Friday, 6 December 2013

GOLD, GOLD, GOLD

JOHN CLARK IN HIS NINETIES. MY GRANDFATHER AND GRANDMOTHER BELL ON EITHER SIDE. 1900's. Source: Personal Collection.

When gold was discovered in the region in the 1870s, the canny Scot, John Clark seized an opportunity. Men were flocking from all over the world hungry for gold but also plain hungry. 

These mining men needed to eat, especially meat. John Clark quickly bought his first cattle station, Mount Pleasant, followed by Lornesleigh station, both inland from Bowen. He stocked them with strong and sturdy Shorthorn cattle.
The gold discoveries were happening further north, allowing the port town of Townsville to become busy while Bowen declined. John and Jane sold their carrying business and moved to Mount Pleasant. After the death of Mary Ann, Jane never had another child. It was probably just too painful for her to ever contemplate having another after already losing a child. John and Jane did adopt a baby girl named Mary Ellen. Mary Ellen’s parents had been killed on an outlying station (I’ve never found any records of how they died).

The Clark fortune was expanding; there was money in those hungry miners who lived in the squalid, filthy shanty mining towns in the bush, hoping to strike the mother lode. Most of them ended up with nothing to show for their efforts and they were the lucky ones. Frequently miners died from cholera, mining accidents and occasional fights in the grog shops selling rot gut alcohol. Even the alcohol could be dangerous; there were known instances of sly grog sending men blind.
GOLD MINERS. Source: strangecosmos.com

Mister Clark was now in his forties but he had the energy of a man half his age. He was hitting his stride. Everything was now in John and Jane’s favour when another tragedy struck. Jane took ill in 1877 from fever and quickly died. She was buried next to her young infant daughter, Mary Ann. How would John Clark carry on?