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Biographical Dictionary - Coorow, Carnamah, Three Springs


Surname

John Snowden ROOKE

Born 24 October 1874 at Thorpfields Farm in Thirsk, Yorkshire, England [P95]
Son of James ROOKE and Ann APPLEBY; stepson of Mary SMITH [P95]
     Following his mother's death on 15 January 1877 his father married Mary SMITH in 1879 [P95]
     He grew up on the 240 acre Osgoodby Grange Farm in Kilburn / Thirkleby in Thirsk, Yorkshire, England [20]
     By 1891 was an Apprentice Draper in St Martin Le Grand, Yorkshire, England [20]
     He was a working as a Draper in Scarborough, Yorkshire, England in 1901 [20]
Married Louisa Annie OATES on 19 October 1903 in Scarborough, Yorkshire, England[21]
     Worked for a period as a Commercial Traveller for the firm McLintocks Eiderdown [P83]
     Ran a Drapery and Millinery shop on Newport Road in Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales 1906-1915 [P95]
     Resided with his wife and children in the two floors above the shop [P83]
     Sold his Cardiff business and made arrangements to purchase a farm Western Australia from the Midland Railway Company [34]
     The decision was made partly for his son Frank's health and also due to his urge to return to the land [P95]
     The property he intended to buy was a Ready-Made Farm in Carnamah, which was partly cleared, fenced and with a house [34]
Departed London, England with his wife and their children Madge, Frank and Pat on the steamship Omrah on 23 October 1915 [70]
     Also on board the Omrah was Bertie W. LOVELESS [338] who was a farmhand, teamster and farmer in Marchagee 1915-1927 [19] [50]
     After a voyage of just over a month they arrived on the Omrah in Fremantle, Western Australia on 27 November 1915 [338]
     Before leaving Cardiff his father warned him not to sign any agreement or pay any deposit until he'd seen the farm [34]
     A short time after arrival travelled to Carnamah to inspect the farm he had been allocated [P95] which was Lot M952 (417 acres) [34]
     He found the farm to be half covered by a rocky hill and practically useless [P95] and it had been rejected be two previous settlers [34]
     He was as also informed by other settlers that 417 acres was too small for a viable farm [P95]
     By 20 December 1915 he had gone off the idea of farming in Carnamah and thought he would get a job in Perth as a draper [34]
Made new arrangements with the Midland Railway Company and purchased Lots M956 and M957 (854 acres) instead of M952 [27] [34]
     The farm was payable by instalments and came at a cost of £4,156, however this was later reduced to £2,433 [27]
     Along with his wife and children arrived to the farm in Carnamah in January 1916, which he named Kilburn after his birthplace [P83]
     On arrival in Carnamah all that made up the townsite was the PARKIN family's house and DAVIESON's shop [0: image 03500]
Farmer of Kilburn Farm in Carnamah 1916-1934 [P95]
     There was a typical Midland Railway house on one of the lots of his farm which contained four rooms including a kitchen [P83]
     Instead of building a house on the other lot of his farm he had the Midland Railway Company clear a further 200 acres [34]
     The only furniture they had bought with them from England was their brass bed and piano [P83]
Purchased four big Clydesdale horses for £60 each however they proved to be too big and clumsy and had to be sold [P83]
Wrote in a letter on 23/3/1916 "we are fairly well but the kiddies in particular are suffering from sore eyes and this horrible barcoo" [34]
In 1916 had 360 acres of his farm in crop [34] and in 1917 had 350 acres of wheat crop [10: 19-Jun-1917]
In August 1916 signed a petition which was sent to the Midland Railway Company requesting the price of their farms be reduced [34]
