Chinese Market Gardens in the Burra Area.
These allotments lie on
the south side of
Given the way Ah Wing or Arwing in one record clearly became
The Burra Corporation
assessment for 1879 cites G. Maip as the owner and
occupier of a hut and garden on allotments 105 & 106, whereas the previous
year the allotments are described as vacant land owned by the YPMA. Lands Titles show the transfer to George Maip on
Burra Record: VIII. 596.
Maip is selling his market garden in
The Council assessment in 1889 shows W. Isaac Short as occupier & owner of the garden on allotments 103, 104 & 107 and in the following year adds a ‘new garden’ for allotments 132, 133 & 134.
The Council assessment for 1891 gives Ling How (see also Redruth Gaol records) as the occupier of the garden on allotments 103 to 107, while W. Isaac Short is named for the garden on allotments 132 to 135.
In the Council assessment for 1892 Charles Fae (an error for Charles Fie) has become the occupier. By 1894 the assessment has named Charles Fie for allotments 103 to 107, but now the allotments 132 to 135 have been sold to Joseph Ford no occupier is mentioned and we may assume I think that it ceased to be a garden.
Burra Record: XV, 297,
Information from the court cases already noted above tells us that Charlie Fie had been renting the garden in early 1894 from Isaac Short and was employing Ah Gow. After losing the first case described Fie had to give it up and it was then taken over by Ah Gow who in turn then employed Charlie Fie. This is partly reflected in the assessment for 1894 which has the name of Charles Fie crossed out with that of W. Isaac Short as the occupier and owner.
The Council assessment in
1895 places W. I. Short in a house on allotment 103 with Ah Ching
as gardener of allotments 104 to 107.
1896 Changes this name to Ah Chung
with allotment105 to 107 and pt 103 & pt 104. William Short’s house now
being allocated to pt 103 & pt 104.
This situation remains unchanged until the assessment of 1900 which
shows Ah Chung occupying allotments 233 & 236 of Kooringa
and living on allotment 388 in
2. Sing & Fat’s
Burra Record: X, 824,
Mr Packard has shown us some splendid peaches grown in Burra. Gardens in the town are now growing almonds, apricots, plums, nectarines, peaches, cherries, grapes and black mulberries and in the Chinamen’s garden in The Paddock the produce of garden stuff is astonishing.
Chinamen are growing some fine vegetables: better than those sent from
[Probably ‘the Chinamen’ referred to were Sing & Fat
with a garden in The Paddock between
Burra Record: XI, 912,
Garden. We recently visited the garden in
Burra Record: XI, 928,
Burra Record: XI, 963,
The Chinaman’s Garden is looking first-class again.
[Probably a reference to
the garden of Sing & Fat in
Council assessment in 1890 cites a
Chinamen’s Garden in
Burra Record:XII, 1063,
Advt. John Sampson will auction under a warrant of
execution of the
Burra Record: XII, 1064,
Sing & Fat’s sale did not come off.
[But there seems to be no further mention of them in the paper.]
In the Council assessment of 1892 Ah Sing is listed as renting a house on pt allotment 33 Redruth, in Trembath St. for which the name See Wah has been crossed out. He is not shown to be there in 1893.
Note on the possible marriage of Ah Sing
Note: The dates of activity in Burra and
the date of
Marriage records show that William Ah Sing (age
unspecified), father Tobin Sing, married
[Chalmers is Scots Church North Terrace Adelaide. Presumably F.P. = Free Presbyterian?]
The reason for believing this may be the same Ah Sing lies in the birthplace of the couple’s children.
Henry was born in
William Sing, the father, is listed as a labourer.
Fanny Sing died Kooringa 24
January 1871, of atrophy, aged 5 weeks. Buried in plot 216 of
Henry Sing died Kooringa 9 August 1872, aged 4 days, but for this child the father is cited as Henry Sing.
He is buried in plot 586 of
Emma Sing, born
Alfred Sing born
[The ages given at marriage and death do not agree.]
William Sing, a resident of Laura, died at
See the New
Assessment books for years later
than 1903 might have further
It is not known if this is the same person as the following:
Burra Record: XV, 300,
Mr James Ah Hong Wah,
Chinese Herbalist, Consultations free at the Kooringa
Hotel, daily. Private Residence,
[Later the Kooringa
4. Garden of Ah Chin, probably also known as Chin Young.
Putting all the evidence together it seems clear that Ah Chung = Ah Ching = Ah Chun = Ah Chin = Chin Young.
