Cowra in Days Gone Bye by J C Ryall. 2/ (Pages 9 to 16)

Part Two.
 Published on 14 December 1921

Some Very Live Business Concerns. Stores and Businesses.

In our last issue one of Cowra’ s old time butchers has been erroneously dubbed Kelly, his name was Skelly.

The late Mr John H. Fitzgerald, father of Mrs. Henry Hart, one of our most esteemed townsmen, was a contractor for the erection of bridges in various districts throughout the colony, and the late Mr Thomas O’ Shaughnessy and the late Mr Bernard Monaghan were roadmaking contractors exclusively. Mr Arthur J.C. Single, a member of a very old Nepean family, was the road superintendent, with headquarters at Grenfell, but early in ’78 he was directed to transfer his office to Cowra, and to reside there. The cottage now occupied by Mr W.A. Stokes was his first place of residence. Amongst the the very live business concerns in the place was the steam flour mill under the control of Messrs. Sam and Phil Rheuhen. It was then owned by Mr Patrick Walsh, of Kikiamah, in the Grenfell district, and is now the property of Mr H.H.S. Francis. It was been silent for some years. Mr John Clinch, son of Captain Clinch, who for many years had command of the steamship Tasmania, then trading between Sydney and Hobart, was Cowra’s first Post and Telegraph master, the duties of postmistress having prior to his arrival been carried out by Mrs. Jones, sister of Messrs. Austin Bros. A small building at the rear of Messrs. Squire, Pepper & Co.’s new drapery store was the first official post and telegraph office.

Only One Bank

The Australian Joint Stock Bank was Cowra’ s sole financial institution, Mr W.A. Stokes being manager, and Mr E.J. Collins, now of Tamworth, accountant, the premises occupied being those now held by Messrs. C.K. Rose & Co., and Messrs. Garden & Montgomerie.

The Public School, which has since been altered out of all recognition, was then a very small institution in proportions and number of pupils under instruction. The late Mr Quick was the head master. Mr Quick was subsequently in charge of schools at Cargo and March, in the Orange district. He was a man with many sterling qualities, and succeeded in winning the esteem and regard of hosts of friends. He, too, and his worthy wife, have crossed the Great Divide.

Nearest Railway Station was Blayney

Cowra’s nearest railway station was Blayney, distant 45 miles, and old-timers will doubtless have grim recollections of the coach journey between the two towns. Departing from Cowra at 2 p.m., Blayney was not reached until 10 p.m.–eight hours. The last ten miles, between Carcoar and Blayney, was dreaded by those who happened to be passengers owing to the tedious up- hill journey, and as Blayney was approached the bleak, cold breeze that swept across King’s Plains.

The late Mr John F. Fagan, who in those days was the landlord of the Royal Hotel at Carcoar, was the contractor for a daily mail service between Blayney and Grenfell–eighty miles, and his staff of drivers included Messrs. W H., and George Boxhal, Sam Grahame, J.P. Poole, Peter Toohey, J. McCormack, and occasionally Joe Potter. The Genial Mr. Lynch, was then the representative of the Carcoar electorate, in which Cowra was included. Few men possessed the faculty of winning friends to a greater extent than our good, kind hearted old friend. With the heads of the various Government Departments, his persuasive powers were regarded as irresistible, any reasonable request being immediately acceded to. His memory will forever remain green with his hosts of old friends.

Cowra’s population forty three years ago was between 500 and 600 souls. The agricultural industry was then in its infancy, those who engaged in it being dependent on single furrow ploughs and the old style of harrow to till the soil, the draught horses, too, compared with now in use, were absolute weeds. It can be readily understood that under such disadvantages, the cultivated areas were very restricted. The clearing of land for the plough was not as readily accomplished as it is now. Green timber had to be grubbed tree by tree. Pulling down timber with forest devils was unheard of, hence, where clearing can now be effected for a few shillings an acres, it used to run into from £3 to £5 per acre.

The same primitive methods prevailed in connection with harvesting Strippers were little known, and harvesters and headers were not in existence. Considering all the disadvantages farming laboured under, not the least being the distances travelled to the railway, it ought not be wondered at that cultivated tracts were few and far between.


