on 22 Oct 1900.
In 1901 and 1902 he was the minister at the Church of the People in Subiaco, Western Australia. During his time in Perth he became increasingly involved with Democratic Socialism.
In late 1902 he was called to South Africa and farewelled from the Church of the People on 20 October 1902.
In Cape Town, South Africa, he was reputed to be a ‘freelance ecclesiastic with Socialist views’. His church was called The Opera House. It was at this time he used the title Doctor of Philosophy. It is not clear when he undertook this degree.
What happened to him in South Africa unclear but at some stage he returned to the USA and died 13 November 1920 Portland, Oregon,USA.
His wife, “Mattie”, died at Manly, NSW on 1 Jul 1931 aged 71 years. It is unclear whether she travelled to Western Australia, South Africa or the USA with George Davidson Buchanan.
His older son, James died in Derby, Western Australia 1901.
His younger son trained as a doctor at the University of Sydney. Dr. George Arthur Buchanan had a general practice in Goulburn from 1911 to 1936 and he died at Manly, NSW on 13 May 1946. In 1913 at Goulburn, he married Dulcie Nea J. McCallum (b 1889, Goulburn, NSW– d 1972 St Leonards, NSW). They had three daughters:
Banksie Jean BUCHANAN (1914-2005) who married Michael Leonard Devaney McKEON in 1947 QLD and live at 74 Woongarra St, Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia in 1954.
Melva Joan "Pam or Peggy" BUCHANAN (1917 – 1988) married James HAMMOND in 1942 NSW and lived West Plains, Forbes, New South Wales, Australia in 1954.
Norma Helen BUCHANAN (youngest daughter) married Alonzo Elliott BROWN in 1946 and have no further record in Australia. The engagement notice in the paper advised that Alonzo was a temporary Sargent and that his parents lived at Snowhill, Marryland USA. Norma and Alonzo returned to the USA in 1946 and in 1980 were living in Fort Meyers Beach, Florida.
Reverend George Davidson Buchanan is remembered because of his success as a Minister and leadership as a Moderator of the Presbyterian Church.