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Carter, Samuel Charles (1834–1910)

from Horsham Times (Vic)

Samuel Carter, n.d.

Samuel Carter, n.d.

photo supplied by Ian Carter

There passed from the stage of human action on Tuesday morning one who is undoubtedly the oldest resident of the Wimmera — Mr. Samuel Carter, J.P., of Glenisla Station. The late Mr. Carter was one whose history and that of the progress of the Wimmera were inseparable. He saw it transformed from a wilderness to what it is today. He knew the country when it was to many considered a waterless waste, and he had the privilege of living to see it irrigated and smiling from end to end with green fields and pastures.

Until 1901 the deceased gentleman was always a robust man of untiring energy. He was then attacked with diabetes, which ultimately brought on bronchitis. Last year he was ordered to spend the winter in Queensland to try the effect of the warmer climate. He did so, but returned very little benefited by the change. Up to the last day of his life he was quite active, and got about the homestead as usual. He passed away peacefully in his sleep on Tuesday morning, the immediate cause of death being syncope.

The late Mr. Carter was the eldest of three brothers, Samuel, William and John, who came to Victoria from Tasmania with their parents when very young. He was born in 1835, being therefore 75 years of age at the time of his death. He was born at Constitution Hill, near Hobart, and arrived in Melbourne in 1838, per the ship Flying Squall. His father had been managing a farm for a man named Butler, and when it was decided by Mr. Butler to sell out, the family resolved on migrating to Victoria. Melbourne was then in its infancy, consisting of not more than about 100 houses, very few of which were brick. Four years later the Carters set out for the Wimmera, it being their original intention to push on to Mount Gambier, but an accident which happened to one of the wagons necessitated a halt, and this was in all probability the cause of the pioneers settling at the old Brim Springs. In the end of 1842 a party which included Henry Darlot and one Ellerman set out on the route previously taken by Major Mitchell. When the Grampians had been negotiated Carter and his father left the teams and went on to Longerenong, then known as Taylor's Creek, and after going down the river to Lake Hindmarsh and looking at the country all round, it was finally decided to take up North Brighton station. This was on August 10, 1842, the journey down thus occupying two and a half months. They found the blacks were very plentiful there, being camped all along the river, and from them they learnt where they could get timber. Where the Dooen pumping plant now stands the blacks showed them hundreds of beautiful Pines, up to 100 feet high, and these were used for making the stockyards and for other purposes. The original homestead was built about 100 to 200 yards east of the present homestead. It was about eight months later that Taylor and McPherson took up Longerenong station. Afterwards McPherson went to Nhill, Taylor sold out to Sir Samuel Wilson, and Wilson eventually sold to Bullivant.

The blacks soon proved troublesome and one of young Carter's earliest reminiscences of North Brighton was sitting on the top of a pine post watching for the blacks, while his father milked the cows, having a loaded gun beside him. On another occasion when they had run out of stores he and his father went down to Charlotte plains, on the Loddon, 150 miles from North Brighton. When coming back they camped at the Four Posts, an out-station of Ledcourt. In the morning of the same day the blacks had pulled down the hurdles and stolen a lot of sheep, and had gone towards North Brighton, and the Carters were told they would very likely be stuck up on their return. When the Carters reached Ashens they saw the blacks' fires, and went along quietly, thinking they might get by without being noticed. They had proceeded about a mile past Ashens when they heard a terrible yell from the blacks on the other side of the river. Carter's father motioned to the blacks to keep away, but they swam the river, and coming up to the Carters, formed a half-circle round the dray and brandished their spears in a threatening manner. Young Carter thought they would be killed and called out to his father not to shoot. His father, recognising the wisdom of the boy's advice, placed his gun on the dray, whereupon the blacks put down their spears. One old black, however, caught hold of his father and was threatening him with his waddy, when a black boy called out 'Mirigee Carter" (good man Carter), and Jim Crow, the chief, recognising him, ordered the old black to let the white man go. Only a short time previously the chief had been wounded in the knee by a Boomerang and Carter's father had dressed the wound for him and this was how the chief showed his gratitude. Meantime the Blacks had taken a bag of sugar off the dray, and were helping themselves to double handfuls of the sugar. While the blacks were thus busily engaged the Carters drove off. The bullocks were so frightened by blacks that the yokes and chains rattled on them, and they went off at a great speed. When they had got out of the timber country on to the plain, the Carters looked back and saw the blacks again coming after them, and although they followed them all the way to North Brighton — fourteen or fifteen miles — the fugitives managed to reach the station ahead of the blacks. On this occasion they were armed with light reed spears, which they could throw a distance of one hundred yards with deadly accuracy.