 Published on 21 December 1921

Cowra in 1878.

I find that when referring to academic institutions of the past, the Catholic school has been overlooked. It was a very creditable seminary. The enrolled pupils being large considering the size of the town. The diminutive building used for divine worship, and which is now used as a Convent High School classroom, was also made to serve for the instruction of Catholic children in the rudiments of education. Miss Purcell, who was later Mrs. E.J. Collins, was the teacher.

A ladies seminary was conducted by Miss Macdonald in a weatherboard cottage near where Mr Stokes’ office now stands. Miss Macdonald, who was an accomplished musician, was also a teacher of music. After a couple of terms the principal of the seminary mysteriously disappeared and the school ceased to exist.

Amongst the outside hotels I find that I have omitted to mention the Bumbaldry hostelry, of which Mr George Wilson, brother of the late Mrs Chivers,sen, and father of Mr George Wilson (Bumbaldry) and Mr Robt Wilson (“The Gem”) was landlord.


No Public Institutions

In the way of public institutions there was an absolute blank, hence in that respect a start had to be made off scratch. There was a lamentable absence of initiative, method and organisation. It is true that race meetings were held at spasmodic intervals at Mulyan, now Mr J.H. Fagan’s property, but there was no recognised club, the control of such meetings being invariably vested in a few self appointed individuals, who raised funds for their meetings by means of subscription lists left at hotels and stores, followed a systematic canvass of the town and district. Such sports as cricket, pigeon shooting, billiard tournaments, etc., were supported in a similar haphazard manner. Clubs with office-bearers were unknown. This was the state of affairs that existed when the “Free Press” appeared on the scene. Thus, it will be readily realised the task a journalist had to face at the outset. a state of absolute chaos had to be reduced to something.Thanks, however, to the generous support and co-operation of a number of progressive spirits, several much needed institutions were successfully established, and that many of them to-day exist is due to the perseverance and persistent efforts of a comparatively small band of townsmen who were solely actuated by the noble impulse to improve the status of the town, and to better the conditions of the people. How this was accomplished will be gleaned from future contributions extracted from the files of the “Free Press” which will appear under the heading of “A Retrospect”.


 Published on 24 December 1921

Stores and Businesses  A RETROSPECT 

Cowra on the Business pages of the first issue of the “Free Press” dated Wednesday, February 20th, 1878, the- following advertisers are represented:

–Storekeepers–Peter Murray, Denis Donnelly, Austin Bros.,

 –Stock and Station Agents– C. Stibbard, John Muir, P.B. Ryall, J.L Waugh (Grenfell), T. Holten (Grenfell).

–Blacksmiths and Wheelwrights–Hugh McLeod, Seymour and Simpson, Geo. Lawrence, John A. Pryor, Lockett & Crawford;

 Solicitor–F.B. Freehill;

Cordial factory–E. Fitzgerald;

Surveyor and Land Agent–Joseph Ryan (Sydney);

Hotelkeepers–Thos Clyburn (Canowindra), Robt. Daly, Thos Walsh, Oscar Broander (Goolagong);

Colonial Wine Merchant–C. Schweitzer (Grenfell);

Saw Miller–R.M. Vaughan (Grenfell);

Jeweller and Watchmaker–W. Whittaker;

Bank– A. J . S. Bank, W . A. Stokes, manager;

 Fancy Goods–C. Stibbard.;

Medical–Dr. Borgoyne (Grenfell);

 Builders and Contractors–J.N. Hardy (Grenfell) , W.M. Murray (Canowindra);

Butcher–John Butler, who announced that he had sold out to John Hood;

 Millers–Rheuben Bros;

Architect–W.S. Potts (Grenfell);

 Fruitiers and Oyster Saloon–Page & Williams;

Saddlers– Share & Berry; Chemist–C.J. Lewin;

Tailor–Jacob Weifert; Undertaker–F. Farbrother (Grenfell);

 Insurance Agents–R. Stevenson, F . B. Freehill , C. J . Lewin;

Baker–John Arnold.


