History of Joan's family the history of the Northern Rivers

ON the 28th of October 2014, a lovely lady will turn 90 years old. Her name is Joan Cambridge Gibson.

She is the Great Granddaughter of Charles Jarrett and Elizabeth Jane King and Great, Great Granddaughter of Steve King and Sarah Puttock who were pioneers of Ballina.

Some history of Joan's family:

In the spring of 1842, Stephen (Steve) King and seven other men travelled overland from the Clarence River to the north-west of the Richmond River, where they were told of the "wudgie-wudgie" trees, (cedar) which were growing in abundance.

The area was so rich with timber, not just cedar, but teak, bean and sandalwood. But it was cedar they were after and this was the best cedar they could ever have hoped to find.

Joan Cambridge Gibson
Joan Cambridge Gibson

They returned to the Clarence and in December 1842 along with the other men and families, Steve, his wife and three children boarded the schooner "Sally" and successfully crossed the bar of the Richmond River to begin their new life. This made them the first "white people" to live in the Richmond River area.

The cedar getters' built huts for their families, the first camp being on the north arm of the river near Pelican Creek.

When the Cedar began to run out they again moved camp. The second camp was at Gundurimba, just north of the "old camp".

They said this was the best cedar in the north. (As proof of this, in 1845, 624,500 feet of cedar was exported from this area which was approximately two - thirds or the total exports from the colony for that year).

They built more huts to house their growing families. Times were good.

Steve took his bullocks to a plain near Wyrallah, which still bears his name "Steve Kings Plains". Steve only stayed there a short time, because he only had a sawyer's' licence, they were unable to have a permanent tenancy so were always on the move.

Steve and Sarah settled at Emigrant Creek, where he died on the 1st of October 1859.

Charles Jarrett was born in Sydney on the 30th August 1829. He lived in the New England and Clarence River Districts before moving to the Richmond River area in 1849.

His first job there was working in a timber yard for Billy Wright as his Agent. Charles was also engaged as "The Confidential Man" of William Yabsley Snr., a shipbuilder and ship owner. Mr. Yabsley entrusted Charles with the sole management of the collection of cargoes of timber, mainly cedar, which was shipped to Sydney. He then entered the timber trade himself and became known as the "Cedar King".

After 1861 he began to relinquish the timber industry he had helped to build and settled on the land. He devoted his time to farming and grazing animals.

Charles married Elizabeth Jane King in Lismore on the 14th of December 1852. Elizabeth is the eldest child of Stephen and Sarah King.

In 1863 they lived at Emigrant Creek, owning 40 acres on the east bank, later moving to Ballina, Crane Street and then Norton Street where it is reported he build the first two story house in Ballina. The house is still standing but many years ago the top section was removed and placed on the lot next door.

Charles was well educated as his professions verify.

He was said to be endowed with a retentive memory and took great pleasure in relating his early reminiscences of the beginnings of white settlement on the Richmond River.

He was an author of at least five books and newspaper articles on the early days of the Richmond River. Some of the titles of these were; Tales of the Richmond, published 1894-1902, The Pioneers, Old Identities, Murdering Reach and Reminiscences of the Richmond.

Charles became the fourth Mayor of Ballina, part of 1888, but was an Alderman from 1883. At the time of his death in July 1908, he was the Senior Honorary Magistrate on the Lower Richmond and a Justice of the Peace.

Joan, who is loved by all who meet her, will celebrate her 90th birthday at a luncheon with her husband of 69 years, James, daughter and son-in-law, Carolyn and Chris, grandsons Alexander, Jeremy and Nicholas, family and friends.

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