Rosewood History

Corn husking at August Kraatz’s barn, Tallegalla, Ipswich, 1916
Photo: Rosewood Scrub Historical Society Src: Picture Ipswich


The following articles are newspaper reports from 1876 and 1878. They were written by Agricultural Correspondents, men who personally bore witness to what they wrote about, thus giving a realistic description of the farming pursuits in the beginning years of settlement. Several of the district’s pioneers are mentioned.


It is scarcely five years since the first adventurous settler found his way into this fertile tract of country, and already the land taken up and settled on extends to an area of not less than twelve miles square of Scrub and forest The railway skirts it on the south; and although at present trains only stop there as may be re-quested, it does not require the gifts of prophecy to say that ere long Rosewood station will be one of the chief feeders of traffic on the line.

I had some difficulty in finding my way to the back settlements, and I was told that I was sure to lose myself. I was, however, fortunate enough to find a guide, who led me safely over many a long, though I cannot say weary, ” foot fa,” and under whose experienced knowledge I saw much more of the district than otherwise I could have done. 

The first peculiarity I noticed was the absence of any thing like a tolerable road to the interior of the scrub, while a perfect labyrinth of bridle or foot tracks exist in every direction, not only most perplexing to a stranger, but often so to the settlers themselves. This want of a main road the settlers are now endeavoring to have reme-died, and at the time of my visit there was a public meeting on the ground, presided over by J. C. Foote, Esq., M.L.A., at which this subject was extensively discussed, and a series of resolutions proposed and unanimously carried, which, under the care of the member, Mr. Foote, will, it is hoped, be the means of remedying the evils complained of. 

The want of water is also seriously felt, but its supply will go hand-in-hand with the formation of roads. Nothing can be better adapted for retaining a constant supply of water than the formation of the country, when you have every mile or so a short gently Inclined gully, which, by being dammed near its lower level, would not only form a reservoir of sufficient capacity for all the local wants, but, at the same time, the dam would be used as a mound by which the gully could be crossed. 

These two wants have occasioned an amount of extra toil and labor to the settlers, almost inconceivable even in this land of settlers’ hardships. At many of the farms I visited they had to “hump” everything either going from or coming to the farm, two and three miles, and at one place I was assured that the settler’s wife had at the present time to carry water five miles, she naively telling me that she drank the contents of one bucket while carrying the other. 

The front settlement, nearest to the railway, is chiefly taken up by British colonists, while behind, in the interior of the scrub, the population is almost entirely German. The holdings in the majority of cases do not exceed eighty acres, some of them only forty, and the largest of a few exceptional cases, is about three hundred, As may be readily supposed, the cultivation of such a district, so recently settled, is both scattered and primitive, and after using my own observation, and making all the enquiries I could of the many intelligent men I met with, I came to the conclusion that upon the aggregate of the whole selections there might be about thirty per cent under cultivation; the smallest cultivation paddocks being from ten to twelve acres, and the larger forty and fifty, even sixty acres. The whole of the ground is as yet under hand labor by the hoe, and the energy and untir-ing industry of the settlers may easily be under-stood. 

The crops at present chiefly grown are maize and potatoes. Grapes also do very well, and I saw several small flourishing vineyards, and drank the product. Garden stuff of all kinds grows well, and no doubt would be profitably followed if better access existed. It is, however, pretty evident that this will soon be an industry of the district; from the facilities presented by the railway, and the capa-bilities of the soil, it only requires good roads in order to be developed. Maize is, of course, the staple, as it requires the least cultivation, and on the virgin soil it does very well; and throughout the country where I was, it was of a fine healthy color, and well planted. The early crops which had been gathered were not heavy, having been caught by the drought, but the corn was of fair average quality. These crops seem to be a good deal eaten by vermin, but in most cases this has been re-medied by the erection of close palings. 

The first expense in breaking up the scrub land here is from £12 to £14 an acre ; but this depends much on the position and lay of the ground for easy falling and clearing. Sometimes it may be done for £10, but this was considered excep-tionally low. The after expenses of cultivation, being altogether manual with the hoe, and per-formed by the farmer and his family, can scarcely be stated at a money value ; but, from some who roughly put the items together, I gathered that the whole might be about 20s. per acre. 

