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1 correction by doug.butler - Show corrections



The retiremenl of Mr. John Barton Hack, a colonist known and respected during almost the whole of the last half -century throughout South Australia — from his posi-

tion of Comptroller of Railway Accounts, offers an opportunity for the publication of some interesting particulars relative to his career. Mr. Hack has had many ups and downs. He has experienced vicissitudes which would have utterly subdued the spirit of many a less brave and determined man. But with him buffet- ing seemed to give increased endurance ; and he stands to-day, after nearly fifty years of very varied colonial life, a thoroughly hale, hearty, and sturdy South Australian veteran, of whom we are all justly proud. We give below from Mr. Hack's own pen some very interesting outlinings of his auto biography. These, however, should be pre- faced by a short skeleton sketch of the history of this— one of the oldest and in the early years most prominent of our colonists. Mr. Hack was born in Chichester, England. He came of a good sturdy Quaker stock, his family being known and held in high esteem all through that section of the country. The date of his birth goes back nearly seventy nine years ago— to July, 1805. He remained in England until he was over thirty-one years of age, and then— though at that time blessed with six olive branches— broke up his English home because his health was failing and de- termined to try his fortune in Australia. In February, 1837, he landed at Port Adelaide with his family from the old ship Isabella. With him came a younger brother, Mr. Stephen Hack ; and the two between them brought to the colony some well-selected stock. With these they started a station not far from Adelaide, but, for reasons detailed below, they were not over successful. Of course they tried again in other capacities. Mr. J. B. Hack was the first public works contractor under the Government, and almost from the first month of his arrival a prominent colonist, The Directory of 1840, for instance, shows his name on the Boards of Management or com- mittees of all the institutions, save one there mentioned, He was on the first Grand Jury list ; He was Chairman of the Chamber of Com- merce ; he was on the committee of the Botanical and Horticultural Gardens Board ; he was Auditor of the old Literary and Scien-   tific Association and Mechanics' Institute ; he   was Vice-President of the S.A. Agricultural   Society, of which he had been the first Chairman ; he was a Director of the Adelaide   Auction Company ; he was a member of the Association for the Prosecution of Felons,   assisting in the arrest of cattle-stealers ; and   he was on the directorate of the Joint-stock   Pastoral Company. He was, too, a liberal   benefactor by donation and active work to   charitable and educational institutions. In   August of 1839 he subscribed £100 towards   the College funds, and three months later   gave £10 to the Infirmary— not to mention   his smaller gifts. About this time he estab-   lished a well-known garden at what is now   known as Irish Town, Lower North Ade-   laide, but which then and for a long time   bore the name (in honour of Mr. Hack's   native place) of Chichester. He was one of   the purchasers of the first city acres   sold, and losing heavily through depre-   ciation of land values, owing to Governor   Gawler's mismanagement of the colony's   affairs in 1842, he nevertheless abated   not his enterprise. He started a whale   fishery concern, but lost by that too. Then he worked hard and successfully as a   surveyor and in many other capacities. He did not amass and keep the wealth which   his energy entitled him to ; and so in June, 1869, at the age of 64 years, he found it necessary to enter the Government service in a subordinate position. A year later— July 9, 1870— he was appointed Assistant Accoun- tant of Railways, holding that post until February 1, 1873, when he exchanged it for   that of Comptroller of Railway Accounts, a position whose duties he performed with great satisfaction until a few weeks ago, when he retired from active business. In the early years his colonial life was full of interesting incident, and the following record, written characteristically by Mr. Hack, will doubt   less be read with interest.