In October 1916 purchased a dray from the Midland Railway Company that the company had in Carnamah, for £17 [34]
The Midland Railway Company agreed to supply and pay for oil for his house as it was weather beaten when he had arrived [34]
Member of the Winchester-Carnamah branch of the Farmers & Settlers' Association in 1917 [34]
Vice President of the Three Springs Saint Patrick's Day Committee's Sports Meetings in Three Springs in 1917 and 1919 [124]
In September 1919 the Upper Irwin Road Board paid him £2 to do urgent repairs to roads near Carnamah [9: 3-Oct-1919]
Member and Secretary of the Midland Railway Ready Made Farm Settlers' Association in 1917 and 1918 [34]
On 9 October 1917 gave evidence against the Midland Railway Co at a Royal Commission on Agricultural Industries in Carnamah [34]
Purchased some of his general supplies from general store "The Supply Stores" in Yarra Street, Carnamah in 1917 [92]
Signed the petition and financial guarantee in 1917 for the Midland Railway Company to provide a resident doctor at Three Springs [34]
In addition to farming, was also a Butcher in Carnamah from 1919 to 1933 [6]
Also grew silverbeat, pumpkins, peas and cabbages for his family's consumption and some flowers near their home [P83]
Ran sheep and cattle on the farm which he killed himself - for meat for his family and to sell to others [P83]
Had household water from two rainwater tanks and water for the farm from two dams [P83]
Secretary of the Farmers and Settlers Association which successfully fought with the Midland Railway Co to reduce their prices [P83]
His horse Rusty Wheat won the Farmer's Race at the Peace Day Celebrations in Carnamah on Saturday 19 July 1919 [10: 25-Jul-1919]
In August 1919 himself and Richard ROBERTSON presented a deputation to the Midland Railway Company [34]
     Stated that they were aware the Company had tried to meet their demands and had given them fair consideration [34]
     however explained that there was simply no way they could succeed on the farms as they were too highly priced [34]
     The price of the farms was eventually reduced by 40% (which meant his farm went from £4156 to £2433) [34]
Along with his wife and children travelled to Perth by train once each year and stayed at the Shaftsbury Hotel [P83]
Each summer after harvest they caught the train to Dongara for a holiday at a whitewashed cottage which looked very English [P83]
On 15 September 1920 extended Kilburn Farm by 381 acres with the purchase of Lot M1270 of Victoria Location 1935 [27]
     Purchased Lot M1270, which was at the time virgin land, from the Midland Railway Company for £162 [27]
Won 1st prize for Chaff at the Picnic Race Meeting & Agricultural Show in Carnamah on Thursday 22 September 1921 [9: 30-Sep-1921]
By May 1922 he was the owner of a Fordson tractor, coined "the tractor that has made farming profitable" [39: 29-May-1922]
Signed the petition in February 1923 for the Irwin Licensing Court to grant a hotel license for Carnamah [10: 9-Mar-1923]
Attended the Annual Show & Sports Carnival held in Carnamah on Thursday 20 September 1923 [86: 4-Oct-1923]
     He exhibited in the Poultry section and won two 1st prizes for Heavy Breed Male and Light Breed Male [86: 4-Oct-1923]
Had the telephone connected in 1925 - was telephone number Carnamah-11J, later Carnamah-11U and finally Carnamah-11K [60]
Donated 1/1/- to the Three Springs Saint Patrick's Day Committee in 1925 [124]
President of the Picnic Race Meeting held in Three Springs on Saint Patrick's Day Tuesday 17 March 1925 [124]
Had an account with Carnamah blacksmith, wheelwright and motor mechanics Henry Parkin & Son in the 1920s and 1930s [53]
Member of the Carnamah District Agricultural Society [5: 23-Sep-1932] [13] [58]
     Secretary 1928-1932, President in 1933, Vice President in 1934 and Vice Patron 1935-1941 [4: 13-Oct-1928, 2-Nov-1929] [5: 17-Nov-1933]