There evidence that Ah Chin is the same as Chin Young is overwhelming despite the inconsistent use of names and the difference again in the name on the marriage registration.
As already stated in reference to Council assessments for rates:
The Council assessment in 1895
places W. I. Short in a house on allotment 103 with Ah Ching
as gardener of allotments 104 to 107.
1896 Changes this name to Ah Chung with allotment105 to 107 and pt 103
& pt 104. William
Short’s house now being allocated to pt 103 & pt 104. This situation remains unchanged until the
assessment of 1900 which shows Ah Chung occupying allotments 233 & 236 of Kooringa and living on allotment 388 in
Allotments 233 & 236 are not stated to be a garden and further research is needed to make certain the location of his garden in Kooringa. Allotments 236 & 233 lie between Graves & Graham Streets. [Nearly opposite the road to the new section of the cemetery.]
William Chung, aged 38, father Yee Wone, married
Burra Record: XV, 311 (4),
Ah Ching won first prizes for 3 cabbages, 6 red beet, a collection of not less than 6 vegetables and a collection of not less than 5 salad vegetables at the Burra Show.
Five women were charged with riotous
Burra Record: XV, 333,
A Bolt. Last Sunday when Ah Chin was visiting his cousins in Ayers St the horse in his vehicle bolted just as he was about to chain the wheel. Fortunately it negotiated a number of corners without damage and was finally stopped near Charley Grow’s stables by a lad named Lines, who delivered it to the driver who ‘thankee Jack welly muchee’.
Burra Record: XV, 467,
I beg to tender my best thanks to Dr J.I. Sangster Sen., the Matron and Nurses of the
An Chin [sic], Kooringa.
[Presumably should be Ah Chin]
Burra Record, XV, 486,
Ah Chin wins 1st prize for three lettuces at the Burra Show.
Burra Record, XV, 491,
Ah Chin wins prizes for pears and turnips at Burra Flower Show.
Burra Record, XV, 493,
Ernest Crewes writes to the editor, drawing attention to the plight of Mr Ah Chin, who lost all his household effects, two tons of chaff, harness etc. through a fire on Monday. He is utterly destitute with a wife and family to maintain. As an ‘honest straightforward and hard-working man’ he is ‘worthy of all the help and support we can give him at this juncture.’
The editor indicates his willingness to receive and acknowledge all contributions sent in.
A growing list of donations is
acknowledged each week till
Judging from the Council assessment
this was probably the house on allotment 388 in
Burra Record, XV, 493,
Fire. Kingston St was alarmed on Monday afternoon when it became known the premises of Mr Ah Chin was ablaze. It was a hot day and the roof, mainly of palings, burnt rapidly. Only a washstand was saved so rapid and fierce was the fire. Ah Chin was digging a well when his adopted son, aged three or four, found some matches. Mrs Chin had a day’s engagement at the hospital. The young boy began in the chaff-house. Ah Chin found the boy and a companion in the smoke-filled room and saved them. All household furniture was lost. Nothing was insured. An adjoining house to the east narrowly escaped. The house itself of eight rooms and owned by SAMA was insured for £50. Ah Chin is much respected as a fruit hawker. His losses amount to about £75.
Burra Record, XV, 498,
The Ah Chin Relief Fund
reached £37-0-3 from over 230 donations, including 16/3 from the Xmas
[Leaving aside these two larger contributions, this would mean an average donation of about 3/-.]
Mrs Chin thanked all for their practical assistance and says by their united efforts she has been able to re-establish a home that was destroyed by fire.
Burra Record, XV, 566,
Ah Chin was fined 2/6 plus 5/- costs for driving too fast around the Royal Exchange Hotel corner.
Burra Record, XV, 593,
Ah Chin won prizes for best cabbages, red beet & celery at the Burra Show.
Burra Record, XV, 696,
Ah Chin won prizes at the Burra Show for cabbages, lettuces, parsnips, rhubarb, carrots, red beet, celery, green onions, marrows and a collection of vegetables.
