Gat­ton farewells a true lo­cal

Dairy farmer, his­to­rian and fam­ily man “I’m not a col­lec­tor of his­tory, I’m a re­tainer of his­tory.”

Gatton Star - - LIFE -

RALEIGH James Davey was a true Gat­ton lo­cal, who lived in the same house on the same prop­erty for more than 90 years.

He was born in Gat­ton in July 1924, the only child of John Charles and Eve­lyn May Davey.

His dairy farmer fa­ther pur­chased Abbeystead in 1920 with a five pound de­posit and new bride in tow.

The Great De­pres­sion be­gan when Raleigh was five, he saw swag­men camp­ing un­der the bridge and jump­ing onto the goods train that left Gat­ton sta­tion in the af­ter­noon.

He at­tended the lo­cal state school lo­cated along the creek and de­vel­oped a love for wood­work dur­ing his school years.

His hand­i­work built many items for the farm in­clud­ing 20 roof tops sheds, gate hur­dles, a yard for block­ing cat­tle and house­hold fur­ni­ture in­clud­ing a grand­fa­ther’s clock.

With the help of con­tract labour, Raleigh also built the large shed to store lucerne hay.

Raleigh worked along­side his fa­ther on the farm and milked cows each morn­ing by hand.

The milk­ing shed was ac­claimed by the Depart­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries to be the old­est in Aus­tralia but was sadly blown down by a pow­er­ful storm in Jan­uary 2014.

Raleigh joined the In­de­pen­dent Or­der of Rech­abites and at one of its func­tions met Myra Dom­jahn. They wed on Novem­ber 1, 1958, and made Abbeystead their home. They were blessed with six chil­dren – Joy, Jan, Beth, Kathryn, David and Jonathan.

Be­fore elec­tronic record­ing, Raleigh would help the flood record­ing of­fi­cer, who was also the sergeant of police.

Weather Bureau staff painted a gauge on a rail­way bridge py­lon.

The flood gauge was eas­ily ob­served from the farm and Raleigh would phone the sergeant with flood lev­els.

Raleigh was a pro­lific let­ter writer to the edi­tor of the Gat­ton Star and the Gat­ton Shire Coun­cil.

He would write: “It is not my de­sire or na­ture to pass com­ments or judge­ment of any un­kind na­ture” be­fore he ex­pressed his con­cerns.

Is­sues in­cluded the ne­glect of Dav­eys Bridge and veg­e­ta­tion growth along­side the road and Lock­yer Creek as it passed his farm.

Raleigh val­ued his creek bank and used the chip­ping hoe to keep the weeds, prickly pear and lan­tana from get­ting a hold on the creek bank and gul­lies.

He was proud of his fa­ther and rem­i­nisced of their farm­ing days to­gether, how his fa­ther was well known for his Jersey Stud cat­tle and ex­hibit­ing at the Bris­bane Ex­hi­bi­tion and Lai­d­ley and Gat­ton shows.

Raleigh would say: “I’m not a col­lec­tor of his­tory, I’m a re­tainer of his­tory”.

He kept his old Chevy ute, the milk­ing shed, the old dairy, old Fer­gu­son trac­tors, and farm­ing equip­ment.

He was foun­da­tion and life mem­ber of the Gat­ton His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety.

Af­ter a fall in 2014, Raleigh’s mo­bil­ity de­clined and he went to Bris­bane to live with his daugh­ter Joy and her fam­ily.

Joy would bring Raleigh back to Gat­ton reg­u­larly for day trips and Raleigh’s sons David and Jonathan looked af­ter him at Abbeystead.

Even then Raleigh was full of sug­ges­tions for the farm.

He wanted to live to see a cen­tury of Davey own­er­ship of Abbeystead but sadly he passed away on March 16.

PHOTO: TOM THREADINGH­AM

HIS STORY: Raleigh Davey had a wealth of knowl­edge on early his­tory of the re­gion and Gat­ton.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

Raleigh Davey on his farm near the hay shed.

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