Wednesday 25 July 2018

2 April to 8 April, 1868

Better times coming.

Thames goldfields showing cut down trees and small wooden buildings.
Auckland Museum, D L Mundy photograph.
Ref: PH-ALB-86

Thursday, 2 April
At Tapu Creek there has been plenty of wind and rain and although this has put a damper on the works, it has not damped the digger’s spirits, everybody being in the best possible humour.  All the diggers seem perfectly content to wait for the better times coming.  The claims on average are all doing well.  The work in the two claims of the Lord Nelson and the British is something enormous.  Business is pretty brisk at the various stores and hotels.

Reporting on the advent of Grahamstown at the Thames the Daily Southern Cross swoons “this township bids fair at no distant date to outrival Shortland Town.”

At the Warden’s Court in the case of Smith v Ingles the defendant is fined a sum of £20 for having been absent from his claim for 24 hours.  Ingles has a Saint called Patrick for his patron and as the Saint’s day fell on the 17th of last month, he began his devotions early on the 16th and continued them till noon on the 18th.  The plaintiff is a Cornishman who has no such saint in his calendar and, being one of those adventurers who are always ready to jump a claim, he went in and jumped Ingles'. 

Extensive flax dressing machinery has been built at Henderson’s Mill, but the small parties of flax dressers from Riverhead and surrounds do not seem to have made much headway in forwarding large supplies to Auckland and their numbers are being gradually diminished owing to the attraction of the Thames goldfields and the near approach of winter.

An experiment in quartz crushing by Mr Mason’s new machine in Durham Street, Auckland, leaves no question that the machine is most effective, reducing the stone to a consistency of the finest powder.  With horse power it will crush a ton of weight of stone in the day, but it could be made twice as large to crush double the quantity.  For crushing moderate quantities it greatly exceeds the efficiency of a berdan.  

A very brilliant theatrical performance is given at the Thames tonight at Butt’s American Theatre by the members of the Shortland Literary Association.  The ‘Ticket of Leave’ and some local songs are the staple portion of the performance and they are even more than usually well rendered.  The audience, a crowd of European and Maori, is the largest yet at the Thames.  The performance is for the benefit of the Digger’s Hospital Fund. It is a decided success, and the amateurs are repeatedly and vociferously cheered.  A splendid reception is given to Mr Mackay who is viewed by many as one of the few right men in the right place in the province.  A hearty cheer is given to him on his entrance by the audience who all stand.  A sum of about £44 8s is raised.

DSC 2 April, 1868
NZH 2 April, 1868

Friday, 3 April
Mr Mackay goes 30 miles upriver to the Ohinemuri, accompanied by hundreds of Maori including  some of the most influential chiefs in the district, for a great meeting regarding the opening of the Upper Thames and to discuss a question of title to old leases granted to Europeans.  They are met by large numbers of other tribes from the Upper Thames, Tauranga and Waikato.  “If there is a man in New Zealand that can open up that supposed El Dorado . . .  he is that man,” writes the Cross correspondent of Mackay.  “I say supposed because I cannot make out that anyone has ever found really payable gold above the Puriri.  One man told me the other day that if he could get a few weeks quiet working above Wood’s store that would satisfy him.”

Fly for the Thames with sundries and 4 passengers.

Saturday, 4 April
On the ground along the Hape to Karaka, at Shalder’s machine, a man complains loudly that they will all be 'clemmed', the Lancashire term for starved.   He wants some crushing done at the machine, but it is not in operation yet and the work cannot be done.  There is sympathy for him and others like him; without more machinery, and machinery more accessible to the outlying claims, many will be in a bad fix this winter.

At the Tweedside Claim nine men are engaged in getting quartz ready, all quite brisk in the expectation of a favourable crushing.  Two men are busy pounding away at some quartz with a mortar and pestle.  Some men are working at one of Clayton’s small machines at the bottom of the gully in the Ben Lomond Claim.  A reporter visited this claim last week and discovered tin in the stone.  The men laughed heartily at this but said they would have no objection to a good tin mine.  This claim lost 70 tons of stone in the recent flood.  It was stacked ready for roasting but the floodwaters reached it and carried it all away.

