Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Hawkesbury Cornstalks - Trove Tuesday

Cornstalk was a term used in the early 1800s to describe an Australian born resident, in comparison to one that was born overseas.  It was often used to describe the physique particularly the young men born in the colony, who were recorded as being “taller and fairer than the European-born and had thus flourished like the Indian corn brought to Australia.” 

In 1831 the newspapers recorded that the Hawkesbury cornstalks were in regards to “size, strength and agility, the best in the colony.”

According to the The Australian 28 January 1831, p. 3 located on Trove  lists thirty-two cornstalks from the Hawkesbury district that all stood over 1.83m (6 feet) and up to 1.92m (6’3½”). Among the number was Jack Kable, the Hawkesbury born son of First Fleet convicts Henry & Susannah Kable. Jack was a champion boxer of his time, and stood 6’ 3½”

The Australian 28 January 1831, p. 3

Some of the names included are Gaudry, Dargin, Wiseman, Merrick, Howe, Dight, Rose, Turnbull, Stubbs, Cobcroft, Bailey and Farlow.

“It is remarkable that the Hawkesbury lads are for the most part, the leaders among the Australian youths. The following 'little boys,' as their mothers call them, would form a strong match at a trial of strength, if opposed to an equal number of lads from any other district.” 

The young men often stood six feet six inches high.The writer stated "We hope they nourish in their hearts that love of country, and that spirit of independence becoming their superior physical strength. Some hundred others may be enumerated.”

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