Thursday 16 August 2018

6 November to 12 November, 1867

Showers of sandflies. 

Tapu  Creek. Thames goldfield
Mackelvie Trust Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki,
 Accession no 

Wednesday, 6 November

 Alfred Edmonds has been liberated on bail until Mr Mackay returns to Shortland Town.

Shortland Town is still rapidly increasing. The old calico tents, stores and hotels have given way to fine weatherboard constructions, giving the town a much more business-like appearance.  Now there are two auction marts, bookmakers, newspaper agents, land agents and share brokers.  There are four restaurants, five shoemakers, two barbers, two bakers, one cordial factory, one library, a chemist, a doctor and several blacksmiths. There are ten public houses, one draper, an iron monger and several timber yards.  A watchmaker and jewelers shop is being built.  There is a decent post office with a very civil and obliging postmaster.  There is also a photographer. 

There are also four butchers; the one doing the greatest share of business is Mr J Copeland, late of the Waitemata Hotel, Auckland.

There are in all forty-eight capital buildings in the township, one-third of which number are stores; four hotels — Butt's, Boulter's, Mulligan's, and Sheehan's, the latter of which is not quite finished. This is the only two-storey building in the place. A theatre is about to be built on Butt’s corner. 

Butt's, Mulligan's, and Boulter's all doing a thriving business at night. Of the three, Boulter seems  to be doing the best ; he has an excellent small band of musicians, who perform during the evening , but decidedly the greatest attraction to his establishment are two extremely fascinating barmaids.

The storekeepers though are not doing any great amount of business for the simple reason that there are too many of them on the township and provisions are consequently both plentiful and cheap.

Some 1900 miner’s rights have been issued and the general population – men, women, and children is estimated at about 5000.  There are now many children on the goldfield – “a respectable individual” is spotted trailing five juveniles.  

There are several well-dressed ladies about town who seemed pleased and happy in their new homes – creditable and substantial cottages. 

The watermen, carpenters and contractors are all occupied   Horses and drays, three or four American  Express wagons  and several goods carts with horses trundle the muddy streets. Tmber yards have on hand good stocks of timber.  Good bricks are also abundant.  Mining improvements are sold at a small advance on Auckland rates.

The portion of the township laid off at first is fast filling up. The extension of the town is now being surveyed towards the Kuranui – 35 applications have been made for allotments.

The whole face of the hills nearest Shortland Town looks like a rabbit warren.  Little heaps of clay dot the steep face of the hills and tents appear to cling to the surface rather than stand on it.  At night the whole of the hills seem to be alive with glow worm sparks, giving it a really beautiful appearance. 

It is now thought the proper time for making provision for sanitary regulations at the Thames.  If some immediate steps are not taken, the consequences may be very serious through the coming summer months.  There should be provisions also made to keep the creeks from being polluted or choked up.  Proper provision should be made for yarding and slaughtering cattle at a sufficient distance from the town as well.

James Duke, late of Waitahuna, is finding  the weather miserably frustrating, especially where the hills are steep and so densely covered with fern and scrub that no prospecting whatever can be done. The township, he notes in a letter, has made rapid progress, and there are now over 30 places of business in it.  Trade in general though is fearfully dull and storekeepers, one and all, complain of the want of money.  What he is to make of the diggings, he doesn't know. 

Theophilus Cooper is also dealing with difficulties, annoyances, and discouragements - armies of mosquitoes, showers of sandflies, frequent visitations of the stinking or whare bug, wind, rain, and mud, and a lack of all vegetables. His party finds a claim today, not far from the Shotover, and begin in earnest, soon coming to what they think is a fair-looking leader. Before the day is out, from what they see and hear from others, they come to the conclusion that it is not the place for gold.  However, Theophilus still finds that there is a charm in the digger's life.

At Auckland the impressive sight of an immense wagon made of Tasmanian blue gum named the ‘Sampson Express’ being drawn a distance of seven miles to Onehunga causing great excitement.  It has been specially constructed to convey the hull of the steamer Maori Chief which is destined for the Thames trade as a tender to the Midge and Tauranga.

