history burra graphic
Chinese Market Gardens in Burra

1. Burra's New Aberdeen Chinese Garden.

Allotments 103 to 107 or part thereof.

These allotments lie on the south side of Duncan St to the west of the Burra Railway Station. This land had been part of the Bon Accord Mine holdings and by 1879 was held by the Yorke’s Peninsula Mining Association. Titles records show that on 1 August 1879 these allotments were transferred from that Association to James Orgin and George Muck. It is possible that these unusual names may hide a Chinese origin because on 11 December 1879 there was another transfer to George Muck and James Ping, the latter of whom seems very likely to have been Chinese.

Given the way Ah Wing or Arwing in one record clearly became Irving, Orgin could easily be something like Ah Chin and Muck perhaps Maip: but this can only be speculation.

The Burra Corporation assessment for 1879 cites G. Maip as the owner and occupier of a hut and garden on allotments 105 & 106, whereas the previous year the allotments are described as vacant land owned by the YPMA. Lands Titles show the transfer to George Maip on 24 January 1883 and from him to Isaac Short on 20 December 1886. The Council assessment for 1881 has ‘Chinamen’ in the ‘occupier’ column and for 1882 ‘Chinaman’. The land use is ‘Chinaman’s garden’

Burra Record
VIII. 596. 19 Nov. 1886, page 2


George Maip is selling his market garden in Aberdeen comprising 70 fruit trees, 72 grape vines, 2 wells, a windmill, house, cart and young horse, for £300 as he is leaving the colony.

The Council assessment in 1889 shows W. Isaac Short as occupier & owner of the garden on allotments 103, 104 & 107 and in the following year adds a ‘new garden’ for allotments 132, 133 & 134.

The Council assessment for 1891 gives Ling How (see also Redruth Gaol records) as the occupier of the garden on allotments 103 to 107, while W. Isaac Short is named for the garden on allotments 132 to 135.

In the Council assessment for 1892 Charles Fae (an error for Charles Fie) has become the occupier. By 1894 the assessment has named Charles Fie for allotments 103 to 107, but now the allotments 132 to 135 have been sold to Joseph Ford no occupier is mentioned and we may assume I think that it ceased to be a garden.

Burra Record
XV, 297, 23 May 1894, page 3 & XV, 300, 20 June 1894, page 3

Information from the court cases already noted above tells us that Charlie Fie had been renting the garden in early 1894 from Isaac Short and was employing Ah Gow. After losing the first case described Fie had to give it up and it was then taken over by Ah Gow who in turn then employed Charlie Fie. This is partly reflected in the assessment for 1894 which has the name of Charles Fie crossed out with that of W. Isaac Short as the occupier and owner.

The Council assessment in 1895 places W. I. Short in a house on allotment 103 with Ah Ching as gardener of allotments 104 to 107. 1896 Changes this name to Ah ChungFrom other sources it seems clear that Ah Chung = Ah Ching = Ah Chun = Ah Chin = Chin Young. with allotment 105 to 107 and pt 103 & pt 104. William Short’s house now being allocated to pt 103 & pt 104. This situation remains unchanged until the assessment of 1900 which shows Ah Chung occupying allotments 233 & 236 of Kooringa and living on allotment 388 in Kingston St, Kooringa. James Wah replaced Ah Chung at the New Aberdeen Garden for 1900 & 1901, after which the occupier is shown as W. Isaac short for 1902 & 1903. Further research awaits access to later assessment books.

2. Sing & Fat’s Kingston Street Garden.

Burra Record
X, 824, 5 Feb. 1889, page 2

Mr Packard has shown us some splendid peaches grown in Burra. Gardens in the town are now growing almonds, apricots, plums, nectarines, peaches, cherries, grapes and black mulberries and in the Chinamen’s garden in The Paddock the produce of garden stuff is astonishing.

Burra Record
XI, 877, 13 Aug. 1889, page 3

The Chinamen are growing some fine vegetables: better than those sent from Adelaide.

[Probably ‘the Chinamen’ referred to were Sing & Fat with a garden in The Paddock between Kingston and Quarry Streets. See article XI, 912, 13 Dec. 1889, p.2]

Burra Record
XI, 912, 13 Dec. 1889, page 2


We recently visited the garden in Kingston St occupied by the two Chinamen, Sing and Fat. This was until recently a vacant patch of hard baked clay and is now extremely rich. They have a large number of fruit trees and vegetables of all descriptions. [I think this is the only reference in the paper that specifically names the ‘Chinamen’.]

Burra Record
XI, 928, 7 Feb. 1890, page 2

The Chinese Gardens in Kingston St have all kinds of vegetables growing, proving how rich the country would be with water.

Burra Record
XI, 963, 10 June 1890, page 3

The Chinaman’s Garden is looking first-class again.

