Joshua Rogers Gray Snr
- Born: 23 Nov 1828, Malaga, Monroe County, Ohio USA
- Marriage (1): Elizabeth Donald on 22 Jul 1857 in Australia
- Died: 20 Jun 1902, Wedderburn, Victoria Australia at age 73
Ken Gray notes:
My great grandfather, Joshua Rogers Gray arrived in Australia in 1852 to search for gold. He settled in Wedderburn Vic. He married and had 7 sons.
Joshua Rogers Gray jnr Oliver Sloan, Hector d 1864. Achilles, Aeneas d1866. Diomed d1885 and my grandfather Troilus.
JOSHUA ROGERS GRAY (Joshua R., Daniel, George, John, George, James) was born in South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 19th May 1858; died in Wedderburn, Victoria , Australia, of pneumonia, 4th May 1914; married at Sandhurst (now Bendigo), Victoria, Australia, 20th April 1885, Harriet Frances Rose. He resided in Wedderburn, Vic. Aust. and was secretary of the Shire of Korong for quite a number of years, and up to the time of his death. (He was succeeded by his son Charles Hector Gray.)
His wife Harriet Frances Rose was born in Wedderburn, 19th June 1862; her father was born in Stradbroke, county Suffolk, England, in 1835; her mother Eliza -----?, was born at Lambeth, London, England, in 1839.
Children born in Wedderburn, Victoria, Australia :-
Darcy Diomed, b. 9th may, 1886; m. at Melbourne , Australia, 8th July 1908, Ruby Naomi Dickerson. He was educated at Scotch College Melbourne, and is now (1915), Shire Engineer at Dimboola, Vic. Aust.
Elsie Moors, b. 7th March 1888; m. at Wedderburn, 20th June1912, Francis Thomas MacDonnald.
Claribelle Helen Rose, b. 27th March 1890.
Charles Hector, b. 21st July 1891. He succeeded his father (after his death) as secretary of the Shire of Korong, Vic. Aust.
(Records by Troilus Gray - Geelong, Vic., Aust. 1915)
THE AUSTRALIAN GRAYS.
OBITUARY. A clipping from a paper published in Wedderburn, Victoria Prov., Australia, on the occasion of the death of the subject of this memoir in June 1902.
"Death of Mr. Joshua Rogers Gray"
Quite a gloom was cast over the township on Saturday when it became known that Mr. J. R. Gray sen. had passed away the evening before. The deceased gentleman had been ailing for the past few weeks but was out and about for a while Tuesday week. Becoming worse he took to his room and despite the efforts of his medical advisors he gradually sank into unconsciousness from which he never rallied, succumbing to inflammation of the bowel at a ripe age of 73 years. Great sympathy was expressed for the bereaved family as Mr. Gray was such a well known personage and his demise came as a great surprise to many of his intimate friends as the end was not expected so soon. The deceased will be much missed from amongst us as he had a pleasant word to say to all, perhaps no man amongst us would be more missed, and it will be long before his memory fades among those who knew him best. He leaves a widow and four sons, all of whom are married, to mourn their loss, and to whom the greatest sympathy is extended, in this bereavement. The funeral took place Sunday afternoon last and was attended by an immense concourse of people who came from far and near to pay the last tribute of respect to their departed friend. The deceased being a member of the Masonic fraternity, six brothers out of respect acted as coffin bearers. The Rev. H. J. Gauntlett (church of England) read the service at the grave in a very impressive manner, and Mr. A. Wilson carried out the mortuary arrangements satisfactorily.
The following is a short sketch of the late Mr. Gray, which no doubt will be read with interest :-
Mr. J. Gray was born in Malaga, Monroe County, Ohio, U.S.A., in the year 1828. His father Daniel Gray was a surveyor and in 1837-38 he laid out the village of Grayville, Ohio, dying in the tear 1842. Mr. Gray was educated at Mariette Academy and in 1846 he proceeded to Talleyrand, Iowa. In 1848 he taught at a school in Stafford, near Van Buren, Ohio, but hearing of the gold in Australia he started for the colonies on the 19th of April, 1852, leaving New York on the 11th June, proceeding via Rio de Janiero and Cape Horn by the clipper ship "Tarolinta". About 900 miles out the cook was lost overboard; the equator was crossed on the 18th July, and the vessel arrived In Melbourne on the 24th October, 1852, being 134 days on the voyage. He started for Castlemaine on the 27th October together with six shipmates, arriving at Forrest Creek on the 1st of November. After staying in Castlemaine for six or eight weeks Mr. Gray proceeded to Tarrengower (Maldon) in company with shipmates Conklin, Mesler, and Martin, working on the Porcupine flat. They then proceeded to Avoca and thence to Maryborough, where they, in company with John Jackson of this town and another, they opened up on the 28th October, the specimen mill reef, Maryborough, where they took a great amount of gold, and which claim they worked until May the following year.
After prospecting at Avoca, Alma and Kingower Mr. Gray, Conklin and Martin arrived at Korong in May, 1854, prospecting on Potters Hill for some time. About august, 1855 Mr. Gray and Mesler entered into a partnership as storekeepers, remaining in business for about 2 years before dissolving. After the partnership was dissolved Mr. Mesler returned to America, serving with credit in the Federal Army through the Civil War, eventually settling at Frankfort, Clinton County, Indiana, and died in 1894. During his partnership with Mesler as much as 150 to 200 ozs. of gold per week were bought, which had to be taken on horseback to Ballarat or Melbourne at great risk as the district was frequented by some very doubtful characters, notable among them being Joseph Sullivan of Maungatapu notoriety. On one occasion on cresting the Bet Bet creek during a freshet the saddle and some 300 oz. of gold were lost, which required Mr. Gray remaining day and night for five days on the bank of the creek before he succeeded in recovering the gold. In 1860 in conjunction with Mr. S. Walter they purchased for £1200 the old crusher on Campbell's reef which they worked for several years. Mr. Gray had branch stores at Beagary's Gully, Peep O'Day, Sailor's Gully, and Old Inglewood. In 1883 he took a trip to America to see his friend Mesler, and in the following year he went to Silverton, N.S.W., speculating in the Silverton district. About the year 1857 Mr. Gray was appointed postmaster, and in 1875 he was appointed telegraph master at Wedderburn, remaining in those positions till the middle of 1878. He continued to take a great interest in mining during the whole of his life. In the "History of the Wedderburn Goldfields" his name appears on almost every page as developing the mining industry, and prospecting the fields. He was largely interested in the Broken Hill mines and the Tasmanian Mount Lyell mines, and in several West Australian mines. He was one of the first to introduce the newer implements and machines. For some years he had been the owner of the Illion estate, near Wedderburn, where he had a flock of merino sheep into which he had introduced some of the best blood of the flock of Tasmania and South Australia, and where he experimented in the growth of fodder plants and cereals. In 1885 Mr. Gray was auditor for the Shire of Korong, and was a member of the board of Advice, and was correspondent from his first appointment. In 1886 he was elected a councillor for the Central Riding of the Shire of Korong, and was re-elected in August 1889 by a large majority against two other candidates. From that date onwards to 1901 he returned unopposed at every triennial election, and then declined to be nominated and was succeeded by his son (Mr. A. Gray). He held the office of President three times, namely, in 1891, 1894, and 1900, and was noted during his occupancy of the seat for his consistency and firmness. An opinion once formed became with Mr. Gray, an article from which he never swerved. He was a perfect mine of information on the history of that great country - America - its politics, and modes of government. His admiration for that modern republic led him to study ancient Greece, and his favourite book Homer, which he almost knew by heart - a rare accomplishment in this newer world where those ancient poets are too often neglected. To his knowledge of the Greek may be attributed the unusual name of his estate "Ilion", the city which Homer celebrated in the Iliad - the Troy with which the ten year war was waged by the Greeks.
David Nye notes:
What I have are comments in letters from James Gray, such as the following from 1845, written in Somerton, Ohio
" Joshua has been at Marietta the most of the winter going to the Academy. He got home about three weeks ago; he expects to go back in the fall"
or, again, on New Year's morning, 1846, James writes:
"George [Gray] is living, I suppose, in Washington County Iowa, at least he was when we heard from him last, which was in June. Joshua is now going to school in Woodsfield. The rest of the family still remain where they were when you last heard from them."
Six monthes later, on June 16, James writers
" Joshua has gone to Iowa. We look for him back in a few weeks. "
From Marietta, Ohio, Oct 9, 1847, he writes
"Joshua's going to school here - the rest of the family were well when I heard from them last"
January 1, 1848, James writes
Our folks are all well I believe. The two girls and Joshua are at home with mother [i.e. they are in Ohio still], and are getting along in the world much after the old fashion - nothing extra, but good enough for all common purposes of life."
The following year, Nov. 25, 1849 he writes a bit more, and James confirms things in your account about Joshua's teaching and how much he was paid, plus adding a bit more:
"Well, our folks were all well when I last heard from home, which was a few days ago. Joshua is teaching school, and is counted one of the best teachers in that section of country; he gets $25 per month and has taken up for six months. He has been teaching the principal part of his time for a couple of years past and is doing well in the world for a boy. Hannah and Mary [i.e. Joshua's younger sisters] are going to school to him."
Ken Gray notes include this Joshua Gray's story:
JOSHUA ROGERS GRAY'S STORY.
I, Joshua Rogers Gray, was born in Malaga, Monroe County, in the State of Ohio, USA, on November 23rd. 1828. In later years I found it expedient to give my place of birth as Newark, Nova Scotia. This "Canadian citizenship" allowed me to claim rights as a British subject. The importance of this matter you will learn later.
My father, Daniel, was a successful lawyer and a trained surveyor. and he had married Deborah Dudley, a school teacher from his home town near Augusta, Maine. Some fourteen or fifteen years before I was born my parents left Maine to seek a suitable place in which to reside. After stopping for short intervals in different places they settled down at Malaga where my father practised law and Mother taught school.
I was three years and four months old when my father bought a farm about two miles South of Malaga. There was some doubt about the legality of the title and, being a prudent man, my father moved his growing family to live on the farm, knowing that it would be more difficult for another party to dispute ownership if he was already in possession.
When we moved to the farm there was my Father, Mother four sons and three daughters and about a year after we settled on the farm a fourth daughter was born, making ten in the family.
All that were able to work were now set to clearing the farm which was heavily timbered. In three or four years about sixty acres were put under cultivation. My father then bought an adjoining farm which had fifty or sixty acres in cultivation.
Things went smoothly and prosperously; all hands worked and tried to get on in the world but, about 1834, my brother Dudley who was ten years older than myself got mixed up with a disreputable woman and she tried to force him to marry her (declaring she was in a delicate condition). This he had no inclination to do and, to avoid difficulty he left home and made his way down the Ohio River, that being the direction all young men went if they wanted to obtain good wages.
1835 - TROUBLES BEGIN.
About 1835 my mother invited an old maiden Aunt, her sister, to come to live with us on the farm and to that we owed much of the troubles that followed three or four years later. It had much to do with the future prospects of the family. My aunt lived with us for three or four years. She brought with her one or two horses and some other property, and she lived as one of the family. Part of the time she taught in schools and the balance of the time she did nothing. After living with us for these years she became dissatisfied and went to live with a neighbour.
Our neighbour, no friend of my father, advised her to sue my father for wages during the time she had been with us. This she did and, by false evidence and a stupid jury, she succeeded in getting a verdict. I merely mention this as it was the first verdict obtained against my father but it led to a great deal of ill feeling between our family and some of our neighbours.
The party who had been instrumental in getting up the case against my father perjured himself in two or three cases which resulted from this case and was prosecuted by my father. He was finally acquitted but everybody (except the jury) considered him guilty, but the ill feeling engendered never died out and, whilst my father lived, this party and his friends - and he had a large connection - were sworn enemies of our family.
GEORGE LEAVES HOME.
A year after my brother Dudley left home, my eldest brother George, left home also and made his way down the river. He had been very fond of Company and liked to attend all the dances and races with in miles of the place and, as my father was anxious for him to devote most of his spare time to study and to qualify for a profession they could not agree so George cleared off to make a "fortune" for himself.
In this period my father commenced to buy land about fifteen to twenty miles from the Malaga farm. He was at this time County Surveyor and was better acquainted with the lands of the County than any other man in the County. The Government was releasing land for sale and my father, knowing of many good blocks of Government land commenced to buy. In the course of two years h had acquired about two thousand acres of very choice land. He also bought several improved farms having buildings, orchards and large areas of land under cultivation. Things were very prosperous and everybody considered him one of the wealthiest men in the County.
Not satisfied with land speculation, my father went into store keeping. He laid out three townships or villages on three of the best blocks of land he had procured and at each of these he opened a store. Opening those three stores was the fatal mistake of my father's life.
Now he had on hand much more than he could attend to: His two eldest boys were gone and he had to trust to strangers to attend to the business of the stores. At first all appeared to go smoothly. Profits were large and business was brisk. He bought his goods on "bills" in the usual style and while times were good he met his obligations without difficulty.
In 1837 times took a turn for the worse, Money became very scarce and business was stagnant, yet everybody thought that in a year or so things would right themselves. However 1838 was much worse than 1837. Crops failed completely; times were harder than ever before known; no money to buy food, to say nothing of luxuries. My father's bills became due and he was unable to meet them. He closed all the stores and endeavoured to collect enough from the outstanding debts to meet his liabilities, but it was of no use. He summoned money but his debtors generally had nothing but their land and, as land could not be sold for less than two thirds of its appraised value, there were no buyers for the land.
Things remained in this chaotic state for two years or more. In fact there was no real improvement until 1844, which was seven years from the first appearance of the depression. I have often compared those seven years to the seven years of famine in Egypt.
During the years '38 and 39, I have known people to go twenty, and even thirty, miles to procure two bushels of corn and, as they usually carried it home on the back of a horse, the procedure was not unlike that described as done by the Israelites.
Having closed the stores my father turned his attention to the farms. Some of these he cultivated and somewhere rented out; my father receiving one third of the produce. Unfortunately, as soon as the famine was over, grain became a drug as no one had money to buy and we were too far from the big cities to send grain to them.
In 1839 my father thought to recover his losses by starting a wool carding machine and grist mill. These were started and we continued to run them until the death of my father in 1842. Although the carding machines paid well for five or six months of the year they were not sufficiently profitable to make good the heavy drain for interest etcetera. So, having been in hot water for five or six years and seeing no chance of extricating himself my father resolved his luck in another quarter. He took what money he could get and started for Arkansas, intending to follow surveying until he could procure sufficient land to make him a comfortable home.
