Past History of Gilmore and District

A paper read by Mr. Steve Williamson at a meeting of the Gilmore Agricultural Bureau

The Tumut Advocate and Farmers & Settlers' Adviser

12 September 1922

To successfully trace the early history of the Tumut District, one would have to resort to a considerable amount of research. Information dealing with the very early settlements is chiefly, I think, in the hands of some of our old pioneers, whose stories, if secured, would make very interesting reading, as well as genuine and authentic history.

However, I do not intend to treat the Tumut District, as it stood between 80 and 90 years ago, but to deal with that portion of it intimately known to all of us.

The first white men to traverse these parts were Hume and Hovell and party, in the year 1824.

We find that they crossed the Tumut River at the junction of the Murrumbidgee and Tumut Rivers, and, in the words of Thomas Boyd (a member of the party), "a grand sight met our gaze - such a sight as no white man before had looked upon in Australia.

Away to the south forming a curve rose the snow-capped peaks of a range of mountains: these were   called the Australian Alps, and to avoid this rugged country the party turned south-west."

The original, or aboriginal, name of Tumut was "Bewuck." then "Doomut"; the river had the same appellation.

From an old work by a surveyor named Wells, and entitled "The Geographical Dictionary of the Colonies," I found that Tumut was the headquarters of the Crown Commissioner for the Murrumbidgee District; also that Petty Sessions were held there.

The Crown Lands Commissioner's name was Bingham. His district embraced pretty well the whole of the country south-west from Yass, including the whole of the Upper Murray District. Assistance, I think, he had none; so you see that administrative work in the early days was not as "cushy" a job as it is to-day.

As a parallel instance to Bingham, I might mention the following, supplied to me by Mr. George Clout sr.:- In 1855 the Rev. Samuel Fox was licensed by the Bishop of Sydney to a parish which included Tumut, Gundagai, Tarcutta and Wagga. Previous to this, Wagga was occasionally served from Yass.

With regard to the very early settlement of the district, it seems very difficult to find out who were the very first actual settlers. From information I have secured from old people in the past, much of it is, in some degree, contradictory.

But what would appear as being the very first land alienated in the Tumut District was what is known as Rose's Grant. This was the nucleus of the Tumut Plains property. 

Rose held it but a short time when he sold it to Mr, George Shelley.

This grant comprised 700 and odd acres and extended from Tumut Plains to Gilmore, his cattle stations and stockyard being in the vicinity of what we know as "Korn's Vineyard," now occupied by Mr. Edward J. Quilty.

An Irish Londoner, by name Cochrane, was Rose's first stockman and he lived at the station mentioned.

Mr. Shelley came into possession of the run when he purchased the grant.

He had a stock man named Joe Thompson, who met a tragic end by being drowned in the Tumut River immediately above where the present junction bridge stands.

This man and two assigned servants (as the ticket of leave men were called) were buried at the old garden on the Little River, near the junction.

It is said that the actual site of the Rose homestead was in this garden. Mr. George Clout has informed me that he knew this spot 60 years ago as "Shelley's Garden," and it was a favorite resort for many of the young folk at that time to gather mulberries which grew there to the acme of perfection.

It was here also that the first potatoes were grown, the father of Mr. George Ibbotson being the grower.

As grants of land from the Crown were abolished in 1831, this grant must have been issued previous to that.

If so, it was very early occupied, as this was only six years after the Hume and Hovell expedition.

It seems something of a coincidence, if nothing more, that Rose should have had the same name as the present holder of some of the grant, viz: Hamlyn Harris: Rose's grant appears on many of the old maps.

The first stockyard on the Tumut Plains was built by "Bill" Clarke and "Banjo Tom" (as the late Mr. T. Percival was invariably called). This was in the early forties, but a much larger one was built by Geo. Ibbotson and W. Fox in 1858.

The Geographical Dictionary goes on to say that Mr. J. A. and R. K. Broughton ranked among the earliest settlers in the district. "In the Murrumbidgee district, about 70 miles from Yass, is 'Mundongnidgee,' the squattage of T. A. and R. K. Broughton."