Burra Record, XV, 742,
Ah Chin won prizes at the Burra Show
similar to 1905 and also had the best
Burra Record,VX, 791,
Ah Chin won prizes at the Burra Show for 6 red beet, 3 cabbages, 3 cauliflowers, 6 white turnips, 6 parsnips, 6 sticks of rhubarb, 2 marrows, 6 carrots, 3 sticks of celery, bunch of green onions, 6 varieties of vegetables, at least five salad vegetables, 2 pie melons and a Newfoundland dog.
Burra Record, VX, 814
Chin Young fined 2/6 for having a stray horse in Kangaroo St.
Burra Record,VX, 820,
Chin Young won prizes at the Burra
Show for collection of vegetables, collection of herbs, collection of salad
vegetables, bunch green onions, 2 marrows, 3 cauliflowers, 3 lettuces, 6 white
turnips, 6 parsnips, 6 red beet, 3 sticks of celery
Burra Record,VX, 871,
Ah Chin wins prizes at the Burra Show for a
collection of vegetables, a collection of herbs, a collection of salad
vegetables, 3 cabbages, 3 cauliflowers, 3 lettuces, 6 white turnips, parsnips, sticks of rhubarb, carrots, red beet, celery,
green onions, marrows, a
Burra Record, VX, 911,
Ah Chin wins first prizes at the Burra Show
for: Ladies Fancy Dog, hen eggs, duck eggs,
Burra Record, XV, 961,
Chin Young won second prizes at the
Burra Show for a lap dog, a goose, a gander, and a drake and first prize for a
Burra Record, XX, 1862,
Chin Young scored well in the amateur vegetable grower section. [My notes this time were not more specific.]
Burra Record: XXII, 1972,
Chin Young won first prizes at the Burra Show for a rough-coated collie, a ladies lap dog, white turnips, red beet, celery, onions, leeks and a collection of vegetables.
Burra Record: XXXVIII, 44,
Chin Young won prizes at the Burra Show for best Collie dog and for cauliflower, rhubarb, celery, leeks, a collection of vegetables and a collection of herbs.
Burra Record: XXXXII, 41,
Chin Young won prizes at the Burra Show for 3 cabbages, 3 cauliflowers, 3 lettuces (2nd), 6 swedes, 6 carrots, red beet, 3 sticks of celery and a collection of herbs. In the flower section he won prizes for 6 antirrhinums and 3 antirrhinums.
Burra Record: XXXXIII, 44,
Chin Young won prizes at the Burra Show for 6 swedes (2nd), 6 carrots, 3 celery, collection of not less than 6 types of vegetable (2nd), silver beet (2nd). He also got second prizes for 6 antirrhinums, 3 antirrhinums and 6 stocks.
Burra Record: XXXXV, 13,
The news on Monday morning last that Nurse Young of Kooringa, had suddenly passed away, came as a great shock to everyone. Some time ago the deceased lady; who was only 46 years of age, had a slight stroke and was compelled to take things quietly, however her health improved and she was apparently as well as usual until Sunday afternoon when a third stroke occurred and she passed away as stated. For many years past she has conducted a private nursing home and has earned the love and respect of those to whom she ministered by her kind, patient, and Christian service, and her death is widely regretted and greatest sympathy is felt for her husband and son in their great sorrow. The funeral took place on Tuesday afternoon from the Salvation Army Hall and the service at the grave was conducted by Ensign H.R. Heathwood and the Rev. Edwin Smith, Methodist, in the presence of a large number of residents. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs C.J. Pearce & Son.
Burra Record: XXXXV, 13,
Young _ (Nurse Young), on the 26th March
at Kooringa, suddenly,
Report that Chin Young, aged 78,
who came to
Personal note: my father, Clarence R. Fuss, remembers Chin Young delivering fish from a small cart in Kooringa in the early 1920s.
James Tie, a Chinese gardener of Black Waterholes, met with a serious
accident on his way home on Saturday. He
lost control of his horse and dray on an incline near his garden and the dray
capsized. He was thrown into the creek
where he lay unconscious for some hours.
