A CONSOLIDATION OF VARIOUS ITEMS APPEARING IN THE "PYRENEES PIONEERS", NEWSLETTER OF THE AVOCA AND DISTRICT HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
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ADHS Newsletter No. 128 July, 1995
Talk by Alleyne Hockley - "An Investigation into the Historical Landscape" (Amherst)
The Society welcomed several visitors from other societies and folk from the district to the monthly meeting held on Sunday, 16th July, when our member, Alleyne Hockley, gave a most fascinating and interesting talk on her in-depth study and research of Amherst. Alleyne is currently doing a correspondence course at the University of New England, Armidale, N.S.W., on Local and Applied History. For one of her assignments, "An Investigation into the Historical Landscape", Alleyne chose the Amherst area, having an interest there because this was where two of her great-great-grandfathers had been gold seekers. Such was the depth and detail of Alleyne's research, the completed assignment resembled a book: And her efforts were rewarded with high praises from the University - and deservedly so:
Alleyne found that the first thing to be learned was the correct pronunciation of the name of the town - Am'erst is preferred by the locals and an outsider is quickly recognised by saying Amherst. Situated on the Paddy Ranges, Amherst is in open forest land and is a beautiful area in the spring. Summers are hot and dry and the winters are harsh, with heavy frosts.
To cover the full history of the area, it was necessary to look at four eras - Aboriginal, exploration, pastoral and gold. It is now felt that the decline of the Aborigines in the area was not necessarily because of white settlement. A new theory is that the yam daisy, which grew prolifically in the locality, was destroyed by grazing. The green-tailed corellas lived on these yams and the corellas were the main source of food for the Aborigines. Daisy Hill took its name from these same yam daisies.
Thomas Mitchell passed through the Talbot and Newstead area in 1836 on his way back from Portland and pastoralists soon followed the Major's line, the Ten Mile Creek Run being taken up in 1840. This run later became part of Glen Mona, adjacent to the Dunach Forest run.
The first gold was found in 1840 by Thomas Chapman at Daisy Hill but, in those early days, it was illegal to mine, buy and sell gold, as all minerals were the property of the Crown.
The gold rush to Daisy Hill is officially credited to a group of Germans going overland from Adelaide to Mount Alexander, the first rush being in September, 1852, followed by a second in December of that vear.
In those gold-rush years, three separate localities in the area were known as Daisy Hill and it can be very confusing for researchers in trying to establish which of the three is the one they are seeking. There was Daisy Hill Hut where Chapman found gold in 1840, then a Daisy Hill was established in Pollock's Lane with a Police Camp. The next Daisy Hill later became Amherst, named for Lord Amherst, the then Governor of India. Today's Daisy Hill is a different locality again.
To follow through the development and decline of the town of Amherst, it was necessary to begin by going through Government records, cemetery records, directories, gazetteers and rate books. To try to develop the feeling of what the town was, Alleyne set up a town plan and looked at each individual block - the people, their occupations and their inter-relationships within the town.
The first establishment to be set up in a gold-rush town was the hotel and, in this case, Mr. Cowley opened the Amherst Hotel. The hotel was usually followed by a blacksmith, who was an important man, keeping the horses shod and the wheels of wagons and carriages turning. This was followed by a general store to supply the many needs of the gold-seekers.
The town of Amherst was surveyed in 1855 and the first land sales by auction were held in that year. The town reached its peak in 1859 with all the services a town could want - churches, schools, a court house, banks, millers, drapers, coachbuilders, butchers, bakers, etc. The population of Amherst reached 40,000 and the Chinese were an important part of that town.
Methods of gold mining were wide and diverse - alluvial, deep lead, dredging, puddling machines, sluicing and quartz crushers.
The decline of Amherst began with the rush at Talbot and the desire of the people there to be the main centre. Buildings which had been planned for Amherst were built in Talbot and a certain animosity grew between the people of the two towns. It was in that period, in the 1860s, that the people of Amherst were strongly drawn together, developing a community-minded spirit which exists to this day - a feeling of belonging. Gradually, Amherst lost its influence on the gold-fields. Talbot got the railway - Amherst did not - and so the story of decline went on.
The Amherst hospital was established in 1856 and built in 1859 and was very important to the town. It became a sanitorium after World War I, when it was considered that the "salubrious" weather and pleasant surroundings of the lovely countryside would greatly assist the patients' return to good health. "Salubrious" was very much the "in" word when referring to Amherst and its hospital, which closed in 1933. Alleyne tells us that the history of the Amherst hospital is a story in itself and we look forward to hearing that tale another day.
The foregoing is only a resume of this most interesting talk. As was also the case last month, it is impossible to do justice to our speakers in the space available in this newsletter. We thank Alleyne for sharing this research with us and commend her on the depth of her investigations and her excellent presentation of the result of her endeavours.
ADHS Newsletter No. 139 JULY, 1996
Alleyne Hockley - History of the Amherst Hospital
We were pleased to welcome many visitors who, with our members, filled the Court House to capacity on Sunday, 21st July, to hear the very interesting talk given by our member Alleyne Hockley on the Amherst Hospital. It was just a year ago that Alleyne amazed us with the depth and detail of her research into the history of the township of Amherst. We were not disappointed on this occasion when she told the story of the hospital from its inception in 1856, when Christopher Harling, with Dr. Salmon's father and another person, actually marked out the ground, and its opening in 1859 to its closure in 1933. She also explained what the hospital meant to the people of the surrounding district.
All that remains today on a rather barren paddock, situated at the corner of Black Jack Road and the main road to Talbot, is a big dam, a pond, a few broken bricks, a section of a buildin which was part of the 'new' morgue (as opposed to the 'old' morgue and the concrete base of a very large flag pole. Alleyne was fortunate enough to obtain a map of the complex and was thus able to ascertain where the various hospital buildings were located.
The hospital opened in 1859 and, from that time until the first annual general meeting in October, 1860, there was never a vacant bed and many patients had to be refused admission.
A committee of management had been formed of many local identities including Messrs. Mustow, Callaway, Shaw, Robinson, Douglas, C. Harling, Fisher, Tweedale, and Champion de Crespigny as chairman. Fund raising was imperative and subscription lists were opened and -donations sought from the people on the goldfields.
When the main section was completed, the hospital comprised a double-storey brick building across the front, with two side wings.
In July, 1862, the hospital applied for more land. The initial grant had been of three acres and this increased over the years until the completed hospital and grounds occupied 22 acres, a very large area for a rural hospital. By this time, the hospital was well established with various committees set up and the. Shrub and Seed committee was looking at grubbing the tree stumps which still remained in the grounds. This was a major and costly task in those days, being done by hand.
Hospital suppliers were selected by tendering and included meat from Mr. Shaw; milk from Mr. Blick; bread from Mr. Draper; groceries from Mr. Douglas; wine and spirits from Hackett and Co.; drugs from Mr. Tweedale the chemist and Mr. Tostavin attended to interments.
At that time, it was common practice for the hospital to pay for the funeral of any patient who died there. Thus, when a person became gravely ill, the family would endeavour to have them admitted to hospital so that the funeral costs would be taken care of.
The hospital was a very caring institution, not just in the nursing of the patients, but also in providing other caring facilities. Mr. F. W. Salmon established a library for them and called for contributions of books.
In February, 1865, the hospital was made a corporation with strict rules which stipulated that people were deemed to be contributors by paying the sum of E1 per annum or a lump sum of L20. This entitled them to be admitted or to recommend others for admission.
In November, 1869, the annual fete and fair for the hospital was held. The town actually stopped for this event, with all shops closed and the whole district in holiday mode in support of their hospital. A procession of some 500-600 people made a grand parade through the town, the flags were flying, and the Oddfellows and the Foresters marched, dressed in their full regalia, as did the naval cadets and the Lancers. A big crowd of onlookers swelled the numbers in town that day.
The crowds retired to the Amherst Reserve where they were entertained with a variety of items and booths supplied their every need. The hospital could not have survived without the funds raised at this annual event. It was obviously a great community day with the people showing their support for the local hospital of which they were very proud.
In the 1880s, the matron, Miss Goodwin, who had an exemplary record, asked for a salary increase which caused quite a fuss at the general meeting. After much discussion, for and against, it was decided that the matter should be dealt with by the secretary, bearing in mind that the matron should be worth at least L20 a year - better than a cook!!
By 1892, the hospital was catering for 51 patients. Staff comprised the superintendent, the matron, 1 nurse, 1 uncertified nurse, 2 probationary nurses, a wardsman, a cook, a laundress and a gardener.