Once at  Onehunga the hull of the Maori Chief, weighing about 20 tons, is floated onto the Sampson Express. It is winched onto the old wharf road and then drawn by horses along Prince’s Street. A long team of 17 yoke of oxen (35 bullocks) is now attached to the gigantic vehicle and it leaves Onehunga about noon. The great contraption and its load reach the Junction at Newmarket between 5 and 6 o’clock this evening.  Here it remains overnight.

The Midge brings up to Auckland 138oz 15dwt gold, the product of the Shotover claim.

A spectacular arrival.
Thursday, 7 November  
9 – 10am
A fresh start is made with the Sampson Express bearing the hull of the steamer.   Everything goes well until the wagon reaches the Symonds Street cemetery, when, owing to mismanaged driving, it nearly locks across the road. That difficulty got over, the wagon continues to the top of Grey Street where a halt is made to strengthen the dragging apparatus, and the wagon is then drawn down Queen Street to Custom-house Street. 

The whole population of Grey St and Queen St – male, female, canine and miscellaneous – turn out to watch the spectacular arrival.  The progress of the huge wagon and its burden down Queen Street is something like a triumphal march – an inquisitive crowd following it the whole way to the wharf.

The hull will be winched to Mr Duthie’s yards where she will be launched with skids and properly fitted up. The engine, boilers etc will undergo cleaning and preparation. It is intended to alter her from a stern wheel into a paddle steamer. The steamer was originally built for the Waikato River during the war – being specially adapted for rapid steaming and shallow water. 

Theophilus Cooper and party hear of a new claim on the Karaka creek which they set out to investigate.   The journey to it is very rough – they have to scramble over immense boulders the whole distance. They discover in a short time several fine leaders containing burnt quartz. Their neighbours as they pass by all congratulate them on their prospects, but they are ambivalent.

At Tapu Creek a prospecting party, not connected with Mr Mackay’s men, have found gold after two days labour.   Two of the men are dispatched to Shortland Town with a specimen, leaving the other two men behind at their camp.   During their absence five Maori come upon the tents, cut the ropes and burn the tents and swags.  They carry one of the men into the bush and strip him naked, throwing his clothes into a hole. They ask him for gold, but he tells them he has none.  The Maori tell him to leave immediately and he runs to find his remaining mate, Harris.  He meets him on the opposite point of the tapu ground; Harris asks if his watch has been saved.  His petrified mate tells him it was much as he could do to save his life.  The chief threatened to shoot any man found on tapu land.  He is forced to go to Shortland Town naked, as all his things were burnt.  Three other men this day are  driven back from Manaia to Shortland by Maori with spears.

 Mr Hayes of No 2 Claim calls at the Daily Southern Cross printing offices with three surprisingly rich specimens of gold bearing quartz from the leader discovered on Monday.

Tay for the Thames with 6,000 bricks, 60 bushels lime, 1 horse, 1 dray. 
Alabama for the Thames with 20 bags bread, 10 bags sugar, 2 mats sugar, 1 box tobacco, 1 cask. 

Rob Roy for the Thames with 4hhds beer, 6 cases gin, 8 cases brandy, 5,000 ft timber, 1 case tobacco, 10 bags sugar, 2 cases biscuits, 5 tins nails, 6 pair sashes, 2 doors, 3 packages drapery, 6 empty casks.

NZH 7 November, 1867

Friday, 8 November
The NZ Herald correspondent is struggling under an avalanche of Warden’s cases at the Thames - “I could write you our copy for an entire paper of full eight pages.” 

The want of machinery at the Thames is straining the resources of the storekeepers as they keep up the supply to the diggers.  Commercial matters are somewhat flat and a good many complain money is tight. 

Theophilus and his mates spend the whole day pegging off their claim.  Until this is done they don’t feel safe from those who are inclined to jump claims. There is a great deal of this going on in all directions.

Rangatira to the Thames with 6,000 ft timber, 10,000 shingles, 2 boxes candles, 4 mats sugar, one case gin.

