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«A POT OF TIN AT THE FOOT OF THE RAINBOW by Dr. John Balzer, F.RCS. Delivered at a Meeting of the Society on 25 October 1979 John Lang Locke of ...»

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by Dr. John Balzer, F.RCS.

Delivered at a Meeting of the Society on 25 October 1979

John Lang Locke of Warwick was one of the principals in the Kilmin-

ster claim dispute in the tin rush days of the Stanthorpe field in the

1870's. O f him it might be said he hved a full life, but never found that

pot of tin at the foot of the rainbow.

At the outset of this paper, might my thanks be given to Jean Harslett, co-author of 'They came to a Plateau - the Stanthorpe Saga", both for the data she supplied and for her observations. She differs from many researchers in her intimate knowledge of the terrain about which she writes - "Over the years I have made a very concentrated effort to visit as many old diggings as possible in this fairly rough country; others further west are in extremely rough country - so with sleeping bag, a small prospectors dish, some old maps and one or two old tins we tramped most of the area. And I have tin specimens from a great number of claims, some very small. The Kilminster was one of those that carried a great variety of minerals - tin, wolfram, molybdenite, arsenic, zinc, copper, and very small quantities of silver and gold These varied areas seldom produced anything worthwhile over a period; but at this stage, in the 1870's, everyone felt they would find "the lode". Some leaders were mistaken for lodes, but otherwise the tin of this area was stream and alluvial, and a study of the geology of the area will substantiate these findings and the very little likelihood of "a lode".' Stanthorpe has a Lock Street: Inquiry from the local Council drew a blank. But the first town plan^ carries a date 8.5.72 and bears in the surveyor's handwriting a second one of 21.5.72. A survey under the written instructions (no. 72458) was requested and "on April 26 1872 was transmitted with my letter no. 31/71 dated and signed by Surveyor Dr. John Balzer, F.RCS., of Sydney, was born at Casino, spent his boyhood at Warwick (Q.), and graduated in Medicine at Sydney University. He is related to the Locke family, and has given considerable time to the study of its pioneering story.

63 Crowley". This shows Lock Street in its present situation, north was Conundrum Street, and Connor Street, with crossing streets of Mary- land, Marsh, Talc and High.

This was the first survey of the "Government" town of Stanthorpe:

The land was resumed from the Folkestone run on 18.5.72 and on July 3 1872 the first land sale in the new township took place.

South of Stanthorpe at that time was the "private" township of Stanthorpe (Stannum) owned by Marsh and managed by his agent Greenup. On the discovery of dn Greenup quickly had the area surveyed, and the first auction of this land was held on May 7 1872.

Stannum consisted of a 160 acre block which for some very mysterious reason was freeholded by Marsh in 1857. Maybe it was the nature of the country, or maybe they knew tin was there and they wished to keep people off the country...

Although the first town map does not explain how that street came to be called Lock Street, it does pin-point the period of its naming, and maybe sometime will be found the background as to why it was so designated. Also the preamble may (or may not) throw some hght on the characters of Lock, Greer, Greenup and others later connected with the Kilminster case, and of their dealings. T w o of the Greenups were very tall, big men: Shepherd Greer spoke of "a squatter of gigantic size".

John Lang Locke was the son of John Locke who came in 1826 from the small village of Larling in Norfolk. His father before him also was John; they were farming, long-living folk The parish church register lists one John dying at the age of 110. In 1836 we find him overseer to Houston Mitchell of Walka.^ Houston had come from and later returned to Jamaica; he was the brother of the better-known Major later Sir Thomas Mitchell, Surveyor-General of that time. His grant of land Houston called Walka - on it now stands part of the town of Maitland Immediately he received the grant it became the subject of what in those days was a celebrated and protracted dispute regarding ownership with Sir John Jamison. The latter was a very wealthy person with extensive holdings; it is said he entertained in a much more lavish fashion than the Governor himself The final decision given some years later was based on grounds that paralleled those of the Kilminster dispute."* John Lang Locke was born at WoUombi which stood on the road that ran from Windsor to the Coal River, our present Newcastle. Mitchell from a John Medhurst purchased fifty acres of land on Wollombi Brook.5 Extant maps show the block bearing his name; it hes about seven kilometers south of Wollombi near to a property presently called 'Byora'. John Locke as Houston's overseer was sent to the new holding accompanied by his expectant wife: It was there the second son John 64 Lang was born on November 23 1838.* The second name derives from the Reverend Dunmore Lang, the prominent and positive parson of that time.