A good crop here is supposed to yield from 45 to 50 bushels of saleable corn per acre, which is pro-duced without further trouble or outlay than the mere hoeing I have mentioned. Potatoes, in point of extent of growth, follow next, and seem to be of fair quality, and were in course of being planted ; and I saw a late-planted summer crop making a very fair show indeed. Lucerne is beginning to establish itself, and grows very well, but is not yet at its best; while wheat seems to thrive, and I procured two very fair samples of last crop ; one of the Egyptian variety, the other the white lammas. The quantity was too small, however, to afford any idea of the number of bushels or weight per acre. 

Everything on the Rosewood Scrub is still in its infancy, but an immensity of work has been accomplished under the most disadvantageous conditions. Now that the existence of such a large body of useful and energetic immigrants is known to exist who have persevered in establishing themselves in the face of great difficulties, the least that Government can do for them will be to give them the roads and water supply they stand in need of so much. (1)



Rosewood, situated at a distance of about ten miles from Ipswich, and close to the railway line, may be considered the centre of an extensive and fairly prosperous agricultural district. During the last few years quite a little village has sprung up around the railway station, exceeding in dimensions and importance many a colonial township. During a visit to this district we endeavoured to note down anything that came under our notice which we deemed might he of interest to our readers. A short description of the village itself will probably not come amiss.

Of public buildings Rosewood possesses a fair share, having a railway station, a telegraph-office, a police barracks, and a State school. Of these the station may be considered the most important. Business we learned, has been very brisk here of late, it being no unusual thing for forty or fifty tons of produce, chiefly corn, to be sent away in a day. The porter, who was busily engaged receiving and loading goods, assured us that time did not hang heavily upon his hands ; and, judging by the number of drays constantly arriving at the station, we should say be was about right there. A handsome dwelling-house has lately been erected here, and not before it was needed, Mr. Black, the station-master, having previously had no better accommodation for himself and family than that afforded by the gatekeeper’s cottage originally erected here.

The timber trade here is very extensive, both pine and hardwood logs being sent away by rail in great numbers ; and the quantity of timber lying about the station, waiting transmission to market, is a serious inconvenience to the public. New loading stages were recently erected a few hundred yards further up the line.

At the time of our visit the police barracks were without occupants, Mr. Kirkpatrick, the officer formerly stationed here, having left, and a successor not having arrived. The cells do not appear to be very well patronised by the Rosewood people. Before their erection, however, much was said about the need of police protection.

As to the State school, there can be no cause for complaining of lack of patronage. It is, for a country school, very large, the average attendance being be-tween sixty and seventy. The school seems to be in a very prosperous condition under the able management of Mr. Johns, who, in maintaining the discipline of his school, resorts to moral rather than physical force, seldom, if ever, having recourse to corporal punishment, thereby acknowledging that little boys and girls are rational beings, a fact, we fear, often lost sight of by grown-up people. The plan has been found to answer admirably, the pupils being orderly and attentive, and, so far as we could see, evincing the greatest respect for their teacher. The copy and exercise books which were shown to us were a credit to the little boys by whom they were written, as well as to the teacher under whose supervision the work was done. We also heard some very good recitations but the best part of all was the singing. The progress made in this branch of instruction is really astonishing, and we must infer that Mr. Johns, being of a very musical turn, has contrived to impart a like spirit to his pupils. We had the pleasure, and a real pleasure it was to us, of listening to solos and choruses rendered in a superior style. While the intellectual powers of the children are thus trained, their bodies are not neglected, a small gymnasium having been erected in the play-ground. The novelty of this not having yet worn off, most of the boys devote every spare moment to practising on the horizontal bar, at which they are becoming quite adepts.

As a rule no colonial township is considered complete without a public-house. Rosewood is no exception. We have here the Rising Sun Hotel, kept by Mr. J. Madden, where weary travellers may they choose. Near to the hotel is Mr. James Ryan’s find accommodation and thirsty mortals drink if butcher’s shop, and a little further on is another owned by Mr. Henry M’Geary, so that in the matter of beef and mutton the inhabitants ought to be well supplied.

