Aboriginal people work on farms throughout the Wollombi district until the turn of the twentieth century. Around 1900 the Aborigines Protection Board (APB) “rounds up” most Aborigines in the Wollombi region and puts them on reserves. Many from the Hunter region eventually end up at Purfleet near Taree. (Memorial to Darkinjung at Wollombi Museum)
Joe Governor Grace, Singleton. Plaque set into a one-metre high boulder marks the site of the grave of bushranger Joe Governor. Bushranger, Joe Governor was shot and killed on October 31, 1900, at Mount Royal near Singleton. His body was brought back to Singleton by his pursuers and it was in the Caledonian Hotel in George Street, Singleton, that the body of the Aboriginal Bushranger and multiple murderer was laid out. Joe and his brother Jimmy were passing through Singleton on the run from the law. Joe was trying to get to an Aboriginal mission at St Clair when he was split up from his brother Jimmy after an ambush. He and his brother, Jimmy Governor, were greatly feared in the district at the end of the 19th century. His corpse was not permitted within the bounds of the graveyard. (NLA)
Death of Queen Margaret, the “Awabakalin woman of the Lake Macquarie sub-tribe”. Margaret was born in Waiong near the Hawkesbury River around 1825 and lived with her husband Black Ned at Swansea Heads. Margaret, is the “last leader” of her people and a “woman of knowledge”. She was educated at Threkeld’s mission and is later remembered as an “industrious, regal figure” who kept her hut at Swansea Heads spotless with coats of whitewash twice a year. She grew geraniums against the wall of her hut and always kept a bucket of cold water by her door for the refreshment of thirsty travellers. Queen Margaret had a wallaby and magpie for company during her last years. The bird could speak in the native Awabakal dialect as well as in English. Margaret’s Bay is named after her and Black Ned’s Bay is named after her husband. (Newcastle Morning Herald, 20 May 1961).
Local newspaper report: The “Aboriginal Village” at Sackville is an ideal system, nearly all the inhabitants are able to read and write and most play the violin or concertina. They have transport in the form of a horse and trap plus a government supplied boat. They use the boat to fish and sometimes peddle the excess catch around the town. The Aborigines from Sackville also work as labourers on neighbouring farms including Tizzana Winery at Sackville Reach. Many local Aborigines work regularly at harvest time with the Fiaschi’s. Most of the children living on the Reserve have the opportunity to attend school. Students are transferred by boat to Sackville Reach Public School. (Windsor and Richmond Gazette newspaper in Nichols p6)
Adeline (Adelaide) Barber aged 13 years attends Sackville Reach Public School. She is a third class pupil who can read and write and do arithmetic. Adeline’s mother, Elizabeth Ann Morley is a white woman who lives on the reserve with her husband, John Luke Barber. They married at the Wesleyan Church, Sackville Reach 1878. Barber has been married twice before. (Brook, 1st edit, 30).
Temperance Lodge at Sackville. Wesleyan minister of Sackville, Rev J Tarn forms a Temperance Lodge “among our coloured friends”. 16 sign the pledge at the first meeting. Others promise to follow. Alfred Barber is Secretary; Wesley Barber, Alfred Everingham, Oliver Everingham and others are Officers. The law prohibits publicans serving Aborigines with strong drink but many place profit before the law. (Brook, 1st edit, 31).
“Aborigines of the Port Stephens Area”. This set of seven photographs of unnamed Aboriginal men is captioned “Aborigines of the Port Stephens Area”. It is possible that the first two (men with ceremonial headdresses and body decorations) depict men who have been brought to the coast from inland Australia to participate in Federation celebrations (as is the case for 150th anniversary celebrations). Alternatively, they may be local men who decorate themselves in this style or the photographs may be incorrectly captioned. (Newcastle Region Library)
Federation of Australia and the Commonwealth Constitution. The states join together and form the Commonwealth of Australia. The Commonwealth Constitution states that “in reckoning the numbers of the people...Aboriginal natives shall not be counted”. During debate in Queensland on protection powers over Aborigines, Augustus Gregory, Member of Parliament for Chermont, observes: the law of evolution says the “nigger” shall disappear in the onward progress of White Australia (Weekend Australian, 27-28 May 2000; Arwarbukarl Cultural Resource Association). Extract from Australian Constitution 1900 (with Section 127 before it was repealed in 1967) Interested Aborigines from the Sackville Reserve are not permitted to travel to Sydney to watch Federation celebrations. The APB reports “if granted to one district it could not be refused in others” and it would “unsettle and demoralise” the Aborigines (Brook, 1st edit, 31).