This place, probably, would be the Mundongo of to-day. Very old residents assert that the Broughtons grew the first wheat in the district on this run at or near what was afterwards known as the "Free Lagoon Paddock."

I believe that the first man to plough this land was the late Mr. Thomas Davis; father of Mr. Alex Davis, of Gilmore, and the last man was Mr. John Richards, of Windowie.

It will be remembered by most of you an article by Mr. George Clout, "Echoes of the Past," written some years ago, referring to the Broughtons.

No account of early settlement would be complete that did not contain the honored name of Broughton.

It has been already shown that Mr. J. A. Broughton held land at Mundongo and had grown wheat there, but one requires to go back to the very beginning of things to discover the advent of the Broughton family to New South Wales.

The father of the gentlemen mentioned came to the colony with Capt, Philip in the first fleet - 1788.

In the thirties of last century his two sons, James Archer and Robert Kennedy Broughton, turned their attention to pioneering in the Tumut District, and they eventually settled on the estates so well known later on as Gocup and Gadara.

Mr. J. A. Broughton afterwards retired to Deniliquin, where he followed an official calling, and when he died the "Pastoral Times" of that date said: "No one was better known or more widely respected than Mr. J. A. Broughton, now numbered with the majority." A glance through "Well's Geographical Dictionary" will satisfy all as to the excellent pioneering work performed by the Broughtons.

Another name which should rank amongst the first settlers is that of McAlister.

The "Geographical Dictionary" tells us that T. McAlister had a small run at Wereboldera that is on the Tumut side of the river from the Punt Bridge down wards.

This was afterwards in the possession of one Smiles, who carried on squatting pursuits in conjunction with "Bob" Lowther. The McAlisters came to Tumut with Geo. Shelley, previously referred to.  

Regarding the original township of Tumut, I have had it that a village existed near where the old flour mill at Gilmore used to be, but there were never any lots pegged out.

It was the intention to build a little church in the district before even the site of the present township was decided upon.

It was proposed to build the church in the neighborhood of Westwood, but a Government official put in an appearance before it eventuated, and he decided on the site where the present Church of England now stands, and the present town site.

As far as I can ascertain correctly Hume and Hovell's party travelled along the now Gilmore Creek to a spot somewhere in the vicinity of the Campbell Estate, where a crossing was made.

They followed a route which took them through Mr Thos. Sullivan's, Mrs. Williamson's and Mr. W. Beattie's properties.

Traces of the old road used by the early settlers on the Gilmore may still be seen.

In connection with the personnel of the party, each of the leaders had three assigned servants allotted to them, their reward to be a free pardon if the journey proved successful.

Hume's were Claude Bosaawa, Henry Angel and James Fitzpatrick; Hovell's were Boyd, William Bollard and Thomas Smith.

It is interesting to note that a number of these men lived to an extremely old age, and further that they worked themselves up to fairly good positions in the country.

Henry Angel's first venture was on a farm at Wollongong, where he formed a good property.

In 1861 he settled in Wagga, where he died at the age of 91 years. Fitzpatrick purchased the Cucumbla Estate, near Cootamundra, and eventually became a man of considerable wealth. Later on, he secured the Glenlee Estate, near Campbelltown, and there died in his 86th year.

Bollard was manager of the Berry Jerry Station for some years, and later on kept an hotel at Picton.

Boyd spent the whole of the latter portion of his life in the Tumut District.

The Geographical Dictionery points out that the earliest settlers on the Gilmore were Boyd, Downie and Heavers. Boyd was given a grant of land for his services, but no record of this could I find; it embraced portions of the holdings of Mrs. Williamson and Thos. Sullivan. Boyd's old home was demolished some 12 years ago.

Old hands say that he took up a run embracing all the land from Gadara or Gudana, to The Gap In 1830, and he ran large numbers of cattle and horses on it.

Richard Heavers took up a run embracing all the land along the head of the Adelong Creek and over the hills, including Rosebank station.

Downie followed to the possession of portion of this land, viz, "Rosebank."

Other settlers in the district were Bob Smith (better known as "Yanky Bob") and one by name O'Donohue.

