EARLY SETTLEMENT OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA.— No. 5.
EXPERIENCES OF A PIONEER.
(By J. B. HACK).
Special Surveys— Euchred— Echunga— Port Vincent — Angaston Estate— Horticulture— Dividing Our Business— Wheat 20s. a Bushel— The Bill System — Station Expenses — Financial Straits in 1840-3—
Insolvent— Collector Torrens— The Weakest to the Wall— Masterly Inactivity Policy— Old Colonists —The Glen Osmond Turnpike Eoad— Final Re- view. Some time before Colonel Gawler's arrival as Resident Commissioner as well as Governor, it was announced, in consequence of the back- wardness of the survey, that a special survey system would be allowed. By this system any person who lodged £4,000 in the Trea- sury would be at liberty to point out to the Surveyor-General a parallelogram con- taining 15,000 acres in any locality north-east of the Adelaide Plains, which would be pegged out on the ground into 80-acre sections. These he might select until the 4,000 acres were completed, for which he would receive land grants. This was intended to relieve the pressure on the Survey Office, which could not keep a sufficiency of sur- veyed land to satisfy the demand. The S.A. Company took the first survey at Lyndoch Valley ; Mr. Thomas Williams, Colonel Gawler, and I took the second - Williams 2,000, Gawler and I each 1,000 acres. Our selection was on the Sources of the Little Para, near Houghton. We em- ployed a private surveyor to lay out the sections. I afterwards sold my portion—400 acres to Mr. John Richardson, and 600 to Jacob Hagen (who had arrived in the colony in 1838)—at £3 per acre. Our herd of cattle had arrived at Mount Barker, and we camped down on the spot where the township is now located. About this time the Australasian Bank was started in Adelaide, with Mr. Newland as Manager, who was a native of my own birthplace (Chichester), and whose family I knew well. With him came over from Sydney Duncan McFarlane and Captain Finnis. I had endeavoured to make arrangements with Mr. Edward Stephens, of the S.A. Bank, where I had kept my account, for discounts to cover £3,000. I was able to obtain another £1,000 in respect to a special survey from the Cattle Company previously referred to, of which I was a Director. Mr. Stephens, however, peremptorily declined to move in the matter. Mr. Newland, however, wa willing to meet my views, and I transferred my account to the Australasian Bank, and was thus prepared to take up the Mount Barker Survey. But I very imprudently asked Mr. Newland and his Sydney friends to see our station at Mount Barker, the con- sequence of which was that a day or two before I had, by arrangement with the Government, to pay my £4,000 I was in- formed by the Treasurer, Mr. Osmond Gilles, jubilantly, that I had lost my chance, for the survey had been taken out by Mr. McFar-
lane and his friends. The money was not fully paid in until some time after, althongh the Treasurer had given his receipt for the full amount. He had himself taken an interest in the survey. I was very indignant, and applied to Colonel Gawler for redress. He, however, said the Treasurer's receipt was his autho- rity, and he could not go behind it. We had felt so certain of our station that paddocks were marked out and a large number of posts and rails laid along the projected lines. In consequence of this I applied for a survey south of that taken out by McFarlane, now known as the Echunga property, for myself and the Cattle Company, and transferred our cattle and establishment to it from Adelaide and the Little Para. Other special surveys were taken out in which we had no interest, except in one pro- posed to be located at Port Vincent, on Yorke's Peninsula, by a Company of which I waa one of the trustees. We considered, however, after a time, and before any survey was made, that years must elapse before any population could be expected to settle in a place so distant, and applied to the Government to be allowed to transfer the survey to the Sources of the Torrens, then unoccupied. This was permitted, and the survey was so arranged. Soon after we had settled on Echunga, Mr. Flaxman (of Messrs. Flaxman & Rowlands), who was agent for Mr. George Fife Angas, applied for six or seven surveys at Mount Remarkable and on the Rhine. The present Angaston estate is