The British North Australia Company held amongst others extensive land grants in the Port Stephens/Hunter River areas. And in these parts John Deuchar worked for them. Born 1822 he came to Australia in 1840; was with the Aberdeen (later B.N.A.) Company in 1842; in 1844 was overseer for Patrick Leshe at Goomburra; in 1848 he became manager for the B.N.A. of their Rosenthal Station' on the Darling Downs then part of the State of N.S.W.


Presumably Locke and Deuchar knew one another in the Hunter Raver days. For the following year 1849, Locke who was then farming at Harpers Hill near Lochinvar, left for Rosenthal. He with his wife and eight children went by the ship the Tamar to Brisbane, and thence overland to the Downs across Spicers Gap, by bullock waggon and a three weeks trip. Today by car over the nearby Cunninghams Gap a motor car will do it in a few hours: To this day on the old Spicers Gap road are to be seen the convict built culverts.

Locke Senior's job at Rosenthal is of interest, that of overseer. An early town plan shows him as owner of blocks of land stretching from the present Locke/Guy Streets corner eastwards right down to the Rosenthal (or Deuchars) Creek, which in that vicinity was the Rosenthal Station boundary. For many years the Locke family ran a dairy on these blocks: As overseer cum dairy farmer it was an ideal arrangement.

Rosenthal, of course, extended for many miles southwards: Twenty years later it is quoted in a survey of the new Warwick-Stanthorpe R o a d "I have marked a good line, starting point Rosenthal Creek 20 miles from Warwick, on the Maryland R o a d..."^ In 1871 at Rosenthal Station close to the about-to-be-discovered tin areas John Lang Locke was working as a splitter.' Greer was a shepherd in the near vicinity: Presumably this was how they became acquainted with each other.

Earlier in 1867 he is listed as working on Tenterfield Station. It was at Tenterfield'° in 1863 the Church of England minister P. M. Gill married him and Frances Kilmister of Highworth, Wiltshire; he was 24, she 19.

The marriage certificate carries her and her father's signature as Kilmister; later government documents vary from Kilminster to Killmister."

The Stanthorpe Saga reads... "a year later it is recorded with authenticity that tin was found by Joseph Greer a shepherd of original character on the Nundubbermere Run. Nothing eventuated from this 65 at the time, but the area was subsequently worked and known as the Kilminster situated six miles west of Ballandean. The name of Kilminster comes from the maiden name of one of Joseph Greer's partner's wife..."

In the Historical Records of the Stanthorpe Tin Fields'^, PoUett Cardew later writes that a very original character called Joe Greer was the first man in the district to find tin, he found some specimens of it some fifteen years before the value of it was known on the Nundubbermere Run, but nothing came of it at the dme. Although he tells the story of how he and an aged relative of his'^, 'fought a battle' over some tin country with a neighbouring squatter of gigantic size and strength;

they supposed the field to be a vast mountain of wealth obtainable by a mere scratching of the ground; but in the end the squatter gained the victory and the search for tin was abandoned at the time... Jones and Greenup secured 640 acres...".

Cardew's report in other respects contains inaccuracies: He writes in May 1883 the railway line was extended from Warwick to Stanthorpe: it was completed and opened in 1881, two years earlier.''' The Brisbane Courier^^ writes that the prospectors' claim at Nundubbermere is known as Kilminster, and the original shareholders were Locke, Greer, and Fredrick, who also had three labourers in their employ all busy at work (another rendering 'as busy as beavers') procuring and bagging away as much ore as can be obtained, there being a row about the claim which if not arranged by arbitration is likely to give rise to an important case in the Supreme Court respecting ownership... It is said plenty of funds will be forthcoming to see them through supposing the gentlemen in the long robe have to deal with the point at issue. The claim is situated as far as I can gather on the side of the hill and asserted to be surprisingly rich both as regard alluvial and lode tin.