NZH 8 November, 1867

Saturday, 9 November
A letter to the Daily Southern Cross says "Knowing how desirous you are of communicating to the public any successful operations which may be going on at the Thames Goldfield, I herewith inform you that we are but a small party of youngsters who are working together.  Our claim is situated between Messenger’s reef and the Collar Bone.  We have 12 very good leaders on the one facing; two of them are bearing gold.  We have only commenced to open out one of the leaders and have 30 good specimens already.  Anyone can see them by coming to the claim.  Stubbing and Pollock.”

A large open air meeting convened by hand bill is held on the beach at Shortland regarding the opening of the Upper Thames. Some 500 to 600 men are present.   The unemployed diggers at Shortland, finding that they have waited in vain for the country southwards to be opened to them by government agency, are determined to make attempts to negotiate on their own with the Upper Thames Maori. In spite of the arbitrary measures taken a few days ago by Mr Mackay in stopping Alfred Edmonds and party, resolutions are carried that a deputation of diggers should start for the up-river settlements and funds need to be collected to defray expenses. The diggers are also disgruntled that Mr Mackay has shown favouritism to a few by taking them north to the newly opened ground there.

Walter Williamson, who was one of the select few, and is now back from the Puru, states that Mr Mackay had taken with him the original prospectors, they having applied for a passage in the Government cutter.  He would have taken more had they applied.  He could not take all the crowd with him, but if the men had walked down the coast, as others did  — they would have had an equal chance of getting on the ground with those who accompanied the Commissioner

The meeting promised to be sensational but fizzles after the call for subscriptions. Charles Mitchell hands up a one pound note but no other contributors came forward.  As usual at these kinds of meetings, the speaker is interrogated by a dozen voices, the questions being anything but pertinent.  After some noise and bustle the meeting separates without arriving at anything beyond the pound note.  

 After the meeting, the men amuse themselves by teasing and hustling a Maori who put up an old half-starved horse for sale by auction.
The disappointed hundreds.

John Fitzgerald, a digger at Shortland, sits down to write his opinion of the Thames goldfield and sums up the building frustration and anger felt by numerous men – “ It seems strange that, among so large a population as that now scattered over the Thames diggings, so few men can be found  . . . to give the public an account of their success or failure.  More than one reason can be assigned for this silence on the part of the unsuccessful digger . . . a reason for the reticence is the disappointed hundreds whom you fall across in the course of a few days stay at Shortland Town, is the deplorable fact that they have spent their last shilling and must depend on credit for supplies to enable them to continue their labours.  I have spent two months at the Thames occupied in digging the whole time.  I have tested the hills in many places  . . . I have frequently examined other men’s claims, even some of those extolled for their richness, without being able to see any of those rich specimens which are said to be so abundant.”  

After a fortnight’s trial of the goldfield  Fitzgerald was so thoroughly satisfied of the uncertainty of finding a payable claim that he would have left but for the hope that detained hundreds - that the Upper Thames would be successfully opened. The failure  of this would have been the signal for thousands to quit the diggings had not Mr Mackay posted notice that he would be able to throw open large tracts of land to the north and south of Shortland Town in a few days.  It is now  nearly a fortnight since that notice was published  and despite the warnings in newspapers  a sufficient number of deluded men find their way to Shortland Town to swell the chorus of general disappointment that one hears re-echoed on all sides in Mr Mackay’s  prospecting excursions.

The diggers, with a few exceptions, were not possessed of much cash in the first place, and are now hard up.  The storekeepers are, as a rule, too poor to give the diggers credit for even a trifling amount, and the Auckland merchants are either too poor or too doubtful of the integrity of the storekeepers to trust them.

There are not yet 2,000 miners’ rights issued; it would be very rash to say that even 1500 men were doing well on the field as yet.  Many hundreds are unquestionably getting out quartz in which plenty of gold is visible to the naked eye, but many others are living in hope.

This is a deplorable state of things, nor is there likely to be any alteration until some speculative individuals send machinery to the Thames. Neither the Auckland people, nor the miners who have the richest claims, seem at all disposed to speculate in this one thing wanted.

Wahapu for the Thames – 6,100 bricks, 60 bushels lime.

The Press 9 November, 1867

The blushes of a captain.