Mr. J. W. Vance is the local storekeeper, and has found it desirable, owing we suppose to increase of business, to enlarge his premises, a new building being in course of construction. He is also the Rosewood postmaster. On a piece of land given by this gentle-man a well has been sunk by Government at a considerable cost, but no use whatever has been made of it as yet, the water, we were told, being insufficient in quantity and of bad quality. Besides cultivating a fair-sized garden, Mr. Vance took a crop of corn and pumpkins off about nine acres of land last season.

On the opposite side of the road is Mr. W. Matthews’s farm, which formerly consisted of eighty acres, a portion of which has, however, been cut up into small allotments and sold. Small portions of land having a frontage to this road, which may at some future time be worthy of the name of “the main street,” bring a high price when offered for sale. Mr. Matthews, who is a ganger on the line, has also cultivated ten or twelve acres of corn last year. He, however, devotes his spare time mostly to the cultivation of bis garden, having lately planted out £5 worth of fruit trees.

The next farm to this is owned by Mr. Richard Mason, who cultivated last season twenty acres of corn. We saw here a small patch of oats, about an acre in extent, which was evidently feeling the effects of the dry weather. Mr. Samuel Eaton, who owns the adjoining farm, has also cultivated maize extensively last year.

Passing this farm, we came to Mr. Joseph Hudson’s. Here thirty-three acres of corn were cultivated this season, besides which a large quantity of pumpkins were also grown. We saw here more machinery than is usually found on scrub farms. Mr. Hudson evidently does not believe in using manual labour where a horse may be employed. He some time ago purchased what is usually spoken of as a “horse-power,” to which he attached his corn sheller ; his chaff-cutter may also be attached to it. At the present time it is used for working a corn-cracker. We also saw a saw-bench and two circular saws, brought from America by Mr. Angus Mackay. Mr. Hudson is now engaged in constructing a combined corn husker and sheller on a principle of his own, the secret of which we must not divulge, a patent not having been taken out for the invention. We have, however, been invited to see it working when completed, and hope to be able to speak of it as a thorough success. A dam is being made on this farm to hold a supply of water for irrigating a garden during the dry weather. Here also we saw some nice little pigs of the Prince Consort breed, which, we think, could not be surpassed in the scrub. We mention this because, in general, too little attention is paid to the selection and breeding of these animals, farmers appearing to be contended with anything that answers to the name of pig. These pigs, we are told, are easily fattened, and mature early; two little fellows, under sir months old, had just been dressed, and, when weighed, averaged 120lb. apiece. Mr. Hudson has also increased his herd of cattle wonderfully of late, owning now nearly thirty head, a fair number for a scrub form. A portion of this holding is leased by Mr. John Osborne, who gathered a few acres of splendid corn last year. We found him sowing a few acres for an early crop. On the road which passes this place is a Government dam, the embankment of which serves as a bridge. The quantity of water in it is but small and the quality bad. A great deal of soil has been washed into it from the land above, and it is, in consequence, in need of being cleaned out. It is a pity that this could not be done before rain falls, because it is desirable to have as much water stored as possible, this dam having, last season, been the resort of scores of farmers with their horses and cattle. (2)


Close by Mr. Joseph Hudson’s farm lives Mr. Lawrence Smallbone, blacksmith, who, when we called, was busily engaged at his trade. He cultivated, last season, thirty six acres of maize ; off a piece containing eight acres he gathered 100 bags of corn and ten tons of pumpkins. Here we saw over an acre of peas growing, and we think Mr. Smallbone deserves great credit for his endeavours to introduce a new crop. He is firmly convinced that peas may be profitably grown, having, some time ago, gathered from a square chain five bushels; the variety is, we believe, the ordinary blue pea of the shops.

On Mr. M. Bensley’s farm, also, was a small piece of ground under this crop. He would like to try the red-blossomed pea if he could obtain the seed. On this farm about seventy acres of corn were grown last year, which Mr. Bensley intends to prepare for market with a husker and sheller of his own make. This machine has just been completed, and consequently has not had much of a trial yet, but the owner is confident of success; and, as his crop amounts to shout 3000 bushels, he will have, this season, ample opportunity of testing its merits. Thus, we see, there are Queensland as well as Yankee ” notions” in this part of the world. Mr. Bensley also showed us plans (of bis own drawing) of a house which he intends shortly to erect. His old house and present outbuildings will furnish him with abundance of shed-room for crops. cattle, pigs, poultry, implements, &c.

