“Dawn in the Valley” Author Walter Allan Wood Research Papers

W. Allan Wood with his book Dawn in the Valley. (Courtesy of Lynne Meyers, grand daughter of Walter Allan Wood)

Walter Allan Wood was the author of Dawn in the Valley The Early History of the Hunter Valley Settlement, the seminal work on the history of the Hunter Valley published in 1972. In 2009 The University of Newcastle Archives in Cultural Collections took custody of Wood’s personal papers. It was a condition of Wood’s will that his collection would be accessible to University postgraduate students for possible future research. Wood was a very determined and generous man when it came to sharing knowledge with others.

In 2010, Newcastle Herald History Columnist Mike Scanlon wrote:

“When Dawn in the Valley was finally published Wood had rewritten his 165,000-word volume three times, and had spent 11 years writing it and commuting, delving into Sydney and Hunter Valley public library archives. He was at the time of publication, 77 years of age, and just prior to publication had twice revised the book, and the 700-page manuscript was typed afresh three times. Almost weekly for years he had travelled to Sydney’s Mitchell Library and other centres and compiled hundreds, if not thousands, of notes and cross references, in laborious longhand. The first draft of his manuscript, then double the length of an average novel, was produced after seven years and was typed up by a daughter. Rejection after rejection by publishers followed. Either the book, as a regional history text, was “too limited in appeal” or too costly to print. One early publisher approached would accept it only if it was cut by a third. His saviour finally came in the shape of Maitland City Council which had received a grant from the Cook Bicentenary fund. Some of the money went to help restore old Morpeth courthouse, while some funds helped finance Wood’s long-awaited book. On publication, Dawn in the Valley became an instant classic in the annals of local history.”

Please listen to the following oral history interview conducted by University Foundation student Mary Baker and recorded at Toronto Nursing Home on the 10 July 1987 with (Walter) Allan Wood, Historian and author of ‘Dawn in the Valley’. He explains how he became interested in the history of Hunter Valley from stories told to him by his mother who had grown up in Maitland District in the Hunter Region. Some of the stories were “remarkably accurate, and some were mistake, a bit confused”. He was inspired to write history because there was very little written about the valley, and “it was all blank, people knew nothing” and he had a desire to find the truth.
Direct link: https://livinghistories.newcastle.edu.au/nodes/view/74449

Dawn in the Valley by W. Allan Wood (Courtesy of the Photo Time Tunnel)


Donated by Rowena Scanlan (Daughter of the late June Vile, Great Niece of W. A. Wood) December 2009.

A6627 (i) [Typescript]  Dawn in the Valley  typescript manuscript of Chapters 13 ‘Trouble in the New Country’ to 21 ‘Manorial Merton’. [c.1970] [Original Folder label: Dawn in the Valley II]

A6627 (ii) [Typescript]  Dawn in the Valley  typescript manuscript of Chapters 22 ‘Farewell to Dalswinton’ to 31 ‘A Sowing of Thorns’ and Index [c.1970] [Original Folder label: Dawn in the Valley III]

A6627 (iii) [Typescript]  Dawn in the Valley  typescript manuscript of assorted unpublished, alternate chapters and parts including Chapter 28 ‘The Year of the Steam Engine’ labeled pages 524-525 [in published work pp275-276]; unpublished Chapter 27 ‘Molly Morgan’s Heir’ pp.562-579; alternate version Chapter 28 ‘A Sowing of Thorns’ pp. 580-600 [in published work Chapter 31].

A6627 (iv) Xerox copies of leaves 58- 60, 77-79, 88-90, 92, 97-98 from George Hobler Diaries 1834-1846. Mitchell Library CY Reel 259 C425;

A6627 (v) Xerox copies from published work  Larnach and His Castle  [Alfred Hamish Reed] [c1950s];

A6627 (vi) [Manuscript] “Address to Walcha Historical Society 1973” concerning the contribution of the Hunter Valley to the development of the New England district.  (17 leaves)

A6627 (vii) [Photographic reproduction or original correspondence] ( From Mitchell Library N.S.W. Governor’s Despatches Vol. 8 1826 A1197) No. 13 Sydney 3rd October 1826 Robert Scott J.P. & Alexander Macleod J.P. to The Hon. Alexander McLeay Colonial Secretary. Concerning the present hostilities existing between the Europeans and the Aborigines in the upper districts of the Hunter River. Keywords: Mudgee Natives, Wallombi (Wollombi) Natives, Mr Little, John McIntyre, Mr Greig, Mr Laycock, Dr Bowman, Newcastle Gaol,  James Chilcott, “Cato”, Mr Ogilvie, Mr Lethbridge, Mr Glennie. Photocopies relating to the Macleods of Arnisdale.

