|Baby slept in a gin case.|
The first house, a daub cottage built on the beach at
, Timaru, was erected by George Rhodes, just south of Caroline Bay George Street.
My Sketch tries to recall an impression of that early home.
George Rhodes married Elizabeth Wood in 1854 at Lyttelton. She had come from
in 1850, on one of the first four ships. England
Later George and Elizabeth travelled across the plains from Lyttelton to Timaru with Sarah McQueen, a family friend, also from
Henry Sewell on his journey south early in 1856, was one of many travellers to camp in this vacant cottage after the Rhodes family had moved out to Levels, a sheep station north-west of the Bay.
About 1857 they say, George Rhodes gave the cottage to Sam Williams, an adventurous young American whaler, who had been given the good-natured nickname ‘Yankee Sam’.
Sam was born around1817, his birthplace unknown. As an infant, he lived in
Canada and later as a boy travelled to the . He is thought to have drifted to United States with a number of other enterprising youths. Australia
By 1840 he left
Australia to lead a whaling party out of the . Later Sam turned up at port of Sydney Island Bay, Banks Peninsula, New Zealand, where he began whaling for the Rhodes brothers in 1848.
In 1851, Sam left
New Zealand, heading back to again this time to the gold fields of Ballarat, where they say he married Anne Manry sometime around 1854. The goldfields didn’t hold much luck for Sam and he returned to Australia in 1856. New Zealand
Once more he took up employment with the Rhodes Brothers. This time he worked on Levels Station. Finally, he moved his family into the cottage on the beach in 1857.
It was in this same year Archdeacon Henry William Harper remembered riding through South Canterbury on his first journey south from
. He recalled Sam and his family in a cottage near the beach. Archdeacon Harper could remember the old whaler showing him some of the remaining try-pots left abandoned on the beach. He wrote in his diary. “I spent a pleasant hour with Sam, listening to many colourful yarns of the old days”. Christchurch
Permanent settlers, aside from the large runholders, were slowly getting established in
South Canterbury, exposing a need for accommodation in Timaru.
Sam and his wife converted the little daub cottage into a general store and offered shelter to travellers.
After the addition of a lean-to, the Provincial Government, in 1858 presented Sam with the first publican’s licence ever held in Timaru.