Having shown how Redcliffe came to be ignored, let us, before following the authorities in their search for a new site, relate a story which, if true - and its authenticity is not doubted by the writer - will serve to throw not a little light on Millar's anxiety to move as well as assist in fixing the site of the original camping ground.
During the time the hotel at Redcliffe was in course of erection a Mr. O'L---- was standing near the structure when he was accosted by a gentlemanly looking individual, whom in the absence of his proper name we shall call Smith. "Why, the hotel is on the original site of Humpybong," said Smith. " Several persons have told me it is very near it," replied O'L----." Yes," continued the other, " if we were to take twenty or thirty paces in that direction (pointing with his finger) we should come very close to where the old kitchen was."
Having nothing better with which to occupy his spare moments O'L----- suggested that they should endeavour to find some relic of the camp, and Smith being agreeable, both began an examination of the ground. After fossicking for some time Smith came across a brick pavement, which he declared was the floor of the kitchen. During the conversation which followed consequent on this discovery Smith remarked that in former days a well existed somewhere near the kitchen, and he also interested O'L---- by pointing out the boundaries of the stockade, some of the posts and rails of which were at that time standing.
As may be imagined O'L----'s curiosity was thoroughly excited, and he asked his companion to point out as near as he could the position of the well. Smith did so, and both again pottered about with pieces of timber. Coming to a depression in the ground they dug around it, and brought to light a ring of bricks forming the top of a bricked shaft.
The two then separated, but meeting again next day O'L---- reopened the subject of the "original site". " I have always understood," said he, " that the reason the camp was removed was because the place was considered unhealthy. Don't you think this a queer thing, considering Humpybong is now a health resort?"
" Yes. That was the reason assigned, but the true cause was the ferocity of the blacks. Frequently convicts were speared ; now and again an overseer was missed. This went on for some little time, when Captain Millar thought it best to advocate the removal of the camp to a place where more protection would be afforded them. As a matter of fact the Commandant didn't like to admit that the blacks were too sharp for him – hence the excuse.
When the other site had been fixed upon the vessel drew alongside there (pointing to a little natural jetty of rocks), a couple of planks were stretched over the intervening space, and the convicts were marched on board, wearing their chains. Two or three trips were made before all the prisoners were removed, and when the vessel was returning for the remaining camp utensils and provisions the blacks swarmed the beach yelling, 'Umpie bong !' (dead houses). On going ashore it was found that the natives had fired some of the buildings."
As may be expected O'L-began to suspect that his companion was one of those who had been there, and was about to further question him when Smith bade him "good day," remarking as he left that he had " come down from Rockhampton for the purpose of settling a bet relative to the existence of the old kitchen floor !" Smith never again revealed himself to O'L-, who described his companion as having been "remarkably well dressed," and "looking like a member of Parliament" !
We may remark that whatever truth there may be in or reliance placed on the above incident there are still to be seen in Humpybong chimneys built of the old bricks. Apart from this "story, however, there is evidence of there having been other causes for the removal than that assigned by Captain Millar, for' Mr. Henry Stuart Russell in his "Genesis of Queensland" speaks of the natives of Redcliffe as having been troublesome "by continual thefts of tools, etc," while another writer remarks that " there were many reasons." But to return. Shortly after instructions had been given to remove the camp Captain Millar was recalled, Captain Bishop being his successor.
As was characteristic of all their undertakings the officials expected the very highest results from the least possible exertion, and it was not their fault if they did not attain this happy result. A place which would afford better security from the incursions of the aboriginals and at the same time entail as little labour as possible in transferring the convicts and guards - one was as indispensable as the other - does not seem to have been very easy to discover, notwithstanding the experience gained by Oxley in his initial exploration of the river. This is evidenced by the distance they travelled before" coming to an eligible spot.
There is some little doubt as to the exact position of this halting place, but it is generally believed to have been in the vicinity of the present Custom house, though one old resident avers that it was where the Colonial Stores now stand. Be this as it may, a site at one or between the two points was chosen, and little time was lost in removing the prisoners thither.
