With the expansion of the wheat industry, and the opening up of new farming land beyond Goyder's Line, the government proclaimed the Hundred of Oladdie on 23 March 1876. Three years later the town of Johnburgh, forty kilometres north of the Line, was surveyed with 144 town sections and proclaimed on 10 July 1879. It was named after Major John Jervois, son of the Governor of South Australia at that time. The first town blocks were sold on 7 August 1879. Other towns surveyed and proclaimed that year were Gordon, Amyton, Carrieton, Hammond, Cradock, Stephenston and Chapmanton.
Even before the town's proclamation, the Bishop brothers had a shop built and operated it from 1878 onwards. A year later they added postal services to their establishment as well. That same year they became Registrars of Births and Deaths and could issue several other licences as well.
As early as 1882 the Wesleyan Methodists provided regular religious services for the settlers at Johnburgh. Some of its early preachers were Rev. J.H. Goss, J.P. Chapman, C.W. Genge, R. Dunstan, W.A. Millikan, A.P. Burgess and W.A. Gann. Many of the early ministers travelled each Sunday to Bendleby to look after the spiritual needs of that town. Sadly though, a Reverend, Priest or Pastor was not always available when some people had the greatest need for one. Many died and were buried without their ministrations. This problem was common in most of the newly established towns, especially if they remained small.
Johnburgh Population 2.
During 1882 the Johnburgh hotel was completed and H. Tremain, its first publican, served his thirsty customers until he was replaced by Henry Reynolds, who also held a slaughtering licence.
Sadly though, rain did not follow the plough and as early as 1880 farmers in the Johnburgh area suffered a crippling drought. Farmers soon learned that with an average rainfall of 270 mm and no surface water, growing wheat was risky at the best of times. Many diversified from intensive agriculture to dairying.
Although hit hard by poor seasons, the town grew and within a short time there was a need to establish a school. A weatherboard building was erected and Flora McArthur appointed as its first teacher in 1891. In 1899 a residence was added to the school and the Head Teacher was paid 150 Pounds per annum. In 1898 H. Becker served the locals as a saddler and in 1899 Fred Smith opened the first blacksmith shop in town.
Although times were hard, farmers and their families did have time to play sport and forget some of their problems at least for a short time. In September 1897 they got a team together to play tennis against Carrieton. Everyone enjoyed themselves with Johnburgh winning most of the games. Some of the best players were Arnold, Becker, James, McRitchie, Smith and Zanker.
Johnburgh Hotel 2008
In 1898 William Jones was the storekeeper and postmaster. The Wesleyan Minister, the Rev. A.H. Melbourne provided the religious services, the hotel was run by C.F.W. Zanker and F.W. Smith was the local blacksmith. Three years later, in 1901, Ben Jones kept the store and was the postmaster, while the Rev S.J. Martin held the services and B. Crabb was the publican.