The area serviced by the hospital covered Amherst, Dunach, Mt, Lonarch, Kangaroo Flat, Avoca, Avoca Lead, Donald, Barkly, Greenhill Creek, Maryborough, Carisbrook, Lamplough and Caralulup.
The annual report of 1903 stated that there were six people suffering from the "white plague of Australia disease" (tuberculosis). This caused a stir in the town and people were inclined to avoid going to the hospital; they did not want these patients in their society. In fact, Amherst was the only hospital in the district to grant permission to TB sufferers to be admitted. Dr, Gresswell, of the Board of Health, was in favour of sending patients to Amherst, and Dr. Cunningham, the local GP, agreed. It transpired that Dr. Cunningham had done a lot of work with TB patients.
The hospital was declared a sanatorium in 1909 and Sir Thomas Bent duly opened the Sir Reginald Talbot Sanatorium. Speakers at the opening congratulated Dr. Cunningham for his 30 years of work with TB sufferers and also Dr. Salmon for his 29 years of service to the hospital, and the dignitaries then inspected the tent buildings of that complex, comprising four wards and a dining room.
The four tents measured 25 feet by 16 feet 8 inches, each containing 8 beds, giving a capacity of 32 beds. Twenty of these beds were already occupied at the official opening. The tents were of canvas over an oregon frame, with canvas from the floor to a midrail. Above the mid-rail was a shutter, with canvas over it, then a space of 15 inches between the top rail and the top of the tent for fresh air. The sides of the tents were rolled up on most days. The roof was covered with fibro cement sheets and each tent had two doors with one leading on to a verandah.
Amherst was chosen because of the elevation of the land which afforded good drainage and because it had a mild and gentle climate. Another factor was probably the presence of Dr. Cunningham who was considered to be a leading expert in the treatment of TB. Although Greenvale had been set up in Melbourne with 90 beds, Amherst was considered to be the place to go if you had TB.
The hospital meant a lot to the area, economically as well as for employment opportunities. At this point in time, apart from Dr. Cunningham and Mr. Gale, the secretary, there was the matron and 7 nurses and other employees such as wardsmen, cooks and domestics.
Electric light was installed in 1924, replacing the kerosene lamps which had to be attended to on an hourly basis, a laborious task. Dr, Cunningham also resigned as house surgeon that year, after 20 years of service.
Funds were still being raised by conducting balls and firewood days (working bees when the men cut the wood on a 100-acre timbered property which the hospital leased, thus providing firewood for the hospital - for the boilers, kitchen, etc. On these occasions, the ladies served refreshments to the wood choppers.
In that year, 389 patients had been nursed and 23 had died. The hospital had a total budget of E4,640, with L1,184 required for provisions and 01,286 for wages, creating an infusion of money into the local community. The Amherst Hospital provided full services, treating 31 accidents, performing 41 operations, and treating other diseases such as typhoid fever, scarlet fever, measles and influenza. People came to the sanatorium from all over Melbourne and the State of Victoria and beyond.
ay 1930, the hospital and sanatorium were well established but the writing was on the wall. Mont Park complex had been established in Melbourne, providing a service for TB sufferers, and Dr. Cunningham, with his expertise and influence, had gone. But the hospital committee and the people did not want the complex closed and, during August of that year, a deputation went to Melbourne to wait on Mr. Beckett, representing the Health Department. Those who spoke were the Hospital President; Mr. Gorge Frost M.L.A.; Mr. George Dick; Mr. Vinicomb, President of Talbot Shire Council; Mr. Smith of the Maryborough Old Boys' and Girls' Association and Mr. T. Brennan, President of the Talbot Old Boys' and Girls' Association - representatives of the whole area, But their efforts were in vain and, on 6th November, 1933, the doors of the Amherst Hospital were closed. So ended a period of history in that small rural area. Over the next few years, the property was sold as were the buildings, which were taken down and moved.
Our sincere thanks go to Alleyne for another fascinating afternoon and to husband Ian for displaying interesting photos of the Amherst complex. We also thank Colleen and Wendy for mounting a display on the Amherst area of material from our archives which added much interest for those present whose family history is to be found in that area.
ADHS Newsletter No. 201 APRIL, 2002
Tour of the Amherst Area -
A happy group of twenty-nine members and friends set off in a convoy of nine cars from the Amherst Cemetery gates on Sunday, 21" April, to explore historic sites hidden well off the beaten track in the surrounding bushland with Len Fleming, of Talbot, as our enthusiastic guide. He imparted much of his vast knowledge of the history of the area to us as we moved along the dusty tracks from one site to the next. He explained how the Aborigines created their waterholes by making holes in the base of a large rock, the holes being placed where rain water would follow a channel down the face of the rock. The holes would be covered by a large rock to keep animals and impurities out.
The bush hides some isolated graveyards where early miners and members of their families now rest. In one such old cemetery, some of the graves are outlined with white quartz stones and others have a single large rock representing a headstone. Smaller outlines of quartz stones would indicate where young children were buried. At the burial ground of the old Emu Diggings, graves were indicated by a layer of rock marking the site.
The remains of a puddling machine is another secret of the area. Len explained how the sides and bottom of the donut-shaped excavation were lined with timber slabs. The sluicing was done by a horse walking round and round the perimeter, activating two triangular harrows which stirred the water mixed with the clay. Water for the process was drawn from a nearby dam, while an outlet channel carried away the sludge, leaving the gold on the floor of the puddler.
There were several Chinese camps in the Amherst area in the gold rush days, and hidden in the bush of ironbark gum and golden wattle trees is the site of a Chinese Joss House and Baths. The locality has been well turned over in more recent times in the continuing search for gold, but Len has been able to locate and excavate a site revealing an in-ground cement Chinese bath complete with a headrest, which has withstood the test of time.
Back on the main road, where the old town of Amherst once stood, we paused to admire the craftsmanship in a bluestone culvert built in the late 1850s. This is one of several such culverts in the area and they are said to be the earliest surviving public works in the Shire.
Next stop was the site of the Amherst School, a brick building erected in 1874. It closed in 1946 and was burnt out in the devastating bushfires of 1985, leaving the brick walls standing. It was rebuilt about 1987 and is now an attractive private residence. Opposite the school is the site of the old Daisy Hill Cemetery.
All that remains today of the Amherst Hospital is a very large paddock, situated at the corner of Black Jack Road and the main road to Talbot, on which can be found a big dam, some broken bricks, a section of a building which was part of the morgue, and the concrete base of a big flag pole. This once very large hospital played an important part in the area in its years of operation, from its opening in 1859 to its closure in 1933.
Returning to the Amherst Cemetery, we adjourned to its rotunda where we enjoyed a welcome cuppa and held our monthly meeting. We thank Len for giving of his time to share his knowledge of these bush secrets with us and look forward with anticipation to enjoying another interesting outing with him at some time in the future.
(See our Newsletters No. 128 of July, 1995, and No. 135 of July, 1996, for articles on Amherst. Ed)
A Visit to Amherst in 1949 - The following article tells what could be found of the old township of Amherst in 1949, and appeared in The Melbourne Walker, Vol. 20 of 1949. Sadly, the drastic bushfire of 1985 has destroyed everything and we could not enjoy such a walk today.
"A Town Hall In The Bush" by W. R Mann - After passing through several miles of sparsely settled country on the back road from Talbot to Avoca, it is surprising to find near the crossroads, about three miles from Talbot, a number of substantial brick buildings, for the most part deserted and almost hidden by the encroaching forest. To students of our early history, this is one of the most interesting places in the State, for it is the old township of Amherst, which close on one hundred years ago was the centre of a rich alluvial goldfield supporting a population estimated at 60,000. Today, it is reminiscent of some of the ruined cities of the old world but in an Australian setting.
Of the many old buildings in the area the one that attracts most attention is a substantial brick edifice bearing the words "Town Hall" in large letters over the doorway. Standing alone in the quiet dignity of old age, and quite out of proportion to its present-day surroundings, the Amherst Town Hall expresses the vanity of the local Councillors of the day who, in 1858, finding their municipality elevated to a Borough, decided that they should have a Town Hall in keeping with their status. And there it is today, almost pathetic in its loneliness and peopled only with the ghosts of the past.
