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Some Ups and Downs of an old Richmondite (june 1910)

Mr Alfred Smith.
Chronicled by Robert Farlow.
[For the Gazette:]
"As we have spoken of Hobartville,
will pick up the track there and go along
the Yarramundi road, where I knew
several old hands of the good old type.
Where Mr Matthew Nowland is living
was, in my earliest days, occupied by the
Dight family. The old Mr Dight I don't
remember, but his wife was living there
with the family when I first recollect it.
I knew three of the boys before they were
married Sam, George and Arthur.
There were two more, John and Charles.
It was a flour mill worked by horses when
I was a lad, and I used to go there with
Mr James to get flour, and often saw the
mill at work. Mr and Mrs Douglas,
parents of George, James, Robert, &c,
lived there for a long time. When they
left they went to live where they resided
for so many years, and where George,
Robert and Mary died. Mr Bowman
Douglas still occupies the home where
they died. While the Douglas family
were living in Dight's old home Mr. Nowland
purchased the property, and after they left
went there to live and has been
there ever since. The place has been
known for many years as 'Mountain View.' The
hill hard by the front which leads to the lowlands
has been known as Dight's Hill many years, and the
lane along the lowlands in that spot known as Dight's lane.
While Mr and Mrs Douglas were living there I often put
sheep in the little orchard alongside, in which there
used to be good grass.
Not far from the front of 'Mountain View' is a piece
of land bounded on one side by the late Albert Cornwell's
old home, now occupied by Mr Nathan Mitchell, and on the
other by a piece of land belonging to Mr Nowland, and
the front faces the reserve.
There was a house there many years ago, and Daniel Eaton
lived in it for many years. He rented Bowman's farm down
under the hill, and was a big farmer. He also had a
station property on the Big river. Mentioning Mr Dan Eaton
and his station reminds'me of one trip I made from there.
I was on the station this trip for about a fortnight.
Most of the family were there, and as they were homely people,
it was a pleasant time. I remember Johnny, George, Tom, Billy,
and Mrs James William's were there.
Aiex. Gough, father of Johnny Gough, fattened the sheep I
brought down that trip. I went, to school with the Eaton boys;
also with Jane, the eldest girl. The old house above-mentioned
near Nowland's I don't remember anyone else living in after
old Mr. Dan Eaton, and it has gone the way of old places, many years.
Where the Douglas home is still to be found belonged to Mr William Small,
father of Ben, the wheelwright, and Bill, the blacksmith, who carried
on together a wheel wrighting business in Lennox-street, Richmond, for
a very fair lifetime; father also of Susan, who now lives in Richmond in
the skillion on the site of the old business. He sold the property to
one of the Bowmans, and it passed on to the Douglas family.
The piece between the last named and Albert Cornwell's old
home belonged to Thomas Small, who managed to stick to his
little lump of land. On this property his son, Ned,
lives, near the reserve. Ned married a Miss Baldwin, sister
to George, Dick, Janey and Betsy. Mrs Ned Small used
to be a great raiser of geese and when I would be crossing the
old common with stock you could see her feathered stock
about in all directions. Arthur, Charley and Ada still live
in the old home, handed down to them by their father and mother.
Where 'Cracker' Cornwell's (as he was nearly always known) old home
is I remember when there was no house on it. The original house
was built by Mr Isaac Cornwell, who purchased the property
from one of the Small family we have been speaking about.
Mr Isaac Cornwell had the house built and went there to live
after he left the shop in Richmond.
Albert Cornwell's old home has also been occupied by such men
as the late Mr Cleeve, at one time stock inspector, the
late Edward Robinson ; and the present squire of Hobartville
put in a few years there.
Farther along the Yarramundi road we have the home of the
Faithful family on our right, standing some considerable distance
back from the road. The old home seems to be tumbling to
pieces and looks much the worse for wear.
The first I knew living at 'Lakeville' were Mr Faithful and
his first wife. She died there. I remember Jane, a daughter
of the first wife, who married a Mr Wilshire. Mr George Faithful,
a son, was a tall, nice young fellow' and I knew him very well;
but another son, William, I didn't know much about, although I have
often seen him. I knew old Mr Faithful's second wife, who was
Miss Maria Bell, of 'Belmont.' She died at 'Lakeville' also, and
Mr Faithful ended his days here.
I remember a little accident Mr. Faithful had out on the former
common, close to the old top entrance gate of the Hobartville big paddock.
