Sunday, 18 September 2016

The Jones Family Part VII: Explorers and Troubadours.

In my last post, I talked about the construction of the railway to Kapunda.

The public in the early 1860s were gripped with explorer mania. People lapped up the stories of exploration and adventure around the world. Explorers were celebrated as heroes, and they were latched onto by Australians searching for a national identity.

Kapunda being the last stop on the new railway became a good departure point for exploration expeditions. My ancestors Thomas Rowlands and Theophila Jones were running their hotel the Sir John Franklin in Kapunda and these events influenced the direction their lives would take.

The South Australian Relief Expedition

The Victorian Exploring Expedition, better known now as the Burke and Wills Expedition, set off from Melbourne for the interior of Australia in August of 1860.[i] After six months people began to be concerned for the fate of the explorers. Four different Relief Expeditions were assembled to search for the men. The Relief Expedition put together by the South Australian Government was headed by John McKinlay. They hoped to beat the Victorian Relief expedition headed by Alfred William Howitt to Coopers Creek.

John McKinlay
State Library of South Australia [B 5955]

John McKinlay’s relief Expedition assembled at The Sir John Franklin Hotel in Kapunda on Friday the 16th of August 1861. McKinlay, Mr. William Oswald Hodgkinson, and four camels arrived in Kapunda via the new railway and met with the rest of their party and supplies.[ii] The camels along with the horses for the expedition were kept in the yards of the Sir John Franklin Hotel. Camels were a rarity in Australia at the time, so it caused quite a lot of excitement. The camels in the McKinlay expedition were from the same group of camels that were used for the Burke and Wills expedition. The Victorian Expedition had selected a number of camels and left four camels behind at Royal Park in Victoria (two were pregnant cows). Along the way three camels strayed from the Burke party, two were re-captured in South Australia. The South Australian Relief Expedition had the two re-captured camels and two sent from Royal Park in Victoria.

Burke and Wills Expedition Camels 1861
State Library of Victoria H5117
The party was due to depart on Saturday the 17th August 1861. It was market day so Kapunda was full of people, and some had even travelled up on the train from Adelaide. Everyone wanted to witness the excitement and wave off the explorers. Mr. Hodgkinson amazed the crowd with the obedience of the camels, how they followed his verbal commands. I wonder how excited my Great Great Grandmother Elizabeth Jones at 10 years old would have been, right bang in the middle of this great spectacle. I wonder if she had a chance to get close to one of the “ships of the desert”. My Great Great Great Grandmother Theophila Jones had a new-born baby to take care of in this busy time. Horace Foley Jones had been born exactly two weeks before.

It was quite poignant that the Burke and Wills relief expedition was departing from a hotel named after a great explorer and former governor of Tasmania. Sir John Franklin and ships the HMAS Erebus and Terror had been missing in the arctic for about 15 years. Many expeditions had been sent to discover their fate. In 1854 Inuit people told a search party the grisly fate of the ice-bound crew. All 129 crew died when icebound and starving. The crew included the cousin of William John Wills, Lieutenant Henry Thomas Dundas le Vesconte.[xvii] Sir John Franklin’s death was only confirmed in 1859 when a handwritten note beneath a cairn of stones was discovered.

At the time of the McKinlay Party departure from Kapunda, the cart that was to carry the bulk of their heavier supplies for the first section of their journey broke an axel when it hit a small rut. McKinlay remained overnight with the cart and four horses whilst it was quickly repaired. The rest of the party set off for a nearby property 9 miles (about 14 Km) North of Kapunda to set up camp for the night. They comprised of around 8 men, four camels and 18 horses. The spectators crowded the streets and yards of the Sir John Franklin hotel, giving the explorers a hearty three cheers and wishing them “God Speed”.

The Burial of Burke. Artist: Strutt, William 1825-1915.State Library of Victoria, Image H13087

McKinlay and party found the grave of Charley Gray near Cooper's creek, and soon after learned that Howitt had already arrived at Cooper’s Creek and had discovered and buried the remains of Burke and Wills. Howitt had left to return with the survivor John King, who had been cared for by the Yandruwandha people. The McKinlay party then continued their exploration of the interior, with the hope of discovering more grazing land. They arrived back in Adelaide late in 1862.

John McDouall Stuart’s Sixth Exploration Party

John McDouall Stuart 1865
State Library of South  Australia [B 500]

On the 7 Dec 1861 the explorer John McDouall Stuart with Frederick John Waterhouse (Naturalist) passed through Kapunda on their way to meet up with the rest of their party at Moolooroo for Stuart’s Sixth Expedition to the interior. Stuart had separated from the rest of the party when he was injured by a rearing horse not long after departure. He was knocked unconscious and his hand was badly trampled. When well enough to travel, five weeks later, he passed through Kapunda. The residents of Kapunda cheered the men on their way.[iii]

This exploration party eventually traversed the continent from North to South, providing a route for the overland telegraph.