a part of these surveys. It seemed very questionable whether Mr. Angas would con- firm his agent's action by accepting the drafts for the deposits, but eventually the purchase was confirmed, and the result is well known in the splendid property now held by Mr. J. H. Angas. Horticulture in the colony was first initiated by Messrs. George Stevenson, Bailey, and myself. Mr. Stevenson's garden,in Mackinnon- parade, North Adelaide, was soon one of the show-places of the colony. I enclosed several acres in Lower North Adelaide, and set my gardener (Lator) to work to plant and culti- vate. After we commenced at Echunga I commenced a permanent garden of ten acres, and removed Lator and all his trees and plants there. These garden acres at North Adelaide I divided into allotments, and the result was Chichester Gardens, after wards Irishtown. The Katherine Stewart Forbes, on her return from Hobart Town brought an invoice amounting to £60, with a general assortment of trees and shrubs, which soon made the Echunga garden a great success. I felt very proud when I sent my first basket of grapes to Colonel Gawler. Some of the bunches were very large. We established two dairies on the Echunga property, with about seventy cows on each, and sent butter and cheese into Adelaide, getting at first 2s. 6d. per 1b. for butter. As a breeding station and run for dry cattle, we made a station on the Bald Hills, Yankalilla, transferring the cows when near calving to our paddock at Echunga to be ready for the dairies. Echunga proved a very expensive country to improve, and caused much capital to be sunk in anticipa- tion of returns. In 1839 we divided the business, which had become too unwieldy, J. B. & T. Hack taking the Echunga estate, cattle and horses, and myself and brother-in- law (Mr. Watson) retaining the mer- cantile business as Hack, Watson, and Co. The town firm undertook the monetary afiairs of J. B. & T. Hack. I consented to my brother's visit to England chiefly on account of the increasing expendi- ture at Echunga, which I could not control while he was resident partner there. We had let three or four farms at 10s. per acre, and had been successful in wheat-growing. The crops in one paddock were 50 bushels to the acre. In 1839 wheat was sold at 20s. per bushel; the price soon fell to 10s., and in 1843 to 2s. 6d. per bushel. Importers commenced by allowing very short credit to the storekeepers. We were in the habit of calling fortnightly for payments on account from customers who had running accounts, and rendering and settling the same quarterly. When new houses started— especially Gorton & Andrews—the bill system was introduced, and discounts were readily granted by the Bank ; but when the collapse occurred (after Gawler's departure) acceptances were dishonoured, and as the
Banks became very cautious business became very precarious, until many of the mercantile houses were obliged to suspend payment. Before leaving for England my brother sold the three horses ridden by himself to the Government for £360— one of them, was Bucksfoot, the horse so highly eulogized in "Tolmer's Reminiscences." He had also agreed with James Chambers for another for £120, which proved to be unsound. The establish- ment at Echunga at this time when I removed there on Stephen's departure consisted of:— In the workshop— a foreman, carpenter, blacksmith, and miller; farming hands three ploughmen, two boys, two labourers, one gardener and assistant ; stock depart- ment—one overseer, one groom, four stock- men, for Echunga and Yankalilla ; also a storeman and two pair of fencers. With the dairy hands this staff meant an out- lay for wages of about £2,000 per annum. The carriage of flour from Adelaide was found to be a heavy item. The foreman of the workshop was a good practical engineer, and constructed a flourmill worked by horse- power, by which we kept the stations sup- plied; another race supplied power for a threshing machine and a circular saw con- nected with the large barns. In the year 1840 I built a school about a mile from the Echunga Gardens for the education of my boys. Mr. McGowan rented the house, and soon had a full school. The school consisted of a large square divided into two or three rooms. Everything seemed very prosperous in 1840, when my brother Stephen returned to England on a visit. I did not see him again for two years. Meanwhile Colonel Gawler's drafts on the Colonization Commissioners, which had been taken in all good faith by the Adelaide merchants, were returned through the Banks with 20 per cent, re-exchange. They were at once charged to customers' accounts. My overdraft arising from this cause and the Company's account for whaling stores was upwards of £6,000 with the South Australian Bank, whom I had offended by transferring my account to the Australasian. I was peremptorily called on for liquidation. I sold my Hindley-street property for £4,000, and raised £1,500 by a mortgage on my por- tion of the Echunga estate. In order to pro- tect my brother in his absence, as the Echunga property stood in my name alone, I had executed a conveyance of the undi- vided moiety of the land to him. Mr. John Baker had arrived in Adelaide in 1840. He had been, when I first knew him, head clerk in Mr. Griffiths's office at Launceston, where he opposed my arrange- ments with Griffiths. He became the Manager of an Auction Company I originated, and which included me as one of the Directors. Soon after he become the sole Director of the Australasian