He was immensely strong and many tales are told of his exploits. He was a skilled carpenter and cooper, and he worked for a time at Collin paper mill and at the building of Robert Maxwell's new mansion at Orchardton. He also rented parks for grazing his cattle on Torr and Collin estates, and another (rent-free) from Major Culton of Nutwood.
When smuggling was more or less stamped out, his funds gave out and the house stood uncompleted for twenty years. Then, as the story goes, a brother of his who had gone to America, sent money and the house was finally completed. It was far superior to most of the lairds' houses of the day. The house was called "Bunker Hill" because his brother was said to have fought in the battle of that name, but another story has it that the house was really called "Mount Pleasant" and it was the villagers who nicknamed it "Bunker Hill" because Johnnie and his sister Grizzel were "aye tulziein" (quarrelling). Johnnie Girr died December 21, 1833.
Adapted from a story on the Auchencairn history website (www.auchencairn.org.uk/history)