Having reached Napoleon, at the mouth of the Arkansas River, he was forced to wait there for the river to rise sufficiently for boats to run. While he was there he commenced teaching a course of lectures on the English language but, before the river rose he was taken ill with Congestive Fever and died on the first day of October 1842. Although Daniel Gray died at an age of fifty-two he had experienced more than most men. He was by profession a teacher, lawyer and surveyor and he served as a Justice of the Peace, and Postmaster. In the course of his work as a surveyor he became a real estate developer and storekeeper while establishing a large farm holding. Through circumstance he became a mill owner and operated both a wool carding machine and a grist mill.
During the financial difficulties which befell my father in 1837 and 1838 and from which he never finally recovered he had many law suits and made very many enemies. Particularly was this true at one of the villages he had laid out, called Graysville. This village at the time of my father's death contained a population of not more than three hundred, but fully two-thirds of the population were connected to a gang of counterfeiters under a leader called Haines. These counterfeiters became deadly enemies of my father and, consequently of the family; so that from 1839 to 1843 our family lived in great dread of these desperadoes.
They stole anything belonging to us without the slightest hesitation, and anything they didn't steal they would destroy if possible. Living in that neighbourhood for five or six years at that age had a tendency to make a Misanthropist of me. I got to look upon everyone as an enemy, ready to injure me on every possible occasion. In 1843 the family left Gray'sville and removed to Van Buren a village seven miles distant where the locals were most agreeable and social.
Having given a short history of our family from the time I was born in 1828 to the time we shifted to Van Buren, I will now say a few things respecting myself individually.
Whilst we were busy trying to make a home of the Malaga farm from 1831 to 1836, I was too young to work much but I was made to do all the work I was able to do. At five years old I was able to ride into Malaga, a distance of two and a half or three miles and, as it saved the time of one more able to work than I, there was frequent occasion to send me to "town". When I was six years old I was a very good rider and was on horseback nearly half the time.
It was a very common practice of farmers to send their wheat or maize to the mill for gristing, and the general style was to send it on horseback. This job fell to me before I was seven years old and, between going to town and to the mill and doing light jobs on the farm, my time was completely occupied. There were very few schools in that part of the country and, where there was a school, it was generally for only three months of the year and these schools were of the poorest description. many of the teachers could not do the most simple sum in long division; their reading was wretched; and they did not pretend to know anything about Grammar and Geography. Although my father and mother were educated neither of them could find time to give me any instruction. I learned to read and spell a little from my Aunt whilst she was with us.
On two or three occasions I went to school for a month or so at a time, but my services were so much required after my father started the stores, and in going from one place to another, that my father could never spare me for more than a month or so at a time and very seldom that long. From the time I was six years old until I was eleven, half my time was spent on horseback. During the summers of 1840, 41 and 42 I assisted my brother James in the wool carding business, but at the time of my father's death when I was fourteen years old, I was quite unable to perform any kind of hard labour. I had never learned it and I was not strong enough to do it had I known how!
My education had been entirely neglected. My father's affairs were in such a state that it was doubtful there would be anything for the family or not, - the estate if honestly and efficiently administered upon, ought to leave at least $20,000 for the family; but neither my mother or my brothers were inclined to administer and, had they been so inclined, they could not have obtained the requisite security.
After the death of my father, there was nothing to prevent my brothers from taking possession of the farms and turning them to their own profit until some one administered on the estate, but they did nothing of the kind. They just allowed everything to go to waste. The land remained unoccupied for three or four years, the fences were destroyed, the orchards allowed to run wild and everything went to the bad. To complete the ruin in 1847 five years after my father's death, the court appointed an administrator. He was a Second Class lawyer (and infernal scoundrel as well). He managed to give such security as satisfied the court and commenced to realise on the Estate. He sold the land for what he could get and is known to have realised over ten thousand dollars. He paid very few, if any, of the debts and, when the rush set in for California in 1849, he cleared out for that place. After he was gone it was discovered that his Bond had been stolen from the Registrar's office and the Creditors as well as the heirs got nothing.
I have now given a tolerably clear history of my father's affairs from the time I was three years old up to 1849 but it will be necessary to say something more about the family. After leaving Graysville and moving to Van Buren we were completely destitute so far as any means derived from the estate was concerned. All the horses, wagons, ploughs etc. owned by my father were seized and sold by the Sheriff. We had nothing but what we worked for. My brother George had returned from the South, got married and had his own family to support. Brother James after wandering about for twelve months returned home but did very little for the family; in fact very little at all and, in 1844, he went to study Medicine with a Doctor named Aflick living twenty miles from us.
My oldest sister Johanna was married in 1840,so, after the death of my father, the family consisted of Mother, myself and three sisters. Mother and my sister Rebecca took in weaving and in this way principally supported the family for two or three years. I took any job of work I could get but, as I had not been used to hard work, I was not much use for heavy work. When I could get work I took it and, when I could not get work I spent my time studying such things as I considered would be most useful to me. My mother was a splendid Mathematician and she found time to instruct me in that branch. I also attended a class in writing and got to write in a passable hand.
I saved a little money and was anxious to go to a good school. Luck was in my way- a widow woman named Pain, living in Marietta 30 miles away from us, owed my brother George about $30.00 for three or four years and, as there was not the least chance of getting any money from her, my brother asked her if she would let me board with her for that amount and she agreed to do so. I have always felt an obligation to my brother for this timely assistance. Yet could he have obtained anything else instead of board and lodging there can be no doubt but he would have taken it as he needed it as much as I did. This timely assistance I received in 1844 and shall remember it with gratitude as long as I live. I was, however, able to repay him with interest six years later, the circumstances connected with which I will mention further on. I was able to stay for five months at the Marietta Academy and was then compelled to return home for want of means.
I still continued to take any jobs I could get and spent the balance of my time at study. The start I got at Marietta gave me great encouragement. I undoubtedly made great progress during the five months I was there, but it was lucky for me that I could not continue longer at the Academy for, had I done so, I have no doubt that it would have either killed me or it would have driven me mad as I spent eighteen hours of every day at studies.
When I left home to attend the Academy my mother gave me two pieces of advice and only two:
1st. Keep out of bad company.
2nd. Do not study too hard.
The first I kept tolerably well, but the second I apparently forgot!
After returning from the Academy I remained home or in the neighbourhood until the spring of 1846 when I took a trip to Iowa to see brother George who had gone there in 1844. The distance from where we were living in Ohio to where George was living in Iowa was about fourteen hundred miles, principally by steamer down the Ohio to Cairo and then up the Mississippi to Burlington, then back across the prairies to Talleyrand sixty-five miles west of Burlington.
I will now give a faint description of the country I saw during my first trip on the river. The Ohio is one of the finest rivers in America; it is one thousand miles long from Pittsburgh to Cairo. At Pittsburgh the river is about one third of a mile wide and the water is clean, cool and fresh. The banks are about thirty feet high on an average; the bottom land averages about two miles wide on each side of the river. The hills at the back are four to six hundred feet high. The country is very broken and poor for twenty miles inland.
The Ohio is navigable for light boats its entire length during the whole year and, for eight months there is from eight to ten feet of water all the distance from Pittsburgh to Cairo, fully four hundred miles below Pittsburgh. All the way from Pittsburgh that distance is through the Mighty Coal Field. The coal is in horizontal veins running into the sides of the hills at various heights above the water. These mines can be worked very cheaply as no draining is required and the coal can be carted to the mouth of the tunnel and then shot into boats on the river.
The bottom lands of the Ohio are amongst the richest and the best in America. They were all occupied as early as 1800 and many of them were highly improved. Good, substantial brick or stone buildings were erected on every farm.
In passing from Pittsburgh downwards the river grows wider and wider and for some distance above Cairo it will average one and a half miles in width. The bottom lands also increase in width and, long before reaching Cairo, hills are seldom seen. Occasionally a rocky bluff is met but the general run of the country is low and flat.
Pittsburgh in 1846 contained about 30,000 inhabitants. The first place of importance below Pittsburgh was Wheeling in Virginia, one hundred miles downstream. Wheeling at this time had about 12,000 inhabitants. At Wheeling there was a beautiful suspension bridge with a span of one thousand feet between the piers. There were villages along the river every ten or twelve miles but the next place of note was Marietta, the place where I had been going to the Academy. Marietta was a very nice town of about five thousand inhabitants at the junction of the Ohio and Muskingham Rivers in the State of Ohio.
Marietta was the first place settled by whites in Ohio and it was noted for the remains of a former civilisation. There was an artificial mound about one hundred feet high and covering four acres of ground at its base. There are also traces of ancient forts, etcetera. One of these forts appears to have had a mud wall of considerable height enclosing about twenty acres of ground. There were also many other traces of occupation.
Passing down the Ohio we passed many towns of local importance but as none of them has come to be of national importance I pass over them until I arrive at Cincinnati, but before mentioning anything about Cincinnati I will mention one of the numerous islands in the Ohio. I mention it on account of a passage of history connected with it...Blannerhassett's Island.
The island was taken up and made into a perfect Paradise by a man of that name (Blannerhassett). He had a beautiful wife and his family was perfectly happy and contented when the famous Aaron Burr, arriving at the island, induced him to join in a filibustering expedition to seize New Orleans then belonging to Spain. The American government then issued warrants for them and arrested Blannerhassett, tried him for the (intended) crime-he was acquitted but it cost him his island home. He was a ruined man - Burr escaped and was not caught.
The most important city on the Ohio River is Cincinnati 500 miles below Pittsburgh or half way from Pittsburgh to Cairo. Cincinnati is beautifully situated on the right bank of the Ohio River and is regularly laid out and is one of the nicest cities in the Union. Opposite Cincinnati on the Kentucky side of the Ohio is Covington, also a beautiful and thriving city. Cincinnati in 1846 contained about 40,000 in habitants.
The next place of importance below Cincinnati is Louisville in Kentucky and about 640 miles below Pittsburgh. Louisville is also a very pretty city with broad clean streets and fine buildings. The population in 1846 was about 30,000.
At Louisville there is what is known as the "falls" of the Ohio- the river falls several feet in a distance of five miles. When the river is high steamers can pass both up and down over the falls or rapids but, during Sumer they have to pass through a canal 3 miles long to avoid the rapids. The canal which is about 30 feet deep and 70 to 80 feet wide is cut through solid limestone nearly all the way and afforded immense quantities of the very best lime.
There were no places of importance below Louisville although there were villages every 10 or 15 miles. Cairo is situated on the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. In 1846 it had only a population of three or four hundred people and was only of importance from the position it occupied on these two large rivers.
At Cairo my course was up the Mississippi river to St. Louis. The distance is 180 miles - the country and scenery much the same as in the lower part of the Ohio River but there was generally a high bluff on one side of the river. The bluff changes pretty often but was most extensive on the Western side of the Mississippi. In many places veins of galena could be distinctly seen in these bluffs and in many places shot towers were erected on the bluffs for the manufacture of shot.
There were numerous villages on the river between Cairo and St. Louis but no town of much importance. On passing from the Ohio into the Mississippi there was a great change in the appearance of the water. The Ohio is a beautiful, clear, smooth flowing sheet of water averaging about a mile in width, but the Mississippi is as muddy as you could possibly conceive any running stream to be. The water is completely yellow with mud and it boils and whirls about in all directions and is nearly covered with froth and foam. Both rivers are fresh sweet drinking water and, when cleared of mud, the Mississippi water is not surpassed by any river in America.
Having spent a day at St Louis and after a review of the volunteers about starting for the American wars, I took a steamer for Burlington, Iowa. The distance from St. Louis to Burlington is about 250 miles; the country along the upper Mississippi is very much nicer than below St. Louis. There is an absence of the high bluffs on the one side and low swamps on the other. The land was generally level and undulating and seldom swampy. The Mississippi above the mouth of the Missouri is a nice stream - from a half to three - quarters of a mile wide - is clear and palatable, but not quite so clear as the Ohio. Along the banks of the river for two or three miles back there is heavy timber but, after getting about that distance from the river the land is principally open prairies of the richest description.
Between St. Luis and Burlington is some of the richest land in America. There are villages every few miles on this part of the river as well as on the part below St. Louis. There are also three or four places of importance. The first place of importance above St. Louis is, as I passed up the river, Alton in Illinois, 25 miles above St. Louis. In1845 it had a population of 15, 000 people and the State Penitentiary and other Government institutions. There is also Nauvoo, Quincy and Keokuk - all thriving places.
Nauvoo is noted as the city laid out by Joe Smith, the Mormon prophet. This place was started in 1841 and in 1846 contained a population of 20,000 people. As I passed up the river on my way to Burlington I had a splendid view of the City of Nauvoo. It is situated in the bend of the river at what is known as the great "rapids". In passing by in a boat there is a fine view of the city and surrounding country. The city stands high and dry and is more pleasantly situated than any other town on the Mississippi. As I passed up all was quiet and happiness seemed to reign supreme but, when I returned two or three months later all was commotion; all were in great dread of death, robbery or worse than these.
In order that the reader may understand this commotion and its causes, I will digress a little and give a short history of the Mormons from the time they started until they reached Salt Lake.
Joe Smith the founder of Mormonism was born in the State of New York. Not much is known or not much reliable information can be got respecting his early life but, about 1835 he proclaimed that he had become inspired; that he had dreamt that there were certain metallic plates hid in a mound of earth, that these plates had lain there for centuries and they contained a history of the lost tribe of Israel and that he was inspired to translate these plates. He then proceeded to publish a book which he declared was the true translation of the hieroglyphics on the plates. He declared himself a prophet and said he was able to work or perform miracles similar to those performed by Christ and the Apostles.
Smith found believers amongst the best families in New York. After remaining in New York for a year or two, Smith took his disciples and immigrated to Missouri. The Mormons were very unpopular with the "Border Ruffians" of Missouri from the very beginning and became more and more so as time passed on. Eventually they were ordered to leave the State by Governor Boggs. The Mormons left Missouri at the bidding of Governor Boggs and settled down at Nauvoo.
