Iris Esther Chaseling (obit.1912)


Headstone (fallen) of Iris Esther Chaseling
Sackville Methodist Cemetery [SHRB.23]

A very sad bereavement befel Mr. and Mrs. John Chaseling, of North Sackville, on Xmas Day, when their daughter, Iris Esther, aged 14 years, was drowned in the Hawkesbury River. It seems that in the afternoon the child, with a younger sister, went for a walk after dinner. After rambling about for while they went to their father’s wharf, and while sitting there Iris overbalanced and fell into the river. Her sister ran home and told what had happened, and the father, who was taking an after-dinner nap, at once ran down to the river, a distance of about a quarter of a mile, jumped into the water and searched for the body. The alarm was raised and assistance arrived, but it was not until the body had been in the water for an hour that it was found in a deep hole near the wharf. Every effort was made at resuscitation. The sad occurrence cast a gloom over the district, and widespread sympathy is expressed for the parents. The District Coroner, Mr J. B. Johnston, J.P., held an inquiry into the circumstances of the drowning on the 26th ultimo, when a verdict of accidental death was recorded. The funeral took place on Boxing Day, when the remains were laid to rest in the Methodist cemetery, Sackville. Rev. T. F. Rudd carried out the last sad rites, and Mr. J. W. Chandler was the undertaker. [SHRB.23]

Henry Law (obit. 1905)


Headstone (fallen) of Henry Law, his wife Mary, and son James, Sackville Methodist Cemetery [SHRB.20]

From our Lower Portland correspondent —
The grim reaper, death, has again applied his sickle, with the result that another old identity in the person of Mr. Henry Law is removed from our midst. Our departed friend breathed his last at his residence, Lower Portland, on Monday 27th June, at midnight. The deceased gentleman never knew what sickness was until a year or so back, when his health began to decline. A fortnight prior to his death, he had a bad turn, from which, although receiving every attention (medical and otherwise) he never rallied.  The late Mr. Law, who had reached three score years and ten, was one of the most esteemed residents on the river, and profound regret was expressed on all sides when the news of his decease was circulated on Tuesday morning. Of genial temperament and charitable disposition, our old friend passed away to the land of shades and shadows, at enmity with no one, but regretted by all classes and creeds on the river.  The late Mr. Law was an Englishman by birth, emigrating to New South Wales in the year 1857, so that he lived for practically a half century in the district. A schooner, the Alfred by name, was the boat he travelled in, and the voyage out occupied three months to the day. The Alfred carried 570 passengers all told, no doubt many of them being attracted to the country in the hope of making a ‘pile’ at the diggings. Mr. Law was a married man when he came to the colony, and, besides his wife, was accompanied by the latter’s sister (now Mrs. John Mitchell, of Sackville). Shortly after his arrival in Sydney, Mr. Law met the late Thomas Christie, Senr., of Lower Portland, and the result was that he was engaged by the latter to come up the river and work on his well known property at Portland. The ‘Traveller’ (Manning and Mitchell owners) conveyed Mr. Law, his wife, and sister-in-law up the river, and for several years the family resided on Christie’s farm. After leaving Christie’s, he resided on two or three farms in the district, until he settled on his present property some time prior to the big flood of ’67. Not long after he came to this country, Mr. Law had the misfortune to lose his wife. He subsequently married again, this time chosing an Australian bride in the person of Miss Mary Brown, daughter of the late William Brown, of Lower Portland.  By his first marriage he had four children, while the second resulted in an issue of nine (eight sons and two daughters), all of whom, together with his wife, survive him.  To his family we extend our warmest sympathy. The funeral took place on Wednesday afternoon, the remains being interred in the Methodist Cemetery at Sackville. No steamer being available for the occasion, rowing boats and vehicles were, perforce, called into requisition. The pullers of the boat containing the coffin were Messrs. Eb. Mitchell, Nathan Mitchell, Frank Christie and Wesley Mitchell. The rain in the early part of the morning interfered greatly with the attendance. Nevertheless, a goodly concourse of friends turned up to pay their last tribute of respect to one who was so honored in life. The pall-bearers were six sons of the deceased, viz, Will, Harry, Charles, Edward, Les, and George. The coffin was a handsome one of polished cedar, heavily mounted, and was covered with beautiful floral tributes. The Rev A. Cooper officiated at the grave, and spoke feelingly of the exemplary life of the deceased. The duties of undertaker were satisfactorily carried out by Mr. Thomas Collison. James Law died in February 1916 and Mrs. Mary Law died in July 1922 (aged 77). [SHRB.20]

