Trove Tuesday: “There’s Gold in Them Hills …”...

The tiny town of Gumeracha in the Adelaide Hills is well known these days for being the home of the world’s biggest rocking horse, the annual medieval fair, and of course wines. But believe it not, at one stage, Gumeracha was well known for its goldfields. Many who have connections to the area would have heard of Watts Gully Road at Forreston (previously North Gumeracha), this was one area where gold was, and was first found by James Watts back in 1884. Dead Horse Gully is near Watts Gully Road, and this was another of Gumeracha’s gold diggings areas. For my Trove Tuesday post, I’ve found the following article which discusses the Dead Horse Gully goldfields … and for someone who didn’t know about them (yes me), I found it fasinating, so thought I’d share it with you. Note: old references to this place list is as Deadhorse Gully (two words), or even Dead-Horse Gully (with a hyphen), current day spelling is Dead Horse Gully (three words). For consistency, I’m using the three word version. From the South Australian Register, dated Saturday 14 March 1885 … THE GOLD FIND AT GUMERACHA. During the last few days large number of men have arrived at Dead-Horse Gully on the gold rush. Now nearly 100 men are working in the gully around Mount Crawford. The rush was so great that on Thurs-day Hill & Co. put on a special coach from Adelaide. The rush is at Mount Crawford, about seven miles north-east of Gumeracha. To get at the field it is necessary to turn off the main road at North Gumeracha-road and to go right through that township. For the first three miles there is a good district road, but after that there is merely a vehicle...

Emigration from England to South Australia in the 1800s...

The “Mayflower” is ‘the ship’ in US history. The first ship to transport passengers from England to the United States in 1620. 102 people, all hoping to start a new life on the other side of the Atlantic. Well, in South Australian history the “Buffalo” is the equivalent. It was one of a fleet of ships to arrive in the colony at the end of 1836. Once it arrived at Glenelg, Governor John Hindmarsh who was on board, proclaimed the establishment of government in South Australia as a British province. From then on, there was a big push to get skilled labourers from England to emigrate to the new colony, and as an enticement they were offered free passage (assisted passage). Of course there was still the option for anyone who wished to emigrate to pay their own way (known as unassisted passage), but many took up the offer of the emigration scheme, and as a result these pioneers helped make South Australia what it is today. But as with anything that’s free, there were some rules and regulations. I came across this list of rules for those wanting assisted passage in the West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser, dated 27 February 1839, and it’s truly fascinating. RULES FOR EMIGRATION The Act of Parliament declares that the whole of the funds arising from the sale of lands, and the rent of pasture, shall form an Emigration Fund, to be employed in affording a free passage to the Colony from Great Britain and Ireland for poorer persons; “provided that they shall, as far as possible, be adult persons of both sexes in equal proportions, and not exceeding the age of 30 years.” With a view to carrying this provision into effect, the Commissioners...

“Dear Friends” … Letter From an Emigrant in 1864...

So what was life like for those who emigrated to South Australia back in the 1800s? Generally you’re only likely to find this information from letters written to family or friends in the ‘old country’, or otherwise from diaries. So it was a surprise to find an article on Trove about an emigrant who not only came to South Australia, but actually settled in the tiny town of Gumeraka (note the alternate spelling of Gumeracha). Written in 1864 to some friends in England (or maybe Wales), it was produced as an article the Scotts Circular (Newport, Wales), and then in The Adelaide Express, 22 April 1865 (as reproduced below). The writer details what it was like for him and his family with housing food, work and wages, neighbours and other businesses all getting a mention. What we don’t know is who the author of the letter is. Still, it makes for an interesting read. In 1864 the town of Gumeracha was not very old, having only been laid out in the 1850s  (for more on that click here). The article starts off with “The following interesting letter has arrived from an emigrant who received a passage under Government, to South Australia.” —————————— The text below is a full transcript of the article. Note the paragraphs have been added in by me to make it easier to read. AN EMIGRANT’S LETTER. Gumeraka, Australia, September 18th, 1864. My Dear Friends, I am glad to tell you that I have got plenty of work the first day that I went on after landing, and the first master that I spoke to I  engaged to go with to go into the Bush a dray-making and waggon-making at the wheelwrighting trade, at the rate of wages I will give you, and...

My First Hannaford Family in Australia...