Bank, and Mr. Bentham Neales was engaged as auc- tioneer. Though Jacob Hagen (an old schoolfellow), whose firm in England had undertaken the business of Hack, Wat- son, & Company, we were to remit to them our produce, oil, and wool as far as possible, and they forwarded shipments to us at Adelaide as their agents. In 1841 I consigned largely to this house, and in 1842 received most unfavourable account sales. In fact, our consignments had been realized for cash at very low rates. The firm not long after became insolvent. Oil this year was exceptionally low-priced. The result of the year's operations with Hagen & Co. was a heavy balance against us. Jacob Hagen.who remained in the colony, demanded security, which he obtained by a mortgage on my interest in the Echunga survey. After I had given the security to him I began to find the Banks very stringent in their requirements. I was informed by the Manager that I had better, if accommoda- tion was required, apply to the Auction Company, or, as a matter of fact, to Mr. Baker, the Manager. I had made great exertions by the early part of 1843 to place myself in a good position with the Bank, and was congratulated by the Manager on my successful efforts ; but at the same time he said the Bank should have some security on outstanding liabilities, and proposed that a warrant of attorney should be lodged with the Bank as a sort of collateral security. This was, unfortunately, agreed to by me, and I was then in the power of the Bank. The day after a further expression of con- fidence from the Manager when in town I was awakened at 2 a.m. by men coming into the yard; they were two Sheriff's officers under the warrant of attorney. They took possession of all the personals at Echunga. The result soon became certain. I was forced into the Insolvency Court, and Hagen, as mortgagee, purchased the equity of re- demption of the Echunga estate, which had cost some £17,000, for a very small amount. It then finally passed out of our possession. I found myself at length without any resources and nad to begin the world afresh. Several thousands of family property which fell in just at this time and would have saved me had it come sooner were swept away by
ragnments of Hack, Watson, & Co. to Jacob Hagen, as our successor in business, who, with Captain Hart, continued the whale fishery with better success for a year or two, while I as a business man passed out of view. Hart made it appear that he had lost very considerably by me, as he claimed then a share in the cattle bought from Datton. I offered to transfer my right to one of the South Australian Company's water frontages at the Port, adjoining Mr. Henry Mildred's, which lately realized such a large amount. There was some £1,700 to pay eventually on it, but he was unwise enough to refuse. My misfortune occurred while Captain Grey was Goverror, in 1843 ; and I wrote to him asking if a situation in the Civil Service could be bestowed on my former partner. Mr. Watson. I received a very kind note, saving that the only place vacant was Chief Clerk, H.M. Customs. Mr. Torrens was the Collector, and offered the appointment, which was carried out. After Grey's removal to the Cape Sir Henry Young became Governor. Mr. Torrens did not give himself much trouble about his duties as Collector, especially as respects any personal care of the funds requiring daily pavments into the Treasury, leaving the Chief Clerk to his own devices in the matter. Mr. Watson did not like the responsibility, and very unwisely wrote a letter to the Government, in which he stated the case, and asked for authority in case of need to pay the revenue into the Treasury as Chief Clerk. As might be expected, there was
some enquiry, and Mr. Watson was directed to send in his resignation. This seemed hard usage, in the face of good services on the part of the Chief Clerk, and I saw Sir Henry Young on the matter, when he said that the fact of any officer complaining of the conduct of his superior in a direct way was against Civil Service rules, and whether or not the complaint was justifiable the result must be that the junior officer would have to retire, and that, therefore, he could hold out no hope of redress. Captain Grey informed me when he arrived that his instructions were to venture nothing and avoid expense in every way. The case or Borrow and Goodear will not be forgotten by many of the old colonists as one of great hardship, arising from Grey's attempts to please the Home authorities. Having a large account with the firm for timber and other supplies, I was consulted by them on their difficulties with the Government. They had completed the contracts for Government House and the Gaol, aud could obtain no settlement of their claim for a large balance due. One day Mr. Borrow called at my office and it was agreed I should go with him and state the case to the Governor personally, who might be