1862 MACE JOHN CHARLES HARRY
MACETOWN, New Zealand
1862 MACE brothers:
JOHN, CHARLES, HARRY MACE
The story of Macetown which grew, flourished, and died after approximately fifty years is a very fascinating one.
Once gold had been discovered in the Arrow River in Central Otago by William Fox in the year 1862, men were lured there from all over the world by tales of the richness of this new field.
Amongst those who arrived on the scene were the Mace brothers, John, Charles and Harry.
They came to the Arrow from Wanaka, via Cardrona, and then to the river. Working their way up the narrow river gorge they came to where the gorge widened and there was a terrace, roughly three miles long by three-quarters of a mile wide.
Below this terrace was a beach where a creek flowed into the Arrow River. Here the Maces established their claim.
Two other brothers, John and Joe Beale, had come over the Skippers Hill and followed the creek down to the junction of the Arrow River. They pitched their tent on a site where the township later stood. Next morning John Beale went down to the creek to get a billy of water. He saw gold in the creek and filled a pannikin with it. As he returned to his camp he saw some men pitching a tent across the river. These were the Mace brothers. The two parties met and came to terms which were agreeable to all.
They decided to call the creek the Twelve-Mile because of its distance from Fox's, as Arrowtown was known then. The two parties worked their separate claims and lived quite amicably near each other. Soon other miners were pouring into the Twelve-Mile from every direction and a township of tents sprang up. Shanties, too, were quickly opened for business. As the township rapidly grew the womenfolk began to arrive.
Tents were usually erected abutting a chimney which had been built of sods or stones and a fire lit in one of these places would send out a good heat. After experiencing the severity of a winter in tents, many miners began to build more permanent homes. At 2,000 feet above sea level, climatic conditions were very severe in winter and mild in summer. As there was an almost total lack of timber and an abundance of stones, solid huts or houses were built of these or of sods.
Others had timber packed up by dray from Arrowtown by Mr J. L. Jopp, while others again built their homes of corrugated iron which was light and easy to transport. The population rapidly grew and at its peak was about three thousand. Businesses became established and there were four hotels and four stores.
A school became a necessity, later a post office was erected, and a bakery was built at the rear of one store.. Later still a public hall was erected and there was a blacksmith and a bootmaker's shop. The Twelve-Mile had become a thriving town but was never the scene of debauchery that Fox's was for a while. Supplies did not come up the river gorge for some years but all had to be packed up by horse, or horse and dray, over the Big Hill track.
The wagons or drays used on this track were specially designed with small wheels. This route started at Arrowtown, went up Bush Creek, over Big Hill to reach the Arrow River at the junction of Eight-Mile Creek, later known as Eichardt's Flat, then along a comparatively easy three miles to the town. In the early days there was a great scarcity of firing and it was never plentiful. Speargrass, and the stunted native matagouri were burnt. Later, when coal had been discovered in the Gibbston and Cardrona districts, this was packed in and was a very expensive commodity. Wood was also packed in. During the severe winters coal was at first rationed and sold by the bucketful, but later on residents were able to lay in supplies of both wood and coal well before winter.
Goats were introduced to provide milk for the children and then some families acquired cows and poultry. The cows were run on "the flat", the terrace below the town. Some miners used to gather the "cow chips" or "Buffaloes" and burn them as fuel. When cows became more numerous, the goats were left to roam the hills and were soon breeding prolifically with others which had come over from the Skippers side. Today the whole area abounds with herds of goats which are a menace to the runholders.
The first official map survey of the township was completed in 1870. From October 27th, 1881, residents were able, to purchase the township sections. thus changing Crown land into private property. After the first flush,of the gold rush was over. many miners departed to other goldfields and ventures. The population,dropped considerably and remained fairly static at between three and four hundred for a number of years. The businesses remaining were two stores, two hotels, a drapery store, the blacksmith and, of course, the post office still functioned.
