James Powell*

1818 Gwennap, cornwall England - 4 July 1905, Montacute, South Australia

Labourer, stockman, farmer.  Methodist.



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James Powell was born in Gwennap, Cornwall in 1818.  He emigrated to South Australia arrving at Port Adelaide on the 13th of October 1839 on the "Dumfries", a 468 ton clipper ship built in 1837 and departing from London (Captain Richard Thompson) under engagement to work for a Mr Kemiss.  The passenger list includes Reverend Father Henry Kemmis, his wife Mary nee Dodd, Emily and Louisa and James Powell.

Henry Kemmis traces directly back to John de CAMEYES who was at the Battle of Hastings with William the Conquerer.  He was one of the first settlers at Yankalilla in 1839.  In 1842, he purchased the first recorded land grant in Survey ‘D’ of 90 acres and began building ‘Manna Farm’. Later, Thomas Wilson laid out the township of Yankalilla on part of Sections 1180 and 1181 in the Hundred of Yankalilla, contiguous with the boundary of Manna Farm.

It is claimed that while James was ploughing a flat along with Johnny Ware leading the bullock, he discovered the first black coal in South Australia but there is no local knowledge of coal at this location.  I do find mention of very black soil further to the south where they found a small 2 foot seam on a property at Encounter Bay.
"Coal in South Australia. From Walter A. Powell, Willunga:- In the article published in "The Advertiser" of February 19. on the early days at Yankalilla, there is a statement regarding coal in South Australia, The first black coal found in the State was ploughed out an a flat belonging to Mr. Kemiss, by my father, the late Mr James Powell, of Balhannah, the late Mr. (Johnny) Ware being the bullock driver. My father came to South Australia in the Dumfries under engagement to Mr. Kemiss.(Advertiser 21/2/1929, p15)"

Kemmis had a shepherd boy, Johnny Ware, who came to Yankalilla in a bullock dray (1842).  Some land near the house was ploughed for wheat growing.  Johnny picked up a piece of coal the size of a quart pot and carried it to his master to know what it was.  Johnny went back and picked up two or three similar pieces near the same spot.  Governor Grey's attention was drawn to the matter and he thought it so important that he offered to send a party of men to sink a shaft or two.  This was never done because of his unexpected departure for new zealand.  (Yankalilla Yarns, No 1, April 1925, by Lucy Webb)

On the 15th of April 1843, James, then listed as a stockman, married Eliza Thomas at the Holy Trinity Church of England in Adelaide.  Eliza, daughter of William and Elizabeth Thomas was also born in Gwennap in 1822 and was a minor at the time of her marriage being 20.  Interestingly, the witnesses were Mr Cooke and Miss Webb and those names are also in the passenger list for the Dumfries.  Eliza may have arrived earlier on the Royal Admiral on the 18th of January 1838 at the age of 16 but this is not certain.

Over the next few years, the family seemed to move around a lot with the children being born at several different locations.

On the 1st of July 1844, Elizabeth Ann Powell was born in North Adelaide.  Eliza's Father William Thomas died in North Adelaide so this may have been his home??  I can find no record of Henry Kemmis owning property at Adelaide but we know he did not move to Yankalilla for at least two years.

Mary Jane Powell was born at Yankalilla on the 11th of June 1846 and so was James Henry Powell on the 6th of October 1847.
Frances Amelia Powell, my Great Grandmother was born in New Tiers (Summertown) on the 13th of November 1849.
William Thomas Powell was born in North Adelaide on the 23rd of March 1851.
Alfred John Powell was born in May 1853 in North Adelaide and lived 11 months.
Alfred John Powell was born on the 28th of October 1854.

After this the family moved to their own property at Bonney's Flat near Balhannah, South Australia and all the other children were born there.
Eliza Florence on 12th of December 1856, George on the 20th of March 1858, Emma Matilda on the 7th of October 1859, Emmeline on the 14th of August 1861, Walter Albert on the 3rd of July 1863 and George Edward on the 20th of January 1865.
Click here to open the locations in Google Earth

James' wife, Eliza died at Balhannah on the 11th of November 1904 of Bronchitis and he died at his son's home in Montacute on the 4th of July 1905 of paralysis, only eight months after his wife.

"POWELL.-On the 4th July, at his son's residence, Montacute, of paralysis, James Powell, late of Balhannah, aged 87 years." The Advertiser Thursday 6 July 1905 THE FRIENDS of the late Mr. JAMES POWELL, Sen., are respectfully informed that his Funeral will leave his son's residence, Montacute, at half-past 9 a.m.. on THURSDAY, arriving at Bonney's Flat Cemetery at 2 o'clock p.m. W. WILLIAMSON, Undertaker (The Advertiser Thursday 6 July 1905)

JOHN PALTRIDGE & CO. are instructed by the Executor of the Estate of the late James Powell, deceased, to offer for Sale at the Golden Cross Hotel, Balhannah, on Saturday, November 11, at 3 o'clock- That Piece of Land situated in the HUNDRED of ONKAPARINGA, being portion of Section 4043 and old closed road, containing 4 acres 1 rood 23 perches, with Stone Cottage of four roams, slab stable, plgstye, and shed, planted with fruit trees (chiefly apples) in full bearing.
Possession March 16, 1906. Title-Real Property Act. For further particulars apply to the Auctioneers. 312-3 (The Advertiser Wednesday 8 November 1905)


*Not to be confused with James Powell, sailor who absconded from the Coromandel at Glenelg in 1837.  I have located about 5 James Powell's in the first couple of years at Adelaide.

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