A close inspection of the building reveals the soundness of its construction and how well it has braved the elements of the past century. The interior has an attractive wooden ceiling, typical of the architecture of the time, and the walls, originally plastered, have been papered and re-papered to such an extent that in places the weight is too great for the decaying plaster to carry. A copy of the "Talbot Leader" of August, 1915, found its way into one of those paperings. On each side of the stage - yes, it even has a stage - a fireplace has been let into the wall. No expense was spared to provide warmth and comfort for the early ratepayers of the Borough of Amherst. Near the entrance gate to the hall there stands an ancient lamp-post, and with a little imagination one can visualise the local lads and lasses of those bygone years passing beneath the pale flickering light of the old lamp on their way to the village ball.
Almost opposite the Town Hall is the "Horse and Jockey Hotel", still proudly bearing its title, but long since delicensed. What stories that old bar-room could tell of the orgy of spending that invariably followed the latest "find". The "Horse and Jockey" must be one of the oldest inns in the State.
Amherst, which was previously known as Daisy Hill, was a great Methodist community and in 1857 the Wesleyans of the district built a substantial brick chapel which is still used by visiting clergymen. Nearby a two-storied residence was built for the minister. Draped inside the chapel, and forming a kind of inner ceiling, is the top of a large tent in which the first church services in the district were held. A short distance away is the Church of England, also a fine brick building, still in an excellent state of preservation.
With the exception of an old butcher's shop, there are no signs of the many shops that once lined the main street. Although the Town Hall is the most striking building in the old settlement, the largest building was the hospital, only recently demolished - to the disappointment of the residents of the surrounding districts who maintained that it should have been utilised as a sanatorium because of the dry, warm climate. This hospital was exceptionally well equipped with operating theatre, nurses quarters and other facilities.
With the decline in mining activity, Amherst could not compete with the neighbouring township of Talbot, which was on the main road and which in addition had the advantage of being served by a railway, and the residents of Amherst gradually drifted in that direction.
By the year 1877, the Borough of Amherst had disappeared from the Municipal directory and Talbot took its place, with the same Town Clerk and several of the Amherst councillors. The Town Hall, which was their pride, was boarded up and the Wesleyans concentrated on their newly-established chapel in Talbot.
Few people reside at Amherst today, but the old place is full of memories of the stirring times through which it passed in the second half of the last century."
(My thanks to Dorothy Robinson for passing on this interesting article. Our Newsletters Nos. 142-148 inclusive contain the story of the development of the Amherst-Talbot area. Ed.)
ADHS Newsletters 142-148
MUNICIPAL JUBILEE - A SUCCESSFUL FUNCTION
Reminiscences of the Past and Old Identities Interviewed
From The Talbot Leader of late October, 1908
On Thursday, 22nd instant, the fiftieth anniversary of the district as a municipality was celebrated, as on the 22nd October, 1858, the Lieutenant-Governor signed the proclamation. Fifty years is a long while to look back upon in one place, and in a place where mining is or was the chief factor in its rise and progress, the changes occurring during the period named are bound to be many and varied; and so it has been with Talbot. The great difference between the Talbot of today and the Talbot (or rather Back Creek, as it was then known) of say 45 years ago can, perhaps, only be properly conceived by those who were here in the stirring times of the "great rush," and still remain. Where the people could then be counted by thousands, they cannot now be numbered by hundreds. Of those who resided in the district when it was proclaimed a municipality but few remain; but of the glories of this town when it had a population of some 50,000 people, there is still a fair sprinkling with us who can speak with a knowledge of facts relating to those times. Although we cannot hope to experience such good times as those prevailing in the early days, especially in alluvial mining, we feel confident there are great possibilities as far as concerns our quartz reefs. We may not be here to witness such a much-to-be-desired revival which is certainly in the bounds of possibility. Our reefs at the higher levels have been exceedingly rich and there is no reason whatever why the lodes should not be found payable at the deeper levels as in other parts. This by the way, however. But to come back to the subject before us, namely the jubilee of the Borough, it may be said that the Borough Council had decided that something to mark the event should eventuate, and a monster picnic was agreed upon. This whilst it provided a means whereby the younger portion of the community could have a day's amusement, gave those of mature age an opportunity of meeting and talking over the "good old days". The Public Park had been selected as the place of rendezvous, than which no better site in the Borough could have been chosen. Our park is certainly an ideal spot, and Cr. Churchill (Shire) remarked, the Borough Council received a valuable asset, when the grounds were handed over to it. The day was a glorious one, and this was no mean factor in a most pleasant time being spent. There were many old pioneers of the district present, who were glad of the opportunity of having a chat with one another about their early experiences. Each was free to admit that he had gone through many changes since the period when the place was a perfect forest of white canvas. It is said that when the rush was at its "full", the sight from any point of view was really splendid, and, from any eminence, a magnificent one, and one can well believe it. As an old identity remarked to us, those who did not go through those early times, can have no conception of what it was like. Reminiscences of early experiences were to be heard on every hand, and those of younger years felt that they would give anything to witness such scenes as did their fathers. As to the early history of the district, there is no need for us to go into it here; it is fully detailed in the address delivered by the Hon. Dr. C. Carty Salmon, which will be found in another column. We might, however, refer to one thing, and that is in reference to the gasworks. If we mistake not, Back Creek was one of the first up-country towns to have gas, the works being established in the very early days by, we think, Mr. H. Courtis. There are, perhaps, many items of interest which might have been referred to, but through the unfortunate fire which destroyed the "Leader" office and contents, two years since, including our files, covering a period of 46 years, the materials at our command were few.
The day had been proclaimed a bank and public holiday, and in connection therewith it was a matter for regret that the whole day was not observed as such by the business people. Seeing that such an event occurs but once in fifty years, there might have been more unanimity shown. The day's proceedings commenced with
The children began to congregate early for the procession, which was to start from the vacant ground in front of the Roman Catholic Church, at the south end of the Crescent, and well on time Messrs. J. O. Hughes (Talbot State school), and A. Senger (Amherst State school), who had been appointed to marshall the children, were at their posts, and with the assistance of other teachers, soon had the youngsters in readiness. When all was ready for a start it was found that the Fire Brigade were unable to join in, owing to the fact that many of the members were otherwise engaged; but several volunteers were secured, and the reel brought out. Captain P. W. Salmon led the procession, and immediately after him came the Talbot Town Band; then two youths bearing the Borough flag (illustrious because of the fact that it was the only flag that floated with the breeze in Sydney on the occasion of the proclamation of the Commonwealth). Then followed the Mayor (Cr. H. H. Schwennesen), Crs. Spence, Chalmers, Beresford, McPhee and Browne, Messrs. E. P. Dowding (Borough Engineer), J. H. Jessup (Treasurer), and A. Gale (ex-Cr. and mayor). The school children followed, in charge of Messrs. Hughes and Senger, who were aided by Miss James (Stony Creek), Mrs. McDonald (Daisy Hill), and others. The youngsters carried flags, and the scene was an animated one. On arriving at the park, the children were drawn up in a line, and the mayor addressed a few words to them. He reminded them that they were there that day to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the municipality. He was pleased to say that they had with them that day some who were present at the proclamation of the Borough, then known as the municipality of Amherst. It was not to be expected that the adult portion of those now assembled would see another jubilee of the place, and the future of the district would by-and-bye rest with those who were now children, and it was to be hoped that they would endeavour to fit themselves for the positions they would be expected to occupy as the directors of the destinies of the borough. He sincerely trusted that they would have an enjoyable time, and would be able to look back with pleasure to this memorable day.