Sunday, 10 November
Edward  Constable of Kent Farm at Waiuku, having enjoyed a very favourable journey to the Thames on the Tauranga, agrees with some friends that they will return to Auckland by her this afternoon.   The Tauranga’s high sailing and steaming qualities, coupled with the gentlemanly bearing of the captain and officers, are very impressive.

She is advertised to sail about 5pm, and around 4pm he and some 20 others proceed to the beach to board the tender which is to convey them to the Tauranga. 

The steamer Midge also lies in the river and is about to start for Auckland as well.  Along with several others in the tender is Hannibal Marks, mate of the Midge, who volunteers to steer, and, as there is a head wind, it is necessary to beat out to either of the steamers.  The Tauranga is about five chains from the shore and can be reached fairly quickly while the Midge lies about four miles downriver, about an hour away.   Everyone on board the tender expects to go alongside the Tauranga first but, to their utter surprise, Mr Marks steers past her and makes for the Midge.

Many of them strongly protest, in vain, and eventually they are alongside the Midge.  On getting on board, Marks sings out “Bear a hand and set on board for the Tauranga is stuck and likely to be there a fortnight.”  Some of the passengers remark “Would it not be better to send this cutter to take her passengers, as we have friends on board who must get to town?”  The answer is “No, get the anchor up and we are off.”  Of course, he knows that the Tauranga is not stuck. 

All the passengers in the cutter except Mr Constable board the Midge; he insists on going by the Tauranga, which they meet on returning.  The captain, observing him, hails to him that he will bring up outside the bank, as he cannot stop the vessel.  After half an hour Mr Constable gets on board, and then, in order to show what the Tauranga can do, it is resolved to overtake the Midge, which they do in eleven minutes under the hour. 

On coming within hailing distance, jocular offers of assistance are made to the Midge, in the shape of ropes, and promises that they will faithfully report them in town.  At the same time, to Mr Constable’s great satisfaction, a vast cloud of smoke issues from the Tauranga’s  funnel, completely enveloping the poor little Midge and hiding the blushes of her captain and worthy mate, Hannibal Marks.

Commissioner Mackay returns from the north this afternoon in the cutter Emma, along with Major Von Tempsky and others.  He has signed an agreement with Te Moananui and 26 others of Ngati Tamatera, including Te Hira.  This deed covers all the Ngati Tamatera’s interests from Te Mamaku to Moehau, around to Whitianga and back to Te Mamaku.  With this deed Mackay has reached an agreement on the opening to gold miners of all the west side of the Coromandel Peninsula, except Manaia, for which negotiations are still in progress.

There are fully fifty men out over this new ground. The general report of the new country, as a goldfield, is not very favourable; indeed some miners of considerable experience say there is little or no gold there. It seems to be agreed, though, that Puru, about nine miles from the Thames, is as likely as any ground that the party has been over.

The Puru, where Walter Williamson landed, shows indications of gold, and the formation of the ranges is similar to that of the Karaka block. Walter picks up on the beach a splendid specimen of jasper studded with gold.  On the ranges, quartz has been found in detached portions; and as a few specks of gold have been washed out of the rubble, there is reason to suppose that auriferous leaders may be discovered.

Samuel Hamilton and party who went up the Mata to its source, close to the dividing range, tries a prospect in the shovel; the result is one coarse speck, water -worn, weighing about four grains. The next prospect contains four or five specks of lesser weight. This part of the country will be systematically worked for alluvial gold.

At the Manaia Commissioner Mackay discovers several men on the ground  have interfered with the arrangements he is making with the Maori. Those he has brought with him are told not to go to work until he has finished making arrangements.    

Commissioner Mackay is to erect boards cautioning travellers as to the road they should take and inquiry should be made as they go along the beach.

The story of the man stripped naked is met with scepticism - the supposition is the man who came in to Shortland  naked is the man who set fire to the tent and that he did so to cover the robbery of his mate’s valuables. 

The Tauranga arrives triumphant at the Queen Street wharf at 11.25 this evening. The Midge lags about 3 1/2 hours behind.

Chandeliers at the Thames.