Close by are the farms of Messrs. Burns and Butt, who had large areas under maize last year. Beyond is the farm of Mr. James Harris, who cultivated last season about thirty acres of maize, which turned out very well. Good corn of the red-cobbed variety is being saved as seed for next season, that description being considered to yield the heaviest crop.

Adjoining this is Mr. Charles Cowell’s farm; here twenty-eight acres of maize were grown last season; here, also, is to be seen one of the very few pieces of ploughed land in this neighbourhood, Mr. Cowell being, at the time of our visit, engaged in ploughing a ten-acre paddock. The cattle are, considering the adverse season, doing well, Mr. Cowell being able, from his two or three cows, to sell about 30lb. of butter fortnightly, besides supplying the house. Mr. Edward Cowell, on the next farm, has gathered about twelve acres of corn.

Separated from the last mentioned property by a road is the farm of Mr. James Kington, who cultivated last season thirty acres of corn and pumpkins. Egyptian wheat has been tried on this farm, and found to answer well, yielding about forty bushels per acre. None had been grown last season, but it is the intention of the owner to have a piece of land under this crop next season.

Next comes the property of Mr. Walter Loveday, who cultivated last season about thirty acres of maize. Considerable attention is paid to the grazing of cattle, and the making of butter, Mrs. Loveday having perhaps the neatest little dairy in this part of the scrub, and yet of a kind that is within the means of every farmer ; the building, which is double-roofed, is made of timber split and dressed on the farm, and has a stone-paved floor.

The Messes. Ludlow own a farm on the opposite side of the road, and cultivated last season twenty-eight acres of very good corn.

Mr. P. O’Donnell, in the same neighbourhood, cultivated between thirty and forty acres of maize. This season about one acre has been soon with oats. Dairying is carried on here to a considerable extent. Indeed, most of the farmers in this part of the Rosewood own cattle, and, although the farms are mostly small, they carry far more cattle in comparison than farms in the open country.

Mr. W. Perram grew, last year, about thirty-four acres of maize which, be calculates, will yield fifty bushels per acre, also about four acres of pumpkins. Flax has been tried here, and appears to thrive well. In the preparation for market of the variety grown, we were told, no water is required. In that case, the crop might suit the Rosewood farmers, who, as a rule, are but ill supplied with that necessary article.

Mr. John Mitchell owns three farms in this neighbourhood. He devotes his attention principally to dairying, owning a large herd of cattle. Twenty-four acres of corn were grown by him last season.

Mr. P. Lenehan cultivated about thirty acres of corn, a portion of which, being sown rather late, was injured somewhat by the frost, which was severely felt here last winter.

The next farm is owned by Mr. James Smith, but rented by George Colvin and Alfred Gower, who bad a large area under corn last season. On a piece of land formerly comprised in this farm stands the Rosewood Baptist Chapel. This Church has a large number of members, and once its formation it was found necessary to increase the building to double its original size. The Rev. J. Straughen, we believe, visits this place once a month, on Sundays and Wednesdays alternately a on other occasions services are conducted by local preachers from Ipswich.

A short distance beyond this is Wycombe Lodge, the property, and till lately the residence, of the Rev. D. Mossop, Congregational minister of Goodna, who owns 120 acres of land. Around the house, which is the neatest and most handsome structure to be seen in this part of the scrub, a garden has been laid out, containing, amongst other things, a large number of fruit, flower, and ornamental trees.

The next farm is the property of Mr. Chas. Cheyne, of Ipswich, and is rented by Mr. Coulson, who, besides attending to a good number of cattle, cultivated about thirty acres of maize which turned out very well. We think Mr. Coulson has done splendidly, considering that he was a ” new chum,” last season having been bis first in this colony.

On the opposite side of the road is Joshua Greet’s farm, containing 140 acres, seventy of which were cropped with maize last year. Thirty-two head of cattle are owned by Mr. Greet, who, in order to obtain a sufficient supply of water, has constructed a dam or reservoir of considerable size. We have seen one, made by a Government road party at, we believe, a cost of £90, which does not appear to have had more than half the work done on it that has been done at this one.