For Australia Day this year I decided to write about the Hannafords, who are one of my immigrating families. Or more specifically I should say, about  Susannah Hannaford (nee Elliott), who is truly the matriarch of the family, and her children. I admit I am in awe of Susannah,  in some ways anyway. She was a widow by age 48, not an easy thing for anyone, but then to pack up all of your belongings and move to the other side of the world, to a colony that had only been founded a few years before, with her six children, leaving her family, friends and whole life behind, to start again from scratch. I can’t even begin to think of what that would be like or how she managed it.  But she survived. So did her children, and now her descendants number the thousands. But let’s go back a little bit first. Back in Devon … Susannah Elliott was born in 1790 in the market town of Totnes, in Devon, England. Meanwhile the Hannaford family (the ones I’m writing about anyway), grew up just four miles away in the little town of Rattery. I mention that as the Hannaford name in Devon is much like Smith or Brown everywhere else. Hannafords are everywhere! When Susannah was 30 years old, she married William Hannaford (one from the neighbouring parish in Rattery), and who was actually a few years younger than her. Sadly William died at age 42, leaving Susannah with six children ranging in age from 17  down to 6. Devon at that time (actually probably England at that time) had limited employment opportunities, and with high taxes (land tax and window tax for instance), it would seem that emigrating...

180, and Still So Young!...

Happy Birthday South Australia! 28th of December. The day that my beautiful homestate celebrates its birthday, and today it turns 180. And while 180 is ancient in human terms, for the age of place it’s really only a baby. But even so, in those 180 years, the colony (and now State) has seen so many remarkable achievements throughout the years. But first South Australia’s birthday is officially called “Proclamation Day“, and Wikipedia says … “Proclamation Day in South Australia celebrates the establishment of government in South Australia as a British province. The proclamation was made by Captain John Hindmarsh beside The Old Gum Tree at the present-day suburb of Glenelg North on 28 December 1836.“ John Hindmarsh, who became the first governor of South Australia arrived in South Australia on the “Buffalo”, on 28th December 1836, and when he stepped ashore at Holdfast Bay (near the Old Gum Tree), he read the proclamation. Each year re-enactments of the events of South Australia’s founding are still held on the same day, by the remains of the same Old Gum Tree. The proclamation calls upon the colonists to “conduct themselves with order and quietness,” to be law-abiding citizens, to follow after industry, sobriety, and morality, and to observe the Christian religion. By so doing, they would prove to be worthy founders of a “great free colony.” You can read the full proclamation on the Adelaidia site. The People … As with any place, South Australia has many men and women of ‘note’. Those who’ve made an impact on the State  in various ways, and you’ll find many of these mentioned in the 150 Great South Australians post (see links below), but obviously the list is confined to 150, with others who...

Homeopathy and the Treasures Between the Pages!...

Homeopathy: “The study of natural therapy which stimulates the body’s immune system to restore health”. It was something that my great grandpa, J.B. Randell taught himself. Ever looked through an old book and found something slotted in the pages in between? I have. Regularly. I’ve mentioned before that my mum’s side of the family weren’t one’s to throw things out. Putting it nicely “hoarders”, and for that I’m eternally grateful, as it has meant that we have SO MANY family heirlooms dating back generations, it’s truly amazing. One thing that seems to have been a ‘thing’ that’s been passed down through the generations of Randell’s, was the habit of putting things in the middle of books. I’ve always known my grandma to do that, and have often discovered random newspaper cuttings, birthday cards, flattened Easter egg wrappers and more in the pages of books of hers. Now this book of her fathers, John Beavis “JB” Randell (to my surprise) has even more bits filed in between the pages. I found a total of 25 items in amongst the pages of the book, and I have scanned each one of them, and that’s what I wanted to share with you today. Some are interesting, others not. But from there there are clues which could lead to further research … As you will see there’s a collection of all sorts, from receipts, to newspaper cuttings, to bible verses, envelopes, hair, leaves, a bookmark and other printed items. I’ve noted them below, as the caption on the slider was so tiny it wasn’t readable. 1. Gumeracha Town Hall Concert, 9 August 1924 2. Receipt from Norsworthy’s store, Gumeracha, dated 9 September 1924 3. Dried leaves 4. Hair or fur 5. More dried...

Christmas Day in Adelaide, and it’s (Another) Scorcher...

