A Great Old Pioneer.
EARLY DAYS ON THE CLARENCE AND RICHMOND.
One of the few remaining links with the early history of the Clarence was broken, and a rather adventurous career ended by the death in Grafton a week or so ago of Mr. James Morton. Look ing back some 75 years from the present to the year 1849, recalling a few scat
tered houses, in snuill clearings of the dense scrub, and viewing the fair city of Grafton as it now stands was some thing of which very few beside deceased could, boast, says the "Examiner." The late Mr. Morton was born in Bally mena, county Antrim, Ireland, on De cember 26, 1830, and at a very early age took up a seafaring life, sailing between Liverpool and Quebec. Abandoning the sea, he went to the United States, and on the outbreak of the Mexican war, in 1847, enlisted in the New York Rifles and served through General Scott's campaign. The capture of the City of Mexico crowned this general's efforts, and standing sentry in the famous halls of Montezuma, the soldier had time to wonder at the evidence of a bygone, civilisation, in that ancient Aztec city. The return- march/ of . 287 miles to Vera Cruz,- -on tho - coast; was an arduous ono, as tlio troops .suffered much' from sick ness and were continually, harassed by irregular /bands of guerillas. The shift ing sands of Vera Cruz exposed tlio bodios of many buried at the first land ing, and these wero in a x-orfect state of preservation. After, disbandmont. at. Now York .'Mr. Morton returned to I re hind, and. then came to Australia, sail ing from .Plymouth in the barf|iie Emma Eugenie, in February, 1S49 (shipmate, by, the way, with Mr. Thomas Shore, of Pound -Street. Grafton, who was' then but a baby in arms). , Arriving at tlio 'Settlement' . (as Grafton was^flion known) in August of that year, he went to ? Dyraalia, 'Bu the Richmond, under engagement to. Mi'. Fred. Bundock, and could rocall many stories of events and persons of that period, including Fred Ward, the great' horseman.1. and ovoriander, who after wards became notorious up -.'Thunder- bolt,' the bushranger. Mr. Morton always averred that Ward was a fin? fellowj whoso downfall was brought
auout, oy - ocing niatie, a rooi or uiueis. Returning to Grafton a few years niter, lie married Miss Mary /.Massy, who sur vives- him. It was one of the -earliest marriages in the old .Church / /of -England, the celebrant -being the Rev.- Arthur Sclwyn,' afterwards Bislioj) of New castle, and -the late Mr. Reuben Willis, father of Mr. Sam Willis, of Eatons ville, was best man oir the . occasion. Miss Massy - (who belonged to a well known family of Clonlara, countj' Clare, Ireland), camo out in 1854 in the ship Patrician, to her cousin, Mrs. ^Lublin, who was in business in Sydney'. Sho was then only 18 years of ago and, coming to the Clarence in '56 with Mr. and Mrs.' WV A. B. Greaves, was mar ried in that' year, . and -lias 'resided con- i tinuously. in the- district ever since. | Their- first homo was -at ? the 'Dairy,' i near tlio r old factory ? at Grafton,- and later tliev were at Stony, Soutligate, I Rotr'eat, and Corindi Stations. Tliey .jvere | at jSouthgate at the 'time of .the -great '63 flood, and the many settlors who refuged with them .never forgot their help and hospitality in that trying time. In 1872 ; they went to Ramornie, .wliero Mir. Morton was for ma.ny years assistant preserver in the meat (works there. .Ho selected land near: Whiteman Creek, but during his sdoclining jyears reside^ at i Grafton, where lie passed peacefully | away in his 04th yeai. I An account, of his experiences on the stations in the early days would bo 'in- I teresting, for bush -people were practl- i cally: at the mercy of, the 'blacks -Wlio i were then a numerous and vigorous race, i t.lid rhythmic stamping of whoso feet In the corroborco could be heard for miles, i He - always spoke highly of the faithful and kindly, character of the natives in general,' and the. only trouble ho' ever had with them was due to -ETie notorious ''Boomgcen' (called 'Punipkin^-'... by the whites), a gr(eat athletic' fellow, out lawed and afterwards done / to death by? his own . Woodford Island : tribe. Though on tlio best of terms'- with the Corindi , tribe while occupying ; tliat isolated homestead with his wife and family,.- Mr. Morton 'ono morning saw the warriors in- full- arms and paint ap proaching like a regiment going ' into* battle;- ..Realising ; their .- purpose, and: regarding all as lost, Mr. Morton never theless went out to meet them, and ap pealed;. to - 'Gcorgie,' : the .-king, recall ing all their/ former, friendship and tlio many acts of .kindness ? between them. / Seeing- that ' 'Gcorgie' ? was wavering, ' Boomgech ' . stepped -out and urged him in his purpose- which would -no -doubt have been fulfilled only for thq_intcr-,i vention. of ' '.Gcorgie 's ' ' wife, Mary, who hurried . from the opposite direction through . tho homestead and made a i passionate appeal, which resulted in 'a gruff.:, command- from ' Georgie, ' ami, sthe blacks turned' in a body and inarch- | 'ed oft as they had come. - A few : days-i later -Mr. Morton - again: saw . 'Boom- geon,':' in company with two -other of, ,the Corindi blacks; and '? guessed from their, maimer that something / unusual was - afoot. ' He carried ?: a - concealed horse pistol, however, and rode up to: interview them. '.'Boomgeen' was very aggressive, and had a 'grievance' about restrictions being placed on their free dom, but ?: on; being assured . that;- ; tliey were free from any ?. intorf oreneo, so long as -t-hoy -.refrained from killing the cat tle; and :( that no complaint - had been made about: -tlieni, this Islnnael of the coastal tribes was appeased, and- never gave .further trouble there, though:/ ho was -long a menace- to all. ..isolated -set- tlers about Iho Clarence. : 'One. had to be, careful not to intrude on any of tho native ceremonies, and the deceased often told of an incident on the, Upper, Richinond : which lio regarded as-a narrow escape. ' Riding out* of tho scrub lie camo _s_uddoiily into a t littlo clearing where : a large . number of war riors .were seated ai;ouiid a :bodv ::on ; a sheet of bark. The quick 'start amongst them warned - him that, if lio stopped or. spoko. lio ;would probably 1)0 - killed, , but lie had learned of their ways to ride . past in sirence. with .averted .head, and never knew whether it was a funeral or an execution. . Their ... faithfulness to, a. trust was yor.v.. remarkable; and ? the;.. ' pliella: . news ',' (niossonger), carrying'a missive* by .means . of ft cleft stick; could be .-'relied on, to de liver it in spiteof: all obstacles of flood oi'( fire. If ; it. was :for /'smallgoods : at tlio : j distant ; store, - the 'parcel- would ,;bo - delivered intact;, though- tho bearer, kiicw, that his - own reward in '/the /shape of pipe, ; tobacco, .etc;, was within.- :? -. Tho ?recent , doa ths of nine, children -in New.: Zealand -are set - down - to infection by house /flies.; -? .In one caso death oc-' ciuTcd-iWithini- SO i liours, : wliilo iiiv.' an other case, the 'child: was carried -homo from/. school unconscious; and clicd-, with- in five hours. ' ? ' ' - Try -A. E/-Priddico' and Co.' for your mercery.' \ ^