For two or three years after settling in Nauvoo, the Mormons prospered wonderfully but a jealousy existed with all other denominations and they all united in asking the Governor to drive them out of Illinois but he didn't feel justified in doing so. Every "Religious" paper in the country was crying out for their expulsion and all manners of crimes were laid to their charge but none were ever sheeted home to them any more than to any other class of people. That there were some great scoundrels amongst them there can be no doubt but the same could be said of every denomination.
Some time after the Mormons settled in Nauvoo, Gov. Boggs Missouri was shot (though not killed) and Joe Smith was accused of having sent an emissary to do the shooting There was no evidence to connect Smith with the crime but most people imagined that it was done by a Mormon.
In 1844 there was a paper started in Nauvoo which was devoted principally to abuse of Mormons, and to libelling them. This newspaper was suppressed by order of the City
Council, of which Joe Smith was mayor. A warrant was then issued for Smith's arrest and he was sent to the County Gaol to await his "trial" at Warsaw. His brother Hiram Smith was arrested and confined in Gaol also. A few days after they were sent to gaol and before the trial came on they were assassinated by a mob. Every religious denomination in America approved of this "murder". No arrests were made and, after remaining a "nine days" talk nothing more was heard of the matter. The Mormons still remained at Nauvoo and still prospered; the city was fast becoming one of the prettiest and most prosperous on the river. But that inveterate hate of the other "Christian" denominations (God save the Meek) followed and hung over them like "night mares".
When the other denominations saw that that Mormonism was still progressing, notwithstanding the deaths of Joe and Hira Smith, they determined to drive them out of the State. In June 1846 under some pretence (or perhaps no pretence whatever) about 1500 armed men assembled in the vicinity of Nauvoo.
They sent a written notice to the Mormon leaders telling them that the people of Illinois were determined to rid themselves of the presence of the Mormons and that every Mormon must leave the State within eight days. Notice was also given that no one would be allowed to purchase anything from them but they might carry away anything they saw fit to take but, if anyone bought anything from a Mormon it would be taken from him and he would be compelled to leave the City also.
On my return from visiting my brother I reached Nauvoo on the 18th. June 1846. The notice had been served on the leaders of the Mormons telling them that every Mormon found in the city at six o'clock p.m. of the 18th. June would be murdered. There were fully 5,000 people congregated on the bank of the river anxiously waiting to get conveyed across to the western bank before the massacre should begin. I have since seen many pitiful sights but have never seen anything to compare with what I saw then.
There was fully 5,000 people, mostly women and children congregated on the bank of the river as close to the water's edge as they could get, each anxious to get across as they felt confident that at 6 p.m. everyone found there would be killed. The women and children were nearly all crying; some were in hysterics; all looked pale and dejected. There was only two small flat bottomed boats on the river to carry all the women and children together with their "household goods." These boats were rowed by hand and could not carry more than 20 people on each trip. The river was over half a mile wide, was rough and rapid, it being the great Rapids of the Mississippi. It was self evident that several thousand people would still be in Nauvoo at 6 p.m. Our boat left at 5 p.m. for St. Louis. Our Captain didn't think it wise to wait the approach of 6 p.m.
When the "Religious Men"; Parsons, Deacons, Pastors of Churches, tramps, pickpockets and Mississippi Blacklegs, together with a good number of St. Louis Bullies and magsmen saw that it was impossible for them to leave the city within the specified time and that the best men amongst the Mormons were preparing to "show fight" they consented to give a day or two longer to leave the State.
It may be of interest to follow the history of the Mormons for a few months longer when I must leave them for a future chapter.
Having abandoned their property and homes in Nauvoo, the Mormons started under their leaders for California then a Mexican Province and Mexico at war with the United States. Nothing could be said or written by any pen which could more clearly show the great amount of persecution to which these people were subject than the fact that 25,000 of them were willing to and did abandon their homes and start through an unknown wilderness and over some of the most barren deserts and mountains of the world. They would have to travel 2500 miles through a country entirely unknown to any of them and inhabited by tribes of the most relentless and bloodthirsty savages.
They would have to cross the great interior desert of America and climb over two great chains of mountains, the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada. The season was already too far advanced by two months. It would be almost impossible for them to reach California that Season but nothing better was offered to them. They must do that or die by the hand of their own people. There was nothing more cruel done by the Roman Catholics in the worst days of the Inquisition or of the reign of Bloody Mary. And what was the prospect of these people should they succeed in reaching California?
The country was incognito and they knew little or nothing of it. It was settled by a half savage Creole race presenting all of the bad features or traits of the Spaniards, Indians and Negro. They spoke a different language, had different customs and all belonged to one of the most intolerant of religions. They were ruled by the same class of priest as those who conducted the inquisition in Spain. And worst of all the countries were at war at the time and it was not at all probable that the Mexicans would allow them to settle in California.
About the middle of July the Mormons started from Missouri for California, having just three weeks before been driven from their homes in Nauvoo. What the Mormons suffered in their journey from Nauvoo to Salt Lake and California can never be fully ascertained as many parties were entirely lost and never heard of again. But a brief history will be given when treating of Donner Lake in Nevada; also some further history of the Mormons will be given when treating with Salt Lake.
I will now proceed with the history of my first trip on the mighty rivers of America. Having passed Nauvoo I preceded on to Burlington where I landed and started in a westerly direction for Talleyrand although that place was not then in existence. I went on foot and was three days making the journey of 65 miles. The country between Burlington and Talleyrand is generally level or undulating plains. There are several streams to cross but none of them of much size at that season of the year. The soil of this part is very rich being composed of decayed vegetable matter to a depth of four or five feet.
The land is too rich for wheat and is also too light and too liable to blow away from the roots of the grain in winter but for maize there is no better land to be found. Yet the seasons are often wet and cold.
I found my brother and his family in good health. He had secured a very good selection of 320 acres of land and had a considerable portion in crop. Most of the land in the district was selected and accepted but very little of it was purchased from the Government as people who had means preferred to invest in stock instead of paying for the ground which the Government allowed them to occupy without charge. My brother did as his neighbours did, allowed his land to remain in the hands of the Government and spent his money when he had any purchasing stock.
Times were hard in Iowa in 1846 and for two or three years later. There was little sale for anything. Horses, cattle and hogs were very cheap. Maize was the principal crop grown and was sometimes sold as low as five to ten cents per bushel so it was difficult for a farmer to save sufficient money to pay for his land. Everything the farmer required was expensive as they had to come from the Eastern states and frequently from Europe, whereas everything he had to dispose of was very cheap indeed.
I remained a few weeks with my brother George; visited many of the surrounding villages and then started my return to my home in Ohio.
I reached Burlington in two and a half days and soon got a steamer and left for St. Louis. The only incident on the way from Burlington to St. Louis worth recording was the scene at Nauvoo which I have already described. I arrived at St. Louis on 18th. June and remained there until the 20th. During the night between 19th and 20th I had the misfortune of losing what money I had on me for the purpose of paying my fare home to Ohio. The amount was only a few dollars but it left me as destitute as if I had lost thousands. My first thought was to go to work on the wharf and earn sufficient money to pay my passage home, a distance of 1100 miles. I got work on loading a steamboat.
I was now nearly eighteen years old but was very weak and delicate in health. I was set to carry heavy goods along with an Irishman as strong as a bullock. We had a hand barrow on which we had to carry from 300 to 400 pounds according to the nature of the goods and this work went on incessantly. Before I engaged I explained to the Mate that I was not strong, that it ws necessity with me or I would not offer as I was not able to do so very heavy work. This explanation only caused him to make the work the more heavy. In the end after working the greater part of the day I was scarcely able to walk and was forced to cave in.
I told the Mate it was impossible for me to do the work I was at. There were plenty of light parcels which I could have been put to carry, but no, it was his object to completely break me down and once or twice threatened to knock me down when I was nearly ready to fall. I was forced to throw up the job and when I asked for a trifle for the work i had done I was politely told to go to Hell and that if I came annoying him I would damned soon get my arse kicked. This was Missouri justice in 1845. Knowing no one at St. Louis and not being able to do hard work my main desire was to get home aas soon as possible.
After leaving the job of work I went on board the steamer A.I.Crittendon, the same steamer on which I came around from Ohio. I asked permission to work my passage around to Cincinnati and the Captain agreed to let me do so. We left St. Louis June 21st. and arrived at Louisville on the 24th. During this time I was kept almost constantly at work. These steamers stopped at almost every village on the rivers and there were immense quantities of freight to take in and put off which required constant attention. Whenever anyone agreed to work his passage they tried to get as much out of him as possible.
When we arrived at St. Louisville I was completely exhausted yet I knew there was ten hours constant work to be done if I stayed. So I picked up my things and left the boat. I had not a single cent to pay for a meal. I did not know what to do. I looked about and got a job waiting for a bricklayer. The wage was fair and I could have saved money at it. The work was not so very hard and I could have managed it but, after stopping for a few days I got my money and again started for home.
I again agreed to work my passage to Cincinnati and I again had a very hard time of it. The boat was engaged in the wheat trade and for hours I was forced to carry full bags of wheat which were lifted on to my back by two men. The work was very heavy and almost constant as we had to stow the wheat away whilst the boat was moving.
At Cincinnati I left this steamer. I had not money sufficient to pay my fare home so I thought I would try a new dodge. I would say nothing about my fare until they found me after the boat was on the way and they could either let me work or set me on shore, whichever they liked. In this way I managed to get up to Marietta a distance of 350 miles and, as they never asked me for my fare I left the steamer with my money which I had earned at Louisville in my pocket which came in very handy to pay my way home from Marietta. I arrived home about the end of June 1846 having seen a considerable part of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. After having reached home I took such work as I could get to do and remained about Van Buren until November 1846 when I went to college at Woodsfield, which place was about 10 miles distant from Van Buren. At Woodsfield I devoted most of my time to the study of Algebra with some time devoted to the study of Trigonometry.
I made great progress in Algebra and in less than five months was the best Algebraist in the College although some had studied it for two or three years. In March I was forced to leave the Woodsfield college through want of funds.
About 15th of March 1847 I left home to look for work at Tuisville on the Ohio River. I stayed there a day or two and then took steamer for Pittsburgh. I stopped a day or two at Pittsburgh and then shipped as deck hand on board the Steamboat New England No 2. I continued some weeks on this boat which was a mail steamer between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. She made the round trip in a week, twice loading and discharging besides running 100 miles. She carried about 500 tons of freight and was always fully loaded each way.
On this steamer I found the work equally as hard as on any one I had been before. I frequently worked 20 hours out of the 24 and this work was of the heaviest description. I saw it would kill me if I attempted to continue so, after meeting with an accident to my hand, I was forced to leave the boat. I now went to look for work on a railroad which was being constructed in the vicinity of Hanging Rock in Lawrence County, Ohio. I got work on this road and continued there for some time, but owing to a severe attack of indigestion I was forced to give up this work and, besides, I was not quite sure I would get my money if I continued working.
This work was also heavy. It was mostly barrow work. We worked about 11 hours per day. There could be from 12 to 20 in the gang. There ws an immense big strong Irishman as the leader. He could fill his barrow in a minute and was off at once. All the gang had to go at the same time and if my barrow was not full there was a curse from the boss. It was all I could possibly do to keep up and sometimes I had to go with half a barrow full and to take the cursing of the boss as meekly as I could. It was far too hard for me and in fact the regular navvies could scarcely do the work and many left saying it was too much for any man to stand. I was forced to leave this job and so went to work at the Etna Iron Furnace near Hanging Rock.
I worked for some time at the furnace. When I was sent into the bush to cut wood for charcoal I could work as I liked as there was no one to find fault. I worked as hard as I was able but I was very weak from indigestion. I saw I was getting but little wood chopped, in fact I had done so little chopping before that I could make no headway. I was nearly dead with indigestion and to make things worse I caught a very severe cold. I went to the boss and told him I was ashamed to continue as I was not doing him justice , that I was not able to do the work expected of me. He seemed quite surprised and advised me to stay on and do what I could but I took my pay and left for home where I arrived about the end of May 1847.
Soon after reaching home I was attacked with rheumatism and for four weeks was unable to walk. After having thirteen large flu blisters on me I was able to go about. I continued to improve and I spent the greater part of the summer studying Grammar, Geography and Philosophy but about the month of August I again left home to look for work.
I went to the Ohio River and took passage on a steamboat for Wellsville but 20 miles below that place the steamer ("Mingo Chief") ran aground and I was forced to walk the balance of the way. I arrived at Wellsville expecting to find plenty of work on a new railway connecting Pittsburgh and Cleveland. When I arrived at Wellsville I found that work had not commenced on the railway so I was forced to take work in a brick yard. At first I was very weak and awkward and sometimes thought I would be unable to do the work but I gradually improved in health and skill. After six weeks I was able to do my work satisfactorily. The boss was a very nice gentlemanly fellow and took a great interest in me which caused a little jealously with some of the others.
One day when the boss was in the yards, one of the moulders on whose table I was putting the mud for moulding the bricks, in order to show off a little in front of the boss, threatened to give me a hiding if I didn't do my work to his satisfaction. I at once threw down my spade and told me I was ready to fight him or any damned man who took his part, that I was not frightened of any man big or little in Wellsville. From this time on I had no bother with either men or boys and when the works were closed for the Winter they one and all asked me to come back the next Summer and said I should have $5 per month more than the current wages and that the men would make this up amongst them. I felt highly flattered with this offer and left with regret.
I just went home to see how the family were getting on and then went back to Wellsville to work on the railway. I worked for some time about a mile below Wellsville but the contractors, Drum and Anderson, failed and did not pay their men. I had some tools in my possession belonging to them and to these I stuck but that was all I got. I next went to work on the section at the mouth of Yellow Creek three miles below Wellsville. I remained in this contract until about Christmas and then returned to Van Buren. I had now tried several kinds of hard work but found that none of them agreed with me except brick making. I now made up my mind to try to get a living without doing hard work.
In January 1848 I took up a class in Algebra and one in Arithmetic. I had about twenty altogether and these lasted about four months. All the students made great progress and at the end of the term they gave me a certificate certifying that I had given great satisfaction; that they had made great progress etc. In this interval whilst not engaged with classes I was devoting all my time to study.
In May 1848 I opened a school in Stafford, a town about three miles from Van Buren. I had some little difficulty in starting this school but the success of my other classes was what I relied upon. I succeeded in starting the school by subscription. I had a very nice school of about forty mostly infants but during the Summer several young men and young women who had been away at College came home to Stafford on a visit during the vacation and some of them thought to astonish me by bringing Algebraics and Geometrics to my school and asking me to instruct them in these Sciences.