Mr James and I were coming home from the bush at Londonderry with a load
of wood and when we got about where I have stated he was out of his gig
and gigs were aristocratic turnouts, in those days. James made enquiries
and Mr Faithful told him he had lost one of the lynch pins out of
the axle and the wheel came off.' Mr Faithful wanted to go to Sydney
urgently couldn't catch three trains a day. from Richmond then and
was in a great way about the pin. Without a pin he couldn't go on, and
he couldn't find it. His servant, who we knew as 'Red Bill,' was
with him so he came in to our place and managed to get one to fit the axle.
This was really the first time I got
to know Mr Faithful. Miss Jane was a good living young woman, and one
Sunday going home there happened to be a row on at the old 'pub' at the
corner of Bosworth and March streets. There were no police watching
the pubs on Sundays in those times. On this occasion there
was an extra big row aboard. Miss Faithful came up at night
to make a complaint to George James, then a constable, about the noise
and row. Mr James went down and soon settled the disturbance.
Going along towards Yarramundi we have old 'Bronte' the home of the
Pitts. The old house still stands, but years ago a fine modern cottage
was built for Mr Edwin Pitt, and he removed into it. Since then the
old home has been occupied at different times by men who have worked on
the place. Old Mr George Pitt was the first I remember at 'Bronte.' I
knew him very well and a grand old man he was. He was my boss
for three years at the punt, and during that time I always found it
a pleasure to have anything to do with him. He once stood for Parliament
against the late Hon. William Walker, for Windsor and Richmond, and was
only beaten by some eight or ten votes.
But about 'Bronte.' Dan Carter could tell a lot more
than most of us, as he lived with old Mr. Pitt for a long while,
and Mr Pitt thought there was no one like Dan.
In the corner of Bronte estate at the junction of Crowley's lane
and the main Yarramundi road, there was a house which has only been
pulled down a few months, and the first person I remember living in it
was Bob Johnson, or, as he was generally called, 'Hominy Bob.' He was
a poultry dealer.
Then I knew and remember Ned Harper, who was a blacksmith living
in this house and had his shop there for many years. The late
John Madden had a wheelwright shop there, and lived in a
little three roomed place with a kitchen which stood between
Harpur's house and Pitt's gate, where the men's house stands.
He also lived in the house where Mr. Charles Davis lived, and
which is still occupied by Miss Eliza Davis and her brother Ted.
At the time John Madden lived in it, it was owned by John Markwell.
I will content myself with mentioning some of the-Old hands of Yarramundi
who come to my mind. Among them were my old friend John Crowiey ;
Mr Isaac Pearce, who lived for years in a house just inside the
road fence, and near the entrance gate ; Thomas Kirk, where
William Pearce lived ; Bill Paris, Andy Farrel, who married the widow
of Bill Paris; Greenhalgh, who kept a pub;
Krochnert and Low, who kept shop ;
Robert Aull kept the 'Governer Darling' hotel, and
John Wheeler's father kept the pub later on ; Dan Dickens, kept a pub
there and Tom Kirk also ; Johnny Tindale, William Heath, William Farlow,
who kept the 'Waggon and Four Horses' in the old two storey place ;
Tom Hornery and his wife. Poor old Tom was drowned in the lagoon, and
I have heard them say old Mr Pitt gave Ben Mortimer 5 for finding his body;
Gilbey the well sinker ; Cross lived near the lagoon in Crowley's paddock.
I remember there used to be great fights there. Some of
the battles fought there were between Ben Mortimer and Tom Saunders, a
Windsor chap ; and Joe Windred and Ben Mortimer.
I remember hearing Mr James talk about a fatal fight out there
somewhere about the waterhole just down from the Presbyterian church,
and I remember him telling me he arrested a man for it. But all these
old hands are gone the way of all flesh, and after all they
were friendly and good natured people. That was my experience, anyhow.
Yarramundi can claim to be the home of some people who have lived to
be great ages. Among them can be reckoned the Timmins family of the
older generations. I knew 'Granny'Timmins, as she was known in later years,
and her husband very well. I think she was over ioo years
old when she died. Mr and Mrs Timmins used to come round the back
bushtrack to Richmond no H.A. College, or thought of such in those days,
and cail at Mr James and take the old lady James into Windsor to attend
service in the Roman Catholic Church there on Sunday mornings. We had no
churches then so handy to up, yet the old hands thought nothing of going
miles to attend service. My wife has often walked to Penrith to attend
the Roman Catholic Church and thought nothing of it. But coming back to
this old couple Timmins. They had several children, some of whom lived
to be great ages.