induced to accede to an arbi- tration, if no other means could be, devised to obtain a settlement. We accord- ingly went across to Government House, and were received by Captain Grey in a very friendly way. He declared he was not aware of any unnecessary obstacles having been placed in the way of payments to the con- tractors, and promised that he would do all he could to forward a settlement; but at all events if an arditration was necessary the Government would not oppose it. We left the presence quite encouraged, and believed the Governor had been misinformed as to the rights of the case. We went from Govern- ment House to the Public Offices in King William-street to see Jackson, the Colonial Secretary, hoping that he would be able to propose some course of action. We found a very different state of feeling apparently between the Governor and the Secretary. The latter very curtly informed us we must have misunderstood the expression used by Captain Grey, for he could see no way open for adjusting the differences as the Architect (Mr. Kingston) was not prepared to give any certificate, and had no prospect of a decision. The interview was cut short by an intimation from a clerk that His Excellency was waiting to see the Secretary, which looked to me ominous of postponement and difficulty. The settle- ment was postponed until Borrow & Goodear were forced by pressure from creditors to assign their estate, and a very promising business was destroyed. While resident at Echunga we were now and then visited by the late George Hamil- ton, who was at that time Master of the Hounds. He brought up the pack, and we
had some good runs, which were very much appreciated by the neighbourhood. Mr. Hamilton was a very good draftsman, and he gave me an excellent portrait of my favourite entire Black Jack, and also a very good likeness of one of my sons in his nurse's arms. Mr. G. F. Davenport was also my guest in 1840, and I took him over the Mac- clesfield country, which he liked so much that he took out a special survey there. Some time after I had a note from him enclosing a cheque for £100, as an acknow- ledgment of the value of the information. Judge Cooper was also often at Echunga ; he was fond of riding and of seeing the country. I remember in our rides up and down he was discussing some of the details of the new In- solvency Bill in preparation, but he little thought I should be one of its victims. We were always glad to welcome the Rev. C. Howard at Echunga. We managed when he came to make up the large threshing-floor of our barn as a temporary Church, which would hold a fair number of people, and the settlers for miles were glad of the oppor- tunity of attending a religious service. Captain Davidson, of Blackiston, also made arrangements for Church services, which led to the erection of the Church there. Before they left for England we had the great gratifi- cation of a few days' visit from Colonel and Mrs. Gawler. The Colonel took a view of the house and garden, which was much ad- mired. I drove Mrs. Gawler nearly to the summit of Mount Barker (the Colonel and party were on horseback), as they wished to see the view from the Mount. In 1840 a survey was made of a road from Glen Osmond to the Eagle's Nest, and which was afterwards completed to Echunga. A Road Trust was appointed and a turnpike established at Glen Osmond. That became in time very unpopular, and was not pro- ductive enough to make it worth while to continue. The road has now been free for many years. A similar attempt was made at Hindmarsh and a tollgate opened, but it was soon given up. In looking back on the want of success in carrying out my plans, which were all founded on a desire on my part to settle down on a property of my own, I consider that in the first instance the employment of Captain Hart, which led to the fishery specu- lation, was the great error. Then, without my having the power of objecting, I found myself pledged to pay F. Dutton upwards of £6,000 for the purchase of his cattle, while in a very short time it was found necessary to do a large business that I might obtain the assistance of the Bank when required. I was obliged to hand over a large number of the cattle, at a nominal profit, to the South Aus- tralian Company to obtain the means of meeting the early acceptance. The colonists who are now wealthy as stockholders did not buy and improve estates, but as squatters waited until they became independent, and then acquired land. This was the cause of much of the difficulties which arose. I was spending £1,200 per annum at Echunga, of which I could, not realize in such returns more than half. The balance was represented in property, but unavailable when needed to avert the ruin which followed. At that time there were no funds in the colony for the purchase of property, and, as usual, a few individuals were able to obtain valuable bargains at nominal prices.