Sackville North Public School


Former Sackville North Public School Building [SHRB.14]

 An application for the establishment of a Public School at Sackville was received by the Council of Education in 1875. Built of sandstone with a teacher’s residence attached, the building was officially opened on the 25th January 1879 and today forms part of the Brewongle Environmental Education Centre. [SHRB.14]

Ballendella (obit.1863)

On the 15th December 1863, a newspaper article in the Sydney Morning Herald, titled Hawkesbury River [from a correspondent] records the death of Ballendella, daughter of Turandurey, at Sackville Reach. The burial took place on Sunday 6th December, attended by Mr. Leet, most of the aborigines on the River and some local residents.


On the Cumberland Reach [SHRB.12]

Hawkesbury River Flood, 1867

A Letter from Mr Tuckerman to the Rev. H. N. Palmer 
“Rev. and Dear Sir,
It is with feelings of deep regret that I have to announce the total destruction of our little church, with its contents, excepting the surplice. The water rose so rapidly that I had not time to send up to the church till Friday afternoon. I directed my son to tie the harmonium to the beams, and secure the other things in like manner, which he did when he left, the property was beyond the reach of the water about eight feet, which was just then entering the church. The next morning it was totally carried away. It had to contend with a very strong current, arising from the river meeting the back water in that place. Therefore, no wooden building could sustain its position. The teacher’s residence is also destroyed, and the burial ground is a complete wreck, the tombstones are overturned, and much of the fencing swept away. After so many years perseverance to get the church built, and now to lose it so suddenly, is certainly painful in the extreme; the whole of my family feel very sorrowful for its loss. This locality has suffered severely from this flood, which is sixteen feet higher than that of 1864, a rise of water unprecedented in the history of the colony. Stephens’s house is washed away, with a good deal of household property, and Gardner’s has shared the same fate; the Wesleyan chapel is also gone, and also Chatterton’s schoolhouse and dwelling house, within which I am told was all his property. James Turnbull has lost his house, barn, &c; and Mr. George Turnbull Sen. has lost his dwelling house and barn, with all his corn, &c. I feel thankful that I have been more fortunate than some of my neighbours. The water did not enter my dwelling although within three inches of doing so. We had removed all our household goods, and took refuge in the granary, to which place we had to go in a boat, but, notwithstanding, I have sustained great loss. The water reached above the roof of my barn, and spoiled all my corn and hay. I also expect to lose an immense deal of fencing, &c. The inhabitants of the Hawkesbury will long remember the year 1867, for wide spread distress and destitution must prevail throughout the district for a long time to come, for dwelling houses and property of all descriptions along the river downward must have been destroyed to a considerable extent”. Sackville Reach, 26th June 1867