On arrival here, as at Redcliffe, they were at once set to work to erect temporary places of accommodation, first for their masters and then for themselves. Closely herded and well guarded there was little chance of their escaping during the period occupied in the construction of the quarters and stockade. Had they done so, indeed, the authorities could have assured themselves that what had been their loss had been the blackfellows gain.
How did Brisbane get its name? Shortly after Oxley had fixed on this new site on the Brisbane - for he it was who held the commission - the place was honoured by a visit from Governor Brisbane, who had by some unaccountable means - probably by the glowing account of Oxley - been persuaded to undertake the journey.
The Governor came and saw, and Oxley conquered, the vice-regal assent being given to the explorer's choice of situation. On this memorable trip - memorable in the history of Brisbane and also to the visitors, since they were for fourteen days tempest tossed ere they landed here - the Governor was accompanied by the Chief Justice, Captain John Macarthur, and Francis Stephen, clerk to the Council.
It is not generally known that the name " Edenglassie" preceded "Brisbane" somewhat, the title being conferred by the Chief Justice, but discarded by Oxley, who was also one of the party. Having thus touched on the events and circumstances which led to the discovery and founding of the now great city of Brisbane, let us look at the character of "our pioneers" and the nature of their surroundings in this their new sphere of labour.
The site once approved of, drafts of convicts were sent at brief intervals; these ranged in numbers from thirty to fifty, and were accompanied usually by a guard of fifteen soldiers, inclusive of the sergeant in charge and a couple of corporals. They were secured in the holds by means of chains from ankle to ankle, within which was a long chain, bolted at each end to the deck.
By this means the prisoners were allowed but little freedom, being only able to move a few feet. In some cases the holds were tolerably clean at the start, but towards the end of the journey, owing to the fact that little attention was paid them on the voyage and that they were not allowed once on deck even in case of seasickness, to which even convicts are susceptible, they became disgustingly dirty. No blankets nor bedding of any kind were allowed, the bare boards sufficing for a couch, and their own ragged garments were their only covering.
In this way they were brought to Amity, where they disembarked and pulled themselves in boats up to the new settlement. On arrival here they were classified into four sections, thus : the relief gang, and educated convicts, first-class, and chain gang. The first were chiefly engaged in performing the odd jobs always to be found about a place, or in attending ,to the thousand and one wants of the officers and soldiers. From their ranks were taken many of the overseers, whose payment consisted of a few indulgences in the shape of flour, tea, and sugar, and loaf tobacco; and they were trusted sufficiently to be allowed outside the bounds of the stockade without guard.
The gardens which afterwards adorned the abodes of the " upper crust" of Moreton Bay society claimed the attention of a large number, and though these horticultural efforts were pleasing enough in themselves it is questionable whether their labours would not have been more profitably utilised in the making of roads and the erection of bridges. It must not be thought that promotion of this kind was always followed by even comparatively pleasant experiences, for in many cases an overseer had to share in the punishment attendant on the delinquencies of those under his charge.
The first class generally comprised all arriving in the settlement (except those known as educated convicts), and were employed in hewing and cutting timber and drawing it to the water's edge, making roads, erecting buildings, breaking up now land and cultivating the old. It was imperative that they should wear the coarse yellow dress, the imposition of which had been found to be a severe punishment; they were not allowed to enter the gardens of the settlement under any pretext, nor to be assisted in their labours by beasts of burden.
The chain gang were doomed to wear heavy chains and the yellow dress on which was stamped in several places the word " felon"; were required to sleep in separate cells, and to go to their work in Indian file, no conversation being allowed among them; while the regulations prescribed for them " the heaviest and most degrading labour that can be found on the settlement."
In an official report made in 1833 it was said of the chain gang: "They work from sunrise to sunset, with one hour's intermission for breakfast and a similar period for dinner They are constantly in double irons, varying in weight according to the nature of offence or hardihood of the offender; they sleep in fetters ; and their food is coarse and scant." Could anything be more complete?