The children then dispersed, to enter into various amusements. At dinner, nearly 300 children sat down, and there were any number of willing helpers, so that all were well looked after. At the evening meal, the number of children had been considerably augmented, and probably about 500 were catered for; but the ladies committee had a large array of assistants, and again everything went off well. Following the children, from 250 to 300 adults partook of refreshments, and although the number was large, there was enough and to spare. The ladies certainly had a busy time of it, for, in addition to the mid-day and evening meals, there was a constant call on them for refreshments throughout the afternoon. They are deserving of the highest praise for the manner in which they met all demands on them. The viands were of a really first-class character. An excellent programme of sports was prepared for the children, and was under the control of Messrs. J. O. Hughes and A. Senger, who had able assistants in Messrs. J. Farrell, C. Tyers, A. Gale, W. Lilburn, Geo. Ferguson, and others. The youngsters entered into the contest with much spirit, and there was some keen competition. The results were :-
Boys over 14 - C. Calman, 1. This was a splendid race, Calman winningnby about a foot. Girls over 14 - E. Peterson, 1. Boys, 12 to 14 - F. Phelan, 1. Girls - M. Philippi, 1. Boys, 10 to 12 - J. Sparks, 1. Girls - M. Hall, 1. Boys, 8 to 10 - H. Matthews, and P. Powell, dead heat. Girls - C. Krick, 1. Boys, 6 to 8 - N. Rooke. Girls - M. Farrell and N. Howard, dead heat. Girls' skipping Race - M. Howard, 1. Boys' Siamese Race - F. Hibbett, and A. Augustini, 1; C. Tyers and F. Phelan, 2. Girls' Egg and Spoon - F. McLean, 1; Elsie Mullins, 2; L. Solomano, 3. Boys' Wallaby Race - C. Tyers, 1; Harold Glover, 2; T. Rooke, 3. Girls' Egg and Spoon -A. Whittaker, 1; I. Farrell, 2; N. Albert, 3. Boys' Pick-a-back - G. Severs and A. Augustini, C. Tyers and F. Phelan, dead heat. Girls' Thread the Needle - F. Mclean, 1; M. Howard, 2; M. Browne, 3. Boys' Sack Race -F. Baker, 1; H. Augustini, 2; T. Craton, 3. Girls' Skipping Race - K. Barret, 1; K. Henderson, 2; D. Crooks, 3. Boys' Boot Jumble - C. Farrell, l; C. Tyers, 2; B. Severs, 3. Girls' Cup of Water - I. Farrell, l; D. Crooks, 2; No. 2 Event - M. Wouda, 1; A. Scott, 2. Boys' High Jump - B. Hevey, l; D. Ross, 2. Vaulting - B. Warren, 1; J. McDonald, 2. Girls' Skipping Race - E. Boyd, 1; L. Hall, C. Glover, dead heat. Boys' Potato Race - F. Baker, l; V. Albert, 2; R. Littlewood, 3. Girls' Walking Match - K. Barrett, 1; M. Howard, 2; A. Scott, 3. Apple Eating Contest - H. Glover, 1; T. Rooke, 2.
A number of races were then run for those children who had not won a race, with the following results :- Boys' Race - A. Evans, 1; R. Crooks, 2; W. Dowding, 3. No. 2 event - P. Hocker, 1; W. Moore, 2. Girls' Race - B. Collings, 1; E. Henry, 2; L. Watson, G. Spark, 3. Boys' Race - A. Martin, 1; J. Rooke, 2; G. Henry, 3. No. 2 event - C. Hutchinson, 1; T. Spurway, 2; A. Hill, 3. Girls' Race - V. Hulsten, 1; H. Wangemann, 2; F. Hevey, 3.
A number of events were then got through for the older portion of the assemblage, and they resulted as follows Old Buffers' Race - Cr. Miners (Maryborough), 1; P. Solomano, 2; T. Tyzack, 3. Young Men's Race - First heat - W. Neve, l; F. Bunting, 2. A very close finish. Second Heat - J. Kearney, 1; R. Scott, 2. This was a good race. Final - Bunting, 1; Scott, 2. This was another good race, Scott leading up to two or three yards of tape, when he eased off, and Bun ting just beat him on the post. Bicycle Race - S. Pauwells, 1; L. Scott, 2; F. Bunting, 3.
Young Ladies' Race - Miss Ramsay, 1; Miss Gorrie, 2. No. 2 Event - Miss M. Chalmers, 1; Miss Gardner, 2. Quoit Match - F. Prowse and W. Beresford divided 1st and 2nd; A. Baker, 3. Nail driving Competition (for ladies) - Mrs. Ramsay, 5 sees., 1.
In the afternoon, several addresses were delivered, the main one being that by Dr. C. C. Salmon, who had gathered together a considerable amount of information relating to the early history of the district. The Mayor had charge of proceedings, and after expressing pleasure at seeing so many present, introduced Dr. Salmon, who spoke as follows: -
"In the spring of 1849 a party of adventurous young travellers, with two 2-horse drays and equipment, camped on a small creek about two miles from this spot. They had followed for weeks an imperfectly-blazed track from Adelaide, working mainly from compass rather than by sight. F. B. Salmon (my father), T. Nalder, and J. Ingham were of the party, and the watercourse was subsequently known as Daisy Hill Creek. The existence of gold in Australia was not even suspected by them, and their dreams were undisturbed by any anticipation of the stirring scenes that were to be enacted on this truly sylvan stage. (After resting they pursued their way to Melbourne.) In January of the same year, a man dressed like a shepherd, and giving the name of Chapman, entered the shop of Charles Brentani, watchmaker and jeweller, at Collins Street, Melbourne, and offered to sell a piece of quartz, richly veined with gold. He stated, in reply to questions, that he was a shepherd from a station, held by Mr. Hall, near the Pyrenees, where he had picked up the gold, and that he knew where there was plenty more to be had. A party was formed in secret, a dray `to be filled with gold' procured, and a start made for the Pyrenees. Duchesne, a member of the party, returned alone, and Mrs. Brentani, who had been only partially informed as to their intended operations, became anxious for the safety of her husband. Unable to obtain any re-assuring information from Duchesne, who asserted the others had 'given him the slip', she at length openly charged him with having murdered her husband, and thus disclosed the secret of the expedition. Brentani and the rest of the party returned, and Duchesne was relieved from responsibility. They had picked up two nuggets of about 20 ounces each, and that was all. Chapman disappeared, but was subsequently seen in Sydney, by Captain Bacchus, of Perewar Station (Bacchus Marsh), who wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald, on 25th July, 1855, saying that Chapman, who was, in his opinion, a thoroughly honest and reliable man, had left Melbourne because he was being watched, and pestered for information about gold. He said he was willing to point out the place where he found the nugget, if paid 50 pounds and his expenses.
In 1851 a nugget, weighing 106 lbs., was brought by aboriginals to Dr. Kerr, of Bathurst, and in the month of May, Hargreaves, a colonist who had been in California, found the country round Bathurst to be auriferous. In the same year Dr. Bruhn, a German mineralogist, gave out that he had discovered gold in the Pyrenees, near the scene of Chapman's adventures. In the month of March, Mr. William Campbell, of Strath Loddon, member of the Legislative Council of Victoria, observed minute tracts of gold in quartz, on the station of Mr. Donald Cameron, at Climes (named by Mr. Cameron after a farm in Inverness), and also at Burnbank (now Lexton). Fearing that the stations would be ruined he kept his discovery secret until 10th June.
Dr. Carty Salmon's address.
"On 5th July, Messrs. Esmond, Kelly, Burns, and Pugh announced in Geelong that they had discovered gold in this district. All these finds were only of small quantities, until on 8th August, Mr. T. Hiscock discovered alluvial gold at Buninyong. A rush took place, and some did fairly well until a family named Cavenagh, having entered a half-worked claim, carried it below a layer of blue, greasy pipe-clay, and struck rich pockets containing pure gold. A new era in gold mining followed similar discoveries elsewhere, and Victoria at once leapt to the head of the gold-producing countries of the world. At Forest Creek, almost simultaneously, some shepherds in the employ of Dr. Barker, began to produce thousands of ounces weekly. The exodus from all the settled parts of Australia commenced and continued until virtually the whole of the male population was out for gold. In Geelong, only one man was left. Melbourne was almost empty; and Adelaide was the same. McCombie says of Victoria - `From a small oppressed sub-district of New South Wales, it became the first colony of the Southern Hemisphere.' In 1852, Victoria's gold yield totalled 173 tons 19 cwt. 1 gr. 12 lbs. 3 oz. which, valued at seventy shillings per ounce, represents £14,163,364.
