THe Blumberg Brothers
The Blumberg brothers Levi (Levian), Adolph (Abram) and Max (Mendel) left London on the 8th of July 1882 on the ship "Gauntlet" and arrived in Queensland, Australia on the 27th of October 1882. They made their way to the Fassifern District and traveled around the area and started selling their goods to the early settlers. At the time there were probably about forty or fifty families living in what was termed the Dugandan Scrub and a couple of farmers had set up primitive shops on their land. One can only imagine how wonderful it must have been for the families to have goods supplies available.
The Blumberg brothers must have found their niche with selling their goods because they bought a portion of land from John Betts It was on the corner of portion 50 and faced John Hooper's land selection. A number of buildings were already built on the Dugandan Flat to the south but the Blumbergs decided they wanted a spot up on the rise. A four room cottage was built and the store opened at the end of 1882. The building at this time doubled as a store and living quarters.
Towards the end of 1883 a petition was signed by residents and sent to the Post-master General asking for a post receiving office to be located at Blumberg's Store. It seems there was a bit of conflict in the newspaper about this.
In the Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 - 1908) Saturday 5 January 1884 page 3, Retrieved January 9 2016, a Dugandan correspondent complains about the problems of getting their post. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article121931100
Many of us have not yet received our Divisional Board rate-notices, and we wonder why they have not come to our proper address. Of course we would not mind if they never came if we were sure that we should not be put to inconvenience, and perhaps expense. Then, again, I am told that some have come in closed envelopes, and the ratepayers have been charged deficient postage and fined. If this is the case, I hope the mistake will not occur again. It is high time that we had a post or receiving office here. Messrs. Blumberg Bros.'new store would be a very convenient place for it. About two months ago, a petition was sent to the Post master-General asking for this concession, but I do not hear of any result yet. Most of us in the scrub on the western side of the creek have to go to Mr. M'Donald's at Dugandan. Sometimes we find that our letters and papers have been sent on to Mr. Johnson's, on the other side of the creek. Next time, should we go to this place, we find that they have not come from the station; and, again, such a thing has happened as their not being at either place, having been taken or sent to Blumberg's store.
It seems this offended someone who gave a reply in the Tuesday's paper. POSTAL AFFAIRS. (1884, January 8). Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 - 1908), p. 3. Retrieved January 9, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article121930322
To the Editor of the Queensland Times.
With the paper claiming to not be responsible for the opinions of their correspondents, a reply letter is written in. ORIGINAL CORRESPONDENCE. (1884, January 19).Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 - 1908), p. 5. Retrieved January 9, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article121930077
In the Tuesday paper LOCAL AND GENERAL NEWS. (1884, January 15).Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 - 1908), p. 3. Retrieved January 11, 2016 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article121932342 it had been reported that a receiving-office would be opened at Blumberg's store near Dugandan and to ensure delivery, mail should be addressed "Blumberg's via Ipswich". After a while the area immediately surrounding the store became known as Blumbergville.
With the store becoming a post receiving office and the business performing particularly well a larger building was built near the original one in 1884. The cottage remained as their residence.
The Minecraft buildings above were styled from a photo from the book 'The Fassifern Story' by C.K.Pfeffer, page 210; Boonah Shire Council, 1991.
The Blumberg brothers played a large role in the early town. Besides owning and running a general store, they also built and ran a hotel, Max was a shoe and boot merchant and Levi was also a Justice of the Peace and played a large role in the Boonah Police Court. Those stories however will have to wait for another time.
Instead, let's progress to the present day. The large clock in front of the Council Offices on High Street needed some repairs and maintenance. A new clock was commissioned, a piece of art to pay tribute to the rural community for overcoming the hardships of the 2011 and 2013 floods. The clock was designed and created by local sculptor Christopher Trotter with the help of clock maker David Bland. The clock was made from recycled objects and equipment from earlier times. For example the body is a firebox from a portable steam engine and a chaff cutting blade was used for the chicken's tail. For a more detailed picture of some of the parts take a look at the ScenicRim Council Website. The clock was unveiled on the 13th June 2014. It is five metres tall, took eighteen months to design and create and stands proudly on the main street of Boonah, in front of the Council Offices. A whimsical tribute to those early pioneers as well as the present day community.
Introduction to Building Boonah in Minecraft
I often have a hard time looking at a 2D map and trying to visualise the lay of the land and how a place looks. I also enjoy playing Minecraft (my son introduced me to the game) so I thought I would look at some of the history of Boonah and attempt to build the early development at the same time. If all goes well I hope to make a short video of the Minecraft world and provide a download file. It may not be accurate or to scale but hopefully will provide a sense of what early Boonah may have been like ( fingers crossed). So let's get started....
The land on which Boonah township developed was at the southern end of the Dugandan Station. The land was leased from the Crown by the brothers Macquarie and Campbell Macdonald. The "Land Act of 1868" gave provision for closer settlement and meant that half of a station's land could be reclaimed and subdivided. With increasing numbers of immigrants arriving (Immigration Act of 1869) more land was surveyed and made available for selection. James Johnson has the distinguished honour of being the first settler to obtain land on the site where Boonah would eventually be established. As can be seen in the Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser clipping to the right, James selected 325 acres at Dugandan and his selection was accepted. This was published on the 5th April 1870 in the monthly Land Selections report.
This acquisition of land then prompted the lessees of Dugandan Station (C. McDonald and Jessie McDonald) to start applying for land as a means to keep control of the better parts of the station land. This can be seen in the Land Selection newspaper article below from 7th May 1870 (only a month later). They managed to secure almost 3500 acres of their Station at that particular Land Court session. The estimated total area of Dugandan Station at the time was 18,000 acres (1). Over time they gradually secured more land.
The Land Selection Court was conducted by Mr R.J. Smith, Crown Lands Commissioner for West Moreton and held monthly at his offices in the Ipswich Court House. The person wanting to select land had to be in attendance and if more than one person applied for a particular piece of land a ballot was taken to decide who would acquire the land.
(1) Pfeffer, C.K, The Fassifern Story: A History of Boonah Shire and Surroundings to 1989 (Boonah, Qld: Boonah Shire Council, 1991), p 20.
The Early Farm
Once the land was selected, the men would make their way to the land to start clearing it. Often they had to walk for two full days just to get there as not everyone had a horse and cart. The first proper house in these early times was a small building with slab walls and shingles or maybe even bark for the roof. Below is a photo of the Zerner family standing in front of their house on their farm at Templin. Notice the farm animals are also in the picture. You should consider yourself extremely privileged if you have an early photo of your family similar to this. So precious.
The image below represents an early settler farm built in Minecraft. I'm not sure which family lives here but it is a small one roomed house with slab walls and a shingle roof. Inside, a small cramped bedroom is separated from the main area by a curtain. There is a small fenced garden and the family has started to clear more land to expand their modest farm.
Next time I will be looking at the first store built on the land that was to become the main street of Boonah.