John Thomas Johnson

John Thomas Johnson (1849-1929)

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Children :

1..H . Samuel . Henry Johnson (b.25-4-1876.d.13/7/1962.) & H . Mary . Ellen . Reddacliff . ( b.1879 - d.1962)****
2. Charles William . Johnson . . (b.1877..d.)
3. Alice . Lucy Jane Johnson (1b.1878..d.1950..) m .H . William . . Reddacliff . . (b1881..d1942.)*****
4. Lucy Mabel Mary. Johnson . (b.11-8-1880 ..d..)
5. John Eric . Johnson . (b.27-6-1882 ..d.1968)
6. George Alexander . Johnson . (b.1884..d.)
7 .Horatio Theodore . Johnson . (b.3-2-1886..d.) m 1908 Annie Ubrihien(b.....d)
8. Jane Ivy Annie . Johnson . (b.9-11-1887...d.)
9. Mary Eliza Beatrice. Johnson . (b.31-12-1890..d.)
10. H . Kathleen . Irene Maud . Johnson . (b.13-6-1893...d.21/9/1943) m 1913 Frederick G . Borrowdale . (b.1889..d.13/8/1946)
11. Olive Isabella Ellen . Johnson . (b.4-7-1896..d.)

History & Achievements :

Newspaper Clipping 16/7/1929: John Thomas Johnson

Due to some of this item being unreadable, we have re-typed it word for word as it appeared, including any spelling mistakes. . It was written around 16/7/1929. Due to the years of difference, some of places mentioned may no longer exist. Note the /- stands for shillings (currency befor the dollar) Please note no offence is intended .If one is offended by the use of the words "Blacks", please take it up with the person who said it .
An Early Pioneer
Some early history of the Richmond River is recalled in the reminiscencees of the
late Mr. J. T. Johnson, of Byron Bay. Before he died he had put together in writing the story of his life which makes interesting reading. In his own words the story is given:
"I was born on September 21 1949 at Morpeth on the Hunter River. Schooling was
very primative in those days but I went until 12 years of age.Two years later I drove a team of bullocks for a neighbour., getting 2/-a week and a plug of tobacco every Saturday .As I was strong, I later got a rise to 15/- a week and put in six months at this job. I then learned how to mow and press hay and worked throughout the district until I was 19 years of age and then I was advised by a neighbour to go north, where "specs" were good. His brother was there and I was to introduce myself to him, but in all my future travels in the North, I never once came across the neighbours brother.
"I started for the Richmond in August, 1869, in the company of the others, George
Bryant and Harry and Robert Priddle, and we came in a schooner, as they called her, but she was more like a Baruqe with her long masts and bulk of canvas. I think her name was the Wyreema. We reached Ballina after 5 days from Newcastle and I was not sorry to get on land . I used to sip coffee when I could raise my head on board . So that on going round Ballina ( which was not much of a place then ) I looked for a meal and found it - the first for five days.
"I went back to my mates and reported that Ballina was not much of a place but
there seemed to be plenty of money about. I told them that I went into yard there ,a chap named Joe was laying 100 pound he could head them.
"There was plenty of money and plenty of rum. We did not stay long at Ballina as
two of my mates going on to work a farm for their father and the other fellow and myself intended to get a station each if we could. My chum got one, and asked me to give him a hand to clear a bit of it and put up a humpy--that was on Dungarubba station. We worked for three weeks and then became dissatisfied. One day I came in with three or four boars' tusks and said, "look here, George, this doesn't look to good for us without a gun. "O, have those pigs teeth like that?" he asked . I asked him had he not seen a boar with tusks and he replied, "Not like them ". That was enough for him and he went to the boss and told him. The boss explained to him that he could have not held that land as it was a reserve. My mate got his money back, and we carried our goods back to our old friends, who had a great laugh at our expense. We stayed a few days there felling scrub and got to know something about this work.
"I started of then looking for another job, and got one in company with a great deal
of others at the elboe, afterwards known as Swan Bay, I spent 4 months there scrub whacking and doing a little fencing and sometimes in the evening we would go with our guns after wild fowl, for the meat was very salty though cheap. We would buy a bullock of 800 or 900lbs for about lb3/10/-
"I worked on there until Christmas of that year, and then as I thought, I said
good-bye to the Richmond forever. I caught the same old craft back to Sydney were we arrived in three days with a good north-easter behind us. I thought it was good to see so many women of our own colour as the blacks were plentiful on the north. I soon went on to the Hunter, and got black to the old work, but I grew dissatisfied again and when an old friend asked ne to go to the Richmond I was with him. we left on March 2, 1870, to go overland with teams of cattle. We made good headway for the first few days, but there after we were sometimes two or three weeks flood bound in the one spot. We kept heading along, however, but finally had to put into Armidale for rations. Black sugar was 8d per lb and course salt 8d per lb, so we just got sufficient rations to carry us to Grafton. We met three families going north from the Williams River, so we put all the cattle together and come onto Grafton. The river was in flood but after some days we got the cattle over and then we again seperated.
"We made a bee line for the Rockmouth, now Woodburn, and arrived here on
June13, 1870, four months on a six weeks trip, if decent weather had been our lot. We soon found out the all the settlers were suffering a heavy loss due to the floods. I toured the river in search of work, not even a days work was offering . Finally.Henry and John Baker and myself got onto sawing, and got a crust from that and then onto pine cutting. We got 200,000 and 300,00 and then our money gave out, and rations stopped. We tried to sell some of the pine and one offered 1/- per 100 super feet. We sold about lb10's worth and that gave us a start and we chartered the "Schoolboy" and got 120,000 feet away in her and waited four months for our money. We got another load away and did not have to wait so long for this payment this was in1871 and I was "going strong"I looked for something better then and got a job hauling cedar on Jinggi Jinggi Creek. and made lb100 on that little job. That led us to cedar cutting and we got a "darkie" to go with us, but he turned us down after a couple of trips. We got hold of another one then and he took us to Hanging Rock Creek and we got a fair amount of cedar from there. We sold these to Antone Cotalove.
