Letters from Paddy Kerrigan regarding Nine-mile diggings and Lorna Doone
P.O. Box 15
Sorry for taking so long to reply to your letter of January 9th but time seems to get away so quickly these days, the weeks are over and gone before you know it, anyway, I finally got around to getting a letter in the post.
I've been through David's draft many times and have been very impressed as he has been most careful in his research and presentation, also detailed in his all his references. He has done a first rate job of putting it all together. It's great to see someone "rekindling" the bygone days of the Kiandra Gold Fields.
As most of my research was done many years ago I have to rely on my memory when recalling some of the events that happened in those early gold rush days so forgive me if some of my dates etc. are not exactly correct but close enough to find things if required. Also my grid references and contour levels as some of my early maps are pretty well worn, torn and illegible.
I've occassionally gone slightly off the track with my own interpretation of events Graham, sorry about that, also that I have not been of much assistance to David as he already had it all in a nutshell.
Hoping to meet up with you again in the near future - I have enclosed photocopies of old maps re. Lorna Doone.
P.O. Box 15
Many thanks for your letter and copy of David Scott's "History of the Nine Mile Diggings". Yes Graham, I did enjoy reading about the old gold fields, David really has put a lot of work into it and researched it very thoroughly. I note that he did show that Lorna Doone and Duffer Gully, as I mentioned to you earlier, were mined by the same group "The Loma Doone Syndicate" but were several miles apart. The Lorna Doone area being right down on the Tumut River where the old 15 mile track came down from the Three Mile/Eight Mile track at the location, now named by the S.M.A. as Kings Cross, that track crossed the Tumut at a natural ford at Lorna Doone where a lot of surface mining occurred, continued up Fifteen Mile Ridge, past the Golden Crown, Phoenix and Fifteen Mile claims and carried on to Tooma. I may be able to enclose a photocopy of an old map which even shows Duffer Gully, quite some distance further up stream south of Temperance Creek. I think it's named Duffer Creek now. Also to add to confusion, the Nine Mile, Tabletop area is so close to the map boundary - you really need four maps, and some of the older ones are a different scale.
The bed of the Tumut River, in that area, is of course now flooded by Tumut Pond Dam, but before finishing with Lorna Doone "The Lorna Doone Syndicate" feel sure was compilsed of Foy/Foye? Barnett, Hughes and Barclay. (The other one mentioned by Charlie Bell Swinfield - I think he was mentioned in the 1885 report by Slee as opening a mine 10 or 11 miles from Kiandra with Watson and Annar as a sleeping partner). The four mentioned above were all mates, hard rock miners and worked for or with each other depending on who had filed the claim, one of the earliest being Lorna Doone. They then moved up to the Nine Mile, apparently gaining an interest in the Empress, also pegging another claim at Duffer Gully and started erecting a battery at that site. I think in 1921. They abandoned that to go elsewhere then later in 1923 came back to Duffer Gully Mine as the Lorna Doone Syndicate, I think they only got a few ounces there but again went elsewhere, then back to Duffer Gully during 1926. At the same time, 1926, it shows Hughs drilling a tunnel up at South Bloom Field on the other side east of Empress, one wonders if they had been trying to prove or prospect that ground during the missing years. That tunnel at the South Bloomfield site was the Elaine Mine.
I do remember seeing on some info I got that that Foys and Party had moved up from Loma Doone to Duffer Gully so he seems to have his name somewhat misspelt = Foy, Foye and Foys.
The boys were still at the Elaine, one time it's referred to as Hughes Tunnel at another the Barnett Mine. It was about 1928/29 that a company was once again formed to work the Lorna Doone Mine, probably the one down on Tumut River. Work was still going ahead on the Elaine Mine but nothing was done at Lorna Doone. It may have been a move to stop or block some other party getting under their guard at Lorna Doone as they may have been working the lot at the same time, as one had to be "sharp" to survive in those pre-depression days. They are on record as being at the Elaine Mine right through to about 1936/37. They received the prospecting vote, later known as mining aid all through this period.
A 1937 report shows that in the eleven years the Elaine Mine operated they received 1,300 pounds in aid but claimed to have spent 11,000 pounds and even though they showed nil gold, unproductive return over the years the records show that Bill Hughes is credited with sluicing about 260 ozs gold between 1922/26 valued at about 900 pounds. One wonders if they were as "successful" with their other two or three mines? Good luck to them, it was all "honest" hard work. There definitely had been a hell of a lot of work done there at Elaine and still shows signs that a lot of buildings were erected there on site.
Graham, just a few things you could mention to David.
The site of that old Snowy (S.M.A.) hut on the Geordies Spur Track. It is at 306.172 it was a well built fibro (I should not mention that word in the Park) sheeted structure, now in ruins, still had a lot of S.M.A. gear lying about, the remains of a weather station, rain gauge etc. Some 44 gal. drums, garbage tins and I'm not joking - some toilet cans of the old night cart vintage. (It must have been staff only quarters.)
Still old corrugated iron and guttering there scattered over a large area. Regarding the gold hut, some years ago someone wrote an article in the Huts Assn. newsletter about spending a week at Nine Mile, they gave grid reference for gold hut. I have always assumed that, because of its location, just across the creek from the digging, plenty of grazing area and adjacent water, that the gold hut was originally the police station or lock up and guardroom. As it was customary in those days to have the Commissioner's quarters off on their own as evidenced by Kiandra, Denison and West Denison. It may have been a Crown Land title, still researchable. (?)
In reference to your notes on the idea to bring water from the Doubtful Creek/River at Bulls Peak. The Mines Department Geological Surveyor Lamont Young was keen to push that through, even sending Sullivan to survey it poste haste, but unfortunately he was drowned (Lamonte Young) in a boating accident at Bermagui just after his visit to Kiandra in 1880 so the whole plan came to a halt - I think that Roberts mentions in his 1882 report that the right hand branch of the Empress race had run around the back of Tabletop (west side) enroute to the Doubtful or head of Tumut River, they may have started it.
The Kiandra Alpine Pioneer did not come into being until 3.8.1860 and only existed a few months to 29.4.1861, its purpose was to PROGRAMME all in general for the 1860 election, it had a very far reaching circulation. Thomas Garrett forwarded his Alpine Pioneer by express coach, sparing no expense, to the following places, all the local mining townships, Chalkers, Nimitybelle, Bombala, Cooma, Pambula, Merimbula, Bega, Braidwood, Kiama, Shoalhaven, Moruya, Goulburn, Bungendore, Queanbeyan, Michalago, Berrima, Mittagong, Adelong, South Gundagai, Tumut Bathurst, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Queensland, more especially to those who were engaged in group mining pursuits. (my personal view) a few months after he was elected he sold the printing press in Cooma and took his seat in parliament, from memory, I think he was Thomas Garrett, his father John was already the member for Shoalhaven, October 1860, and owned the Illawarra Mercury (I may have given father and sons names in reverse order) but there was not any criticism of any find regards Kiandra, whereas some other papers were very critical of the whole Kiandra rush.
Just a few bits of information on the Alpine Pioneer (printed in Kiandra). When Hugh Capel wrote his book "Kiandra Gold" 6 or 7 years ago, he did a deal with the Mitchell Library. He got permission to put the complete Alpine Pioneer on microfilm - he paid for the lot, got 3 copies, one he gave to the Mitchell, one to the National in A.C.T., the third to the Cooma Historical Society in return for using some of the material from their 1956/58 Back to Kiandra book. Years ago when I did my research at the Mitchell I was only allowed to get a certain number of pages out but could only photo copy a certain percentage of it and had to wait while they got them out under nearly "armed guard security". Now a days you can just swan in, get the film and photocopy what you like - no fear of damaging old newspapers - the reason I've mentioned this David, if you so wish you can get from the Alpine Pioneer enough information to give your history of the Nine Mile some human interest. For example, from all the adverts that appear you will find the names of the hotels, at Nine Mile "The Start Spangled Banner" owned by A. Croy - The Pioneer Hotel W. Keyes owner - The Caledonian owned by Donald McGilvary. Complete with ball room, dancing every night from 7pm. (When I pass there I stand and enjoy the music coming from that ballroom of 1860).
You will also glean some of the columns that two young women had some dispute over water rights for their claim at the Nine Mile - it states somewhere that they worked it as good as any men could. It may have been Swinfield or Whitfield who let them use his water, a first for the Nine Mile diggings. Patrick Keenan, butcher, J. Teesdale store, D. Montgomery, newsagent, William Murphy (our store). Also that Solomon's Store of Nine Mile fame would pay up to three pounds thirteen shillings for genuine Nine Mile gold. Kiandra gold was of less value.
You may also find where they used fund raising drives, they apparently jammed all the hoteliers, store owners, doctors, lawyers and as it were Indian Chiefs, in other words all the non miners who prayed on the miners. (I think I saw that one non miner to every five miners was average).
In one instance raising seventy five pounds I think for Dock & Co. to continue driving their tunnel Gabriel, Edwards and a party of five from Benalla started to dig the race from south of Broken Dam on the east side of the mountain (just across from Table Top) all the way north across the head of the Four Mile Creek to come back past Milkman's Creek on the western side of the range to the Nine Mile they dug it and I have followed it all the way to where it crossed the head waters of the Four Mile. However funds ran out so it was never finished. It was to be, from memory, seven miles long. They only got about four miles done. When you compare the levels between where they started and where they were to finish, they had very little margin for error. The race started on the 1,600 metre level at 352159. I plotted it around the contour for about 7 kms to where it crossed the head of Four Mile Creek, it did originally cut across the Table Top track but finished there at 331215. I estimated that it would have returned to the Nine Mile about one km down stream of the Table Top track. It was for use at one of the tunnels, there were two or possibly three tunnels started during that first rush, one by Speck, one by Dock also one by Mollard (six foot high by five foot wide). See S.M.H. and Alpine Pioneer for dates July to October to check this out, they all ran out of funds and water early on. However the race was put to use as a short time later another group built Broken Dam on it then later built the large stone dam to store water for the sluicing claim at South Broomfield. To find out all about this you you would have to try the other papers such as S.M.H. etc. as some of these things I've mentioned happened in the early days of the rush - also the Adelong mining journal paper gave some information on Kiandra and thek interesting but tragic occurrence on September the ninth 1860. Nine or ten New Zealand miners traveling to the Nine Mile were compelled to take shelter under a tree from the fury of the rain that was falling. They had only just taken shelter before a flash of lightning blasted the tree killing four of them instantly, another one seriously injured. It happened somewhere about the Four Mile. One of them was called Pateman. You can also look this up in the Tumut's Family History Group "Small Cemeteries and Isolated Graves" it also shows that there are four graves at the Nine Mile, I have only heard of one myself, I found one some years ago but was unable to find it again after the 2003 bushfires.