Among the duties of the Commandant were set out the following :-" He is generally to assign such punishments as will inflict the requisite amount of pain or misery within the shortest period of time ; he shall take care that when flagellation is ordered it is executed with due severity." That this instruction was not neglected is shown by the few instances given in the diary of a superintendent.
The initials of the names only are given for obvious reasons :-"E. C, insubordination 100 lashes. At every lash the prisoner called out for mercy, and blood flowed freely, When cast loose he was very pale, and asked permission to sit down as he felt sick and faint; a sure evidence that his power of endurance of pain had been proved nearly to an extreme. D. A., neglect, fifty lashes Prisoner, who was flogged last week, cried loudly at the second and repeated his cries at every lash.
At the twelfth lash the blood was flowing largely, and prisoner suffered intense agony. He was sufficiently punished at the twenty-fifth lash .S. C, larceny 125 lashes. Blood flowed at the fourth; the convict cried out at the twentieth, and continued crying and praying at each successive lash. His skin was considerably torn, and blood flowed during the whole of the punishment. C. J. T., for feigning sickness, fifty lashes on the breech. Seven months ago ho received twelve lashes ; six months ago, fifty ; six weeks ago, twenty-five ; his breech was sore from last punishment ; the blood came at every stroke. " And so on.
The first of what may be termed the permanent buildings was the Commissariat (now Colonial) Store, which it is stated was commenced late in 1824. This was followed by several larger structures, some of which were of an equally substantial nature. A few of these were left to us up to a year or two ago we still have the Colonial Stores, and the class of workmanship displayed in these encourages the belief that among the convicts were to be found many skilled artisans, especially when it is remembered that the foreman of works was a lieutenant whose acquaintance with the laws of architecture was limited.
As a matter of fact in most cases where any good work was done it was where the convicts had been allowed to draw on their own store of knowledge. Generally speaking works were not carried out in a satisfactory manner, the ability displayed by the lieutenant often resulting in bungling, and many buildings partly erected were pulled down again and again-bungling was the order of the day.
But how much can ever be known of the early days of a place where the predominating elements were suffering, crime, and tyrannical oppression, and the chief actors have nearly all gone to their rest? Who is now to relate the tales of daring hardihood and keen retribution which in such a place must necessarily have followed in its wake? True, there have but one or, two left, but those do not care to refer to a period happily long since passed, and are ever anxious when approached on the subject to turn to another page of their life's history.
Dark indeed were the days when the wielding of the 'cat" was ever to be witnessed, when horrible oaths were forced by the cruel lash from the mouths of the whipped; when, perchance, a poor wretch with the skin already torn from his back and bathed in his own blood, after spending what energy he possessed in appealing for mercy where there was none, exhausted and faint, received the remainder of his cruel punishment unconsciously and uncared for. It will indeed take more years than have yet rolled by to blot out from the history of Moreton Bay such scenes as those which formed the routine of its earliest days.
Is it a matter for very great wonder, then, that men so treated were driven to desperation - ay, to murder! Will it be believed that the tyranny exercised over them was such as to cause them to kill their companions in order that they themselves might end their miserable existence on the gallows; that men deliberately severed their limbs from their bodies to avoid punishment for the non-completion of tasks impossible for them to do ; that men took to the bush, risking all the attendant penalties of facing the treacherous savage or possible recapture rather than remain under the heel of the despot without making some effort to escape it?
Yet there is good evidence that such things did occur. Of those who took to the bush few escaped both the barbarity of the blacks and the search of the soldiers. Those who made south were invariably captured before crossing the Clarence, while those who steered their course northwards in the majority of cases made food for the blacks. Several, however, did escape, thanks to the superstitions of the aborigines, and some of those will find a place in these notes at the proper time.