A6627 (viii) Correspondence between W.A Wood and Bob Cummins relating to bushranger Thunderbolt (Fred Ward), 1969-1973.

A6627 (ix) Correspondence between W.A Wood and Mrs Rina Rossall relating to Sir Francis Forbes, 1966-1967.

A6627 (x) Correspondence between W.A Wood and A.E. ‘Ocker’ Creelman relating to George Hobler of Aberglasslyn and the transcription of the Hobler Diaries, 1972-1981.

A6627 (xi) Correspondence between W.A Wood and Bruce Mitchell, President of the Armidale District Historical Society (1972-1973) and Correspondence between W.A Wood and Professor Russel Ward, Department of History UNE, 1969.

A6627 (xii) Correspondence between W.A Wood and Louise Tiffany Daley, 1969-1975.

A6627 (xiii) Correspondence between W.A Wood and Alice and Joyce Norton, Tiara Walcha, 1969-1973.

A6628 (i) [Folder title Manuscript papers I] W.A Wood Correspondence and manuscript papers relating to Muswellbrook and Maitland history. Topics include: Henry Dumaresq’s Tomb at Muswellbrook, Flour Mills in the Maitland District, The Duff Family, Land Grant of Rev. F.M. Wilkinson, Inns and Innkeepers of Muswellbrook, Sir Francis Forbes and his experimental aircraft (1843), Aborigines of the Upper Hunter Valley, 60th Anniversary of ‘St Matthias’ Denman, Coles Markham Mill, The Government own of Maitland and Early Maps, ‘Woodlands’ Maitland. 1966-1976

A6628 (ii) W.A Wood Sundry Correspondence relating to a variety of historical topics, 1970-1982.

A6628 (iii) File containing correspondence, manuscripts and research papers including correspondence between W.A Wood and Adrienne Fisher relating to Alexander Warren of Brandon; Richard Reynolds and Tocal House; ‘Old Bengalla: Principally concerning the years 1825-1854’ – Address to theMuswellbrook Historical Society 12 December 1972; The Doyle Family; William Ogilvie of Merton, Boomi and other early stations in the Region, 1972-1974.

A6628 (iii) File containing correspondence manuscripts, typescripts and research notes relating to The Village of Merton (in Five Parts); The Women of1825; Some notes on James Arndell of Woodlands; [Typescript] The Aborigines of the Upper Hunter Valley; [Manuscript] Address to the New England Historical Society Armidale on the Contribution of the Hunter valley on the development of New England with reference to the squatters; Notes on Peter Clark, Bulga and Eather, Onus and Alpin families; Sundry correspondence on various topics,  1964-1982.

