John 3 Tom

(1820—1895)





 BORN 28 April 1820 Blisland, Cornwall, England.
 DIED 1 August 1895 at Ophir, NSW.  
 Data 

NSW Death Record 9597/1895.

TOM JOHN
WILLIAM & ANN
@ ORANGE.
 
 BURIED 3 August 1895 at Wesleyan Cemetery, Orange, NSW.
 
 FATHER William Tom (1791-1883)
 MOTHER Ann Lane (1796-1870)
 
 MARRIED Ann Elder (1821-1902) on 25 March 1845 at St Johns, Parramatta, NSW, by John Elder (brother of Ann).  
 Data 

NSW Marriage Record V1845212 30B/1845.

TOM JOHN &
ELDER ANN
@ St John’s CofE, Parramatta.
 
 CHILDREN   Wilhelmina Ann Tom (1846-1927)
Fanny Jane Tom (1849-1935)
James Dunlop Tom (1853-1948)
Emily Australia Tom (1856-1938)
William John Tom (1859-1943)
Catherine Lane Tom (1862-1946)
Hamilton H Tom (1865-)
 
Occupation was Miner on death certificate.
 


♦♦♦

W R Glasson writes:

Since the name of John Tom is entirely absent from the record of the early months of the momentous year 1851, we assume that he was away from home, probably exploring the distant west at the time. His subsequent interest in gold mining was not less than that of his brothers. In appearance and figure, John Tom was of all the sons of William (Parson) Tom the most like his father. His temperament and personal qualities specially fitted him for those pioneering and strenuous days in which he lived. He was exceedingly strong and active. Dressed in his ordinary clothes, and without any preparatory training, he could clear a tape six feet high. He was a great horseman and boxer. In fact, once in Victoria, when a claim in which he and a little party of miners were interested, was jumped by a larger gang of roughs, it was suggested, that to settle the issue each party send forth a champion. The fight was with bare knuckles, and John Tom, in quick time, won the day for his side. Yet, despite his prowess, he was one of the least aggressive of men, ever friendly, cheerful and generous. He was popular, a free spender, careless of the morrow, and of his faults we say that which, alas, can be said of but few, they leaned to virtue’s side.

He had a remarkable gift of location, and day or night his instinct led him unerringly. He explored the lonely stretches between the Lachlan and the Darling Rivers, and with his brother, William, took the first mob of cattle from New South Wales to Gippsland. His capable and adventurous spirit developed early. On beginning to build the first temporary dwelling at Springfield, it was found that there was missing from the essential tools a saw. What should be done? A saw could be borrowed from, Mr. Lane, at Orton Park, twenty-five miles away, near Bathurst. This was light to carry, and to John, then nine years old, was assigned the task of getting it. The track was not well-defined, and there were no intervening houses, but John even then had the bushman’s instinct, and he was strong and self-reliant.

Bravely the little fellow set out on his long and lonely journey. Having walked two-thirds of the way, thoroughly tired, he slept that night beneath a large and spreading gum tree. At daylight next morning he briskly resumed his journey, and that night he again slept under the same protecting tree, with the saw by his side. The third day he reached his home. No spirit was more optimistic than his.

It seems probable that after his father, Parson Tom, built the new stone Springfield homestead, John and his family lived in the five-room wattle-and-daub Old Springfield House. That, in any case, is where his son Jim was born.

Imagining himself ever on the verge of finding a fortune, he spent his time chiefly in looking for gold. At seventy-five years of age, his labours ended suddenly when he dropped dead at The Young Australia Reef just as he reached the crown of the very steep ridge of Old Church Hill on the morning of 1 August 1895.

[W R Glasson "Romance of Ophir," 1935.]

Son Jim Tom reminisces:

My father, John Tom, was the eldest son of William Tom generally called Parson Tom. Father often told me that he came to Springfield when he was nine years of age, mentioning the year 1829, so I fell sure Will Webb made a mistake in his book. Referring to the "saw" incident, Father showed me the standing stump of the tree under which he camped. It was situated on the Bathurst side of Evans Place Creek, and about a mile from the Creek. I don’t think it could have been a spreading gum at that time for he spoke of setting fire to it, (using flint and timber—no matches then) and how, on his return he found it had fallen across the place where he slept the previous night. Father was the best bushman I have ever met or heard of. It was impossible to put him wrong, either by day or night. He could not explain his gift. Said he always knew he was going straight to his object. He was the first man to take a mob of cattle from NSW to Victoria, Gippsland, through virgin country all the way—this was in the forties, I think. Years later he explored the country between the Lachlan and the Darling Rivers, taking up Gilgunza and Noothumbil which he sold to Messrs Peake and Reid about 1860. In my boyhood, I was taught to reverence two things, John Wesley and Cornwall. All our relations and neighbours were Cornish, many being local preachers, class leaders and Sunday School teachers—good earnest men and yeomen. Some of them I feel sure, believed there was no place in heaven except for the Wesleyans.

Obituary

The death of Mr. John Tom, the well known miner. Mr. Tom had been working for some time past on the Ophir Creek, near Orange, with his son, and his death, which occurred on Thursday last was very sudden. From particulars gleaned by the Orange ADVOCATE it appears that Mr. Tom on the morning in question was on his way to work, suddenly stopped, as he was climbing the hill, to light his pipe, when his son, who had left him for a few moments to get some timber, saw him fall forward. He immediately rushed to his father’s assistance, when he saw he was dead. Mr. Tom was the brother of Mr. Charles, Mr. William, and Mr. James Tom, the two latter and the late Mr. John Lister being the proved actual discoverers of payable gold lit Ophir, New South Wales, on April 7, 1851, Like his brothers, Mr. John Tom was an inveterate prospector and persevering gold seeker. It is alleged that he was the discoverer of the famous brown vein come upon at the surfage on the Wentworth gold-field shortly after the gold rush had set in at Ophir. Mr. Tom had been on the most important New South Wales gold fields and had the usual varying fortune common to the precarious pursuit. He was a man of fine appearance, of stalwart frame, and of genial, easy-going temperament. The last time we saw him he seemed in perfect health and likely to live another decade or so. He was a son of one of the oldest and most respected early settlers in the Guyong district, known best as Parson Tom, who died at the advanced age of 92 years. In the death of Mr. John Tom another well-known old Orange identity disappears. He was 75 years old.  



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