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Village Settlement: Murtho

The source of the name Murtho is unknown, but some evidence suggests that is derived from the Aboriginal word mato meaning 'good' or 'good place'. The name was used for Murtho run from 1866 and Murtho post office from 1893. The Murtho village settlement began on 19 July 1894. Murtho was the only village settlement to require some capital from settlers before being allowed to join - £40 for unmarried settlers, £60 for married and £10 per child. This meant that the Murtho settlers were not unemployed, but men who left jobs to be involved in what they believed was an exciting venture. The independence of the villagers was to prove one of the problems for the settlement as every man had his own firm ideas and conflicts between the settlers were rife. When village settlement expert Samuel McIntosh was appointed in February 1896 he worked to bring some unity to the settlement, but was unsuccessful. The Murtho settlers made a mistake in the position of their settlement. It was situated on high land and in dry seasons the pumping plant could not pump water to the level of the village. In July 1899, the Royal Commission visited the remaining Murtho settlers. In their statements to the Royal Commission, the settlers showed that when they arrived they had little knowledge of irrigation or the climate of the land they had settled. The villagers believed that rainfall, supplemented intermittently with pumped water, would provide enough to grow their crops. The exceptionally good season of 1894-5 reinforced this assumption and when the area was subsequently hit by very dry seasons the settlers were unprepared. They continued to water sparingly with pumped water and as a result the crops failed. Murtho village settlement formally ceased in March 1900.

Letters from Elsie Birks
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Memorandum of association and rules of the Murtho Co-Op
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Murtho Village Settlement
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