Atherton One-Name Study

John ATHERTON[1]

Male 1837 - 1913  (75 years)


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  • Name John ATHERTON 
    Born 9 Aug 1837  Blackrod, Lancashire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 16 May 1913  Emerald End, Via Mareeba, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    • Queensland Deaths 1829-1964 Transcription
      First name(s) John
      Last name Atherton
      Registration year 1913
      Registration number 1913/000588
      Death date 16 May 1913
      Father's first name(s) Edmund Atherton
      Mother's first name(s) Esther
      Mother's last name Grainger
      State Queensland
      Country Australia
      Record set Queensland Deaths 1829-1964
      Category Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish Records
      Subcategory Deaths & burials
      Collections from Australasia
    Person ID I10870  Atherton One Name Study
    Last Modified 9 Sep 2017 

    Father Edmund ATHERTON,   b. 4 Feb 1804, Blackrod, Lancashire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 17 Jun 1863, Mount Hedlow Station, Via Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 59 years) 
    Mother Esther AINSCOUGH,   b. 21 Nov 1806, Blackrod, Lancashire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 24 Dec 1888, Mount Hedlow Station, Via Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 82 years) 
    Married 21 Jul 1833  Bolton, Lancashire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • From Lancs OPC:
      Marriage: 21 Jul 1833 St Peter, Bolton, Lancashire, England
      Edmund Atherton - of This parish
      Esther Aynscough - of This parish
    Family ID F32  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Catherine GRAINGER,   d. 4 May 1902, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married 23 Sep 1862  Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. Edmund Henry ATHERTON,   b. 14 Aug 1863, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 22 Aug 1919, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 56 years)
     2. William ATHERTON,   b. 12 Feb 1865, Yaamba, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 23 Feb 1940, Chillagoe, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 75 years)
     3. Lucy Julia ATHERTON,   b. 31 May 1867, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
     4. Esther Annie ATHERTON,   b. 25 May 1869, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 28 Feb 1962, Mareeba, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 92 years)
     5. Ada Mary ATHERTON,   b. 1 Oct 1871, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
     6. Kate Maud ATHERTON,   b. 19 Sep 1873, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 9 Oct 1951, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 78 years)
     7. John Grainger ATHERTON,   b. 6 Oct 1875, Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
     8. Mabel Alice ATHERTON,   b. 21 Nov 1877, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 30 Jan 1880, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 2 years)
     9. Ernest Albert ATHERTON,   b. 22 Mar 1879, Emerald End, Via Mareeba, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 29 Jun 1954, Mareeba, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 75 years)
    Last Modified 26 May 2019 
    Family ID F377  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    John Atherton 1837-1913
    John Atherton 1837-1913
    Husband of Catherine Grainger
    John Atherton 1837-1913
    John Atherton 1837-1913
    Son of Edmund and Esther (Ainscough) Atherton and husband of Catherine Grainger