Monday, 11 November
Theophilus Cooper and party are clearing thick bush from their claim; considerable amounts of timber need to be felled.  All around them the sounds of blasting reverberate like peals of thunder or heavy cannon fire resounding from hill to hill. There have been many strikes of gold in the last few days.  Some get large quantities.   One party, having been only four days, discover rich a claim, while those around them have been several weeks and not seen the colour.

 At the Auckland Police Court William Thompson is brought up on a charge of a string of robberies at Auckland including stealing two chandeliers from the Independent Chapel.  Thompson says he stole the goods to maintain himself as he could get no work. The chandeliers are said to be at the Thames.

The Auckland Municipal Police Act, 1866, is brought into force, from and after today, within the limits of the Town of Shortland, and comprises all those lands bounded on the west by the sea, on the south west by the Kauaeranga creek to the Church Mission Station, to the Karaka stream, and the north by the Karaka stream to the sea.

Samuel Hamilton, one of the Government’s prospecting party, has been out with five others prospecting the country around Te Mata. He is now returning there again and they start for Puru Creek, about eleven miles distant from Shortland Town.  The first four miles are very flat country thickly planted with peach trees, forming an immense grove.  After passing Tararu Point the road is more difficult to travel being littered with rocks, shingle and large boulders.  They reach the camp of Mr Sandes, the Government Surveyor, situated on the Puru Creek, a charming spot, the property of an old Maori chief named Heriata.  The chief comes and cordially shakes hands, as do the other Maori in the settlement, of whom there are about nine, chiefly old women and boys.  The chief and the boys seem to devote the whole of their time to gambling, playing the American game known as bluff from morning till night.

Commissioner Mackay issues a notice that gold has been found on the Waikawau block; that the Manaia block is not yet open; that no gold has been found at Otakeao; but that at Tapu  and Te Puru gold has been found. The land, known as the Waikawau block, will be open for mining from 14 November.  Maori cultivation's and reserves are excluded and will be defined by cut lines and posted notices.

From the 14th to 18th November  will be allowed for taking up claims, and the endorsement of miner's rights previously issued for other blocks during that period.  No jumping of claims will be allowed within the Waikawau block.

Another notice advises that, pending the laying off reserves for Maori cultivation in the Cape Colville block, and throwing it open for gold mining, licences will be issued to 25 persons on application.   Free passages will be allowed in the Government cutter to Cabbage Bay (now Colville); date of sailing about the 15th November.

Despite the opening of the Coromandel, the question of opening up the Upper Thames country is still being eagerly discussed, particularly amongst the Maori all over the district from Ohinemuri right up to Matamata.  There is no sign of yielding; many however, are restless and agitated, and somewhat dismayed knowing that many of their own people are willing to give up their land for gold working.

Otahuhu for Shortland Town with 3,000 bricks, 3,000 ft timber, 1 iron safe, 2 gallons rum, 1 cask porter, 4 kits vegetables, 4 boxes furniture.
Willie Winkie for the Thames with 3 tons flour, 12 bags maize, 15 bags bran, 2 trusses hay, 4 bags coal, 3,000 ft timber, 17,000 shingles.

The Tauranga brings up to Auckland 27ozs of gold in the possession of Mr Pollard, Caledonian Claim.  It is the proceeds of only 70lb quartz and is unusually rich in quality.  It was crushed in Murphy’s machinery and is the first parcel of a very promising reef.  The owners are a party of young men from Parnell, who have been perseveringly at work since the opening of the Thames, and have now 14 tons of quartz in readiness for the machinery.  Should the bulk of quartz yield anything like the sample just crushed the claim will prove of fabulous value to the discoverers.

Hawkes Bay Weekly Times 11 November, 1867
DSC 11 November, 1867

Tuesday, 12 November
A number of diggers start from Shortland Town in the direction of Manaia, their boats being towed out of the river by the Enterprise. 

