Garibaldi Joss House

I’ve found very little about Garibaldi’s temple. I’ve included everything below, with a break in the middle to consider the photo. Due to a lack of information, it’s hard to pin down the dates of use, but, based on available information, c.1890 to 1920s seems likely

A large Chinese camp has lately been built at the Garibaldi about eight miles from here, which will probably shortly become the head-quarters of the Chinese in this district. The only thing required to make it so now is a Joss House, which will probably be obtained, either by building a new one, or the removal of the one at Weldboro’, unless our respected missionary Wong Poo, succeeds in converting the majority to Christianity, when probably instead of a Joss House, they will have a church.
The Mercury, 3 April 1886

The Chinese new year is just over and the Celestials, numbering about 600 in camp, have had a rare festival this year. I hear that about £400 was gathered for the occasion, which went towards a new joss house at the Garibaldi claim, an addition to joss house at Weldborough, and £100 for fireworks.
The Tasmanian, 23 February 1889

Leaving the one main street we go a few hundred yards to a separate building of larger dimensions. This is the josshouse. Hundreds of visitors are round about it and here, too, we find most of the Chinese congregated. Beautiful and costly lanterns are hung by the josshouse door. Round some lanterns are paper mandarins, etc. revolving on stately procession. Inside the building one is almost overcome with the strong incense and heated air from multitudes of burning tapers. Heavily decorated silks, etc. shut off most of the end view, where, perhaps, Joss himself has his abode for the time. Most of the decorations are very elaborate, and some are exceedingly beautiful.
The Mercury, 1 March 1912

Garibaldi Joss House WC
Chinese Josshouse, Garibaldi
Weekly Courier, 21 May 1914

The panels either side of the door are in storage at the Queen Victoria Museum. The large text translates as “He whose Military Achievements are certain is fit to be a Warrior Deity” and “He whose Smaller print down the sides says “Respectfully presented by Lei Yi Chun from Xin Ning District” and  “Established on the auspicious festive day in an Autumn month during the 16th reigning year of Guang Xu” which I’m told is between 16 August 1890 and 13 October 1890.

Similar door panels in the Weldborough are dated to a few months before the opening of the temple. Given that, plus the mention of putting “towards a new joss house at the Garibaldi claim” in 1889, I think a construction year of 1890-1 is quite possible.

Another item of interest is the panel above the door. Although it’s difficult to read, on a higher resolution photo, the lower part of the left two characters is like the lower part of the left two characters on this panel on display in the museum:

The rightmost character is a bit harder to make out, but as the two characters on the right here say “Guan Di” that’s probably what the third character on the panel in the photo is. The whole sign says “Guan Di Temple”. The same sign appears the door in the photo of Weldborough. It is literally the same sign?

From “The Children’s Column”:

There is a Chinese camp three miles from here called the Garibaldi. A little while ago 1 took a friend, who is staying here up to see this camp. On our way up we had a look at the Joss House, which is their place of worship, and lies about one hundred yards from the camp; then we went on to the camp. Just as we got there we saw two Chinamen emerge from a hut and go to the Joss House. One was carrying a: roast fowl, and the other a jug of gravy. We walked the full length of the camp and came back. On our return to the Joss House we had a look in, and there, was one of the Chinamen preparing for prayers while the other assisted him. The one who was going to pray started by standing in front of the Joss and throwing his arms about in the air; he then knelt down in the same place on a mat and did the same process kneeling. After . this the assistant handed him two pieces of wood like sheep’s tongues. Ire threw these down in front of him; looked at them, and then .handed them back. He then threw his arms about again. Having done this the assistant handed him a wooden jar full of funnily shaped sticks. When the one praying had looked at these for a while; he selected one, handed the rest back, and put this particular one, aside. He then went through a lot more arm throwing, and then drank a small cup of gravy. All this having been done, he-picked some paper out of a box, came outside, and burnt it. He told us it was paper money, and seemed quite pleased we had seen him pray. The next and last thing lie did was to let off a packet of crackers. This performance having been accomplished, he took the fowl and. gravy home.
Leader (Melbourne), 11 September 1915