The Long Burial March of Burke and Wills

On Wednesday 10 of December 1862 the exhumed remains of Burke and Wills were brought through the town of Kapunda, ready to be sent via train to Adelaide then on to Melbourne for re-burial.[iv] Flags were flying half-mast at the Sir John Franklin Hotel and the church bells tolled. The Kapunda Rifles marched ahead of Alfred William Howitt’s party and people gathered in the streets to pay their respects. The remains of Burke and Wills arrived on camel-back, in a box draped with a Union Jack flag.[v] There is an unconfirmed tale that the box of remains was placed on the main bar of the Sir John Franklin Hotel for people to view and pay their respects.

There are reports though of the remains being viewed at Gawler, so it is possible that they were also viewed at Kapunda:

"The party present then inspected the box containing the remains of the gallant and unfortunate explorers, which were deposited in a moderately sized chest, covered with black cloth, and divided into compartments, one containing the remains of Burke, and the other the headless remains of Wills. It was surprising to notice in how small a compass the relics were contained. In conversation with Messrs, Murray and Howitt, I learned that the head of Wills had not been found, owing, it is supposed, to the wild dogs having carried it into the polygonum scrub, where all attempts to discover it failed. The union-jack interred with the bodies of the brave explorers formed part of the contents of the chest. The remains, accompanied by Messrs. Murray and Howitt and Mr. Sheriff Boothby—a schoolfellow of the latter gentleman—proceeded to Adelaide by the 1.15 train."[vi]

From Adelaide, Howitt continued on by steamer to Melbourne. The idea of publicly displaying remains sounds very odd but was not unusual for the times. The remains were also put on display when they reached Melbourne and drew huge crowds.

The Burke and Wills Funeral Procession Melbourne.
State Library of Victoria IMP24/01/63/8-9  

See the Conquering Hero Comes

17 Dec 1862, (exactly a week after the remains of Burke and Wills passed through town) John McKinlay caught the train from Adelaide to meet John McDouall Stuart at Kapunda who was making his way home from his successful sixth expedition. Kapunda’s Mine Volunteer Band assembled on the balcony of the Sir John Franklin hotel playing “See the conquering hero comes” to welcome the famous explorers.[vii][viii] Stuart was very unwell, he had been carried by litter between two horses for 900 km of his journey. He had begun to recover enough to ride though by the time they reached Mount Margaret.[ix] Stuart was suffering from scurvy, malnutrition and was nearly blind from trachoma.

John McDouall Stuart being carried ny "ambulance'
during his sixth expedition. Sketched by Stephen King Jr. 1862

State Library of South Australia [B 59536]

The explorers were greeted by a celebration at the Sir John Franklin hotel.

“Mr. McKinlay was the first to shake hands with his brother hero, and such was the crowd of persons anxious to catch a glimpse of the great little explorer that he stood a fair chance of being suffocated. Having adjourned to the Sir John Franklin, the congratulatory address was read and presented by Mr. Browne, S.M. Mr. Stuart returned thanks for the kind and hearty reception, and said his expedition had been most successful, and its beneficial results would soon be seen in all the colonies. The party had then to hurry to the Railway Station, accompanied by a variety of vehicles, and Mr. Stuart, Mr. Auld, and Mr. McKinlay went down in the train.”[x]

Stuart never fully recovered his health after his last expedition.

Douay and Poussard

Horace Remi Poussard and Réné Douay were talented French violinists. They arrived in Australia in 1861 and during 1862 they had a gruelling tour of South Australia. They performed most nights and travelled town to town. They had regular singers and other musicians as part of their show.

Douay and Poussard performed a wide range of music but their extraordinarily popular piece “Dead Heroes” written to celebrate the lives and achievements of Burke and Wills, struck a chord with the South Australian crowd. It was poetry set to a musical composition that was a complicated medley of different popular tunes, arranged to tell the story of the Burke and Wills Expedition. It was a piece that evolved over time as it was performed over many months.[xi]

In 1862 Douay and Poussard performed a number of times in Kapunda to great applause and hearty calls of encore. With such recent and frequent contact with exploration parties, the locals of Kapunda were a primed audience for their piece the “Dead Heroes”. They came to Kapunda in July, October and in November of 1862.[xii]

In August 1862 Douay and Poussard failed to turn up at one of their booked performances in Kadina, after flatly refusing to travel. This caused a huge dispute with their manager Robert Sparrow Smythe. It led to a break up between the duo and their manager and also resulted in legal action.[xiii]

