True to his promise Colonel Snodgrass resigned, and two gentlemen came forward in the interests of the electors of the combined counties of Gloucester, Macquarie, and Stanley. Those were Richard Jones and Robert Campbell, the former securing every vote recorded (58) at Brisbane. Poor Ipswich, always conservative, always cherishing the belief that it was destined to become the centre of population in Northern Australia - by the way, this feeling seems to have grown with the place - absolutely refused to take part in the election for no other reason than that which actuates its people at the present day when they cannot get just what they want!
Only four votes were recorded here - three being cast for Jones and one for Campbell - but a mock election was conducted, when a labourer, known by the euphonious name of "Slummer," was returned. Twenty-seven Ipswich voters signed a protest against the return of Mr. Jones, but nothing ever came of it, and the gentleman honoured with the representation of Stanley took his seat. This election took place on the 25th October, 1850, and a few months later a now Electoral Bill was passed and a general election was rendered necessary. But of this anon.
The agitation for separation and discontinuance of transportation - Mr. Jones was pledged to support both - went on apace, meetings and counter meetings being held in Brisbane and Ipswich. Petitions to the Queen for and against were prepared and signed, and presently the squatters came down from their high pedestal and agreed to advocate separation, but would not forego transportation. But the town residents would have no compromise, and in fact looked upon the concession as attempt to bribe them.
A monster meeting of the squatters was called for the 8th January, 1851, in Brisbane, and as a counter move the other side convened a meeting for the same day. The former meeting was to be held in "Mr. Power's new house, Queen Street," but a rumour having readied them that there was some danger of their being routed by the enemy they adjourned to one of the rooms in the old barracks.
The gathering consisted of those who had strong vested interests, and was thoroughly unanimous, which is perhaps not to be wondered at since care was taken that no one who might differ with the promoters of the movement gained admission, while the chairman gave it out that no one would be allowed to speak in opposition! Among the speakers I notice the names of Kent, Wienholt, Murray-Prior, Rankin, Archer, Leslie, Mort, Bigge, Dr. Cameron, Hockings, and other celebrities.
On the other hand huge placards appeared in various parts of the town calling on tradesmen and working men to attend "a public meeting to be held in Dowse's auction rooms for the purpose of protesting against the introduction of exiles and petitioning for separation." There were no half measures about this. Exactly at the hour at which the other meeting commenced the speakers commenced their addresses from the entrance of the auction room to the people in Queen Street, and much warmth was introduced into the utterances.
The member (H. Jones) occupied the chair, and among the others who spoke were the old war horses, Dr. Hobbs, Bobby Cribb, Tom Dowse, W. Pettigrew and D.C. McConnel (who, I am sorry to say, moved the adoption of the address to the Queen, and next day went over to the enemy). As illustrating the convict system a pair of fetters were exhibited.
The squatters' finding their compromise unproductive and the "tradesmen and working men" above the seductive influence of Darling Downs, resorted to threats, which took the form of a revival of the Cleveland Point scare. This they affirmed was a most important place, which was shown by
"the fact that a most capacious store will be ready in September, 1851." "We," continued the squatters in their organ, " may expect to see a succession of wool teams winding their way to this port. That such an event will take place is certain - either by the enlightened speculation of some Brisbane or Sydney capitalists or by the combination of some influential squatters, who must see they can no longer let slip the most precious opportunity of proving that Cleveland Point is capable of becoming a satisfactory shipping place for wool and a perfectly secure anchorage for the largest vessels."
This formed a very good text for the oppositionist?, who look every advantage and showed no quarter. The latter designated the beauty spot of the squatters
"a morass called Cleveland Point," which called forth the retort "the Home Ministry will pay more attention to the opinions of representatives of so preponderating an amount of property as the squattors - 'the best blood of the colony' as the Bishop of Oxford calls them-possess over their opponents."
To deal with the history of this movement fully would require much more space than is available, but probably I have said enough to indicate the character of a fight which was waged for eight years, and which only ended when the cause of the separationists had been won. I will only add that the first month of the next year (1851) brought news that the Home Government would willingly grant separation at once, but the sine qua non was that transportation in a modified form should be carried out in the unsettled or more distant parts of Moreton Bay.
