Rush’s fortune a victim of his old-fashioned principles

Bartholomew Rush, local boarding house operator, significant land owner and orchardist built a fine residence, Braemar Lodge, in 1876.

He lived there with his second wife Sarah, their son and daughter, and several children born to his first wife Anne who had died in 1875. The residence was opposite The Willows, a boarding house he owned which fronted the Great Southern Road, 400 metres from the Great Southern Railway line where Rush’s platform had opened in 1867.

He won lucrative contracts to build telegraph lines linking country areas in NSW and for fencing along the railway. Rush paid his contract workers in gold and silver coin and sometimes a considerable amount was hidden at his residence.

According to a grandson, one night a bushranger came by the Braemar house but they had hidden the coin in a hole under the stones beneath one of the fireplaces.

The bushranger found nothing as roaring fires were blazing cheerfully through the house and, even if he suspected, he could not delve beneath the flames.

RUSH’S LEGACY: Braemar Lodge as boarding house, c1913. Rumour had it that Rush hid his financial hoard under the fireplace. Photo: BDH&FHS.

RUSH’S LEGACY: Braemar Lodge as boarding house, c1913. Rumour had it that Rush hid his financial hoard under the fireplace. Photo: BDH&FHS.

In October 1886 Rush advertised his boarding establishment for sale.

Then known as Willow Vale House, and formerly the Prince Albert Inn, he described it as “having 22 rooms beside kitchens, bathrooms etc, on 200 acres all fenced”.

It took some time before it was sold.

Sarah Rush died in July 1883 after giving birth to a son who also died. Both were buried in Rowe’s Hill Cemetery, Mittagong.

In 1887, Rush married his third wife, Harriet Wastell, and a daughter was born the following year.

In 1891 Rush subdivided some of his land near the railway platform for a private village.

This became the village of Braemar. Rush’s Platform was renamed Braemar in 1892.

Like many other affluent people, Rush’s fortunes declined when, in the depression of the 1890s, he was forced to sell land and many of his properties.

Bartholomew Rush died at his daughter Ethel’s residence in Marrickville, Sydney, in August 1905, aged 94.

RUSH’S PLATFORM: Renamed Braemar in 1892; this photo taken 1924. John Murray Collection.

RUSH’S PLATFORM: Renamed Braemar in 1892; this photo taken 1924. John Murray Collection.

Having been an accomplished amateur sportsman in his younger days, the Sydney Sportsman honoured him with an obituary. Some extracts follow here:

“In the 1830s and 40s, Bartholomew (or Bat) Rush was a household word.

“He was a runner at the top of the ladder, nicknamed the ‘Flying Tailor’. He was invincible over the measured hundred yards on the Parramatta track.

“He also proved himself as a boxer. Although offered every inducement to follow the game up, he would not go in for it, and turned his face against any of his family doing so, although several of his sons excelled in other lines of sport, principally running.

“Bat Rush had a wonderful memory almost to his death, and could tell some amusing yarns.

“He was a noted man in his day and, like most of the old hands, struggled hard and made money, and then lost it again. In his case he made the fatal mistake of thinking the latter-day men were of the same principle as those of his day, when a man's word was his bond, and receipts were never asked for.

“He was thus robbed right and left by the hawks who trade on such natures.”

  • Part 3 of a 3-part series.

Berrima District Historical & Family History Society – compiled by PD Morton

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