Was he Creative? Cunning? Or Clever? I'll let you be the judge.
John Pilgrim was born in 1834 in Earls Colne, Essex, England, the eldest son of a farmer. At age 17, he was working as a servant and errand boy for a baker.
Within two weeks of marrying, John and his new wife Naomi were onboard the ship Taymouth Castle on their way to Australia. The three month journey was not easy with the milk and salt beef rations being very poor. There were many deaths on board, primarily from diarrhoea.
As the ship neared Port Adelaide, South Australia in June 1855, smallpox broke out onboard. This resulted in total upheaval for all passengers and crew. Upon arrival, those who were infected were moved to a dismasted ship and totally isolated to avoid further infection. A make shift quarantine station was established at Torrens Island and the "non small box" immigrants were housed in canvas tents, supervised by constables who had orders to shoot if the immigrants tried to leave. All clothing was boiled to reduce the chances of further infection. After 6 weeks, and when there were no further outbreaks, the immigrants were freed from quarantine and could begin their new life in Australia.
|Naomi and John Pilgrim|
Fate was about to step in and change his fortunes.
In September 1868, a local resident discovered gold nearby and with several findings within a few days, news traveled fast.
With the most direct and accessible route to the diggings being through the property John leased, he soon put up signs at the gate and charged a toll for anyone passing through his property, being 6d (sixpence) for conveyances and 3d (threepence) for horses. There was quite an uproar as many people paid the toll day after day.
The population expanded quickly as people flocked to the area hoping to strike it rich. "Horses and Traps were tied up in every direction" and there was a "busy crowd all along the creek".
Water became a desired commodity as the creek soon became mud and was unsuitable for either drinking or washing the gold. John saw another opportunity and soon sold the water from his paddock. A payment was levied by the bucket, even horses could not get a drink without a payment being made.
John "rapidly regained his position, with the power and desire to benefit others by his 'diggings' which have been extremely profitable".
Creative? Cunning? Or Clever?
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