  • Notes 
    • In the 1841 Census living at Whitehill, Blackrod, Lancs was Edmund Atherton 35 Farmer `Y` to born in County, Ester (sic) Atherton 30 Y, James Atherton 11 Y, Alice Atherton 7 Y, Rebeca (sic) Atherton 5 Y, John Atherton 3 Y, Edmund Atherton 2 Y.From Ancestry New South Wales Arrivals:
      Edmund Atherton 40 a Farm Labourer on 28 Jun 1844, Vessel `Briton`, a native of Blackrod, Parents were John & Alice. Bounty ?18.7.6.
      Esther Ainscough (also spelt Ainscow) 38, also of Blackrod, Parents were Thos & Alice Aynscough of Farm St. Bounty ?18.7.6.
      Children - James Ainscow 13, Alice 10 baptised 19 Jan 1834, Rebecca 8 baptised 8 Nov 1835, John 6 born 9 Aug 1837, Edmund 4 born 22 Apr 1839, Henry 2 born 24 Jul 1841, Thomas 3 months born 1 Dec 1843. Bounty for each child (except Thomas) was shown as ?9.3. 9.
      In 1858 Edmund Atherton and his wife, sons and daughters set out from Armidale in New England for the
      Fitzroy, where they took up Rosewood. Later one of the sons, John, took up Mount Hedlow. The Athertons,
      who came from Lancashire, moved ever northward until their wagons finally came to rest by a new river named
      the Barrron, at a spot they called Emerald End.On 26 May 1875, Mulligan`s party rode up the Barron, crossed Emerald Creek, and passed the junction of Granite Creek and the site of Mareeba town on the opposite bank, camping near Rocky Creek. Mulligan rode over the site of the present tobacco lands on the Kuranda road. This was fully eighteen months before John Atherton established Emerald End Station at the junction of Emerald Creek and the Barron.In April 1877, John Atherton settled at the junction of Emerald Creek and the Barron and formed Emerald End Station, having spied out the country late the previous year. It was the end of a long pilgrimage for the Athertons. It had begun back in 1858 when their covered drays
      had rolled northward from New England and they had settled near Rockhampton, then the most northerly
      settlement.
      In 1875 John Atherton Formed Basalt Downs on the old telegraph line from Cardwell to the Gulf. But he
      had the urge of all true pioneers to go still further out, and when John Fraser went north he could contain
      his restlessness no longer. Soon he loaded his wagons, and with his family and a small mob of cattle, he too headed into the northern tablelands. Where a beautiful ever-running creek of clear water ran into the Barron, John Atherton built his solid slab homestead. It stood for ninety years until destroyed by fire.
      The Barbaram tribesmen were not to be dispossessed easily, however. Hundreds of Atherton`s cattle were
      speared, and seeking them far and wide over the Barron and Clohesy valleys to the edge of the jungle on the east and south, he was daily in peril of his life. A tomahawk thrown from ambush almost killed him. From Baan Bero Native Mounted Police camp, Sub-Inspector Douglas and his black troopers frequently rode out to `disperse` the tribes. Snider bullets and European diseases did it so effectively that the Aborigines were not only dispersed, they were practically extinguished. When John Atherton found alluvial tin in an Emerald Creek headwater deep in the jungle, he created change such as he did not visualise at the time. He is said to have called `Tin-hurroo` to his mate, Jim Robson, when he saw the stream tin in his prospecting dish--hence the creek and the field were named Tinaroo.
      Atherton blazed another new pack team track to Cairns, through dense jungle and over 4,000-foot mountains, by way of the Little Mulgrave to Redbank at the head of the Cairns Inlet, and grateful businessmen gave him a reward of ?40. On 28 December 1879, the American barque Addie E. Sleeper loaded twelve-and-a-half tons of tin brought down Atherton`s track by pack teams from Tinaroo.
      A small rush set in, and late in 1879 two miners named John Newell and Willie Jack arrived on Tinaroo
      from the Hodgkinson. They obtained beef from John Atherton at Emerald End and camped there a day or
      two. Atherton told them he knew where a vast quantity of lode tin existed. He led the two men to the headwaters of the Wild River, near where Mulligan had camped over four years earlier and noted the existence of tin ore. Atherton, not interested in mining except as a means of creating a market for beef, returned to his cattle, but Newell and Jack went on to find the Great Northern tin lode in April 1880, which led to the rounding of Herberton and the opening of a new phase in the history of North Queensland.
      Herberton tin was to Cairns what Charters Towers gold was to Townsville. It placed Cairns firmly on the
      road to cityhood. Its future was assured when it won the battle over its rival, Port Douglas, as the starting
      point for the railway to Herberton, thereby making it undisputed port for a vast and rich hinterland.
      From Emerald End, John Atherton saw the plumes of dust through the bloodwood and boxtree forest as
      an ever-growing throng hurried towards Herberton in the dry season of the year 1880. The eddying pools and green flats of Granite Creek, half-way between Port Douglas and Herberton, was a convenient camping place for the carriers, packers and others who followed the rush. John Atherton therefore built a little steep-gabled wide-verandah`d shanty on the high south bank of Granite Creek, right at the crossing. Thus began the town of Mareeba, founded by John Atherton. In the days when it was but the Granite Creek coach change, the business was conducted by Eccles and Lloyd, the first citizens of the future town of Mareeba. A nameless Chinese who opened a store on the northern bank of the creek was speared by Aborigines and his store looted and burned. All around the coach change was a waste of grey-green hush and heaps of basalt boulders among the tall speargrass.
      A traveller riding in from Thornborough or one of the other mining towns on the Hodgkinson would see
      the roofs of the roadside shanty and perhaps John Atherton`s homestead among the treetops, from one of
      the ridges. Away in the distance towards the north, in the shimmering heat haze of the dry season, there
      would be a rapidly moving cloud of dust - a coach coming in from Port Douglas. From the verandah of Eccles and Lloyd`s hotel, one looked along a rough bush track to the south that is now Byrnes Street. Teams would be turned out along the creek, saddle horses would be standing along the hitching rails. Cobb & Co.`s coach would splash and bounce across the rocky ford in Granite Creek, and the tired horses, covered in foam, would pull up the steep bank and stand, with drooping heads, to be unharnessed and replaced by a fresh team. The clothes of the bearded driver--either Bill McDonald or Jack Warner-and his passengers would be covered in dust. With a swish of skirts, lady passengers would cross the rough verandah with its flooring of hand-sawn planks in quest of tea or cordials, while the men crowded into the bar.
      They would talk of many things-new names, new places, of mines and teams and newly-blazed tracks. The miners, teamsters, packers, cattlemen and travellers--roughly dressed and bearded, the air reeking with rum and Derby tobacco--would talk about the new and exciting discoveries in this raw new land in the making. With the close of the 1870s, Queensland was still a frontier Colony. The 28,000 citizens at the time of its birth had grown to 200.000. The length and breadth of it had been ridden by the pioneers; all of it, except a few remote corners, was known, but it was not yet tamed. A generation had passed since Ludwig Leichhardt had first trodden the land north and west of Moreton Bay-thirty years of Fearless struggle, bloodshed and derring-do in one of the most savage lands on earth. Another generation was yet to pass before the pioneers could say their work was done.From the Australian Dictionary of Biography:
      Atherton, John (1837-1913)
      by Lucy Atherton
      John Atherton (1837-1913), grazier and overlander, was born on 9 August 1837 in Lancashire, England, second son of the nine children of Edmund Atherton, yeoman farmer of Black Rod Farm, Wigan, and his wife Esther, n?e Ainscough. The family arrived at Sydney in 1844 in the brig Briton. Atherton was educated on the family property, Bald Blair, near Armidale in the New England district, and gained experience with sheep, wheat and mixed crops. At 20 with his brother James he overlanded sheep to the newly-opened Rockhampton district where James settled, while John persuaded his father to sell the Armidale properties and join them. This second party of twenty-two persons, three horse teams, a bullock team, drays and stock was guided north by John Atherton. The journey took six months and all the agricultural implements were lost when crossing the flooded Fitzroy River at Yaamba. The father settled at Mount Hedlow and John at Bamoyea on Limestone Creek. At Rockhampton in September 1862 he married Catherine, daughter of Captain W. Grainger, sometime superintendent of police at Belfast, Ireland. Taking his bride to Woodlands (near Emerald) he soon sold out and took up an adjoining property which he named Corio.