Attended Charles ROBERTSON and Winifred LANG's wedding and reception in Carnamah on 27 March 1928 [4: 31-Mar-1928]
Won two first prizes in the poultry section of the Carnamah Show and Sports Carnival held on 4 October 1928 [4: 13-Oct-1928]
Secretary of the Carnamah Recreation Ground improvement committee in 1928 [4: 1-Jun-1929]
Founding Committee Member of the Carnamah Ratepayers Association in 1928 [4: 6-Oct-1928]
In October 1928 purchased a new Austin car from local agent Thomas J. BERRIGAN[4: 3-Nov-1928]
Attended a meeting at the Carnamah Hall on 19 April 1929 to discuss the establishment of flour mills in Carnamah [86: 20-Apr-1929]
Won 1st prize for a British Breed of Ram at the Carnamah District Agricultural Society's Annual Show in 1929 [4: 28-Sep-1929]
     Also won four 1st prizes in the Poultry section - for Best Male and Best Female in the Heavy and Light breed classes [4]
     Attended the Grand Ball following the Carnamah Show and opening of Centenary Park on 19 September 1929 [4: 28-Sep-1929]
Sold four bales of wool at 11½d. per pound through Westralian Farmers Ltd at the Perth Wool Sale on 18 October 1929 [4: 19-Oct-1929]
Secretary of the Roman Catholic Church building committee in 1930 [4: 4-Jan-1930]
Successfully exhibited in the Sheep, Dairy Produce, Grain & Fodder and Poultry sections of the Carnamah Show in 1930 [4: 27-Sep-1930]
     Won 2nd prize for a Merino Ram in the Sheep section and 2nd prize for Brown Hen Eggs in the Dairy Produce section [4]
     In the Grain & Fodder section he won 1st prize for Oaten Chaff and 2nd prize for Green Wheat for Grain [4]
     Won 1st for both male and female White Leghorns and 2nd prizes for a male Black Orpington and male Rhode Island Red [4]
Vice President of the Carnamah Race Club 1930-1934 [4: 21-Dec-1929] [5: 24-Nov-1933]
Member of the Carnamah Ratepayers & Citizens Association - was Secretary 1930-1932 [4: 16-May-1931, 16-Jul-1932] [120: 9-Jan-1930]
Member of the Carnamah Parents & Citizens Association - was Secretary 1930-1932[4: 22-Mar-1930] [5: 8-Jul-1932]
Member of Carnamah's branch of the Wheatgrowers Union - was Secretary 1931-1933[4: 27-Jun-1931] [5: 15-Jul-1932, 1-Dec-1933]
Pallbearer at the funeral of Winchester farmer Hans HÄUSSLER on 7 July 1931 at the Winchester Cemetery [4]
Attended the funeral of "Father of Carnamah" Donald MACPHERSON at the Winchester Cemetery on 14 August 1931 [4: 22-Aug-1931]
By 1931 had increased his farm to 2018 acres with the acquisition of Lots M1461 and M1529 of Victoria Location 1936 [3]
Pallbearer at the funeral of Carnamah Road Board chairman Richard ROBERTSON at the Winchester Cemetery on 9 July 1932 [5]
By 1932 he owned a shed at 16 Boojerabba Street in the Carnamah townsite (after a street name change was 16 Robertson Street) [3]
     Had purchased the shed from D. Standish O'GRADY who'd advertised it for sale in 1930 for £120 cash [3] [4: 8-Mar-1930, 29-Mar-1930]
     In rate books the block was listed as a laundry until 1938 and then as a shed from 1939 until 1949 [3]
     Sold his shed at 16 Robertson Street in the Carnamah townsite to Charles J. DALLIMORE in February 1949 [3]
In 1932 purchased a Chevrolet Tourer car from local salesman Robert MACKIE [5: 26-Aug-1932]
Made a donation to the Carnamah branch of the Country Women's Association in 1932 to help them purchase premises [5: 29-Jul-1932]
In July 1932 wrote a letter to the Carnamah-Three Springs Times urging younger men to join the Wheatgrowers Union [5: 15-Jul-1932]
Pallbearer at the funeral of ten year old Charles Godfrey TURNER on 13 August 1932 at the Winchester Cemetery [4]
Made a donation of 2/9 to the Carnamah District Agricultural Society in 1932 [13]
Later in 1932 his Chevrolet car was recorded as containing local license plate CA-101 [4: 12-Nov-1932]
He was said to have been "secretary and organiser of most of the live public bodies in the Carnamah district" in 1932 [5: 5-Aug-1932]