He was found by his wife who then sent for Mr Reed who conveyed him to
Obituary. James Tie died in the
The registration of death states:
Chong Foon Tie died on
Despite the uncertainty of the age of James Tie in the above he seems likely to have been the Foon Tie who married Mary Mannix:
Foon Tie, bachelor and gardener,
aged 38, whose father was Wisin Tie, married Mary Mannix, spinster and domestic, aged 24, whose father
was John Mannix, on
Following Tie’s death the garden was apparently bought by a countryman of his called Loo Bolh, because later in 1900 the following appears in the local paper:
Burra Record: XV, 430,
Loo Bolh, a Chinese gardener of Black Water Holes was charged by Inspector Gray of having two false weights for use in trade. Luke Day interpreted. The accused pleaded guilty, but said he didn’t know they were false, having taken over the business and the weights from a countryman. He was cautioned and fined 10/- + 10/- costs.
Loo Bolh seems an unlikely Chinese name and the spelling may be the result of what the court reporter thought he heard at the time. If this is so then the name may in fact have been Lou Pong: the confusion in sound not being hard to imagine.
Burra Record: XV, 436,
Burra Show Prize List is printed.
For vegetables grown within 20 miles of Burra, by professional vegetable growers, Lou Pong scooped the pool.
6. Luke Day’s Garden
The best documented Chinese hawker, storekeeper and gardener in Burra is Luke Day. His life story is told in the book Luke and Hester Day by Colin T. Branford (1966), in the Burra Library.
But note that Branford thought the
Days came to Burra after their marriage.
The court cases noted above show Luke Day was in Burra from c. May
1893. The following summary of the
couple’s lives is based mainly on Branford’s book supplemented with
Day was the son of Lenking Day and was born in
Branford does not mention that Luke
Day was in Burra immediately before his marriage. The court cases reported in the Burra
Record in May, June and November of 1894 reveal that he was certainly there
for the first two dates and in the evidence it is said that about May 1893 he had
leased a shop with Fung Sang from Charlie Fie. The shop had been built by the latter on land
Luke met and courted an orphan,
Hester (born Esther) Miriam McLeod of Gawler who was working at Stapleton’s
Boarding House in Hindley St. This, it is believed, later became West’s
Later in life Hester said they went
first to Quorn, but nothing is known of their stay there if it happened, and in
any case it must have been fairly brief as they appear to have been in Burra by
the end of 1895. It is believed that his
first occupation in Burra was as a hawker and while there is no real evidence
for where he went with his van, it would seem that the most profitable area
would have been to the inner eastern country and towards Robertstown. The Burra Record for
Is prepared to supply his customers with all
FRESH FRUIT, 3 times a week
Best Brands of Groceries Kept in Stock and
Offered to the Public at
A Call is Respectfully Solicited
The ‘three times a week’ suggests the fruit and vegetables came by train and that his garden came somewhat later. To what extent the hawking and the shop overlapped is unknown.
The family residence was next to the
old Bible Christian Chapel in
Early in their stay they adopted a local girl who took the name Mary Lynda Day (Mollie) who seems to have been born c. 1885 from the evidence of her marriage registration. How this came about is not known. Evidence in the court case cited later of early 1904 suggests that Mollie joined the family in 1895. Hester at some stage had a stillborn child and there was no other issue. Two of Hester’s brothers were in the area about this time. Norman and Donald had both come north as drovers and later settled briefly in Burra:
Norman William McLeod, born
Donald George McLeod, born
Eliza McLeod, a sister of Hester’s,
In 1909 Hester’s sister
Margueritte Branford and her husband William came to
live in Burra from Port Pirie where the atmosphere was affecting William’s
health, but after some time this family also went to the West Coast near
When World War I broke out Jack
Stedman volunteered and was wounded in 1916.
After time in
Burra Record: 604,
The editor published an article,
based on a letter received, concerning an almost destitute girl who was said to
have been induced to leave home to work for Mrs Day in
The editor says that he has seen the jagged hair and it was certainly a poor job. Enquiries were being made into the case to see what could be done in the matter. The girl, he said, should have the clothes returned to her, which to keep from her is against all decency and humanity.
Burra Record: 605,
There is a satirical article which
is headed ‘Betsy and Peggy Gossiping’.
The persons referred to are clearly identifiable as Mr
& Mrs Luke Day. The item runs
for about ⅔ column and centres upon the haircutting incident. They talk of the ‘barberin’
craze’ with reference to a new operator in
‘We am muchee gladee it’s no worsee.’