Turning to minor events I note a violent hailstorm on the 27th November, which did considerable damage, as may be inferred when it is stated that some of the " stones" weighed quarter of a pound. The town of Cleveland was proclaimed on 13th December, 1850, and the immigrant ship Duchess of Northumberland arrived on the 31st January, 1851.
Maryborough was gazetted a township in February ; the 13th April saw the opening of the United Evangelical Church in William Street; while on the 7th May the musically inclined initiated an amateur musical society.
Excitement was furnished by the robbery of the overland mail at Bundamba on the 12th January. The mailman had started from Ipswich at 9 o'clock, and shortly afterwards returned stating that two armed men had stuck him up and taken all the valuables and money - a considerable sum - from the bags.
Unfortunately for the mailman (Thomas Southern) a man who happened to be out looking for horses saw him meet two accomplices in the bush. Chief Constable Sneyd was soon on the track and not only landed some half-dozen people in the lock up, but found a portion of the spoil planted at the One-mile Swamp-the site of the present Woolloongabba station yards.
May saw the outbreak of gold fever, started by Hargreaves' discoveries at Bathurst, the news being brought to Brisbane by the Eagle on the 28th. The Bathurst find, said the Courier, seemed to have made the' Sydney people half mad, " which only shows how excitable they are." Man is but mortal after all, and if the residents of Moreton Bay did fall victims to infatuation caused by the endless reports of finds of large nuggets it was only natural.
The Bathurst discovery had, taken altogether, a wonderful effect on Moreton Bay, since it directed attention from these shores and acted as a powerful agency in terminating transportation to this place. It came very near depopulating Brisbane, however. Sailors left their ships for the diggings, and the mercantile interest was endangered; sixty-six people left Brisbane by steamer on one day for Bathurst.
Working men here claimed a higher rate of wages and got it; and the movement even extended to domestic servants, but these were not so successful. The consolation offered was that they were bound to return if they lived; therefore, if successful, they would be useful in business; if otherwise, their experience would prove advantageous to others! At Ipswich, too, the pinch was felt. " Business is at a standstill (said a correspondent). The auctioneer's bell is often heard ; but it is perfect labour in vain, not a single buyer can be found, for all are sellers."
In view of the forlorn appearance of the place it is not surprising to find the irresistible tide which hurried on in its course the inhabitants of Sydney, Bathurst, and the adjacent districts to the Ophir diggings drifting the few who remained in search of a goldfield on their own account. Quite a dozen expeditions were organised, and soon news of finds were received only to be as soon contradicted.
The residents were "firmly impressed with the opinion that the goldfield of New South Wales extends to the districts of Stanley and Darling Downs," and subscriptions amounting to over £900 to form the basis of a reward fund were raised in a little over a month in Brisbane alone. The "gold committee" had an exceedingly busy time of it inquiring into the claims of prospectors. Certainly a few specimens were obtained but the yellow stone was only present in small quantities.
One of these prospectors was the local watchmaker, who, after a mysterious visit, returned with a good specimen of quartz. Naturally he refused to state the locality where it had been found, but lodged his application for the reward, and in the meantime disappeared altogether, much to the chagrin of his many creditors. Then news of finds came from Warwick, One-tree Hill, and even South Brisbane.
With regard to the latter the "find" was reported by Dr. Swift, who conducted a few friends to the vicinity of what is now River Terrace. Here he pointed to a hole where he said he had found the specimen, and an hour afterwards the place was swarmed! Some cracked the stones; others delved holes; while reinforcements with shovels hammers, crowbars, and such implements' could be found travelling through South Brisbane. One party had a prospecting pan another a colander. One had a legitimate cradle in which was stowed away the necessary bedding for camping out; and the same provident party also carried a bucket of water for washing the sand!
Of course the " field" turned out a duffer, but no one would believe this until Dr. Swift's application for reward came up for consideration before the committee, and there was an unexplained absence of both doctor and exhibit. The extraordinary richness of the newly opened fields in Victoria added to the excitement and caused a further exodus, so much so that in several instances station holders had to commence shearing operations with the aid of some half-dozen and sometimes fewer men.