They were greatly surprised to find that I was quite at home with both Sciences. So they persuaded their parents to allow them to continue with me until the end of the term. The "term" closed in August and I immediately left for Marietta Academy where I stopped until November 1st. 1848. I had partly agreed to take a school about three miles from Stafford, but it was no use. The young people of Stafford were determined to have me back and the Board said I must come no odds what the price of wages was.
Wages for school teachers was very low, not exceeding $15.00 per month. I set my price at $25.00 per month and half the fees of the paying pupils. Such as came from other districts or were over age. When the school opened I had about 15 of the regular district scholars and about 25 from "outside". The 25 paying scholars were mostly from 22 to 40 years old. Many if not all had been teachers and their object in coming to me was to qualify for teaching Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry and having 100 pupils and teaching so many things it was necessary to have two assistants. The term lasted five months and increased in popularity all the time.
At the end of the term we had what was locally called an "Exhibition" which was a dramatic performance together with recitations and songsters. The thing passed off very well and was the talk of the whole County.
Soon after closing this term I commenced a five month Summer term which was just as successful as the Winter term. The second Summer term closed about September 1849 and immediately after the close of this term I returned to Marietta Academy or rather to the Liberal Institute of Marietta. Here I learnt the Phonetic System and got to write Phonography pretty well. I also attended lectures on Philosophy, Chemistry etc.
About the 1st. November 1849 I commenced my fourth term of five months at Stafford. The attendance was equally as good as the previous term and my popularity increased. The term was a complete success and we closed it with an "Exhibition" as in the previous spring but, owing to a slight misunderstanding with the Methodists about the use of the church building, the thing did not go as pleasantly as could be wished. During this term or about March 1850, my mother and sisters left Ohio and immigrated to Iowa and settled with my brother George.
In June 1850 I bought a Land Warrant for 150 acres of land. This warrant had been granted to John Rodgers on account of services in the Mexican War and it entitled the holder to select 150 acres in any part of the United States. I took this warrant and went to Iowa intending to take up land to make a home for my mother and sisters but when I found that brother George had not purchased his land I laid it on 150 acres of his land and then made a transfer of it in order to make his title secure. In this way I repaid his kindness in paying my board at Marietta. I only remained a few weeks at Iowa and returned to Ohio. I did not return via St. Louis, Cairo and Cincinnati as I had seen all that was to be seen on that line. I returned via Chicago, Cleveland etc. Having left Talleyrand, Iowa in order to return to Stafford Ohio I went by my usual route to Burlington.
At Burlington I crossed the river and started on foot for Peoria on the Illinois River. Peoria is about 140 miles from Burlington. The country is generally rolling prairies with rather more clay and better adopted for wheat than the land on the Iowa side of the Mississippi. There was no place of importance and no incident worth notice during this journey of 140 miles. Peoria is a beautiful town on the Illinois River. In 1850it contained a population of about 10,000. There was a fine swing bridge across the Illinois River. I only stopped one day at Peoria and there took a steamer for La Salle at the head of navigation on the Illinois River. At La Salle I left the steam boat and took the Canal Packet for Chicago 100 miles distant. I did not see much of the country between Peoria and La Salle as we passed this part mostly at night. La Salle in Illinois contained about 500 people in 1850.
From La Salle to Chicago the country is beautiful beyond description. Most of the land was cultivated and well improved. The canal was in fine order and the speed made by the packet was about eight miles per hour. The bridges were large and high giving ample room for the tow path under the bridge. At Morris about halfway from La Salle to Chicago there was a break in the Canal and we were compelled to stop for the night, but at 8 am. next day we again started for Chicago and at 2pm. reached that place. Chicago in 1850 had a population of about 40,000 people. The city was mostly built of wood but contained some very good buildings. Trade was very brisk at Chicago at that time and the city was making rapid strides.
At Chicago I went on board a Lake Steamer and took passage for Cleveland. The steamers running on the lakes in 1859 were very spacious and very comfortable. There were about 250 passengers on the steamer destined for the various places on the Lake. We called at Mackinaw, Detroit, Toledo and Cleveland. The scenery along the lakes was not of such a nature as to require any comment. The shores were low and generally covered with pine timber. We were generally a considerable distance from the shore.
The first thing which attracted my attention was at Mackinaw. Whilst lying at the wharf there I could distinctly see the gravel at the bottom at a depth of fully 20 feet. I could distinctly see the spots on playing cards lying on the bottom and I could see hundreds of fish varying in size from three feet to the smallest minnow. The most important place on this route was Detroit, the Capital of Michigan. Detroit appeared to be a very nice clean place but I did not see much of it.
We had beautiful weather until we were within 20 or 30 miles from Cleveland but, before reaching that place, the wind got quite strong and the lake was quite rough. Many of the passengers were seasick and I felt squeamish myself. Cleveland in 1850 had a population of about 20,000 and was a nice thriving place. It stands on high level ground which seemed to be of stiff clay. The houses were mostly of brick and of very good quality which were made near the city.
I only remained one day in Cleveland and then took my passage on a Canal Boat for Newcomerstown. This canal connects Cleveland on Lake with Portsmouth on the Ohio River thus forming a connection between the Great Lakes and the Great Rivers in the same manner as the canal from La Salle to Chicago connects Illinois River and Lake Michigan. The Ohio Canal was by no means equal to the Illinois Canal. The bridge merely rested on the towpath and it was necessary to disconnect the horse from the boat at every bridge. I cannot now recollect the time we were going from Cleveland to the point where I left the Canal, but we did not travel more than about three miles per hour when under way and we did not run all the time.
I arrived at Stafford, Monroe County, Ohio in about five days from the time I left Cleveland. I only stayed about a week at Stafford and then went to Marietta where I took lessons privately from the Professor of Mathematics of the Marietta College. I remained at Marietta until the 1st. November when I returned to Stafford to commence the Winter term of school but, as there was a new Board in connection with the school, they had ideas of their own . They made arrangements to have three terms each of three months during the year instead of two five month terms as before. I told them the arrangements didn't suit me as I wished to teach ten months of the year. As they would not alter the length of term I left and went to Somerton, Belmont County, Ohio and took a school there getting the same price as I was to have at Stafford and a five month term. Somerton was a Quaker village of about 500 people. As I was not a Quaker the Quakers would not send their children to me. I had only about 75 to 100 pupils and none of them very far advanced. The building was disagreeably cold and everything seemed to go wrong. I did not like the people and they did not like me. I spent my evenings in the company of Richard Miles, Stephen Steel and William Strahl, these being the only young men in the village except the Methodists and Quakers.
When the five months was through I thought to leave the place but was persuaded by the Board to stop for another term. I did so but things got worse instead of better so, after finishing the second term, I returned to Stafford and they gave me a five month term again.
Nearly all my old Scholars came back to me again in the Winter of 1851 & 2. They were all delighted to have me back and I was delighted to get back among them. No people could be kinder than the people of Stafford were to me but, among all my friends at Stafford, there was no one to whom I owe as much as to Wm. Steel. Mr. Steel was the leading storekeeper of Stafford. He was a very good business man and had a very great influence in the district. He was my support from the very first but the whole people stuck by me and gave me all the assistance and encouragement possible.
This was my last term at Stafford. I had about 100 pupils, many of them older than myself. Many of them had been teachers themselves. So great was the love and regard between myself and my scholars that during the five months I never had to speak a cross word to any pupil. The slightest look of displeasure was sufficient.
My health during the winter of 1851 & 2 was not good. I had impaired it very much by hard study. In April 1852 I resolved to go west and take a few month's vacation. I never knew before the true feeling of the People of Stafford toward me, but nearly everyone to whom I bid good-bye burst into tears. I told them at the same time that I might come back during the Autumn and stop for Winter, but a half promise in no way satisfied them.
I went via Marietta and there took a steamer via Cincinnati and St. Louis to where my friends live in Iowa. I arrived in Iowa in the latter part of April and, in the month of May I left Iowa for Minnesota in order to spend the summer and try to improve my health. I went via Burlington. Galena, Dubuque, Prairie Duckpin on to St Paul which, at that time, had a population of about 5,000 people. St. Paul is situated on the Eastern side of the Mississippi about 6 miles below the mouth of the St. Peters or Minnesota River. It is situated on a high sandstone flat about 80 feet above high water. There is about three or four feet of black soil, below which there were layers of good hard sandstone suitable for building. These layers of stone lay horizontal so that a cellar properly excavated was already walled and floored and always kept dry.
I made my headquarters for the summer at St. Paul but spent much of my time looking about the country. St. Anthony's Falls of the Mississippi are about ten miles from St. Paul by coach but about 15 miles by the river. There was a new city just begun and had a population of about 1000 just opposite the falls. It was then called St. Anthony but afterwards changed to Minneapolis.
St. Anthony's or Minneapolis is one of the nicest situations for a city in America. The bank of the river at Minneapolis gradually slopes down to the water's edge and gradually rises to a height of about 40 feet when one mile from the river. The land at Minneapolis is similar to that of St. Paul but there is only about two or three feet over the sandstone rock. Immediately opposite Minneapolis the Mississippi falls about 20 feet perpendicularly and in all about 60 feet in a distance of a mile. Minneapolis like St. Paul stands on the east bank of the Mississippi River. I remained in Minnesota until the end of September. I enjoyed myself very much.
Minnesota is perhaps the most beautiful state in the Union. The whole of the State which I visited seemed of volcanic formation. The country was moderately rolling or undulating, partly timbered an partly prairie. Then there were lakes every few miles in all directions. Some of these lakes were on top of round hills and were evidently extinct volcanoes. The country was also traversed by streams of pure cold water every four or five miles and all the lakes and creeks were full of beautiful fish. During the Summer there is no more delightful place than Minnesota. Half way between St. Paul and Minneapolis via the river is Fort Snelling at the junction of the Minnesota River and Mississippi. There about 200 soldiers at Forts Snelling when I was there in 1852.
At that time the Sioux Indians held all the country west of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. There was a village of three or four hundred called the Little Crow Village three miles below St. Paul and there was a village with 400 opposite Fort Snelling called the Black Dog Village. Near the Black Dog Village I saw the first Indian cemetery I had met with. The Sioux put there dead into coffins and place these on scaffolds in the bush or woods and leave them there to decay. There were perhaps 30 coffins on the scaffolds in this place.
The chief at the Little Crow Village was one of the leading chiefs of the great Sioux nation. He was young, tall and strong and was said to be a great orator but, as he only spoke the Indian language, I did not appreciate his oratory. I formed a very unfavourable opinion of the Sioux and their conduct since has fully justified the opinion. The people of St. Paul were very kind to Little Crow and his people. They regarded them as perfect models of integrity, generosity and magnanimity. The Indians were at that time in receipt of a large yearly income from the Government, on account of lands which they had sold to the Government. They were also in treaty for the sale of another strip of land on the West side of the Mississippi. This tract was 200 miles long and 60 miles wide.
Soon after I left Minnesota in September 1852 the U.S. purchased that tract of country and the Indians removed back 60 miles but, in 1861 they made a raid into this country nearly as far as St. Paul. They killed all they found, men women and children except about 20 young women they took with them and who they submitted to the brutality of the whole tribe. This is Indian magnanimity.
Having spent a very pleasant Summer in Minnesota and being delighted with the country but not seeing anything payable in my line of business, I returned to Iowa about 1st. October 1852. The scenery along the river below St. Paul as far as Galena and Dubuque was delightful. The steamer stopped for a short time at Lake Pippin 100 miles below St. Paul in order to allow the passengers to search for Chameleons. We were there about an hour and in that time I was lucky enough to pick up fully 20 chameleons and gave some to the lady passengers who was following me wherever I went in search of them. I do not think anyone else on the steamer secured half as many as myself. I took several Chameleons to Iowa and some of them I saw with my brother James in 1883 or 31 years after the time I gathered them on the shores of Lake Pippin.
Some distance below Lake Pippin is the scene of the Battle of the Big Axe. This battle was fought about 1833 between the Americans, principally Illinois and Wisconsin Volunteers and the Indians under the famous chief Black Hawk. The Indians were camped on the banks of the Mississippi under a high bluff of rocks. They were surprised. Their retreat was cut off and they were forced to surrender. They fought with desperation but were defeated and Black Hawk was taken prisoner. There were many places of note on the river but I have not the time or space to refer to them.
I reached Iowa early in October 1852. I looked about for some time to see where I could do best and finally took up a school at Richland, Iowa, ten miles South of Talleyrand. I had a fine new two storey building and about 150 scholars. My two sisters Hannah and Mary assisted me and we had a very interesting school and did very well indeed. The people at Richland were very kind and I was fairly popular but not so much as at Stafford in Ohio.
The school at Richland closed about 1st. of April 1853. I had during the term been reading some Phonographic works and in one I read an account of the Goldfields of Australia. I made up my mind to try my luck there and, on 19th of April 1853, I started for Australia.
The previous accounts given will give a general idea of how I had spent my time up to the 19th April 1853, but there were several trips to Cincinnati , Pittsburgh and other places which have been left out as I have only a faint recollection of them. But there is one I have omitted which occurred in October 1851 after I had left Somerton and before commencing last term at Stafford.
About September or October 1851 I started in a buggy with my brother James. We went to our Uncles Gilman Dudley and Dennis Gibbs and spent three or four days with them. We then drove on through Jonesville on the Muskingum River through Columbus, the Capital of the State of Ohio. Some distance past Columbus I left the buggy to watch the races at the Columbus Racecourse. This was the first regular Racecourse I had seen and the first regular races. My brother proceeded on with the horse to Talleyrand, Iowa. I went from Columbus by railway to Cincinnati and, after remaining a week or so at Cincinnati I returned to Stafford to commence my last term of school there.
Having made all my arrangements for my trip to Australia, I left home at Richland on 19th. April 1853. There many of my pupils to see me off but there was little of that genuine sorrow which I had witnessed at Stafford.
I must now take a long farewell of my dear Mother, my two sisters and two brothers. I told them what I really believed, that I would not be away more than two or three years at most. My mother said to me when bidding me good bye; I know you will not turn back. You will go to Australia if you live and I know but you will do well there and you may come back. But long ere you see Iowa again I will be gone to my last home and most of our family as well! There was something prophetic in what she said. She seemed fully convinced of the truth of every word she said to me. She did not advise me to go or stay, but she was well aware that nothing would change my mind - go I would. About 12 o'clock on 19th. April 1853 I bid farewell to all and started for the El Dorado of Australia.