The late Mr. Carter, the name of whose homestead stood for hospitality, and whose ability as a raconteur was hard to excel, used to call up from the clear brain, by which he was blessed to the last, some very thrilling stories of adventure and hardship too. A very powerful man, he surmounted great obstacles with comparative ease, and, by taking the greatest care of himself, through temperate living, his constitution was unimpaired until within a few years of the end. The Carters left North Brighton early in 1843, and after a short stay at De Cameron's station, decided to journey to Mount Gambier. Glenisla had been taken up about two years previously by D. C. Simpson, and Rosebrook was then owned by Rose. It was while on this journey to Mount Gambier that the Carters took up a run at Brim Springs, about nine miles from Glenisla. When the Carters reached this spot in 1844 the dray broke down, and that was really the cause of them settling down there. In those days no-one thought there would ever be any lack of land, and Carter's father applied for and obtained his license for the land without any trouble from Captain Fynes, the Commissioner of Crown Lands. At this time the Carters had no sheep, only cattle. One hundred acres of land were ploughed and sown with wheat, which they sold for 10/ per bushel. This was all reaped by hand and threshed with a flail. Two years later Mount Talbot was taken up by the Officers. About a week after the Carters arrived at Brim Springs a bark hut was knocked up, the timber being obtained from Wartook. Soon after the Carters started building a house, and Carter's father went away to Geelong. Carter, senior, had not long departed when a mob of blacks arrived and sent word by their lubras that they intended to kill. But young Carter and his mother — the latter dressed as a man — drove them off with sheer terror, by coolly aiming at imaginary targets in a tree. It was while they were at Brim Springs that young Carter and his brother captured a bushranger who had escaped from custody at Warnambool, and kept him until the arrival of the police. The Carters prospered in their new home. Rosebrook was bought in 1860, North Brighton two or three years later, then Walmer was bought from the Wilsons, Rosebrook being their headquarters for a long time. Kewell station was bought, but was sold again a fortnight later at profit of £3000, a man named McMullin being the purchaser. Mr. Samuel Carter was married in 1866, to Miss Muirhead, of Fiery Creek Plains, when he and his wife went and settled down at Glenisla. The present homestead, a handsome stone building with fine lofty rooms, and splendidly fitted and furnished, was built in 1873. The house and grounds were planned by Mr. Carter and his wife, the architect being Mr. White, of Ararat. Water is laid on all over the homestead and the outlying buildings, being pumped from a large dam by means of a windmill. Mr. Deakin, the present Prime Minister, who visited the homestead a few years ago, expressed the opinion that it was one of the finest houses in Victoria, outside Melbourne.

In the early days, after settling at Glenisla, the Carters had the mountain fenced off to prevent the sheep straying away into the ranges, but in spite of this precaution isolated sheep unquestionably disappeared from time to time. A watch was kept, and it was found that a gold fossicker, who at shearing time went away shearing sheep, was located in a cave in the Black Ranges, about four miles from the Murchong Valley. This man had a paddock fenced off to run a small mob of sheep to kill as he wanted them. He also had a small garden, with a well for his water supply. He used to get his stores from Balmoral, but it was suspected that he stole his sheep from the Glenisla run. The discovery of the theft came about in this way. The Carters' fence was only a bush fence, and as it got burnt down a blackfellow was sent up to see if any of the sheep had got away over the ranges. He reported the discovery of the garden, the sheep paddock and the well, with a track leading up from the garden to the cave. Mr. Carter then went up and discovered the entrance to the cave, which had been carefully concealed with big stones, the interstices being filled in with moss. The men who were fencing close by were requisitioned to remove the stones, and an examination of the interior of the Cave showed an oil drum filled with salt mutton, while smoked mutton was hung on a wire right across the cave. For months Mr. Carter and his men were looking for the supposed gold fossicker, but he had apparently gone away. About six months later a blackfellow employed by Mr. Carter reported that the man had returned to the locality, and the black was sent down to Cavendish to inform the police. A trooper was sent back with the blackfellow to investigate and while they were sitting down under a rock having their dinner the man they were in search of suddenly made his appearance out of another cave in the vicinity. He was a big, powerful fellow, over six feet in height, about 40 years of age, and armed with a double-barrel shotgun which he had placed on the rock close beside him. The trooper rapidly summed up the pros and cons of the situation, and, asking the man if he could tell them the road to Glenisla, quietly got between the man and his gun. He then told the man who he was, and that he had been sent up to arrest him for sheep stealing. On hearing this the man at once took to his heels, and only that he was wearing old boots, would probably have got away. As it was he tripped and fell, and he was promptly secured by the trooper. An examination of the cave revealed a large quantity of salted and smoked mutton, similar to what had been found in the other cave. The man was taken to Glenisla that night, and to Balmoral the following day, where he was brought up and remanded for three weeks to enable the police to make inquiries as to his previous record. Nothing, however, was found against him, and he was again brought before the court, when he was fined £16, in default three months' imprisonment, for illegal possession of the mutton. The fine was paid by a Balmoral storekeeper, and the man returned to the cave and brought back sixteen sovereigns to liquidate his liability. The man lived in the ranges for a year or two after this incident, when he was missed from the locality, and nothing more was heard of him.

