A Tribute To The Pioneers - The Quarmby Family  

26 October 1948 The Tumut and Adelong Times

Each year it has been the custom of the "Tumut & Adelong Times," since the inauguration of the special "Apple Blossom" edition, to chronicle the history of one of the pioneer families of Batlow and so bring the younger generation in closer contact with the grand old folks - the folks who faced hardships, tribulations and danger; the people who had no tractors or other machinery to tear down trees to clear virgin forest lands but whose only implements were their hands and primitive tools. 

This year it has been decided to describe another pioneering family, and a representative of this paper called on Mr. Henry Quarmby to ask him to give a few facts about his family.

Remarkable Memory 

For a man whose age is 81, Mr. Quarmby represents the true spirit of the old pioneers.

Although deaf, he has a remarkable memory and was able to reel off dates and family names as though they were only of yesterday instead of many, many years ago.

His remarkable memory helped us to present to our readers a fairly vivid account of the happenings of the Quarmby Family a really pioneering family of the town and district.

Mr. Quarmby himself presents excellent copy, but it would take pages to write about his reminiscences of the past happenings in the old town.

However, some of them we must relate to our readers; but first let's cast our mind back a good many years.

Let's imagine that we are back in the middle of the 19th Century! 


Gold! The yellow metal has been found at a little place called Reedy Creek and the cry is hanging on everybody's lips.

Thinking they can become rich overnight, thousands throw in jobs, some of them good jobs - the professional men, the working men, clerks, sailors, farmers, criminals, all join in the rush. 

Among these people is Richard Miller Quarmby, his wife Sarah and their nine children.

They had been in Kiandra in search of the yellow metal; but they, like hundreds of others before them, hadn't been lucky.

So, when it was spread around that gold had been found at Reedy Creek Richard and his wife decided to "pack their grip" and set out for the newly-found strike.

That was 79 years ago - way back in 1869. 

Goldmining was very active when they first arrived and some really rich pockets had been found; but the wealth so many sought and so few found did not come their way, and although the field was worked for five years before it finally petered out Richard and his family saw riches awaiting the fortune-seekers. 

Stock Increases 

However, in the meantime his stock was increasing, his family was growing up, so Richard decided he would stay in the place and so became the first landholder in Batlow by buying the first block of land there.

He took up 100 acres three miles out, on the Tumut Road, and called the place "Rosedale," which is now Mouat's property.

He went in for what growing, potatoes and oats. 

To clear land in those days was no joke - the farmers did not have tractors or bulldozers to clear off the heavy timber. They had to use all hand tools.

All the Quarmby boys, young and old, had to do their share.

"Union hours weren't worked in those days," said the narrator. "We just worked and worked, from the first dawn of daylight till long into the night. My father and brothers all helped to reap and thresh the wheat by hand.

Our work was not even finished then, as we had to cart the wheat to Tumut to the flour mill, where it was gristed into flour. 

It took us a full day's travel to get to Tumut in those days. You know what the roads are like now!

Well, they are paved highways compared with the roads of our day.

We would spend the night in Tumut and then return the following day." 

Batlow's Entrance 

Mr. Quarmby said there was only one entrance into Batlow in those days and that was up the narrow, lane that now divided "Andy" Paterson's property and O. J. Butz's shop. 

The speaker said that the gold had been the main attraction with his father, but he never had much luck with it.

Richard Quarmby was a very hard worker and when he first came to Batlow he settled his family in a house where Mr. Graham is now living before the finally decided to make the move to live out of town. 

Mr. Quannby said that land could be secured for a song in those days and five or six acres could be bought at a very reasonable price.

To clear the land Richard Quarmby hired two teams of bullocks (owned by J. Adams and N. Johnson, of Tumut) and it took them two weeks to clear timber off six acres.

There were 16 logs that the two teams could not even budge, much less shift.

The children, even Harry, who was then 8 years of age, had to burn the logs.

One of the hardest tasks of the lot was to plough up the roots of the trees. So big was one in particular that two dray loads were required to carry it all away. 

Richard Quarmby started to rear a few sheep, and later more sheep were acquired.  

Family Increases to Thirteen 

When Richard brought his family from Kiandra there were then nine children in the family.

The family was increased further to thirteen in Batlow.

Before coming, to Batlow he family consisted of five boys and four girls.

Two of the five boys and two of the four girls are the only ones still in the land of the living. 

The children still alive are: Mrs. Johnson (90), living at Tumut; Mrs. Lindbeck (86), living at Adelong; Henry James (the narrator of this story, 81) and Rowland Edgar (80), of Tumut. 

But let's look further still back into the past.

Richard Quarmby came out to Australia from Yorkshire, where he met his future wife, Sarah, who came from the north of Ireland.

They first settled down in Sydney, but the yearning to travel to the country got the better of them and they joined the gold rush and settled down south at Yackandandah, Victoria, where their first two children, Matilda and Elizabeth, were born.

Matilda was born in 1855 and Elizabeth in 1858.

The rumors of rich gold strikes reached the ears of the Quarmby family there and they proceeded to be in the rush for the alluring metal at Kiandra. 

At Kiandra the family increased to nine.

Edwin was the next child, followed by Walter, Lena, Ezra, Lavinia, Henry and Rowland. The four children born at Batlow were Frederick, Herb., Albert and Maud born in 1875. 