EN ROUTE TO EL DORADO AUSTRALIA
Leaving my Mother's place at Richland, Keokuk County, Iowa at 12 o'clock on the 18th. April I proceeded a few miles on horseback to a farmer to whom I had sold my horse. I delivered the horse and got the money (80) and then walked on to Fairfield where I had left my baggage a few days previously. I remained at Fairfield for the night and the next morning took the stage for Keokuk, which place I reached at 11 pm. Keokuk is on the Mississippi at the foot of the rapids. The town in 1853 had a population of 10,000. It is near the mouth of the Des Moines River. After reaching Keokuk I went at once on board a steamer bound for St. Louis and, at 5pm. on Friday the 22nd of April reached that city.
St. Louis had been nearly destroyed by fire between 1856 when I first visited it and 1853 but had been rebuilt and was much improved in appearance. Whole squares were built up with nice five storey brick buildings all of the same appearance. The city had also greatly increased in population and now did not contain less than 60,000 people. Although slavery was the legal institution of Missouri, very few if any slaves were employed about the wharfs of St. Louis and not many in the city at all.
Some slaves were owned in the farming districts and some in the mines and the whole population was pro-slavery in sentiment. They nearly all voted the Democratic ticket. They all swore by General Jackson and many of them still thought he was President of the United States, although he had been dead for a number of years. It is a remarkable circumstance, but is true nevertheless, that wherever slavery existed the poor whites were much worse than the Negroes. They were brutally ignorant, very lazy, very intolerant in everything and especially on the slave question. It was not safe for a man to say slavery was wrong in any part of Missouri and especially in St. Louis.
At 5p pm. Friday April 22, 1853 I left St. Louis on the steamer Kate Kearny for Louisville. From St. Louis to Louisville there had been no great change from the time I passed over this water in 1846. Of course all the places had increased more or less and Cairo had made a start in earnest. The people there were raising the ground on which the city stood by about 12 feet and when that was done the site was equal to any in America. On Sunday 24th. April at 9 pm. arrived at Louisville and on Monday the 25th. April, started for Cincinnati on the Steamer Ben Franklin and on the 26th.reached Cincinnati.
The only thing noticed on this trip from St Louis to Cincinnati was the Cave in Rock in Illinois and the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Cave in Rock is a natural cavern under, or rather in, an immense rock, close beside the Ohio River. This cave is about 40 by 50 feet. The walls are nearly perpendicular and the floor nearly horizontal. The entrance is only about three feet high but when fairly in the cave it is large enough to accommodate 50 to 100 people with lodgings and is quite dry and comfortable.
Cave in Rock was once the home or headquarters of robbers under a daring chief who went by different names at different times and places. These robbers used to sally out and scour the country round for plunder. They also had a sign up "Whiskey Sold Here" and boats passing that way loaded with produce usually called in to try the quality of the whiskey at this romantic shanty. Having ascertained the nature of the cargo and the number of crew, the robbers would next consider whether it would pay them to take the cargo to New Orleans to sell. And, if so, the crew were murdered. Some of the robbers took the boat to New Orleans, disposed of the cargo and returned to the cave. This game was carried on for some years until the Governor of Louisiana offered a reward for the "head" of the leader of this band, when he was killed and his head taken to New Orleans by one of his own men.
Mammoth Cave is so well known that a description is almost superfluous. This cave is the largest known in the world. It has been followed in some of its "avenues" (as the passages are called), fully 20 miles from the entrance. There are fine hotels at the entrance and every accommodation for visitors. There are guides to conduct you to any part of the cave you may wish to visit. There are books giving a full description of this wonderful cave but no signs are allowed. If any survey has ever been done the plans are in the hands of the owner of the entrance. Should any accurate plans secured other entrances might be made which would destroy the monopoly enjoyed at present. There are two or three rivers in this cave which have been named in accordance with Mythological names for Pluto's dreary waters, Styx, Acheron etc.
Louisville and Cincinnati had improved very much between 1846 and 1853. They were both in a flourishing condition. Cincinnati had in 1853, 60,000 and Louisville 40,000. At Cincinnati I took passage on the Steamer Messenger No. 2 for Marietta and at 10 am. on the 27th. I landed at Marietta. I was somewhat disappointed at not meeting my particular friend Miss Vesta Allan for whom I had a great regard, but she had gone to live with a friend near Keokuk and I had passed the door of the place on 20th.without knowing she was there. Although there were no promises on either side still I am satisfied my kind regards for her were compensated by kindly feelings towards me. I had fondly hoped to see her and bid her a fond farewell but was disappointed.
From Marietta I walked to Harrietville 20 miles and then borrowed a horse to take me to Stafford. Marietta had made wonderful strides since I first saw it in 1844. It now contained about 25,000 inhabitants and was noted all over the country on account of the excellence of its schools and College. I have before spoken of the remains of an ancient civilisation observable at Marietta in the shape of a large mound of earth about 150 feet high and covering more than 2 acres of ground. Also old lines of fortifications and a covered way from the fort to the Muskingum River. The country at the back of Marietta and between there and Stafford was hilly and poor. It is known as Duck Creek Valley and although it contained large quantities of coal and kerosene but little use was made of either of them. The people of this region are about as ignorant as in any part of the Free States.
On Saturday the 30th April I reached my old home at Stafford, Monroe County, Ohio. I need not say there was joy in Stafford when they found me among them after a year's absence but my stay was to be of short duration. Almost every individual in Stafford begged me to remain with them and take charge of the school but my mind was made up to go to Australia.
I remained at Stafford from the 30th. April to the 9th of May, saw most of my friends in the district, which was to see all of the population for they were all my friends, although only 10 miles away was the town of Graysville where our family had been so very much persecuted. I had the most inveterate hatred of the place and the people and would have been pleased if an earthquake had swallowed up the whole place. The treatment and persecution we had received at Graysville from 1839 to 1842 completely soured my mind against all mankind and had it not been for the kindness of the people at Stafford I would have become a Misanthropist.
On 9th. May I started in company of James Steel for Pittsburgh. We reached Marietta the first night and, on the 10th., took passage on the Steamer Pittsburgh for the city of that name. We passed Wheeling Va., Sturpsville, Wellsville and reached Pittsburgh on 11th. May. At Pittsburgh I parted from my good friend Jas. Steel. He remained to attend the Mercantile College. At Pittsburgh I took the train for Philadelphia and remained there until 12 noon on the 13th. Philadelphia was, in 1853, one of the nicest cities in America. It had a population of 300,000 inhabitants; the streets were very wide straight and clean. The buildings were mostly neat and clean and the city had a very inviting appearance.
On 13th May I left Philadelphia at 12 midnight and, at 5 pm. arrived at New York. The country between Philadelphia and New York was highly cultivated and was now quite green and beautiful. I arrived at New York on 13th. May and remained there until 11th. June. So I had a good opportunity of studying New York by day and night. I boarded with Mr. T. C. Gilmore, 505 Greenwich Street. the place was very comfortable and the landlady was very kind and I was very sorry to leave the house.
New York in 1853 was the leading city in America. The population was about 500,000. The city stands on a small island at the South of the Hudson River which is a branch of the Atlantic running at the back of Long Island. New York has one of the best harbours in the world and having the Hudson and East Rivers and, with both their banks, has any amount for wharfage room. The city near East River is badly laid out, being part of the Old Dutch City, but the back part of the city, or say one mile from the East River, it is regularly laid out and has very straight streets and good buildings ; and at this time the street bar had already introduced and was giving every satisfaction. The frontage to East River and North River was almost entirely occupied by Low Dancing Dens and Dives in which all manner of vice was practised. There must have been thousands of prostitutes and a corresponding number of thieves in New York but, along Broadway and the Bowery all was show and on Sundays the bells rang out their chimes and the good people met to worship and one who had not seen New York the night before would say "Oh what a holy city".
Whilst boarding at Mr. Gilmores I got acquainted with Jas W. Messler, Hiram Conklin and John Martin all of whom were afterwards my partners in Australia.
The day after arriving in New York I had booked my passage for Australia on the Clipper Ship Tarolinta. I paid $125 for steerage passage but soon after paid $5 more to get into 2nd.Cabin and afterwards $20 more to get into the saloon.
Rogers Gray's trip to Australia.
After booking my passage on the Clipper ship Taralinta I was sent to board at Mr. Gilmore's by the Agents of the ship and they paid my board I remained at Gilmore's until the 30th. of May and then went on board the Taralinta and lived there until the vessel started.
We remained at the dock until 7th. June when we were towed out into the East river where we remained until the 10th. We were then towed down to Stratton Island where we lay until 11th. June. On the 11thJune we were towed to Sandy Hook and started our long journey to Melbourne. The Captain's name was S P Griffin. First mate Mr. Coffin, 2nd. Mate Mr. Bruce.
As I have now brought my story up to the time when I left America for Australia in 1853 and before giving an account of my voyage to Melbourne I will recapitulate a part of my history up until that time.
Every one is sure how much a person's course in life depends on the circumstances with which he is surrounded. So it will not be amiss to give a few of those circumstances:
My father had been brought up as a Baptist and my mother as a Quaker. My father's father was a Baptist Minister but my father never belonged to and denomination but gave countenance and money to all. My mother became a Methodist before I was born and to a certain extent remained one as long as she lived but yet owing to the class of Methodist we had to deal with at Graysville she lost much of her respect for that church.
For many years the Methodist Parson made our house his home and we were regarded as brethren. Methodism was the ruling class in Monroe County, Ohio. Fully three fourths of the people were Methodist and they were of the ranting kind.
They usually held protracted meetings every year in all different districts and the scenes in some of these protracted meetings beggars description.
I have known one of these meetings to last six weeks during which time the church was seldom if ever closed. There was preaching, praying, singing, shouting and the giving of experiences right along day and night for the whole six weeks. There were actually three sermons a day and the balance of the time was taken up with prayer and exhortation. At about 10 o'clock at night they would call for "movements"; sometimes 20 or 30 would come forward, kneel down and remain for others to pray for them. After stopping some time they professed to experience a change of heart to receive the Holy Ghost. They would then get up and continue to jump and clap their hands through the balance of the night.
Many of these converts would fall into what they called a "trance". They would lie apparently lifeless for one or two hours and sometimes for a day or two. But notwithstanding all the show of religion I knew many of these people to be as great scoundrels as the County could produce. I saw so much mock religion that I became quite disgusted and that may account for my keeping aloof from all religious societies ever afterwards.
In 1842 the state of education in Monroe County Ohio was as low as in any County in the State. But few districts kept up their schools for more than three months in the year and these were of the very poorest imaginable but, in 1842 or 3, things began to improve. Education was provided free for five months in the year and in 1851 it was made compulsory and in most districts ten months grade school was kept up free.
I got very little schooling except what I paid for myself. I got great help from my mother and even before I could read so as to gain information that source I was very well posted in all the affairs of the County and of Politics, religion etc. When I was 12 to 18 years old I attended all the Debating Societies within miles of me. I was nearly always first or second choice in choosing sides on any subject. I have often spoken for three quarters of an hour and received the greatest applause from first to last. I also gave lectures on several different subjects with great success. I had made up my mind to study law as early as 1840 and never changed my mind, although the subject had less of interest after I got to Australia.
I had obtained a very good knowledge of Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Philosophy, Chemistry and Astronomy even before the year 1849 and, during that year, I commenced to read Blackstone which I considered the framework of a legal education. I also read Kent's Commentaries and continued t devote all the spare time I had to the subject until I reached Australia in 1853. Had I not gone to Australia I would have passed or tried to pass my examination as a Lawyer in 1853.
From the earliest part of my childhood I took an interest in politics. My father was a Jackson Democrat and also voted for Martin van Buren in 1830 but in 1840 he went over to the opposite party and voted for General Harrison. He also spoke in favour of freeing the slaves and in favour of teetotalism. All these things were considered adverse in Monroe County. Monroe County has always been the strongest Democratic county in Ohio and there was no toleration for a Whig.
I, as early as 1840, had learned to think for myself on all subjects. I had formed a very unfavourable opinion of the Democratic Party and I have never changed my opinion. I cam to the same conclusion that was afterwards so tritely expressed by President Lincoln that if slavery was right then nothing could be wrong.
I came to the conclusion that every man has the right to express his mind on all subjects including politics, religion and slavery. I fully believed in the sentiments expressed in the American Declaration of Independence viz:- That all men are created equal and I still think that if they are not they should have been so created.
It is not necessary to enter into my account of my lone adventures up to the time I left America for Australia but, although almost 25 years of age I had never had the slightest inclination to marry. I had fully made up my mind not to marry before I was 35 at any rate. One of the greatest dreads I had about getting married was I was frightened I would have a family of girls, and I did not want the responsibility of looking after them. This dread alone was sufficient to have prevented me from marrying had I remained in America.
When I left America for Australia in 1853 I was between 24 and 25 years of age and my view were pretty well defined on all the leading subjects. I was a strong Republican in sentiment, was utterly opposed to slavery in any shape or form and was very sceptical on all religious subjects. I fully believed in a Supreme Being who created and ruled the Universe but also believe he rules them by fixed laws and that there is no such thing as special provisions. I think that when the Almighty creates a world he does it by and through the already established laws of nature and when once in being it requires no further attention on his part but exists and proceeds by those same general and unchangeable laws.
As to the bible I believe it to be just as true as other histories written about the same time, but by no means to be thoroughly relied on. The different religious societies I considered as useful to keep society together, but that they were used and intended to be more beneficial in a temporal than spiritual way. I considered preachers as other professional men following a certain calling in order to make a living. I considered the Christian religion to be far superior to any other but had considerable doubts as to its divine origin.
On 11thJune 1853 we left the bay of New York for Australia in the clipper ship Taralinta, 1000 tons register S P Griffin Commander, Mr. Coffin 1st Mate, Mr. Bruce 2nd Mate. There were about 150 passengers on board, 30 in the Saloon, 30 in Second Cabin and about 100 in Steerage. I was in the 2nd cabin when we cleared New York but shifted to Saloon a day or so later.