A6628 (iv) [Folder title: Miscellaneous Notes and Papers II 1964-1969] W.A Wood Correspondence and manuscript papers relating to a variety of topics including; ‘George and Dragon Hotel, East Maitland Licensed since 1837’; “A Thought for the Birds”; “From the Horseback Mailmen to the Gold Escort”, dated 2 July 1964; ‘Frank Forbes and his Aerial Carriage’; Notes on the Family Hotel South Muswellbrook, The Sir William Denison Hotel and Thornton’s Family Hotel, Forbestown; ‘Land for Catholic School at East Maitland Patrick Reilly’s Mill’ Text of Public Address dated 7 October 1968; ‘The Foundation of the Town of Muswellbrook’; Letter to the Editor Muswellbrook Chronicle [in manuscript and typescript ] discussing claim that Australia’s first champagne was made in Muswellbrook; Manuscript essay on importance of Merton in the early years of settlement; ‘Early Inns of Muswellbrook and District with Particular Reference to the History of Lion Eric Copp’s Hotel’; ‘Great Fire of Maitland 14 March 1865’, dated 16 August 1969; Notes on the Rose Inn, dated 19 Dec 1968; ‘Riverside Wharfs at Maitland’ dated 22 October 1968; ‘Wharfs at Maitland’ dated 5 October 1965; Notes for a tour of the Historical Society Museum [Muswellbrook]; ‘Allotment 30, Section 22, East Maitland Now “Woodlands”‘; ‘Elizabeth Pike and the Lemon Tree Inn’; Notes on Catholic Chapel, Catholic School House and matters relating to Church in Maitland; ‘Aboriginal Place-Names’; Letter to the Editor Muswellbrook Chronicle relating to history of wine and vineyards in the district; ‘William Hooke Margrie and the Ashburne Family – For Carolyn Margrie’ dated 23 November 1965; ‘John Elliot, 1790-1874; and his wife Martha, 1799-1877. An Elopment; and farewell to Old England’; ‘Richard Alcorn’ dated 2 May 1966; Letter to Editor of Maitland Mercury concerning Lieutenant Edward Denny Day; ‘Some Notes on the Building of Maitland Gaol’; ‘Peter and John MacIntyre, 1825’; ‘Ringbarking’; Notes on theAborigines; Notes on the Orange Court House; Notes on the History of Merton; ‘The Place of Maitland’s Origin’; Notes on Denman, roads, building covenants, musters, townships, Edward Deas Thompson, Sir Francis Forbes and Old Skellator; Edinglassie Cottage; ‘Dean Lynch, Pioneer Clergyman’ dated 7 April 1969; ‘ Some Notes concerning the Personal Affairs of Edward Denny Day Confidential. For the Treasure Family’; Correspondence to the Editor of theCatholic Sentinel, June 1966.

A6629 (i) [Manuscript] Chapter drafts for untitled work including:

Chapter 1 [Incipit: ‘ By the year 1833 Castle Forbes at Patrick’s Plains was consistently producing more grain..’]

Chapter 2 [Incipit; ‘ Witnesses assembled early in Sydney for the trial of the Castle Forbes robbers..’]

Chapter 3 The Commission of Enquiry [Incipit: ‘J.H. Plunkett, Solicitor General, and F.A. Hely, Principal..’]

Chapter 4 The Hole and Corner Petition [Incipit: At this time when insubordination smouldered in all parts of the Valley..’]

A6629 (ii) [Manuscript] Chapter drafts for untitled work including:

  1. In the New Country. [Incipit: The kangaroos emus and smaller game, which Allan Cunningham found…]
  2. Spears Against Merton. [Incipit; From the several sketchy references in official..’]
  3. The Memorial of Lieut. William Ogilvie R.N. and Peter Cunningham’s Farewell to Dalswinton.
  4. Saxon Sheep and Shepherds
  5. Wheat and Wine; and a Sowing of Thorns
  6. Prisoners of the Crown.


A6629 (iii) [Manuscript and Typescript] Chapter drafts for untitled work including:

[Chapter 15?] [Incipit; Red Bank was on Puen Buen, the property of John Bingle..]

Chapter 16 Bullock Tracks abd Bridle Paths

[Chapter] 17. Gugilbar [Incipit: Plans for building a Church at Merton had not advanced since 1840..]

Chapter 18 Manorial Merton [Incipit: The name of William Ogilvie was included in a list..]

Chapter 19. Farewell to Dalswinton [Incipit; One of the first local proprietors near Merton to become]

Chapter 28 A Sewing of Thorns [ Incipit; From time to time in 1832 reports came from the Hunter..]


A6629 (iv) [Manuscript] Chapter drafts for untitled work including:

[Incipit: Government” The Commission did not enquire into..] pages 21-31.

Chapter 3 The Harvest of Thorns [Incipit: The name of Castle Forbes will always be associated..]

Chapter 4 [Incipit: An Editorial on Prison Discipline..]

Chapter 5 They Rode With Macdonald [Incipit: William Cox junior of Hobartville…]


A6629 (v) [Manuscript] Chapter drafts for untitled work including:

[Chapter ?] The Great Cattle Depression and Other Matters pp24-36

[Chapter ?] [Incipit: and Wollombi were bailed up and robbed almost daily] pp5-17.