J. Wood Beilby informed the Government on 7th June, 1851, of the existence of gold at Navarre and in the ranges of what was later known as the Amherst district. Early in 1852, a party from South Australia going to Bendigo, camped on Daisy Hill Creek near the present Amherst Hotel. They prospected and found good gold. A large rush took place, gullies were opened up and gutters followed. The famous Flat was found and the field extended until, in 1854, Back Creek diggings were rushed. Nuggetty Gully was discovered and Ballarat, Star, Good Woman's, and Fighting Woman's Hills and others were found. In 1855, Fiery Creek, now called Raglan, was rushed, and Daisy Hill and Back Creek were almost deserted for a time. The diggers returned before the close of the year, and a rush took place on the Mia Mia, which was followed into Dunn's paddock. This holding, near the cemetery, was rushed by the diggers, and a strong force of police had to be obtained to preserve order and property. Their camp was pitched on the road, near where Mr. J. Long's place is now. At the end of 1855, the business places, which were scattered all over the field, were removed to what is now known as High street, Amherst. These included the Bank of Australasia (Mr. J. Wighton, manager), Hackett and Co., T. Fisher, Lee Brown and Shaw, Calloway, Mustow, Johnson's Horse and Jockey hotel, Southern Cross. Daisy Hill, and White Horse hotels, T. Evans, Kersley and Lord, Higham and Richardson, McCulloch and Douglas, F. B. Salmon, Law, Wade, Wood and Knight, H. Robinson, C. Harling, Henry, and Jack. In 1856, the rush to the Upper Mia Mia took place. The White Horse Reef was in full swing, and was very rich, Patience and Usher, Potter, Henry Duke, Harling, and others doing well. The nearest crushing plant was at Craigie, owned by Mawson and Jackson, and £8 per ton was charged for carting and crushing. In July, 1856, Dunolly was opened, and again the field was almost deserted. In September, a party got 30 oz. nuggets in 30 feet ground, near the Mia Mia road. In 1857, a dish of nuggets was shown in Hackett's window, won by Tyack, Moore, McKenzie, and Hutchins. From three claims over 100 lb. weight in gold was taken. This caused a big rush from all parts of the colony. At the end of 1858, a party sank a shaft looking for the Good Woman's Lead, and got good gold on what was known as the Union Lead. This junctioned with the Good Woman's, and in 1859 the "Big Rush" took place. It is estimated that 50,000 persons were on the field. The ground was payable all along the gutter, and this was no less than 20 claims in width. A good number did well, and many left for England, some being on board the ill-fated "London". The rush to Lamplough broke out, and again the field suffered a relapse. In 1860 another find was made in the Scandinavian Lead. In 1861 the Rocky Flat rush took place, soon followed by Majorca. The New Zealand fields were then opened, and many left to try their fortune there.
In 1863 a party of 4, consisting of T. Cayzer, D. Flowers, Arthur Delaney, and Beasley Johnson, took Dunn's garden on tribute, and for years did well. Taaffe's paddock was also worked, the Colleen Bawn, Tara's Hall, and others using machinery with good results.
It is interesting to note the price gold brought at first. In January, 1856, at Bendigo, it was fifty shillings an ounce, at Melbourne fifty-six to sixty-four shillings. In June the same year, it reached, at Ballarat, eighty to eighty-four shillings an ounce, and has kept at much the same price ever since.
In the meantime here, the community found some stable form of local government was required. Daisy Hill was one of the six places in the colony where Commissioners were located - the others being Ballarat, Bendigo, Mount Alexander, Korong, and Ovens. The Road Boards were doing useful work, but were utterly unable to cope with the demands made, by reason of these sudden and impetuous increases in population.
"Steps were taken to secure municipal establishment and recognition. Public meetings were held, and a numerously signed petition presented to His Excellency, Sir Henry Barkly, K.C.B., Captain-General and Governor-in-chief of the colony of Victoria, and on 22nd October, 1858, a proclamation was issued, constituting the Municipal District of Amherst, and defining its limits and boundaries. On 17íh November, a public meeting was held at Cowley's Amherst Hotel. Mr. George Chapman, Government Treasury, was in the chair. Nominations for 7 seats were taken, and the number being in excess of that required, arrangements were made for taking the poll next day. The successful candidates were:-
Frederick Browne Salmon 51
John Patterson Smith 51
Edward Cox 50
Andrew Gilmour 49
Thomas Evans 47
Alfred Smith 42
Joseph Jennison 42
The first sitting took place on 19th November, Thomas Evans being elected first chairman. On I st December, William Wood was appointed Town Clerk. In April, 1859, the first valuer was appointed, in the person of D W. Virtue. The Parliamentary representatives in 1859 were Messrs. Butler Cole Aspinall and David Blair. The central office of the police district was at Avoca, tinder Inspector Barclay, the Police Magistrate being G. M. Lowther.
As an indication of the belief the new council had in the future of the district, it might be mentioned that they secured the reservation of an area of nine acres for a town hall. In September, 1859, the tender of Charles Gray, at £750, was accepted for the building, but when half way through he gave up his contract, and it was completed by Christopher Harling at a cost of £380. A parliamentary election held about this time resulted in the return of John Thomas Smith and William Fraser. In December, 1859, Isaiah Andrews, postmaster of Back Creek, was elected to fill an extraordinary vacancy in the town council, defeating Robert Shaw, of Daisy Hill. John Deane Wells was appointed solicitor to the council.
In November, 1860, an election was held to fill ordinary routine vacancies. There were 21 nominations for three seats, and the polling resulted in the return of Thomas Pierce, B. P. Mosely, and E. Tufton Smith, all of Back Creek. At the meeting following, Isaiah Andrews was elected chairman. There had been for some time considerable friction between the two ends of the municipality, and now it was in the council. The struggle for control was short and sharp. Having secured the majority, the Back Creek representatives tabled a motion to hold the meetings at Back Creek. On a vote being taken, it was found that there were three on each side. The chairman exercised his casting vote, and the motion was carried. All attempts at rescission of this motion failed in the same way, and the Daisy Hill members declined to attend the next meeting. Mr. Wood, Town Clerk, was there, but without the books. He reported that the Daisy Hill members had seized them and locked them up. A motion was proposed and carried to remove the municipal offices to Back Creek. The Town Clerk was instructed to attend the next meeting with the books. If he came without them his office would be declared vacant. At next meeting he was also absent. Mr. Mohr was appointed acting town clerk. In January, 1861, the seats of the Daisy Hill members were declared vacant for non-attendance, and Mr. W. D. Banks was appointed town clerk. An association was formed at the other end of the municipality to look after its interests, thus reproducing the antecedent condition, when Back Creek had its association. For some years this arrangement continued.
On October 10th, 1861, Cr. Andrews resigned, and was, on 24th of the same month, appointed Town Clerk. Many here present will remember how for a long period he held the ofce with great dignity and ability. On 19th October, the first Governor's visit took place, and Sir Henry Barkly received a very warm and enthusiastic welcome. Arches were erected, and the various public bodies organised for the occasion. The Oddfeilows, Fire Brigade, Athletic Club, and German Association were especially prominent. Over 1,000 children were assembled on the road near the London Bridge, prepared to sing "God Save The Queen". The Governor was in Maryborough, and was to be met at the boundary by representatives of Amherst and Back Creek on horseback. It was arranged by them that they would take charge of him there, but those who had accompanied His Excellency and Lady Barkly from Maryborough were not disposed, according to Press reports, to give place when the boundary was reached. Some bumping and hustling took place, and eventually the coveted positions t the right and left of the Vice-Regal carriage were won. An arch had been erected near the Liverpool Arms, and here the Amherst town council were presented. The procession again started, but it was not an orderly one. The number of horsemen had increased until over 500 mounted men were in the cavalcade. They reached Amherst, and passed under the triumphal arch near the town hall, amid the cheering of over 1,000 people assembled there. An address was presented and replied to. The progress was resumed to the London Bridge. Those who had waited here long were disappointed, for no halt was made, and the 2,500 people and children caught but a glimpse of the carriage and its occupants. Various arches were passed under, and the procession eventually entered the Crescent, which was freely decorated with flags and evergreens. A halt was made opposite the ofce of the "North-Western Chronicle" (now "Talbot Leader"), and an address presented. A rapid drive brought the party to the United States Hotel, where the party alighted. The banquet was held in the pit of the Theatre Royal, which had been boarded over for the occasion. About 90 persons sat down to it. It was at this gathering that the name of Talbot was suggested by His Excellency as a suitable one for the town. The municipal cost of the visit was £206, the luncheon coming to £118. In their next issue of the "NorthWestern Chronicle", conducted by Messrs. Bateman, Clark, and Co., took the name of the "Talbot Leader".
Shortly afterwards the public buildings were moved from the Flat to their present position in the Crescent and Camp street. The sale of land was remarkable because two townships were laid out and sold within the one municipal area. The name of the municipality was in comparatively recent times changed to the Borough of Talbot. I have heard the late Robert Wood Wilkinson, who was then Mayor, relate how, after much agitation, the change was made. He went to Melbourne to interview the authorities, and he was so certain of the result, that he took the Borough seal with him so as to get it altered.
