The settlers had long complained about the
state of the roads in the district and in 1842 a communication
was forwarded to the Governor setting out an idea for a better
road. However it seems that Richard Alcorn was not prepared to
wait for government funds. By May 1842 the
Hunter River Gazette recorded that the Messrs. Alcorn had
not only marked but cleared a road between Jerry's Plains and
Patrick's Plains avoiding the high stony ridges and valleys the
previous track had passed through. There was said to be always a
plentiful supply of grass and water by this line. The new road
would save five miles between Jerry's plains and Patrick's
Plains and fifteen to Maitland.
In 1842 James Ham was
issued the publican's license for the Queen Victoria, however by
1844 Richard was once again proprietor of the Queen Victoria(1)
Sir Charles Fitzroy passed through Jerry's Plains in
1847 and Richard Alcorn was expecting to entertain the Governor
before he moved on to Merton. However Sir Charles made only a
very short stay of about ten minutes at Alcorn's Inn, the horses
of the party being held at the door. He then proceeded to the
Police Barracks where he dined with
Lieutenant Gall. Richard Alcorn had made expensive
preparations for his Excellency's reception and was disappointed
at missing the honor of entertaining him (2)
Richard Alcorn suffered a loss of part of his flock of sheep in
a remarkable storm that hit Jerry's Plains leaving huge
hailstones that remained unthawed for several days despite the
heat. Thirty of Alcorn's sheep were killed when when lighting
struck them during the storm. They were found laying altogether
in the space of a few yards, their 'bodies much discoloured'.
Alcorn remained licensee of the Inn until the early 1850's.
Edward Alcorn took out a license for the
in Singleton in April 1853.
Richard Alcorn died in 1879.
His obituary was printed in the Maitland Mercury........
The bereavement for the late
Mr. Richard Hobden had scarcely
passed away before I am called upon to notice the death of a
much older colonist, in the loss the district has sustained in
the death of Mr. Richard Alcorn, who died at his residence,
Oakleigh, on the morning of the 3rd January, instant, aged 78
years. With your kind permission I must beg a small space in
your valuable paper for the following facts in relation to the
deceased's long life in this colony, of over seventy-four years.
In 1826 Richard Alcorn was married by Rev. Mr.
Marsden (the father of the present Bishop of Bathurst), to Miss
Gulledge, in the old church. The cattle belonging to the family
increased so rapidly that it was thought to be time to push out
for "pastures new," and a severe drought was raging also. So Mr.
Alcorn, Mr. Loder (the father of Mr. Loder of Abbey Green,
Singleton), Mr. Singleton (whom Singleton is named after), and
others - all young men of a daring and enterprising spirit -
pushed on in a northerly direction, and crossed the Bulga Range
No pen can describe the toil and hardship this
little band of pioneers had to undergo, in working their way
through the impassable scrub, over rivers, up mountains, and in
en- counters with the blacks but they were equal to the task,
and succeeded. They were delighted to see, from off a spur of
the Bulga, the splendid plains in the valley of the Hunter.
Simple circumstances gave names to the various discovered
places-Patrick's Plains being discovered on Patrick's Day ;
Jerry's Plains, from the circumstance of one of their faithful
servants Jeremiah losing his thumb through the bursting of a
pistol loaded to obtain fire. And mortification setting in, he
died, and was buried in the paddock opposite the post office
Each one of these pioneers received a grant of
land from Governor Darling, at places chosen by themselves. Mr.
Alcorn taking his up on Glennie's Creek. Little do those who
have arrived in this colony since the "gold fever" of 1851,
think of the hardships these early pioneers had to suffer in
subduing this magnificent country for them; as the following
narrative will show. In the year 1827, as Mr. Alcorn, his wife,
and her young babe (Mrs. Browne, the wife of John Browne, Esq.,
of Ellerslie) were sitting outside of their little dwelling,
enjoying the pleasant sight of their cattle quietly grazing,
their little field of wheat and maize waving to the gentle
breeze, and thinking of their future happy prospects when the
air was rent by the sound of the death-whoop of the blacks - too
well-known to Mr. Alcorn. The place was immediately surrounded.
Mrs. and Mr. Alcorn retreated inside at once ; and a
volley of spears following, Mr. Alcorn was at once wounded as he
covered his wife's retreat, and fought with his man servant at
his side, with such desperation that he did not notice having
received seven spear wounds, before he had made several blacks
lick the dust - Mrs. Alcorn at the time breaking off the spears
as they were shoved through the openings in the slabs, until
their faithful servant cried out, " I'm speared through the
heart," and immediately fell against Mrs. Alcorn, carrying her
to the ground, and falling on her dead. The little band of
heroes becoming less, and weakened by wounds, the blacks having
used all their spears, they forced the door, and threw a stone
at Mr. Alcorn, striking him on the head, and felling him to the
ground stunned and bleeding, and leaving him for dead. Mrs.
Alcorn, with her babe, secreted herself under the bed, and
eluded the searching eyes of the blacks.
everything eatable, and some clothing, and started to the
mountains. Under the soothing care of his loving partner, Mr.
Alcorn recovered from his wounds, excepting the one on his head,
which he believed he suffered from till the day of his death.
Mr. Alcorn often graphically described his overland
trip, to Sydney in the years '26 and '27, taking in his cattle
for sale, and to bring out necessary supplies. On one occasion
Mr. John Browne, of Macquarie Place, Singleton, (father of our
worthy member), and himself, were as usual coming out, driving
their old faithful pack-bullock before them, they on foot, when
they overtook on the Bulga Mr. John Duff, struggling up the
mountain, carrying a half chest of tea on his back, with other
things, and his servant struggling under a load of sugar and
other necessaries. Those who were not fortunate to have a pack
bullock had then to carry their household necessaries out in
this manner. Horses were but few, and too valuable to ride. All
cattle were herded, and drove to Sydney, on foot, in those days.
In fact a man on horseback, they said, would frighten them away.
Mr. Alcorn was the last of those early pioneers, all the
others having gone to "blessed eternity" many years past. In
1837, the country becoming more populated, Mr. Alcorn sold his
estate at Glennie's Creek, and bought one at Jerry's Plains, and
built a large stone house, which has been used as an hotel ever
since. He was ever a good consistent member of the Anglican
Church, helping other denominations at the same time, and was a
churchwarden of St. James' Church here for over thirty years. He
always gave freely of his cash, time, or labour for the good of
his Church. He was never known to miss divine service in his
Church for thirty years, considering it his first duty to be
there to thank God for the great kindness vouchsafed to him
through his many dangers. A pattern to the rising generation.
Thus died this good old man, full of years, full in his faith,
full of honors won in subduing the wild land in his adopted
country- and a sheaf fully ripe for his Master's farm. The whole
of his family, three sons and four daughters (some of these
grandmothers), were present at his last earthly rites. It is the
wish of your correspondent that his posterity may always
consider their noble sire's example, and "go thou and do like-
wise." Jerry's Plains, January 7, 1879. (4)