In early August 1932 a nail penetrated his foot necessitating medical attention at the Carnamah Private Hospital [5: 5-Aug-1932]
Won 2nd prize for Brown Hen Eggs at the first Coorow-Waddy Agricultural Show on Thursday 8 September 1932 [5: 16-Sep-1932]
Also exhibited in the Carnamah District Agricultural Society's Annual Show on Thursday 15 September 1932 [5: 23-Sep-1932]
     Won 1st prize for a Border Leicester Ram and 2nd prize for Three Merino Lambs in the Sheep section [5]
     Awarded 1st prize for male and 2nd prize for female White Leghorns in the Poultry section [5]
     Won 1st prize for White Hens Eggs and both 1st and 2nd prizes for Brown Hen Eggs in the Dairy Produce section [5]
Won 2nd prizes for both Brown and White Hen Eggs at the Three Springs Agricultural Show on 22 September 1932 [5: 30-Sep-1932]
Attended the meeting of wheatgrowers on the Wheat Hold-up issue at the Carnamah Hall on Sunday 4 December 1932 [5: 9-Dec-1932]
On 9 February 1933 attended the meeting in Carnamah at which Federal Member A. E. GREEN, M.H.R. was entertained [5: 17-Feb-1933]
Put a notice in the local newspaper on 14 July 1933 requesting the return of his Horse Gag and Tooth Rasp [5: 14-Jul-1933]
Pallbearer at the funeral of Robert Clark FORRESTER at the Winchester Cemetery on 18 September 1933 [5: 22-Sep-1933]
Exhibited in the Sheep and Poultry of the Carnamah Agricultural Show at Centenary Park on 14 September 1933 [5: 22-Sep-1933]
     Won 1st prizes for a Border Leicester Ram and Two 2-tooth North Midlands bred Ewes by farmer with less than 1000 sheep [5]
     Received 1st prizes for female Rhode Island Red and female White Leghorn and 1st and 2nd prizes for Brown Hen Eggs [5]
In October 1933 sold seven bales of wool through Westralian Farmers Ltd at 14½d. per pound [5: 13-Oct-1933]
Himself and his wife were thrown a public Farewell Social at the Carnamah Hall on Saturday 27 January 1934 [5: 26-Jan-1934, 2-Feb-1934]
At their farewell he was presented with a gold watch from the residents of the district and a barometer from the Agricultural Society [5]
They shifted from Kilburn Farm in Carnamah to a small property at Bluff Point in Geraldton in early February 1934 [5: 19-Jan-1934] [P95]
Poultry Farmer at Bluff Point in Geraldton 1934-1940 and then shifted to Perth [P95]
Sent a letter on union matters the North Midlands Zone Council of the Wheatgrowers Union in August 1934 [5: 24-Aug-1934]
From his Carnamah farm sold nine bales of wool at 14½d. and two bales at 13¾d. per pound on Monday 7 October 1935 [5: 11-Oct-1935]
In late October 1935 sold from his farm in Carnamah a cow for £3/7/6, a steer for £2/2/6, and two calves at 12/6 per head [5: 1-Nov-1935]
Financial Member of the Carnamah District Agricultural Society in 1937; donated £1.1.0 cash to the Society in 1939 [13]
During the 1937-38 financial year purchased Samuel E. BROAD's 891 acre farm in Carnamah (Victoria Location 7186) [3]
His farmland in Carnamah was managed by his son Frank from 1934 to 1945 [P94], and was then leased to William A. TURNER [60]
Through Westralian Farmers sold 28 lambs for 15/1 each and 8 lambs for 11/10 each at the Midland Market in July 1935 [5: 26-Jul-1935]
Sent a floral tribute for the grave of Miss "May" Mary L. LANG at the Winchester Cemetery on 26 November 1935 [5: 29-Nov-1935]
Sold 12 ewes at 18/7, 19 lambs at 17/4, 7 lambs at 16/10 and 1 sucker for 8/- from his farm in Carnamah in August 1936 [5: 14-Aug-1936]
In January 1937 sold 15 hoggets at 10/10, 11 lambs at 10/7, and 15 ewes at 9/1 from his farm in Carnamah [5: 22-Jan-1937]
Resided in the Perth suburbs of City Beach 1940-1964 and Melville in 1964 [P95]
On 10 June 1947 sold his 2,909 acres of farmland in Carnamah, Kilburn and Kapella Farms, to William A. TURNER [3]
Father of Madge, Frank, Pat, Gerard (died 1912) and Sheila [P95]