Higher up and along Fenian Gully is the Head Centre Claim.  Mr Hugh McIlhone, the master at St Mary’s College on the North Shore, has  brought into it and has been offered a very considerable advance on his purchase.  Work here is being steadily carried on by a good lot of men, some of whom had been a considerable time at Coromandel.  Ascending the range from Fenian Gully is Crispe’s Claim, some 800 ft above sea level.  This claim is being very well worked and preparations are being made for sluicing, some of the stuff being mullocky and the distance to any of the machines considerable. On these diggings are a garden consisting of some cabbages, onions and lettuce, all in good health.  A vast amount of work has been done in cutting roads - there is now a good bullock dray track along a line of country that was hardly accessible some four months ago.

The ss Egmont leaves for Sydney taking 1,021 oz 1 gram gold on account of the Union Bank of Australia, and 427 oz shipped by the Bank of Australasia.  The receipt of gold in Auckland within the past few days from the various Thames goldfield claims has been very satisfactory.  The Bank of New Zealand will ship about 3,000 oz of gold in the Airedale on the 18th, for England via Panama.

The cutter Diamond arrives at Shortland with a full cargo of stores  but the master of the vessel runs the bow of the cutter too high on the beach and a large portion of her cargo, consisting of flour, sugar etc, is damaged by the flood tide filling the cabin.

Sunday, 5 April
At Auckland, the committee of the diocese of New Zealand decide to write to England and secure the services of a clergyman for the Thames goldfields.  In all probability the Bishop of New Zealand will bring out a clergyman with him from England to occupy this important post of duty, and there can be little doubt that in such a large and wealthy district as the Thames goldfield is likely to become, an adequate stipend will be guaranteed by the members of the church there.

Monday, 6 April

 At the residence of the bride, North Shore, by the Rev Mr White, William H Cobley, Esq, of Hunt’s claim, Shortland, to Louisa Elizabeth, only daughter of the late Joseph Penman, Esq. of Islington, London – Home paper please copy.

Some beautifully marked stone is shown today by a couple of shareholders in the Albion claim, adjoining the Monster claim, on the Karaka stream.  These men, like hundreds of others, have been labouring diligently under the most discouraging circumstances for over six months.  They have sunk and driven some hundreds of feet, and now their perseverance is likely to be rewarded.  The stone is a whitish kind of quartz  with streaks of gold of a friable nature and evidently much water worn running through it. 

Until lately the Karaka was looked upon by many as a duffer, but it is hoped that time will prove it is as rich as any of the other creeks.  The Great Republic Claim at the head of the Waiotahi has 200 ton of stone ready for Stevenson’s eight stamper steam machine.  The gold from this and many other claims up the Waiotahi and Moanataiari creeks is of very superior quality. The value of gold appears to increase towards the centre of the range.

The little son of Mr McCullough, of the Poverty claim, brings in a drink of water to one of the men and while waiting to return a quantity of loose earth falls on him and several of the men.  His left thigh is fractured and he sustains head injuries.  The men escape with a few bruises.

 Clyde for the Thames with 15 boxes candles, 2 ½ casks brandy, 8 cases biscuits, 5 packages merchandise, 2 cases geneva, 1 case, 1 keg dark brandy, 2 cases ale, 27 packages merchandise, 14 packages ironwork, 10 passengers.

Six Brothers for the Thames with 1 ½ tons flour, 4 cwt sugar, 8 cwt biscuit, 2 barrels beef, 50 lb tobacco, 1 box candles, 1 box pipes.

