EARLY METHODISM ON SOUTHERN YORKE PENINSULA.
By the Rev. R. Kelly 11
Some time in 1875, in order to mwt the growing mvds of Yorke Valley, the Rev. T. M. Rowe. was placed in charge of that, end of the district. He was instrumental in the erection of the fine church which stands on a splendid site in tlie town of Maitland, and which 111:1.v be regarded as his monument. When [ look charge of our work as his successor at Maitland the church was ready *<»r occupation and the circuit machinery was in fair going order. But as T had had active relation to the locality some two years before, when it was on the Troubridge plan, I must go back a little to recall the condition of things at that time. Yorke Valley was looked upon as the great prize of the. Peninsula from an agricultural point of view, and a visitor could not help feeling that he was among the aristocrats of the soil. They were a, sturdy race, many of them thoroughly religious men, representing various Churches, and ready, to do their duty from that point of view as soon as means permitted. They had made sacrifices, and were still making them. The homes were temporary in their construction, and some of them of quite primitive character. But the people were healthy and happy and hopeful. Land had been purchased at high prices, running up to £6 per acre, and the position threatened to become embarrassing. Relief came in a way that gratified the new settlers, though it did not at the time meet with universal approval. Parliament made provision for the surrender of the holdings and their
repurchase, the result being that much of this valuable land was secured at a very great reduction on the original contract price. Water was scarce, and had to be. carted long distances. The roads, as is usual wliero the soil is excellent, were execrable. In due time these troubles were mastered. The. Peninsula. Road Hoard, of which the late Mr. Henry Lamshed was a. member, made good use of its opportunities of the funds placed at his disposal, so that in the whole State there is not a better system of macadamized highways than that which exists between Moonta and the lower end of the Peninsula. . At the earlier date with which onr reminiscences arc concerned a ministerial visit occurred once a month, the services in the intervals being conducted bv the laymen who resided on the spot'. Two private houses were opened for worship—Mr. Charles Miller's, Bagnell Park, and Mr. Henry Lam'shed's, known on the plan as "The Well," as it was close to the chief water supply of the area. In connection with these monthly services it was customary to hold week-evening lectures on various secular topics, mainly of a literary character, with general discussion afterwards. The writer remembers a peculiar incident that happened on one of these occasions. A shock-headed giant, a visitor, by the way, was so tickled by some remarks of the lecturer that lie bolted precipitately from the room, and out in the open air gave vent to uproarious laughter, an evidence that although these functions were supposed to provide intellectual sustenance for a month ahead they could hardly be called "dry tack."
As showing how the work of Methodism has developed, and also how the great Reaper has pressed his demands, 1 may mention that the district meeting of 1876 was held at Moonta. There were present three ministers and three nrobationers, namely, Messrs. R. S. Onsely (chairman), W. Campbell, S. T. Whitington, J. D. Langsford, Thos. M. Howe, and the present writer, who is the sole survivor of the group. One cannot readily recall the names of all who deserve honourable mention as supporters of our cause at that time, but the following are a few of the faithful ones who did their best to sustain the ordinances of religion in the district: Messrs. Lamshed, Miller, Greenslade (Eli as and George), Tiddy, Jarrett, Waterman, Renfrey, Harper, Bouruan, Dodd, Stevens, Howard, Francis, Wilson, Lowe, Hyde, Elliott, Clift, Flintoff, and Swann. As settlement proceeded new religious centres were formed, and a small iron church was built at Wn urn ltie, 17 miles south, where the Leonards (John and .lames), with,Messrs. G. lllmaun Duthie, and others, rendered valuable help. Port Victoria made a beginning with services in the house of Mr. Chas. Holfrichter, and in August, 1877, arrangements were made to erect a church in the township. The foundation-stone was laid on October 19 of that year by Mrs. A. Waterman. Mr. Chas. Edson, formerly of Gawler, was one of the ablest preachers of that day, and he with the Harringtons, Boweys, Kellys (Joseph and William) assisted greatly in all good work. The church at Port Victoria was ojjened on March 17, 1878, the ltev. T. W. Martin conducting two of the r-ervices. Kalkabury, since known as Arthurton, had a small church that served its purpose for a time, our chief friends there being the Collivers, who kept the flag flying until the Crosbys and others came Song to join them. Urania and Weetulta were later developments that hardly come within the present purview. But of Ardrossan a word must be said. The Parara mine had closed. Captain Tregoweth and his Cornish band had departed, and settlers, mainly from Gawler, were occupying the country lying back from Ardrossan and running northward to Petersville and in the direction of Point Price. Services were commenced in the openair on Mr. Webb's selection. At the first service of this kind on a Sunday morning there were sixty present, and at a class meeting immediately after-Avards fourteen persons met. The date was June 3, 1877. Later on the congregation met at Freeman's mill, with sacks of corn for seats and a bale of bags for a pulpit. On June 23 a trustee meeting was held in the mill, as land had already been secured, and it was decided to build a church 40 x 28 x 18. Some thought the scheme too ambitious, but the optimists carried the day. On September 12 the foundation-stone was laid by Mrs. P. Bowman, and the Rev. J. Y. 'Simpson lectured on "Crotchety Grumblers," his old Gawler friends turning out in good numbers to greet him. The handsome church, though with unfinished interior, was opened on March 24, 1878, when I had the privilege of conducting three services. At the public meeting on the 26th Mr. Webb (one of the pioneers) presided, and Messrs. Nicholls and Chas. Miller gave addresses. Of prominent members and adherents at Ardrossan memory cherishes the names of Allison, Lodge, Freeman, Lock, Rowe, Pavy, and Gordon. But there were many others who served their generation faithfully, some of whom are no longer with us. Ardrossan has for many years been a separate oircuit, with a. 'succession of earnest preachers and helpers who have built on the foundation laid forty years ago by men who believed that there was a good future in the district for the cause of Methodism and of our common Christianity. One cannot think that this long-sustained and faithful toil has been in vain. Minlaton during this time had been developing on circuit lines. Less favoured in some respects than some portions of the Peninsula, it had a number of loyal families who stood true to the cause of Christ. The names of J'. C. Tonkin (of Koolywurtie), Charles Maple, R. Newbold, Thos. Wicks, and others occur to one's mind as among the excellent of the earth, friendly, hospitable, generous, and in labours more abundant. As in other places, services were held at first in private houses and wherever the folk could be gathered together. One of the first was held in a blacksmith's shop somewhere within the Winds of the present town of Minlaton. There were seventy present, and it was regarded as a token of good for the future. At Mount Rat Mr. W. S. Reade opened his house for worship, and later on Curramulka became an important centre. So the Word of God grew and multiplied. Materially the district has advanced through the perfecting of its industries and by the more scientific cultivation of the land. Spiritually i't has progressed. Various de- nominations are sharing the oversight of souls, and if only the results were in proportion to the means used to secure them Southern Yorke Peninsula should compare with the garden of. the Lord itself in fertility, fruitfulness, and beauty.