1862 'Advertising', South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), 3 September, p. 1. ,
viewed 13 Sep 2016,

Poussard and Douay performed for McKinlay on his return from his expedition in November 1862. Douay performed a harmonium solo titled “Welcome in honour of McKinlay and Party” and a poem titled “Homage to McKinlay” was also performed. [xi]

The Return of Stuart to Adelaide 1863
State Library of South Australia [B 9382]

In Adelaide there was great celebration on the return of Stuart, which included a large street parade. There was a performance by Poussard and Douay on the 22nd January 1863 at the Adelaide Assembly Rooms in honour of Stuart and McKinlay, who attended the show. It was the last time they performed “Dead Heroes” in South Australia.[xiv]

Hard Times and a New Hope

Despite the promise of booming business with the arrival of the railway, business at the Sir John Franklin Hotel was suffering. Costs had gone up, but business had gone down. After the railway was constructed, a road connecting the train station to the rest of town was built. The road controversially did not run directly to the main street where the Sir John Franklin was positioned. As a result, three new hotels were built along this new road and managed to capture some of the rail traveller business. Also,“Crase’s Room” was built, which became a rival function venue. On top of all this, the number of men working at the mine had reduced considerably, and those that remained were earning less. In May 1862 Thomas Rowlands Jones petitioned the court reduce the cost of his lease. [xv] The initial lease was taken out at £350 per year and he hoped to have it reduced to £250. His request was granted and the rent was lowered.

It is probable that even with the cost reduced lease, the Sir John Franklin Hotel was not as profitable as Thomas had once hoped. Thomas began to look for a new venture.

After their breakup with Robert Sparrow Smythe, Poussard and Douay were in need of a new manager, and Thomas Rowlands Jones stepped into the job.

"Mr. T. R. Jones having entered into an engagement with Messrs. Poussard and Douay, will leave the Sir John Franklin Hotel, which he has so satisfactorily conducted, in the course of the month."[xvi]

I think that his love of music and his business experience would have made him a great choice for the position. I also wonder if his ability to speak German could have been an advantage in communicating with the Frenchmen.

1863 'Advertising', South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), 20 January, p. 1. ,
viewed 18 Sep 2016,

My Next Post will be about Thomas Rowlands Jones on tour with Poussard and Douay and his return home to Adelaide.

I really recommend reading about Sir John Franklin. He really was a man of action and lived an extraordinary life.

Canadian Geographic has a good timeline here:

The Franklin expedition is in the recent news here:


[ii] 1861 'THE BURKE RELIEF PARTY.', The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1889), 19 August, p. 3. , viewed 15 Jul 2016,

[iii] 1861 'KAPUNDA.', Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), 14 December, p. 7. , viewed 10 Sep 2016,

[iv] 1862 'KAPUNDA.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 11 December, p. 4. , viewed 10 Sep 2016,

[v] 1862 'KAPUNDA.', South Australian Weekly Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1867), 13 December, p. 7. , viewed 10 Sep 2016, 

[vi] 1862 'GAWLER.', Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), 13 December, p. 7. , viewed 11 Sep 2016,

[vii] 1862 'KAPUNDA.', Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), 20 December, p. 7. , viewed 10 Sep 2016,

[viii] 1862 'KAPUNDA.', South Australian Weekly Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1867), 20 December, p. 2. , viewed 15 Jul 2016,

[ix] Deirdre Morris, 'Stuart, John McDouall (1815–1866)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 10 September 2016.

[x] 1862 'KAPUNDA.', Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), 20 December, p. 7. , viewed 12 Sep 2016, 

[xi] Lais, Peggy. Horace Poussard and Dead Heroes: A Musical Tribute to Burke and Wills [online]. Context: Journal of Music Research, No. 23, Autumn 2002: [23]-32. Availability:<;dn=199092705107032;res=IELAPA> ISSN: 1038-4006. [cited 17 Sep 16].

[xii] 1862 'KAPUNDA.', South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), 28 November, p. 3. , viewed 13 Sep 2016, 

[xiii] 1862 'WALLAROO.', Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), 16 August, p. 2. (Supplement to the Adelaide Observer.), viewed 13 Sep 2016,

[xiv] 1863 'THE STUART DEMCNSTATION.',South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), 21 January, p. 2. , viewed 18 Sep 2016,

[xv] 1862 'LAW AND CRIMINAL COURTS.',South Australian Weekly Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1867), 3 May, p. 2. (Supplement to the South Australian Weekly Chronicle.), viewed 16 Sep 2016,

[xvi] 1863 'KAPUNDA.', South Australian Weekly Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1867), 10 January, p. 1. (Supplement to the South Australian Weekly Chronicle.), viewed 18 Sep 2016,

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