As one by one the quartz mines ceased production the population gradually diminished over the years until the sole inhabitant was Mr William Jenkins, self styled "Mayor of Macetown". In 1914 Mr Jenkins applied for all water rights and took over many of the abandoned sections. A few years after his death the land reverted to Crown property and is now part of the pastoral lease of Coronet Peak Station. owned by Messrs W. and R. Dagg,.
There will always be some controversy as to how Macetown came by its name. The early name of the Twelve-Mile held for three or four years. After this it was officially known as Macetown and recognised as being named after the Mace brothers who had become so well known as cricketers in the Otago Province. A miner would say that he was going up to work at the "Maces' town". However, it was not until the Maces had left to reside on the West Coast that it became known as Macetown.
The late Mr Kingsley Butler of Arrowtown always declared that it was ' named after Mason Melody, who was an early publican at Fox's' He said that the early name of Mason's town was shortened to Mase's, town, and then to Macetown. However, as Mason Melody did not have any connection with the Twelve-Mile, it is doubtful that his name would have been bestowed upon it.
Still, today there are many people who contend that as the Beale brothers were first on the spot it should have been named after them. On most maps both of early and recent origin, the Twelve-Mile Creek is marked as the Goldburn. This name would seem appropriate for the creek which yielded so much gold. The cricketing prowess of the Maces and the fact that they were prominent citizens who took part in all the social doings of the town and were highly respected during their few years there, seems to be the reason the town became known as Macetown. The first official map survey, in 1870, called it Macetown.
Gold was always the backbone of Macetown. A very large quantity of the mineral was taken from the area over the years. Alluvial mining was the first to be worked, and then the miners forsook this to try quartz mining, leaving the Chinese who followed in their wake to work over the claims. Macetown was one of the few places where the Chinese were able to work new ground as well as old. The Macetown goldbearing lodes were most productive. The gold, which was of a very high grade, was readily visible m the stone and coarse in character.
The most extensively worked lodes were the Premier and Tipperary mines. Next in order were the Gladstone, Homeward Bound, All Nations. Victor Emmanuel, Maryborough, Garibaldi, Sunrise, Golden Treasure, Balchs, Hamilton and O'Neills and Andersons.
Warden Stratford reported that the reefs at Macetown were first tested about the year 1876.. the three lines of reefs first worked were the Homeward Bound,:the Maryborough line and the Advance Peak fine.
The Homeward Bound Line was opened up in February, 1876. by Mossrs Raven and Barclay who won 551 ozs of gold from 542 tons of stone while opening up.
On the same line, to the north-west, were situated, the Lady Fayre, Gladatone, McKay's, and Premier claims. no Maryborough was also opened up in 1876, and from five tons of stone crushed from a foot-wall leader, 23.5 ozs. of gold were obtained.
On this line were situated the leases of the Garibaldi Company, Duke of Wellington (No. 2 South), Victor Emmanuel (No. 3 South), and Finn's lease (No. 4).
The All Nations line was parallel to the Maryborough, about five chains to the southward. From a leader between these two lines, 345 tons of quartz yielded 39 ozs. of gold The Tipperary, Geraldine, and Caledonian leases were continuations of the All Nations line, while the Canton and Ancient Briton claims were trending south.
With regard to the Main Lode line there appeared to be three parallel lodes trending northwest. Several rich leaders radiated from these lodes, as high as five ounces of gold per ton being obtained from them. The Katherine was a rich leader from the north-east lode,.
Development work was carried on and in 1878 a public crushing plant was erected and quartz crushed from various reefs. Some of these parcels which were said to be well representative of the quartz crushed from various reefs, gave rich yields. One shoot of quartz containing rich stone was worked down from the surface, through the Gladstone and Premier quartz claims, to a depth of 3,300 feet from the outcrop. At that, depth the working expenses were so heavy, mainly for maintenance and timbering, that.further following of the shoot at greater depth was abandoned. This shoot was worked first from the surface, then by adits. and finally by a dip-drive on the floor of the shoot.