[Probably a reference to the garden of Sing & Fat in Kingston St.]

The Council assessment in 1890 cites a Chinamen’s Garden in Kingston St, but does not specify the allotment numbers. The land was owned by Richard Snell. Richard Snell’s garden and public baths were in the same area and later Luke Day’s garden occupied this area too, but to what extent the three overlapped is to be determined. Snell’s and Fat & Sing’s gardens co-existed. See Burra Record: X, 815, 4 Jan. 1889, page 2,Advertisements, Richard Snell,Public Baths, Quarry St (Ladies only on Thursdays) & Burra Record,XI, 936, 7 Mar. 1890, page 3, Kooringa Wesleyan Church Harvest Thanksgiving last Sunday saw a 111½ lb pumpkin from Mr Snell’s garden conspicuous among the produce.

Burra Record
XII, 1063, 28 Oct. 1891, Page 2


John Sampson will auction under a warrant of execution of the Local Redruth Court on Friday 30 October on the premises known as Sing & Fat in Market Square, Groceries, Tinware, Glassware, Drapery etc., etc. Without reserve.

Burra Record
XII, 1064, 4 Nov. 1891, Page 3

Sing & Fat’s sale did not come off. [But there seems to be no further mention of them in the paper.]

In the Council assessment of 1892 Ah Sing is listed as renting a house on pt allotment 33 Redruth, in Trembath St. for which the name See Wah has been crossed out. He is not shown to be there in 1893.

Note on the possible marriage of Ah Sing

Note: The dates of activity in Burra and the date of Annie Willis Sing’s death in Laura may suggest William Sing was not the Sing of Fat & Sing, though perhaps an ailing Annie went to friends in Laura and died there while her husband was in Kooringa.

Marriage records show that William Ah Sing (age unspecified), father Tobin Sing, married Anne Willis (20) in Adelaide at Chalmers F.P. Church, on 23 December 1862.

[Chalmers is Scots Church North Terrace Adelaide. Presumably F.P. = Free Presbyterian?]

The reason for believing this may be the same Ah Sing lies in the birthplace of the couple’s children.

Henry was born in Adelaide 23 March 1865

Annie was born in Kooringa 28 January 1868 and died on 20 March 1868, of bronchitis, aged six weeks, William Sing, the father, is listed as a labourer.

Ann was born in Kooringa 22 October 1869 and died 24 October 1869, of convulsions, aged 32 hours. William Sing, the father, is listed as a labourer.

Fanny Sing died Kooringa 24 January 1871, of atrophy, aged 5 weeks. Buried in plot 216 of Burra Cemetery. William Sing, the father, is listed as a labourer.

Henry Sing died Kooringa 9 August 1872, aged 4 days, but for this child the father is cited as Henry Sing.

He is buried in plot 586 of Burra Cemetery. [As his birth was not registered it has not been possible to check the name of his mother and the father’s name as Henry could easily be an error on the document.]

Emma Sing, born 20 Sep. 1873 District Clare [Mother cited as Annie Willie.]

Alfred Sing born 9 Jan. 1875 District Clare [Mother cited as Annie Wheeler.]

Edith Annie Sing born 11 Oct. 1876 District Clare [Mother cited as Annie Willie.]

Annie Willis Sing died 6 June 1892 at Laura, aged 58.

[The ages given at marriage and death do not agree.]

William Sing, a resident of Laura, died at Jamestown on 16 Nov. 1905, aged 89.

3. Garden of James Wah

See the New Aberdeen Garden for 1900-1901.

Assessment books for years later than 1903 might have further information

It is not known if this is the same person as the following:

Burra Record
XV, 300, 12 Jan. 1898, page 2


Mr James Ah Hong Wah, Chinese Herbalist, Consultations free at the Kooringa Hotel, 10.00 a.m to 1.00 p.m. daily. Private Residence, Thames St, Kooringa, opposite the Primitive Methodist Church.

[Later the Kooringa Masonic Lodge.]

4. Garden of Ah Chin, probably also known as Chin Young.

Putting all the evidence together it seems clear that Ah Chung = Ah Ching = Ah Chun = Ah Chin = Chin Young.

There evidence that Ah Chin is the same as Chin Young is overwhelming despite the inconsistent use of names and the difference again in the name on the marriage registration.

As already stated in reference to Council assessments for rates:

The Council assessment in 1895 places W. I. Short in a house on allotment 103 with Ah Ching as gardener of allotments 104 to 107. 1896 Changes this name to Ah Chung with allotment105 to 107 and pt 103 & pt 104. William Short’s house now being allocated to pt 103 & pt 104. This situation remains unchanged until the assessment of 1900 which shows Ah Chung occupying allotments 233 & 236 of Kooringa and living on allotment 388 in Kingston St, Kooringa. James Wah replaced Ah Chung at the New Aberdeen Garden for 1900 & 1901, after which the occupier is shown as W. Isaac short for 1902 & 1903. Further research awaits access to later assessment books.