A great many friends of the passengers accompanied us to the heads of Sandy Hook and the scenes on parting was something to be remembered; the shaking of hands, the sobs, the tears, the groans but part they must. The little steamer that had towed us out now cast off and turned her head back towards New York whilst we bore off to the S E to keep clear of the coast. When once clear of the steamer a grand shout arose from both ship and steamer, the waving of handkerchiefs, clapping of hands sowed they were not all in tears.
The ship bore off majestically under full spreading canvas. There was considerable swell in the Atlantic and I soon became quite seasick. I retired to my bunk and did not go on deck until sundown. When I cam on deck in the evening I found half the sailors drunk and half the passengers not quite sober. There was fiddling and dancing going on the quarter deck and I observed two or three strange faces, persons I had not before seen on the ship. I afterwards found that these strange gentlemen had been hidden away and that the detectives had been on board looking for them two or three times, but had not found them. These mysterious gentlemen were now the jolliest of the whole company. They knew that they were safe for a few months at any rate and, if they could land safely in Australia they thought they could manage to keep out of the reach of their pursuers.
I was not in a mood to join in the singing and dancing that was going on, first because I was too sober and secondly I was too sick. So I secured a seat in a quiet corner and cast my eyes westward and could just discern the coast of America. I could not help recalling the lines of the English bard in Child Herald and repeated in a melancholy strain the following passage:
You Sun that sets upon the sea
We follow in her flight
Farewell to Him and Thee
My native land goodnight.
A few short hours and he will rise
To give the morrow birth
And I shall hail the Main and Skies
But not my mother Earth.
But dash the teardrops from my eyes
Our ship is swift and strong
The fleetest falcon scarce can fly
More merrily along.
And now I'm in a world alone
Upon the wide, wide sea;
But why should I for others groan
When none will sigh for me?
With thee my bark I'll swiftly go
Athwart the foaming brine,
Nor care what land thou bearest me to
So not again to mine.
It may seem strange that I should have such feelings after all the love and kindness shown to me during my 4 years stay at Stafford but to balance this there was the feeling that I had been robbed, insulted and in every way ill treated before I went to Stafford. That if I had received my just dues I would have been able to give myself a thorough education and then have enough so I could have lived comfortably on the income from it. I had seen enough of America and the American people to know that any one, or any class of people, if not popular, could not get justice from either courts or people. Although I had many true friends who I loved dearly, still I had but little love for the Americans as a people. But it must not be overlooked that my lot was cast among some of the worst classes of Americans.
I took a walk forward to the forecastle and Steerage to see how things were going and found about one third of the passengers and some of the sailors seasick but the balance amusing themselves by drinking and singing. The songs were frequently of seafaring life and were apparently thoroughly enjoyed. I will repeat a verse or two of the songs:
A life on the ocean waves,
A home on the rolling deep,
Where the scattered waters came,
And the winds their revels keep.
Like an eagle caged I pine,
On the dull unchanging shore,
Oh give me the flashing brine,
The spray and the tempests war.
I'm afloat, I'm afloat on the fierce rolling tide,
The ocean's my home and the ship my bride,
Up, up with the flag, let it float o'er the sea,
I'm afloat, I'm afloat and the love is free.
With such as these they passed the evening and many of the passengers joined in the "corroboree" and soon forgot the home and friends they had left. On, on the vessel flies, the land is gone. To many they had taken their last fond look of their native land. So ordained that I was to see my native land again, but of the 150 passengers on board that ship fully one half never looked on America again; yet perhaps not a dozen expected to be absent more than two years. I had fully made up my mind that I would be back in three years at furthest. But instead of three years it was exactly 30 years to a day before I returned to America and then only for a short stay of three months.
The scenes of the first night were repeated every succeeding night. So long as the passengers and crew could get grog, but when their money was exhausted the captain had all the grog put under lock and key and things became much more tame and quiet.
June 11 to 21.
Lost the cook overboard.
After leaving New York we had light and variable winds and calms for several days. On the 21st or 10 days after leaving Sandy Hook we had only made 850 miles. Our course was generally SE. There was nothing of any importance took place during these ten days. We generally saw one or two sails every day. The weather was very fine. On the 22nd June a mulatto cook, the head cook of the ship, fell overboard and was lost. I have some little suspicion that he was pushed over by some of the sailors. At that time I had no suspicion but from what I have seen of the sailors since, I think it is quite possible (if nothing more) that he was pushed over.
June 21 to July 1st.
We continued to have fine weather for the next 10 days but there was very little wind and we made very poor speed. On Friday July 1st we were in Latitude 23.37 North, Longitude 35.15 West. Our distance from New York was 2200 or but little more than 100 miles per day. We saw more or less vessels almost every day during these 10 days, 21st. June to 1st July. We also saw Myriads of flying fish, nautilus and birds of many kinds but as we got further into the Atlantic we lost sight of both birds and fish.
July 1st to 11th 1853.
Fighting amongst the waiters, also the crew, was quite frequent, so much so that the Captain was frightened of meeting amongst the sailors. We had two parsons on board and one of them usually gave a sermon on Sunday. There was very little of note transpired on 2nd, 3rd of July but on the 4th we celebrated the birth of the American Nation. It went off smoothly and well but in the evening I attempted to raffle a watch I had and one of the sailors managed to steal it. This led to dispute with him and he was backed up by the balance of the crew. I did not recover the watch which had cost me $10 but I think what I learned by the affair was worth all the aggravation. From that time I never in any manner associated with or had anything to do with sailors on any ship or steamer I might travel on. So great is my hatred of them that I would scarcely throw a line to one if he should fall overboard.
About this time there was much grumbling about the food in Steerage and Second Cabin and the discontent increased all the time until we reached Rio de Janeiro.
July 11th 1853.
On Monday July 11th we were in Latitude 7.56 North and 29.31 West and our distance from New York was 3388 miles. There was generally very little wind but we had frequent light showers of rain. We still continue to see vessels nearly every day. The bar was broken into last night.
July 15th 1853.
On the 15th July there was a row between the officers and sailors. The Captain ordered John Lamb (alias Bloody Jack) to be put in irons but the sailors said if he were put in irons they would not do duty and the Steerage passengers all took side with the sailors against the officers and the Captain gave way to them. He however had him arrested and taken ashore at Rio.
July 21st 1853.
For some days before the 21st July we had the wind from the South and consequently right in front of our course . We were trying to beat against it but could make no speed.
Crossed the Equator on 18th July 1853.
There was nothing of importance between 11th and 21st July. The weather was not too warm although on the Equator. July 2nd, 23rd we continued beating against the wind within a few miles of the Brazilian coast on some occasions. Coming within two or three miles of land on the 23rd July our ship was hove to and we took on some Portuguese fishermen in order to make enquiries respecting the health of the country and of Rio de Janeiro. These fishermen go out to sea for several miles on small rafts made of logs fastened together which they call catamarans.
1853 Catamaran. Opposite the mouth of the Rio Grande. Assault on a Portuguese fisherman.
After getting all the information required of these men they were lowered from the ship's side to their raft or catamaran and, in lowering them down one of the sailors hurt his hand when, without the slightest reason he hit one of the Portuguese on the head with a belaying pin. The Captain and the other officers took no notice of the occurrence which very much lowered them in my estimation. I would certainly have put him in irons for the offence.
The weather continued showery and the wind adverse. We are now nearly opposite Pernambuco.
July 25th. Stores very low.
The weather continues showery and the sea rough. Provisions very scarce. Flour out, sugar out and voyage not half completed.
The weather continues showery and adverse. We have not seen a sail for 8 or 10 days.
Still showery. The nights have been dark of late and a very strong phosphorescence could be observed in the wake of the ship and at times a phosphorescent light on top of the masts.
July 28th. Birth.
The only incident of note today was the birth of a child in the Second Cabin…A son to Mr. Waters.
29th. Cape St. Augustine.
For several days we have been trying to beat past Cape St. Augustine but to no effect.
Nothing of note today.
31st. Provisions missing.
Weather fine and clear. Some provisions stolen last night so the Steward says. The Captain doubts it. Thinks the steward has sold them to the passengers.
August 1st. Nautilus.
Weather fine. Three ships in sight today. The water was literally covered with nautilus or Portuguese Men of War the sailors call them.
August 2nd. Lat. 8.18 South. Long 33.48 West.
A few small showers of rain today. Saw one vessel. Provisions scarce and bad.
Little rain today and one sail in sight. Some original poetry posted on the mizzen mast during the night having reference to the stealing of my watch on the 4th July.
Nothing of any importance occurred today.
August 5th. Lat 12-23 South. Long 35-17.11 West
Weather showery and fair. Speed 8 knots. We expect to reach Rio in 5 days.
Weather fair. Four (4) sails in sight today. We are now some distance out to sea. No birds seen for several days. Saw a whale tolerably close to ship.
August 7th Wind light. Weather fine.
August 8th Lat. 19-2. South. Long. 37-29-37 West.
Nothing of importance occurred today.
August 9th 1853.
A fight today between Bruce the 2nd Mate and the sailor boy, Ned. We only made 12 miles during the last 24 hours.
A large shark has been following the ship for two days. Weather fine. Three ships in sight today.
August 11th - Albatross.
The weather is fine and we are nearing land again. Saw some albatrosses and Cape Pigeons and other birds. There are several species of the albatross. Those seen today were principally white . Head body and under the wings quite white. The upper parts of the wings are of an ash colour.
August 12th - Nearly run into by a ship during the night.
Great fun with Freer & wife fighting in the cabin today. We came near to having a collision with a ship last night. This vessel is supposed to be a slaver as they would not answer or put up a light when hailed by us.
Weather fine and light. Birds numerous. Saw a small whale close the ship. Four or five ships in sight today. Land at Cape Frio in sight.
Sunday August 14th - Rio
Weather fine. 7 ships in sight this morning. In full view of the harbour of Rio de Janeiro. We passed a very large turtle near the entrance of the harbour. We sailed up the harbour at Rio during the day. The weather was fine and the scenery most beautiful.
The Scenery - When seen from the entrance of the harbour the scenery is unsurpassed and a near approach does not detract the scene. When we got opposite Fort Santa Cruz we were hailed and had to drop anchor.
The Fort. In Rio three or four days of the week are holidays and of course no business is done. This proves to be one of their holidays.
Monday August 15th .
The Doctor came on board this morning, also the Customs House Officers. No business to be done on shore today as it is devoted to some of the Catholic Saints.
Rio Lat. 22-56 Long 43-9. - Sugar Loaf.
We are lying close to the Sugar Loaf, such a granite boulder a noted landmark of the harbour. It is about 400 feet high and is a perfect cone. At 3pm we commenced raising the anchor in order to shift up to the wharf but the current was too strong and we were forced to drop the anchor again.
August 18th '53.
A very fine day. I went on shore at 11 and returned about 6pm. Several of the passengers got drunk on shore today. Several fights during the evening among the passengers. We got up to the wharf or landing this morning.
Remained in Rio from the 14th to 25th August.
We remained in Rio for 11 days. I was on shore nearly every day. Rio has a population of about 180,000 inhabitants. The streets are straight but narrow. They are tolerably clean. The buildings are nearly all of stone or brick and generally two (2) storeys high, they are all covered in tiles or earthenware. There are very many pretty private residences in the suburbs, generally only one storey high and with nice gardens in front.
Rio de Janeiro. The coffee tree, coconut tree, orange, lemon, banana etc. all flourished in Rio. There are a great many plazas or public squares but they are used as the receptacles of all the filth of the city. Nearly one half of the population are Negro Slaves. They are almost hobbled and are employed in all kinds of menial labour. The people speak the Portuguese language. The people in Rio are very polite and obliging and a stranger not homesick is delighted with the place. I was half inclined to remain here and go into business. A shipmate in the Cabin offered to find the capital and allow me an equal share of the profits. During the time we were in port there was almost a constant row among the sailors, officers and passengers and I kept sober and always ready for any emergency. Whilst in port we got the vessel (Taralinta) caulked and got a supply of water, provisions etc. and on the 25th August we again put to sea. Two of the 1st. cabin passengers were put in irons at Rio and were confined to their rooms most of the way to Melbourne.
August 25th '53.
We got completely out to sea before night and having a stiff breeze we made good heading.
There was nothing worthy note today.
27th. After leaving Rio I was seasick nearly all the way to Melbourne.
28th .Nothing of importance happened today.
29th . Weather quite cool. Wind strong.
30th . Wind strong weather cool No observation for 5 days all dead reckoning.
31st. Weather cleared up a little today. All well on board and most of the passengers and crew are now sober.
September 1st . Lat 36 South - 38 West.
Clear and cool today. Nothing of importance today. Birds are still numerous. No ships in sight for three days. 1000 miles from Rio, 2400 from the Cape.
September 2nd .
Cold and rainy all day and towards evening the wind increased to a gale.
September 3rd .
The breeze still continues, nothing of importance today. The principal talk is the storm last night.
'Twas but last night the sea was high
And dark and dreary looked the sky
Our ship was under shortened sail
But swift she flew before the gale.
And as the lonely deck I walked
One of my friends unto me talked
But I could no attention pay
For then my thoughts were far away.
I thought of home and parent dear
And each relation to me near
And then my heart was sad with woe
I think how far from them I go.
To search for gold in foreign lands
To mine the quartz or wash the sands
To stem the mighty torrents flood
Or face the robbers fierce for blood.
September 4th .
There was a fight between a waiter and a steerage passenger today. The waiter was put in irons.
Albatross. Many birds around the ship today and some of the passengers caught some of them. We also saw the real White Albatross. Some of these birds are 12 feet across the wings.
A very rough night. One of the sailors nearly washed over. It is several days since we saw a sail. Birds still numerous.
September 6th. Cold, a good breeze, a little snow.
September 7th. Lat 42-54 - Long 20-31.
Fine clear day. Not so cool as yesterday, distance to Melbourne 7100 miles.
8th. Raining today-heavy sea.
9th. Fine day Heavy sea all night-Ship rolled considerably-most of the passengers gor very little if any sleep.
Latitude 43-26-3. South. Longitude 14-19 West.
September 10th. A little snow today. The child died today and was buried in the sea.
September 11th. Tolerably clear today. 2459 miles from Rio and 6000 from Melbourne. Latitude 43-31-27 South Longitude 6-21-7.
September 12th. nothing of note today.
Ditto. 13th. Cloudy today. Little snow.
Ditto. 14th. Cool little rain, snow and sleet.
Ditto. 15th. A child sick in second cabin.
