Jonathon Prior 1838 - 1912

Jonathon, Sarah and Son, William Henry PriorThe seventh child of Thomas and Catherine, Jonathan arrived in South Australia in 3 June 1848 with his parents. He was nine years old. He went with his parents to Burra where his elder brothers William and James were living.

His marriage to Sarah Ann Wyatt was solemnized at Kapunda on 30 July 1859, following which the young couple farmed land in the Marrabel district. Jonathan also conducted a butchery in Marrabel in partnership with a Mr. McDougall. This was Marrabel's-first butcher shop and it is thought that Mr. McDougall managed the shop while Jonathan provided much of the livestock from the family property.

On 30 November 1871 Jonathan purchased sections 58 and 132 Hundred of Booyoolie when this area was opened up for closer settlement. The price of the 533 acres (215 hectares) was £1666.

Jonathan and Sarah, with their three children Thomas, Elizabeth and William, then moved to Gladstone making this their new home for many years to come. The newcomers built their new home on a limestone rise of their newly-purchased land thus ensuring excellent drainage. The experience of the sticky mud of Marrabel winters had left Jonathan and Sarah wary of low-lying building sites.

Jonathan was an innovative farmer, a characteristic inherited by his sons. His early use of super-phosphate hastened its widespread use in the Gladstone district.

Sarah Anne PriorHe was not skilled in farming alone. In 1876 he built the first store in what is now the main street of Gladstone, leasing it to A.C. Catt and Sons on completion. His principal reason for providing the store lay in the lack of supplies available at Gladstone at the time. The nearest stores were at Georgetown, some eleven kilometres (seven miles) south of Gladstone, and the carting of supplies to the new farmhouse had become an arduous and time-consuming task. (This store is still standing and at present is used as a storeroom by the neighbouring garage.)

During the 1890s Jonathan had a severe illness which left him physically impaired and much of his correspondence was done by his son Thomas.

In 1909-10 he had a home built in Laura to where he and Sarah retired for the last two years of his life. Jonathan died on 10 April 1912 and was buried in the Laura cemetery.

On Jonathan's death Sarah returned to the farm where she lived with her son Thomas. During the latter years of her life she was confined to a wheelchair and had a full-time nurse to look after her. (Although only two years old at the time, I can remember being nursed by Great-Grandmother as she was wheeled about the house.) The Laura house was sold to the Methodist Church, which used it for its manse until the 1970's.

Sarah died on 2 June 1923 and was buried alongside Jonathan.

Jonathan and Sarah had three children: Thomas, Elizabeth and William. Another daughter, Elizabeth, was born before Thomas, but she lived for only four months. Frances died on 2 April 1869 aged two months. It is believed that there were at least three other children stillborn.


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