The number of cases of accident and sickness on the field made it imperative that an hospital should be provided, and in 1857 a site was selected on rising ground east of the township of Amherst. A ward was erected, and in 1859 the building was increased in size. It was then incorporated, and grew steadily in size and importance until it has reached its present condition of excellence. There are few hospitals in Australia that for their size are better equipped and conducted than the Amherst District Hospital. It was the pioneer of the great open-air charitable demonstrations, known as "Hospital Fetes", and made some remarkable records. One year, under the management of Mr. James Fowler of the London Chartered Bank - a born organiser - they took over £1,500 in one day! It was at this demonstration I witnessed my first stage play. It was, I think, locally written, and was entitled "Lubramuncha or the Wife Cruncher." I went in alone and was soon enveloped in fear and dismay. I regretted my temerity, but was too completely terrified to leave my seat and escape. From far and wide companies were organised to take part in the gorgeous processions; the theatrical wardrobes of the metropolis were ransacked to provide costumes, and all vied with each other to ensure success.
The visit of Sir William and Lady Don, and Mr. George Coppin was a memorable epoch in our history. The gigantic actor-baronet and his talented company played "Guy Mannering", "The Child of the Regiment", and "Nan, the Good for Nothing", in the Theatre Royal. They visited the Fire Brigade Station, and her ladyship christened the new engine "Lady Don", and Sir William presented a silver speaking trumpet to the brigade.
The establishment and growth of other institutions might be noted did time permit. How the Cricket ground became the Show Ground, and, eventually, the Public Park, and the varying pastimes of the clubs and organisations would be interesting. The names of the pioneers furnish a list of which any community might be proud. There are few, indeed, left who were here in `58. 1 see Messrs. Peace, Proud, Harrison, and Price, and we hope they may long be spared to us.
The changes in the past have been so many and so varied in character that we cannot venture to prophesy as to the future. The descendants of those who made the place are doing their best to prove themselves worthy of the pioneers. An Association of Talbot and Amherst boys has been formed in Melbourne, and on the Th November, they and their families meet at a picnic on Burnley Paddock, and some hundreds are expected to be present. Old times and incidents will be talked over and friendships revived, and a warm place for the old spot will ever be found in the hearts of those who hail from it. Though it is not now so prosperous, none can foresee its future, and, at all events, the remembrance of its ancient glory will never fade. - (Great Applause)
The next speaker was the Hon. A. R. Atrium, M.L.A., who said he did not intend to delay them long, especially as Dr. Salmon had given them such full particulars. He was a resident of the district for 54 years, although not a native, still he did not give them his age, nor did lie want to deny it (laughter). Fifty-three years ago he had a drive through the area from Maryborough to Amherst, and on to Talbot and Daisy Hill, of which he had a lively recollection. One or two of his early experiences had no doubt tended to shorten his growth. He would relate one of the days when Talbot and surrounding places were very "lively" indeed. They had driven about half a mile beyond where the Liverpool Arms hotel now stands, when they saw a light in the distance, and his brother-in-law told him that he thought they were going to be "stuck up", and to get his revolver ready in case of emergency.
"He was told if there was any shooting going on to lie down in the bottom of the cart. He did so, and every minute expected to hear the shooting commence. However, he was cunning enough, even at that age, to change his position, and to place his heels in the direction they were traveling, and his head at the other end. - (Laughter). The supposed 'stickers up', however, turned out to be some travellers whose cart had broken down, so they were enabled to proceed without any trouble. He had seen almost every rush that had taken place in the early days of Victoria, and although he had never resided in Talbot, he had lived near enough to it to know that he had sufficient interest in the district to help Talbot along by every possible means that lay in his power. -(Applause). No man could say in connection with the old and apparently worked out mining districts that there was not still left behind plenty of gold. The day was not far distant when whatever Government came into power would have to take the matter in hand and expend money in further developing the mining industry. All industries that were languishing should be assisted by the Government, and unless these were developed, things would soon be in a bad way, in the country districts. As it was now, Melbourne was getting too unwieldy. The population in Melbourne was far too large in comparison with the country's population, and something would have to be done to make the country more populous. The Talbot district had still great possibilities in front of it. No one could say that its resources were worked out. He had the honor of being Minister of Mines on three different occasions, and he could say from experience that so far as mining was concerned, Talbot was one of the very important districts that deserved Government assistance. It was not the flourishing districts that should be assisted, but those that were under a cloud. At present he was sitting in opposition to the Government and could not do as much as he would like for the district, but the time might come when he would be in a position to do a little more, and he assured them that whenever that time arrived he would not be found wanting in his endeavours to push forward the interests of Talbot and district. He sincerely hoped prosperity would return to Talbot, and that in the near future a gratifying augmentation would be noticed in its population. He hoped to see the young sons and daughters of the people spring into manhood and womanhood, and take high positions in the State as their parents had done. - (Applause). He was very pleased to have been present, and say a few words to them. He was glad to see Cr. H. Churchill and many other old identities present, taking part in the jubilee of the municipality. - (Applause). In concluding, Mr. Atrium described the area as one capable of carrying a very large population.
Cr. Henry Churchill, J.P., representing the Talbot Shire, said he could speak from experience. He had been in it all, and taken his part in all matters for the advancement of the district, Amherst Hospital, and all. Speaking of the once flourishing agricultural society, he said the public were indebted to it for its splendid park and recreation ground. He had supervised the planting of the trees, erection of the fences, etc., and was also one, with several others, who had signed a promissary note for £1,000 to cover the cost of all three improvements. The whole of this money was paid off, and on his suggestion the committee of management had handed over this splendid property to the Borough Council for the benefit of the community. - (Applause). When he used to bring his produce to Talbot from Daisy Hill, there were no roads, no bridges, he even had to cross Back Creek three times in order to reach Talbot. Thanks to the good work done by the Talbot Shire and Borough Councils, they had good roads and splendid bridges. In short the pioneers of the district had handed over a grand inheritance to their descendants to look after, which he hoped they in turn would hand down to succeeding generations. It had afforded him great pleasure to be present and take part in the proceedings. (Applause).
Ringing cheers were then given for the Borough Council and the old pioneers, and this part of the day's programme ended.
In addition to the above speakers, the following were amongst those present:- Cr. Holmes (Mayor of Majorca); Mr. F. T. Atrium, secretary and engineer Tullaroop Shire; and Rev. Father Flynn, a native of Talbot, who made the journey from Wodonga specially, and whom his many friends were pleased to welcome. We also noticed an ex-mayor of Talbot on the ground in the person of Mr. John Davies, now of Ballarat, who with his wife, also paid us a special visit, and they met with a cordial reception.
OLD IDENTITIES SPEAK. We took the opportunity of interviewing a few of the old identities, and give below short statements by them. Space will not permit of extended notices, or of more of them being given.
MR GEORGE PEACE. This gentleman is, as far as we know, one of the oldest pioneers of Talbot, and he remarked that he would be only too pleased to give us any particulars at his command. He arrived in Talbot in 1855 when the gold workings were confined to Red Hill, Star Hill, and Star Flat. He believed they were first opened in 1851. At that time the business places were situated on the Flat, amongst them being Messrs. Phelan, later of Ballarat street, Findlay and Fullerton, Ford and Smith, W. and D. Stavely, Kearsley and Lord, and Mann and Porter; whilst the medical man was Dr. Weir. The inhabitants of the place nmnbered, at that time, about 500 at the outside. There was then no workings on the Scandinavian lead, and where the Crescent now is, was nothing but crabholes, "where," he remarked, "I used to go shooting ducks." Following Star and Red Hills, part of Good Woman's Hill was worked, and down towards the Flat, after which there was a lull, and people went away, but later, about Christmas, 1858, part of the Scandinavian Lead was worked, that is at the lower end of Ballarat Street and across towards the school, taking a turn across where Mr. Congress now lives. The Scandinavian Lead proper, however, was not properly in full swing until gold was discovered at the south end of the Crescent, where the real lead was got onto. This part was known as "Choke `em Corner." The ground was worked both right and left, and it was then that the rush or rather Back Creek, as it was known, was at its height. How about the population, Mr. Peace, we asked. "Well, the place was covered with tents, and perhaps there were 50,000 people on the field." At the first there were no police at Talbot, but there were at Amherst; and in reference to the statements that there was a good sprinkling of "Undesirables," Mr. Peace said such was the case. As to the buildings he had an idea that he built the first wooden building in Talbot. In the early times there was a Wesleyan chapel on the point of Star Hill, which was called "Chapel Hill." They had a small burying ground there, and he believed that about a dozen bodies were interred there. Later, when the place was worked over again, this burying ground was dug up. He thought the main rush lasted about three years, and then began to dwindle away. "Yes," said Mr. Peace, in conclusion, "the roads and streets were very bad; in summer with dust, and in winter up to your knees in mud."