The Waugh tin mines are about three miles from Pioneer, in the direction of the Blue Tier, are close to the old township of Garibaldi, which in the early days of tin mining was quite a flourishing Chinese centre, even to a most pretentious Joss-house. But all that remains is a few huts, fast falling to decay, or only one or two Chinese inhabitants. Yet at one time, when the field was flourishing, there was a population of close on a thousand, with little camps dotted about the hills and valleys.
Examiner, 21 September 1925

One part-Chinese interviewee (aged 72) remembers at least 40 huts at Garibaldi in her early childhood. … The Garibaldi Joss house was pulled down in c.1926 and some of its contents passed to her family.
Tasmania’s Chinese Heritage: An Historical Record Of Chinese Sites In North East Tasmania, p. 24

Chinese memorial stone, ceremonial oven and headstone, Weldborough

Ancestor worship was an important feature of Chinese culture and Confucian religion, being a mechanism of clan ownership of land and permeating the social structure and ideology of ancient China. Most of the Chinese in northeast Tasmania carried on their customs and buried their dead in the traditional manner making only the adjustments required of them by the laws of the land. Whenever possible the bones of the deceased were exhumed and sent back to China to reside in the ancestral burial grounds. It was common practice for those who could afford the journey to return to China to die.

The cemetery contains a memorial erected by the local Chinese community to their dead and a number of Chinese graves. Only one grave bears a headstone engraved with Chinese characters but it is very likely that there are many unmarked Chinese graves in the cemetery.
From “Tasmania’s Chinese Heritage: an historical record of Chinese Sites in North East Tasmania”, by Helen Vivian


More…

Chinese Memorial & Funerary Oven, Moorina Cemetery

A Chinaman, named Lin Foo, died rather’ suddenly at the Garibaldi camp on Sunday night, It appeals that he has suffered from heart disease for some time, and after gambling on Sunday evening, smoked some opium, and died soon after. He was buried in the cemetery here this evening. Tho Chinese are certainly rather unceremonious in their manner of disposing of their dead. They have no prayers, the coffin is lowered directly into the grave, and on top of it are thrown a quantity of calico, a billy containing rice, and a pair of chop sticks. The grave is then filled in, and while this is being done they burn large quantities of paper and candles, specially prepared for this purpose, and incense. There is little or no show of feeling, most of the mourners or followers talking and smoking, evidently seeming glad it is all over.
The Mercury, 20 December 1886


This stone has been erected by the Chinese of Garabaldi, Argus and Moorina, as a place of worship of Confusias religion to the departed Chinese and those connected with the Chinese in the Moorina cemetery.

Chinese to Tasmania, pre-1870

The 1870s saw an influx of Chinese migrants to Tasmania to mine for gold and later tin. Prior to this there were a number of Chinese already living on the island. So I started making a list of them. The list is here.

So that’s what this series of posts is, a documentation of any information I’ve come across. (Not an attempt to tell the complete story of any individual or family, but if you have anything to add or a link to more information, it’ll be welcome. And images, I need some images.)

With variations in spelling and deliberate names changes, it can be hard to track people especially if they move about, so there might be some duplication or things missed, and the sources themselves are often wrong. So any extra information, corrections etc. are good.

There are also the shipping records. People arrive who don’t seem to appear again. People depart who don’t seem to have arrived. Some are just passing through. So far, I’ve only included arrivals and departures when they connect to names found elsewhere but I’m sure there are some in there who stayed but I have yet to find another trace of.

But most importantly, this is an ongoing list. I keep finding more names so entries are still being added.

Name list.
All the posts.

Wham/James Sing

[Obviously there is more that can be added about this family, but this is enough for the purposes of this blog.]

