Other Woodfords

Woodford Historical Society, Queensland, Australia

Not only have I been in contact with Woodford Historical Society in Queensland but indirectly with the proprietor of a bar in Queensland!  More of that later.

My contact at the Oz WHS is Shirley Wallis, the Secretary.  She tells me that their weather is starting to warm up. Summer’s coming and fast!  They have had their first storms of the season.

Shirley writes:  “Our town was not named for “Woodford” in U.K. as were others in Australia.  A part owner of “Durundur Station” Mr Henry C Wood built a crossing over the Stanley River in the 1850’s and it was called Wood’s Ford. This is where a small township was established.  A police station, with horse paddock, a Post Office etc were built, mostly from the beautiful local timber.  However after the Big Flood of 1893 the locals in their wisdom decided to relocate their township to the higher ground of its present location.

When the Railway came through, the township was renamed Woodford. Perhaps the rail people couldn’t do apostrophes??

We still have floods but although our town gets cut in half by rising water, there is no damage to property. I think that was very good thinking by our forebears.”

On Friday I was part of a group who travelled by Community bus to Redcliffe, which is the centre of our Moreton Bay Regional Council. We were treated to a tour of the Cultural Centre, which is happily proclaiming its 30th Birthday year.  This seems such a short time in relation to your wonderful theatres etc.”

Shirley also tells me that we are not alone in suffering occasional (VERY occasional) problems with technology.

Now, back to the proprietor of the bar in Queensland.  The Proprietor’s name is ‘Willow.’  The first item to appear when “Googling” the Woodford, Queensland locale was of what seemed to be a real life glimpse of  “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” which starred Jason Donovan in the UK.  The article was about the launch of the ‘Braisen Hussy’ with a Moulin Rouge themed party and a double decker bus.  My tongue in cheek comments were passed to Willow but to date I have not received an invitation or a case of Fosters:

A Braisen Hussy rides a double decker bus!   18 Sep 2012

After 8 months of trading, newest cafe on the block – Braisen Hussy, prepares for it’s inaugural launch party! A Moulin Rouge themed launch party is brewing in Woodford, and along with that comes some crazy adventures…

  Did we mention the double decker bus?Discretely, last Thursday evening, a 1949 Leyland Double Decker bus set sail down Archer Street after many years of being parked in the back yard of it’s previous owners.Now, the double decker bus is gaining a new life!

However discretely we tried to be, onlookers couldn’t help but wave

 

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Woodford County, Illinois

I am in contact with ‘folks’ in another Woodford which has a rich botanical heritage – Woodford County, Illinois.  The following text was taken from a history of that County which was published in 1877.  The spelling is therefore ‘Americanised’!!!

 

“Woodford County is, very irregular in its boundaries, and the calculation of its area is somewhat difficult, but it contains not far from five hundred and fifty square miles. I have, with much care, calculated the geometric center of the county and find it to be somewhere in the northeast quarter of section twenty-two, in Roanoke township. The greater part of the county is prairie, the timber being confined chiefly to the bluffs and bottoms along water-courses. Much of the original timber has been cut away, but compensation has partly been made for this by the planting of groves and orchards upon the prairies. The favorite trees for these groves are black walnut and maple. Black locust promised much at one time, because of its rapid growth and excellent and durable wood, but about twenty years ago it was attacked by borers so vigorously that all the groves have been destroyed or rendered useless. The timber is found chiefly in the southern and western portions, along the Mackinaw and Illinois rivers and their tributaries. The other portions of the county are not only destitute of forests, but also of any considerable streams. Water for stock is usually obtained from wells, and can generally be secured at a depth varying from twenty to fifty feet, and for a few years past pumping by wind power has been becoming more and more general. Many valuable sorts of timber are natives of the county. Black, white, red and burr oaks are common ; some black hickory and considerable white hickory. The black walnut and the wild cherry furnish very beautiful cabinet wood, which for beauty of marking, and fineness and richness of luster are excelled by nothing I have ever seen in our modern furniture warehouses ; the sugar maple also furnishes a hard, durable and beautiful cabinet wood, as well as the ash, both of which are found in our forests. Red and white elms are common. Among other varieties may be mentioned cotton-wood, sycamore, mulberry, red-bud, crab-apple, plum, willow, hack-berry, sumac, hazel, dog-wood, elder, prickly-ash, &c. But the greater part of ihe county is prairie, arid when first settled was destitute of trees or shrubs, and was entirely occupied by herbaceous vegetation. The chief part of this was grass, of a coarse sort, which went under the common names of prairie grass and slough grass. These were of vigorous growths, the culms, or flowering stalks, sometimes growing as high as seven or eight feet, and afforded excellent pasturage. There can be but little doubt that these natural pastures in Woodford County supported herds of bison, deer and other animals for centuries, nor are evidences lacking that our vast western prairies were inhabited by civilized people long before history began to be written. The grasses which grew in the sloughs and along the margins of the ponds were coarser and taller than those which grew on the uplands, and both localities were occupied by several varieties. There is very little of these native grasses now to be found in the county, and it is probable that the soil, having been cultivated, is rendered unfit for their production. The broad prairies were thickly interspersed with bright flowers, nodding their gay heads in the wind, as far as the eye could reach. Chief among these were those of the helianthus, or sunflower family. Flowers of this sort had a dark central head, surrounded by spreading rays of yellow or purple leaves, and were of many varieties. The ponds and sloughs were gorgeous with beautiful bright colored lilies, and many other species of wild flowers aided in ornamenting nature’s broad flower garden the prairies. The burning of the prairies in the fall exposed the farms of the early settlers to much danger, and sometimes rendered travel dangerous if the wind was high. The tall, rank grass would be killed by the sharp frosts, and in a few days become dry and combustible. In a strong wind a billow of fire would sweep over the plain and lick up this grass with the speed of a race horse.  Those who crossed wide prairies at such times of year usually carried some means of lighting a fire, and in case of need the grass was fired and a space soon burnt, which afforded a safe retreat from the approaching danger. Matches would have been a great boon, but there were no matches in those days. The early settlers were compelled to keep fire, or depend upon the somewhat uncertain supply of flint and tow. It was sometimes found necessary to send to a neighbor’s and ” borrow fire.” The farmers would usually select some calm day, as soon as the grass would burn, and fire a strip about their fields, on the sides from which danger might be apprehended. Several neighbors would collect together, and all except one would be well armed with bundles of brush. The unarmed one would kindle a fire a few yards from the fence, and by means of brands conduct it in a line parallel with the fence. The men and boys with the brashes would arrange themselves close on either side of the fire line, and as soon as the burnt strip was wide enough to preclude all danger of being crossed by a fire coming in from the prairie, would whip out the flames, thus leaving a broad, black strip around the field. If this precaution was neglected the settler often paid pretty dearly for his carelessness. Many among us still remember the midnight alarm of the prairie on fire, and being hurried out of a comfortable nap to fight the destroying fiend. A praire-fire at night is a beautiful and fearful sight, and the roar of the flames may sometimes be heard for several miles- 

These are things of the past now, but it is well for our children to know the dangers and hardships through which their present comforts and conveniences have been brought to them.”