1878 News Items

Amongst the news items, we notice that the efforts of Mr Andrew Lynch, M.L.A., have been instrumental in bringing about an improved mail timetable. Henceforth the mails are to leave Cowra for Carcoar and Blayney. at 1 p.m. daily (Saturdays excepted) and arrive at Cowra at 11 a.m. Dr. Cherry L.H.C.S. Edinburgh, announces that he has commenced the practice of his profession here. The re-establishment of a public pound has been directed by the Grenfell bench of magistrates in response to a petition from Goolagong residents.

Through the efforts of Mr C.J. Austin in raising funds amongst his friends, a fine new organ has been installed in the Presbyterian Church, which is regarded as a united Protestant.

The Minister for Works (Mr Farnell) from his place in the House, in reply to a question from Mr Lynch, M.L.A., stated that the plans for a new courthouse at Cowra were in readiness, and that tenders would be called when a suitable site had been determined upon. We are credibly informed that £6000 has been placed on the estimates for a new courthouse and post office at Cowra. Good progress is being made with the erection of the walls of the new Catholic Church.

A phenomenal fall of rain was experienced in Cowra on February 14th. Amongst the town improvements mention is made of the completion of Mr I.J. Sloan’s cottage in Brisbane-Street. Satisfactory progress is also reported in connection with the erection of the new portion of Mr Robertson’s Club House Hotel. Mr A.J.C. Single having been directed to remove his office of Road Superintendent from Grenfell to Cowra, has with his family, entered into occupation of Mr Sloan’ s cottage. Mr Single will most assuredly be an acquisition to our community.

Mr Reed, postal and telegraph assisted here has been promoted to the charge of Rockley office. Being a most efficient and exemplary public officer his promotion is well deserved. The decision of the Public Works Department to erect an up-to-date post and telegraph office here at an early date is the source of much gratification to our townsfolk. The ill-adapted, inconvenient and unsightly premises now made to do duty for an important public office is a positive reflection on the Postal Department, hence the sooner the proposed change is effected the better it will be for the public and officials.

The late rain has improved the appearance of the country around Canowindra. The Belubula is running a half banker. On February 3rd, a stack of hay belonging to Mr T. Clyburn, which was close to the Victoria Hotel and store, was consumed by fire. The persistent efforts of a number of energetic neighbours alone prevented the spread of the conflagration to the Hotel and store. A coronial inquiry was subsequently conducted by the coroner Mr Dodd, of Carcoar, when it was found that there was no evidence to show how the fire originated.

The Canowindra district, although provided with five stores and three Hotels is dependent for its public protection on district centres. The nearest places where Courts of Petty Sessions are held are Cowra and Toogong. A place of Canowindra’s population and importance is unquestionably entitled to one resident police officer at least, also a Court of Petty Sessions, and both must come ere long.


Published on 7 January 1922.

Cowra Lavishly Endowed With Natural Resources

Mr W. J. Quick announces that arrangements have been made at the Public School for giving pupils lessons on the pianoforte and in various kinds of fancy work. Terms strictly moderate. Mr J.L. Waugh conducts an auction sale of sheep at Grenfell on Feb. 28th. The sale of town properties at Grenfell, advertised by him for March 2nd, has been postponed till March 9th.

Forage contracts for the police are invited by the Colonial Treasurer. An article in the leader column of the issue of March 6th, contends that Cowra is capable of supporting an Agricultural Association and argues that a district of such immense possibilities must be brought into prominence through the establishment of an institution of such an educational character. It points out that districts like Grenfell, Carcoar, Blayney and Young, which have not been so lavishly endowed with natural resources and advantages as Cowra have thriving and well established associations in full operation, hence it might be reasonably maintained that so splendid a district combined with its centrality, was destined to take a place in the agricultural world equal–if not superior–to any of the neighbouring districts.

In the same issue and advertisement appears over the names of D. Donnelly, Austin Bros., Rheuben Bros., and P. Murray, convening a public meeting for Monday March 11th, with the object of taking steps to form an Agricultural Association in connection with the town and district. The meeting convened for Feb. 28th, ‘with the object of forming an Amateur Dramatic Club was fairly well attended, Dr. Cherry being in the chair.


