Dodds family history in Humpybong

Updated: Oct 18

John Hindmarsh the 7th child of John Dodds and Mary Francis Hindmarsh was born on January 27, 1837 at Alnwick,Northumberland. When he was 11 months old, his mother died of Typhus in an epidemic which was raging in the locality. Ann Skelly was able and willing to act as foster mother to her brother's seven children. In her will she left 1000 pounds to each of the seven. One month after his 16th birthday he and is brother Henry left England for Sydney on the ship 'FRANCIS',which left Liverpool England on 10 February 1853. John arrived 4 Jun 1853 He remained in Sydney for eight years. In 1861 he took a paddle steamer to Brisbane, arriving in February 1861 on the ship 'YARRA YARRA'. He entered the service of J & G HARRIS a firm of general warehousemen, shipping agents and suppliers of the varied needs of a young and vast country at the beginning of its development. He was then on the verge of his 25th birthday.


Ellen Maria Somerset was born in Belfast Northern Ireland on 1st May 1846.

The Somerset family arrived in Adelaide SA in 1850 on the 'DUKE OF BRONTE' and then took the 'JENNY LIND' which was going to Singapore and then to England but it hit a reef and sank off the Queensland coast, all arrived at the Brisbane River, and the Somerset's stayed, Ellen's father, Daniel having a career in HM Customs.


On September 24, 1864 in Brisbane at the residence of the bride's parents, John Hindmarsh Dodds married Ellen Maria Somerset.

They purchased portions 202, 203, 213 and 213 being 242 acres (98 hectares) in 1869.

They set up a sugar plantation and mill with the help of Tom Snook. The raw sugar was loaded into cutters at a place on Saltwater Creek above Clontarf and then taken to Brisbane for sale.


From the Brisbane Courier 21st September 1872:

NOTES FROM THE SUGAR SEASON (From the Queenslander)

Amongst other notable peculiarities of the crushing season now going on, who is sugar from the mill of Mr J H Dodds, Bellvale Plantation, Redcliffe, which was clarified with clay batter, and without any lime whatsoever. It is a good straw colored sugar, rather a soft in the grain but that is attributable to low boiling. The soil at Redcliffe is a light sandy loam in some places, to the eye, it almost approaches pure sand, but throughout it is heavily charged with debris of sea shells. Light as the soil is, some of the finest crops of cane yet seen in Queensland have been grown there and very heavy returns of sugar have been received. This is attributed, by all with whom we have conversed, to the aforesaid shells supplying a sufficiency of time for the cane The juice of the Redcliffe canes has been found to in quite very little lime when it reached the clarifier and in the case of Mr Dodd's canes, the neutrality of the liquor was so perfect - litmus paper showing neither acid nor alkali- that it was resolved to add no lime whatsoever. About eleven pints of thin clay batter was put into 120 gallons of liquor, to carry down the sediment. The battery at Bellvale is upon the reverse principle that is, the fire is under the largest copper and the tache is the furthest from the fire. The liquor was run into the large copper, where, as it foamed up, the heat was checked to allow the sediment to lodge upon the rim of the pan as recommended by Mr Thomas Scott. The boiling was then proceeded with, and finished at a temporal use of 232 degs. The result is a fine light colored sugar and an impression upon those who saw the reversed battery at work that it is a safe and satisfactory method of making sugar.

The venture was eventually not a success financially and was put up for sale in 1876.

John gained employment with the Government audit office in 1874 where he remained until his retirement in 1904.

The Daily Mail 1926 by D.N. Mitchell:

"Adjoining Messrs. Tubbs property on the east, Mr J.H. Dodds had 2 fine patches of cane planted, which when matured looked like a crop which would give a fair return to the grower.

Mr Dodds purchased the machinery for a small steam mill, and hd it erected in time to crush his crop, and also crushed cane for his neighbours, taking one third of the manufactured sugar to pay expenses. Mr Dodds worked his mill three seasons and then sold the mill and property to a school teacher named Noble. Both parties lost money over the venture. South from Mr Dodd's property near hayes Inlet a gentleman called Kislingbury grew a few acres of cane and imported a small mill from Scotland. The first crushing was not a success: the extraction must have been poor. The machinery was sold and dairying took the place of sugar growing.

A neighbour Mr Board grew small areas of cane and sent it to the Logan to be crushed but this procedure did not pay. Mr Kislingbury bought a business in Gympie, while mr Dodds accepted a Government position, Dairying was carried on by some, although it was antecedent to the cream seperator. There was always a good demand for butter in Brisbane and Sandgate."

In 1878 he purchased another 18 acres (7.3 hectares) being potion 128 - for which he paid 28 pounds.

Island View Estate 1916 Map showing the location of Dodds farm in Margate:

1942 aerial showing the farm location:

They had 3 children, Ernestine Gertrude (b.1866 - died at 4 months) Ethel Leonie Violet (b.1868-1961) and Ida Geraldine (b.1871-1951).

Ethel Leonie V. Dodds (8yrs) and Ida Gertrude Dodds (4 yrs) were the first to enrol at the new Provisional School at Humpybong in February 1876, their mother Ellen, listed as a "Clerk" (see the school register below:)

Ethel's name looks like "Catherine" in the register however the spelling is Etheleonie V. Dodds"

Ellen died on the 27th July 1898 aged 52years in Redcliffe.

John died on 6th July 1905 aged 68 years at Newmarket Rd Enogerra.

They are both buried in the Toowong Cemetery.


Dodds Street in Margate was named after the family in the late 1920s ( formerly Arline St)

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