Like Captain Millar, Captain Bishop's sojourn was very brief, extending over a few months only. His successor, however, was unfortunately allowed to remain much longer, his appointment dating from 1825 and terminating in 1830. It was during his term of office that the greater portion of the penal buildings before referred to were erected, and it was during his rule also that Moreton Bay passed through the most cruel and tyrannical period of its history.
Captain Logan's only good point was his love and success in extending the geographical and botanical knowledge of the district. Overbearing in his manner towards the prisoners, and always willing to meet the exigencies of a small offence by ordering punishment at the triangles, it is not a matter of wonder that his reign was spoken of as one of terror. It is said that several designs on his life were only averted by some lucky or miraculous circumstance.
It was not necessary to commit a heinous offence to merit the displeasure and prescribed punishment of the Commandant ; the faintest murmur against a task allotted or inability to perform the work was sufficient to secure for the unfortunate delinquent from 50 to 100 lashes, and these were not laid on with a light hand.
But if those who inflicted this terrible punishment were inhuman what can be said of the Governor who gave into a Commandant's hands the license and authority? To deal with the men who first settled on our land a firm and stern man was undoubtedly required, but there ought to have been some limit to the actions of these. What excuse could there be for whipping man to their death? Which the writer has the authority of a gentleman who was here for stating was often done.
One such case which impressed itself more vividly in his mind than any other occurred in what is now Queen street, the poor victim being bound to a tree which at that time flourished somewhere nearly opposite the Town Hall, and which on scores of occasions did duty as a triangle. Another took place in Ann street, near the present Valley Wesleyan Church, the monument of cruelty which marked the spot having only of recent years been obliterated by the march of civilisation.
A tree which, too, could it have spoken would have told tales of horror, stood in Frog's Hollow, in close proximity to Albert street. An incident was related to the writer by a resident of Brisbane who had the misfortune to be placed under Logan during the last year of his reign as fairly describing Logan's inhuman propensities. Any prisoner found to have been in the bush for twenty-four hours was considered a "bushranger," and if not executed was reminded of his offence by an award of from 300 to 500 lashes.
One man sentenced to receive the larger number had received 300 of them when the attendant, who happened to be the person who related the story, applied a cloth to the excoriated back of the prisoner. This demonstration of sympathy greatly annoyed the overseer, who tore away the cloth, taking with it much of the skin of the poor wretch's back. The other 200 strokes were then applied.
During Logan's command, too, the overseer's lot, like that of the policeman in the opera, was not a pleasant one, for when the Commandant's anger was once aroused it was not at all a certainty whether both prisoner and overseer had not to be whipped before it cooled. He thought no more indeed of having the triangles carried out, and then viewing the lashing of convict and overseer, than he did of eating his breakfast.
In 1825 Major Lockyer, of the 67th Regiment, visited the settlement and made a lengthy excursion up the Brisbane, one member of his boat's crew being Finnegan, who had been found by Oxley and Uniacke. Lockyer's idea was to explore the head of the Brisbane, and one of the conclusions he arrived at was as follows :-" I think it very probable that the large swamp into which the river at Bathurst loses' itself occasionally overflows, and it is the cause of the tremendous foods that at times take place in the Brisbane River." One of these " tremendous floods" was experienced during Lockyer's trip, which extended over twenty-seven days.
As we have already stated, Captain Logan was excessively "fond of exploring and botanising among other things he discovered the Darling (now the Logan) River - and when Major Lockyer again visited the Settlement an excursion was readily arranged. One of the results of this trip was the finding of the creek now bearing the name of Lockyer.
The Bremer, which is also spoken of as one of Lockyer's discoveries, was also explored, the nature of its surroundings suggesting to Logan the name of Limestone Hills. It was shortly after this that Logan, requiring lime for the penal buildings in the settlement, sent up several prisoners and established limekilns there, and thus laid the foundation of what is now Ipswich.
In conjunction with his geological and botanical studies, Logan employed himself in executing a chart of the district. This work was nearing completion -only one or two more excursions were needed to complete the task when he was deprived of this honour by death, and the convicts were emancipated from his rule.