As the family grew up they began to migrate over the country. Edwin was the first of the family to branch out. He bought 80 acres of land now owned by Mrs. Jane Quarmby

50 Acres of Land Bought by Walter 

Walter was the next, and he bought 500 acres at the Cow and Calf.

Mr. R. Quarmby raised an interesting point when the writer asked him who was the first person to realise that the solid block of outstanding rock resembled a cow and calf, but the speaker said he couldn't remember anyone ever calling it anything else but the Cow-and-Calf. They were calling it that when he first saw it. 

Ezra later bought 300 acres at "Honeysuckle," about 2 miles from West Batlow, while Rowley bought the area that is now known as "Haroldene".

He lived there for years and sold it to a Mr. Cabban.

Henry left home when he was 23 to do some farming at Tumut and Brungle, but was constantly dogged by hard luck.

He had to leave 2,500 bushels of maize in the paddock because it wouldn't pay him to harvest it.

It had taken him two years' hard work to produce it and he had to leave it in the field as he was offered only one shilling a bushel for it.

He also left a crop of wheat at Bombowlee because the price was only 2/3 a bushel.

He then came back to Batlow and bought the land now occupied by Mrs. D. Quarmby

He cleared virgin land and planted 14 acres of orchard, and he was doing well until the death of his wife; then he sold out.

He took to carpentering and carried on with that until ill-health forced him to retire.   

First Known Case of Appendicitis 

Richard Quarmby (the father) died at the age of 58 in 1884.

He died in St. Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, and it is interesting to note that he was the first known case of appendicitis in Australia. 

Sarah, his wife, lived to the grand old age of 82 and was laid to rest in 1919. 

Matilda was the first to marry and changed her name to Mrs. Richard Prowse. She lived at Adelong and had six children - John, Dick, Sarah (Mrs. Young, of Adelong), Ted (a high school teacher in Sydney), Jim and Walter. 

Elizabeth married N. P. Johnson in 1875 and raised a family of 13. 

The eldest son is George (Tumut), who is 72.

The other children were Walter, Ernest (deceased), Milton (deceased), John, Bert (deceased),   Merv. (deceased), Hector, Lil. (Mrs. Grady), Ivy (Mrs. S. Prowse), Ella (Mrs. J. Nuttall), Clara (Mrs. W. Banwell) and Fred.

Edwin, who died 50 years ago, married a Miss Lindeck in 1886, and had six children - Arthur (deceased), Len, Norm, Harold (deceased), Olly and Mary, who married Mr. Chandler (a bank manager). 

Edwin, who died 50 years ago, married Miss Dugan, of Walgett, and had two boys and four girls, Claude (killed in the 1914-'18 war), Robert (living in West Australia), Vera (Mrs. Beddy), Ruby (Mrs. Back), Claris and Merle (a nurse now living at Bondi).

Lena Still Living At Adelong 

Lena married Edward Lindbeck and is still living at Adelong.

They had four daughters and two sons, one of whom, Arthur, was killed in the first World War.

Others are: Fred (deceased), Tilley (Mrs. Parsons), Una (Mrs. Herb. Buckley), Nurse Maude Lindbeck and Sarah (Mrs. Avery). 

Ezra was born in 1864 and died at the age of 71. He married Miss Basham in 1890. He had 12 children and all are alive:- Ethel (Mrs. Newton), John, Elsie, William, Percy, Samuel, Edwin, Welseley, Aggie, Hazel (Mrs. Hutton), Millie and Ray. Lavinia, born in 1866, died seven years ago.

In 1891 she married a Mr. Haldish, of Malong. She lived in Sydney for the last period of her life and had no children. 

Henry James was born in 1861 and married Amy Rivers. They had six children: Reginald Henry (deceased), Amy (Mrs. McNamara), Ann (died in Sydney in 1221), Mabel (Mrs. P. Eames, Lithgow), Lavinia and Gordon (living at North Rockhampton). 

Rowland was born in 1868 and was the last child born at Kiandra. He married Miss Basham in 1894. The five children are alive and they are: Arnold, Aubrey, Richard, Doris and Thelma. 

Frederick was born in 1870 and died 23 years ago in Sydney. He married a Miss Clifton. They had three sons and three daughters: Keith, Stanley, Allan, Freda and Elvie

Herb, also married a Miss Clifton. He was born in 1872 and died three years ago. Ella, Kath, Cliff, and Jean were the children. 

Died By Electric Shock 

Albert, born in 1874, married Miss Cooney. He met an unfortunate death when he touched a live-wire. 

He was survived by three children: Olive (deceased) , Jim, Bernard and   Kath. Maude, the youngest child of the family, was born in 1875 and died only last January.

She married Albert Prowse and they lived in Western Australia, where they became successful graziers.

They had nine children:- Athol, Edgar, Beryl (deceased), Olive, Hazel, Freida, Shirley, Alley. A young boy died at an early age. 

Well, that brings us to the end of the story of a true pioneer family of Batlow. 

One could go on for columns about some interesting facts about the town, but space will not permit us to go into full details. 

Batlow salutes another pioneer family and is proud that such a grand family has helped in the development of the town and district in the past century.  To Richard and Sarah Quarmby Batlow pays tribute.