Since the last flood in the month of April last the farmers had gathered a great quantity of corn that had escaped immersion at that time, but the weather appeared to be rather unsettled occasionally, and it was generally expected that should we have another fall of rain another flood would be the result. The rain again set in on Tuesday, the 18th instant, and continued moderately till Wednesday morning and increased in violence till nightfall, it then came down in torrents till the following morning; the back waters had then accumulated to a great extent, and the river was rising at the rate of two and a half feet per hour in the afternoon it was bank high. The next morning, Friday, the cultivated lands were all inundated, and the rain still continuing to fall heavily, it was evident that a very high flood would result. In the afternoon the rain came down in a frightful manner, and also during the night. On Saturday morning the rain had ceased, with the exception of heavy showers occasionally. About 3 o’clock in the afternoon the waters had reached the mark of the great flood in 1864, still rising at the rate of fifteen inches per hour. At sundown the water slackened, and finally became stationary, at 5 o’clock a.m. on Sunday morning, and at 7 o’clock, it began to recede, having attained a height of fifteen feet above the mark of the great flood in 1864. During the rising of the waters on Friday night, Mr. C. Tuckerman rescued Mr Everingham’s family, ten in number, from their perilous position at the Stannix Park Estate; and, together with another family that had taken shelter at his residence attended to their wants during the flood. A few persons had also taken shelter at the residence of Mr. James Doyle, at Ulinbawn, and were hospitably entertained by that gentleman, and made as comfortable as circumstances would admit. Many other persons situated on different parts of the river bed had to take refuge on the mountains, and in many instances without food or bed clothing. On Tuesday morning the waters were rapidly subsiding, when the steamer Sir John Young appeared at Sackville Reach with a supply of flour, meat, and blankets, to afford temporary relief to those who were totally destitute, a portion of which was placed under the care of Mr. S. Tuckerman J.P , for distribution. Mr. T. lost no time in making it known to the sufferers in the locality, and in a short time had distributed 1500 lbs of flour to those who were most in need. This flood has reached dwellings and barns which were always considered out of reach of the highest floods that would probably over take place, consequently the destruction of buildings and farm produce is immense. The buildings on the very highest spots within view of the river escaped immersion by a few feet only. The wreck of buildings from Pitt Town to Wiseman’s Ferry is almost beyond description. Many houses have been totally carried away, and many others are in such a shattered condition that they cannot be repaired. At Sackville Reach the destruction of buildings was frightful to behold. The school-house used as a place of worship in connection with the Church of England is washed away. The Wesleyan chapel on the opposite side of the river has shared the same fate. Mr. Chatterton’s school-house has also disappeared, with a considerable amount of property, his dwelling is also a complete wreck. Messrs. Gardner, Stephens, and James Turnbull have also lost their dwelling houses and other buildings and nearly all their property. Such a scene of destruction was never before witnessed on the Hawkesbury, and consequently widespread distress must exist for many months. Many persons, having lost their all, must in some measure depend upon the charitable feeling of those who are able to alleviate the misery and distress of their fellow men. There is no doubt but that the Government will at once take action in seeking information as to the extent of this great calamity, with a view of affording some relief to the sufferers. As the waters subside the wreck of property becomes more apparent. Nearly all the maize is washed away or spoiled. No loss of life has yet been reported between Pitt Town and Wiseman’s Ferry. Sackville Reach, 27th June 1867

“The Parsonage”


The former Methodist Parsonage high up on the river bank overlooking the Sackville Reach [SHRB.06]

In 1875, tenders were advertised for the erection of a Wesleyan Parsonage at Sackville Reach. Built from sandstone c.1876, at a cost of upwards of £600, the Parsonage served as the Minister’s residence until the mid-1920’s when the site was sold to Mr. Scharkie for £750.  In 1905, extensive repairs to the building were undertaken by Mr. Greentree of the Lower Hawkesbury; with the shingled roof being stripped back and covered with iron, plaster ceilings removed and replaced with redwood and the walls kalsomined (whitewashed).