The sacrifice of life.
Tuesday, 7 April 
Henry Hendry, after looking after his horses, goes for some water to boil his billy at an abandoned shaft on the Karaka Creek, near Tookey’s Flat.  He sees something floating in the water.  He can’t tell what it is and calls for another man, William Sutton, who identifies the object as the bent back of man.   Henry heads to the Police Court to alert Constable Lipsey.  The body is identified as 'Red Bill' – real name William Mather,  who went missing on the stormy evening of Sunday 29 March.  The body is searched and Lipsey finds 6s 9d in money.  There is no miner’s right or pocket book.   The body is removed for Dr Hooper to examine.

There is an extraordinary yield of gold from the Manukau Claim (Messrs Cook and Co of Onehunga).  They crush one ton of quartz today which returns between 600 and 700 oz of gold.

The regulations for the working of the Thames goldfield as drawn up by the warden’s and a committee of miners working on the ground has been completed and amended. They are submitted to Superintendent Williamson for his approval and will be legalised under the powers delegated to him from the Government under the Goldfields Act.

An  inquest is held in the commercial room of the  Shortland Hotel before Allan Baillie, coroner, on the body of William Mather.  Mather is thought to have been between 32 and 33 years of age and was one of Long Tom’s party who jumped McIssac’s claim.  He lived at Tapu. Elizabeth Hughes says that she saw him on the night of the storm, Sunday  29 March, about 8.30 or 9pm.  He was just behind Mrs Martin’s, the last wooden cottage.  He said he was going up to Tookey’s Flat, to one of his mates.

Dr Hooper’s examination of the body found it highly decomposed.  The right eye was swollen and closed as if Mather had received a violent blow and there was an abrasion under one arm.  These injuries may have been made by knocks in falling down the shaft. The general appearance was that of a drowned man.

The sergeant of police says that Mr Mackay had promised that these shafts would be filled in.  These terribly dangerous places are, some of them 120ft deep, and lie open in the tracks of anyone who might wander from the road on a dark night.  Little children are everyday playing around them and as a dense population at the Thames is not far off, prompt measures need to be taken. The finger is pointed at those who have so long failed to carry out the necessary steps for the constitution of a mining board and so left the residents of the Thames without any protection in this matter.  The jury finds that William Mather was found drowned in a shaft on the Karaka flat, but how he came to be there, there is no evidence to show.  The jury adds a rider to the effect that means should at once be taken, by whoever may be the proper authority, to have these abandoned shafts protected to prevent, if possible, the sacrifice of life.

William Mather,  the second victim that these unprotected shafts have claimed,  is today  buried,  the service for the dead being read by the Rev Mr Maunsell of the Church of England, of which Mather was a member.  His body will lie with others of the unrecorded dead of the Thames goldfield in consecrated ground. 

“We can make a township five or six miles long and as straggling as anyone pleases, but it would be too much waste of frontages to proclaim a place where we might ‘bury our dead out of our sight’”, notes the NZ Herald correspondent. He also writes “I most sincerely hope that this is the last death I shall have to record in this neighbourhood and from this cause."

William Mather – Red Bill – left behind a letter written to a woman in which he called himself her “affectionate lover.”  The handwriting and grammar were all good and the writing like that of a lawyer’s clerk.

Rumours are current that Mr McNeil, the contractor for the Panmure Bridge, and Mr McKenzie, have made an offer to the Provincial Government to construct a wharf at the landing place at Shortland Town.  It is also rumoured that Mr Frederick Ring is seeking a concession for a tramway between Shortland Town and the new township of Grahamstown on the Moanataiari and Waiotahi flats.

Rob Roy for Shortland with 7 tons potatoes, 11 ½ cases whiskey, 1 box tobacco, 5 cases Old Tom, 2 horses, 1 dray, 6 mining wagons, quantity shovels, 4 tons general groceries, 3 barrels beer, 3 tons furniture, 3 kegs beef.

Wahapu for Shortland Town with 2,000 bricks, 100 bushels lime, 10 tons bricks, 2,000 ft timber, 1 boiler, 4 cases, 10,000 shingles.