Died 14 August 1964; buried Fremantle Cemetery, Perth suburb of Palmyra (Roman Catholic, C3, 502) [2]


From the Progress Report of the Royal Commission on the
               Agricultural Industries of Western Australia on the Wheat-Growing Portion of the South-West Division of the State
:
Wednesday 6 June 1917 at Carnamah
"JOHN SNOWDEN ROOKE, Farmer, Carnamah, sworn and examined: I am one of the Midland holders. I had previous experience of farming in England. My blocks are 956 and 957 with a total area of 855 acres, of which 550 is cleared. The price of one block was £4 17s. 6d. and of the other £4 19s. 6d., although in the red book which the Company issues they are marked each £4 10s. I discovered this only a week ago. I intend to apply for a reduction. The land is good but the price if out of the questions as compared with the Government land which, after all, is just as good. Of my land 75 per cent is first class. The extension of the period of payments would be an immediate relief, but it would amount to the same in the end. In my first year I got between 16 or 17 bushels and last year I got nearly 12 bushels. I have no fallow as yet. The Company advises us to crop all of it for the first few years because they say 'your payments will be heavy for a start;' they say the land will bear cropping four years. Next year I shall fallow because we must begin to carry some stock, without which the position is hopeless. I am not impressed by the outlook. We are fighting the Company all we can. We must have a re-valuation if we are to remain in the district. I like the country and the life but the land is valued altogether too highly. The land will not give higher than 12 bushels until it is properly sweetened which will take 10 years. Our payments are heavy. 35s. an acre should cover all improvements, which means we are paying £3 per acre for virgin land. It cannot be done by wheat-growing alone."


From The Western Mail newspaper, Thursday 9 January 1930:
Country Towns and Districts - Carnamah's Advancement
"One of the most assiduous public workers in the district is Mr. J. S. Rooke, who has been in the district since 1915. He is secretary of the Agricultural Society, while his eldest son, Mr. F. Rooke, is the assistant secretary. The society is on a sound footing, and last year horse and cattle classes were included in the show. The outlook for the show as a sheep exhibition is very promising. Mr. Rooke is also secretary of the Ratepayers' and Citizens' Association. He named his block of 850 acres, which he had acquired under the Midland Railway Company's improved farm scheme, Kilburn, after his native village in Yorkshire. In England he had been engaged in commercial life. Mr. Rooke has since increased the size of his farm to 2,400 acres. This season he cropped 400 acres, mostly on fallow, which it was hoped, would average 15 bushels. The property, at present, is carrying 800 sheep. Mr. Rooke firmly believes that the horse will come into its own again for agricultural work, and considers that the reliance placed on tractors three years ago is not now existent."


From The Carnamah-Three Springs Times and Arrino Advertiser newspaper, Friday 5 August 1932:
"Mr. J. S. Rooke, the energetic secretary and organiser of most of the live public bodies in the Carnamah district had the misfortune to have a nail penetrate his foot, necessitating his attendance at the Carnamah Hospital. It is hoped that such a well known and popular figure will not long be absent from the town, as the show and other events that have his enthusiastic guidance will miss him"


Reference:  Carnamah Historical Society & Museum and North Midlands Project, 'John Snowden Rooke' in Biographical Dictionary of Coorow, Carnamah and Three Springs, retrieved 19 October 2017 from www.carnamah.com.au  [ sources ]




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