This is the story of Caleb Hoskins a first generation Australian born in Walkerville, South Australia in 1849. He was the sixth child born to Andrew and Ann Hoskins, who raised eleven children in the early years of the South Australian colonisation. This story is a biography of known facts, deduced from wide ranging research, woven through a fictional tale.
Caleb spent his childhood in Prospect village, living in a tent and using the River Torrens as his playground with his younger brother Jim.
The Hoskins brothers, Fred, George, Caleb and Jim together with Bill Walkington carted copper via bullock drays from the Kooringa (Burra) mines, Yudanamutana mine and the Blinman and Sliding Rock mines to Gawler/Kapunda and Port Augusta respectively, and partnered with John McDonald to provide horse and coach passenger transport and mail delivery in the northern districts of South Australia during the 1860s and early 1870s.
Three of the Hoskins Brothers, Fred, Caleb and Jim, together with Bill Walkington made three trips into the Outback by bullock drays, carting telegraph equipment and rations for the Overland Telegraph Line construction, during 1870 to 1872. Their three trips took them from Port Augusta to Charlotte Waters, the Goyder River and Alice Springs. On one occasion they were accosted by aborigines and Calebs slight knowledge of their language saved the day when he realised that all they wanted was access to the water that they carried on their drays.
Caleb Hoskins also participated in the Ruby Rush into the East MacDonnell Ranges in the Northern Territory in 1887, which proved to be a falsehood once the gemstones were identified as worthless garnets. Caleb then found work on the construction of the old Ghan line, from 1888 to 1890 during one of many economic depressions that affected the colony.
In 1891 the Great Northern Railway line was opened for business from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta and Caleb secured a position as a packer and worked at many railway stations along the track from 1891 until 1914.
Caleb Hoskins passed away at Quorn, South Australia on Thursday 29 July 1926 aged 77 years. Later that same day, on being informed that his brother had passed away, James Hoskins dropped dead aged 72 years.
Caleb and Jim are both honoured with Unsung Heroes of the Outback plaques in the Australian Stockmans Hall of Fame at Longreach, Queensland for their efforts in the Overland Telegraph Line construction.