Captain Logan left the settlement on the 9th October, 1830, for Mount Irwin, being accompanied by a "free" servant and some half-dozen prisoners. They had only proceeded some twenty miles when they fell in with a hostile tribe of blacks, rendered hostile no doubt by the discharge of the party's guns. However, they were got rid of after some little difficulty.
On the 17th October Logan had completed his notes, and began the homeward journey. They had only proceeded a short distance, however, when for some reason known only to himself, Logan sent his men on to a rendezvous, promising to follow shortly. The men waited at the place agreed upon all the next day, and as the Commandant did not then turn up they decided to push forward as far as Limestone, where it was thought probable the commandant had gone.
On arriving there on the evening of the 19th they were not a little astonished to find that Logan had not made his appearance, and became somewhat anxious about his safety. After a hurried consultation as to the best measures to be taken under the circumstances it was decided that a party should be despatched to the settlement to apprise the officers of the affair, while those who had accompanied Logan should retrace their steps to the spot where they had left him.
On the news reaching the settlement search parties were of course organised, but while these were wending their way into the interior, where Logan was last seen, those who had set out from Limestone had picked up traces of the Commandant in the shape of the saddle of the horse he had been riding, the stirrups having been cut off as with a tomahawk. This was at a spot some ten miles nearer Limestone than where Logan had parted with his men.
Close by were indications of a horse having been tethered, while in a bark hut in proximity to these was evidence of Logan having slept on some dried grass. The surroundings of the place indicated that the Commandant had been surprised while sleeping and had hurriedly made for his horse, which he had mounted without either saddle or bridle, and escaped.
By careful tracking, the movements of the horse were followed, and on the 28th October its carcass was come upon, it having become bogged in a creek. Not far from here the ground bore evidence of having been disturbed, and on an examination being made Logan's dead body was found buried in a trench about 1ft. deep and placed face downwards.
Round about were found the remains of his notes, torn in pieces, a portion of his blood-stained waistcoat, and also his boots. The unfortunate man had been terribly beaten about the head and face, apparently with waddies, and he was much disfigured.
The only conclusion that could be arrived at was that after being surprised in the hut he had eluded his pursuers until his horse became bogged, when they came up with and murdered him. To say that his loss was mourned by those under him would be untrue; on the contrary his demise, "shocking” as the fact may appear, was made the occasion, of jubilation.
As to the identity of his murderers, it may be stated some doubt exists to the present day. Some maintain that the murder was not perpetrated by blacks, or if it was the deed was done at the instigation of revengeful convicts who had succeeded in escaping from his terrible rule.
The majority, however, disagree with this view, and indeed there has never been anything advanced in support of it beyond the strange proceeding of the blacks in burying the body and the fact that the Commandant was universally hated. In consequence of Mrs. Logan's opposition to burial here, the body was conveyed to Sydney in the Isabella, and there accorded a military funeral, Governor Darling issuing a proclamation "as tribute to this meritorious officer," whose “life had been devoted to the public service."
A brief extract or two from Stuart Russell and I have done with Logan. He says, "Logan's reign at Moreton Bay was most conspicuous throughout its penal existence, and was spoken of as a ‘reign of terror.' His name was execrated. If severe beyond the very limit of duty and responsibility or not, the hatred he incurred among the prisoners in his charge became proverbial."
Again. "This place (Moreton Bay) remembers the name of Logan with terror. There were many instances, I am told, of men driven to desperation by cruelties practised on them, so that they would cast lots for cutting each other's throat in order to get rid of their own lives by being hung in Sydney. This same Logan, I am assured, was murdered by blacks at the instigation of the whites."
This latter extract it may be remarked is from Mr. Russell's diary written in 1841 while on a visit to Brisbane. Captain J. 0. Clunie, of the 17th Regiment, who had been stationed at Moreton Bay with Logan, was appointed the next Commandant.