Ditto. 16th. A clear day. 97 days from New York and 22 days from Rio. Very few ships seen since leaving Rio.
Saturday, September 17th. Clear and pleasant all day.
Thermometer 55 degrees in the cabin.
18th. Cloudy. No observation.
19th. Longitude 16-6. Excitement about food.
September 20th. Latitude 43longitude 19-6. Warm and pleasant. We are now opposite the Cape of Good Hope 101 days from New York.
September 21st. Clear most of the day.
22nd. Clear, fine good breeze.
September 23rd. Nothing of importance today.
Ditto. 24th. Several snow squalls today.
September 25th. We were in sight of land at 8 o'clock this morning- one of the Mariana group. Balls of phosphorus on the masts last night. They remained during a snow squall but disappeared when the squall was over. They call it compass outs.
September 26th. Very rough night. About one inch of snow fell today.
Ditto. 27th. Snow squalls last night and today. Have seen no ships for 3 weeks.
September 28th. 1853 Crozet Islands. Latitude 46 -13 South. Longitude 49 - 40 - 6.
Cold and rainy. Nothing of note occurred until about 3pm today when we were very near wrecked. At 12 noon I called the Captain's attention the fact that we were running direct for the Crozet Islands and ought to reach them at 3pm. He passed some slight remark to the effect that we might be either north or south of them. He gave no orders for extra watch but allowed the crew to amuse themselves as usual until the time mentioned when by mere accident one of the crew on the forecastle observed the islands within less than a mile of the ship and directly in front. The weather was very foggy and it was almost impossible to observe them at that distance. All hands were called to tack ship and we managed to miss the breakers by almost 300 yards.
Had we struck the rocks at that time there is 100 chances to 1 that not a living soul would have reached the island and if by any means one or more had reached the island they would have died of hunger and cold. Since that time the crew of a ship managed to reach the island from a wreck and were nearly 12 months on the island before they were rescued by a passing ship. We were running ten miles an hour.
September 29th. Land in sight today - one of the Crozet Group.
September 30th. Fine weather again but cool. Great excitement about the "grub".
October 1, 1853. Latitude 46. Longitude 62 - 20. Fine breeze. Clear weather. Distance from Melbourne 3500 miles.
Sunday October 2nd. Latitude 46 - 54. Longitude 66 - 22. Weather fine, wind fair and a strong speed 8 knots.
October 3rd. Latitude 47. Longitude 66 - 22. Fine weather but cool. Melbourne 3150.
October 4th. Nothing of note today.
Ditto. 5th. Much complaint about the food.
Ditto. 6th. Nothing of importance.
Ditto. 7th. Nothing of importance. No ships for days.
Ditto. 8th. Clear all day. Nothing of any note.
Sunday. 9th. Fine clear day. Good breeze.
10th. 127 days out from New York.
11th. About 1600 miles from Melbourne.
12th. Not much wind 6 knots per hour.
13th. Very fine day. Best since left Rio.
October 14th. Clear but cool. No excitement.
15th. Melbourne 900 miles.
16th. ditto - 800 ditto.
17th. Weather fine.
18th. Nothing of importance today.
October 19th. Latitude 40 - 57. No rain but a very thick fog today.
20th. Nearly calm. 275 miles from Melbourne. Very few flying fish have been seen lately.
21st. Heavy thunderstorm last night.
22nd. The coast of Australia is now visible 133 days out from New York.
23rd. Sailor lost. When about 40 miles from the Heads and only 10 miles from land, one of the sailors named Daniel Canada fell overboard and was lost.
October 23rd. We are in sight of the entrance to the bay at 5 am but did not get a pilot until 10 am. After passing the Heads we anchored at 10.30 am. Five other passenger ships entered the bay the same morning. The pilot told us that 401 passenger ships had entered the bay in a month. Between 12 and 1 o'clock we took on another pilot and started for Williamstown and at 6 pm anchored opposite that place making 49 days from Rio and 134 days from New York.
1853 October 24th. Arrived at Melbourne at 12 am. Went by steamer from Williamstown to Melbourne and took lodgings at No. 4 king Street. I remained in Melbourne on the 25th and 26th. October. On 25th. went to see two men hung.
October 27th. Having engaged a team to take our swags to Castlemaine we loaded up and moved to North Melbourne where we camped for the night.
Ditto. 28th. We started at 7 am for Castlemaine. We travelled 25 miles to near Sunbury.
29th. Went on from our camping ground at Sunbury at Gopse Inn and camped in the Black Forest about one mile from Macedon.
30th. We went from Macedon to within 8 miles of back Creek. We passed through Kyneton which had about 300 inhabitants.
October 31st. We moved from our camp to Back Creek and there camped for the day and night.
November 1st. About noon we arrived at Forest Creek and camped 2 miles from Castlemaine. There were about 30 swags on the dray and I paid 35 shillings per cwt for carrying 70 miles or 10 shillings per ton per mile.
I had now reached my destination which was the goldfields of Australia. I had already joined A I Sanborne as a working mate but as I had a tent and tools a Cornishman from Golena Hill asked to join us and we took him and an Irishman in as mates.
November 2 1853. So there was four in our family, J R Gray, J A Sanbourn, Martin Connor and John Campbell. Worked together until the 12 Nov when Connor seeing a chance to buy a tent , did so, and then left without saying so much as thank you (what would you expect?). During these ten days we had only got 1. ? of gold. Myself and Sanbourne continued to work together until 23rd. of Nov. We had ? ? of gold for the time.
On the 24 Nov we commenced to surfaced wash nine tubs of dirt and got over an ounce of gold. We continued to surface until 8 Dec when Sanbourne took a job as carpenter at Castlemaine. We had been doing very well but he thought he could do as well at his trade.
I continued to work at the surface for some time and some days I made over an ounce of gold and seldom less than 6 or 7 dwts. I continued to work near the same place until Dec 31and then in company with Hiram Conklin I went to Tarrangower rush and did not return to Castlemaine.
I continued to work with Conklin for two to three months and then his two mates John Martin and James Mepler came to Tarrangower and we all commenced to work together and continued to work as mates until May 1855.
We got 2 claims at Porcupine Flat near Maldon which paid us very well, but as there was a great rush to Avoca, Conklin and Martin went to it and from there to Maryborough, and at Maryborough got a tolerably good claim. Having finished washing up our stuff at Maldon Mepler and I went to Maryborough on 23 Sept 1854 and about the 28 October 1854 we opened the Specimen Hill Quartz Reef. We had been getting very little gold all the time we had been on Maryborough but not enough to satisfy us. Six of us went on Saturday the 28 of Oct to look for a quartz reef at Specimen Hill and had not been more than 15 minutes when one of the party got gold and in less than a month we took out over 700 ounces of gold. It then began to fall off and we soon lost it all together.
We continued to work the claim until May 1855 but some of our party were prospecting in other places most of the time. We tried reefs at Avoca, Alma, Kingower and Kerang but got nothing to pay.
In May 1855 Messler and I took the gold we had in hand at Maryborough to Melbourne to sell and there I bought 20 tons of flour and sent up to Wedderburn. I had no intention of going into storekeeping but thought the flour would prove a good thing. It however turned out a poor speck as the people nearly all had left the district and I was forced to get other things to help pay off the flour.
Messler and I opened two stores at Wedderburn and continued as "mates" in business for 2 & ½ years. We cleared about £ 200 in that time although we suffered a loss on the flour, oats and bran. In July 1857 I got married to Eliza Donald of St. Kilda but before doing so I thought it best to dissolve the partnership with James Messler. Shortly after dissolving partnership Mepler returned to America and settled down at Frankfort Clinton Co, Indiana where he still remains (1888) (Died 1894).
During the time I was partners with Messler and some years after he left I usually bought from 100 to 150 ounces of gold per week. The gold bought at Wedderburn had to be taken either to Sandhurst Maryborough or Ballarat for sale. The profit on the gold was from 2/- to 3/- per ounce but the risk to life and property was very great and I have very little doubt but I would have been nobbled and in all probability killed had it not been generally known that I always went armed and that I was not likely to part with life or treasure without a struggle.
The idea of danger in this case was no idle thought but was a real living thing. There was scarcely a month passed but there were robberies of a similar kind in some part of the Colony and there were few places which offered greater inducements than the road from Wedderburn to Maryborough, and besides this I had within 200 yards of my place one of the most accomplished scoundrels that ever breathed---the notorious Murder Sullivan who was known to have taken a hand in six murders in New Zealand a few years later. (Sullivan is supposed to be connected to 12 or 14 murders in New Zealand)
I was never molested although on some occasions I took in the a spring cart over 600 ounces of gold. The road I usually travelled was watched on different occasions and other people were "stuck up" and robbed yet I managed to escape.
The reason why I escaped was I have no doubt, because no one ever knew when or where I was going with my gold.
After dissolving partnership with Mepler I continued to carry on the store at Wedderburn up to the present time (1888). But I also commenced farming in 1858 and continued to farm 20 to 200 acres every year. The greater portion of my crops were made into hay and cut into chaff which I sold out retail. I bought about 100 acres of land at Wedderburn and, in 1874, I selected (directly and indirectly)624 acres at Lake Marmal. In 1876 I also selected 1000 acres in N S Wales near Moama. The land in N S W I kept about 5 years and sold it in 1851. I managed to clear about £1200 by the N S Wales selections.
During the time I was mate or partner with Mepler we continued to keep some one prospecting for gold nearly all the time and after separating from Mepler I continued to prospect with all kinds of luck but generally the luck was decidedly against me.
In 1860 I opened the Lincoln Reef 5 miles north of Wedderburn and having had a fair crushing of 200 tons from the reef and thinking there was plenty more good stone in the claim I, in conjunction with Simon Walters, purchased an engine and crushing plant for 1200 pounds. We also spent another £2000 in trying to get payable stones to crush but failed to do so. I then purchased his interest in the machine for £350. On the whole this proved a very good speck or investment as in trying to find some work for this plant I spent several thousand pounds. My land at Lake Marmal did not prove to be as good an investment as I expected as the district was too dry for farming.
FAMILY. It is now time to say something about my family.
I was married to my wife Eliza Donald on the 22 of July 1857 at Dunolly. We had 7 sons but no daughters, (thank God). I had at the age of 18 fully made up my mind not to marry at all, and the reason was that I dreaded raising a family of girls. It never struck me that it was time to fret about a thing when it has happened and not before it does happen.
Our boys we named Joshua, Oliver, Hector, Achilles, Aeneas, Diomed and Troilus.
Hector died when 3 years old and Aeneus when 4 or 5 months old. Our other children were all strong and did not give us more trouble than children usually do, (Diomed died Mar 3, 1886 aged 19 years.)
I might mention here that during the time I have been at Wedderburn I have started three or four branch stores in different places, Viz: near Badgery's Gully, one at Sailor's Gully, at Peep O'day, Old Inglewood town all of which showed a profit. In 1874 I purchased 13 acre allotments in the township of East Charlton which turned out a good investment.
Swan Hill. In 1875 I purchased 6 half acre allotments in Swan Hill and one at Kerang which also turned out well.
In 1876 I went to look for land in N S Wales went about 250 miles into the interior via Deniliquin, Conargo, Jerilderie and along the James Creek. The country is all level and very bare of timber and subject to long spells of drought. The James is a stream from the Murrumbidgee and is beautiful country but was too far away to suit me. In 1883 I took a trip back to the United States via Sydney, Auckland, Honolulu, San Francisco and was gone near 5 months.
In 1884 I took a trip to Silverton New South Wales via Swan Hill, Wentworth, Menindee and back via Adelaide and Melbourne. The valley of the Murray is beautiful country but subject to drought. If some system of irrigation should be adopted this will prove to be the Garden of Australia. The country along the Darling is also beautiful but subject to long and severe spells of drought.
The country about Silverton is very similar to the silver region in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado all of which I saw during my trip to America in 1883.
Nearly all the country near the Darling River is what is called saltbush country having but little grass but is covered with bunches of salt bush which usually grows to a height of from 1 to 2 feet there being a small bunch of the salt bush on each 6 feet square bringing the bunches 6 feet apart. This salt bush is much relished by sheep and horses and horn cattle will also do well on it when ever used to it. The country about Silverton and for 200 miles (to Terowie) towards Adelaide is quite useless for cultivation. From Terowie to Adelaide the country improves all the way.
My son Achilles was married to Miss Sarah Crisp in September 1884 and Joshua was married to Miss Alice Rose in 1885. My son Diomed died on March 3rd. 1886 aged 19. He died of typhoid fever after about 1 week's illness.
This loss affected m more than anything which had ever happened to me during my life. He was the favourite with the all family and was a great favourite with all who knew him. After his death I took but little interest in business of any kind. I had sufficient to keep me and Mrs. Gray during our natural lives and I did not care to over exert myself for others. Although our 4 remaining sons are all sober, steady, and industrious as they have much better opportunities than I had at their age, I think they should rely on their own industry.
I 1886 I selected 370 acres of land 3 miles from Wedderburn and each of the 3 older boys selected adjoining to it or near to it. Oliver selected 784 acres, Josh 239, Achilles 250 and his wife selected 484 acres. My niece Alice Darling selected 484 acres making in all 2645 acres nearly all in one block. Achilles also has 20 acres 4 miles East of Wedderburn and I have 105 acres adjoining it so that at this time August 1888 myself and family hold 3750 acres of land beside the town allotments in Kerang, Swan Hill, E Charlton and Wedderburn.
About 1886 I bought 16 shares in the Broken Hill Silver Mine at £15.10 (and afterwards 12 more at 36.10 (pounds). I however sold at £48.5 and bought 8 at £85.
A few remarks about Australia may not be out of place. Australia is the biggest island in the world, so large indeed that it is frequently called a continent. Its area is about 3 million of square miles. The island is almost surrounded by a chain of mountains or high hills which are generally situated about 50 or 60 miles from the coast.
Between the sides of mountains and the coast the land slopes gradually to the sea - is generally very rich and well supplied with moisture making it equal to any part of the world for grazing or agriculture. These lands near the coast were purchased by the squatters many years ago and are now very valuable, bringing from £20 to £50 per acre.