The first Europeans to commercially fish for abalone in Tasmania were a group of Irish shark fishermen at Southport. When the Jesuit priest Father Julian Tennison-Woods visited Southport and he found ten families fishing for shark there and in Recerche Bay. They boiled down the livers for oil, sold the fins and used the flesh for fertilizer on their cabbage fields. When the weather was too rough to catch shark they speared abalone. The fins and the abalone were boiled and then dried by Wham Sing and his brother Teck at Southport and shipped to Hobart for export to the goldfields. According to Tenison-Woods the Sydney merchant Chin Ateak was prepared to pay 9d a pound in 1880 for any quantity of the shellfish that was ‘much esteemed by the Chinese’. The priest found that although abalone were abundant ‘it was too troublesome a fishery to make it a pursuit, except when nothing else could be caught.’
The Tasmanian Abalone Fishery: A Personal History


MARRIAGES: Wham Sing & Eliza Palmer, Franklin district 1864 RGD37/1/23 p62

BIRTHS from RGD 33

An act of charity, deserving of record, has just been performed by some splitters from Southport, who arrived in town early yesterday morning. It appears that a man named John Fisher, and his daughter Mary Fisher, 16 years of age had for some days been suffering from severe illness and were unable to procure medical attendance, they being in extremely destitute circumstances, and there being no doctor resident nearer to their place of abode than Three Hut Point. Under these circumstances the men referred to, whose names are Edward Isaacson, James Warren, John Burgess, Henry Silvester, and George Asher, obtained the use of a whaleboat belonging to James Sing, a native of China, living at Southport, and volunteered to bring the invalids to town, free of charge. They accordingly started on their mission of mercy at about 3 p. m. on Thurs-day, but whilst on the voyage hither the girl died. As soon as the boat reached town the body was conveyed to the hospital dead-house by the police, and the girl’s father was also removed to the institution, where he still lies under treatment.
The Mercury, 10 April 1869


DEATH: Avis Aella Sing, Esperance district 1871 RGD 35/1/40 p63

BATES V. SING.-This was an action brought by Jos. Bates, of the barge Redwing, against James Sing, a Chinaman, residing at Southport, to recover £21 for breach of contract, for not loading plaintiff’s barge with certain staves as agreed. Defendant, by his plea, denied the contract.

Mr. Charles Ball appeared for the plaintiff ; Mr. P. Crisp for defendant.

The plaintiff, sworn, proved the defendant had sent for him in the middle of December last, to proceed to Southport to bring to town a cargo of staves for the defendant, and that on his arrival at Southport the defendant had stated he had only half the staves left, the other half having been washed away. The defendant declined sending the staves he had to town, but offered plaintiff 10s. for his trouble. Plaintiff estimated his damages at the amount claimed. Mr. Crisp addressed the jury, and called the defendant, who denied any knowledge of plaintiff, but admitted requesting a man named Geary to send some craft for the staves ; and further stated that the staves had been washed away, and that plaintiff required too much to bring the remaining staves to town. The respective counsel having replied, and His Honor summed up, the jury, without retiring, returned a verdict for plaintiff, damages £8 15s. Mr. Crisp applied for a new trial, as the verdict was against the weight of evidence.
The Mercury, 19 April 1876

MAINTENANCE.-Eliza Sing proceeded against Lee Hung for having failed to contribute to the support of his child.
Mr Miller appeared for the complainant, and Mr Powell for the defendant.
Eliza Sing stated she knew the defendant, and also his late wife ; she came to Launceston about two years ago and died, leaving behind her an infant, whom she bequeathed to her (witness’s) care; the defendant paid for the maintenance of his child regularly at first, but he had not contributed anything since last April ; owing to the delicate condition of the child’s health, witness charged him 10s per week for rearing it.
James Sing, husband of the last witness, asserted to having asked the defendant to contribute towards the support of his child, but he refused to do so ; he also told witness he could threw it into the streets.
Mr Powell stated that his client was a poor man and could not afford to pay 10s per week. The reason lie allowed the case to come before the Court was so that the Bench might fix a weekly sum, to be paid for his child’s support.
The Bench ordered the defendant to contribute 6s per week towards his child’s maintenance, and to enter into his own recognizance in the sum of £25, and also find one surety in the same amount, as a guarantee for payment of the amount.
Launceston Examiner, 20 August 1881