Allotments 233 & 236 are not stated to be a garden and further research is needed to make certain the location of his garden in Kooringa. Allotments 236 & 233 lie between Graves & Graham Streets. [Nearly opposite the road to the new section of the cemetery.]

William Chung, aged 38, father Yee Wone, married Annie Mutton, aged 23, father Joseph Mutton, on 20 July 1869, at St Luke’s Church, Adelaide.

Burra Record
XV, 311 (4), 26 Sep. 1894, page 3

Ah Ching won first prizes for 3 cabbages, 6 red beet, a collection of not less than 6 vegetables and a collection of not less than 5 salad vegetables at the Burra Show.

Burra Record
XV, 270 (2), 12 May 1897, page 3

Five women were charged with riotous behaviour in Kingston St 2 May: Agnes Gully, Mabel Bradley, Annie Ah Chin. [See details under court cases.]

Burra Record
XV, 333, 14 Sep. 1898, page 3

A Bolt.

Last Sunday when Ah Chin was visiting his cousins in Ayers St the horse in his vehicle bolted just as he was about to chain the wheel. Fortunately it negotiated a number of corners without damage and was finally stopped near Charley Grow’s stables by a lad named Lines, who delivered it to the driver who ‘thankee Jack welly muchee’.

Burra Record
XV, 467, 15 May 1901, page 3

Notice. Thanks

I beg to tender my best thanks to Dr J.I. Sangster Sen., the Matron and Nurses of the Burra Hospital for kindness shown to my wife during her illness in that Institution.

An Chin [sic], Kooringa.

[Presumably should be Ah Chin]

Burra Record
XV, 486, 2 Oct. 1901.

Ah Chin wins 1st prize for three lettuces at the Burra Show.

Burra Record
XV, 491, 27 Nov. 1901

Ah Chin wins prizes for pears and turnips at Burra Flower Show.

Burra Record
XV, 493, 11 Dec. 1901, page 2

Ernest Crewes writes to the editor, drawing attention to the plight of Mr Ah Chin, who lost all his household effects, two tons of chaff, harness etc. through a fire on Monday. He is utterly destitute with a wife and family to maintain. As an ‘honest straightforward and hard-working man’ he is ‘worthy of all the help and support we can give him at this juncture.’

The editor indicates his willingness to receive and acknowledge all contributions sent in.

A growing list of donations is acknowledged each week till 22 January 1902.

Judging from the Council assessment this was probably the house on allotment 388 in Kingston St.

Burra Record
XV, 493, 11 Dec. 1901, page 3


Kingston St was alarmed on Monday afternoon when it became known the premises of Mr Ah Chin was ablaze. It was a hot day and the roof, mainly of palings, burnt rapidly. Only a washstand was saved so rapid and fierce was the fire. Ah Chin was digging a well when his adopted son, aged three or four, found some matches. Mrs Chin had a day’s engagement at the hospital. The young boy began in the chaff-house. Ah Chin found the boy and a companion in the smoke-filled room and saved them. All household furniture was lost. Nothing was insured. An adjoining house to the east narrowly escaped. The house itself of eight rooms and owned by SAMA was insured for £50. Ah Chin is much respected as a fruit hawker. His losses amount to about £75.

Burra Record
XV, 498, 22 Jan. 1902

The Ah Chin Relief Fund reached £37-0-3 from over 230 donations, including 16/3 from the Xmas Service at Redruth Methodist Church and £1-14-0 from an open-air concert by May’s Band.

[Leaving aside these two larger contributions, this would mean an average donation of about 3/-.]

Mrs Chin thanked all for their practical assistance and says by their united efforts she has been able to re-establish a home that was destroyed by fire.

Burra Record
XV, 566, 11 Mar. 1903

Ah Chin was fined 2/6 plus 5/- costs for driving too fast around the Royal Exchange Hotel corner.

Burra Record
XV, 593, 30 Sep. 1903

Ah Chin won prizes for best cabbages, red beet & celery at the Burra Show.

Burra Record
XV, 696, 4 Oct. 1905, page 3

Ah Chin won prizes at the Burra Show for cabbages, lettuces, parsnips, rhubarb, carrots, red beet, celery, green onions, marrows and a collection of vegetables.

Burra Record
XV, 742, 3 Oct. 1906

Ah Chin won prizes at the Burra Show similar to 1905 and also had the best Newfoundland dog.

