Any history buff worth their salt loves a good letter—not least for the feeling of authenticity in the personal inflections, little nuances and inside jokes that come with the discovery of early-era correspondence, but also for the inherent holes in information.
What sends a historian reeling is the feeling of accomplishment after delving into the personal lives of famous, infamous and (more exciting still) everyday citizens, filling the gaps in their living accounts and making our history more whole as a result.
There is no need to dig far in the village of Emmaville, with its rich mining history, before the gap-seeking history buff falls on tales of riches, trade, romance and intrigue all wrapped up in the Ottery Mine, the farming and mining families that settled in Emmaville and the miners who hauled thousands of tonnes of minerals out of the earth in search of fortune and fame.
The first properties of the Emmaville area were established, according to historical record, around 1839 and included Wellington Vale, Rangers Valley and Strathbogie Station named by the son of an aristocratic Scottish family Hugh Gordon after his Scottish home.
Following piano tuner Thomas Carlean’s discovery of a vast and deep tin depository on Strathbogie Station in 1872, the area became a hotspot for European and Asian miners in search of fortune.
For some time after Carlean’s, the area became known as Vegetable Creek for the international and immigrant markets that supplied the miners before it was renamed Emmaville in 1882 to honour the wife of then governor Major-General Sir Thomas Brisbane.
Towards the end of the century, Emmaville had become a thriving mining hub with thousands of protectors and immigrants living, working and establishing the town.
By 1882, the Ottery Mine was established for the mining of tin ore, which was then refined at the Tent Hill smelting works, according to local Emmaville historian Malcolm Schumacher who offered the Examiner a special tour of the Ottery Mine site after extensive clearing and grant refurbishment under the guidance of Mr Schumacher and the support of the NSW Government derelict mines program.
By 1920 the Australian branch of the English sheep dip company William Cooper and Nephews (Australia)—then under the management of RH Harrowell according to the Australian National University archives—appointed Archibald Cowper (AC) Julius to manage the Ottery Mine for the extraction and purification of arsenic for use in sheep dip products.
A collection of letters from AC Julius to his “darling sweetheart” mentioned only as Clara, between the years 1907 when he managed the Shuttleton Crowel Creek mine in NSW until 1938 when he ceased managing the Ottery Mine, show him to be an ambitious businessman.
In a letter dated March 16, 1907, he wrote to Clara:
“I may only be building castles in the air but nevertheless I think I can see a bright and happy future in front of us …”
When AC Julius came to manage the Ottery mine in 1920, he had previously managed three mines across NSW at Shuttleton Crowel Creek, Gympie and Cobar, and had recruited his sons to work and manage the Ottery Mine under his guidance.
In 1937 he wrote to William Cooper and Nephews that his son Henry (Harry) George Archibald had turned 21 and had been in his employ since leaving school at the age of 14:
“…He is handy with most tools, and has erected a windmill, and has sunk and timbered a well for same, built two large corrugated iron tanks, built two large sheds for machinery and hay, drives a tractor for general farming work etc etc. He also erected an incline tramline on the above mining property, for carrying tracks of ore to the top of the 820 foot high ore bin … he is a non-smoker and teetotaller ….”
By the age of 28, Henry Archibald had become the youngest mine manager in Australia, according to his obituary, published in the Inverell Times in January 1999.
An account of AC Julius’ work at the Ottery Mine is offered in a document titled Memories of Archibald Cowper Julius by his son Harry in 1993.
In his reminiscences, Harry writes that his father settled on the Ottery Mine, after inspecting a number of mines in the region, for producing high quality arsenic trioxide, used in Coopers and Nephews sheep and cattle dips.
Over 420,000 bricks were laid at the Ottery Mine site with Archibald Julius also working to establish a brick manufacturing facility in the Emmaville area to service the mine.
Touring the site with Mr Schumacher, he said that a great recognition must be shown to the miners and workers who constructed the two enormous 26-chamber calcination blocks still standing today.
“You have got to take your hat off to them,” Mr Schumacher said.
Mr Schumacher explained how the fumes from heated arsenic ores were funnelled through the two blocks where purified arsenic would calcify on the walls of each chamber—one for crude calcination and another for purified calcination—which was then chipped and scraped from the walls, packaged and sold under a number of Cooper’s products including Little, Quibbles and Royal Cattle Dips.
Employing close to 28 miners at any one time, the mine brought stability and affluence to Emmaville, among a number of other mines in the area and, after extensive work by Mr Schumacher and his army of workers have since been cleared of debris and is now open for visitors.
o Mining history: Malcolm Schumacher and a team of workers have cleared the Ottery Mine site and opened it for visitors.
o Mining history: The calcinating chambers of the of the Ottery Mine, used to collected purified arsenic.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.