DSC 7 April, 1868

In 1865 the Tamaki River was bridged at Panmure, improving access between Auckland and Howick. The bridge was 176 metres long and 6 metres wide, made with stones from Melbourne and iron from Sydney
Reference: B-078-018
Watercolour by W. S. Hatton

Wednesday, 8 April
A landing wharf is now urgently needed at the Thames. When the Superintendent of Auckland visited for the first time in October, this was the first thing represented to him as absolutely necessary.  The only place available for landing will soon be useless due to the shelving of the sand which is pushed into the channel and will not be easily repaired.  Since October the place has grown with prodigious rapidity, the tonnage has greatly increased and the general trade to and from the Thames forms a considerable part of the business done in the province.  It is now confirmed that Mr McNeil, favourably known was the contractor for the wharf extension, Panmure Bridge, and other well known works, has made an offer to the Provincial Government to build a wharf at Shortland Town provided that the government will guarantee him the receipt of the tolls under stipulation and for a term mutually agreed to.  Mr McNeil has made a survey of the coast line between Shortland Town and Tapu to ascertain the most convenient and central position for a wharf. The only place at which a wharf could be constructed beside deep water – unless by carrying over a mud flat extending beyond the beach, an iron road or a stone foundation which could only be effected at an immense cost – is at Shortland Town. In front of the land flat right away from Shortland Town to beyond the Kuranui is one vast deposit of tidal mud extending from 30 to 40 chains outwards to the gulf when the tide is out.  It is not improbable that the town may extend southward as well as north, but the deep water at the confluence of the gulf, channel and creek would seem to be the most favourable place for a wharf.

There are great expectations around Shalder’s machine on the road up the Hape to Karaka.  Although the battery is not yet at work all hands are busily engaged in making ready for a start in the near future. In Shalder’s machine there is no stamper proper, the quartz being smashed or crushed by a blow from a hammer.  A stamper is an upright shaft of greater or less weight according to the power applied, with a lift of some six inches, and giving a blow in the same way of the monkey of a pile driving machine. This is the sort of crushing power applied to the quartz in all the batteries at the Thames.  All the stuff not sufficiently reduced is carried back to another portion of the machine - it is at this precise point that all the machinery at the Thames has failed.  The common 'jumper' – a heavy dolly at the end of a long pole – will crush quartz but the saving of the gold is diffilcult.  Mr Shalder’s machinery has great simplicity to recommend it,  but will it succeed in saving the gold?  If successful Mr Shalder’s machine will beat the common stamper out of the field, being cheaper, quite as effective and having a four horsepower engine which will do as much work as a 10 horsepower engine on the common revolving stamper.  

A large number of claims have had crushings and in a few cases the yield has been truly wonderful.  A great number of rich pieces have been picked up after the recent flood.  The Little Angel,  formerly the Ayrshire Claim, on the Moanataiari, has had crushed at the Caledonian berdan 150 lb of quartz which has realised 144 oz of gold.  Messrs Middleton, Creagh and Davidson purchased this claim about three weeks ago and they have already received magnificent interest for their money.  The monthly crushing of quartz from Tookey’s claim at Goodall's machine has given 256 oz gold.

At Auckland Gavin B Shanks, who has been for several years a farmer at Kaukapakapa, Kaipara,  is today taken in charge by the police as being a dangerous lunatic.  Mr Shanks had been at Shortland Town for some weeks, and on coming up on Monday night it was found necessary to prevent him from being at large.

Richard Casey is in Queen Street, Auckland, today in the company of two Thames men who point out to him a man who they say is Somerscale, an informant who had several people prosecuted for sly grog selling at the Thames recently.  Casey at once rushes at the supposed informer, giving him a severe kick from behind, and then a blow to the eye.  Casey’s friends, have, however, made a mistake, as the man struck is named Sewell and has never been at the Thames in his life.  Casey is taken into custody for "committing an assault under rather peculiar circumstances." 

Papers Past

© Meghan Hawkes / First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - 2018
Please credit Meghan Hawkes/ First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - 2018 when re-using information from this blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment