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HAY SESQUICENTENARY WEB-LOG –– 1857
['Edward River District' correspondent (report dated 8 July 1857), Sydney Morning Herald, 4 August 1857]
MR. SURVEYOR PARKINSON. – This gentleman is engaged in surveying a number of back blocks on the Murrumbidgee.
['Lower Murrumbidgee' correspondent (report dated 25 July 1857), Sydney Morning Herald, 4 August 1857]
THE WEATHER, &C. – During the past two months, this part of the bush has been favoured with a succession of fine showers, which have caused the burnt up plains to change their long barren aspect for a slight greenish tint. We appear to have been more fortunate than our neighbours in respect to rain, as the settlers along the Billybong are making great complaints of the long continuance of dry weather in that part of the colony. Many of the mornings have been excessively foggy, and on such occasions there have generally been falls of rain in the after-part of the day. A few severe frosts have already visited us, and on one occasion a small quantity of ice was visible – a rather rare occurrence in this locality. On the afternoon of the 18th instant there was a rapid succession of most beautiful rainbows, the final one being a very elegant and perfect double rainbow. The immense quantity of mosquito spawn noticeable on all the plains seems to give public notice that these elegant and useful insects intend to visit us in very large swarms during the coming summer. The Murrumbidgee commenced rising on the 26th June, and has continued to come up with little intermission until the present moment; if it continues to rise at the same rate it will be bank high in about a week more. Many of the creeks are already much flooded, and it is generally thought that we shall have a heavy and long-protracted flood. Several good flushes have lately come down the Lachlan, and have much flooded the extensive reed beds at the junction, as the high state of the Murrumbidgee has prevented much of the water from flowing away. The blacks have been busy netting fish in the mouth of the Lachlan, and have had fine catches of bream, perch, and cod. The wild duck have of late become so wild that it is very difficult to spear them, and many of the blacks have obtained possession of muskets and ammunition to enable them to procure their accustomed supply of these delicious birds.
['Lower Murrumbidgee' correspondent, extract from a report dated 8 August 1857, Sydney Morning Herald, 21 August 1857]
SURVEYING. – Mr. Parkinson, licensed surveyor, is at work on the Murrumbidgee, at Lang's station, near the Punt, and is reported to be marking out a spot for a Government township.
On 1 September 1857 a first attempt was made to navigate a steamer along the Murrumbidgee River when the fifty-foot Mosquito, under Captain William Masson, entered the mouth of the river. The small steamer was part-owned by the businessman, Albert H. Landseer, who was Cadell's agent for the river trade. Despite the progress of the Mosquito being hampered by snags, the steamer reached as far as Balranald before turning back.
['Lower Murrumbidgee' correspondent, extract from a report dated 27 November 1858, Sydney Morning Herald, 9 December 1858]
... anyone on referring back to the columns of the Herald, in September, 1857, would find it chronicled, that a small steamboat, of about twenty tons, named the Mosquito, succeeded in making her way up the Murrumbidgee, as high as Balranald, where she lay on Sunday, the 6th September.
The blacksmith, Thomas Simpson, came from Deniliquin to Lang's Crossing-place in December 1857, whereupon he commenced the construction of a cottage and blacksmith's shop. He chose a high spot on the eastern side of the deep river-bend, on a portion of the area which later became known as Wharf Reserve (in the vicinity of the present Hay Tennis Courts and nearby houses adjoining the Bushy Bend Reserve). Simpson had received the sanction of Henry Jeffreys, the lessee of the "Illilawa" run, on whose land he settled.
Thomas Simpson was a young man, aged about 22 years, when he settled at Lang's Crossing-place. He was born in about 1835 in Yorkshire, England, probably at the village of Kildwick (between Skipton and Keighley). In 1855 Thomas Simpson emigrated to Melbourne in company with his elder brothers, William and Joseph (both of whom were married). The three Simpson brothers were blacksmiths by trade. They settled for short periods at several of the goldfields of central Victoria, but by 1857 the brothers had made their way to Deniliquin, where William and Joseph Simpson settled with their families.
Thomas Simpson probably desired to establish a business for himself, without direct competition with his brothers. Lang's Crossing-place was nearby to a number of prosperous pastoral runs as well as being the site of an important river crossing on a much-used stock-route, so a blacksmithing business at that location would provide a desirable amenity for settlers and travellers alike. Simpson claimed that there was "no other blacksmith within a circuit of eighty miles" when he moved there.
[Section of a letter dated 26 July 1867, written by Thomas Simpson to the Department of Lands (in support of his application to purchase the land on Wharf Reserve where he had first settled), published within the article ‘When Gold sent Hay to the Murrumbidgee – and Thomas Simpson, Early Settler’, Riverine Grazier, 4 February 1955, page 1 & p. 4(1-2)]
In the month of December, 1857, I was induced at the request of several of the squatters and other settlers in the Murrumbidgee district to leave Deniliquin in order to commence my business as a blacksmith which was then much required in the district, and in that month I took up residence on the Murrumbidgee River on a portion of the run which then was the property of Mr. Jeffreys who gave me permission to occupy such land for the purposes of erecting a dwelling and shop, and under such circumstances I became the earliest settler at the place now known as the town of Hay, and one of the only persons who made anything like permanent improvements upon the land before the place became the site for a township.
My establishing myself as a blacksmith at this place was at the time, I venture to say, a matter of acknowledged public convenience, there being then no other blacksmith within a circuit of eighty miles from this town, and one of the considerations which weighed with and induced me to take up my abode here, the then bush, was the knowledge that I should be permitted according to the usual practice to purchase without competition the land whereon I settled in consideration of the improvements erected by me.
The occupation of such a land by me was sanctioned not only by Mr. Jeffreys, the then owner or the run or station of which it formed part, but also by Mr. Beckham, Commissioner of Crown Lands for the district, which latter gentleman encouraged me to remain on the land and continue to make improvements thereon, stating that he believed the Government would recognise my right to the land improved by me.
I was in occupation of the land referred to and had made my improvements thereon long before the land was reserved for or proclaimed as a township and consequently long before the town of Hay was laid out and surveyed so that the Government, I submit, were aware through their surveyor who laid out the township that my improvements then existed and were to a great extent then made. The reservation for a town was made on the 1st July, 1859, so that I had been a resident here for nearly two years.
[Part of a speech by the auctioneer, George Butterworth, on the occasion of the sale of "Mr. Simpson's block of land opposite the Post Office", published in the Riverine Grazier, 24 November 1875]
Gentlemen. – I am happy in being called upon to come before you on the present occasion. This is a day which has doubtless been looked forward to with interest by many assembled here... It is now eighteen years since Mr. Thomas Simpson, in the height of a terrible summer, crossed the Old Man Plain from Deniliquin, and arrived on the other side of the river, at what was then called Lang’s Crossing place, and settled down to the vigorous prosecution of his calling as a blacksmith to supply a want which was greatly felt in the district. The back blocks were then a terra incognita, and they said there was no Sunday on this side of the Murray.
[Pastoral Times, 18 May 1867]
Mr. Simpson may be called the founder of Hay; he was the first bona fide tradesman in the township…
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