  1. Humanitas [Incipit: scourger produced the cat and said he was unable to inflict more severe..] pp12-26

Denny Day

  1. Settlement in 1825 [Incipit: Conditions of Land Grants..]
  2. Convicts and Shepherds [Incipit; William Ogilvie was the first Magistrate in the…]
  3. [Incipit: 1838 was a year of drought.]
  4. Massacre [Denny Day – ed. crossed out] [Incipit: The Select Committee on Police in 1835…]

Chapter 5 Macdonald – George the Barber – The Bushrangers of Gourada [Incipit: The Third (Hunter River) Division of N.S.W….]

Chapter 6 Macdonald Rivers and The Kindur River [Incipit: On 30 December 1833 Macdonald escaped from No 2..]

  1. The Stock Buying Mania of 1826-27 [Incipit: The Sydney Gazette, 2 Dec 1826 reported…]
  2. The Return of Denny Day [Incipit: In 1838 Edward Denny Day had recommended…]
  3. The Merton Gang [Incipit: The first issue ofThe Maitland Mercury, published on 7 Jan. 1843 contained…]
  4. The Day ofthe Bloody Swords [Incipit: Edward Denny Day, accompanied by Lieut.]

21 Denny Day [Incipit: Due to a sequence of outbreaks of violence..]


A6630 (i) [Manuscript] Chapter or part chapter drafts mostly untitled including: 4 Native Unrest; Chapter? Molly Morgan’s Heir; Chapter 5; 17. 1836-37; Books are Closed and Others Opened; 12. No Barriers Now. n.d.

A6630 (ii) [Manuscript] Chapter or part chapter drafts including: [9 or 8] Denny Day; Correspondence 2 Nov 1969; Early Mooki River Stations; Notes on Some of the Early Mooki River Runs; Some Houses and People of N.S.W.; Notes on Amendments; The Forgotten Years; The Merton Gang; The Great Cattle Depression; The Lost Village; 4. The New Country; 10. In Adversity is Bred Strength.

A6630 (iii) Proofs from The Griffin Press for Dawn in the Valley. c1970s

A6631 (i) Family Trees – MacIntyres (of Kayuga) and McIntyres (Ministerial Family) n.d.


A6631 (ii) [Folder Title: Pastoral Leases 1849 Telfer]

[Xerox copy] Copies of Supplements to the New South Wales Government Gazette, August 11, 1848 – September 19, 1848.

[Xerox copy] William Telfer Reminiscences. ‘These Reminiscences cover from about 1846 when writer was about 3 years old to 1856 and 1859-60.” TheEarly History of the Northern Districts of New South Wales (in pen: ‘Wm Telfer’s Reminiscences’) Foolscape Typescript 120pp


A6631 (iii) Henry Dumaresq – Burial Certificate. Copy made 14 August 1963.

No. 3497 Vol. 22

Name: Henry Dumaresq.

Abode: Port Stephens.

When Buried: 16 March 1838.

Age: 46 years.

Profession: Late Colonel in the British Army and Commissioner for the Aust. Agricultural Company.

By whom the Ceremony was performed: The Rev. W.M. Cowper (Buried at St. Heliers).


A6631 (iv) [Typescript] Walter Allan Wood’s  Critique of Squatters Castle: Life and Times of Edward David Stewart Ogilvie  By George Farewell. 43pp. Foolscape. c.1970s

A6631 (v) [Printed Work] Thomas Parnell et Seq. by A. A. Summers. 5 December 1975.

A6631 (vi) [Printed Work] The Ballad of Thunderbolt by Ronald Cheslyn Basford. 1966. Together with: Trooper A.B. Walker of the New South Wales Police by Noel Thurgood. c.1970

A6631 (vii) [Correspondence] W.A. Wood to Mrs McMurtrie dated 7 November 1977 regarding history of Murrurundi.

