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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Thomas Jones (Snr)

Born: 1812; Died: 1888; Married: Isabella Donaldson

Thomas Jones (Snr) was born in Westminster in 1812, and transported in 1832 on the Portland, for stealing metal. He was assigned to work in the County of Murray and apart from a few years at Sydney and Brisbane Water, spent most of his life in the Ginninderra district. Getting his Ticket of Leave in 1836, he was granted a Certificate of Freedom in 1840. In 1847, a 'sawyer' of the Parish of Cavan, he married Isabella Donaldson of Yass – daughter of Scottish migrants James and Margaret Donaldson [nee Grant]. By 1850 the family has moved to Ginninderra, for this was where second child James was born. According to Shumack, Thomas built one of the first fences on the Ginninderra Estate, at Emu Bank:

"About 1825 [must have been in the 1830's - ed] Thomas Jones saw the Limestone Plains for the first time. He and his mate were employed building huts for the settlers and he claimed to be the first man to erect a fence on the Ginninderra estate. This was the first fence erected in County Murray; and when we went to Emu Bank in 1858 it was in a perfect state of preservation despite the [thirty-three?] years since its erection. It was a three-rail fence and passed within 300 yards of our house [the Emu Bank outstation].

In the early forties Jones married Isabella Donaldson [1847], and after a couple of years' employment near Sydney he moved to Brisbane Water, near Gosford, where he and his mate, William Maitland, commenced business as sawyers. For a time they prospered - drink was their downfall. They returned to Ginninderra about 1862 and were employed by William Davis. Thomas Jones ..................built many huts in the Canberra district on a framework of forks and poles with sod walls. A few years later slab and bark structures ousted the sod buildings, although I have seen sod chimneys constructed as late as 1862. The slab and bark structures became obsolete in the eighties." [Shumack. p. 87]

After returning from Brisbane Water he selected land near Oak Hill and built his home there. His selection was Portion 180, Parish of Goorooyarroo, and is dated 28 January 1875. He erected a slab home on this forty acre block at the head of Rocky Gully on Oak Hill - a short distance from Mulligans Flat.It had an outdoor oven and a well nearby. It is speculated that he chose to live near Rocky Gully because there were many large yellow box and string bark trees in the area.Thomasa and his sons were well known as good buch tradesmen and they undertook work for many of the early settler

In 1875 he was paid ₤278/9/0 for timber, shingles and laths used for building work at St John's Parsonage – a substantial contract at that time. According to the Queanbeyan Age he also worked on the church: "Mr Jones, who was a sawyer, split the old shingles for the roof of St John the Baptist Church and also assisted in putting the shingles on. [Queanbeyan Age 7.1.1938]

Thomas died in 188 aged seventy five and was buried at The Glebe, St Paul's, witnesses being his son William Henry Jones and John Southwell. A street in the nearby suburb of Weetangera - Jones Place - has been named after him, commemorating Thomas as one of the pioneers of the Canberra district. (William Henry was to marry John Southwell's daughter, Eva Annie Southwell, a few years later (1893)). Isabella out-lived Thomas by twenty-three years before she passed away in 1911. Their children were:

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