The hilly country near these ranges varies in width from 20 to 30 miles and is generally covered by thick forest affording large quantities of splendid building timber which is mostly of the eucalyptus species. Inside these great ranges all the southern part of the island is drained by the River Murray and generally consists of nearly level plains - the Murray basin alone containing an area of 500,000 square miles. The Murray Valley is a splendid sheep feeding district, but the quantity of rain which falls on the valley is not sufficient for most descriptions of crop. It varies from 6 to 24 inches per annum. Wheat is successfully grown over a considerable portion but some parts are too dry even for wheat. With irrigation anything can be grown.
On the whole the southern half of the island compares favourably with almost any country in the world, and particularly for sheep farming. The interior of the northern half of the island is not so good as that of the southern half, yet there are many hundreds of thousands of square miles of fair feeding land and most of the tropical plants flourish where there is sufficient moisture.
The aborigines of Australia are a peculiar race - somewhat different from all other natives. They are not quite so black as the Negro race, have long straight hair and much finer features than the Negro. They have been represented by some authorities as the lowest sample of the human race but this is a great mistake and a libel on the Australian natives. I have seen many hundreds of them and have had much intercourse with them, and have always found them both intelligent and honest.
I have also seen many tribes of the American Indian. I have seen the Maori of New Zealand and the Kanaka of the Sandwich Islands and for intelligence I consider the Australian equal to either and for honesty far their superior. I have had dozens of natives in and around my place for weeks but have never known but one instance of a native stealing from me or anyone else. And the single instance in which I did know of a native committing a theft was that of a man who had been 6 years in the police force which is quite sufficient excuse for any one either white of black after such schooling is very apt to steal and invariably commit perjury.
When I came to Wedderburn in 1855 it was no uncommon thing to see 100 natives at Wedderburn and sometimes three times that number assembled about the diggings. As the country supplied them with abundance of food in the shape of the kangaroo, wallabies, opossums, ducks, geese, turkeys, fish etc. there was no occasion for them to work and if they engaged to do any work for white people they were generally swindled out of the price of their labour.
The women were said to be perfectly chaste amongst the natives but had neither virtue nor modesty when brought amongst white men. This last failing or weakness seems to be common among all the native women in the South Pacific and the native men do not in the least object to such conduct but generally not only wink at it but actively participate in making the bargain or arrangements. I have been told this is the way in all islands of the Pacific. I can vouch for the truth of it so far as Australian natives are concerned.
Through drink and disease the Australian natives are fast dying out and in 50 years from this time it is doubtful if there will be one left of the whole race. Of the hundreds I knew 30 years ago there are not 20 living.
The animals peculiar to Australia are nearly all of the kangaroo species, having small heads and shoulders, very short fore legs with claws - heavy hind quarters with long powerful hind legs and a heavy long tail which they use principally to steer themselves in running. The hind feet resemble those of the sheep. They never bite but use their front claws and hind feet in defence. They can run nearly as fast as a greyhound or good horse. They feed on grass and shrubs and are sometimes seen in flocks of from 50 to 100 but often in twos or threes. In many places they destroy great quantities of grass and the governments of some colonies give a bonus for their scalps. As many as 5,000 have sometimes been driven into a yard at one hunt. When so yarded they are all destroyed. No use is made of the flesh and the skins are not worth more than 2/- each on average.
A large kangaroo will stand 6 feet tall when on his hind legs and weighs about 150 lbs. They carry their young in a pouch.
There are several other species of this animal from the kangaroo downwards viz. wallaby, paddy melon, kangaroo rat and down to the kangaroo mouse, not larger than a common house mouse. They are perfectly harmless.
Of the other native animals the opossum is the most common. It inhabits all parts of the island generally weighs about 8 or 10 lbs live weight; has a pouch for its young and is supposed by the natives to breed its young in the pouch attached to the teat. They live on the leaves and branches of trees.
The warrigal or native dog of Australia (often called the dingo) is the native name for a tame dog. The warrigal is very similar to the prairie wolf of the western part of America and no doubt was originally brought to this country from some other part. The warrigal is about the only native animal not of the marsupial species. There are a great variety of animals in Australia also of birds. The most noted of the bird tribes is the emu which is a species of the ostrich but the feathers are of no commercial value.
The emu is common to all parts of Australia and is numerous in many parts. White people make no use of the emu. A full sized emu weighs about 100 lbs and its head is when erect is from 6 to 7 feet high.
The cockatoo is the next most interesting bird. There are black cockatoos, white cockatoos and cockatoo parrots. The white cockatoo is very common in all parts, is as large as a crow but pure white except its topknot which is yellow and about as long and large as a Havana cigar. They are of the parrot species and will learn to speak well. There are many species of parrots of all colours and sizes.
About 1858 I was appointed Postmaster at Wedderburn and retained the office until 1878 or 20 years. I was also Telegraph master for the last 18 months or 2 years of that time but there was a continual howl for a Gov Post & Telegraph office and at last they obtained it.
After the Inglewood rush which took place in 1860 business was very slack in Wedderburn. So much so that the profits of my store would not keep the family although we were very economical. The farm however paid tolerably well but on the whole I cannot say that I am a shilling better off for all the business done in Wedderburn. The money I have made has been made off of Wedderburn and therefore I am under no obligation to the Wedderburn people for anything I have.
About 1865 I was elected Auditor of the Shire of Korong and was returned regularly every year for 20 years. Although opposed on different occasions by good men I was always returned by a good majority. In 1886 I was elected a Councillor of the Shire of Korong. I did not crave this honour but was anxious to get in for the purpose of breaking up a clique which had control of the affairs of the Shire. I was quite successful in doing so.
About the middle of the year 1886 the Broken Hill shares I had purchased began to pay dividends. There were dividends of 1pound per month until Dec 1887 when the dividend was increased to 30/- per share per month. As I held 30 shares during this time the dividends were an important addition to my small income. The shares rose from £16 .10 in 1885 to £400 (including the offshoots of the Co) in Jan 1888. Thus by an investment of about £1000 I was possessed of 30 shares worth over 12,000 pounds beside having received £17.10 per share in dividends. So far this looks as the best speculation of my life. I leave space below to fill in the final result of the speculation.
(Copyist's note: This space was not filled in!)
In 1875 I secured 624 acres of land at Marinal. In 1876 I got three small selections near Moama NS Wales containing 1100 acres of land. In 1886 I bought 295 acres at Boort of Miss Beattie also 105 acres of John Watkins. In 1887 I selected 395 acres under the Section of land Act 1884 near Wedderburn.
My boys also selected Josh 250 acres, Oliver 784 acres, Achilles 243 acres and his wife 410 acres. I also hold about 70 acres freehold close to Wedderburn. I have 7 allotments in Charlton at this time in Jan 1888. One allotment in Kerang and 6 in Swan Hill, 5 in Wedderburn with buildings present value about £400.
In Sept 1887 Achilles and I selected 40 acres under the 65 Section of Land Act of 1884 adjoining our other land near the Wedderburn Junction Railway Station. In 1888 I purchased 600 shares in the Federal Coffee palace Melbourne which proved a failure. About 1889 I purchased the old Torpeken Station of 811 acres at 4.7/6 per acre. I have since purchased 120 acres of Watkin, 35 acres of Rinder, 10 acres of W Craig, 65 acres of Volivh, 17 acres of Guthrie, 7 acres of Gorse, 1280 acres of Guilfoyle, 450 acres of Eliza Lamprell, 320 acres of Phillips. Last year (1893) I took up 80 acres under the 65 Section of the Land Act 1884. I also held 2600 acres at Ferribee Creek. I expect to shear about 6800 sheep this year (1894). I am still carrying on the store and sheep farming. I am also receiving 100 pounds per month in dividends from the Broken Hill Corporation mine.
On 1st. November I finished shearing. I shore 6500 sheep and obtained 78 bales wool. The wool was dry clean and light in grease and the weight was 18 tons 10 cwt 1qr 2 lbs nett and the gross value when sold was …..( figure not entered in journal) pounds. The shearing expenses about 23/- per 100, other charges as carriage 74.15 pounds. Commission per agent reduced the amount to 810 pounds. I also sold 400 pounds worth of stock during the year.
Last year was the driest year for the last 30 years and crops were almost a complete failure. I only had 10 acres in crop and only got 2 & ½ tons of hay off it. The season was kept dry up to the 20 of April so there is no feed and the ground is too dry to plough but on the 20 April 1 inch of rain fell and ploughing was made possible. So far I have lost very few sheep by starvation.
1896. The season continued very dry until the end of June and even then there was very little rain for the season.
1897. The early part of 1897 was the worst season for 30 years. No feed of any kind; had to send 3000 sheep and 20 horses to Bungaree for feed and the balance of the stock had to be fed at times. The expenses far exceeded the income from the Ilion Estate but the latter portion of the year was a little better and there was much more feed than the previous years and crops were much better. Hay gave nearly 1 ton per acre - wheat 3 bags and oats 6 bags per acre. I lost during 1897 fully 1500 sheep and the wool clip was very light only 46 bales.
1898. This year commenced very warm and dry and continued so for three or four months. In March 1898 I purchased 300 acres from M Wilson of Inglewood. The land is north of Mt. Korong. I now hold 2350 around Mt. Korong, about 1300 acres at Ilion and 620 at Lake Marmal.
April 1898. I purchased £2000 worth of mining shares during the last three months. I now hold 2000 Proprietary 200 Black 10, 200 Black 14, 353 Bortist, 100 Mt. Lyall, 100 Lyall Tharsis, 100 Mt. Lyall Extended, 25 Crown Lyalls and 300 Associated Mines W. A., 300 Spring hill Central leads, 1 & ½ Dottons Hill Tunneling Co.
Nov 1. I had a fair clip of wool this year (58 bales). The wool was good and clean. I shore 4,150 sheep and lambs which is much less than I shore three or four years ago. I am still receiving dividends in Broken Hill Proprietary, Black 10, Black 14, British Broken Hill, Mt. Lyall and Associated Mines W Australia.
Nov 23/98. I am 70 years old today. I am strong and healthy. I hope to live another 10 or 12 years but God only knows when I may have to go.
All our boys are in a way to make a comfortable living. Mrs. Gray is still in good health. I have now been 43& ¾ years in Wedderburn during all of which time I have been connected with mining. I have also been farming 40 years. I was Postmaster 20 years, was Shire Auditor 20 years and have been a Shire councillor 12 years. I have always paid 20/- in the pound and have never asked for time but in all cases paid my accounts when due. I have lately been returned to S Council for another 3 years but am quite disgusted and may resign at any time. To try to save the vote people's money and have the Shire work properly and economically done is like "throwing pearls before swine". They don't seem to appreciate it.
1899. January 1.
ASSETS OF J.R.GRAY JAN. 1ST. 1899.
Including several blocks of land now in the names of the boys.
Store, dwelling, outbuildings and 1 acre £750
allotments near the camp £ 60
4 acres Allens paddock£ 50
64 acres old cultivation paddocks £9 £576
20 acres Rills purchased block£ 80
Allotments near railway£150
Trimbles 4 acres£ 50
811 acres Ilion purchase £4/7/6 £3548
Improvements to Ilion £500
17 acres of Rinder £ 68
20 acres Walkers£ 80
10 acres Burnees£ 50
7&1/4 acres Gorses £ 50
17 acres Guthries £4 £ 68
70 acres Voluh £3 £210
116 acres held under 65 Section besides Voluh £348
225 acres Watkins £4 £ 900
House at junction and 1 acre £ 30
2250 Guilfoyles £2 £4500
624 acres Marinal £2 £1248
Goods furniture & stock £ 400
Olivers 320 acres Ranges £2 £ 640
32 Section Blacks 1800 £1 £1800
123 Section block £ 200
7 acre allotments Charlton £1400
3 acres (allotments Swan Hill) £ 300
¼ acres Kerang £ 30
Kills 350 acres Rent £ 50
Allotment by Mrs. Wells £ 10
Brought forward £17,346
4000 sheep 8/- £ 1530
50 Rams £3.3.0 £ 150
15 horses £ 140
6 cattle £ 18
Wagon & lorry £ 40
2 buggies, gig & brake £ 50
Reaper & binder & reaper £ 80
Stripper & winnower £ 30
Other farm implements £ 100
1000 bags wheat & oats 10/- £ 500
100 tons hay £2 £ 200
100 tons straw £ 50
33 acres near Timms £ 120
Browills estate £ 20
2000 B H Proprietary £2.10 £ 5000
220 Black 10 £ 300
210 Black 14 20/- £ 210
366 British B Hill 10/- £ 181
110 Mt Lyell Co £6.10/- £ 665
100 Lyell shares £ 100
100 Lyell Extended £ 50
25 Crown Lyell £ 12
300 Emu Bay Railway £ 100
300 Associated Mines £6 £ 1800
300 Spring Hill Central 12/- £ 182
Potters Hill Co. £ 10
£28,975 £ 28,975
Liabilities to Book and others about…….(no figure given)
January 1-1900 The past year has been a fairly prosperous one to me-I had 71 bales of wool which brought up to 14&1/2 d for fleece with proceeds to £1232.6.7
I sold about 1500 sheep which brought in £700. Expect 400 bags wheat worth £200 or a total income from farm of £2132, I had the following dividends: Broken Hill Prop £400 Black 14 = £44 Black 10 = £110. British £36.12 Mt. Lyell £12 Lyell Shares £10 Associated Mines £126 or a total in
dividends = £792.12.
Owing to the war in South Africa there has been a great slump in the price of shares during the last two months, but I think the dividends will keep up for the present year at al events and may increase. My property is about the same value as last year. I have on hand 1300 bags wheat 150 bags oats and 70 tons hay 200 tons straw 5000 sheep, 16 horses.
Shares on hand.
2000 B Hill Prop 333 Associated
220 Black 10 240 N Blacks
210 Black 14 300 Spring Hill
100 Mt Lyall
100 Lyall shares
100 Lyall Extended
30 Crown Lyalls
300 Emu Bay Railway
I have enjoyed very good health during the past year and Mrs. Gray as well. All the boys and their families have been healthy as well as myself and Mrs. Gray. I have neither bought or sold my land during the year except 20 acres from T Griffiths. The price of land does not fluctuate much.
I have the following lots of land which I value as per list.
70 acres being my old holdings in flat £700
811 purchased from Mrs. Grant90/- £3649.10
220 Watkins land80/- £880
21 Kills freehold82/- £84.0.0.
71 Voleetis60/- £210.0.0
160 acres 65 Sec block40/-£320.0.0
20 Acres Bob Walker 60/-£60.0.0