March Dr Thomas Fiaschi, owner of Tizzana Winery occasionally holds a regatta on the river for his employees. Members of the Aboriginal community are prize winners. In single skulls: E Salt (1st), S White (2nd) and Sam Morley (3rd). Double scull race iw won by S White and Fred Barber, S Morley and T Barber were 2nd , J Watkins and J Green were 3rd. A week later a challenge match takes place between Sam Morley and Les White for a stake of four pounds. Morley wins by about three lengths. (Windsor and Richmond Gazette, in Brook, 1st edit, 31).
Katherine Anne Reynolds (Mrs Thomas Fiaschi), formerly a nun, teaches music to many Aboriginal people living at Sackville Reach. They learn violin and piano and singing. An Aboriginal performing group plays gum leaf and guitar at community gatherings around Windsor. The Barber and Everingham families are involved. Chrissy and Milly Barber daughters of John Luke Barber from Sackville become fine musicians. (Brook, 1st edit, 32) W238.
Saturday August 10. A mission station under the NSW Aborigines Mission, controlled by Miss Retta Dixon, is established at the Sackville Reach Reserve. Some Christian effort is made there in July 1899 when a missionary under the auspices of The United Aborigines’ Mission visits the reserve. Its missionary aims to “take the Gospel to the dark people of Australia”. In 1901, Dixon with T E Colebrook, President and G E Bodley journey by train to Hawkesbury River station, then up the river to Sackville Reach by steamer. Alfred Barber ferries them to the reserve where 20 to 30 Aborigines are waiting. The leaf band welcomes them. On entering the church, mission members see the walls and roof decorated with “much taste”. Over the pulpit is a “nicely designed ‘Welcome’” After a prayer and address, the leaf band consisting of seven or eight young men plays music with leaves from a lemon tree.
The next day, about 50 Aborigines living on the reserve turn out, the church is almost full for the morning service. During the afternoon service, the lady missionary devotes her address to the children and teaches them some hymns. That evening Aboriginal people fill the church for another service, including 20 young men. About 16 young men hold up their hands in “token of their desire to lead a Christian life”. Work has commenced on a house for Miss Dixon.
The local newspaper writes of this missionary visit: “A Model Aboriginal Village: A visit to the Aboriginal village…at Sackville Reach, on the banks of the Hawkesbury River, will well repay the philanthropist, who can see at a glance what taste of civilisation has done for the dusky denizens…In a picturesque nook [are] some 30 or 40 habitations of the villagers…As a rule every cot has a plot of land attached to it, which the bread winner tills to perfection, and when not hoeing his own row he can be found working for his white neighbours. The little colony is the personification of happiness, and the reunions the blacks have among themselves, though not of [research] character, are none the less enjoyable. Most of them can play the violin or concertina, and they imitate their white brethren in every manner and custom. They can nearly all read and write; they have a place of worship of their own contiguous to the village; and on the whole lead moral and industrious lives. It is only when some straggler comes among them from some other district that there is any semblance of the orgy so characteristic of blacks’ camp generally. Many of them have horses and traps, and a boat supplied by the Government, it is…used for fishing, and not infrequently when they catch a surplus they hawk the fish around the towns, and the money they procure for it goes towards finding food and raiment for the ‘colony’. They dress well and live well, and are infinitely better off and more circumspect than many of the so called superior white race. A visit to the village at Sackville Reach will provide food for thought for those who are prone to aver that the Australian black cannot be civilised”. (Windsor and Richmond Gazette, in Brook, 1st edit, 34).
Sackville Aboriginal Leaf Band. At a church near Windsor, Retta Dixon speaks on mission work among Aboriginal people. She introduces her “party of Aboriginal children to render a chorus”. The Sackville party returns one pound sterling better off following a collection to aid Mission funds. There is another meeting at Windsor ten days later. Aborigines from Sackville and Plumpton (Blacktown) play music. The “Sackville Aboriginal Leaf Band” plays several musical pieces. The following Saturday evening, the band – including members of the Barber family – give a recital outside the Windsor Post Office. Residents report it sounds like a “string band”. (Brook, 1st edit, 33-34).
Relocation to Purfleet. Many Hunter River Aboriginal people end up at Purfleet near Taree. At this time, Aborigines from “black camps” in the Manning district are relocated to the government reserve at Purfleet. It is north of the Hunter Valley on Biripi lands. Worimi occupy the southern part of the region. Taree district is labour intensive with almost no unemployment for Aboriginal people. Some work on wharves and dairy farms, pull maize, cut timber or are domestic servants. 78 Aborigines live in the “black camp” on the river on the margins of society. (Memorial to Darkinjung at Wollombi Museum; Ramsland, The Aboriginal School at Purfleet, 2006).