I went to school with 'Betsy'Timmins, who married the late Mr. George Mortimer,
also with Agnes who became Mrs George Pearce. Betsy lived to be a very old
woman, and Agnes was an old woman when she died.
Then in my early days old Mr Markwell was living down on the flats on the
farm, which, I think was bought by Mr Klein, where he settled down
after leaving off school teaching, and now belongs to his daughter
Mrs Albert Smith.
I went to Mr Hogsflesh's school with Thomas Markwell, and
John, his brother. John was found dead in the bush near where
Sam Wood used to live at one time. He went out for a load of wood and had
it on, and made a pot of tea. He must have dropped dead,
or passed away very easily, for I believe he was found next morning resting
with his head on his arms near his billy. His horses were standing there with
the load on the dray, and must have had a rough time standing all that time.
Old Mr. Markwell had a man working for him I remember well. He used to bring
vegetables, mostly cabbage, turnips, and melons, to Richmond for sale. He had
an old white horse with one 'bumble' front foot and was much attached to the
old animal. The old man went by the name of Cheshire.
Then I knew old Mr William Stinson. He it was who married
the widow of Mr Wheeler, who kept a pub in Yarramundi.
I remember old Mr George Mortimer living out there. I remember George, Ben,
William, Alf, Tom and James of the boys. Among the girls I knew Annie,
who married John Lord, and another whose name I think was Sarah.
Then I can remember the founders of the Williams family out that way,
Mr Robert Williams and his wife lived where Wellington Freeman is
living. I remember old Mr Williams dying and being buried on a Sunday.
His widow married William Maloney.
Then I knew Mr Williams' son, Thomas, both before he was married and
after, when he lived in a weatherboard house which stood off the present
main road where Mr John Devlin is living.
I knew Thomas Howell who had the 'flour mills out there.
George Wood also had a house along the lane going down to the
present falls. His first wife was Miss Caroline Aston, and his second
Mary Collins. I went to school with Caroline Aston, and her sister,
the widow of the late John Wood, of the Grose, Annie Crowley,
sister of the late Mr John Crowley of 'Crowley Park,' was another schoolmate
of mine from out that way.
As 1 have I said, I went to school with John Markwell, and I remember
the sad accident which happened him many years before he died. I put
him over the river in the punt, one moonlight night about 9 o'clock
and when he got up on the bill after leaving the river he started
galloping the grey mare he was riding. When he got about in front of
where Mr Bowman Douglas lives there was a large stump along the track,
and he came to grief against the stump. The mare was killed, and he
was rendered unconscious, and was found very early next morning by
Joe Fletcher, who was going to work at Dight's. John was unconscious
for several days, and though he pulled through, it used to come against
him at times.
On the farm where Mr John Riley lives, I remember the old Mr.
Shields of all living. He would be grandfather of the present
Mr.George Shields, senr., of Bosworth-street Richmond. Old
Mr. Shields was a little man, but a worker.
On the adjoining farm I remember old Mr George Pearce living for
a great number of years. He had several sons and a daughter, Clarissa.
Among his sons with us to-day we have Sam, who has suffered two losses
with fire at the hands of some malicious persons; Edwin, who was for
many years working a part of 'Bronte' farm and now lives at
Agnes Banks, and William. The sister I belive still lives at the
old home on the farm.
One time I was talking to old Mr Pearce about the price of corn
and telling him I knew old Mick Gavin to bring Mr James 25 bushels from
Little Kurrajong, as it was then known, at 9d a bushel
He told me he knew it to be sold for 8d a bushel.
Mr George Pearce had a brother Charlie who lived down the lane
going to the river falls. He was a boot maker by trade, I
think. His wife was a great nurse. They reared a large family
of boys and girls. Some of the boys are still in the district.
George lives in Richmond. Edward in the old home, and works
for Mr P. Charley, of Belmont Park ; and Arthur also works for
Mr Charley, and looks after the Clarendon property
Among the daughters of Mr Charles Pearce we have with us
Mrs. John Riley, of Yarramundi, Mrs William Parker,
Agnes Banks, and Charlotte, who lives at North Richmond with
the Pitt's, of 'Sunnyside,' I think.
While speaking of Mr and Mrs Pearce living down the
lane near the falls, reminds me that behind Mr Howell's place
near the river old Jack Timmins lived a long time while he
was droving.
Old Mr. William Scott lived on the property where old
Mr.Michael Waters is living, only nearer the river.
Many a time I have been on the farm when Mr Scott lived there.