The mountains being very precipitous, there was every faciiitv for mining by driving adits. In some places half a mile of driving would give 2,000 feet of backs. Great facilities were also afforded for the use of self-acting aerial trainways to get the quartz down economically and transport the timber to the mine for maintaining the levels and securing the stopes. Water-power was plentiful for working the batteries by means of water-wheels. Numerous leases were taken up in the district.from 1878 onwards, but operations were not successful in all cases. Capital was required as the cost of packing up equipment was very high.
Even in 1884, when the river road was opened. it did little to defray costs. A report in 1886 says "Of all the numerous goldmining companies that were called into existence on the discovery of payable quartz at Macetown only two remain, of which the Premier has been the most successful.ÓDuring 1886 the Sunrise Lease Gold-mining company struck good stone and an endeavour was made to flat a company on the London Market to work the Premier and Tipperary mines. This flotation was completed and British capital was introduced into the district in 1890. About this time prospects became brighter.
The Sunrise struck good stone and erected a new battery. Unfortunately in 1891 expectations were not realised. Poor results were obtained from the sunrise and Premier mines while operations were not commenced at the tiperary mine. During 1892 the sunrise Company sold its plant and claim to the Premier Consolidation Company which carried on continuous operations during the year for a return of 945 ozs of gold from 957 tons of quartz crushed. The, Tipperary Company was re-formed in London in 1892 with an available capital of $20.000 so that in this mine, as also in the Premier, development work was carried on during 1893. In that year the Premier Company crushed 3,163 tons of quartz for a yield of 1,985 ozs. The Glenrock Consolidated Company purchased the Premier and Sunrise niines in 1895 and preparations were made to work these properties on a more extensive scale.
The Tipperary Company was re-constructed in 1896, a new company called the ÒAustralia and New Zealand gold-Explorers LimitedÓ taking possession of the property.
Work was continued along the usual lines for the next few years. In 1898 several well known mines -- the Victor Emmanuel. Morning Star, Black Angel, Garibaldi. Maryborough, Homeward Bound. Lady Fayre, and Golden Treasure were consolidated into one building as "Farrell's Consolidated Mines". The intention was to place these properties on the London market. Operations in the Tipperary and Sunrise mines were not successful and the mines were closed in 1899, but the Premier continued to be worked, 2,825 tons of quartz being treated for a yield of 1,661 ozs. of gold during the year 1899.
The Indian Glenrock (Wyaad) Company continued operations in the Premier mine during 1902, in which year 2,178 tons of quartz yielded 1,752 ozs of gold.
In 1903 the Premier-Sunrise (NZ.) goldmining Company purchased the Premier mine from the Indian Glenrock Company. The mine was worked continuously during the year with fair results. The Premier-Sunrise Company continued operations during 1904 and 1905.. In the latter year the available stone was stoped out and considerable prospecting failed to open up a new ore-body. Work was resumed in the Tipperary mine in, 1903 but, as the further development of the mine necessitated the installation of expensive machinery, operations came to a standstill. Sunrise mine was situated near the summit of Advance Peak at an altitude of some 5,000 feet above sea level. The quartz proved to be rich in some places and worthless in others.
Prospecting at such a high altitude was seriously handicapped by the severity of the winters, the ground being covered with snow from June until November. Mr W. Stanford, the general manager of the Glenrock Consolidated Company, proprietors of the Sunrise property, reporting on work done on the Sunrise lode during 1898 stated that "a considerable amount of prospecting work had been done by means of crosscuts to prospect the adjacent country. This proved the existence of two lodes, running apart, both carrying gold wherever they were -struck but not in payable quantity." The former proprietors of the property, the Sunrise Company, succeeded in extracting 1,207 tons of quartz from the mines, which yielded. in the mill 1,018 ozs. of gold, valued at $7,818. All of the creek beds below this mine were sluiced for payable returns and much of the gold obtained in the ripples was found to contain adhering particles of quartz. The Sunrise mine ceased operations about 1906. Tipperary mine closed in 1899. It was situated in Scanlon's Gully, about two and a half miles from Macetown. Scanlon's is a narrow V-shaped gully about three miles long. When in operation the mine was worked by surface stopes, drives, and a shaft. A low-level cross-cut 1,953 feet long, was put in at a point in the gully three-quarters. of a mile below the mine, but where the lode was cut it was not payable.
