The Old Homestead

We don’t really have a house in our family that qualifies for “The Old Homestead”.

However, as  soon as I read the challenge title, I knew I wanted to write about Kanyaka Homestead.

I have had a fascination with the Kanyaka ruins in South Australia since visiting in 2003. Exploring the ruins of an 1850’s homestead which was located 400 kilometres from Adelaide raised many questions for me, and I imagined the harshness of such a remote life for the men , women and children who worked on this property. Many of the workers were fresh out from England, and mid-summer in the semi-desert conditions in that era would have been a difficult challenge to adapt to.

Little did I know then that I had a connection to this place, albeit a brief and tenuous one.

The property was first settled by Hugh Proby , son of an English Earl. Given the very dry country, it was both tragic and ironic that Hugh was caught in flash flooding and drowned in the Willochra Creek in August, 1852. The station was next owned by Alexander, Frederick and James Grant. James was lost in the bush on his way to Kanyaka and not found for 12 months.

Under several owners, the sheep station grew to include many cottages for workers, workshops, huts and sheds. The building material was mostly stone, due to a lack of local timbers. At its peak, Kanyaka Station employed as many as seventy families, with many children being born here in its boom-times. In 1864, approximately 41,000 sheep were shorn , but this year was quickly followed by a severe drought which lasted until 1867. With half the sheep lost, the number of workers reduced to 15 single men, and eventually the station was abandoned.

Septimus Sheen, a blacksmith and his wife Rebecca had emigrated to South Australia between July 1862 when their marriage was recorded in Monmouthshire, Wales  and April 1865, with their first son David’s death aged 13 months recorded in Blinman, 140kms north of Kanyaka.


Their second son, Thomas, was born in the middle of summer in 1866 at Kanyaka. The family is next recorded in New Zealand in 1869 at the birth of their daughter, Catherine . A further 4 children were born to this couple, including twins Rebecca and Septimus in March of 1872.

Septimus died in Featherston in 1878, and his widow Rebecca remarried the next year to a widower, David Cadenhead, my great, great, great grandfather.

David  Cadenhead and his first wife Mary were the parents of Helen Inverdale Cadenhead.

Helen married John Crawley and they became parents of Muriel.

Muriel Crawley married Francis Roydhouse and they became my great grandparents.

Author: gorcat28

writing up my ancestors one week at a time

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