Again The Queenslander^^ under the heading "Correspondent Warwick 8.3.72." writes: "Tin, Tin, The Cry Everywhere... etc. There is rumour in town of Mr. Greenup and his legal holding of 740 acres will be tried in a court of law and from what I can learn it appears Lock and party have taken possession of land in so far as blazing trees. Then they made application for ground, but owing to some informality in their papers they were returned to have mistake and omission rectified, and in the interim Greenup applied for and claimed the land Greenup had an offer from Brisbane speculators for ;£5000 for the land".

In documents the name Locke, even for the same person, is spelt differently with or without the "e". It is written that whilst the Lockes were at Rosenthal, George Leslie of Canning Downs donated a shepherds hut to be used as a school. It lay close to the boundary 66 between the two stations. Listed amongst the first pupils of that school were the Locke children.'^ In later years the daughters were gentle folk of good education; indeed Alice, the only spinster, earned her livelihood as a professional music teacher.'^ In what respect there was informality - either omission or mistake in the Locke, Greer, Fredrick application form probably will never be known. Or which of the three, if any, submitted it to the warden's office.

But probably Locke: His name is most quoted in the newspaper reports.

Just his standard of education is suspect. Certainly he signed his own marriage certificate; on the other hand he was an unskilled rural worker

- blacksmith, station hand, splitter, prospector, farmer. One of his brothers, William has, on his marriage certificate, 'X' his mark, for signature. In these days of modern education the reason for this may be difficult to understand - to forget how to read or write. One must remember that even now in N e w Guinea, native children who have received say a mission education need be back with their tribe only three

to five years and they have forgotten completely how to read or write:

Such is simply no part of their culture. Not that this is to belittle their native intelligence; bush natives who never have even set eyes on a school will count thousands of coins with never a mistake.

The Kilminster Claim no. 296 (presumably the re-submitted one) dated 26.2.1872 was for Coutts, Lock (sic), Greer and Fredrick.

Claims no. 562 and 563 were Thornton, Horwitz, Locke (sic) and B.

Goggins. Bartholomew Goggins was Locke's brother-in-law, and was a well educated man. So it is probable it was he who filled in the claim application no. 296. From Athboy, County Meath, he is said to have studied for the Church but changed his mind and migrated. He by trade was a carpenter. In 1861 he married Ann Locke - in a time when things ecumenical had hardly the popularity they have today. Goggins did much writing: He kept his parish church records. And he was scribe for many an illiterate Irish labourer who wanted to correspond with his sweetheart - particularly on that occasion when, having saved the boat fare for her, he would ask her to come and be his bride. On one such occasion he was writing for a Tom Tyrell. "Now Tom", says Goggins, "will I read it back to you?" "Good heavens no, Bartie," was the rejoinder, "you would know what's in id!"

For his bride Goggins built a home on land given by his father-in-law:

The cottage was of silky oak, with shingle roof, originally an ant-bed floor and no ceiling. Later a wooden floor was put down (which made the lintels of the doors rather low), and adding a canvas ceiling began a ritual of its yearly white-washing. Nowadays silky oak is used only for 67 fine furniture, but in the pioneering days, compared with the hard woods, it was easy to fashion; and what was very important, it was white-ant proof The home was one of the first pit-sawn houses built in the fledgling town of Warwick. Between the verticals were silky oak panels a metre wide and about a two-thirds metre high: Timber of such dimensions does not exist now. The nails were of copper and were headless. To that part of the house nearest the street corner was later added another room with an outside wall of hardwood "round backs", this as a protection. For from time to time a bullock wagon harmed that corner - when Daisy or Violet was slow in responding to the bullocky's commands. The old home with its shingled roof stood sixty years or more, and with its encircling wisteria vines in the springtime was a joy to behold.

John Lang Locke and his wife Frances.


Mining apphcations lodged at Warwick in respect to the Nundubbermere and Pikedale areas up to mid-August 1872 reached the large figure of 2215.21 The eight surveyors available could not possibly keep up with this deluge of claims. It is said incredible things were happening, what with claim-jumping, hopping, gully-raking and the like.

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