A6631 (viii) [Manuscript] Partial draft and notes (leaves 8-25) of Walter Allan Wood’s Critique of Squatters Castle: Life and Times of Edward David Stewart Ogilvie By George Farewell. c.1970s

A6631 (ix) W.A. Wood Correspondence, speeches and manuscript papers relating to a variety of topics including: Speech delivered c1988?; Speech by W.A. Wood on the occasion of the donation of a facsimile edition (1973) of A History of Morpeth 1832 by Rev John Hodgson by Councillor Alfred Appleby of theBorough of Morpeth in England to Morpeth branch library; Document from Department of Local Government 11 August 1964 stating: ‘The Department records indicate that the “Municipal District of Musclebrook” was constituted by proclamation in the Government Gazette of 13/4/1870, the name being altered to “Muswellbrook” by Government Gazette dated 25/2/49.’; Notes on Henry Dangar (1 + 4 pages); Notes on Sister Mary Ursula Kirby and Father Patrick Murtagh (1 page); undated letter Sister Mary Jude regarding Aborigines and Rhodesia; Notes on William McAuley; Correspondence on the History of Merton; The Graves of Merton in Two Parts with correspondence 1964; Notes on Thorntons Family Hotel Muswellbrook; Notes on Henry Dumaresq; Inns and Innkeepers of Muswellbrook in the Nineteenth Century; Ogilvie’s Line of Road.

A6631 (x) Papers relating to the publication of Dawn in the Valley including a Memorandum of Agreement. n.d. [c1971-1974?]

A6631 (xi) [Typescript] [Dawn in the Valley?] Manuscript pages and typescripts of assorted parts including pp 124-125, 45, 48, Table of Contents, ‘Blurb for cover’, 138-139/142, 22, 321, 146, Index, 1 manuscript page beginning ‘possums on gum trees, following the native bee to her store…’ n.d. c1970s.

A6632 (i) Correspondence, transcripts and papers relating to Molly Morgan, 1749-1989  [Transcriptions by June Vile]

A6632 (ii) Photocopies relating to Hunter valley history including sections from Ross Deamer’s Thesis 309 (1971) relating to Eelah (Timothy Nowlan’s Grant) and “The Homestead” at Louth Park, and article entitled “Jottings by the Way – West Maitland” published in the Town and Country Journal 16 December 1871.

A6632 (iii) File containing correspondence to and from W.A. Wood, 1963-1974.

A6632 (iv) H.M.A.S. Brisbane Association Circulars 1/81, 1/82; Correspondence relating to Merton Cottage, Denny Day and Oldholme, 1975-1982.

A6632 (v) Folder containing W. Allan Wood correspondence and papers relating to road from Scone to Gloucester, Cobark Station, Wendy Swan, John Smith, Richmond Grove; Tocal; Lieutenant John Sampson Marshall R.N.; Co, Cobereft (?) papers; Ogilvie’s Blacks; Telarah; Morpeth Publicans; Alexander Cameron and Guygallon; Edward Denny Day, Bushrangers, Jewboy Gang, John Elliot, ‘The Faulty, but Accepted Story of “Oldholme”‘; Copies of Colonial Secretary’s Correspondence relating to Maitland Post Office and Court House (1833); Peter Duff the Younger. 1964-1978.

A6632 (vi) Correspondence and papers relating to John Robertson of Scone. 1964 – 1974.


A6632 (vii) File containing:

  1. Photographic reproductions of original Archives Office of NSW files relating to the murder of Mr Pagan (one of Mr Ogilvie’s men) by Blacks on Clarence River. Items  4/2525, 41/4928 and 41/7011. 1841;
  2. [Typescript] “Squatters Castle; Life & Times of Edward David Stewat Ogilvie” by George Farewell (63 leaves)
  3. Another copy of above in foolscape typescript (43 leaves)
  4. Clarence River Historical Society Mrs Bundock’s Memoir Early Life in New South Wales. The Coming of the Ogilvie’s to th Clarence. Hardships of theJourney. Their Arrival at Yulgilbar. (7 leaves)


A6632 (viii) Photographic copies of correspondence relating to Myall Creek 1838 [In need of conservation work as papers are glued together due to unsatisfactory original processing].

A6632 (ix) Newsclippings [Compiled by June Vile?] relating to Australian Government’s Apology to Stolen Generations 2008.

A6632 (x) Transparencies of original correspondence (To Be Identified)

A6633 (i) Various drafts (or chapters drafts of multiple works as some are numbered) in ink including: “No Barriers Now”; “9. Beyond the Boundaries”; “19. Beyond the Boundaries”; “The Village in 1841″; ’16. The Great cattle Depression”; “12. The Return of Denny Day”; “Wilson and other Bushrangers 1841-43”; “15. Political and Bushranging Topics”. [ca. 1960s -1970s]

A6633 (ii) Various chapter drafts [sorted by June Vile] including Chapter 27 [Molly Morgan’s Heir] Pomp and Poverty numbered pages 562-580.

