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2-297 (Raw)

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<source><g=m><o=b><age=71><status=4><abode=57><p=nsw><r=pcw><tt=oc><2-297>
A Voluntary letter from an OLD settler
MACDONALD'S River, COUNTY of Hunter
3RD OCTOBER, 1845.
"I arrived in the colony fifty-six years since; it was Governor Phillip's time, and I was fourteen years old there were only eight houses in the colony then. I know that myself and eighteen others laid in a hollow tree for seventeen weeks, and cooked out of a kettle with a wooden bottom we used to stick it in a hole in the ground, and make a fire round it I was seven years in bondage and then started working for a living wherever I could get it.
"There was plenty of hardship then I have often taken grass, pounded it, and made soup from a native dog I would eat anything then For seventeen weeks I had only five ounces of flour a day We never got a full ration except when the ship was in harbour. The motto was 'Kill them, or work them, their provision will be in store.' Many a time have I been yoked like a bullock with twenty or thirty others to drag along timber. About eight hundred died in six months at a place called Toogabbie, or Constitution-hill.
"I knew a man so weak, he was thrown into the grave, when he said, 'Don't cover me up; I'm not dead; for God's sake don't cover me up!' The overseer answered, 'Damn your eyes, you'll die to-night, and we shall have the trouble to come back again!' The man recovered; his name is James Glasshouse, and he is now alive at Richmond.
"They used to have a large hole for the dead; once a day men were sent down to collect the corpses of prisoners, and throw them in without any ceremony or service. The native dogs used to come down at night and fight and howl in packs, gnawing the poor dead bodies.
"The governor would order the lash at the rate of five hundred, six hundred or eight hundred; and if the men could have stood it they would have had more. I knew a man hung there and then for stealing a few biscuits, and another for stealing a duck frock. A man was condemned - no time - take him to the tree, and hang him. The overseers were allowed to flog the men in the fields. Often have men been taken from the gang, had fifty, and sent back to work.
"Any man would have committed murder for a month's provisions: I would have committed three murders for a week's provisions! I was chained seven weeks on my back for being out getting greens, wild herbs. The Rev. Marsden used to come it tightly to force some confession. Men were obliged to tell lies to prevent their bowels from being cut out by the lash. The laws were bad then. If an officer wanted a man's wife, he would send the husband to Norfolk Island.
"Old Jones killed three men in a fortnight at the saw by overwork. We used to be taken in large parties to raise a tree; when the body of the tree was raised, Old Jones would call some men away - then more; the men were bent double - they could not bear it - they fill - the tree on one or two, killed on the spot. 'Take him away; put him in the ground!' There was no more about it.
"After seven years I got my liberty, and then started working about for a living where I could get it. I stowed myself away on board the BARRINGTON, bound to Norfolk Island, with eighteen others; it was not a penal settlement then. Governor King was there. I had food plenty. I was overseer of the governor's garden. Afterwards I went to live with old D'Arcy Wentworth, and a better master never lived in the world. Little Billy Wentworth, the great lawyer, has often been carried in my arms.
"Old D'Arcy wanted me to take charge of his Home - Bush property, but I took to the river, worked up and down the Hawkesbury till I saved money to buy old Brown's farm at Pitt Town. No man worked harder than I have done. I have about me one thousand pounds ready cash. I have given that farm of forty acres to my son Joseph, and three other farms, and about five hundred head of cattle; and about the same to my other son. I have also got 80 acres - 30 acres, 50, 75, - beside my house, and some fine cattle.
"We are never without a chest of tea in the house; we use two in the year. I have paid £40 for a chest of tea in this colony. Tea is a great comfort.
(signed) JOSEPH SMITH."
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