Mr James and I used to go down, generally on Saturday, and get
a bag or two of chaff for the horse, and some marsh mallows
and wild mustard out of the wheat for the cows. The wild
mustard was very plentiful in those times. I went to school
with two of Mr Scott's children John, who died in Kurrajong I
think, and Betsey, who married Jack Timmins. There were two other girls.
Fred Thomson had the next farm to Scott's before he took the
farm near Parnell's.
The adjoining farm to this I remember the late Peter Hough
occupying for some time.
Somewhere about there a man named 'Jacky' Green owned a farm and
lived on it for many years. I remember Fred Thomson had a farm near
Parnell's old place. Parnell's was a weatherboard piace and I have
heard them speak about him keeping a pub there. I knew the Parnell
family very well. There was Edward, who died only a short time ago,
William, Thomas, Charles, John and Matthew. The eldest
girl, Mary, married a Mr Joseph Cope, of Windsor, and I believe
the solicitor of the name in Sydney is a son of his;
Elizabeth' married a Mr Baker ; and Sarah, Mr. Theo Cooper. Agnes was
unmarried and there were two more younger ones I knew very well, but
I forget their names, as the time I speak of is so long ago.
Thomas Parnell, the father of the children mentioned, and wife, and
some of the family, after leaving this district, went to
live on the Hunter River, somewhere near Maitland, and Mrs Parnell
told me they gave 8,000 for the place. William married and stayed
at the Hawkesbury river, and it was for him I worked at the punt.
I shall never forget Mrs Parnell's kindness to me while at the river.
Mr. Parnell always made it a practice to give me a pound every Christmas,
as he used to say, "for your kindness to the daughters by obliging
them with the boat at different times." In the old place on the
opposite side, of the road to Parnell's and it is a ruin now I knew
a boy and girl by the name of Sam and Mary Glasseye when they lived there
and came to Hogsflesh's school. I have heard their father kept a pub there,
but have no recollection of it.
After them came two brothers, William and Edward Jeffrey.
William was married, but Edward wasn't. I remember them keeping a pub,
and it was these men Mr. Ben Richards bought out when he left the
house in March street, Richmond, where Mr. C. S. Guest has his saleyards
now. Mr Richards kept a pub there for some time, and lived in
this place for about 18 years. It was while he was living here he started
butchering at Blackwattle Swamp,Sydney.
Not far away from here, on the corner of Dight's lane and the lane which
runs along the farms to the river end of Crowley's lane, there was a slab
house of four rooms and a verandah. The first I remember living there was
John Edwards. Jerry Hansell lived in it for a long time, but this old house,
too, has been a thing of the past many years.
While Jerry Hansell was living there I put a man named Samuel Wickham
over the river in the punt one morning with his two horses and a load
of corn and potatoes. When he got about opposite Jerry's house there
was a big mud hole, and while trying to steer the horses to miss it they
slewed and jammed him between the dray and the fence and killed him on
the spot. He married a widow, Elliot, grandmother to our present Jack,
and had his stepson, Simon, with him at the time.
And before I leave what we might call the Yarramundi block I must mention
that Andy Farrell lived on the farm adjoining
Mr Markwell's, and the late Abe Eather married his only daughter,
Ellen, while he was living there. Going down the river from where
Mr B. Richards kept the pub,
I'll say a little about some old hands I knew, and as near in the
order they came as my memory has them, which I think will not be far out.
The farm next to the old pub at Richmond bridge was owned by one of the
Rouses. I remember old Mr. and Mrs. Dempsey living on it for a long time.
I remember the three sons, James, Joseph, and George ; also two girls.
Liza married Henry Mills, and Betsy was single at this time and often
stayed with the Mills when they lived in Lennox street, Richmond, where
Harry Fong lives. This old place plays a big part in the early history
of Richmond. I believe Betsy Dempsey married after the family
left here. Mr. and Mrs. Rigney lived on the farm for a long time.
Mrs. Seymour bought this farm afterwards for 1350.
Mr. Guest, Charley's father, was the auctioneer and put it up for
sale at old Mr. John Town's while he was keeping pub over the river.
Mr Richard Watts (father of George, James and Henry
Watts, three well-known farmers and horsebreeders over North Richmond way
for many years) was empowered by Mrs. Seymour to bid for the property on
her behalf, and he managed to secure it for her. George Watts has passed
away. He was a wonderful man. Although he had lost his sight completely
he was a splendid judge of a horse, and a hard man to deceive in this respect.
His brother, Henry has also passed away. He, too,
was a good judge of horses, and can be reckoned among the Hawkesburyites
who have helped to make the district notable for good horses. Harry was
living at the time of his death at Yarramundi, but died, I believe, in one
of the hospitals in Sydney after an operation. James, the other brother, is,
I think, still alive.