The lode was tben driven on for a distance of 490 feet-namely 270 feet westward and 220 feet eastward. It was found to average about four feet in width and to underlie south-east at an angle of 68 degrees, but unfortunately no payable ore was found at that depth Killarney mine was parallel to the Tipperary and about a thousand feet to the westward. Little work was done on it beyond a little surface prospecting.
The Premier mine was situated in Sawyers Gully about three miles from Macetown. This mine at one time employed about three hundred men. It was the richest reef discovered in the area and was worked more extensively than the others. Eventually the available stone was stoped out and no more new ore-body discovered. It was finally closed in 1906. Listed here are the mines which operated over the years Homeward Bound, Premier, Tipperary, Gladstone, All Nations, Victor Emmanuel, Maryborough, Garibaldi, Sunrise, Golden Treasure, Balchs, Hamilton and O'Neills, Andersons, Lady Fayre, Mackays, Sylvia, Killarney, Dublin, Canton, Ancient Briton, Duke of Wellington, Geraldine, Katherine, and Finns.
Due to the excessive cost of packing in equipment and the mis-management of shareholders' money, many mines were forced to close down before they were proved-. Various miners tried their luck at working some of the abandoned mines and were able to make a reasonable living. Others again were lucky,to strike some rich patches. A few went back to alluvial mining until economic circumstances forced them to give up and move away to other places. As can be seen, the Macetown reefs were never fully developed although, as was proved, they are capable of yielding very high returns.
Macetown is dominated by Advance Peak (5,700 ft) in the McAndrew Range and across the river by Mt Soho (5,743 ft) in the Wakefield Range. The residents used to refer to the "four points" as Advance Peak (north). Big Hill (south). Mt Soho (cast), and Government Hill (west). In the winter months the work would come to a standstill in the mines and the alluvial claims. Many miners had their homes and families in Arrowtown and they camped up at Macctown during the summer months while they were working. The Arrow River would be frozen almost from bank to bank in winter and the horses' shoes would be sharpened to a point on the heels. Specially sharpened frost nails, which were used to hold the shoes on, enabled the horses to get a grip on the ice.
The track over Big Hill was arduous and extremely dangerous in winter. In 1880 the inhabitants began to petition for a proper road to be formed along the river route, even though it meant crossing the river about twenty-three times in all. It was pointed out to the Lake County Council that about $80,000 had been spent in developing the various mines and that unless something was done to make access easier the prosperity of Macetown, and indeed the province of Otago as a whole, would suffer.
A belated start was made on the road on 6 August, 1881, but by 1883 it was still not finished. This tardiness had already had an effect on some mines and it was not long before they were forced to cease operation.
Finally in 1884 when the road was opened for traffic it was too late to save other mines from closing, and two years later, of the original mines, only two-the Premier and the ,Sunrise were still working. Mr George Romans of Arrowtown, who lived to be 103, was a constructor on the Macetown road.
At Brackens Creek the road is built on a dry stone wall at a height of 500 feet, and this gives an idea of the work involved in the forming of the road. Many miles of it were built on these dry stone walls which are now hidden in many places by the vegetation.
After the "death" of the town the road fell into a state of disrepair until the Arrowtown irrigation scheme was commenced in 1925, and this ensured that the road would be kept in good order as far as the intake near Billy Creek, which is halfway between Arrowtown and Macetown.
This section of the road has always been kept in order. During the period, 1930 to 1939, the Lake County Council maintained the top end of the road in reasonable order but once again, through not being used, it fell into its former state of disrepair.