You will also find on the Alpine Pioneer a statement from a group who came up from Victoria via the new easy Ligar's Route about October 1860, Bluxome was his name, they claimed there was no track just dense scrub, the whole thing a delusion, took days to push their way through. Some folk writing on that subject claimed Ligar's Route was via Happy Jacks road, this is not right, the route was on the ridge between the Tooma and Tumut Rivers, possibly Round Mountain to Tooma road track (I have some fixed views on that also).
When reading Andrews 1901 account of the discovery of gold at Kiandra it's obvious that John Lett has given him his choice, that was that Grice was the man.
He states it was the Gillon/Grice group discovered the gold but to me Andrews report seems to have been totally influenced by John Maximus Lette. Lette reportedly ran a store in the early Kiandra days, he became a JP and was later appointed a Magistrate. I know many years ago when I researched the Kiandra Hospital "our John" received a bit of criticism/reprimand over his handling of a report/complaint into misconduct at the Kiandra Hospital (reference was made as to his knowledge or ignorance of the legal proceedings).
I think you got his measure pretty well with your observation on page 14. He was still razor sharp even though nearly eighty years old. But I digress. Anyway, as two of the groups seeking the reward were from good old 100% convict stock and the third, a miner straight from the gold fields of the good old US of A, who must be like us, a free, "honest digger". He most definitely must have discovered the gold. No consideration at all given to the fact that William Russell had the "Cubmurra" run since 1848 (legally 1851), which included three or four miles frontage to the Eucumbene River, 16,000 acres, had contact with W.B. Clarke when he worked for York and Cosgrove on the adjoining Adamindumee run, possibly acting as a guide to that party. Clarke mentions in his 1851 report that some of the fanners supplemented their income by occasional panning for gold in the creeks and rivers. Possibly it was a rumour trickling back to the powers in Sydney re gold that brought Rev. Clark to the area in the first instance. The assumption that they had found gold here much earlier than reported explains a lot of my "Curiosity" as how a lot of early settlers made it "big time" so quickly. Sure some of them had money or had wealth in the family but it was one thing to secure say a run of 16,000 acres however it was not much good to you if you did not have it stocked. I know that even in the present age you could strike it lucky and, in time of drought, if having land available you can do a deal having agistment paid in breeding stock. But of course today all properties are fenced. Back in those days it was just open country, the only way you could lay claim to it or secure it was to put stock on and graze it. So it goes without saying that some of these early under capitalized stock hands got their hands on a fair bit of capital to buy stock. As they say, money doesn't grow on trees, so it must have come out of the ground or better still, the creeks and streams.
All I've done here is point out the probability that William Russell was on to the gold many years before the rush. I also know from another family's Crawford history that Pollock brothers tried to come through to Russell's in early 1859 to discuss about the gold but had to turn back because of a very heavy snow and their inability (because everything looked different) had to follow their track in the snow back down to Lobbs Hole and home. Crawford who happened to come upon the Pollock brothers had guided them through the snow to just north of where the town of Kiandra eventually became established. He was heading east towards Tantangarra, Yaouk on Wild Horse Plain. He advised them of the best/safest way to Russell's Cubmurra, he left them there. They disregarded his advice, got completely lost and as I said only just got out by following their tracks back before the snow had covered them.
Also looking at that letter written by Pollock brothers, apparently it was written from Russell's home, Cobramurra, Jan 28th 1860, stating "having found a payable gold field" etc. Signed by Pollock brothers. It is possible that William Russell thought that his "mates" were making the statement on his behalf as I know from other documents of that time that William was illiterate, as indeed were a great percentage of all people around the world.
One of the earliest deaths at the Nine Mile diggings, was Hugh Lennon aged 28 years, he was injured in a rock fall at the Nine Mile and died of lockjaw at the Kiandra Hospital on March 11 th 1861.
Regarding who discovered the gold. Check the Goulburn Herald 24.3.1860. Meeting found in favour of R. Smirral (one of W. Russell's party).
Re Ligars Route. Check 'Argus" Beechworth ? 23.6.1860 between the Tooma and Tumut Rivers.
Re tunnels, races etc. Check Alpine Pioneer, S.M.H. etc. July through to October 1860.