A6633 (iii) Australian Society of Authors Reports 1972-1979.

A6633 (iv) Oversize. Four files containing xerox copies of maps, plans, newspapers, reports relating to Hunter Region research.


A9000 (v) Notebooks 1- 49 (no. 12 missing) A. Index (empty)

A9000 (i) [Typescript] In Freedom’s Name. Historical Play in Three Scenes (Blank Verse) by W.A. Wood [n.d.]

A9001 (ii) Folder containing news clippings, correspondence, drafts, poetry and notes ( sorted by June Vile) on a variety of subjects including John Elliot; Museums of Rural Life; Rohallion; Forbes Town; Old Skellator; Muswellbrook – Public Houses, bridges, allotments, history, vineyards, church; Bushrangers incl. McDonald’s Gang; Martindale, Merton Sundail; Dumeresq; Thomas Cook of Turanville; Henry Dangar; Lists of Land Grants; Segenhoe.  1964-1974.

A9001 (iii) [Typescript]. An Outline of the History of the Upper Hunter Valley. For St Mary’s High School Muswellbrook by W.A. Wood 1965 (147 leaves with index) appended with: [Manuscript] George Bowman and Arrowfield (7 leaves)

A9001 (iv) File containing assorted correspondence and writings 1966-1974:

[Typescript] Governor Macquarie on the Hunter (20 Leaves)

[Typescript] Village of Merton Parts 3, 4, 5.

[Typescript] Exodus from Merton

[Correspondence] McLeod Family History ‘Terrica-Inglewood’

[Typescript] Alexander McLeod of “Ratagan” Maitland

[Typescript] The Land Grant of Rev. F.M. Wilkinson and some Incidental Matters, 5 Sept 1966.

[Typescript] Supplementary notes.

A9001 (v) Assorted correspondence, drafts and notes relating to various subjects including Gilbert Eliott, subscriber lists, major Benjamin Sullivan [ Sorted by June Vile] 1971-1976.

A9001 (vi) Original receipts and accounts of Messrs Barden & Ribee West Maitland, 1911-1912. Photograph of saddle, n.d.

A9001 (vii) Archival guides for Mitchell Library and University of Newcastle Archives, Maitland City Library Annual Reports 1967, 1971-1973; Exhibition booklet “Da Vinco to Sputnik” relating to Qantas Collection documenting great breakthroughs in flight. 1959-1979.

A9002 (i) Armidale and District Historical Society Journal & Proceedings No. 12

A9002 (ii) Armidale and District Historical Society Journal & Proceedings No. 15

A9002 (iii) Armidale and District Historical Society Journal & Proceedings No. 16

A9002 (iv) Armidale and District Historical Society Journal & Proceedings No. 18

A9002 (v) [Planting a Faith in Hobart] by W.T. Southerwood. Planting a Faith: Hobart’s Catholic Story in Word and Picture. Hobart: n.d.

A9002 (vi) The Castle Forbes Revolt of 1833 and its Significance in the Controversy over Convict Discipline During Bourke’s Period as Governor of New South Wales. by Sandra J. Lee. B.A. Honours Thesis 1973 (University of New England)

A9002 (vii) Australian and Australians in Civil Aviation. Vol. 1 An Index to Events from 1823 to 1920 by Ron J. Gibson. Sydney: Quantas Airways Ltd, 1971.

A9002 (viii) Mitchell Library Guide for Readers. Dec 1960.

A9002 (ix) Mitchell Library Sydney Historical and Descriptive Notes Supplement. 1937-1966.

A9002 (x) Historical newsclippings [compiled by June Vile]. 1983-2007.

A9002 (xi) Where is it? Notebook index [compiled by June Vile]. .n.d.

A9002 (xii) Negatives



A5514 (B) (i) Typescript, manuscripts, photographs and correspondence signed W.A. Wood, relating to Aberglasslyn House, 1968.


Gionni Di Gravio, OAM
University Archivist & Chair, Hunter Living Histories


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