Terry Hie Hie is a “safelands” on which many clan groups come together, including some of Gavi Duncan’s mob. Gavi is a descendant of William Bird (“Little Breeches”) from the Lake Macquarie region. John Cory owns Terry Hie Hie station and maintains good relations with Aboriginal people. Many are employed on the station and Cory recognises the Aboriginal “King” and “Queen” of Terry Hie Hie with brass plates. It has long been an important corroboree ground with many axe grinding stones. (Department of Environment and Heritage: Terrie Hie Hie Aboriginal Place)
See related video: William Burd - my Darkinjung ancestor: Gavi Duncan
A native ceremonial arch is erected in the main street of Singleton to welcome the state governor Sir Ralph Rawson. It displays artefacts collected by Alexander Morrison. The local newspaper writes: “The whole of the framework was filled in with the green foliage of the gum tree and festoons of wild clematis; both sides of the arch were decorated with [A]boriginal implements of war artistically arranged, and about half way up seats were made for [A]boriginal men to occupy. In the centre on the top of the platform a gunyah was built on the pattern formerly used by the blacks in the early days…[and] was occupied by the gins and picaninnies…two warriors stood…and brandished their weapons as the procession approached. Simultaneously the gins began their native songs”. (Morrison, "The Native Arch." The Budget and Singleton Advertiser, 29 April 1904).
Aborigines live and work on Glenrock station, Gundy. Boodle, Jimmy Crimp, Teddy Adams, Walter Sergeant, and Tom and Walter Clarke are working on Glenrock station near Gundy. Some of the “good, capable staff” employed here to manage its rugged terrain are “mission reared” and some are “reared in the bush”. Some Aboriginal women are employed for household duties. Older men carry out light duties. Jimmy Crimp, of full Aboriginal descent, grows up on the station. He spends seven years of his later life living with the Simpson family on Glenrock “as a friend, not a servant”. (Brayshaw, On revisiting Gundy, 233).
February 15. John Luke Barber dies in Windsor hospital, reputed to be 80 years old. He is buried in the Wesleyan cemetery, Sackville Reach. Two members of the family witness the burial. The local newspaper claims he married three times and was the father of 29 children. The total is most likely 21 children. His wives and children are: Bellandella (dies before 1868). They have two children: Andrew (Andy) born 1850 on “Lilburndale” near Sackville Reach and Henry (Harry). After Bellandella’s death, John Luke Barber marries Aboriginal girl Eliza Cox. They have at least one child, John Edward Barber born 1868. He is drowned in the Hawkesbury River at age 45 in 1913 and is unmarried. John Markim and Alfred Barber are witnesses at his burial. At the time of his death, John Luke Barber is married to a white woman Elizabeth Ann Morley (married 1878). They have 18 children: John, George Henry, Alfred Ernest, Maud E.A., Aurelia, Clara E.G., Adeline L.M., Susannah, Bertha B., Nina A., Maria A., Pearl, Christina P. (Crissy), Selina J., William J, and 1 male and 2 female children whose names are not recorded and probably died in infancy. (Brook, 1st edit, 47).
William Ridgeway lodges an individual land claim at Tea Gardens. As in the case of Willie Price, another Worimi man, Ridgeway gains limited ownership over part of his peoples land when he is granted permissive occupancy over beachfront land at Tea Gardens, on the northern side of the Karuah inlet. It is possible that other such Aboriginal requests to secure land between 1870 and 1905 led to the same outcome. (Goodall, 1996: 80) (Arwarbukarl Cultural Resource Association)
AIM establishes missionary activities in the Hunter Valley at St Clair (13 miles from Singleton), Redonberry (2 miles from Singleton on the Hunter River) and Karuah (Port Stephens). Retta Long later writes: at the outset, all the 80 Aboriginal people attending the mission are “outcasts”. (Retta Long, In the Way Of His Steps, 1936).
Aboriginal student, “little” Mary Robinson attends the Christian Convention in Sydney with Retta Dixon. Mary plays a large part in proceedings. She delights audiences by singing a hymn at the great Juvenile Rally and at three city churches. It is possible that the “unknown Aboriginal girl” featured in this photograph is Mary Robinson. (Singleton Argus, 28 September 1905, p2)
Many families arrive in Singleton associated with the nearby missionary work. Many Darkinjung families travel north to congregate about Singleton and the St Clair mission Some Darkinung-descent families subsequently move to the Purfleet mission at Taree. (Ian Webb, Singleton Historical Society in Ford p352).
