18 – Christisons 1895

Posted originally on February 3, 2015 by Neil

This series of posts is the most comprehensive I have done on family history. I am doing them backwards here so that in due course they will appear sequentially.

The late1880s and 1890s were full of drama for my maternal great-grandparents.

John Hampton Christison

You may recall we last saw him as, among other things, a pioneer vigneron in the Hunter Valley. Until 1889:article18975304-4-003

John H and his wife and young family (including my grandfather Roy aged about 3) had hotfooted it back to J H’s homeland:

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There is by the way a wonderful family story that on the way to or from Scotland – I forget which – my grandfather Roy was washed overboard but then washed back by the next wave! But especially for my great-grandmother Sophia Jane, Scotland ended in tears – and eventually divorce (1892). Given J H’s rather cavalier attitude to paying bills, the 1890s for Sophia Jane and her children were hard indeed – not to mention the fact J H kidnapped my grandfather Roy and his brother David at one point.

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Mind you J H was back in business before you could say “etiquette”! From the Singleton Argus, 5 October 1895.

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Finally, the voice of the man himself in a letter to the editor from The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser Thursday 19 May 1887:

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19 – 1890s – T D Whitfield

Posted originally on February 2, 2015 by Neil

This series of posts is the most comprehensive I have done on family history. I am doing them backwards here so that in due course they will appear sequentially.

I have shown you this item before: “SWAN SONG” OF MR. T. D. WHITFIELD. Here is about half of it:

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For more on the great fire of 1899 see Kiama Library.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, 1st October, 1899, a fire broke out that was to be the most extensive and destructive fire that had ever visited the township of Kiama and would change the face of Terralong Street forever.

The fire started in Wood Brothers general store and within minutes the place was ablaze. With the help of a strong southerly breeze, the fire soon spread to adjoining buildings and according to William H Bayley, author of Bluehaven: History of Kiama Municipality, “half the block of shops fronting Terralong Street from Collins Street towards Shoalhaven Street caught fire at 2 a.m. and was destroyed soon after dawn.”…

Fortunately there was no loss of life but 12 families were left homeless. Sixteen shops and the Royal Hotel were destroyed. Business people reopened businesses in sheds and all types of rooms and premises in other locations whilst their stores were rebuilt in brick….

I had noted the work my grandfather T D Whitfield did repairing Tory’s Hotel, which still stands. What escaped my notice is that it seems my grandfather built the Mount Kembla Hotel – now the oldest weatherboard hotel in the Illawarra (1898).

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2010 – with Sirdan

See Sunday lunch–Mount Kembla Hotel (2010) and First Sunday out of cardiac ward: Mount Kembla Pub (2011). I then had no idea of my grandfather’s connection with the place. UPDATE: Built 1887, opened 1898. T D is ambiguous: he may have built it, or he may (presumably later) have “painted and repaired” as he did the Freemasons, which used to be on the corner of Crown and Keira Streets.

Finally from that rich memoir T D Whitfield left in the year of my birth, consider what he did at Bass Point for G L Fuller.

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SS Dunmore and Bass Point Jetty

About this time, Mr. Fuller started large-scale reconstruction work at the quarry at Point Bass. I went there and erected the buildings, including an elevator to take the spawls back to be reduced. While I was on the job, a large sea washed about forty feet out of the centre of the jetty, so I undertook this job,which I consider was the most difficult I have ever done. The jetty was about ten feet wide, and about fifteen feet above the sea. I got a forty foot oregon girder and secured it crosswise to the land end of the broken part to tie guy ropes to, which supported the derrick pole. The latter had to lean over twenty feet to put the piles in place, also to lift the girders across to join the two. parts once more. I was congratulated on my ingenuity in this by the captain of the “Dunmore.” About the time that I finished the jetty, the foundation of the big hopper gave way, with about five hundred tons of metal in it. I raised it up to its original place with a number of hydraulic jacks, estimated to lift about fifty tons each. I gradually worked these a little at a time till I had it high enough to put fresh foundations, girders and piles, after which I gradually lowered it to the new system. It was a difficult and dangerous job, but it was accomplished, without accident; in fact, all through my career I was not instrumental in injuring  anyone. After I  left Mr. G. L. Fuller’s jobs, I did a lot of work for his sons, Mr. Archie Fuller, Dunmore, and  Mr.Bryan Fuller, barrister, Sydney. When I had left the quarry work,the Shellharbour Council called tenders for a new jetty at Shellharbour…

For more on Bass Point see NSW Environment Heritage.

By the 1840s, the colony was experiencing an economic depression and the large landholdings in the region were soon subdivided into smaller tenant farms. Provided rent-free for periods of up to six years, the land was leased to families for the purpose of clearing native vegetation and cultivating crops. Wheat and maize were popular early crops but soon proved to be susceptible to rust and ultimately financially unprofitable for the farmers. By the second half of the nineteenth century however, the dairy industry had been established and was proving to be a successful business for the small landholders in the region.

During this period, 2560 acres of Peterborough Estate (including Bass Point) had been sold by the Wentworth family to George Laurence Fuller who named the property ‘Dunmore Estate’. By 1880, Fuller had negotiated a mining venture and established a basalt ‘blue gold’ quarry to the south of Bass Point including the construction of a new 480-foot jetty to ship the quarried metal. Although the enterprise collapsed within two years, Fuller resumed operations as the proprietor and manager and, by 1890, business was booming. To support the industry, Fuller soon improved and extended the jetty to 500 feet and commissioned the construction of the SS Dunmore to transport the crushed basalt from Bass Point to the markets of Sydney.

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Shellharbour Church of England 1890