Amateur Dramatic Club Formed

Mr J.C. Ryall, after dilating on the advantages that would accrue from the existence of such a body, moved that “That an Amateur Dramatic Club be now formed.” Seconded by Mr Lockett, who narrated his experience in connection with similar clubs at Wagga and other towns. The motion was carried. The chairman at this stage vacated the chair in favor of Mr F.B. Freehill. The election of officers resulted as follows:-President, F.B. Freehill; treasurer, D. Donnelly; secretary, C.J. Lewin; stage manager, A. Lockett; committee, A.R. West, W.A. Stokes, W.J. Quick, Z. Berry and J.C. Ryall. The meeting then adjourned.

A single wicket cricket match took place on the flat near the river between teams picked by Messrs. W.A. Stokes and James Ousby. Following were the scores:-Quick 0, Ousby 2, Berry 0; total 2. All the wickets were taken by Whittaker. Collins 2, Whittaker 7, Stokes 3, total 12. In their second attempt Ousby’s side scored 3 only. Thus Stokes’ side won with 7 runs and an innings to spare.

Through the efforts of Mr A. Lynch, M.L.A., the police district of Cowra has been extended to the north of Canowindra. Mr Duggan, a resident of fifty years, died on Feb. 27th.

An editorial strongly urges the necessity for proceeding with the erection of the proposed new courthouse, the building at present in use being pronounced as inconvenient and wholly unsuitable. The proposed reading room promises to be a success. On Friday, March 1st–Thanksgiving Day–divine service was conducted by Rev. J. Young in the Union Church. Mr C. Stibbard conducts an auction sale on account of Mr Wm. Austin, on March 11.

P.B. Ryall was granted an auctioneer’s license by the local Bench on March 4. The orderliness of the town and district was evidenced by there being a clean sheet at the Police Court last week.


Jockey Club Meeting

An effort to form a Jockey Club is to be made at a meeting on March 9th. The late Canowindra races were, we learn, only poorly attended. The Maiden Plate was won by J. Lynch’s Fair Ellen, J. Fagan’s Aristocrat appropriated the Town Plate, also the Flying. On the second day, Reckless and Aristocrat ran a great race in the Canowindra Handicap, the former eventually winning by a length. J. Grant’s Comet walked over for the Belubula Handicap, and the last race was won by J. Duffy’s Vixen. Rev. Father Phil Ryan, P.P., announces that a bazaar will take place during April to raise funds for the completion of the new church, which it is anticipated will then be ready for occupation.

G.D. Grant cautions persons against trespassing in the Merriganowry paddocks. Miss McDonald intimates that she has made arrangements for the erection of a new schoolroom in connection with her ladies seminary. John Muir, poundkeeper, advertises 11 impoundings.

At the Police Court on March 11th, two local identities, noted for irritability when in their cups, were fined 10/- [$1] and 1/- [10c] respectively. On the same day Thos Male was charged with having slaughtered a heifer at Waterview without giving the requisite notice. A technical objection raised by Mr Freehill, for the defence, proving fatal, the information was dismissed.


Published on 18 January 1922


Cowra School of Arts Library and Reading Room

John Arnold was granted a Colonial wine license, and Edwin Pound, of Redback, near Cliefden, a slaughtering license. Following members of the committee appointed to arrange preliminaries in connection with the proposed reading room met at the Fitzroy Hotel on March 14th:-Rev. J. Young (chairman), Messrs. Alford, Stevenson, Freehill, B. Austin, Dennis Stokes, Donnelly, Daly, J.C. Ryall and Clinch (sec.). A comprehensive code of rules was adopted, subject to the approval by, the general body of subscribers.

It was resolved that the title of the new institution should be “The Cowra School of Arts.” The secretary was instructed to take the necessary steps to secure the use of the Court room for reading room and library purposes. The meeting was adjourned at its rising till the first week in April, when the election of office bearers will take place.

Mr Sam Robinson,P.M., of Young, visited Cowra last week with the object of inquiring into certain charges that had been preferred against the local bench of magistrates. We understand that Mr Robinson satisfied himself that the complaints were groundless.