Burra Record
VX, 791, 2 Oct. 1907

Ah Chin won prizes at the Burra Show for 6 red beet, 3 cabbages, 3 cauliflowers, 6 white turnips, 6 parsnips, 6 sticks of rhubarb, 2 marrows, 6 carrots, 3 sticks of celery, bunch of green onions, 6 varieties of vegetables, at least five salad vegetables, 2 pie melons and a Newfoundland dog.

Burra Record
VX, 814


Chin Young fined 2/6 for having a stray horse in Kangaroo St.

Burra Record
VX, 820, 23 Sep. 1908

Chin Young won prizes at the Burra Show for collection of vegetables, collection of herbs, collection of salad vegetables, bunch green onions, 2 marrows, 3 cauliflowers, 3 lettuces, 6 white turnips, 6 parsnips, 6 red beet, 3 sticks of celery and a Newfoundland dog.

Burra Record
VX, 871, 29 Sep. 1909

Ah Chin wins prizes at the Burra Show for a collection of vegetables, a collection of herbs, a collection of salad vegetables, 3 cabbages, 3 cauliflowers, 3 lettuces, 6 white turnips, parsnips, sticks of rhubarb, carrots, red beet, celery, green onions, marrows, a Pekin drake and a Greyhound dog.

Burra Record
VX, 911, 12 Oct. 1910

Ah Chin wins first prizes at the Burra Show for: Ladies Fancy Dog, hen eggs, duck eggs, Pekin drake, & Pekin duck. In the general vegetable section he won first prize for: collection of herbs, collection of vegetables, cauliflowers, rhubarb, red beet, celery, collection salad vegetables, pie melons & marrows. In the section ‘grown within 30 miles of Burra’ he won first prizes for: collection of vegetables, cauliflowers, lettuces, turnips, rhubarb, carrots, red beets, collection of herbs & pie melons.

Burra Record
XV, 961, 11 Oct. 1911

Chin Young won second prizes at the Burra Show for a lap dog, a goose, a gander, and a drake and first prize for a Pekin duck. For vegetables grown within 20 miles of Burra he won first prize for cauliflowers, white turnips, rhubarb, red beet, celery, green onions, leeks, 6 vegetables, 5 herbs and salad vegetables. For vegetables grown within 30 miles of Burra he won prizes for cauliflowers, white turnip, rhubarb, carrots, red beet, celery, green onions, collection of vegetables, collection of herbs and collection of salad vegetables.

Burra Record
XX, 1862, 1 Oct. 1913

Chin Young scored well in the amateur vegetable grower section. [My notes this time were not more specific.]

Burra Record
XXII, 1972, 3 Nov. 1915, page 2

Chin Young won first prizes at the Burra Show for a rough-coated collie, a ladies lap dog, white turnips, red beet, celery, onions, leeks and a collection of vegetables.

Burra Record
XXXVIII, 44, 1 Nov. 1916, page 4

Chin Young won prizes at the Burra Show for best Collie dog and for cauliflower, rhubarb, celery, leeks, a collection of vegetables and a collection of herbs.

Burra Record
XXXXII, 41, 13 Oct. 1920, page 4

Chin Young won prizes at the Burra Show for 3 cabbages, 3 cauliflowers, 3 lettuces (2nd), 6 swedes, 6 carrots, red beet, 3 sticks of celery and a collection of herbs. In the flower section he won prizes for 6 antirrhinums and 3 antirrhinums.

Burra Record
XXXXIII, 44, 2 Nov. 1921, page 4

Chin Young won prizes at the Burra Show for 6 swedes (2nd), 6 carrots, 3 celery, collection of not less than 6 types of vegetable (2nd), silver beet (2nd). He also got second prizes for 6 antirrhinums, 3 antirrhinums and 6 stocks.

Annie Young, wife of Chin Young, gardener of Kooringa, died 26 March 1923, aged 47. She was born in Cornwall, England and was a resident of Australia for 38 years. She was aged 21 at marriage and had 1 living issue. She died from a cerebral haemorrhage at the Burra Hospital.

Burra Record
XXXXV, 13, 28 Mar. 1823, page 2.

The news on Monday morning last that Nurse Young of Kooringa, had suddenly passed away, came as a great shock to everyone. Some time ago the deceased lady; who was only 46 years of age, had a slight stroke and was compelled to take things quietly, however her health improved and she was apparently as well as usual until Sunday afternoon when a third stroke occurred and she passed away as stated.

For many years past she has conducted a private nursing home and has earned the love and respect of those to whom she ministered by her kind, patient, and Christian service, and her death is widely regretted and greatest sympathy is felt for her husband and son in their great sorrow.

The funeral took place on Tuesday afternoon from the Salvation Army Hall and the service at the grave was conducted by Ensign H.R. Heathwood and the Rev. Edwin Smith, Methodist, in the presence of a large number of residents. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs C.J. Pearce & Son.