Alfred Edmonds is brought before the court charged with obtaining money under false pretences.   The court is densely crowded. John Williams tells the court Edmonds took money from him on Wednesday 30 October at the meeting in Mr Leary’s tent.  The letter and passes from the Maori inviting them to prospect on their land were shown to the 10 or 15 men gathered there.  After that 10 of the men paid 12s each and were given a pass. The next night, about eight o'clock, eight of them started for a block of land on the north side of the Kauaeranga creek with two Maori guides and Alfred Edmonds’s brother Reuben as interpreter. Alfred Edmonds told John Williams that he had received a note from Mr Mackay, requesting to see him at 9pm that evening and that Alfred could not go out with the party on that account, but would go the next day to see some other chiefs.   It was when  John Williams came back on the Friday that he thought he had been done out of his money, on account of Alfred Edmonds not going where he agreed. 

John Williams had had promises made to him before, which were broken; he had lent men money on their promise to pay him back, which they did not.  Mr MacDonald, for Mr Edmonds, exasperatedly asks the court if it is necessary to go on.   Mr Mackay says “that has been my opinion for the past five minutes.”  The Bench adds all this does not appear to be obtaining money under false pretences and the case is abruptly dismissed. An application for costs is refused.  The charge is regarded as unfounded and malicious.    Alfred Edmonds leaves the court.  There is an attempt at a cheer but it is at once suppressed by the police.

The miner’s sympathise with Alfred Edmonds and the Maoris themselves have subscribed towards the expense of his defense. There appears to be some misapprehension as to the part of the country to which the men holding the passes were actually going. It was north and not south.

A meeting with the Thames Maoris is held near Commissioner Mackay’s residence and the tenor of the speeches is favourable to the opening of the new country.  Riwai is the only chief who speaks against it. The road to the new district must pass through his land, and he is afraid he has asked too much and is not likely to get it.  The others express their entire approval of the Commissioners and Alfred Edmond’s negotiations.  Another meeting is to be held tomorrow at the same place.

 The Ancient Order of Foresters in Auckland plan to hold their Anniversary Soiree but owing to the absence of a large number of them at the Thames, it is determined this year to forgo the procession and open air activities.

A rumour gains currency this afternoon that two manned boats have started up the river for the Upper Thames.

Auckland Police Gazette and Record of Crime No. 27 
Published today 
From the tent of Spence, Carson and North, Shortland, on 2 October,  a blue and green stripped Crimean shirt, a canvas bag with eyelet holes, a red handkerchief containing a hairbrush, comb, knitted grey socks and a looking glass.
From the beach, Shortland, on 10 October, a military bell shaped tent, and poles, the property of Edward Wood.
From a tent at the back of William Roses’ restaurant, Shortland, on 19 October, a pair of lace-up boots, a grey woolen shirt, a pair of grey tweed riding breeches, a light grey opossum rug,  a blue woolen comforter.
From Barnett and Levy’s store, Pollen Street, Shortland, on 21 October, a pair of blucher boots, a pick handle and a short handled shovel.
From the tent of Richard Boyes and partner, Shortland, on 20 October, two water-proof military sheets.

Theophilus Cooper is finding the various accounts about success or non-success on the goldfield very conflicting. Many newcomers are misled by the abundance of mica and mundic, which is also called 'new chums' gold', and it is difficult to convince them that they have not got the precious metal.  

Business has been very dull in the shipping trade. The weather has been of a very boisterous character and has retarded traffic. In the coasting trade however, considerable briskness has been observed caused in great measure by the demand for timber and general merchandise at the newly opened goldfield. A perfect fleet of vessels have been employed in the conveyance of timber from the mills and of general cargo and passengers from Auckland. The Thames trade shows signs of increased traffic. The little paddle steamer Huntress has been brought round from the Manukau, via the Bay of Islands, during the week for sale, but was withdrawn. She is to be fitted up for the Thames trade.

Spey for the Thames with 1 horse, 1 van, 12 hhd ale, 1 case, 200lb flour.
Alabama  for the Thames with stores
Orpheus for the Thames with timber

Lyttleton Times 12 November, 1867
NZH 12 November 1867

The Midge's mate, Hannibal Marks,  was the 22 year old son of the same named Hannibal Marks, captain of the Midge.


Papers Past
Hauraki Report Volume One
These Hills are Tapu - Deborah Jowett

© Meghan Hawkes / First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017

Please credit Meghan Hawkes/ First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 when re-using information from this blog.

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