The Late Mr James Parker. (BY OUR HEYWOOD CORRESPONDENT) In a previous issue I intimated my in- tention of giving to your readers some details of the early life and experiences of one of our oldest residents, Mr James Parker, but I find upon investigation of the meagre details furnished me that I cannot possibly give a truly connective account of what must have been a very varied experience, full of incidents that would be of more than ordinary interest to the present generation. We who live in this fair land now-a-days, with every modern convenience for our comfort, and every facility for travelling, cannot possibly imagine the hardships, trials, and privations that the hardy and ven- turesome pioneers suffered in the early history of the colony. Wattle and dab huts, with bark roofs, where then the habitations of the early settlers, and a bullock dray the must suitable if uncom fortable carriage in which they had to travel. Many, of course, were not even so well off even in that respect, their roof being the blue canopy of the heavens, and their means of locomotion those sup- plied by nature. But I am digressing; so to the point. The subject of this sketch first saw the light in Tasmania, for James Parker was born in the year 1810. I have no particulars of his earlier life until sometime previous to the year 184o, when he came to Portland on a whaling expedition with Dutton. He returned to Tasmania, and the year following joined Henty's whaling party, and again visited Portland. He was married in Portland in the year 1842. He then went up country, as it was then termed, where he was employed as over- seer by the late Mr Winter on one of his stations in the Wanson district. In the year 1844 he re-visited Tasmania, where he went in for farming somewhat exten- sively. He lived in a place called Cassacks and his property was known as " Oak Farm." In the year 1849 or 185o, when the country was thrown open for selection, Mr Parker returned to Vic- toria, and while in conversation with the late Mr Thomas Bilston, who was at that time landlord of the Heywood Hotel, learned that that gentleman had some land for sale. After inspection of the property, a satisfactory price was offered by Mr Parker, which was accepted by Mr Bilston for the property known as Woodlands. Mr Parker brought his stock and settled there, where he remained until the time of his death. Mr Parker lost his wife in the year 1893. He only had one child, now Mrs A. McKeand, who always remained near him, and nursed him all through his last illness. Of the many adventures which Mr Parker met with I will relate two. In the early days the blacks were in their wild state, and very treacherous. On one occasion Mr Parker was taken by surprise by a powerful blackfellow, and before he was aware of it he had a spear plunged in his back. He broke the spear off and commenced to run at his quickest pace, closely pursued by the enraged blackfellow, who was chag- rined that his aim did not succeed in fatally wounding his victim. This ter- rible race was kept up for four miles until a settler's hut was reached, where the almost exhausted man sought that refuge he so sorely needed. Fortunately he was of a strong and vigorous nature, and soon recovered from the effects of his severe run, and the spear wound hav- ing been kindly, if roughly, attended to, no ill effects resulted. I omitted to men- tion that Mr Parker tried his fortune at the Daisy Hill diggings in the Creswick district. He was very successful at the diggings, and by care and diligence be- came the happy possessor of a consider- able amount of the bright shining metal. He gave up the digging and was return- ing again to the Portland district, accom- panied by his wife. They were travel- ling by the usual means emloyed in those days-a bullock dray. He had after a day's journey fixed his camp for the night, and leaving Mrs Parker at the camp fire, took his gun, and went in search of game. When he returned he was not more than ordinarily surprised to find a handsome and gentlemanly look- ing fellow seated at the camp fire re- freshing himself with a pannikin of tea. Mr Parker, totally unconscious of the identity of his uninvited visitor, and quite unprepared to expect foul play from his casual caller, did not take any precautions to guard against a surprise. Innocent and unsuspecting he placed his loaded gun on the ground, and entered into friendly conversation with the stranger. The latter kept the conversation up, and gradually worked his way round until he stood between his host and the fun. He then, being master of the
situation, and running no danger, an- nounced himself as the notorious Captain Moonlight, too well known to diggers returning with their hard earned gold. He did not leave his victim long in doubt as to his nefarious intentions, but covering him with his own gun, he de- manded his gold in polite but imperative language. An unarmed man has but small chance against an armed man fully determined to become the possessor of his portable property. Gold is dear to the heart of most men, but in the ma- jority of instances life is dearer, there- fore Mr Parker submitted to be robbed in as gracious a manner as could be ex- pected under the circumstances. No doubt being fully impressed with the wisdom of the motto, " Discretion is the better part of valour," Captain Moon- light was made several hundred pounds richer by the transaction, but he did not know that, carefully hidden from the view of prying eyes, in a secure corner was a deposit receipt from the bank re- presenting no inconsiderable sum of gold. Fortunately with a clear foresight of the difficulties to be encountered in the lonely Australian bush, and the danger of carry- ing your whole fortune with you, Mr Parker had very prudently deposited the bulk of his gold in the bank prior to his departure from the fields. His loss was certainly heavy as it was, but thanks to the precaution taken he had the satis- faction of knowning he had not lost his all--a fate that has too often befallen many others under exactly similiar cir- cumstances. Mr Parker was a very powerfully built man, and in a personal encounter would have been no mean an- tagonist, but be a man ever so powerful, and ever so courageous, he must see a possible chance of winning before he commences an attack that may mean serious wounds it not death. In concluding this brief sketch I must state that Mr Parker was a man that by his honesty of character, his general upright- ness in business transactions, his kindly disposition, and many cther estimable qualities, had gained him the respect and esteem of all who had the pleasure of knowing him.