The Family of Thomas and Lydia Emma Kinton
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AS I SAW IT
AS I SAW IT: This account for the North Coast and Stanley District News was written by Lydia Beanland, who, over the age of 80 years, was Woodford’s oldest living pioneer. Thursday, 1st December. 1932.
Durundur Cattle Run: After the lease of the Durundur cattle run expired in October, 1878, some land was thrown open for selection. W. Yates was the first to take possession of his selected portion of the country and he built the old Yatesville hotel (now a fruit shop owned by Mrs McPherson). Others followed and by 1882 all those namely Beanland, Brotherton, Yates, Haggar, Fletcher, Macguire and McGilvery, who selected facing the main road, were settled in their homes.
Aborigines: At that time the blacks roamed about the country at will, and would go into anyone’s paddock to make their camping grounds. They would never ask permission but would go wherever it pleased them. No one interfered with them. Indeed the settlers' wives were pleased to have them there, for their husbands, some of whom were timber‑getters, were away from the home for weeks at a time and it did not seem so lonely when the blacks were about. The gins were useful as they would chop and carry wood and some of them could do a day's washing. The only payment they asked was tobacco. However, they would not stay long in one place and often left after a corroboree, which made the place very lively
At times they would cross the Stanley River and camp in one of the Durundur paddocks, but their favourite place seemed to be a large paddock west of the township. That is where they were camped when the first settlers came, and the late Father McNab visited the camp whenever he came to the district.
The town is named: At that time, the mails were brought from Brisbane by Cobb and Co.'s Coach and on to Kilcoy, by McCullum's Coach. Mail was left at the Yatesville Hotel and the residents had to call for their mail. However, soon after the Postmaster General sent word that the town must have a name. Accordingly, a meeting was called and 'McConnel' town was decided on in honour of the senior partner of Durundur Station ‑ but the Postmaster General would not accept that name. Therefore, another meeting was called and those present called it ‘Woodford' in honour of the junior partner, Mr Wood.
Government buildings in Woodford: The first government building was a Provisional School opened on 23rd October, 1882. Mr Donnelly was the head teacher. The Police Station was built in 1883. Senior Constable Thomas King took possession in 1884. Then the Courthouse was built and the Post Office was opened by Mr Quinn. These buildings were moved to the present town site after the 1893 flood.
Churches: The Catholic Church was the first place of worship built on an acre of land given by Mr Brotherton in 1890. The next was the Anglican Church, opened in 1891. Before the Roman Catholic Church was built the Parish Priest, Father Baldwin, celebrated Mass at the residences of Messrs Ahern and Kelliher (Delaney's Creek) and Doyle (Neurum). The Anglican Clergyman held his services in a slab hut behind the site that the Church was afterwards built on. Methodist services were held the home of Mr J.B. Fletcher.
A town develops: J.B. Fletcher was the first to cut his selection into allotments for sale and J. King was one of the first purchasers. He built the first General Store at the corner of Woodford and Neurum Roads. The shop was opened about 1887. E. Stanton opened a butcher shop about the same time.
After the 1893 flood, King moved to higher grounds on the opposite side of road because floodwater reached the roof of his verandah thereby damaging or destroying everything in the shop and the furniture in the house. Stanton's butcher shop was just out of danger, but even then, Mrs Stanton could stand at her back door and dip water up for her use; as for going outside, it was impossible unless, one could swim. Macguire also cut his selection up into allotments, and it was from that King bought the land to rebuild his shop.
Woodford Hotels: In 1885, T. Beanland built the Woodford Hotel at the lower end of the town. It stood opposite the Post Office and in 1889 he sold it to J. MacSweeney, who carried on the business there till after the flood. Because water flowed over the verandahs, he obtained permission to move the hotel to higher ground. He bought the top corner of Fletcher’s selection and had it rebuilt there. He carried on the hotel business until his death in 1897. The hotel was leased in turn over a number of years from Mrs MacSweeney by J. Elder, Mrs Elliot from Beaudesert, and then Mr MacSweeney's widow (then Mrs McLean ‑ McLean, the local policeman had been helping out at the hotel as a barman and eventually married Mrs MacSweeney) returned to the hotel for a short while. She then let it to Hilson and proceeded to build the new Woodford Hotel on the corner of MacGuire’s selection having bought the land some time previously. The licence was transferred to the new hotel and the old one was turned into a boarding house that afterwards burnt down.
After W. Yates’ death, his widow married again and sold the property to J. Ferguson, who built a new hotel on the opposite side of the road.
The first cemetery was surveyed at the lower end of the town at the back of the original courthouse, but after digging three graves it was decided that the ground was hard and rocky and unfit. The first to be buried there was a man named McPherson whose horse bolted and dashed his head against a tree as he was returning from the annual sports held at the Yatesville Hotel on 9th November, 1885. There were two others buried there and then the present site was chosen for a cemetery. Strange to tell, the first buried there was a youth who met his death by drowning.
It was at the time of the 1886 flood. The poor fellow drove his buggy into Mary Smokes Creek and could not get out. He was warned before leaving the hotel, but, he was a Brisbane lad and perhaps had no idea of the danger. Constable King said that he need not have drowned as he was a strong swimmer and had evidently unharnessed his horse. He had brought same harness to the bank. King said he thought the youth made two trips to the banks and his strength had failed in the third, (The Woodford Cemetery register shows that the first person buried there was Robert Lindsay, 19th November, 1886.)