In January 1913, both the Methodist Church and Parsonage narrowly escaped being engulfed by a bush-fire. The Rev. Rudd, his son Selby and a visitor used water from an underground tank and a well to fight the flames, along with the Everingham brothers who arrived on the scene just as the fire was reaching the Church. Both buildings were saved, but the old parsonage, an earlier wooden home used by former ministers, was burnt to the ground. The Sackville School of Arts building and its entire contents was also lost. A news report in the Windsor and Richmond Gazette describes some of the fire damage suffered by the residents of Currency, Sackville, Ebenezer and Wilberforce :-
“M. Gill, wattle bark and fencing, £20 ; J. Tuckerman, shed and fencing £20 ; E. Fallick, fencing, £17; unoccupied slab hut and fencing, Ebenezer, £15 ; P. Bennett, unoccupied hut and shed, £60 ; R. Bennett, fencing, £5 ; R.H.H. Brown, lucerne stack and fencing, £80 ; A. Brown, shed containing hay and fencing, £140 ; W. Kemp, bees, citrus nursery, 2 pigs and fencing, £87 ; W. King, shed and fencing, £45 ; R.J. Holmes, fencing, £5 ; R. Hutchinson, 1 cow, damage to orchard, fencing, £40 ; J. Bradley, 16 head cattle, poultry, stable and fencing, £250 ; Mrs N. Hall, fencing, £200; D. Irwin, fencing, £150 ; S.A. Tuckerman, fencing, £60 ; J. Brown, fencing £25 ; J. Watkins, fencing, £10 ; Dr Fiaschi, fencing, shed, damage to vineyard, £420 ; J. Stephens, fencing, £60 ; A. Stephens, fencing and damage to orchard, £100 ; J. Bennett, fencing and damage to orchard, £200; L. Brown, fencing, £60 ; C.H. Britten, fencing, £25; A. Dunston, hayshed, dray and fencing, £65 ; Jos. Aspery, fencing and damage to orchard, £55 ; J. Noble, shed and furniture, £50 ; Sackville School of Arts, hall, piano, and furniture, £175 ; Rev. T.F. Rudd, stable, shed, sulky, buggy and harness, £45 ; Public School, Sackville, fencing, £10 ; G. Hastwell, bicycle and tools, £5 ; Gotts Bros, fencing, £10 ; Mitchell, fencing, £5. Amongst others who suffered loss were Messrs J. Teale, Wilberforce (the fire passing right over his property), and Messrs. J. V. Dunston, W. J. Reynolds and Packer, who lost stock. Happily no human lives were lost, though there were some narrow escapes. The flames swept over the residence of Mrs. Kemp, Senr., of Ebenezer, leaping along the tree tops. Some debris set fire to her bush house, and alone she fought the fire and put it out. The great heat overcame her and she was found unconscious by some neighbors when they went to see how she had fared. Mrs. Joseph Aspery, of Sackville, had a trying time. She was alone, and the fire came up to the house which was charred in some places …”  [SHRB.06]

Upper Portland Head, February 1847

This district was visited on Thursday, the 4th instant, with one of the most terrific hail and thunder storms ever experienced by the oldest inhabitants. During the afternoon it was unusually sultry, the sun occasionally appearing till about six o’clock, when the clouds began to unite, and from their appearance indicated an approaching storm; about a quarter past seven the wind blew rather fresh from the southward, accompanied by thunder and lightning; about a quarter of an hour after, an awful clap of thunder announced the descent of heavy rain, which began to pour down in torrents, immediately accompanied with hail – the elements at this juncture displayed an awfully, grand appearance, there being constant succession of flashes of lightning, and the storm passing over with great rapidity; the hailstones were equal in size to pullets’ eggs, and continued for about a quarter of an hour, concluding with heavy rain, which lasted a considerable time. This storm appears to have taken a breadth of about four miles in the neighbourhood of Sackville Reach, its limits easterly being at Mr. Kirwan’s steam engine. Great damage has been done in the locality – the Wesleyan Chapel has suffered severely by the windows being broken, which were completely exposed to its fury. Mr. James Doyle’s orchard and vineyard has been shivered, and the fruit, which composed a great variety, almost totally destroyed. The maize crops, which promised to be exceedingly abundant, are nearly all cut off. Messrs. Tuckerman and Hall, in conjunction with many others, are great sufferers. [SHRB.03]