Burra Record
XXXXV, 13, 4 Apr. 1923, page 3.


Young _ (Nurse Young), on the 26th March at Kooringa, suddenly, Annie, dearly loved wife of Chin Young and loved mother of William Young, aged 48 years.

Burra Record
18 Nov. 1925.

Report that Chin Young, aged 78, who came to Australia in 1875 and has been a Burra resident for 34 years, has decided to return to China and will leave Burra on Saturday. [Note that the age given here is 10 years older than the marriage registration would suggest.]

Personal note: my father, Clarence R. Fuss, remembers Chin Young delivering fish from a small cart in Kooringa in the early 1920s.

5. The Black Waterholes Garden.

Burra Record
XV, 403, 7 Feb. 1900, page 3

James Tie, a Chinese gardener of Black Waterholes, met with a serious accident on his way home on Saturday. He lost control of his horse and dray on an incline near his garden and the dray capsized. He was thrown into the creek where he lay unconscious for some hours. He was found by his wife who then sent for Mr Reed who conveyed him to the Burra Hospital. He remains unconscious with a concussion that seems likely to prove fatal. He is aged 40. [Note that in the report of his death in the next issue he is said to be 48, while the registration of death gives the age as 43.]

Burra Record
XV, 404, 14 Feb. 1900, page 2


James Tie died in the Burra Hospital on 9 February after the accident reported in the last issue. He was aged 48 and leaves a wife and adopted child.

The registration of death states:

Chong Foon Tie died on 9 Feb. 1900, aged 43. He was a gardener of Black Waterholes near Kooringa. Death was due to concussion of the brain caused by an accidental fall from a spring cart. He died in Burra Hospital.

Despite the uncertainty of the age of James Tie in the above he seems likely to have been the Foon Tie who married Mary Mannix:

Foon Tie, bachelor and gardener, aged 38, whose father was Wisin Tie, married Mary Mannix, spinster and domestic, aged 24, whose father was John Mannix, on 27 January 1896, at the residence of Mrs J. Goldsworthy, in Thames St, Kooringa.

Following Tie’s death the garden was apparently bought by a countryman of his called Loo Bolh, because later in 1900 the following appears in the local paper


Burra Record
XV, 430, 15 Aug. 1900, page 2


Loo Bolh, a Chinese gardener of Black Water Holes was charged by Inspector Gray of having two false weights for use in trade. Luke Day interpreted. The accused pleaded guilty, but said he didn’t know they were false, having taken over the business and the weights from a countryman. He was cautioned and fined 10/- + 10/- costs.

Loo Bolh seems an unlikely Chinese name and the spelling may be the result of what the court reporter thought he heard at the time. If this is so then the name may in fact have been Lou Pong: the confusion in sound not being hard to imagine.

Burra Record
XV, 436, 26 Sep. 1900, page 3

Burra Show Prize List is printed.

For vegetables grown within 20 miles of Burra, by professional vegetable growers, Lou Pong scooped the pool.

6. Luke Day’s Garden

The best documented Chinese hawker, storekeeper and gardener in Burra is Luke Day. His life story is told in the book Luke and Hester Day by Colin T. Branford (1966), in the Burra Library.

But note that Branford thought the Days came to Burra after their marriage. The court cases noted above show Luke Day was in Burra from c. May 1893. The following summary of the couple’s lives is based mainly on Branford’s book supplemented with information from registrations of births, deaths and marriages and items from the Burra Record.

Luke Hedow Day was the son of Lenking Day and was born in China c. 1867. He migrated to Australia in 1881 or 1884. [The former date in Branford’s page 1 and chronology page, but the latter in his preface.] He apparently first went to live with the Sim Choon family of Rundle St, Adelaide, and worked for them for some time. Mrs Sim Choon is believed to have been either his sister or sister-in-law. The reasons for his emigration are not known, though family connections suggest either he was sent to work for his relations or to escape religious persecution in China, as he was a Christian.

Branford does not mention that Luke Day was in Burra immediately before his marriage. The court cases reported in the Burra Record in May, June and November of 1894 reveal that he was certainly there for the first two dates and in the evidence it is said that about May 1893 he had leased a shop with Fung Sang from Charlie Fie. The shop had been built by the latter on land leased from W. Henderson at 1 Thames St, Kooringa. After the court cases Luke day seemed disillusioned with Burra and the law. He is reported to have closed his shop and to have said he contemplated a trip to China, or somewhereBurra Record, 4 July 1894.. This is the same shop he later occupied for many years. [Fung Sang is almost certainly the same as Fang Sang who is discussed elsewhere.]