It was advocated that Mr. Hargreaves, who had been elected a Crown Lands Commissioner, should be sent to Brisbane, and on this desire becoming known in Brisbane that gentleman advised the Moreton Bay people to bide their time as he was assured that their country was rich in auriferous deposits, and that he would visit the place soon with a view to a discovery. This satisfied the residents to a certain extent, but the fact of one man obtaining 1cwt. of gold from Bathurst was almost more than they could stand. However, things did settle down somewhat, and Moreton Bay survived; but the odds were terribly heavy.
Made bold by their long immunity from contact with the military and encouraged by their successes both in murder and plunder, the blacks daily became more aggressive. Never a day passed now but what a report was received that cattle and sheep had been driven away, or that a hutkeeper or shepherd had been murdered. In fact the whole country was in a most disturbed state especially that portion included in Wide Bay.
An agitation was started and the Government memorialised to send a detachment of native police - one had just previously been stationed on the McIntyre River with marked relief - and eventually it was decided that a force should visit the strong hold of the blacks on Frazer's Island, and then, perhaps scour Bribie Island, where Dundalli and other sable murderers had recently been seen.
Dundalli indeed—emboldened by his having so long evaded capture for the murder of Mr. Gregor and Mrs. Shannon at the Pine—hearing that Mr. Frederick Strange, the naturalist, was anxious to seize him, actually sent that gentleman a challenge to fight!
Needless to say the offer was rejected. Some solace was found in the reported capture of a notorious black with a number of aliases, the best known of which were Paddy, Jemmy Parsons, and Michaloi (or Make-i-light). This fellow, it was believed, had been a party to the murder of Mr. Gregor and Mrs. Shannon, and was at last arrested in the Wide Bay district and forwarded to Sydney, thence to Moreton Bay.
He was brought before a local bench on the 15th August. Considerable difficulty was experienced in identifying the black owing to the extreme youth of Mrs. Shannon's children (who it will be remembered saw their mother murdered) at the time of the commission of the crime, and their incapacity to remember the features of the perpetrators.
The blackboy (Ralph William Barrow) employed by Gregor, and who furnished the information identifying Michaloi with the murder, contradicted himself, too, and as a reward was sent to gaol for seven days. Michaloi protested his innocence, and said that if Duramboi (Davis) were asked he could clear him, as he had known him when out among the blacks. Accordingly Duramboi was sent for, but point blank refused to give evidence until his expenses were guaranteed.
Of course the learned bench could not countenance such conduct, and forthwith sent him " below" for contempt of court. Next day Duramboi, convinced that there was nothing to be gained by sticking out for expenses, offered to state what he knew. This, in effect was that the prisoner was not known by the name of either Paddy, Jemmy Parsons, or Michaloi, but as "Make-i-light." The bench, however, committed Paddy to the Circuit Court.
During the time he was awaiting trial there were certain unpleasant developments which made the blackfellow's chance of life even more precarious. It will doubtless be remembered that in a previous article I related how two sawyers named Boller and Waller had been killed, and a third, James Smith, badly injured by the blacks at the North Pine in September of 1847. One of the developments above referred to forms the sequel to the trial of Paddy for the murder of Mr. Gregor and Mrs. Shannon.
Among the spectators on the last day of the magisterial inquiry was James Smith, the sawyer, who recognised in Paddy one of the blacks who had attacked him and his two mates at the Pine, and known to Smith under the name of Moggy Moggy.
Recognition being difficult in Mr. Gregor's case Paddy, or Moggy Moggy, or whatever his correct name might have been, was brought up before the bench again charged with the murder of Boller and Waller, and was committed for trial, Smith being bound over to prosecute. He was arraigned at the second Circuit Court, and with a Chinaman (who was found guilty of murder committed in the Wide Bay district) was sentenced to death.
The people naturally congratulated themselves on having brought at least one black to the fate he deserved, and it was therefore with much indignation that they received the news at the last moment that Paddy had been reprieved, and after being kept in gaol for two months would be taken to Wide Bay and liberated. The only reason assigned for this was that the crime had been committed so long ago as to make identification difficult; therefore there was doubt, and the prisoner, as usual, was given the benefit of it. But what was the result ? We shall see presently.