The next farm belonged to Mrs Seymour, and Mr Richard Watts mentioned
lived there many years, and both he and his wife died there. Thus it
will be easily under stood how it was Mr Watts was empowered by Mrs Seymour
to purchase the adjoining place for her.
The next farm belonged to Mr Sam Thorley. Old Mr Thorley died there, and
his widow lived there for some time after. While Mr Thorley had it
Mr Edward Allen and his wife (parents of the late Charles Allen,
of North Richmond) lived near Thorley's house on a little piece of the
farm for a long time, and died there. Then I remember a man who had only
the use of one arm living on a part of Thorley's farm. This old man was a great
gardener, and grew a lot of peas. He used to bring them up to Richmond on
his shoulders in bags and sell them about the town. Then William Thorley's farm
came next, and on it he lived a long time.
Afterwards Mr Ben Richards got it from Thorley. William Thorley had one son,
a saddler, and the last time I saw him was at Narrabri, where he was in
business.
On what was William Thorley's farm I remember Mr Mills (father of old
Mrs Thomas Collison, who has not long left Windsor) keeping a school in a
weatherboard place. Afterwards Mr. Mills kept a school at Grose Vale somewhere
about the present post office.
Then we have the farm on which Mr Edward Inall (the present Albert's grandfather)
lived for many years, and I think he died there. At the time of his death he was
what can truly be called a very old man. Mrs Edward Inall, who was a sister, I
have heard, to William Scott, died down there. Some of Mr Inall's children
I remember, John, and another's name I am not certain of just now. There were
some daughters, but I knew very little about them.
Somewhere here Mr. William Ives lived. I think it was between Stevenson's farm
and the one owned by Edward Lewis. I remember some of the family. The
present Mrs. John Pearce, of Agnes Banks and she must be getting on in years now
was one of the girls. Then we have the farm on which Mr Edward Lewis lived for very
many years, and died there. I knew some of his family very well. The two
boys, Jack and Ned, I went to school with, and the daughters I can reckon
among my schoolmates were Mary Ann, the present Mrs William Tomkinson, of
Richmond, and another one who married Mr Henry Whitney. There were others
in the family. We come along to the old farm owned by Mr Thomas Griffiths,
father of the present Tom, senr., of Richmond, and our Tom is getting on
in years now. The old Mr Griffiths was the first I remember living there,
and was a big farmer. He kept a pub, 'The Richmond Inn' in York-street, Sydney,
at one time, and the wife and myself, have stayed there while he was keeping it.
Among his family I knew our present
Tom, Bob, of Penrith, Jack, who was a saddler, Jim, the great old-time foot
runner, and Bill, who was a great man among music. Mrs John Gough. who
was so well-known and popular in Windsor, was one of the daughters.
The old Mr Griffiths was a great horseman and could ride a buckjumper in
good style; also a good all round sport. He had two brothers who used to
stay with him down there, but went up country Richard and Jonathan.
The next farm was owned by the late Mr Edward Powell. I knew
him and his wife, and many bags of corn husks for the milking cows we brought
from there. Among Mr Powell's family were Edward, Richard, George, Sydney,
and Henry. Emma was the only girl I remember, and she married old Mr Joseph
Onus. I went to school with Richard, George, Sydney and Henry.
Then some where handy old Mr Joseph Stubbs, a great farmer, lived for many
years, and died there. The first wife died there.
Mr Stubbs married a second time - Paddy Kenny married his widow. Paddy died
there.
Then on the farm which belonged to Mr Ben Richards, and now occupied
by the H. A College, old ' Granny 'Hough lived for many years. It was she
who laid Mr Richards on to buy it and he secured it at 1200. He often told me
that was the price he gave for it. And speaking of 'Granny' Hough reminds
me I was speaking to the present Joseph Onus, of Richmond, a little while ago,
and Margaret Catchpole's name cropped up.
Mr Onus' mother was Annie Hough, and a sister to the late Peter, John and George,
sons of 'Granny' Hough. He says he has heard 'Granny' speak of Margaret,
and that she was buried in that portion of the cemetery running parallel with the
present Sunday School ground.
Then old Mr James Huxley, who put in so many years on the Grose farm,
rented it from Mr Richards for many years. Afterwards Pat Casey lived
there a long, while, also Mr Hill, father of Jack, formerly of
Richmond, and our present Herb Hill.