The four selected a parcel of land on, the Windowie Creek, in the vicinity of Thos. Quilty's estate, and the latter somewhere near where Mr. W. Beattie now resides.

Referring to Boyd, in 1881, at the opening of the railway to Albury, he visited that place, and, in the course of remarks made, the following is attributed to Boyd:-

"It pleased me very much to see that after poor  Hume's death the people of that town put up a monument to his memory.

He deserved it, for the country would not have been opened up for years but for his strong will, his courage in the face of difficulty, and his knowledge of the bush."

 In 1883, when 85 years of age, he attended a banquet at Albury to celebrate the junction of the railway between the two colonies.

He was then the sole survivor of the expedition. At the banquet some provision was made for Boyd by the representatives of the colonies present in the shape of a yearly contribution from each, by way of a pension.

One of the colonies, failed to pay up their contribution, so that Boyd did not receive what he should have done. Boyd died in l887, at the foot of the Gap, at the age of 89 years.

Thomas Boyd, a living son of the Worthy pioneer, tells a story how his father, on more than one occasion, had to fly from the blacks at Gilmore, who were very aggressive at times, to Blowering.

A fighting ground between the Murray and Murrumbidgee blacks is said to have existed on Mr. Thos. Sullivan's wheat paddocks.

Educational developments on the Gilmore at an early date, were not omitted.

The first school was a night-school, carried on in Joe Clarke's hut, one of Boyd's boundary riders.

Then a hut-school was erected some 600 yards from the present school.

A teacher, it is said, came to Boyd's and enquired for a job of school-teaching.

This man's name was Jones.

In the course of events Messrs Quilty, Boyd and Speirs got together 20 odd children and the task of educating the "young idea" of the new settlement was begun.

He was not paid by the Government, but received so much per head for every pupil.

The next teacher was John Carey; he was paid half-rate by the Government and the parents made up the other half. He arrived about 1877 and stayed till 1879.

The school was then changed to where the Windowie school residence now stands.

The contractor for the job was Mr. Donald McGillivray.

The teacher who succeeded Carey was Miss Fallon, on 28th June, 1879.

She taught for two years. Many people locally would remember her.

Mrs. Crowe followed, in September, 1881, and acted till August, 1882. Mrs. Rankin, who will be fondly remembered by all, succeeded, on 9th October, 1882, and taught continuously until August, 1919.

In 1888 there were sixty-two children on the roll of the Windowie school; now there are 32.

The first act in connection with the Shire was the appointment by the Government of a provisional, or temporary, Council. This was in May, 1906.

There were six members appointed, viz: Messrs T. P, Arragon and S. J. Treweek, of Adelong, W. D. P. O'Brien, H. F. Lampe, Dr. H. W. Mason and Mr. G. Clout sr. Their duties were to prepare the way for the, election of a Council by the ratepayers, and other preliminary work.

The first election was in November, 1906. Councillors to hold office for one year only, all subsequent Councils to have a three-year term. At the first meeting of the elected Council, Mr. Geo. Clout was chosen as President.

His first proposal was that the name of the Shire be altered to Gadara, the original name being Yarrangobllly.

This change met with unanimous approval. Gadara at that time was looming large in the public eye in connection with the Federal City Site.

Voting by post was also one of the earliest proposals, and that also by Mr. Clout.

Capt. Sturt, in his expedition down the Murray River in a whale boat, tells us in his journal that the furthest settlement down the Murrumbidgee was that of Warbys', at Darbalara. Perhaps this would be the best authenticated instance of early settlement on the Tumut River, as Sturt's journey was under taken in 1829, about four or five years after the Hume expedition; so that it will be seen that a very short period elapsed between the discovery of new country and the settlement thereon.

We take it for granted that, although Warbys was in the vanguard of the pioneers there were many others not far behind.

The time is fast running away; the old pioneers will be unable to enlighten us with regard to the times that are gone, when the workaday life of our compatriots who have done so much towards building up the district in which our lot has been cast will be as though it had never been.

"Memory treasures the bright days of yore."

Few indeed of the old pioneers now remain, but the work that they have done lives after them.