A Local and Family History Site - New South Wales, Australia
Tahmoor New South Wales
Prior to the official naming of Tahmoor in 1916, the area was generally known as Myrtle Creek or Bargo and for a short time Cordeaux . Before colonial settlement, Tahmoor was part of the lands occupied by the Gundungorra people, evidence of their ownership remaining along the various creeks in the locality.
Surveys for settlement were not carried out until 1821, Tahmoor being part of the Cowpastures which until that time, was proclaimed out of bounds to protect the wild cattle, the progeny of the two bulls and four cows which had escaped from the infant colony in 1788.
The first land grants were small, ranging between 30 and 80 acres with the rear boundaries being either Myrtle Creek or the Bargo River, the recipients being mainly ex convicts and their families who endeavoured to survive off their small grants by growing maize, wheat and corn. Within 15 years the majority had sold their land and moved away, their holdings eventually being consolidated into one property which became known locally as the Myrtle Creek Estate.
By 1841, there were 43 people living at Myrtle Creek within the four households of James Crispe, James Connor, Joseph Howard and Josiah Bent. James Crispes household accounted for 24 residents, 20 of whom were employed on his property which included the local Inn. The Electoral Roll of 1859-60 shows only nine residents and their families living at Myrtle Creek. This of course could be misleading as to the actual number resident in the area as only landholders were at that time entitled to vote and thus appear on the Electoral Roll . It is also difficult to distinguish some of those who gave their address as Bargo who lived in what we would now consider Tahmoor from those residing in the Bargo area of today.
The railway was extended from Picton to Mittagong in 1867, the line being laid through nearby Thirlmere, some three kilometres away. The effect of the railway was to cause the closure of the then two inns as the number of travellers on the Great South Road decreased.
From the 1860s settlement expanded with land being acquired through conditional purchase. John Ashcraft farmed land which today would include Remembrance Drive from Bronzewing Street to Thirlmere Way back to Fraser Street. In the early years he referred to his property as Tahmoor Farm and in the 1890s as Jericho. Johannes Knauer purchased land at the end of what is now River Road and established a successful vineyard for which he received a Commended Award from the Department of Agriculture in 1890.
While travellers were fewer, the population of the area was obviously growing as the first government school opened in 1872 with an enrolment of 21. It was noted at the time however that the residents were tenant farmers, in poor circumstances, only three holding their properties freehold. The children came from the families of John Ashcraft, William Whitfield, Joseph Ratcliff, Angus McInnes, T W Bollard, J. Wells, Francis Dietrich and William Shoobridge.
This school was opened under the name Bargo (present day Bargo being referred to as Bargo West) but at the same time the locality was still called Myrtle Creek. The school closed for a short period in 1883 and re-opened later that year as Myrtle Creek. The application to re-open the school shows there were six families within a two mile radius of the proposed school with a combined number of 27 children of school age comprised in the families of Angus McInnes, W J J Whitfield, J R Fowler, John Mann, William Mann and Joseph Mann.
Over the following nine years, the population increased and resulted in 25 residents petitioning for the opening of a post office. The population at large was obviously in some doubt as to the name of the locality. Despite the school bearing the name Myrtle Creek for nine years, the petition was from the residents of West Bargo - Picton and Bargo Postmasters referred to it as Bargo Road and West Bargo respectively while the Thirlmere Postmaster seemed the only person to realise the true situation when he declared it has no definite name A Receiving Office under the name West Bargo was established in September 1892.
The quest for an identity continued in 1894 when a local resident suggested to the Postal Department that the name Couridjah be adopted as it was a native name and also the name of the Parish. This was and still is the name of a neighbouring settlement and was rejected for this reason. Perhaps the resident thought the two areas should combine. In rejecting Couridjah, the Department of Lands suggested the name Cordeaux, the reasoning being that The Bargo Rivulet joins the Cordeaux River in this locality The name Cordeaux was duly adopted. Modern day maps show the Nepean joins the Bargo River but at that time, it was considered to be the Cordeaux.
References:LTO of NSW, Primary Application No. 22739. AONSW, Census Returns 1841. Knox. F.B., "Short History of Tahmoor" unpublished and Picton Post & Advocate, 4 May 1898. Original Certificate held by Picton & District Historical & Family History Society donated by F B Knox.. AONSW. Council of Education 1866-1880, 1/735, Bargo. AONSW. Department of Education File, Myrtle Creek, 5/17042.1.3. Fairfax. M. It has no definite name...A Postal History of Tahmoor 1892-1917. Picton NSW, 1991, p.1.