Our members are participating in the A-Z Blogging Challenge for 2018 with the theme People of My Place. Today's entry is from Janice Cooper.
William Young Sing was one of the original town businessmen in my place, Alpha-Jericho. He was one of several publicans who moved west as the central western Queensland railway line was constructed during the 1880s.
His death certificate indicates that William Young Sing was born in Canton, China in about 1827. It is believed he arrived in Sydney, New South Wales in about 1856 and operated there as the merchant Yung Sing. He married Emma Mann in Sydney on the 10 February 18621. By 1867 with two daughters, the couple had moved to Queensland. My story of William Young Sing’s contribution to the Alpha-Jericho district begins about 28 August 1883 when he purchased a town allotment at the railway terminus at Pine Hill. He paid £48 for an allotment facing the railway line. On 20 November, he gave notice of his intention to apply for a Country Publican’s License [sic], indicating that he intended in keeping a ‘house and appurtenances’ as an inn or public-house.
The family became involved in social activities in Pine Hill with the older daughters dressing beautifully for a fancy dress ball in July 18842. However movement along the railway line continued, and the family moved on to Jericho in mid-1885, possibly about the time the new terminus opened there on 9 June.
William purchased an allotment in Jericho’s main street, which runs parallel to the railway line. The sale was held in Pine Hill on 26 May 1885, so he may not have yet visited his new home town. On 13 October he was granted a publican’s licence for his public house in Jericho, retaining the name ‘The Travellers’ Rest Hotel’, a name he had used for the 15 years he had already held a licence.
The hotel soon became a social centre for the population of railway construction workers and small business owners supporting them, as William Young Sing was granted permission to hold music and dancing on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in November and December 18853. The marriage of his eldest daughter Adeline Young Sing took place at her father’s residence on the Thursday 31 December 1885, no doubt an evening of family celebration.
William’s connections with his countrymen were strong and expressed in the local setting. Along with other Jericho residents, he signed a petition in support of Sing Noy’s request to retain the vegetable garden he had established at the next terminus for the line, Barcaldine. Many of those signing the petition would be aware that they may move to Barcaldine when it was established, and that fresh vegetables were important to their families.
Tragically, William Young Sing died on 6 June 1886 in Jericho and was buried in the Jericho Cemetery the same day. Four and a half years later, his body was exhumed under permit and according to cultural custom his bones returned to his ancestral homeland where he could lie in peace4.
Emma Young Sing applied for the Travellers’ Rest licence for the remainder of 1886 but soon after changed her business to a general store. The family business continued under the management of daughter Mabel, with associated saddlery and billiards room businesses operated by family members for many years.
Despite such a short time spent in my place, William Young Sing’s personal contribution was significant in several respects: as a founding business man, a family man whose descendants remained in the district and as a representative of the early Chinese diaspora in western Queensland. Details of his broader contributions as a Chinese-Australian lie beyond the scope of this mini biography.
1 Details of the life of William Young Sing have been researched and published in Conquest an inside story, 2013 by Claire Faulkner, ISBN 978-0646-58875-9. The date of his photograph is unknown; it is included in Conquest, p.33.
2 Western Champion, 11 July 1884, p.2.
3 Register depositions, Jericho 1885-1888, Item ID 296283, Series 9365, Queensland State Archives.
4 Colonial Secretary’s Correspondence, Letters 90.11717 and 90.12944, Item ID 847371, Queensland State Archives.