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Maiden, James (1809–1869)

Another of the early Border pioneers has departed this life. Mr James Maiden, so well known as the founder of the town of Moama, died in the Bendigo Hospital on Tuesday last at the age of sixty years. It appears that he had been admitted to that institution about six week previously, suffering from disease of the lungs. He had been for some time ailing, and his death was caused by the complaint in the lungs, together with a general break up of the system. Mr Maiden first arrived on this part of the Murray in 1843, when he brought a herd of cattle down the river, with which he occupied country a little below Tooranabbie Station. In 1846 he commenced to build the Junction Inn, at Moama, which some years afterwards was considerably enlarged by Mr Waltham. In this house Mr Maiden made a great deal of money, and was at one time worth many thousands. He became the proprietor of Perricoota station, which, together with Tooranabbie, he held for a considerable time. He also entered into very large dealings in stock, and kept a large number of drovers employed on the roads. He was a man of great natural ability, and of much energy and enterprise, but being uneducated, his undertakings became too complicated for his management, and after a splendid run of good fortune, his affairs became entangled; difficulties increased every year, and he at length found himself reduced from the position of an extremely rich man to a condition of poverty. He never retrieved his fortunes, and has been for some years in very poor circumstances. In the height of his fortune one of the chief aims of his ambition was to render Moama a place of more importance than Echuca, which was founded by Mr Hopwood in the year 1853. A considerable degree of rivalry existed between them, and many amusing stories are told of the tactics pursued by the Kings of the two Border towns. Mr Maiden established a punt at Moama, which place, by the way, was known for a long time as "Maiden’s Punt". Mr Hopwood subsequently placed a punt alongside his, and another at Echuca, together with a pontoon bridge, which are both still in the same position. Mr Maiden erected cattle yards at Moama for the purpose of crossing the river, and Mr Hopwood did the same at a point on the river nearly opposite to the present railway embankment. This warfare was carried on until Mr Maiden was compelled through his pecuniary difficulties to retire from the field. It is somewhat remarkable that within a few days of twelvemonths one of these veteran pioneers should have followed the other to the grave, Mr Hopwood having died last New Year’s Day. They were within a few years of the same age, and both of them were men of iron constitutions, which shortly before their deaths completely gave way. Notwithstanding the long and warm opposition which was carried on between them in business, no personal animosity appeared to exist between them; and in the latter years of their lives they always met as old friends and acquaintances, and conversed jocularly of past times. Mr Maiden always said that Mr Hopwood fought him fairly, and attributed his failure to very different causes than his persistent opposition. They are both now gone, and we can only say, Peace to their ashes.

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'Maiden, James (1809–1869)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/maiden-james-13347/text23974, accessed 15 November 2019.

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