St Clair comes under the control of the Aborigines Inland Mission, an organisation founded by Baptist missionary Retta Dixon (Long). Missionaries from various religious backgrounds uses the St Clair Mission as a recruiting ground and a mechanism to influence into Indigenous communities in New South Wales. There is a school and a profitable farm.
Singleton Aboriginal Girls Home. Retta Dixon establishes a Home for orphaned or neglected Aboriginal girls in Singleton. The original impetus for the home is the death of an Aboriginal woman, Bella Kermode from La Perouse, who dies of consumption while in Singleton, leaving daughters Harriet Pitman and Lily Kermode orphaned. During 1906, Retta Dixon marries Leonard Long. They run AIM for the rest of their lives and assume the roles of superintendent and matron of the Singleton Aboriginal Girls Home (orphanage).
Four AIM converts from the Aboriginal community at Karuah offer their services as “native workers”. Three single men are chosen to go out as mission workers and build a mission house at St Clair. Among them is Alec Russell who is a native worker for 9 years. (Cathleen Inkpin. "Making Their Gospel Known)
Hawkesbury Cricket Team. Two of Henry Barber and Annie’s sons, Frederick (Yeri) and Wesley (Muckeye) are well known cricketers. Andrew’s son Albert is also well known. All three play for Botany Cricket Team in 1907 and earlier for Sackville Reach Cricket Club. About Yeri and Muckeye’s prowess, the Windsor & Richmond Gazette reports in 1908: “It is probable that the local cricket club will be resuscitated if their services can be obtained”. (Brook, 1st edit, 50).
1907 - 1928
A “sacred concert” is held at a church in Pitt Town by the Aboriginal minstrel troupe. The troupe plays tunes of orange leaves. Miss Barber accompanies the singers on the organ, she and her brother Fred Barber play the violin. A guinea is collected to give them a “nice entertainment at Christmas”. (Brook, 1st edit, 41).
The Act provides for Aboriginal people of “mixed blood” (descent) to obtain “certificates of exemption” releasing them from the regulations of the Act. Known as “dog tags”, these certificates come at a high price. Individuals must relinquish family connections. They must not visit their own families. Many who travel to cities to work must get an exemption certificate to work. The APB views increasing numbers of certificates issued as proof of successful assimilation.
Thus begins the most hateful period of the hundred years war against the Wiradjuri and Aboriginal people more broadly: official assaults on what little remained of their land (reserves) and their family life (theft of children and official effort to stop all contact between children and parents). (Peter Read in Rowse, Lives in Custody, 42).
Aborigines Protection Act NSW and the breaking up of Aboriginal families. This Act empowers NSW authorities to implement two methods of dispersing Aborigines: the closing of reserves and the taking away of children from Aboriginal parents in order to bring them up in institutions such as Cootamundra Girls’ Home and Kinchela Boys’ Home. The Act establishes the Aborigines Protection Board (APB). This becomes the NSW Aborigines Welfare Board in 1943. The APB administers government policy, dictates where Aboriginal people can live and work, their freedom of movement, their personal finances and their child rearing practices. It controls Aboriginal lives until the 1960s, pursuing policies that contribute to the destruction of Aboriginal families and society by separating children from their parents. These children become The Stolen Generations.
The APB and Singleton Children’s “Home”. The circumstances by which children are sent to the home become more dubious. AIM shifts from a response to homelessness to assimilation through apprenticeships of Aboriginal youth in station labour and domestic service. When the APB starts asserting more influence, children are sent to Singleton after they are removed from communities, often a long way away from Singleton. The Singleton Home takes in boys as well as girls. These children are removed from their communities on the basis of racial criteria (lighter skinned children are most usually taken) from all over the state. (Cathleen Inkpin, "Making Their Gospel Known 49)
Frederick (Yeri) Barber is an accomplished singer and sings solo at the annual Australian Aborigines Conference. He is an excellent violin player who makes the “instrument talk”. His sister, Chrissy also plays the violin, having received lessons at Sackville Reach in their childhood. (Brook, 1st edit, 50) W471 W1 W10 W238.
Selling of Sackville Reserve. 96 acres including Harry’s and Maggie’s Bights are given as a Conditional Purchase to Phillip Trythall Horton of Coogee on 1 February 1909 while Aborigines are still in residence at Maggie’s and Harry’s Bights. It is not taken up and finalised until 24 August 1937 for sixty four pounds, ten shillings. (Brook, 1st edit, 43).