Tales from Baker’s Flat, I

Searching through old newspapers on the National Library of Australia’s Trove, I’ve found a number of stories, some comical, some sad, relating to the residents of Baker’s Flat.

A story from August 1868 is headlined as A Midnight Adventure. It concerns two characters, Mr and Mrs JP Moyle of Kapunda, sleeping peacefully on a Saturday night. And one rather drunk man from Baker’s Flat.

It appears that Mr Moyle was woken in the early hours by a noise in the kitchen. On investigating, he found our drunk Baker’s Flat resident surveying the kitchen by candlelight. After questioning the intruder, who told him he’d been there for two hours, Mr Moyle shoved him out the door and went back to bed.

And then, as the newspaper reported:

‘On Sunday morning Mrs Moyle went to the safe to look up the eatables wherewith to garnish the breakfast-table, when lo! many of the viands were rendered conspicuous by their absence; a nice piece of spare rib of home-fed pork, weighing about four pounds, was looked for in vain, until at length a solution as to the manner of its disappearance was furnished by sundry bones being found on the floor. It was at once apparent that the nocturnal visitor had been looking after the victualling department during the two hours’ sojourn in the land of plenty, and had demolished the joint of pork by way of an early breakfast; half a large cake had been similarly disposed of and butter had been woefully decreased, in quality as well as quantity, for, no knife being at hand, the hungry guest had mauled out the necessary garnishing of butter with his open hand, the traces of his dirty fingers being plainly visible in the unconsumed portion. Actuated, doubtless, by a desire to be up betimes on the following morning, the solids had been washed down by a bottle of yeast which had been left in the safe. During the course of Sunday Mr Moyle met his visitor and wife, the latter of whom was complaining that they were nearly starving – the truth of which assertion, however, Mr Moyle disputed, so far as the head of the family was concerned, remarking that he, at all events, had laid in stock to last for some considerable time. The man, however, had quite forgotten the incident. It was extremely fortunate for him that he had made his way into a house where he was known, or his faculty for constituting himself a temporary member of the family might have led to his domestication in one of Her Majesty’s establishments where the hours kept are regular, the work constant and the diet light.’

The full story is available in the South Australian Register of 31 August 1868.

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6 Responses to Tales from Baker’s Flat, I

  1. Leoni says:

    Hi Susan This J P Moyle is my 3x Great Uncle and owned a shoe store in the Main St in Kapuna. It was called “The Old Establishment Shoe Mart” boot & shoe warehouse Kapunda. He and his wife Elizabeth would not have been too short of food I imagine, so this fellow would have thought he’d struck gold ! haha Great Story, thanks. Cheers Leoni

    • sarthure says:

      That’s really interesting Leoni, it’s good to be able to see the connections between people.

  2. Graeme Oats says:

    JP Moyle was the father in law of William Oats of Kapunda. William is my great-great grand father. His son – WJM Oats, his son OP Oats, his son DB Oats – the latter being my father

  3. sarthure says:

    Thanks Graeme. Was this the Oats family that had a shoe/boot factory or shop at Kapunda?

  4. Graeme Oats says:

    Yes, the history of the boot makers shop as I understand it is as follows: Mr JP Moyle opened the shop about mid 1850’s, his daughter Elizabeth Jane married William Oats in 1857 (he had arrived in Kapunda from Cornwall in 1855) William joined JPM at the shop. JPM died in 1880 and William carried on the business until he died in 1903. Their sons William John Moyle Oats and Sydney Albert Boriston Oats continued in the business, but SAB Oats was a photographer and used the premises for his business also. WJM died at Kapunda in 1948, SAB died at Kapunda in 1936.
    Are you able to give me a contact for Leoni (27 Jul 2013)? I would like to make contact with her to establish her relationship with me – if any!
    Thanks Graeme

  5. sarthure says:

    Graeme, I’ll just check with Leoni and then email you offline. Great info re the Oats family. I’ve seen some of SAB Oats’ photographs in the Art Gallery of SA collection, he seems to have been very prolific!

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