EARLY PENINSULA DAYS.
CHARTEJfcftf* BAY AND PUKAU
i In Saturdays "Lyttelton Times" appears an accouU of his early life on the Peninsula given by a farmer, now in Seffcon-—ftfr James i,shworth. The following extracts dealing w itb the early days in Charteris Bfly aiitl Purau are of iotereet to our Peninsun^etid
"Afrer that," Mr Ashwoith went on, "■■! y father and I got wcvk d Being 'inas:i-a!l pnddeck at- fcumuer for h .Mr Ptukioson. It was 'ditch uiio i bank' work, and wa walked over frotrjLvtte'ton every morning and back I again every night. There wasn't a soul in Butnner in those days. It was all tussock and sandhills, and a big row of sandhills ran down the centre of the valley. After that my father and mother went to Charteris Bay to manage a dairy for Dr Moore. They made cheese, which was sent over to LytteltoD, and ray father and I fried io the times clearing the land. Tb9 doctor was quite a big man in those days, and brought into the country some of the best stock. Seme of the bulls that he bred he sold at £50 to £100, and I helped to deliver the animals to their uew owners. Most of the stock was Shorthorns, but the doctor also had some of the first Alderney cows brought to this country. I was the bullock puncher. Wβ used bullocks in those days, for I don't suppose there were a doz?n working draught horses in Canterbury. "Well, after being with the doctor for six rnontb3 we went to work for Mr R, H. Rhodes at Purau. The greater patfc of the valley was under busb, but there was a bit of clear land at the bottom, near the shore, Wβ farmed a piece of land right opposite Ripa Island. Io those days MiRhodes owned all the land from Port Levy to Cuarteris Bay, besides Kaituna and another large block on the edge of Lake Ellesmere. He supplied Lyttelton and the shipping with all the fresh meat required, and once a fortnight or once a month, as needed, I would go with others to Kaituna or the other block and drive the cattle over. We always came by way of M'Quinn's Saddle to what is now called Teddington, and then round the harbour to Purau. There the stock was killed, Mr Rhodes bad a wbaleboat and every day be would go across wiih from ten to thirty sheep and take meat off to the boats as required. We built the house we lived in, getting the timber out of the bush. Mr Rhodes's house was buiit of stone obtained from tbe hillside above the bay, and with bullocks and a sledge I brought the stone down to the site of the homestead, "To one man whom I met at Purau in those very early I attribute a great deal of my 3ucc39S in life, Hia name was Williams—Jim Williams— and he was one of the finest men I ever mci. Nothing would balk him, and he could turn his hand to anj c'as3 of work. I remember going tc Dr. Moore's sale in Cbarteris Bay somewhere about 1855. Jim boughl some implements and made a sledge to bring them round to Purau on. J Vy ( ent with him. Of course there was rTo road at that time, and 1 reraembei that we came to a place where th< bullock team couldn't pass betweer some big rocks. In a tight cornel Williams always had some apt saying, and this time he said to me ' Jim, mj lad, we haven't been beaten yet, and we are not going to be, , Wa unyoked the bullocks, took them through one by one, got the sledge through, yoked up and on we went, It was the came coming back, only we had tv carry the implements through our selves. Nothing beat Williams, 1 remember wo used to get big logs and stumps out of the bush for firewood One day the bullocks dregged down c i stump that was all knots. Wecouldn'l ' split it. Jim said, ■ Burn it as it is, but we couldn't get it into the house i Wei', we had a big open fire place i and the chimney was built of stones I cfx the beach Jim built it himself iWe got the log near the door, Ther i Williams knocked a stone out of the ; back of the chimney, put the bullocl chain through, fixed it to the log : and with the bullocks drew the stumr. • right into the fireplace. He was £ colonist of tbo right sort was Wil , liams. I won't forget him. -, "We went to Purau in February 1854, but after being there we let '. owing to some slight grievance. Mj 1 father and I came over to the plaint harvesting We carried our swag: 1 from Lyttelton to Christchurcb, anc 1 then on to where Belfast now is There we worked for a Mr Treleaver. :on land just north of the Styx, Ali the work was done with sickle anc scythe, but the wheat sold for 10s 8 bushel. While there my fatner toot ill, and twice in one day I walked tc Lyttelton and back to get medicine, I was eleven years old at that time, : When my father recovered we went 1 back to Lyttelton and I went down to see the men in the whaleboat. There were only two regular boatmen, and if 1 the sea was rough it was part of the agreement between Mr Rhodes and his men that they must go in the boat I've seen four of us pulling for hours in the face o£ big seas. When the boat got to Purau fcbey told Mr Bhodes that they had seen me and be came over straight away. I was only eleven years of age at the time, but he insisted that I should go back to Purau, and gave me £1 a week. Three months later my parents came back to manage the dairy. My work was ploughing and I broke up all tha land on the hill behind the bouse with a one wheel Ransome and Sims plough. Often tiine3 the furrow would be two feet wide.
"In those days Mr Bhodes used to bring naob3 of sheep from Tiaiaru, Tuey were brought up to the Ellasmere property 500 or 600 at a time, and then we brought them over to Purau. Sumetimed I would go as far down as Ashburton to meet the mob.
I remember that Mr Rodes Kept a fine mare solely for bis Timaru trips, and every time be wanted to. go the mare bad to be broken in again. Talking of the plains reminds me of an experience I bad ia 1866, With others I had carted down timber and stuff for a homestead at Rangitata We were oa the way back when we noticed a fire across the Ashburton towards the hills. We pushed on, but wh<n about half way between the Ashburton and the Bakaia the fire caught us, The plain was ablaze from river to river and we had to force our horse 3 through the flames to save their lives and our own.
"To get back to Purau. Jim Williams had been farming a piece of land on shares and my father bought him out. The share system amounted to this: Mr Rhodes found the bul« and the land and one bag of seed, and the farmer provided the labour and two bags of seed. They divided the yield in the same proportions, Mr Rhodes one sack to the farmer's two. .No rent was charged and there was no cash in the whole transaction. In addition to farming the land my people continued to manage the dairy and that lasted until October, 1859, when a wet season made it necessary for us to again strike out."
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Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LXXII, Issue 4374, 24 February 1914
EARLY PENINSULA DAYS. Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LXXII, Issue 4374, 24 February 1914
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