      Adventurous and courageous, the pattern of his life was already set. A noted authority on the habits and customs of the Aboriginals and keenly interested in grazing land, he could not resist the lure of the unknown country to the north. He opened up the coast road to Yeppoon with his brothers and in 1864 the road from Broadwater to Mackay, living for a time at West Hill, between St Lawrence and Mackay. Genial, quick-witted and full of initiative, he found a market for his cattle by overlanding them to the Palmer River goldfield in 1873, repeating the feat when the Hodgkinson field opened in 1875. Unlike James Mulligan and others, he was a cattleman first; past experiences had made him wary of mining ventures, but contrary to popular belief the ubiquitous prospecting dish attested to his interest. A brother-in-law was mining warden at Bendigo for some time. Atherton drove his Shorthorn herd north into the wilds once again, the party including his two sons aged 12 and 10, and took up Basalt Downs (Cashmere) on the headwaters of the Burdekin River, selling out after eighteen unprofitable months. Meanwhile he had explored over the ranges to the tableland country, where he finally settled at Emerald End on the banks of the Barron River, the long pilgrimage over. He remained on this property for thirty-seven years, visiting Cairns in 1877 and later shipping his cattle from Redbank on the Cairns inlet. Many roads, including the Gillies Highway to the coast near Cairns, follow this noted pathfinder`s trails and he also shortened considerably the existing road over the range from Atherton to Herberton. Many of his place names remain today.