DISGRACEFUL CONDUCT-Information has been supplied to us of a very disgraceful affair that occurred yesterday afternoon in Wellington-street, and which illustrates the singular proneness of some persons to seek pleasure in molesting and annoying foreigners, particularly those hailing from the Flowery Land. The Sunday school in connection with the Mission Church had just been closed, when on reaching the street some of the scholars attacked three children of Mr. James Sing, of George-street-two boys and one girl. The assailants numbered some twenty, amongst them being youths of 17 and 18 years of age. The father of the persecuted children is a Chinaman, and has been living in Launceston five or six years ; whilst the mother is a respectable Englishwoman. The children, ‘who also attended the Mission Sunday-school, were assailed with bricks, stones, and anything which came to hand,’ and ‘sustained injuries. One of the lads was struck twice with a missile on the arm, which last night was swollen considerably; the other children also being hit several times. It is strange and humiliating that such things can be done in our midst, more especially by those who call themselves Christians, and attend a place where brotherly love is inculcated. Our readers will not be surprised to learn that it is the intention of the father, should similar treatment be experienced again, to take his wrongs to the Police Court for remedy. As the names of the offenders are known, they are indebted to the forbearance of those they so cowardly persecuted that they have not to answer for their conduct of yesterday.
Launceston Examiner, 13 August 1883


DEATH: Eliza Sing, Launceston district, 1887


Daily Telegraph, 10 November 1887


Daily Telegraph, 2 January 1888


Launceston Examiner, 19 November 1890

Ovel

Tried Port Louis, 2 December 1843
Arrived Ocean Queen, 3 April 1844
“Killing my master by striking him on the head”
Native Place: China
Labourer

Conduct Record
Indent

19 March 1851 charged with “Absconding & remaining at large until apprehended on board the “Shamrock” being there with intent to leave the Colony.

A DISAPPOINTED EMIGRANT.-A Chinese was ushered into the presence of the police magistrate on Tuesday morning, charged as an absconder. He arrived by the coach on the previous night; and from, a description hastily drawn up and forwarded, Mr. Davis suspected him to be a prisoner of the crown named Ovel, (transported for life from Mauritius for cutting up murdered children and making them into pies,) who absconded from the service of Mr. Webb, confectioner, of Murray-street, Hobart Town, on Monday morning. The prisoner had taken his passage by the Shamrock, and had obtained a special clearance under the name of Assa Eugene. He was remanded to give time for further enquiry. With reference to the horrible offence imputed to the prisoner, the police magistrate believed he was not the perpetrator of the revolting and bloody crimes mentioned by the chief district constable; that such crimes had been committed at the Mauritius was, however, a fact; and it was equally true that the debased and guilty wretch who committed them was in this island. Children in his neighborhood at Mauritius were missed, and finger bones and other unemployed portions of human beings were round on the premises, but no direct proof of the offence could be obtained, otherwise a different punishment had been inflicted. The perpetrator of these diabolical crimes was convicted for a minor offence, and transported for life to this colony. He would.be a meet companion for Annette Meyers.
Launceston Examiner, 19 March 1851 (second page)

Ovelle, p. h., a Chinese in the service of Mr. Webb, the Pastry. Cook, was charged by his master with refusing to work. By permission of the Magistrate, Mr. Brewer defended the prisoner. It appeared, from Mr. Webb’s statement, that he had originally hired the prisoner at the Comptroller General’s Office for twelve months, which bad expired a short time ago ; after that, Mr. Webb entered into another engagement with the Assistant Comptroller General, Mr. Nairne, for twelve months longer, raising the prisoner’s wages to j£40 a year. The prisoner however refused to work, as he considered his time was up, and wanted go to another place. In answer to Mr. Brewer, Mr. Webb stated, that no written agreement had been entered into on either occasions, nor was the prisoner present, when the engagement was made ; the prisoner bad been in Mr. Webb’s Service since he had been in the country, and had never been in the Barracks. Mr. Brewer, then contended that, as there was no written agreement there could be no service : the regulations provided, that an agreement should be entered into, which had not been done in this case. Mr. Wilmot said, that, according to the regulations, unless a passholder could get higher wages, he was bound to serve his present master: he, Mr. Wilmot, was clearly of opinion that the prisoner was in Mr. Webb’s service. It was then arranged that, the prisoner should return to his service, and on that condition he, at Mr. Webb’s request, was merely admonished.
Hobarton Guardian, 29 January 1853

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Note at end of Conduct Record