I find it necessary at this point to revert to politics - always a dry subject, but one which cannot well be ignored when dealing with history. I have mentioned casually the passage through the Legislative Council of a new Electoral Bill. This measure provided that the Council should consist of fifty-two members (sixteen being nominees of the Crown), and in the distribution of seats Moreton Bay was certainly treated most liberally.
Moreton Bay was divided into four electorates — namely County of Stanley, the united districts of Clarence and Darling Downs, the united districts of Moreton Bay, Wide Bay, Burnett and Maranoa, and Stanley Boroughs, which comprised North and South Brisbane, Kangaroo Point, and Ipswich.
It is somewhat remarkable now to read how Dr. Lang opposed the establishment of Stanley Boroughs as an electorate, basing his objections on the ground that it would give the squatters an extra seat. As a matter of fact the elections proved that the district had been equally divided - the Transportationists gaining two seats and the other side a like number.
Of course, as far as Moreton Bay was concerned, this and separation were the only matters on which the candidates were asked to pledge themselves. Messrs. Francis Bigge and G. F. Leslie were returned unopposed for Moreton Bay, Burnett, Maranoa, and Wide Bay, and Clarence and Darling Downs districts respectively ; but in the other two the fighting was sharp, and was warmly prosecuted by both sides.
For the Stanley boroughs Mr. R. Jones, the retiring member, was chosen to represent the separatists against Mr. Henry Hughes, of Gowrie; while Mr. J. Richardson was run against Mr. W. H. Wilson, of Peak Mountain.
At the election, which took place on the 12th September, Messrs. Jones and Richardson were returned, the former beating his opponent by only twelve votes. On the assembling of Parliament strong resolutions against " the continuance of transportation in any form whatever to any of her Majesty's Australasian possessions" were passed, and it is worthy of note that in the division Moreton Bay was represented in the voting only by Messrs. Jones and Richardson, the squatters' men being comfortably settled on their stations at the time. This was regarded as a manifest sign of weakness on the part of Transportationists and formed a subject of much jubilation.
It was shortly after this that Dr. Lang again visited Moreton Bay. He was warmly received, and delivered powerful lectures in the old church and at Ipswich on the question of separation. As a result a petition was drawn up, Mr. Macalister making almost his maiden appearance in public life in connection therewith, and the doctor was appointed delegate.
Something like £100 was subscribed towards the doctor's expenses in England, and he again left the district convinced that cotton-growing would still make a great capital of the place which was fighting for independence. Reassuring advices were received from Manchester and London regarding specimens of cotton grown here (which was valued at home at from 9d. to 1s. per lb.), and one firm wrote to Mr. G. F. Poole here placing an order for £1000 worth.
The question of establishing a cotton-growing company was again trotted out, but nothing came of it; and though temporary impetus was given by the purchase of half a ton by Mr. Poole from Mr. Robert Douglas (who died a year or so ago) and its shipment to England, the fond hopes of Dr. Lang again dropped below par. The same may be said of the arrowroot industry initiated by Mr. Childs at Breakfast Creek the previous year—the inexperience of the promoters and the absence of capital being too much for both.
Before turning over to another year in our history, I may for purposes of reference chiefly and for information of my readers generally, give a few dates which marked important events in 1851. In the beginning of the year £100 had been voted for a survey of the obstructions at the mouth of the river, and in June this had been completed by Mr. Debenham, who reported that the formation of a channel across the bar was practicable, and that dredging was the best method to adopt to effect this purpose.
The estimated cost of the work he put down at £30,000. Some correspondence ensued on the subject, many suggestions being thrown out, but the improvement was beyond the reach of Moreton Bay just then ; and so the matter was shelved. The first ship sailing direct from Moreton Bay to London (the schooner Rebecca) left on the 16th February, carrying a cargo of cotton and wool.
The committee of the School of Arts had been busy, too, and on the 7th October, 1851, they had the gratification of seeing a building, if not altogether beautiful to look upon one that was certainly sufficient for the purposes required, as the reward of their labours. The country between Cabbage-tree Creek and Brisbane was explored by a party of gentlemen on 23rd July, and from this may be said to date the formation of Sandgate.
