The Story of ‘Myrtle Vale’ – Part 1

The story of the Friend family in New South Wales has been well told in the pages of Barbara Hufton & Enid Friend’s family history publication ‘Remembering Friends’. For that reason, the particular details of the family’s arrival and temporary place of settlement in the new colony need not be reproduced here. This is a story about the purchase and development of ‘Myrtle Vale’, the Friend family farm near Dalton, NSW. The story will be told in three short parts, each focused on the three subsequent generations of the Friend family who have managed it and how it has changed over time.

Part One covers the purchase and management of the property by Samuel John Friend (1840-1896) and his wife Harriet Apps (1842- 1930), my great-great-grandparents on my paternal grandfather’s side.

Part One: The purchase of ‘Chestnut Vale’.

The Friends had been in New South Wales for thirty-four years when, according to E. Friend and B. Hufton, Samuel Friend finally realised his dream (and perhaps that of his parents) of owning land in the new southern colony. He didn’t do it alone and it is evident that he had a strong and determined partner in Harriet Apps, who Samuel Friend married in Campbelltown in 1862.

It had taken time to accrue the capital required for such a purchase, and this was done through many years of work on ‘Raeburn’ station, a property near Parkesbourne owned by Charles Chisholm. Here, it is said, Samuel Friend worked as ‘head gardener’. In 1874 advertisements appeared in the Goulburn Herald and Chronicle, announcing land for sale on the Jerrawa Creek, near a newly gazetted town called Dalton. It appears that the first European to have claimed the land that would later make up part of the family farm was a James Wheatley in 1863. In that year the Surveyor Generals Office published that the Title Deeds for Lot 68 in the Parish of Dalton were ready for delivery. The two other adjoining creek paddocks to the north were later in the names of a J. Wheatley (probably a John) and a D. Wheatley (perhaps a David).

parish of dalton
Dalton Parish map excerpt, showing original lots included in the sale of Chestnut Cottage

At some point one of these lots was transferred to D. Wheatley, giving him two lots in total, and later all of them were purchased by or transferred into the name of George Spencer Wheatley. George Spencer Wheatley was the son of the well-known Methodist preacher John Wesley Wheatley who had moved his family into the Gunning area in the 1850’s (see more on this HERE). George Spencer Wheatley and his wife Frances Pollard are also significant to my ancestry as both of their parents (John and Philadelphia Wheatley, and William and Lucy Pollard) are direct ancestors of my maternal grandparents. It is thus far unknown what the exact nature of the relationship between George Spencer Wheatley and the pervious land owners who bore the same surname was (George Spencer Wheatley had an uncle David, also a direct ancestor of mine, and cousins with matching names. It is also possible that the J. Wheatley could have been George Spencer’s father, however his father was known to have resided south of Gunning and later in Adelong before returning to the Dalton district to buy up a number of town blocks). As well the three lots on the Jerrawa Creek, George Spencer Wheatley was also granted a 100 acre ‘selection’ here in 1872. ‘Selection’ in New South Wales meant that land had been granted to an individual, before it had been officially surveyed. The property was later put up for sale which included the 88 acres of creek frontage ‘freehold land’ and 100 acres of ‘selected land’. In the 1874 advertisement, the property along the Jerrawa Creek was said to be blessed with a ‘supply of water that never could fail.’ Anything to make a sale, right?

Chestnut Vale sale
Goulburn Herald and Chronicle (NSW : 1864 – 1881), Saturday 12 December 1874, page 6

In 1875 Samuel and Harriet Friend (nee Apps) purchased the Jerrawa Creek lots which already boasted a slab building with shingles and floor boards and alongside; a three roomed house. The garden was said to be well stocked with fruit trees. This last point was important to Samuel and Harriet, as it is as orchardists that they first made their mark as new landholders on this property, now known as ‘Chestnut Vale’.

Friend_ChestnutVale Family
Chestnut Vale, Harriet Friend with her children. Walter Friend with bike at front.
Friend_ChestnutVale_painting
‘Chestnut Cottage’ by Ros Hall

After the sale, George Spencer Wheatley appears to have moved to Goulburn where he has been recorded as a timber merchant, later filing for bankruptcy. In 1877 George Spencer Wheatley finalised his transfer of property to the Friend family, signing over his 100 acres of ‘selected’ land to Samuel John Friend. In 1879 Samuel applied for, and was granted, 50 acres of unimproved crown land. Small purchases and changes to internal bounty lines and surveying occurred over the next several years .

 

In 1893, a correspondent for the Goulburn Evening Penny Post wrote favourably of Samuel and Harriet’s ten-thousand apple tree orchid enterprise on the Jerrawa Creek, noting that even in “these times of general depression and universal anxiety [this enterprise has shown that] there is no need to import fruit from Tasmania and elsewhere when it can be grown with such successes and profit at our own doors.” The correspondent goes on to praise Harriet who clearly had a large role in the farm’s success; “…the good lady possesses a professional knowledge of the business, most of which comes under her personal supervision.” The apple orchid ran down the flat between the house and the Jerrawa Creek, while set slightly higher on the hill, near the original house was a cherry orchid. In 1896 a Dalton correspondent wrote that Harriet’s “cherry trees at Chestnut Vale are a perfect picture.” My grandfather often told a story that the local mounted police officer regularly rode his horse via the farm on the Dalton loop, stopping for a feast of cherries, picked and consumed while mounted on his beast. The story goes that, on one such patrol, the officer succumbed to the heat with a gut full of cherries, making him violently ill. It has been said that he visited less frequently after the episode. Samuel also held a small flock of wool producing sheep and stud rams that formed the basis for a future sheep enterprise. Samuel and Harriet raised eight children on the property, but it was their son Walter, and to a lesser extent, William who would take charge of the future direction of the family business when it came their turn to take over the legacy that there mother and father had founded.

…continued in part II.

[Header Image: Old Chestnut Vale homestead (2018) ]

 

Sources:

A PROFITABLE INDUSTRY.” Goulburn Evening Penny Post (NSW : 1881 – 1940)20 June 1893: 4. Web. 14 Apr 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article98527021&gt;.

Enid Friend & Barbara Hufton, “Remembering Friends – Friend Family History with Genealogy”. [Private Publication]

Goulburn Herald and Chronicle (NSW : 1864 – 1881), Saturday 12 December 1874, page 6 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article100842142&gt;

New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 – 1900), Tuesday 8 March 1864 (No.46). <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225353371&gt;

Local tradition and oral history with Kenneth Ray Friend (2010)

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