MR GEORGE PROUD. An interview with this gentleman elicited the fact that he arrived in Talbot in 1855, just a month later than Mr. Peace, and camped in the same locality. He confirmed the statements of Mr. Peace as to the mining operations in those days, as well as some of the other statements. As to the Wesleyan chapel mentioned above, Mr. Proud says the Sunday school was conducted by the late Mr. W. Phelan. The rush at Good Woman's Hill broke out the day Mr. and Mrs. Proud arrived. In those days there was no post office here, and we had to go to Maryborough for letters or to post them. There was no road, and no conveyances, and we had to walk. On one occasion, he went to Maryborough and bought a washing tub, and carried it home on his shoulder filled with groceries, having to walk all the way. There were, he said, many stirring events in those days, which remark gave Mrs. Proud an opportunity to relate one or two events which were impressed on her mind. On one occasion, a woman's throat was cut near their place, the murderer committing suicide. Her husband always slept with a gun close by him, and one night something aroused her, and she saw a hand thrust under the tent. She immediately woke her husband, who got up, and at the same moment they found that their tent was on fire. Sometimes things were very bad, and shrieks and cries of "Murder" were quite common. Mr. and Mrs. Proud were able to confirm many of Mr. Peace's statements, and Mr. Proud said many a brace of quail he had shot where the Crescent now stands. "Yes, there were quite 50,000 people on the rush," said Mr. Proud. Speaking of the present Amherst Cemetery, Mrs. Proud said she believed that nearly the first to be buried there was a Dr. Weir, and a little daughter of hers was the second.
MR HENRY F. HALSTED. This gentleman arrived in Talbot in May, 1859, when the rush was beginning to assume gigantic proportions. Asked about the buildings in those days, he said that the Commercial Hotel was a very small building. In addition to it being used for the purpose of holding a police court, the Church of England denomination used to hold services there. In those days it was thought the Flat would become the main part of the town, and the Government buildings were erected there, except the police camp, which was always where it is now. As to the population, well the whole place was nothing but tents, and he supposed there were fully 50,000 people here. Very many came from Canton Lead, Ararat, and consisted of all nationalities. He had an idea that a small publication called "The Trumpeter," was published in Oxford Street, in which street the late Mr. Gre-vrille had a large canvas theatre. Yes, there were some bad characters in the place, but he did not think things were quite as bad as the late Superintendent Hare had made out. At the same time it was no uncommon thing for shots to be exchanged between the police and some of the worst characters.
"There was plenty of petty thieving going on. For instance", says Mr. Halsted, "one day I and another man were walking down the street, when we saw another man who was passing a butcher's shop, quite coolly take a whole sheep off a nail and walk off with it. It was dangerous to say anything, because you did not know but what you might be set upon. On another occasion someone walked off with a large boiler of clothes, which were lifted off the fire. Such things as this were common." He remembered the visit of the Governor, Sir Henry Barkly, when he put up at the United States Hotel (now McKenzie's blacksmith's shop), whilst the banquet was held in the Theatre Royal, then owned by Mr. H. Day. It was a great turn out. He said there were hotels without number, and all kinds of halls for amusement, and as there was no scarcity of money, things were made pretty lively.
MR J. ELMER. In Mr. "Jack" Elmer, as he is familiarly known, we have another old identity, he having arrived here in December, 1858. The principal workings were in the south-west part of the district, such as Nuggety Gully and Kangaroo Flat. He worked on the Scandinavian Lead. In the early times his father and mother resided on the Flat, and they sold the right to a piece of land to the late Mr. D. Stavely to build on. The late Mr. Jolly and his then partner Mr. Hibbins carried on a blacksmith's business there. The original prospectors of the Scandinavian lead never got much. They were on the outside of the lead. There was a difficulty in tracing it and some miners went to the prospectors who said they were not doing very well. A party was allowed to go down their shaft but the result was disappointing. However, the gold was traced across the lower end of the street, between the Crescent and the school, and towards the railway station, some of the claims being very rich. Speaking of the buildings in the Crescent, Mr. Elmer thinks that Mr. M. J. McCarthy's was the first substantial one.
MR JAMES RETALLICK Mr. Jas. Retallick, who recently retired from farming pursuits at Evansford, although not working on the field, was often here in the early days, and he agreed with Mr. Elmer that the Back Creek rush was the best that ever broke out. People who have never been on a large rush can have no idea, he remarks, of what a scene it was, and no description could adequately depict the scenes in the early days of the rushes.
MR HENRY WIDDOP, J.P. Mr. Widdop arrived here about Christmas, 1859, when the place was in full swing, to take charge of a drapery establishment, for Messrs. Foot and Heather, the shop being situated in the Crescent, where Mr. Solomon was. Some of the firms in the same line at that time were Harbottle, Porch and Pudney, Hurley and O'Leary, and Bergin. Things were very lively and there was no trouble to do business. The banking establishments were the Union, Victoria, London Chartered, National, and Oriental, the Australasian coming over from Amherst later. The Wesleyan body had a chapel in Ballarat street, near where Mr. Deans now resides, while the Presbyterians held service in the Globe hotel. Dealing with matters of a later date, Mr. Widdop said that there was always rivalry between the north and south parts of the main street; take the case of the Borough Hall. The hall itself was purchased from Mr. Medley, and a contract was let for building the front to it, and this was stopped in the middle of the work for a time, through a friction between the parties.
MR W. ROSS. Mr. Ross came here when a boy, about 1858. At that time there were only a few buildings in the Crescent, amongst them being Duncan Bravender, blacksmith; Bennet Bros., ironmongers; the Waverley Library, kept by Mr. E. Elder, and a billiard room kept by Mr. J. W. Kirk. Mr. Ross may lay claim to being the first "Printer's devil" in Talbot, being employed in the jobbing office opened by the late Mr. Robert Clarke, who later on was proprietor of the Talbot Leader, and subsequently the Ballarat Courier. This office was situated in Camp street, near where the Court House now stands. Mr. Clarke sold out to Messrs. Nutall and Gearing, who published the North-Western Chronicle, which Mr. Clarke, with the late Mr. Bateman, subsequently purchased. Residents then had to send to Amherst for their letters, but later an office was opened where Mr. Widdop's shop now stands, Mr. I. Andrews (who was in partnership with Mr. H. Robinson) being postmaster. It was nothing, says Mr. Ross, to see 700 or 800 people waiting at one time for letters. A miner's right cost £l, and a business license £2.1 Os per quarter, the latter having to be displayed in a conspicuous place. He thinks that the population when the rush was at its best must have been fully 60,000.
MR RICHARD W. HILL. Mr. Hill is another pioneer who arrived here with his wife (who is still living but we regret to say is an invalid) some time in 1859. He worked in a claim at the back of the flour mill in Ballarat street but never struck anything very rich. He went to N.S.W. for a time, in charge of drills on the Bingara diamond fields. Mr. Hill remarked that in the early days he had Mr. Daniel Davis as a mate and it was worthy of note that they were still together after over 50 years, as they now resided side by side. (To be continued)
MRS. E. DAVIS. Mrs. Davis, of Ballarat street, is one of the early residents of Amherst, arriving there with her husband in 1854. Of those resident or mining there about that time, and who are still in the district, she mentions Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay, (her sister), Mrs. Shaw, Mr. J. S. Henderson, Messrs. Cosstick, Alex. Smith, Lefroy and Lilburne. She also thinks Messrs. Makepeace Bros. and R. McKenzie can date back about that time or a little later, as well as Mrs. Sebire, of Talbot. There was no place of worship then, but shortly after the Primitive Methodists had a building consisting of slabs with a tarpaulin for a covering; somewhat later, the Church of England opened. Turning to the domestic side of things, Mrs. Davis furnished figures, which are not, perhaps, new to the old identities, but are, nevertheless, astonishing. Here are a few: Flour £15 per bag; a 4-lb. loaf, 6s; butter, salt, 5s; fresh, 8s per lb; potatoes, is 6d per lb; onions, 3s per lb.; sugar is 6d per lb.; eggs, 12s per dozen, and she has paid Is for a bucket of water. Carpenters received 30s per day. Mutton was fairly cheap, but there was no beef until some time later. These prices did not last very long. "You might think I am romancing," said Mrs. Davis, "but the figures are quite correct."
