Gail Clerke, who was a distant relative of Frederick Roche, lived in Dalby for a time. She displays a portrait of Frederick Roche.
Gail Clerke, who was a distant relative of Frederick Roche, lived in Dalby for a time. She displays a portrait of Frederick Roche. Contributed

Successful businessman elected to top job in 1863

SOME people called it Rochetown and it was starting to develop into a popular camping place for the teams that plodded west with goods and returned with wool.

It had been known as Myall Creek but then it was designated with the new official name of Dalby.

Elections were held after the town was declared a municipality in 1863 and the first mayor elected was Frederick William Roche.

He had a large store on the southern side of Drayton Street a little distance from the corner of Myall Street. He was a successful busin- essman who was also a forw- arding agent for the Queen- sland Insurance Company

In a building he owned, at the rear of the store, was the Post and Telegraph Office.

From the store supplies received from the east went west and north to the stat- ions and townships such as St George and Cunnamulla.

It was said Roche had a turnover of 30,000 pounds per year. He was a well- known and popular man and this was proved by becoming the first mayor of Dalby in 1863. He was returned as mayor again in 1868 and 1869

However when young, he had plans of being a station owner and had come through the area some years before. He headed north and selected a property but seemed to tire of life in the bush and swapped it for a fledgling business in Myall Creek.

He was very successful at business and stayed in Dalby for the rest of his life

In 1866 he was called upon to lay the foundation stone of St John's Church of England, the first in town. In that year also he attended a banquet and was called on to respond to the important toast of the evening.

He said he had great pleasure in responding to the toast. He said if he wasn't the oldest resident in Dalby, then he was the oldest mercantile man in it.

Fredrick Roach said that in 1847, he camped on the spot where Dalby now stands. All was wild bush then and he dined on something much different to the banquet they had partaken of that night.

He said he had great confidence in the future of Dalby. At present, it was like a baby in arms but soon they would feel they were somebody.

Over the years Roche took the role of registering births and deaths which he held to the turn of the century. One of the streets in Dalby is named after him. He passed away in March 1904 and was buried at Dalby.


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