Then we have the farm which was occupied by old Mr John Hough for a fair
lifetime, so to speak. He reared a large family there, and both he and his
wife died there he dying first.
Then there was a farm where Mr George Hough lived for so many years. The
first man I remember living on this farm was George Wilson, who, as I have
stated, lived at one time where Tom Miles lives in Lennox street. Richmond,
and had some fine stallions. While down there he was farming.
I went to school with Wilson's two sons George and William, and his
his daughter, Betsy. They used to come in a spring cart to school. Between
where George Wilson lived and the next place old Mr Pearson, father of Albert,
the elder, of Richmond Bottoms, lived for a good while. This farm then belonged
to Mr Thomas Tebbutt. I remember the two sons, Albert and Charley, pretty well,
also two girls who became Mrs M. Phillips, junr., and the late Mrs John Gosper,
of Windsor. I knew old Mr Pearson fairly well. He bought both bundle and
sheet stringy bark from me when I was at the punt. On another occasion while
I was at the punt he bought a hundred slabs from me. He told me one day it
was a wonder I didn't trade in this sort of things, and I told him I hadn't been asked
for any such, so he told me he wanted a hundred and they must be good and not
above the price he stated. I got the slabs and made twopence each on the deal,
which paid me well, as I had no trouble with them in the handling. Then came
Mr William Smith, who was a big farmer and lived there for many years.
I remember three of the boys James, William and Joseph, when they were young.
He also had some daughters. Later on in life I got to know them, among them
being the present Mrs Duncombe, of Richmond, the late Mrs Alf. Bailey,
Mrs. John Bailey, of Richmond Bottoms, and the late Mrs Charles Westall.
Mrs. Smith was a sister to the Mrs Bailey who died at Clarendon some time ago at
an advanced age, and also a sister to Mrs Single, mother of the late Joseph Single,
who was a prominent man in the Hawkesbury Race Club and Agricultural Association
for so many years.
The next farm to Mr William Smith's belonged to Mr. Thomas Bailey, who was also
a big farmer in those days. I knew his boys, John, William and Alfred. I have often
bought oaten hay and oats off Mr Bailey for the racehorses while I kept the pub on
the road at Clarendon.
Then adjoining each other were the three brothers, George, William and Thomas Eather,
who suffered so disastrously in the big flood of June, '67. Old Mr John Single of all
owned a farm near the Eather brothers on which Mr Charles Eather, father of the boys
mentioned, lived for many years in a big brick house. I knew Mr. John Hand,
who lived on a farm adjoining Charley Eather's. He was a farmer and had a run,
I am told, out in Long Wheeney.
Further along there were James Upton and "Grandfather" Hoskisson, who lived
there and owned farms George Freeman, though living in Windsor, worked a farm
down there.
We will take an imaginary walk back to the old crossing at the punt.
David Brown lived somewhere near the farm occupied by Charley Eather.
One time I met Mr Brown, who happened to see a good chance of making
a little money, but he hadn't any cash on him at the time. He asked
me to lend him some and I gave him what he wanted, and in
'no time' he returned me my money and some for interest.
Back at the punt again we will record a few little incidents I have
thought of since I started. There had been a fair flood and is was
the first day the punt got to work. Charley Eather was keeping
the pub at the time, and a flock of cattle came down. They were put into
the river to swim over, except one which they couldn't get into the water,
as he was very contrary. After a deal of galloping about they got him in
and be began to ring about and wouldn't steer for the other side.
The owner called out for me to bring the boat down and steer him over.
I had a lively half hour of it and nearly got capsized more than once.
The owner of the cattle and five or six others went up to
the pub to have drinks, and when they came back I was back at the
North Richmond side. They got into the punt to go over. When we
were nearly over, the man who owned the cattle put two coins into my hand
and closed it on them so as the others would not see what they were. I
didn't look at what they were just at the time as I was busy with the punt.
When they were all off the punt except a man namsd Davis, he said to
me 'Half a sovereign, Alf, I suppose.' I opened my hand and
showed him what the coins were six pence for the owner and his horse
coming over in the punt, and sixpence for my half hour's hard work
after his bullock in the river ! I took good care to let that
man do the best he could with his bullocks in the river after that.
Then I put Mr. James Martin he wasn't Sir James then
and "Grandfather" Hoskisson over two days when they were electioneering
the other side of the river the first time James Martin was
elected to Parliament. Mr Hoskisson took great interest in that contest,
and worked hard to get Mr Martin in.