MR JAMES COUSEN. This gentleman, who came overland from N.S.W. in 1852, is another pioneer, arriving in the district in 1854, camping on the Flat. After following mining for a while, he established himself in business, and old residents of Talbot will remember his Old York Store at the south end of the Crescent, near the Presbyterian Manse .... He mentioned that when he came to the colonies, the ship, of 800 tons burden, took eight months to do the voyage.
MR CHARLES SANDLAND. This gentleman is another of the 1854 brigade. As he was on the road (carrying his swag) between Melbourne and Ballarat, the soldiers passed him en route to the latter place. He first engaged in mining on Back Creek, and he commenced at Hard Hill. He was at Amherst in the "rush" times there, and worked on the Flat. Referring to the incident of the police being called in when Dunn's paddock was "rushed", as mentioned by Dr. Salmon, Mr. Sandland says he was amongst the number taken in charge by the police, and marched off to the camp, but there the matter ended, as the authorities could do nothing. "Yes," says Mr. Sandland, in answer to our enquiry, "I was one of those who laid the foundation of the Amherst Hospital, together with the late Mr. John Adam, and Mr. C. Harting, now of Maryborough, and others whose names I cannot now call to mind. The want of such an institution had been felt for some time, and one evening, after an accident, we met at Cowley's hotel and discussed the matter, with the result that subscription lists were opened, and a rough building, with slab sides, was erected. No, I am not quite sure who was the first doctor; it may have been Dr. Weir. Just at this time (it was sometime in 1856, I believe), I left Amherst for a while, going to Avoca, from which I soon returned. From this the institution went on improving, and now we have the splendid hospital we are so justly proud of. I have been a subscriber to it continuously for the past 46 years, and I regret I am unable, through ill-health, to attend the board meetings at present.
MR JOHN POTTER Mr. Potter proved to be the "oldest pioneer". Unfortunately, he was not at home when we called, but his wife was able to furnish a few particulars. Mr. Potter arrived in the Amherst district in 1851 (it was called Daisy Hill). He opened Blacksmith's Gully. Here he found a man named Bell "surfacing", but there had been no shaft sinking. Mr. Potter sank some shafts, discovered gold, and a rush set in. Mrs. Potter referred to the discovery of gold at Daisy Hill by a party on their way from Adelaide to Bendigo, who were camped there. The version of the discovery, as related by her husband, is somewhat different to that given by others. The party got "bogged", and while endeavouring to get out, the wheel turned up a nugget. The party then sank five or six holes but did not get much. They informed Mr. Potter of their find, at the same time stating that they had to get on with their loading. Mr. Potter tried the place, and gold was discovered. The spot, we understand, is at the site of the old cemetery or nearby. Mr. Potter went back to Adelaide for his wife, and later returned to Amherst, and was associated with Messrs. Lockyer, Heath, and Homshire, in working the White Horse Reef. This party obtained 125 lb. weight of gold from this claim.
MR R YOUREN. This gentleman belongs to the 1859 number, coming here from White Hills. He engaged in mining, but soon established a crushing plant on Back Creek. There were four batteries on the creek, Bartlemore's, Morgans', the Perseverance (a co-operative party), and his own.
MR CHARLES TYACK. Mr. Tyack, who was a very early arrival in the district, can give a very good account of the "rush" times and his comments confirm the history as given by Dr. Salmon.
In addition to those named above, there are others who can be classed as "old identities" of the district. Among them are Messrs. W. Freestone, Long Bros., John and George Davey, Shepard Bros., Hindmarsh, A. Meyer, Pritchard, Tyzack, Haynes, Hardy, Thomas, A. McLeod, Gaskell, J. Baker, P. Schottler, Albrecht, N.J. McCarthy, Dunstone, Price, H. Meyer, Mitchell and Chancellor.
More "old identities" include Mesdames. Kewin, Curtis, Toole, Ridd, Hallen, Lundburg, Goodman, Haynes, Tyzack, Jackson, Shackles, Chalmers, Flynn, Stein, Baumann, Gaskell, Bailey, Samuels, Wade, Waddel, Hindmarsh, N.J. McCarthy, Ross, Winch, Burdess, Prowse, Kirk, Miller, Bey, Jones, Anderson, Thomas, Rooke, Whittaker, Gordon, and Miss Arnell.
We have a number who, while not being classed as "pioneers", are nevertheless "old" residents. For instance, Mr. Thos. Ross came to Back Creek with his parents in 1854; Mr. John Harrison in 1855; Mr. E. Hall in 1856; and Edward Chalmers the latter end of 1859, Mr. E.P. Dowding, shire secretary. There are many still remaining who were born here, and can boast of along residence, but to give the list would occupy too much of our space to publish in full, nor is there any need for us to give those old Amherstonians already mentioned by Mrs. Davis.
The whole function was under the control of a committee, consisting of members of the council and other gentlemen who were fortunate in securing the services of an excellent committee of ladies, who took in hand the catering. The Mayor was chairman, and he certainly worked hard to make the gathering a great success, and the outcome was highly gratifying. The secretarial duties were entrusted to Messrs. Salmon (town clerk), and Dowding (borough engineer), and they are to be complimented on the manner in which they carried out their duties. As treasurer, Mr. J.H. Jessup was the right man in the right place.
The proprietor of this journal had arranged with Mr. Plucke, of Maryborough, to take a number of views, and they have been executed in excellent style. In addition to one of the children drawn up inside the oval, there is also a photo of the old pioneers, and another of the assemblage, listening to Dr. C.C. Salmon's address. There is a group of the councillors, officers, and committee, and compose the following:- The Mayor (Cr. H.H. Schwennesen), Crs. McPhee, Henry, Beresford, Chalmers; Messrs. P. W. Salmon (town clerk), E.P. Dowding (borough surveyor), and J.H. Jessup, treasurer; Messrs. JR. Deans, A.J. Stoddart, R. Allen, Thos. Allison, J.O. Hughes, A. Gale, A. Senger and Geo. Reid. The next group consists of Old Amherstonians, as follows :Messrs. Churchill, W.J. Crooks, J.S. Henderson, JR. Deans, P.W. Salmon, Geo. Cosstick, W. Lilburne, W. Hayden, J. Robinson, J.A. McKenzie, Geo. Henry, W.J. Long, J. Holmes (now Mayor of Majorca), Thos. Davies and Thos. Matthews. The ladies committe group consists of Mesdames Schwennesen (Mayoress), Cunningham, Peterson, W.J. Crooks, Rogers, Phelan, Gale, Ramsay, Dowding, Hevey and Farrell. Any one desirous of purchasing any of these groups can obtain them at this office. The large cards are 1 s each, and the postcard size 3d each. These latter are the children's group and Dr. Salmon addressing the assemblage.
The Talbot Town Band, under Mr. J.M. Gordon, rendered selections at intervals during the afternoon, and needless to say their performances were much appreciated.
As a wind-up to the day's proceedings, the Mayor and Mayoress each planted a pine tree, the former making a few very appropriate remarks at the conclusion.
It had been arranged that there should be a magic lantern exhibition in the evening, in the park, and a very large number stayed for this. Mr. Geo. D. Reid had this matter in hand, but unfortunately something went wrong with the machine, and notwithstanding that Mr. Reid spent a good deal of time over it, the fault could not be found, and it was with reluctance that the exhibition had to be abandoned. In the town hall, a ball was held. which was largely attended. The music supplied by Messrs. Elsey and Hodgkinson was excellent, whilst Mr. J. Boxshall was an efficient M. C. The management of the affair was in the hands of Cr. Browne and Mr. Boxshall.
We cannot do better than conclude by giving the names of the present councillors, officers, and employees: - Cr. H.H. Schwennesen (mayor), Crs. G. Peterson, Thos. Browne, Geo. Henry, J.A. McKenzie, Edwd. Chalmers, C.C. McPhee, G.H. Spence, and W.H. Beresford; Officers, Mr. P.W. Salmon, town clerk; Mr. J.H. Jessup, treasurer; Dr. P.H. Cunningham, health officer; Mr. E.P. Dowding, engineer and surveyor; Mr. E.S. Herring, borough solicitor; Mr. T. Allison, caretaker of water works; Mr. C. Tyers, surfaceman.
(1 know this has been a very long series but I hope readers have found it as fascinating as I have. I also hope that ntanv of you have found a little story in it to "put some flesh on the bones" of an ancestor, as I know the story of Charles Sandland did for our member, Pearl Collins. For those of you with no definite connection with the Talbot, Ahmerst area, thanks for bearing with the rest of us. Ed.)