      Known as the `Squire of Emerald End`, Atherton discovered tin while prospecting in 1879, joyfully naming the stream Tinaroo Creek, now the site of the storage dam for the irrigation areas of Mareeba-Dimbulah. Later he led a party to the great tin deposits known to him and thus Herberton became established. He was acknowledged as the founder of Mareeba and the vast tableland area situated between the Palmer River and the headwaters of the Burdekin was named after him. An ingenuous man with a native tendency to call a spade a spade, he insisted that he `saw little of either place`, but the speed of the area`s development was greatly aided by his efforts. Unlike others, mainly transient prospectors and cedar-hunters, he was undeterred by drought, flood and the loss of his stock through Aboriginal depredations. His fine homestead, built with Chinese labour, withstood the great cyclone of 1878, and on the river flats he experimented with sugar cane and various crops. Noted for his hospitality, he erected the first building at Granite Creek (Mareeba) in 1880, his private generosity being severely overtaxed with the sudden augmentation of passing traffic.

      Atherton`s E.E.2 brand horses were famous throughout Australia, and in his enterprising way he also bred mules with the advent of the mines. However, the discovery of mineral wealth in the area was the cause of much personal anxiety about his homestead and land. Originally in the unsettled areas as a crown lands lessee before the Act of 1884, he was still agitating for completion of arrangements in 1895 and had lost faith in promises of the government. Neither the Lands nor Mines Departments accepted responsibility for the area until eventually, after enlisting the aid of various friends, his runs were acknowledged to be under the jurisdiction of the Department of Lands. The arrival of the railway and the closeness of the township caused him to move his stock to Nyechum. His son William took up Chillagoe near by on the tributaries of the Mitchell River. There the discovery of copper resulted in the growth of the township.

      John Atherton continued to dress like an overlander and was a colourful figure, carrying all his life a facial scar, the result of a stone tomahawk thrown from ambush. President of the Turf Club in 1908, he was also patron of the Mareeba District Mining, Pastoral, Agricultural and Industrial Association. A member of the Church of England, he died at his homestead on 16 May 1913 and was buried in the family cemetery at Emerald End, Mareeba. He was predeceased by his wife in 1902, and survived by four sons and four daughters, all of whom were pioneers in the various districts in which they settled. His youngest son, Ernest Albert (1878-1954), was elected to the Queensland parliament in 1929 as member for Chillagoe, and was secretary for mines in 1929-32.

      Select Bibliography
      G. C. Bolton, A Thousand Miles Away (Brisb, 1963)
      Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, Queensland), 1886, 2, 1113
      John Atherton family letters, 1862-1958 (State Library of Queensland).
      Citation details
      Atherton, Lucy, `Atherton, John (1837-1913)`, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/atherton-john-2907/text4177, accessed 27 October 2012.
      This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

      John Atherton - Founder of Mareeba:
      A note from Anna Lynch (from her uncle Malcolm Atherton) gives a link explaining the background:
      http://www.athertontablelandnetguide.com/atherton/john-atherton-article-1956.html

  • Sources 
    1. [S117] Lee McIntosh.

    2. [S28] athoman.com.