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6 corrections, most recently by beck2377 - Show corrections


We regret to have to announce the death of Mr. J. B. Hack, which occurred at the Semaphore on Saturday morning, October 4. Mr. Hack was well known as having occupied

a foremost position among the pioneers of South Australian commerce, and as having been closely connected with the first settle- ment of the city, and the general develop- ment of the colony. He arrived here in the Isabella from Tasmania in February, 1837, having chartered the vessel to bring cattle and sheep, with which he intended to pursue farming operations. At that time there were scarcely any cattle at the colony, and had the circumstances been fortunate, Mr. Hack, who had con- siderable capital, might have soon succeeded in establishing a large farm and station. But the country had not been surveyed, and innumerable difficulties were unintentionally thrown in Mr. Hack's way by the authorities of the time. Eventually he managed to   secure a property at Mount Barker, and in the meantime he took an active part with others of the pioneers in formulating the early colonial regulations. Gradu- ally drifting into mercantile pursuits, he became perhaps the principal merchant of the time, and indeed he was mixed up in nearly all the transactions of any extent, owing chiefly to the fact that he was almost the only man possessed of capital. He still managed, however, to keep up the Mount Barker estate, and he also established a large dairy farm at Yankalilla, and whale fisheries at Encounter Bay. The latter were not successful, and Mr. Hack lost several thousands by them. He progressed in other ventures fairly well until the colony experienced a great commercial crisis six or seven years after its foundation, when owing to various causes which it is not ne- cessary to enter upon it became well-nigh bankrupt. Most of the business people were indebted to Mr. Hack, who was also mixed up in Government transactions, and the result of the crisis was that he was absolutely ruined. It is alleged that the immediate cause of this was the pecuniary assistance he rendered to the Government, but the circumstances are to a certain extent shrouded in mystery. After the crash Mr. Hack remained in Adelaide until the Burra Mines were opened, when he started a number of teams to work the road traffic to the mines. He succeeded moderately well at this, but gave it up on being appointed mercantile manager to Mr. Atkinson, the solicitor, and he was reputed to be a good authority on commercial law up to the time of his death. Mr. Hack stopped with Mr. Atkinson until 1852, when he went to the Victorian diggings, where he was fairly suc- cessful. On returning he took the position of accountant to Messrs. Hart & Hughes, the millers, but relinquished it in 1856 owing to an attack of severe illness, through which he lost the sight of one eye, and the doctors ad- vised him to relinquish sedentary employment. He then purchased a station on the Coorong, but he did not succeed, and in 1862, having lost everything, he returned to Adelaide and   obtained an appointment as accountant to the railway carriers, which he occupied for some considerable time. His next step was to start in the city as an estate agent, and he would probably have done very well at this in time had he continued in the business. But in 1870 the Government took over the railway carrying business, and Mr. Hack was offered the position of accountant in the goods departments which he accepted. When the goods and traffic departments were combined he received the appointment of assistant accountant, being afterwards   promoted to accountant, and later on to accountant and comptroller of all railway accounts. This position he held until June, 1883, when he retired from the service on account of advanced age and feeble health. The death of his wife in 1881 was a severe blow to him, and it is probable that this was really the immediate cause of the breaking up of his system. On leaving the ser-   vice, he occupied a deal of time in matters relating to the Wesleyan Church at the Semaphore, of which he was a member, and he was also very assiduous in visiting the sick and poor of the district. Although since the death of his wife he was quite an altered man, yet he could get about fairly well, and seldom had to lay up. He was to be seen taking his usual walks until within a fortnight of his death, but he then became too ill to get about, and gradually sank, an aneurism being the cause of death. The de- ceased gentleman, who was 79 years of age, leaves a family of eight sons, two of whom   are in the Government service, and most of them are well known. He had no less than fifty grandchildren and ten great-grand- children. Though quiet and reserved in his manner, Mr. Hack was well liked and re- spected, and his family will be deeply sym- pathised with in their loss. The funeral will take place today, the cortege leaving the Semaphore esplanade at 2 o'clock.