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GEEVESTON LOOKS BACK ON 100

YEARS OF PIONEERING

GEEVESTON is a hundred years old this month. In December,

1849, members of the Geeves family arrived from Frank- lin and settled in a fertile forest area 35 miles from Hobart. Eventually named after the town's original pioneer, Geeveston, with its population of nearly 1,500, today looks back on a century of progress.

GEEVESTON'S founder, Mr. Wil-

liam Geeves, with his wife, five sons and one daughter, emigrated from Cambridgeshire, England, in

1842.

On arrival at Hobart Town, they met Lady Franklin, who persuaded them to settle on her block at Frank- lin. This they did, and after investi- gating various areas up and down the Huon, the family moved farther south in December, 1849.

They took up the. first 80" acres of land alienated in Lightwood Bot- tom, as the district was then known. It was changed to Geeves Town in 1861, in honour of the men who be- gan its development.

Lying within the 40in. rainbelt, the land was covered with a wealth of stringy bark, swamp gun, blue gum, and blackwood.

A great diarist and writer of sermons and political treatises, Os- borne Geeves relates how he and his brothers started clearing on January 1, 1850. By the middle of the year, he records, he "had some 12 acres scrubbed and burned and the area between logs and stumps prepared ready for potatoes."

Hard Living

A passage from Osborne Geeves' diary reveals some of the grit and enterprise of the early Huon settler.

"We lived in bark or slab huts built by ourselves, and split shingles and laths at night to buy rations. We worked on the land in the day- time, planted potatoes, grew vege- tables of all 'kinds, and lived on them largely.

"We raised fowls. In a year or two a cow was bought, and some little pigs raised on thistles, till the potatoes, peas, and beans grew. I have known a thrifty wife gather Scotch thistles and boil them for her pigs."

The first apple trees in Geeveston were planted by William Geeves on the property of his grandson, Mr. Richard Geeves, who later became one of the best-known public men in the Huon.

In 1851 two rows each of Windsor Pippin, Ribston Pippin, Scarlet Pear main, Blenheim Orange, French Crab, Alexander, and Stone Pippins were planted.

The stocks were imported from England, and planted 24ft. apart grew into enormous trees.

Orchards Appear

Plantings by other early settlers followed, and gradually in the area immediately surrounding Geeveston was built up a thriving orcharding community.

Geeveston orchards rank as some of the most prolific in the Com- monwealth. Many of them pro- duce between 600 and 1,000 cases to the acre, and within a radius of about seven miles of the town at least 1,000,000 bushels of Tas- mania's best fruit are produced.

Soon after the Geeves came other families who are synonymous with the district's progress. Among the names of early orchardists are Har- wood, Thompson, Bennett, Burgess Studley, O'Halloran, Hammond, Mc Kibben, Ford, Ashlin, Hopkins, War- ren, Nicholas, Robertson, Reid, Hic- key, Doody, Evans, Regan, Drake Riley, Lincoln, Sharp, Pepper, Brit oliffe, and Russell.

The 1947 census population of 1,323 ranks Geeveston as Tasmania's ninth town outside Hobart and

Launceston.

With the advent of factories and large packing sheds, Geeveston con- tinues to show steady advancement Today there are about 330 homes in the postal area, as well as about 50 at Port Huon and Hospital Bay.

Annual values in the Geeveston and Liverpool Wards have risen from £2,966 and £2,482 in 1912-13 to £8,336 and £8,061 respectively in 1949-50. For the whole muni- cipality, annual values have jump- ed from £12,785 to £31,972 for the same period, and rates levied have risen from £850 to £5,969.

Mr. O. Geeves was a member of the original Esperance Road Trust   gazetted in 1868. His son, Mr. Rich  

ard Geeves, succeeded him as chair man, occupied the position for 18 years, and was one of the men who assisted to form the first municipal

council in 1907.

Other members of the family have occupied positions on the council and Mr. A. R. Geeves, a nephew of Mr. R. Geeves, last year resigned a warden to take over a Tamar pro

perty.

Centenary

To mark the centenary of the dis trict, the Tasmanian Historical So ciety has offered a tablet for erection in the proposed civic centre

The secretary of the society (Mr. B. W. Rait) said at the weekend that his organisation was particularly, interested, as Geeves- ton was one of the few towns named after a pioneer.

At its December meeting, the Es- perance Council decided to purchase for £2,200 the estate of Mr. Richard Geeves, now retired.

Should the plan eventuate, and a war memorial in the form of a con munity centre is built, the society tablet erected on land owned by Geeveston's original settler will have added significance.

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