Luke met and courted an orphan, Hester (born Esther) Miriam McLeod of Gawler who was working at Stapleton’s Boarding House in Hindley St. This, it is believed, later became West’s Coffee Palace. Hester was then in the care of her grandmother Mrs Eliza Benn of Cowan St Gawler. [Check this as it may have been her aunt.] The marriage took place at Stapleton’s Boarding House on Saturday 22 September 1894. He was then 24 and she was 19. Luke and Hester must have been acutely aware of the social difficulties of such a marriage which were increased by Hester’s partial deafness.

Later in life Hester said they went first to Quorn, but nothing is known of their stay there if it happened, and in any case it must have been fairly brief as they appear to have been in Burra by the end of 1895. It is believed that his first occupation in Burra was as a hawker and while there is no real evidence for where he went with his van, it would seem that the most profitable area would have been to the inner eastern country and towards Robertstown. The Burra Record for 22 January 1896 has an advertisement headed: An important announcement, which seems to be the first of the regular advertisements that went on for many years. For a long time they read:


Is prepared to supply his customers with all Kinds of

FRESH FRUIT, 3 times a week

Best Brands of Groceries Kept in Stock and Offered to the Public at


A Call is Respectfully Solicited

Luke Day (2nd from left) in front of his store

The ‘three times a week’ suggests the fruit and vegetables came by train and that his garden came somewhat later. To what extent the hawking and the shop overlapped is unknown.

The family residence was next to the old Bible Christian Chapel in Kingston St at the southwest corner of Paxton Square.

Early in their stay they adopted a local girl who took the name Mary Lynda Day (Mollie) who seems to have been born c. 1885 from the evidence of her marriage registration. How this came about is not known. Evidence in the court case cited later of early 1904 suggests that Mollie joined the family in 1895. Hester at some stage had a stillborn child and there was no other issue. Two of Hester’s brothers were in the area about this time. Norman and Donald had both come north as drovers and later settled briefly in Burra:

Norman William McLeod, born 3 May 1873, married Wilhelmina Maria Louisa Lehmann (b. 25 January 1876) at Kooringa on 13 January 1899. They left for Port Pirie, probably in the following year.

Donald George McLeod, born 23 May 1871, married Florence Cecilia Lehmann (b. 6 September 1878) at St Mary’s Kooringa on 26 December 1900. She was a sister of Wilhelmina’s. They too left for Pt Pirie about 1906Burra Record: XV, 505, 12 Mar. 1902 page 3, records the death of Mrs J.F.C. Lehman, the mother-in-law of Norman & Donald on 4 March. The notice confirms that Norman was then in Burra and Donald in Pt Pirie. It also says that Margaret Jane McLeod, then Mrs W. Brandford, [sic] of Pt Pirie, had been a foster daughter..

Eliza McLeod, a sister of Hester’s, born 25 March 1870, had married George Edward Stedman on 4 June 1892 and they had gone to live along the River Murray. They had three children: George born c. 1894, John McLeod (Jack) born 21 April 1897 and Silvia Jane born 19 November 1900. George drowned at Overland Corner on 3 January 1903 and the Stedman family disintegrated. Eliza’s sister Margueritte came to the rescue, but as she already had two children under the age of two Hester and Luke soon took over the upbringing of Jack and Silvia Stedman.

On 3 July 1907 Mary Lynda Day (Mollie), then 22, married Alfred Leslie Walker (30) a draper of Burra. They went to live on the West Coast.

In 1909 Hester’s sister Margueritte Branford and her husband William came to live in Burra from Port Pirie where the atmosphere was affecting William’s health, but after some time this family also went to the West Coast near Denial Bay, not far from Ceduna.

When World War I broke out Jack Stedman volunteered and was wounded in 1916. After time in England he was declared unfit for active service, but continued to serve in England and France in non-combatant roles, returning as a corporal only in May 1919. During the war Hester, who was an accomplished knitter, produced socks etc. for the troops and taught others to knit. She received a number of letters and photos from soldiers who were the recipients of her work. In 1919she paid a visit to her brother Donald in Port Pirie and to the family near Denial Bay. To help out this struggling family she took Eliza, then c. 7, back to Burra for a while. Other members of the family visited the Days from time to time.

Burra Record
604, 16 Dec. 1903, page 2.

The editor published an article, based on a letter received, concerning an almost destitute girl who was said to have been induced to leave home to work for Mrs Day in Kingston St, near Henderson’s Bridge, for 2/- a week and clothes. After a day or two she was sent away after a row. The husband then arranged for her to return. The article then continued to give details of the girl’s treatment, apparently after hearing one side of the story and placing a rather sinister interpretation on the whole affair. Kerosene was put on her head and her hair was cut off, and she later left. The paper then interviewed the girl, Emmie Smith who confirmed going to Days’ for 2/- a week and found clothes. She was to do household duties while Mrs day went out visiting – also the lion’s share of the washing. While she was there her hair was cut off by Mary Day and kerosene put on her head. She was told it would make her hair grow strong and nice. When she left on Saturday morning she was told to leave the clothes behind for the next girl. ‘All my under clothing was taken from me, and I am no better off now than when I went there; in fact I am worse off; I have lost my hair; and have been made an “object for people to look into”.’