Those who knew the late Mr. Carter best speak in the highest terms of his character. He was retiring in his habits, but he at one period served nine years in the Wimmera Shire and three years as it commissioner of the Water Trust, of which he was the first chairman. He was also for one year president of the shire; and during the whole of his connection with that body he missed but one meeting. He fruitlessly opposed the severance of the territory now known as the Arapiles Shire, and he also vigorously opposed the proposition to include the South riding of the Wimmera shire in the then severed borough. He was so keen at this point that he went to Melbourne as one of a deputation from the shire. It was during this comparatively brief experience of public life that Mr. Carter was given an opportunity for doing something that will stand as a lasting monument to his memory. It was mainly to his persistence that the construction of the Wartook reservoir was due. About this time Patrick Bell, one of the brothers who then occupied Wonagondah station, and who had been training for a civil engineership, took levels which, however crude, convinced him that water could be conducted from the McKenzie Creek to the Burnt and Bungalally Creeks and the Wimmera river. The late Mr. Carter examined the place, and being satisfied in his own mind that sufficient head could be obtained to supply all the Wimmera plains, he took the shire engineer Mr Derry to the spot. Mr. Derry said he could put a weir across at a cost of £1000, and Mr. Deakin, the then State Treasurer, who had just returned from America, advanced the money. The scheme was pushed forward against opposition, ex-Cr. Keyte and the late Mr. Stuart Bolton, shire secretary, backing Mr. Carter up. Mr. Stuart Murray, who inspected the site, pronounced it one of the best reservoirs in Australia — better even than the Yan Yean. Mr. Carter strongly advocated the raising of the embankment, and this was done. Gradually the different channels were made for distributing the water, until today we have the splendid water supply scheme controlled by the Western Wimmera Trust. Mr. Carter related how when the project was first set afoot Mr. Deakin voted £200 to set up a party from this district to collect information bearing on irrigation from other parts. Mr. Carter was one of the party, and Mr. James Carroll, the present shire secretary, was another. Mr. Carter says that when they got to Gawler, in South Australia, looking out of the railway carriage as the train was steaming into the station, they saw what they thought were some very fine patches of lucerne. Investigation and inquiry, however, showed that the supposed lucerne was really stinkwort, which at that time was quite unknown in Victoria. A diary of the trip was kept by Mr. Percy Learmonth and each member of the deputation, and anything left out by one member of the party was included in the official record of the trip, which was afterwards printed and circulated through the district. The discovery of the stinkwort was specially mentioned in the official record, and the district farmers were warned against this noxious weed.

By the death of Mr. Carter the district loses one of the few remnants of the early pioneers, a gentleman who did what he could for the good of others in an unostentatious way; and the news of' his demise, although in the fullness of years, will be received with regret wherever it is made known. Mr. Carter, strange to say, although the eldest son, was the last to marry and the last to die — his brothers both died much younger than he — the only remaining member of the original family being Mrs. Elliot, senior, of Brimpaen. Three sons — William, Frederick and Alexander - and three daughters — Ena, Jessie and Edith survive. A fourth son, Glenisla, died some years ago from lock-jaw, caused by cutting his foot and subsequently working about a damp stable. Among those who knew the deceased longest was Cr. F. Williams, of Horsham who many years ago was overseer for him at different properties. The remains were interred in the Horsham cemetery yesterday afternoon, in the family grave, where the deceased's father and mother were laid many years ago. There was a large attendance of relatives and sympathising friends at the graveside, where the last mournful rights were solemnised by the Rev. Thomas Gray. The pall-bearers were Messrs J. Robertson, J. Eliot, R. Elliot S. C. Carter (nephew), W. C. Bolton and J. Bennett. The burial arrangements were in the hands of Mr. W. F. Allen.

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'Carter, Samuel Charles (1834–1910)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/carter-samuel-charles-1620/text25313, accessed 27 April 2017.

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