Colton, Eyre Peninsula, South Australia


Sir John Colton (SLSA)

The Colton area was surveyed, subdivided and proclaimed on 22 June 1876. It was named after Sir John Colton, MP who was born in 1823 in England and came to South Australia with his parents in 1839. Soon after the District was opened up for agriculture, Michael Kenny, born 1808, at Six Mile Bridge, County Clare, Ireland, took up a large parcel of land with his sons in September 1876.

Michael had arrived in South Australia in 1842. After some farming near Noarlunga he married Bridget at Morphett Vale in 1848. In 1852 he visited the Victorian goldfields where he had some success. On his return he bought land at Sheaoak Log where he farmed for the next twenty years. After this he tried his luck at Black Rock Plain in 1874 but this was not a success story.

Although he was one of the first to take up land at Colton, it was W.A. Barns to be the first to ship wheat to Port Adelaide in 1877. When Charles and Martha May were married at nearby Talia in 1876 they too settled at Colton. Another first for the town was Georgios Tramountanas from Athens who was one of the first, two Greek migrants to come to South Australia.

Georgios Tramountanas later changed his name to George North.

Life at Colton was not easy in the early days. Rabbits had made their appearance and farmers were complaining about the lack of a jetty. One wrote to the Register in 1879 stating that 'Our wheat has to be taken in small boats to vessels in Waterloo Bay and they moor nearly a mile from the landing places which is not only a loss and inconvenience to the farmers by the grain getting wet, but also to the masters of such vessels'. Another farmer later wrote 'Squatters do not want jetties; they can roll a bag of wool down any cliff, when we farmers must carry our bags of wheat on our backs'.

One early farmer was John Shipard. At the age of 25 he had married 23 year old Viveanner Standley on 3 April 1882. Their first child Ada was born on 21 May 1883, followed by George Ralph on 19 June 1884 and Adelaide, born on 31 August 1885. After these three they were to have a further 6 children with the last one, William Arther born on 16 May 1894 at Penong. Their son John born on 17 August 1886 at Elliston only lived for three weeks. John himself died on 23 July 1911 at Colton aged 82.

With the influx of more farmers a school was needed to educate their children. Many of them had large families. In 1885 the Colton school opened with David Roper as its first teacher. By 1893, when Randolph Francis Trotter was its teacher, it had an enrolment of 61 students. By the end of that year he was transferred to Penong. In 1901 as many as 9 children from the North family were in attendance. Some of the more senior members of the North family were involved in local community affairs, including two who were members of the Colton Football Club. The Colton school, which had seen fluctuating enrolments for many of its 70 years, was finally closed in 1956, Mary Molloy being the last teacher.

MSW Kenny

On 21 December 1880 Daniel Thomas Kenny, Michael Kelly's eldest son, bought 2 sections of land in the Hundred of Colton. One was at the junction of five roads and would be a prime site for a hotel. Michael Stephen White Kenny, Michael's second son, born in 1852 at Morphett Vale, had built Coltonís first wine shop and later the Colton Hotel which was opened in 1885. Although economic conditions were hard and drought on the horizon, still more and more farmers wanted to take up land on Eyre Peninsula. During 1887 George Mayers, an experienced farmer, was appointed by the Commissioner of Crown Lands to examine land on the West Coast suitable for agricultural settlement. When selected and surveyed the Shipard brothers, among many others, made their move further north up the West Coast.

Kenny's Hotel.

By the turn of the century there were some large landholders in and around Colton. The Thompson family of Talia Station also owned some 2000 acres at Colton. Hero Clare North held 6000 acres, which included some 4000 at Talia. W.A. Barns had a thousand acres at Colton and some 4000 at Talia. Last but not least there was J. McKenzie who held 800 acres at Colton.

The Colton Agricultural Bureau was formed on 23 July 1892. Its first chairman was P.P. Kelly with Robert Hull as secretary. Its object being to assist farmers with any kind of agricultural problem and make improvements where possible. Robert Hull was the son of Adam and Elizabeth Hull who had arrived from Scotland in 1852. Robert was born at South Rhine a year later. After his schooldays he went to work in the far north at Strangways Springs.

In 1875 he worked at Yardea Station but after the Hundred of Colton was opened up for closer settlement he took up 640 acres. Later he bought Courtabie Station at Venus Bay as well as several thousand acres in the Hundred of Talia. He was secretary of the Agricultural Bureau for 11 years and a member of the School Board for ten years. In 1886 he married Agnes Amanda, third daughter of Edward H. Whitehead, of Mount Wedge and they had 3 sons and four daughters. Eventually he became a JP and won many prizes at the Colton and Ellison show.

At the first Show held at Colton in 1892, and those during the next 60 years local farmers, their wives and firms would display their produce. In June 1902 a meeting was held at M.S.W. Kennyís Colton hotel, opened in 1885, to see if a public hall could be build. Among the committee members were P.P. Kenny, G.T. Boylan and H.C. North. They were instrumental in having the idea accepted but also to have it built and opened on 1 September 1903. It served for more than 70 years as an entertainment centre, including 50 years by the Colton Show Society.

Colton had two churches and two cemeteries. In 1894 Saint Aidans Catholic Church was started but due to a decline in the number of Catholics in the area and a shortage of priests, the district was transferred in October 1985 from Cleve to Streaky Bay. On 15 June 1904 a concert was held in the Colton Hall to boost the funds for the church. There was a large attendance and the proceeds amounted to just over 22. H.C. North had worked very hard to make the affair a succes. Both G. North and the Misses North took part in the concert.

On 15 June 1904 the Colton residence saw history in the making when the first 'motor bicycle' arrived in their town. It was ridden by F. Puckeridge who had travelled the 180 kilometres from Port Lincoln in a little over six hours.

On 30 April 1905 the foundation stone for the St Lukeís Church of England was laid by Mrs John Lewis. The land for this church had been donated by P.P. Kenny. The Church was opened and dedicated on 29 October 1905. However Mary Thomson and Francis Lewis could not wait for that. They got married in the church on 24 October 1905.

Wheat crop on F. Shipard's farm, December 1911.

In the early 1900s the Colton Football Club was formed and remained active until 1935. Naturally it did have a cricket team as well. One of its early captains being Perc Ford. Basketball was played by the ladies but they had to team up with the Mount Wedge ladies to get a full complement.

From the early beginnings race meetings had been enjoyed by the people of Colton and those of the neighbouring districts. In 1911 they were held in February during beautiful weather. A large crowd turned up and with judge W.A. Barns, starter H.C. North and treasurer M.C.W. Kenny doing an excellent job the meeting was a great success.

Later that night a concert was given in aid of the race funds, with P.P. Kenny in the Chair. Songs were provided by Ethel Ford and B. Kenny who also gave a violin solo. At the conclusion of the entertainment a massive silver cup was presented to E.W. Waton, owner of Stormy Petrel, who had won the Local Handicap.

In 1913 Colton had a population of 59. E.R. Du Bois was the postmaster, M.S.W. Kenny ran the Colton Hotel and A.E. Becker operated a sadler's store. During 1937 Colton was hard hit when its Hotel closed. William James Rickwood, who was the last licensee transferred his licence to the Darke Peak Hotel, which had just been completed, where he now became the first licensee.

Colton Cemeteries

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