There is then a section based on the accusation that Mrs Day went off visiting while the girl slaved over the washing and other work which is clearly targeted, though it does not of course name Hester Day.
Perhaps the most personal and offensive section is:
‘Peggy: My father and mother died when I was young, and that accounts for my bad training and uncontrollable temper. I used to listen to everybody’s business, but my own, until I got quite deaf, and now I fancy everybody is talking about me.
Betsy: Maybe you are not mistaken Peggy.
Peggy: (Pulling up the end of her large white apron; and looking two ways at once.) It’s hard to think so, but I have spent days and nights looking and asking for sympathy, and I haven’t got as much as will fill this “ricee” bag; they larfe at me and say –
Hush a-by, Peggy, don’t you cry
You’ll be a sorter angel by-and-bye.’
Burra Record: 614,
Luke and Hester Day sued W.J. Davey, proprietor of the Burra Record for publishing
a libel on 16 December and
The defendant’s lawyer did his best to give the impression that Luke Day behaved improperly towards the girl, Emmie Smith. Hester gave evidence that Emmie’s hair was dirty and there were sores on her head. The girl agreed to have her hair cut and ointment was applied to the sores and a mixture of kerosene and eucalyptus oil was applied to kill the knits [sic]. Mary Day also gave evidence (in the course of which she says she had been living with the Days for about nine years).
Emmie Smith’s evidence was that she went there willingly. She did not tell Mr Davey that she had done all the housework or the lion’s share of the washing. She did not say her hair was jagged off. She did not at first agree to having her hair cut, but later agreed. Mr Day had never acted improperly. She left because she got another job at Snowtown. She had not said she was worse off than before she went there. David Smith, the girl’s father, confirmed her story.
The paper report then says that when Emmie arrived from Snowtown for the trial she was met by Mrs Day and she and her father had then gone to Mr Winnall’s office (Days’ solicitor) followed by a meal and discussion at the Days’ home. The defence tried to show that this was when the story above was concocted – it being at such variance with the story in the paper.
Davey said he had interviewed
the girl, Emmie, with her sister and had taken notes
at the time. He produced the notes and
said that at the time Mr Smith had agreed that the
The final verdict was for the plaintiff and Davey was fined £15.
Luke continued to run a grocery
store and a garden at numbers 10, 12 and
Eliza Branford gained a scholarship
in her final year at the primary school at
In June 1928 the paper reports that
Luke Day’s corner was said to have been sold to Wright’s Motoers
Ltd who intended to erect there an up-to-date motor garage. The shop was
demolished and the garage was under construction by October 1928 and opened in
December of that year. Luke then moved his business to the old Bible
Christian Chapel, next to his residence.
(Now the office for the
Hester died of pneumonia and
arteriosclerosis in the
Hester’s sister Margueritte
After Luke’s death Jean Ridgway was the principal beneficiary under his will with
some small legacies to Silvia Ridgway and Jack Stedman. Jean then went to live in Tiver’s Cottages in Burra North for the next thirty
years. In 1992 she moved back to
Kingston St to unit 4 of the cottages for the elderly built just east of Paxton
Square and in 1995 to McBride’s Cottages in Chapel St opposite the Uniting
Church. She died
The Days’ house was demolished, but
Several people mention Luke Day or
his garden in reminiscences of Burra life in the Burra Library. They generally add little to the above
account, but tend to confirm his character as a friendly and kindly
person. One interesting observation
along these lines is made by Gwenyth Biddle, the
daughter of J.P.H. Biddle, appointed Headmaster at
She also recalls happy visits with
her mother, through the back of their block to Luke Day’s garden. In the garden she mentions seeing a big
walled rectangle, partly above ground level.
It was full of soil and had pumpkins growing in it. Her mother told her it had been a bath for
the miners. This however, was not the
case. Richard Snell built the baths in
1887. He had a garden between
 From other sources it seems clear that Ah Chung = Ah Ching = Ah Chun = Ah Chin = Chin Young.
 Burra Record,
 Burra Record: XV,
 Supplement to Burra
 Burra Record,
 Registration of death.
 Registration of death.
 Burra Record, 6