“Adelaide set for hottest Christmas Day since 1945 as heatwave conditions hit South Australia”. That’s the headline on the ABC News website, and yet it’s not even the hottest Christmas Day that Adelaide’s had. A quick check on Trove lead me to an article in The Advertiser, dated 26 December 1945, part of which is below. This says that the top temperature in Adelaide on: Christmas Eve, 24 December 1945 was 104.6F (40.3C) Christmas Day, 25 December 1945 was 105.3F (40.7C) But even these aren’t the highest. Go back further as we find even hotter Christmas Days. Christmas Day, 25 December 1941 was 106.2F (41.2C) And according to Dick Whitaker, on Dick’s Blog, the all-time top Christmas Day temperature record for an Australian capital city goes to Adelaide back in 1888, when the mercury soared to 107.9F (42.1C). So while it’s not a regular occurrence, it’s not unheard of having a 40C+ Christmas Day temperature. But it’s still not fun for those who have to travel during the day, or who had planned an outdoor Christmas do. So my advice for those who are in Adelaide for Christmas in 2016, stay inside (as much as you can), stay cool, and try not to bake, roast or fry (yourself that is, not the Christmas dinner)! Merry Christmas everyone! Save Save Save Save...

There’s History in Those Walls!...

Let me tell you the incredible history of a small town pub in the Adelaide Hills that very few know of … The tiny town of Gumeracha is currently best known for being home to the World’s Biggest Rocking Horse, the place the Medieval Fair is held each year, and of course the local wines. However up until around the mid 1900s the local pub was a tourist attraction, and not just for the beer, it was for the thousands of names written on its walls. It was so well-known that it even gained the reputation of being Australia’s largest “visiting book” hotel in the process. The town, which was founded by William Beavis Randell in the 1850s, has had a pub there almost as long. The map below is a portion of a town plan of Gumeracha dated from 1860, and shows that the corner block (where the hotel is) was owned by A Vorwerk, who is also listed as the first owner of District Hotel from 1861. Here’s an extract from the Gumeracha 1839-1939 book: “The main front walls of the District Hotel are composed of a local chalkstone, and probably on no other walls of a building in any other part of Australia are engraved so many names and initials. From ground level up to the top of the balcony roof there are a thousand or more of them, many of them representing people who in later years became very prominent in the State. As is only natural, callers at this old hostelry scrutinise the names on its walls with the very greatest interest.” And from a newspaper article on the History of Hotels dated 2 June 1951: South Australia has a hotel with the largest...

Patriotic Day, Gumeracha, 1918...

Isn’t it funny how you learn history through ‘things’? My history lesson this week has been about Patriotic Day. I admit that I hadn’t heard of such a day, but thanks to a purchase of the badge (as shown above) on ebay, I was inspired to find out more. But what’s interesting is that I found very little on it. Wikipedia and Google both let me down, so I headed to Trove, but even they didn’t have much. It doesn’t seem to have been an Australia-wide thing, or even a South Australia-wide thing, but rather something the townsfolk have decided to do for themselves. Held in 1917 and in 1918 (at  least that’s all I could find), it seems that in 1917 it was used to raise fund for the war effort, and in 1918, was used to support the returned soldiers and the families of those who didn’t. If anyone has further information about Gumeracha’s Patriotic Day, please leave a comment below, as I’d love to know more about it. And don’t you just love the image of the Gum weir on the badge … how cool is that? And for those that are unfamiliar with the region, here is a actual pic of the weir...

South Australia’s First Motor Car and Early Registrations...

What was the first car in South Australia? Or why not make that Australia? If your answer was anything to do with Henry Ford, you’d actually be wrong. In fact the honour of the first car in Australia actually is an Australian built one and goes to a gent from Mannum, which is a small country town along the River Murray … Below is a portion of an article from Adelaide’s ‘The Mail’ newspaper, dated 10 July 1926. You can read the full article on the Trove website. AUSTRALIA’S FIRST MOTOR CAR Mannum Manufacturer’s Invention VEHICLE THAT WAS ON THE ROADS 30 YEARS AGO Well known in South Australia as a manufacturer of farm implements, Mr. David Shearer, of Mannum, River Murray,can claim to be Australia’s first inventor of a motor car. In the early nineties he designed and built a power-propelled vehicle, which, a few years later, astonished all Adelaide as it chugged its way through the streets at 15 miles an hour. Special permission from the Mayor had to be obtained before the car could be driven through the streets. Designed 10 years before Henry Ford’s first models, little is known today of the South Australian’s invention, but farmers, who lived a quarter of a century ago in and around Mannum remember how Mr. Shearer worked day and night on his “automobile,” and they relate today to the younger generation, how Mannum might have been the Detroit of Australia. England’s first car, which made its appearance two years after Mr. Shearer’s, had a speed of 10 to 12 miles an hour, while the South Australian car actually travelled at 15 miles an hour. Anyway this post isn’t going into the deep history of “Australia’s first motor car”,...