"We went over the range to Narang Creek - the white man called it Fosset Creek -
and from there to HorseShoe Creek - and the Bald Hill Creek and finally round to Collings Creek. The Black fellow we had was King of the Wyangerie or " Wyangarie King Charley" as he liked to call himself. His old Queen Poly " she b''long Lismore side" but Charley "blong "Wyangarie side. " We used to get rations from Lismore then, but a long time later found that Casino was easier, for it was a better track and only a little farther away. Cedar was popular then and the price went up.
"Weather conditions were very wet. Farming was not worth while, we could buy
corn for 2/-a bag, and if we found our own bags, cheaper than that. Everyone was getting away from the farms after cedar. We got about 30.000 feet and then one of our mates broke the link - he got married. We met the Robins Brothers just before this and they had put us wise to getting our rations from Casino. Cedar went slack again and we went back to drawing with our teams. That was in 73 but there wasn't much in that. We gave our bullocks a spell for a few months and Dawson and I did a bit of shipwrighting, and I made a few pounds. Sugar became popular after this period so we mustered the bullocks. and I sold mine to Gray Bros; Ballina. I worked about , building and scrub cutting., and then I decided to go back home to see my father who was ill, that being the year 1875. When I reached the Clarence, I met my brother who told me that my father was not dangerously ill. so I proceeded back to the Richmond.
3/- A DAY
"On January 14 1875, I became a married man, and my first job was that of corn chipping for 3/- a day, but that didnt last long, as I was successfull in tendering for wood cutting , Bungman, a black fellow, assisted me, and when we had cut the required quantity, we drew it with a team and then punted it: Billy Harry was another assistant on the job and we were successful in getting the wood to the mill at the required time. When the blacks were paid they said, " plenty more in nother time" I replied "right".
"I worked at the sugar mill for a while then by chance I met George McLeanand he
informed me that the boss of a station up the river was looking for a man like me to work on the station. I got the few things we had into the boat ,and my wife rode 55 miles on horse back to get the boat, and then we carted them 30 miles out to the station. The old black fellow we had when we were cedar-getting, King Charley, was there and was king of the station (Wyangarie). Billy, the yellow fellow was my guide in my work there and he knew all the tracks from Casino to the border, I was farming and bullock driving and had to mend the fences. I got on well with Billy and he informed me of the names of the places and the variouse trees. I got fed up with this life after 3 1/2 years of it, and in 1878, I took a farm from my brother-in-law, Harry Baker bushels of corn and sent it to Sydney. we got 4/6 and 4/9 a bushel, and I shared the proceeds with my brother-in-law.
"I thought my fortune was made. I got more for that corn, than my 3 1/2 years work
on the station, bought me . We put in 35 acres next year but only got 1 1/2 and1/9 a bushel for it. A mate George Baker, then joined me on the halves, and we put in corn and cane and for that year we got ld600. It was wonderful. Twenty five acres of cane went in the next year. but the frost got it and the following years crop as well.
"My mate then left me, but I kept on that farm until the big rush for land
commenced in 1882 and thinking to be in on the rush I selected some land at Byron Creek, land that we wouldn't look at before, thought it was useless. The other three who came with me were George Johnson, (now of Lismore). William Baker, (now of Myocum) and George Baker (now of Tweed Heads). The four of us went down together and I set to and fell about 25 acres and put up a humpy. A surveyor came along and I found I had to make a present of this to the fellow above me. My mates were pushed farther along the creek. My place was not surveyed for another two years as the Government Surveyors were not plentiful.
" Trouble only commenced when we got those farms No road no grass. had to let
our pack horses go back to the grass and we humped out stuff along ourselves. We - my wife and I - had to get food for our six children besides ourselves and carry it along ourselves.
" People began to talk of cows now, and I got hold of a few for our own use, and I
kept breeding them on untill butter production was thought of there. I did not know anything of cows or dairying, so I went to Lismore and on metting Mr. Robt Johnston and telling me of his experence with Butter production I went back home with fresh heart, for my money had gone and I was just about decided to leave the farm to someone else. We got busy with our 15 cows and it was not long before we had a keg of 40lbs of butter ready for Sydney.
" More scrud had to come down then and more grass in. I had always been taught
to kill grass., and the seed now I would treasureI found hard to get. I kept on tough, and we had to let our pack horse go back then rye grass, the first, I packed for 30 miles. We got burnt out and then the cattle had nothing , but paspalum came along and we were on a better footing.
"The railway later followed and we all got a few pounds out of that construction. In
1889 I secured the first mail contract from Clunes to Byron Bay (through what is now known as Bangalow). In the same year I also did some road contracting with my brother George. That was a record year for floods, and it was during one flood that young Taylor, son of a railway contractor on the Lismore Tweed Line then under construction was drowned while taking pay to employees. He was drowned between Spring Vale and Binna Burra.
"I have made an entry for the first can of cream sent to the North Coast Fresh
Food and Cold Storage Co-Op Company (now Norco Ltd), dated February 7, 1898
" From 1893, big improvements came about, the factory went up and then followed
the creamery, and later a seperator at the creamery.
"In 1899 I purchased property on the old Brunswick Road known as Milles and
went to live there in 1902. In 1907 I went to live with my son Jack , on McLoud's Shoot, Bangalow and resided there till 1909 when I bought a small property on Cooper's Shoot, two miles out of Byron bay . In 1911 I went to live in Byron Bay.
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Last revised: 03/04/2017. .