Mrs. Stubbin owns the adjoining farm, which contains eighty acres, and has been all cleared and divided into four paddooks, one of which, containing, at least, twenty-fire acres, was cropped with maize last season. A number of cattle are also kept here, for the working of which a substantial stockyard with covered milking-shed and calf-pen has been erected.

Mr. D. Crane holds three separate pieces of land here, and has grown about 1000 or 1200 bushels of corn last season.

Mr. John Lane grew last year about twenty acres of maize. We saw on his farm a patch of lucerne, about an acre and a half in area, which appeared to be doing well; also potatoes, of which four bags have been sown, just coming up. He is one of the few about here who do any ploughing, being, at the time of our visit, engaged at that occupation.

Adjoining Mr. Lane’s property on one side is that of Mr. W. Bunney, one of the first settlers in this part, who, beside attending to a large number of cattle, cultivated pretty extensively last season.

On the other side is Mr. C. Deutney’s farm, on which twenty-eight acres of very good corn were grown last season, besides a quantity of pumpkins. A fair-sized herd of cattle is also kept.

In this neighbourhood is the Wesleyan Chapel, supplied, as usual, by local preachers from Ipswich, and also occasionally by the town ministers.

Mr. Scanlan’s farm comes next. Cattle are kept here and cultivation is also carried on, but to what extent we cannot say, having been so busily engaged discussing other matters at the supper-table that we forgot to inquire. We saw at the Rosewood show butter of very good quality from this farm.

Mr. James Ryan owns the next farm, and cultivated, we believe, about forty acres of maize. He tried the experiment of employing aboriginal labour last season having employed blacks to pick his corn. This work, being light, appears to suit them. but they strongly object to anything like hard labour.

Mr. Joseph Wyles owns 100 area of land on the opposite side of the road, and cultivated forty acres of maize, the yield of which, he estimates, at about forty bushels per acre. We found him dressing corn, working his corn-sheller by horse-power, with which he can turn out forty bags per day.

The next farm is owned by Mr. Rush, who bad a large area under maize last season. Messrs. P. Dale and J. Moran also cultivated this crop pretty extensively last season. From the farm of the latter, if we remember aright, came the butter which obtained first prize at the Farmer’s Club show.

Mr. Samuel Waite grew about thirty acres of corn last year. Butter from his farm also figured at the show, having obtained second prize.

It just occurs to us that we forgot to mention among the institutions of Rosewood, a very neat little building, devoted to public worship and belonging to the Congregational body. Mr. Mossop, prior to his assuming the pastorate of the Goodna Church, devoted his spare Sundays to this place, and when about always provided a substitute, and still takes an interest in it. In connection with it a temperance society was formed some time ago, which has been the means of doing much good, though, perhaps, in an indirect manner; for to those who take part in the meetings it assumes the shape of a mutual improvement society, and we cannot, for a moment, doubt that the studying and delivering of readings and recitations have a beneficial effect upon young persons, who unfortunately have, in many cases, received but little schooling. These meetings, too, form a break in the somewhat monotonous life of a farmer, and are looked forward to with pleasurable anticipations by many who do not see their way clear to become members. We believe it is the intention of the school committee to have penny readings in the school, or rather three penny readings, the latter sum being the price of admission for adults. We wish the promoters of such things every success in their endeavours to provide innocent amusement and recreation for those around them (many of whom appear to be unable to find anything to occupy their evenings), and thus render it unnecessary for them to take employment from a certain personage who is said to be always able and willing to find a job for idle hands, and, we suppose, idle minds too.

We hope, at some more favourable time, to be able to spend a few days, or rather weeks, in the Rosewood, having, on this occasion, been able to visit but very small portion of the scrub. So little, however, is to be seen in the way of agriculture just now, that we think it advisable to wait a while, until the country assumes a greener aspect, and consequently may be seen in a better light. (3)

(1) Queenslander, Saturday 4 March 1876, page 21
(2) Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser, 14 September 1878, page 3
(3) Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser, 19 September 1878, page 3