The editor says that he has seen the jagged hair and it was certainly a poor job. Enquiries were being made into the case to see what could be done in the matter. The girl, he said, should have the clothes returned to her, which to keep from her is against all decency and humanity.

Burra Record
605, 23 Dec. 1903, page 3.

There is a satirical article which is headed ‘Betsy and Peggy Gossiping’. The persons referred to are clearly identifiable as Mr & Mrs Luke Day. The item runs for about ? column and centres upon the haircutting incident. They talk of the ‘barberin’ craze’ with reference to a new operator in Kingston St. on seeing the results of their operation the proprietors are reported to have said:

‘We am muchee gladee it’s no worsee.’

There is then a section based on the accusation that Mrs Day went off visiting while the girl slaved over the washing and other work which is clearly targeted, though it does not of course name Hester Day.

Perhaps the most personal and offensive section is:

‘Peggy: My father and mother died when I was young, and that accounts for my bad training and uncontrollable temper. I used to listen to everybody’s business, but my own, until I got quite deaf, and now I fancy everybody is talking about me. Betsy: Maybe you are not mistaken Peggy.

Peggy: (Pulling up the end of her large white apron; and looking two ways at once.) It’s hard to think so, but I have spent days and nights looking and asking for sympathy, and I haven’t got as much as will fill this “ricee” bag; they larfe at me and say –

Hush a-by, Peggy, don’t you cry

You’ll be a sorter angel by-and-bye.’

Burra Record
614, 24 Feb. 1904, pages 2-3

Luke and Hester Day sued W.J. Davey, proprietor of the Burra Record for publishing a libel on 16 December and 23 December 1903, referring to the cutting of a girl’s hair and putting kerosene on her head. The court was full. The report in the paper occupies about three columns.

The defendant’s lawyer did his best to give the impression that Luke Day behaved improperly towards the girl, Emmie Smith. Hester gave evidence that Emmie’s hair was dirty and there were sores on her head. The girl agreed to have her hair cut and ointment was applied to the sores and a mixture of kerosene and eucalyptus oil was applied to kill the knits [sic]. Mary Day also gave evidence (in the course of which she says she had been living with the Days for about nine years).

Emmie Smith’s evidence was that she went there willingly. She did not tell Mr Davey that she had done all the housework or the lion’s share of the washing. She did not say her hair was jagged off. She did not at first agree to having her hair cut, but later agreed. Mr Day had never acted improperly. She left because she got another job at Snowtown. She had not said she was worse off than before she went there. David Smith, the girl’s father, confirmed her story.

The paper report then says that when Emmie arrived from Snowtown for the trial she was met by Mrs Day and she and her father had then gone to Mr Winnall’s office (Days’ solicitor) followed by a meal and discussion at the Days’ home. The defence tried to show that this was when the story above was concocted – it being at such variance with the story in the paper.

Davey said he had interviewed the girl, Emmie, with her sister and had taken notes at the time. He produced the notes and said that at the time Mr Smith had agreed that the information should be published. Davey had told Smith he thought the latter had been taken advantage of because he was in Day’s debt. The article, he said, was written without malice in good faith.

The final verdict was for the plaintiff and Davey was fined £15.

Luke continued to run a grocery store and a garden at numbers 10, 12 and 14 Kingston St. A delivery boy made daily deliveries with a horse and cart around the town. Luke took an active interest in the Bible Christian Church, though as he grew older this competed less successfully with his garden and gambling on Sundays. Hester attended the Bible Christian Church and later the Methodist Church in Kooringa. It is reported that Luke’s friend, Pang Sang (Jimmy), was a consistent winner at cards with him before his death in 1905. Luke also placed a lot of money with SP bookmakers over the years and in one form or other was an incurable gambler. At home he always cooked the evening meal in Chinese fashion with dishes comprising rice, vegetables and white meat. He and the family were strictly teetotal, but Luke always enjoyed his pipe.

On 18 December 1918 Silvia (or Sylvia) Stedman (18) married Frederick William Harris Ridgway (27) in Adelaide and the couple settled in Melbourne. Jean Edith, their only surviving child was born 18 February 1919. For reasons now unknown Jean was returned to Adelaide and thence to Burra in the early 1920s and was brought up by Luke and Hester. She went to Burra School and High School until 1935 or 1936. She served in the shop and looked after Hester whose health was declining. This was especially the case in the final few years of her life. Jean continued to live with Luke after Hester’s death and cared for him until his death, over 20 years later.

