Where the Hill Pioneers Lie

In November 1838 there was a dreadful storm off Plymouth and 20 people were drowned. The news of this reached all the major English newspapers, and through these reports I discovered how my 3 times Great Uncle, Robert Cobbledick and his brother in law, Thomas Natt died.
Robert left a widow and 7 children, his sister Mary was left to bring up her 5 children. 3 of Roberts’ sons emigrated to Australia.
Using “TROVE” I have found wonderful tales of this family – from a 2 week honeymoon spent travelling by ox cart to a new home, sudden and horrendous deaths, dealing with aboriginals, setting up a new home in an area (now called Pleasant Valley) called the Cobbledick Swamp, supplying the soil and plantpots for the “new” botanic gardens in Adelaide, and many more. Stories that would have just disappeared otherwise, but the one that gets me is this one.

The Mail (Adelaide, SA ) Sat 13 Dec 1941


MOST Adelaide people must have seen that outstanding view from the Mount Lofty Summit road— the panorama of Piccadilly Valley, set among the pine edged hills. The highlight of the picture is the little Piccadilly graveyard, the brilliant white dots of the headstones standing out against the misty blueness.
If you take the winding white road down to Piccadilly you will find that the little grey church is broken and deserted, and that many of the headstones are not white, but so darkened with time and lichen, and so defaced with weather that they are scarcely legible.
It is old, this graveyard, exactly 80 years old. if you can judge by the inscriptions on the tombstones. There may be still older ones fallen among the grass, or graves which were never marked at all but the oldest standing stone is marked 1861. On the marble slab, almost black with time, the inscription may just be read: —
“Sacred to the memory of Agness Collie,
wife of Alexander Badenoch, of New Tiers.
Died February, 1861, aged 64.”
(“the Tiers” was the name given in the early days to the Mount Lofty hills near Adelaide, and
‘New Tiers’ was the Uraidla district.)
Next, in age is a little headstone buried in bracken, which must be parted to reveal the inscription to
“Elizabeth Hannah Wotton.
Died 1864, aged 11 years.
Many of the graves are thickly overgrown with weeds, and between them and round the church grows a tangle of yellow broom and wild sweet peas.
In the farthest corner is a grave more than knee-deep in bracken. The name is hidden by a trail of pink roses, and this is the pathetic inscription: —
“Sacred to the memory of Philadelphia Trenorden.
Died 1865, aged 18 years.
‘Weep not for me, my parents dear,
I am not dead, but sleeping here.
Tho sad my lot and short my days
I’ll rise in heaven to sing was praise.”
The rose bush, which may have been planted 75 years ago, is still blooming on the grave of the long dead Philadelphia, but her parents are lying beside their daughter, long since past weeping.
There were a good many infants buried in those early days before baby health centres and modern mothercraft. There was Mary Jane Hart, for instance, “Aged three weeks. Only lent,” and George Christian Schantz, aged 10 months: Mary Cobbledick, 10 weeks; ‘Willie, aged two;” Little Annie, infant daughter” and so on.
But once anyone reached adult hood there was a good chance of living to a ripe old age in the
country air. With the exception of two lads killed in the last war hardly anyone buried in Piccadilly was cut off in his prime; most reached their three score years and 10, often with some to spare. James Halliday reached 92, and his wife Esther 81; William Hart 70, his wife Susannah 86; Robert and Emma Jarrett 86 and 85; William Allen 79, Annie Allen 80;
James Cobbledick 75, Lucy Cobbledick 71.
They had good, sensible, old fashioned names, too, these women of last century — Susannah and Eliza, Mary-Ann and Jane, Maria, Lucy, and Isabella. Philadelphia Trenorden’s was the only flight of fancy among them — and she was cut off in her youth.
There are some recent graves in the churchyard, too, as recent as 1940, but the church is no longer used. If you peer through one of the broken window you can see the dust lying thick on broken pews on the pulpit’s red velvet cushion and the hanging kerosene lamps. There is nothing nowadays to disturb the sleep of the Harts and the Cobbledicks, the Hawkes and the Jarretts in their family graves.
As you pass out through the broken-hinged, rusty gate you are reminded of Thomas Hardy’s Mellstock churchyard: —
“William Dewey, Tranter Reuben
Farmer Ledlow late at plough,
Roberts kin, and John’s, and Ned s . . .
Lie in Mellstock Churchyard now:
‘Gone,’ I call them, gone for good that group of local hearts
and heads”

Contributed by Marion West 27th November 2019