Sheep returns for Cowra district for 1878–Owners 84, sheep 246,641. The figures for 1877 were owners, 58, sheep 220,008. C.P. ‘s were taken up as follows on March 14th:–P. Burke 50 acs., T Hyde 40, E. Burns 40, B. Unsworth 40, D. O’Brien 40, a. Porter 50, Geo Hurst 200acs. C. Stibbard reports the sale of 500 mixed sheep alc Mr Cochrane to Mr Hennessy. Mr J. Lynch’s black mare Reckless won·three out of the four races at the Goolagong meeting on March 16th, the remaining events going to Mr E. Taylor’s Why Not. TIle tryste was largely attended and proved an undoubted success financially and otherwise.

Mr Freehill has £1000 to lend on good security. Mr Flockton wants a horse qualified to stand the work of his extensive practice, three horses having been broken down by him during the past year. Twelve months trial required Price £200.


Cricket Match Scores

On March 23rd, a cricket match, married v. single, was played on the new pitch, Mulyan Estate. The scores follow:–Married–F. Mathew 9, S. Grahame 14, Jas Ousby 7, D. Neville 3, sundries 13; Quick, Coombes, F. Thompson, G. Lockyer, T.H. West, W.P. Myle- charane and J. Butler failed to score. Single–Lewin 2, Whittaker 11, Stokes 17, Collins 17, J.C. Ryall, not out 6, Ousby 2, Agnew 1, Lockett 21; sundries 11; Share Robinson and Mylecharane ducks. Collins , Whittaker and Lewin did the bowling for the single men, and Mathews, Ousby and Coombes for the married. The total scores were–Married 46, single 87. The married had scored 29 in their second innings for two wickets when stumps were drawn.

At the Back Creek races on March 18th, the winners of the several events were-Maiden-Toohey’s Tarragon; Pony–J. Anderson’s Squirrell; B.C. Handicap–R.A. Caldwell’s Blondin; Two Year Old– W. Whittaker’s Irish Kate; Hack–J. Anderson’s Squirrell; Beaten Stakes–H.H. Hood’s Sweetheart.

In a 200-yards footrace for £10 aside at Cargo, on March 18, D. Conlon easily defeated S. Battye (Forbes). The postponed meeting in connection with the establishment of an Agricultural Association lapsed through only two putting in an appearance on the appointed date. Some influential residents have thrown cold water on the movement. The project will nevertheless not be permitted to die out.

At the Police Court on March 26th, Eliza White, an Aboriginal of immense proportions, was sentenced to six months at Bathurst gaol, for vagrancy, by Mr Arkins, J.P., and on April 1st, Joseph Thompson was committed for trial charged with stealing two sheep, the property of John Paul, of Jack’s Creek. BaiI £80 and one surety in £80. C. Stibbard reports having sold 950 sheep and 70 mixed cattle on a/c T. Grahame to Thompson Bros., Neila.

Following selections were taken up at the local Land Office on March 21:- Pat. Harris 40acs., W. Johnstone 40, Jno McInerney 80, Theo Brideoake 80, Martin Cass 50, W. Stinson senr., 87acs. and on March 28th:- John McElligott 100 acs, Mary M. Rosewarne 40, Philip Saywaker 80, Jno. Robson 100, G. Sell 40, G. Campbell 40, H.A. Winch 50, W.T. Rosewarne 100acs.

Mr Wm Brown, of Canowindra, whilst riding in quest of material to relieve the sufferings of a friend who had met with an accident, on his return journey met with such serious injuries as to imperil his life for some time. Whilst proceeding at a rapid pace his horse fell and rolled over the poor fellow, rendering him unconscious for some time. The principal injury is a nasty wound on the forehead. He is now happily on the high road to recovery.

An area of 1 acre 2 roods of the Market Reserve has been granted the Church of England body as a site for a church and rectory.

Mr Timothy Conlon while in the act of returning to his home on horseback at Morongla Creek on March 30th, met with very serious injuries through being thrown with very great force against a wire fence. During his visit to Cowra, wires which had not been there previously were placed in position and strained. Being quite unconscious of the fact, Conlon was proceeding at a gallop when his horse breasted the obstacle and threw the rider on to the wires. One of the wires entered the mouth and commenced a wound extending from ear to ear, and also severed the nether lip to the chin. The injuries were attended to by Dr. Flockton.


……………………………………Part Three….