Eliza Branford gained a scholarship in her final year at the primary school at Denial Bay and she took the two years of it out at Burra High School in 1925 & 1926, staying with Luke and Hester while in Burra.

In June 1928 the paper reports that Luke Day’s corner was said to have been sold to Wright’s Motors Ltd who intended to erect there an up-to-date motor garageSupplement to Burra Record, 24 June 1928..

The shop was demolished and the garage was under construction by October 1928 and opened in December Registration of death. of that year.

Luke then moved his business to the old Bible Christian Chapel, next to his residence. (Now the office for the Paxton Square cottages.) This was probably related to Hester’s failing health as it enabled him to be nearer her. Her health by 1939 required constant attention from Jean and Luke closed his store in that year, though he continued to operate his garden. He was then 72.

Hester died of pneumonia and arteriosclerosis in the Burra Hospital on 13 April 1941Registration of death. .

For some period (Branford does not say when) Sylvia Ridgway came to live with Jean and Luke. Mollie walker was working for some time (also unspecified) at the Kooringa Hotel. Luke had not become an Australian citizen and was denied an old age pension despite being a resident foe some 48 years. Eventually Senator Sir Phillip McBride made a successful appeal on his behalf and one was granted.

Luke Day died on 30 August 1962, aged 95, of myocardial degenerationBurra Record, 6 May 1887, 24 May 1887 & 22 Nov. 1887.. The registration of his death has some surprising features. It claims he was born at sea and had lived in Australia for 94 years!

Hester’s sister Margueritte died 10 March 1952 and Silvia Ridgway in Adelaide on 10 March 1993.

After Luke’s death Jean Ridgway was the principal beneficiary under his will with some small legacies to Silvia Ridgway and Jack Stedman. Jean then went to live in Tiver’s Cottages in Burra North for the next thirty years. In 1992 she moved back to Kingston St to unit 4 of the cottages for the elderly built just east of Paxton Square and in 1995 to McBride’s Cottages in Chapel St opposite the Uniting Church. She died 23 July 1998.

The Days’ house was demolished, but when Paxton Square was developed for tourist accommodation a copy was rebuilt and in July 1986 it became the home of Bryan & Maureen Bevan, the first manages of the scheme. Mr Baulderstone bought the old Bible Christian Chapel and resisted its demolition. Over the years it was used as a saddler’s, a motor garage and as a storage facility for a local plumber. When it was a garage the front door was enlarged and car pits dug in the floor. It was fortunate to survive, but in 1986 it was restored to become the office for Paxton Square Cottages.

Several people mention Luke Day or his garden in reminiscences of Burra life in the Burra Library. They generally add little to the above account, but tend to confirm his character as a friendly and kindly person. One interesting observation along these lines is made by Gwenyth Biddle, the daughter of J.P.H. Biddle, appointed Headmaster at Burra High School in 1916. One night as a punishment her parents shut her in a shed in the backyard which adjoined Luke Day’s garden. She howled so loudly that Luke knocked on the Biddle’s door to ask if they knew their poor little girl was breaking her heart, which resulted in an immediate rescue and some red faces.

She also recalls happy visits with her mother, through the back of their block to Luke Day’s garden. In the garden she mentions seeing a big walled rectangle, partly above ground level. It was full of soil and had pumpkins growing in it. Her mother told her it had been a bath for the miners. This however, was not the case. Richard Snell built the baths in 1887. He had a garden between Kingston and Quarry streets and thought the irrigation water would be no worse for having been used in public baths first. The pool was 40’ x 16’ 3’to6’ deep. [Approx. 12 x 5 x 1 to 2 metres.]

It was roofed and had two dressing rooms. The baths were opened by November 1887 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, except Sunday.

Adults 6d and children 3d, with season tickets available.

Ladies only on Thursday.

The baths seem to have only operated for two or three years.

From other sources it seems clear that Ah Chung = Ah Ching = Ah Chun = Ah Chin = Chin Young. Burra Record, 4 July 1894. Burra Record: XV, 505, 12 Mar. 1902 page 3, records the death of Mrs J.F.C. Lehman, the mother-in-law of Norman & Donald on 4 March. The notice confirms that Norman was then in Burra and Donald in Pt Pirie. It also says that Margaret Jane McLeod, then Mrs W. Brandford, [sic] of Pt Pirie, had been a foster daughter. Supplement to Burra Record, 24 June 1928. Burra Record, 3 Oct. 1928 & 19 Dec. 1928. Registration of death. Registration of death. Burra Record, 6 May 1887, 24 May 1887 & 22 Nov. 1887.