Pearls were found off Caloundra (then spelt "Calowndra") on 18th October, and on the 8th November the hearts of the squatters were gladdened by the arrival of 227 Chinese labourers in the Duke of Roxburgh. An event which had almost escaped notice was the arrival of the Duchess of Northumberland with 227 immigrants on the 8th February.
In the opening records of the year 1852 attention is arrested by a recapitulation of horrible and daring crimes perpetrated by the blacks. Our friend Make-i-Light had become a kind of hero, and with Dundalli and Billy Ballow - no relatives of the Hon. member for Ipswich - shared equal honours. They had established themselves at the head of the Ming-Mingy and Bribie blacks, who, let me add were at this time at deadly feud with the Meganchin or Brisbane tribe owing to the belief that the latter were aiding in the capture of the heads of the former.
As an example of the light which Dundalli’s "crowd" regarded the others, I need only say that whenever a Meganchin black was captured he was killed , in fact they raided the Brisbane tribe in York’s Hollow (Victoria Park) one night and one of the number had his head cut clean off, his body being afterwards cut into pieces. It will be readily understood, then, that there was some cause for the apprehension felt in the town regarding the natives. Deep feelings of smothered rage and indignation had been engendered throughout the district, and it is no wonder the people cried out for assistance from the Government.
When Make-i-Light was released the blacks declared that "Cowander - another alias - will kill more white men " Let us follow him. In June a mob of aboriginals murdered a shepherd named Halloran, in the employ of Darby McGrath, at The Gap, Pine River, and attempted to set fire to the hut and kill the keeper (Edward Power). One of the spears found in the body of Halloran was identified as belonging to Billy Barlow, and it was declared that Make-i-Light was also implicated to use the words of the blacks, "Cowander long time Nangry gaol.”
Mr Warner’s survey camp was also raided, everything of value being taken, and the instruments and notes strewn about ad lib. A similar attack was made on the hut of a selector named Cash on the Pine the lady of the house having to fly for her life. From this place they took certain jewellery which was afterwards useful in proving the identity of Make-i-Light.
Suddenly Make-i-Light disappeared, and believing that he had made for Fraser’s Island, information was sent to the police in the Wide Bay district, and they were not long in effecting his arrest. When taken he was wearing a ring which Mrs. Cash afterwards identified as hers.
He was taken to Sydney from Wide Bay, and transferred thence to Moreton Bay, while he was committed for trial on a charge of stealing. Ever ready with excuses he declared that the trousers he was wearing had been given to him, and on his handing them to a gin to wash she had found the ring in one of the pockets. At his trial, however, an important witness was missing and in order that he might be secured, our dusky warrior was remanded until the next Circuit Court. This witness was not, however, forthcoming at the following court.
On the 7th September, Chief constable Sneyd and Constable Tredeneck with several others raided a blacks' camp at Breakfast Creek, and arrested one of the blacks implicated in the Cash outrage named Tinkabed. Shortly afterwards Tredeneck was wounded by a black desperado named Bumbarrowa, who was brought up at the Circuit Court at which Make-i-Light was remanded and sentenced to five years imprisonment. Six years were meted out to Tinkabed.
These two made two attempts to escape, but each time were foiled. Before quitting this subject I may as well give my readers what remains to be said of these blacks. The outrages which had been repeated with such audacity by the natives at last led to a few police being stationed at the Pine, and the first thing these did was to effect the arrest of "Mickey" who had been concerned in the murder of Mr Gregor and Mrs Shannon.
He was brought before the Circuit Court held on the 20th May, 1853, and charged with stealing certain of Gregor's goods, for which he received a sentence of six months. Next day however, he was arraigned for the murder of Mrs Shannon, and the Judge ordered a sentence of death to be recorded, but left the question of whether it should be carried into effect to the Executive. This body, subsequently commuted the sentence to seven years hard labour on the roads.
The spasmodic energy which characterised the residence her was however never better demonstrated than in the matter of the proposed Moreton Bay Steam Navigation Company. Here was a concern which may be said to have been floated, since nearly all the capital had been subscribed and a line of action decided upon, which after being so worked up was allowed to drop.
In fact the company was dissolved. It was not want of money that was responsible for this but some petty dispute which caused many of the large shareholders residing in Ipswich to withdraw combined with the inactivity of the trustees. It was indeed a lamentable example of large promise and small performance.