Another day I had a lady overboard. I was putting her over on horseback
in the punt, and when about half way over and there was 18 or 20 feet of
water at the spot the horse began to plunge and wanted to make back to the
other side, with the result he got overboard, lady and all. The horse struck
out for the shore, and the woman stuck to him and managed to get out safely.
A young man once brought some horses to the punt one wet day and was putting
them in to swim them over to take them to Kurrajong. When the horse he was
riding got into the water he began to play up and unseated his rider. I happened
to be handy with the boat and pulled over to him quickly and he grabbed the
side and nearly swamped the boat. He begged me to lift him in, but as he had a
big overcoat on, and was a big chap, I hadn't a hope of getting him into the
boat. However, he clung to the side till I got over. He often remarked that
only for me he would have been drowned.
Thomas Carnell also nearly met his death in the river, while I was there. He had
been over to the races at the old course, near Charley Eather's pub, and I was
putting him across in the punt. When we got the best part of the way over he
wanted me to pull faster and I told him I couldn't. He was a little annoyed about
it, and said he wouldn't wait. He put his spurs into the horse and made him
jump off the flaps of the punt, and in he and horse went, and under they went.
When he came up the horse was plunging about and soon unseated him. I had the boat
alongside and went to his assistance. I wasn't strong enough to lift him into the
boat, so he clung to the side of it till I got ashore with him.
I had another experience, and a case of nearly drowning
-- a woman this time. An old lady had been to Richmond with her basket
of eggs 2/- a dozen then and I was putting her
back over the river in the boat. I cautioned her not to stand up as she
might overbalance, but she wouldn't take the advice and into the water she went.
I couldn't get her into the boat, so I had to hold her with one hand to help her
keep a good hold of the side of the boat, and work the oar with the other till I got
her over safely.
Mrs John Town was living in the cottage where Mr John Pitt
lives, and as the old lady I had saved knew Mrs Town very well,
she went up to her and got a change of clothes.
Mr Lockrey was a farmer up Kurrajong and was going into Windsor for loading for
Mr John Lamrock, senr., with his four bullocks and dray. When he got to the
river, and I was going to put him over in the punt, I could see the bullocks were
thirsty and I advised him to water them before he got on to the punt,' as there was
a good watering place there. He said he would water them when he got over to the
other side. When we got, over I wanted him to take them out for safety, but be
reckoned he could manage them alright and wouldn't take them out. When he
put them in they were very thirsty and began swimming about and tried to make
back to the other side. He soon found out he couldn't manage them, and saw
they stood a good chance of being drowned. I saw there was trouble and
got the boat and went to their assistance. I tried my best to get the pin out of the
pole. After a deal of trouble I got it out and managed to save one beast. The
poor old man was in a great way about losing three of his bullock, and reckoned
he was ruined. Another old friend of mine was going to Kurrajong and as I
was putting him over in the punt, and the river was rising very fast, I asked him to
be sure and get back very soon as we expected to be compelled to take the punt
off before very long. He was fond of a little drop and stayed away longer than
he should have. When he came back we had taken the punt off about an hour,
and had no chance of getting it on again. He wanted me to put the
punt on and put him over, but I told him it was impossible,
and offered to put him over in the boat. He said he wouldn't wait for the boat, and
would swim his horse over. I saw how he was and begged him not to attempt
such a thing. He put his horse into the water in spite of my pleadings.
The piebald horse he was riding was a great swimmer and struck out for the
other side. I expected something would happen to him going over, so I followed him
up in the boat. When he got about half way the horse began plunging and put
him off. He was no sooner off the horse in the water than he grabbed the horse's
tail and hung on for all he was worth. I wanted him to come to the boat but he
wouldn't, preferring to stick to the horse's tail, and the animal took him safely over
and landed him about where the cattle used to land. He got a change of clothes
at a friend's place up on the bank and a drop of something to warm him inside.
Another day I put Thomas Onus over in the punt about two o'clock as he was
going up to Freeman's, on the Comleroy Road, to, have a look at a lot of cattle
which had to be there that day. When I was putting him over the river was rising
and I wanted him to get back as soon as possible. After he left the river began to
rise very rapidly and we had to take the punt off. When he came back, well after
dark, and found the punt off he came and told me he had to get to Sydney next
morning the train was only running to Blacktown then and begged me to put
him over in the boat. It was very dark and the timber was coming down and I
didn't care about facing it. I explained to him the danger I was running, and that
I couldn't swim. He then asked whether, if he got Jim Merrick to come with me
with a lantern and keep the timber off the boat, I would put him over. He told
me he would give me a pound and Merrick ten shillings. After some persuasion
I agreed, but told him I was frightened of the job and that it was not
for the sake of the money I was doing it. Merrick came up and we chanced it, and
on our way over he pushed five or six lots of timber off the boat with a pole about
six feet long. When we got over I wanted to go up and stay at Parnell's, but
Merrick wasn't a bit afraid and persuaded me to come on back. On the way back
he pushed off several lots of timber.
