Home' Hunter Its People : June 2010 Contents 40 THE HERALD Thursday, June 24, 2010
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BROWN is considered the Cessnock district's
foremost pioneer, born in 1853 at Laguna where his
father, Henry Brown, was licensee of the Travellers
One of a family of 12, in 1872 he married Martha Jones
and in 1876 moved to Cessnock to become licensee of the
Cessnock Hotel, where he also ran a butcher's shop and
did general contract work.
In his early years he set broken bones and pulled teeth,
and later built roads, St. Marks Church of England,
Laguna, cottages and shops, a steam saw mill at Deadman's
Creek which he moved to Cessnock in 1881, and his home,
Marthaville, which still stands in Wollombi Rd, where he
planted an orchard and vineyard and built wine cellars.
He was associated with Edgeworth David's coal surveys of
the area and in 1892 discovered coal on some of his land
which he sold to Caledonian Collieries and where, in 1903,
he turned the first sod on what was to become Aberdare
Brown was instrumental in having Cessnock's first
courthouse built and became senior magistrate, was a
pioneer of the Cessnock creamery and butter factory, a
trustee of several public utilities, in 1906 was picked by the
government to form a temporary Cessnock Shire Council
where he became the first Shire President, and in
ppointed district coroner, a position
held at his death in 1928.
as at dusk on May 8, 1928, while
sing the road at his homestead
at he was struck by a car and died,
elieved to be the first person to die
n a car accident at Cessnock.
<< FREDERICK WILKINSON
Frederick Albert Wilkinson was a
gentleman vigneron from England
who came to Pokolbin with his wife
Florence around 1865.
He planted the first wine grapes
at his Oakdale property in 1866
and selected properties for his
ather (Cote d'Or) and others
cluding his brothers Charles
angerton), John (Coolalta) and
am (Maluna). The family became
the most dominant among those
ng viticulture in Pokolbin.
Wilkinson died in 1883 and his son, Audrey,
took over Oakdale although only 15 years old, and he
remained there for the rest of his life, working mainly with
his brother Garth. Amazingly, Wilkinson was a teetotaller,
never tasting the wine he produced.
In 1901 he was secretary of the Pokolbin and District
Winegrower's Association, credited with affecting the
passage of the first effective Wine Adulteration Act (1902)
in NSW, and also worked with the association's successor,
the Pokolbin and District Agricultural Association.
Wilkinson was commissioned in the 4th Australian
Light Horse Regiment in 1913 and made captain of the
6th Light Horse, but never served overseas. He married
Beatrice Blomfield at Christ Church Cathedral in 1921.
Oakdale declined from the 1930s, lean years for the
industry, and Wilkinson did not adapt to more modern
times. He died at Cessnock in 1962, but his vineyard lives
on, now named Audrey Wilkinson in his honour and
producing some of the Hunter's finest wines.
When Prime Minister Paul Keating unveiled a memorial
at Cessnock in 1996 to miners who has lost their lives in
pit accidents, he said of the man after whom the memorial
was named: ''Jim Comerford is quite simply a Labor
legend, the embodiment of Labor's greatest ideals, of
solidarity and the pursuit of justice for working men and
Comerford was one of the last survivors of the Rothbury
Riot of 1929 and later wrote a book about it, Lockout, which
was published in 2006, the year he died at age 93.
Comerford was born in Glencraig, Scotland, his family
moving to Kurri Kurri when he was nine after his father
was blacklisted from a Scottish mine. He started work at
Richmond Main Colliery and rose from pit boy to national
general secretary of the Miners Federation, plus other
union positions at local and state levels.
In 1942 he became the youngest person elected to
the miners' central council. He contributed to union
education, the unemployed workers' movement, the peace
movement, adult education, the campaign for registered
social clubs for workers, and worked on behalf of retired
mineworkers. He represented his union on overseas
delegations, government inquiries and commissions.
For 20 years until his retirement in 1973 he was
Northern NSW president of the Miners Federation, and
after his retirement wrote or co-wrote books on aspects of
the coal industry and Cessnock history.
Comerford was given the Order of Australia for his
contribution to unionism, politics and the community
and was awarded an honorary Master of Arts by Newcastle
University for his lifetime of scholarship.
Cessnock was named by Scottish settler John Campbell,
the second son of the Laird of Treesbank.
Many early landholders in the Hunter were of Scottish
descent, often the younger sons of families who came to
take colonial grants when the family estate was given to the
eldest son. Campbell was one of these.
With brother David, he was granted 1036 hectares of
land in 1826 along Black Creek where the township of
Cessnock now stands. The brothers used the name of their
grandfather's Cessnock Castle in Ayrshire to reflect their
heritage and ambitions, but John died in 1828 and David
returned to Scotland where the grant was transferred to
his elder brother George. George waived his rights in 1832
and David secured a deed in 1834, but decided to stay in
Scotland and became an absentee landlord.
Much of the property was sold in 1853 to allow the
emergence of a private village.
DAVID AND ELIZA DUNLOP
Irishman David Dunlop and his wife Eliza came to
Wollombi in 1839, he as the area's first magistrate, and
both were ahead of their time in their treatment of
The couple were married in Scotland in 1823 and
arrived in Australia in 1838. He was appointed police
magistrate at Penrith before his move to Wollombi, where
he remained magistrate and Protector of Aborigines until
1847, when his difficult nature saw him removed from the
job by Governor Gipps.
Dunlop was known for his good treatment of
Aboriginals, improving the conduct of convicts through
discipline, and for being an efficient administrator
involved in what was happening in the town. After
finishing as magistrate, it is believed he administered
government agencies in Wollombi. He died in 1863.
Eliza Dunlop became a lyric writer and student of the
Aboriginals. Her work was published in magazines such as
the Dublin Penny Journal. She took an interest in the welfare
and folklore of Aboriginals and appreciated Aboriginal
songs and poetry, translating Aboriginal verse into English
and recording the Aboriginal dialect of Wollombi. Among
her early verse was The Aboriginal Mother, written in 1838 to
express her outrage at the Myall Creek massacre.
She died in 1880 and is buried next to her husband in
Wollombi Cemetery. The home they built at Wollombi,
Mulla Villa, is now a guest house.
Born in Cessnock in 1943, Daft became chairman and
CEO of the Coca-Cola Company, the only non-US citizen
to hold the positions.
Daft went to Cessnock High School before graduating
from the University of New England and working as a
teacher. In 1969 he joined Coca-Cola as a planning officer
in Sydney, and after that worked throughout East Asia.
In 1982 he was appointed vice president of Coca-Cola
Far East, and in 2000 took over the massive international
company as CEO.
He helped establish the Coca-Cola Mayoral Academic
Awards, which help undergraduates from the Cessnock
area, plus hundreds of other community and educational
initiatives worldwide, among them the Coca-Cola Australia
Foundation which promotes the development of young
Australians through physical, artistic, cultural and
He retired from Coca-Cola in 2004 but went on to
serve on boards of US companies such as Wal-Mart and
THE HUNTER ...
''Eliza Dunlop . . . took an interest
in the welfare and folklore of
Aboriginals and appreciated
Aboriginal songs and poetry,
translating Aboriginal verse into
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