Early Settlement in Gundagai and Tumut (By George Clout) No. X
1 April 1924 The Tumut Advocate and Farmers and Settlers' Adviser
Then toast with me our happy land
Where all that's fair prevails
No sketch of the early settlement of Tumut would be complete without reference being made to those who first established themselves on the township site, and who laid the foundation as it were of what eventually may be a great city.
The first business establishments were, down by the present Racecourse.
A well known family of the time, named Body, had a general store there, and Eggleton's blacksmith's shop was close by,' as has already been pointed out. Body also built a large steam flour mill there, which made it an active business centre in the years to come.
When the site of the present township was decided on by the Government of the day the occupancy of the available sites naturally followed in quick order, and the removal of the store and the blacksmith's shop was a direct sequence of it.
The former was removed to a site in Fitzroy street, where Yee Hing's store now stands, and the latter on or about the site of the office of E. Wilkinson and Son.
The matters that I write of now are mainly from my own observation, and it will no doubt appear curious to those of a younger generation when I state that sixty years ago there were more hotels in Tumut than there are at the present time, and there were as many on the outskirts of the town as there were in it, where there are none to-day.
At the lower end of Russell-street there, was an hotel kept by Michael Quilty on the site of the present "Times" office, whilst almost directly opposite, was the hotel of Mr. W. Smiles.
The old weatherboard shop which did duty for an hotel still stands there.
Where the Globe and Commercial Hotels now stand were then vacant spaces.
The Commercial Hotel building was in the first instance erected for a private residence.
The Star Hotel of to-day was then called Mona Isle Hotel, and was a very much more modest building.
It was kept by, a Mr. Gelling.
The old Rose Inn, kept by Mr: Charles Jones, was on the site of the present Royal Hotel.
The Wynyard did not then exist.
The Woolpack was, in the possession of the O'Maras’, and was built by Mr. Robert Thomas, who also burned the bricks for it; and the Queen's Arms Hotel, now the Oriental, was kept by Mr. Madigan.
The Bee Hive Hotel, kept by Mr. Emanuel, who ran a store in conjunction with it, was on the site of the premises now occupied, by Mr. R. Dean.
In addition to these, there was an hotel on or about the site of the present police quarters.
This was built by Tuohy and Murphy, and was carried on by the late Mr. J. McNamara.
There was also one kept by Hilton at the then Post Office.
With regard to the two last mentioned, it may be said that they were both short-lived.
At the corner of Fitzroy and Richmond-streets was the White Horse Hotel, kept by a man named Norton, and a little further along was the Horse and Jockey, kept by Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald was a very early settler in this district, having occupied land out Argalong way, known as Shelley's Springs.
Mr. Edward Fitzgerald kept the hotel, and was for many years a prominent figure in the public life of Tumut.
He afterwards had a station and vine- yard at Book Book, in the vicinity of Wagga, where he had the misfortune to meet with an accident which cost him his life.
But to return to the hotels: It will be seen from the list enumerated that at the period that I am writing of there were more hotels in Tumut town there are to-day.
Let me now give a list of those outside the town, just over the Tumut Bridge, on Bombowlee, we had an hotel; kept by Barney Kelly.
A little further on was Mrs. O'Neil's, and at Bombowlee Creek we had an hotel kept by T. Percival sr.. The name of these hotels is lost to memory.
On the Lacmalac road there was also an hotel kept by W. Smiles, which did not long exist.
Mr. Hugh Naughton sr. built an hotel on his land at the junction of the river's.
There was no bridge at the time, but it did not have a very long career. I cannot re member who kept it.
There was one out Gocup way kept first by Beck sr., and afterwards by Martin Brennan.
There were also two at Killarney, on the Gilmore.
There was one at Jones' Bridge, or, as it was then, cal- led, the Punt for a short time.
And at Upper Brungle there was one kept by W. Kiley sr.
At one period, also, there was one at Blowering, kept by G. C. Brown.
All, or nearly all, of these were in full swing in the early sixties, and it would appear that their profits must have been pretty large, or the public must have been a thirsty lot.
Summed up, it would seem that we then had a, score of pubs, or hotels, where to-day we have but seven only, and, I venture to say that the population now is more than double what it was then.
Some of these pubs were closed perforce, for which the law of the land, is responsible.
Under prohibition, which is inevitable within the next decade, we shall have a total reduction, when the country must advance by leaps and bounds.
In the back period of which I write there were but few general stores.
My recollection reminds me of three only, viz., the Commercial stores, kept by L. Mandelson and Co.; the Bee Hive store, in Fitzroy-st. by Solomon Emanuel; and the store of Mr. Body, also in Fitzroy-st., to which I have already referred.
There were no Chinese stores in those days.
The Commercial store still occupies the same site and is still the active business centre of the town.
The proprietor now, and has been for many years, is Mr. John Weeden, who might fairly be described as one of the corner-stones of the town.
He came to Tumut in 1866, and was in the employ of L. Mandelson and Co. when little more than a boy.
In 1876 he started a business of his own in a portion of the Royal Hotel premises, which he carried on for ten years.
He then purchased the business of L. Mandelson and Co., which, with the aid of his sons, he has carried on ever since.
He was one of the first aldermen elected for Tumut and has repeatedly held the position of Mayor.
He is the senior magistrate of the town and a member of the Licensing Court, and has been an active participant in every movement that tended toward the advancement of the district.
With regard to the commercial activities of Tumut, the Centennial History tells us "that it is one of the best agricultural districts of the South.
Free selectors have changed its character entirely from a pastoral to an agricultural one, they having, during the last few years, turned the whole country into a garden of luxury.
The wonderful rapidity with which this change has been effected has given a great stimulus to the trade and commercial activity of Tumut.
The town is the centre of goldfields of great wealth, is prettily, situated, and is remarkable for its churches and church-going, people.
With further reference to the Bee Hive store:
It was carried on later by the firm of Tuohey and Murphy, and the store building was eventually merged into the hotel, and for many years was carried on by the late Richard McKay, sr., as one of the leading hotels in the town, until a calamitous fire reduced the whole structure to ashes; and it was never restored.
To Adelong belongs the honor of having the first newspaper in these districts, as far as the records show.
The "Adelong Mining Journal" made its debut in Adelong on October 9, 1858.
The proprietors were Mr. J. B. Elworthy and Mr. C. W. Morgan, the former gentleman being one of the ablest journalists of our time.
Two years later Mr. Elworthy removed to Tumut and started the "Wynyard Times" entirely on his own.
In 1864 the name of "Tumut and Adelong Times" was adopted, which has been retained ever since, and, in 1868, it came into the possession of Mr. Windeyer, who carried it on for a time in the early seventies; thence to Mr S. Groves, who carried it on till his death last year.
On Jan. 6, 1868, the Gundagai "Times" was first published by Mr. J. B. Elworthy, being the sole proprietor until Jan., 1887, when his son, Arthur, was taken into partnership with him, it being carried on under the style of Elworthy and Son.
On the death of the father, in 1889, the son became sole proprietor, and has carried on successfully, not only with credit but profit to himself throughout the long period intervening.
The Centennial History tells us that Mr. Elworthy was educated for the Church in the Exeter Diocesan Training College, but eventually entered commercial pursuits.
He came to the colony in 1853 and was engaged in Goulburn for a time.
He always took a foremost part in all public movements in Gundagai, and was for 17 years a persistent advocate of railway extension.
As a journalist and public citizen, he exercised a powerful influence on local public opinion.