That pitch dark night and dangerous trip I have never forgotten.
Dr. White, of Windsor, used to ride a fine black horse
and when he went to Kurrajong I always put him over in the punt. No matter
what late hour, or how cold the winter night might be when he was returning
and I had to put him over, he would never have the punt. I always had to use
the boat for him and swim his horse behind. When we got over I always had
an iron hoop scraper which I kept for the purpose, and gave his horse a good scrape
down and rub over. The old doctor used to say it was as good as a feed of corn to
the horse. Dr. White married a Kurrajong girl by the name of Miss Townsend, who
lived about opposite the old Church of England at the foot of the Big Hill.
I have heard it said he was a very clever doctor.
He always treated me well for the trouble I took with him
and his horse.
I had a mishap there one day. I was bringing a lot of sheep over for
Mr. Ben Richards. Old Mr Joseph Onus got his horse on to the flap of the punt just as we
were going to start and he didn't think it was safe and jumped off again. When
we got about half way over I had Harry Gibbs helping me that day the sheep
got fidgeting about and on top of one another in one corner, which knocked our
punt out of balance. The water began to flow in rapidly, and down it went in quick
sticks. When we saw she was sinking we got the sheep out. and were lucky
enough to lose none. We got Bill Carverdown he was a good hand at the work
to help us get the punt up, and it took us nearly two days to get it right. As a
rule we bad tbe boat with us, but this day we didn't, and it taught us never to
be without it in the future. As the river was up it meant a great inconvenience to
the people as they couldn't get over the Yarramundi falls. There were two lots of
sheep to come over and they meant easy earned money for us. I had got paid
beforehand for them and we got the first lot over and when the sheep on the other
side saw them feeding along the banks in they rushed and swam over. In one lot
one sheep was drowned, and in the other lot none were lost. I shall never forget
one little incident that happened while I was down there. Mrs Parker, who lived
in the house on the hill where Johnson Pay and William Fuller lived, used to
come over and work for Mrs Parnell. She was over there one Christmas eve, and
when she was going home they gave her a sucking pig for her Christmas dinner.
She put it in a bag and I put her over in the boat, and home she went delighted
to think they would have such a fine Christmas dinner ; but that night the pig
got out. Next morning Mr Parker was hunting all round among the neighbours
to see if they had seen the pig, but could not find any trace of it. A little
later he was telling me about their misfortune. I happened to be talking to
Mr Parnell and told him about Parker's pig being lost
when he 'told me the pig was up with its mother. I saw Parker and told him what
Parnell had said, but he could hardly believe the pig would swim the river, and
thought I was having a lark with him. He made up his mind to go and have a
look for himself, and when he got up it was there right enough. He bagged it
again and had the pleasure of tasting it for Christmas dinner after all.
Jack Turner was coming over from the other side and we had a stage outside of the
punt on the side the rope worked, and Jack set to work to help me over to make
it easier for me. It was a bit windy and made the punt lurch about a little and
the rope happened to come off the roller, and into the water Jack
went backwards and got a fine ducking. He was a jolly natured
fellow and took it in good part I shall always think of poor old Dr.
Wittaker as he was coming back from Kurrajong and over in the punt.
William Parnell and I were out on the stage pulling. It was windy and the rope came
off the roller on the end Parnell was working and in he went. We were about 40
yards from the shore when it happened and Parnell had to swim. As soon as he
went in I saw he made for the flap of the punt and got underneath it, and began
singing out he was drowning and for the doctor to catch hold of his hand. The old
doctor was in a great state of mind about William, as he used to call him, and
wanted me to catch hold of his hand. I told him William wanted his hand, not
mine, but the old doctor wouldn't catch hold of it. I didn't bother, as
I knew well enough Parnell was a good swimmer and that he could get out safely.
Mr. Parnell told me after he was on for a lark with the old doctor, and what
he wanted was to get hold of his hand so that he could pull him in and give him a ducking.

SOURCE:
Windsor and Richmond Gazette
Saturday 4 June 1910
Saturday 11 June 1910
Saturday 18 June 1910
Saturday 25 June 1910
Page 14
transcription, janilye 2012

Eather Family History - Thomas Eather 1764-1827


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