Cathcart, the once busy, important little centre of Southern Monaro with such a colourful past, is preparing a celebration out of the ordinary to commemorate the 100 years since Federation. It is expected to recapture some of the glories of the past reliving memories through fellowship with the present over the weekend of September 29/30 and October 1, 2001.
To prepare for this event we recall some of the facts and events of the history of Cathcart to remind us all of how it came to be.
To avoid the authorities, James Taylor, moved his stock from Tuggranong to what became known as Taylor's Flat around 1828-1829. In the 1828 Census List, Alexander McLeay who was the Colonial Secretary, listed McLeay as occupier of McLeay's Flat with Thomas Thames as hutkeeper and George Marshall as herdsman. McLeay and Taylor would have been the first occupiers of land at Cathcart with McLeay's Flat, Taylor's Flat and Mt Marshall deriving their names from these early pioneers.
William Hibburd another early landholder at Cathcart held an extensive area in the district. He built the famous George and Dragon Hotel in 1838-1839 and by 1847 held the pastoral leases of Archer's Flat 8000 acres and Bibbenluke of 25,600 acres, estimated grazing capabilities 1400 head of cattle.
When the Commissioner of Lands, John Lambie made his first Census in 1839 of McLeay's Flat it is listed as Henry Badgery, leasee and Charles Sye superintending, six residents, one slab hut, two bark huts, one milking maid, three acres of wheat, four cattle, no horses, 3161 sheep. How wooded was described as "open forest and scrub, with distance from nearest adjoining station, one mile.
Andrew and Margaret Stewart on arriving at Twofold Bay walked to Taylor's Flat which must have been a daunting experience for a father and mother with a baby only months old and small children. The first few weeks in this strange land must have been a harrowing ordeal and little did Margaret Stewart realise, when she first saw Taylor's Flat, that through her foresight and able management that in the future she would own over 9000 acres of its best country and establish the name of Stewart throughout Monaro as respected farmers and graziers.
With the shortage of shepherds at Taylor's Flat in those early tomes it is believed that when Andrew Stewart and his family arrived at the Dragon Inn in 1839 William Hibburd used his persuasive powers to hire them to work for him at Archer's Flat where they lived for some five years with two more children being born.
Patrick McCoy arrived in this new land in 1841-42 and proceeded to Taylor's Flat where not long after he married Mary Ann Billington on July 26, 1842. The first two children were born on their squatterage at "Fernhill". It appears the call of the gold fever drew him and his wife and family to the gold diggings which did not prove a successful venture so it was back to the farm where he supplemented his income by working for John Nichollson at Little Plain.
Other settlers in the period 1848-1858 were H H Massie, F J Payne and Henry Nicholson who acquired part of Badgery's holding which included Mt Marshall. Henry Nicholson procuring portion of McLeay's Flat, which they named "Woolingubrah". Over the next 25 years after William Hibburd built his famous inn at Taylor's Flat buildings that were erected were built on the north-western side of Dragon Swamp from where the present township is situated not far from the George and Dragon. Mr Michael Gerathy had his general store and Cathcart's first Post Office. There was a baker's shop owned by Richard and Duncan Murray. William Featherstone built the General Catchcart Hotel, which was built just after survey.
On May 16, 1855 a letter was sent to the Surveyor General who instructed surveyor E H Arnheim to proceed with the survey of a township at Taylor's Flat reserve that it may be laid out for sale. Finally on December 19, 1856 after a string of letters and a threat of dismissal E H Arnheim sent a plan showing the features of Taylor's Flat to the Surveyor General. Sketches of Taylor's Flat in 1856 can be found in E H Arnheim's field book. The layout of the village on the Surveyor General's office file number 13962 sows an area of 586 acres bounded by South Street, Drake Street, Baly Street, Moore Street and Butler Street and back to South Street.
At this time of survey the Crimean War had not long finished with deeds of bravery that had been written being talked about. Famous battles, famous war heroes, history making moments, such as the Charge of the Light Brigade, the Lady and the lamp Florence Nightingale, together with names of distinction Cathcart, Dundas and Nolan, Raglan and Wyndham. At this time it was indeed an honour to name a village after one of these famous war heroes. Hence Taylor's Flat was named after General Cathcart and our neighbouring district Wyndham was named about the same time after Wyndham.
The Dragon Inn was in the name of Hibburd until 1870 when Mr Millington purchased it. On September 2, 1874 Millington moved to Bombala. The 1880s saw the township growing on the eastern side of Dragon Swamp and by 1901 the estimated population for the district was 300. This was the era when the Post Office was moved from Gerathy's to the corner of Eden Street and Prior Street opposite Coles Store and now owned by Cameron Foley.
From the early 1880s the township of Cathcart new site grew quickly with the demise of the western side. On January 18, 1886 allotment 1 Section 12 was dedicated in the name of the School of Arts, with the first part of the hall being built soon after and library transferred from Dragon Inn.
Around this time the Victoria Hotel and Federal Hotel were built, which meant law and order had to be enforced. A house was converted into a Police Station some two blocks from Coles Store. The new Police Station was built and moved into on March 15, 1914. Cathcart boasted at that time Coles Store, Solomon's Store, Murphy's Fruiterer and Bootmaker, Stantons Produce Merchant, Moreings and Summerrells Blacksmith Shops, Post Office and Commonwealth Savings Bank, Government Savings Bank with agency Police Station, Cathcart Bush Nursing, Auctioneer C W McCoy, Exhibition Society.