The Glenthorne Estate
Thomas Trotter Senr. was stationed at Canongalla and with Mr. William Plummer (of Manning River) on 31st October, 1851, purchased jointly the “Glenthorne Estate” of 647 acres, from James Corlette, for the sum of $250. Corlette had previously bought the land from the crown at public auction in 1841 for the sum of $388/4/-
On December 16th, 1852, Thomas Trotter Snr and William Plummer subdivided the estate and portions were sold to James Robinson, Robert Belford and Alfred Blackford. Thomas Duncan Trotter Senr. retained the remainder as homes for themselves. It was while at Gresford in the Allyn River district, that Thomas Trotter Jnr was married to Isabella McCallum in 1845, and Thomas Duncan Trotter was born on October 15, 1847, and at the age of 8 years set forth, with his parents and uncle John, for what proved to be his home for almost 90 years, at Glenthorne, until his death on February 11th last .
Journey To Glenthorne
The removal of these families to Glenthorne was a most trying ordeal in itself. For a great part of the distance the road consisted of little more than a bridle track, and the first arrivals had to travel to Redbank, parts of which were already settled, notably the butchery business of Charles Turner, who lived on the river bank almost opposite Glenthorne, and who had secure and well grassed paddocks. From here the first to arrive were conveyed by boat to Glenthorne. Thomas Trotter Jnr, his family, and his brother John, undertook the journey by bullock dray, having laid in a stock of provisions which they considered ample.
Young T. D. rode a horse the whole distance, even at that age, showing a keen appreciation of a good horse. The party had many difficulties; in many places tracks and detours had to be cut , rivers were flooded and days were lost waiting for them to recede, and it was only after weeks of toil and anxiety, and with dwindling stores, that they at last arrived at the promised land.
Thomas Trotter Senr (now 61 years of age ) with his sons William and Samuel, Robert Belford and Alfred Blackford had arrived shortly before. Thomas Trotter Senr had not neglected to bring many seedlings and grafted trees, as well as seeds, with him and one of the first duties on his own and his sons’ homesteads, was the planting of an orchard on the newly cleared land, in which oranges predominated, and for 50 years Glenthorne was noted for its oranges.
On The Manning
Apart from those parts newly fallen, and partly cleared by his grandfather and uncles, Glenthorne was an impenetrable jungle of giant brushwood trees, bound together by gigantic vines. Such trees as fig, nettle, rosewood and cedar abounded. The first houses were composed almost entirely of bark, with earth floors, there being some quite commodious residences of this type. However the pioneers brought pit saws with them, and some of the pits over which logs were sawn, remain to this day, and cedar, or rosewood planks, and pine flooring can still be found to show the accuracy of these sawyers. The food was plain but mostly abundant, as hominy ( finely ground corn) was used for porridge, and also for mixing with flour for baking if the latter were scarce, which frequently happened.
Mr. Charles Turner had a well established and extensive butchery on the river side of the Old Bar road, in from Turner’s waterhole and had a large area fencing in. The settlers were also expert at making bacon. For the first few years maize was planted and cultivated with the hoe. The crop was carried into the barn in bags, and after husking and drying, was beaten out with a “flail”, bagged, and either shipped to Sydney or traded to the Taree storekeeper for goods.
Clearing The Land
However quite a band of young men arrived almost at the same time as the Trotter family, and taking small portion on a “clearing lease”, for a few years, the whole of Glenthorne was quickly cleared, and the boundary of farms fenced with four rail pig proof fences. These young men then passed on, going north, and buying blocks of their own on the northern rivers. The names of some of these are George Garrett, Henry Weston, Samuel Plummer, Bernard and Peter Muscio, Lewis Pead, Webb, Isaac Rose, Ewan Cameron and Peter Ritchie as well as others. With this team the farms were quickly cleared to a stage where the owners and their families could manage them using bullocks for ploughing.
At this early age there were some neighbours on Purfleet [Estate] who had settled as far back as 1841, viz., the Hector McLennans ( a daughter of whose family Thomas Duncan Trotter afterwards married), Murdock McLennan, the McKay family, also the Brown, Perry, Renwick, Stittand Snowden families as well as the Shearers and Charles Turner at the back of Glenthorne.
Trouble With Crops
At first, few pests troubled the settlers, but good crops of maize soon caused native pests to multiply rapidly. Bandicoots were adept at digging up the grain soon after it was planted. Paddymelons (a type of wallaby) kept it cropped down when it appeared above ground. Cockatoos and o’possums attacked it when it started to ripen, the hoardes of rats devoured it in the barns. To make matters worse the price of maize fell to unprofitable levels, and wheat was grown, a flour mill being erected near the mouth of Mill Creek, Taree, by the late Thomas Avery.
Rust soon proved so detructive to wheat, that new crops were sought after, and sugar cane was given an extensive trial, various types of cane being discussed, “Tahitian” and “Samoan” among others, much as “Illawarra” and “Jersey” cattle are discussed today. There were several sugar mills and for a time the venture was profitable but a succession of cold wintersproved too much for the cane.
During all this time there was a little dairying going on; in fact it was money saved by his wife from the sale of cheese which she had made, that enable Thomas Trotter Senr. to purchase the Glenthorne Estate, and all the Trotter wives were quite well versed in dairying, as it was then known; but it was not until about 1893 that dairying came into its own, and has since remained the staple industry of the whole Manning District.
At first the milk was “set” overnight in wide shallow dishes, and the cream taken off in the morning with a tin “skimmer”, and after ripening, this was churned in an old fashioned wooden churn, a first class butter being produced. Later creameries were erected, each equipped with a large turbine separator, the farmers taking their milk to be separated and the cream being passed on to a butter factory for manufacture. Then came the hand separator, each man separating his own milk, sending the cream every few days to the factory.
The roads of these times were really a succession of bog holes, and for many years there were no ferries and the horses, like the men, needed some mettle to face up to the work.
The late Mr. Trotter was a lover of horses from childhood and always had a good one, often riding all day long after cattle, almost the whole area from the Old Bar road to the Wallamba, being a “long paddock” in those days. Some of the older generation will remember Mr. Trotter’s mare “Zoe”, from whom he bred “Cromwell”, who was taken to India and very sucessfully raced by Mr. Dick Wootton.
Mr. T. D. Trotter could speak of epidemic after epidemic of diptheria, from which there was no escape in those days, two of his uncles losing three children each with the complaint within a few weeks.
He passed through the great depression which culminated in the failure of many banks in 1893 about which time the harbour works at Harrington were started. He saw the opening of the North Coast Railway, the advent of motor cars, aeroplanes and wireless, and was honoured with an invitation to the opening of the Taree Bridge, representing the pioneers of the south side of the river, the late Mr. H. W. Flett representing the north side. he saw the time when the only lighting homes was by home made tallow candles, and had he lived a little longer would almost certainly have seen electric light and power established in his home.
A man who never worried, who at 81 still retained the courage of youth, as shown in the record flood of 1929 when the water was rising quickly, he was urged to leave his home for safer quarters, refused to go, and taking an axe , climbed through the manhole on to the ceiling, and slept until the danger was past.
By his passing we have lost indeed a sturdy pioneer, and the only remaining link with that past age, which reads almost as fiction to the present generation.
Entries From The Diary
|Return to People & Events Page|