This Day in History – February 5th, 1869

Welcome_strangerThe Welcome Stranger is the biggest alluvial gold nugget found, which had a calculated refined weight of 3,123 oz 6 dwts 9 gr (71.018 kg). It measured 24 by 12 inches and was discovered by Cornish prospectors John Deason and Richard Oates on February 5th, 1869 at Moliagul, Victoria, Australia, about nine miles north-west of Dunolly.

John Deason was born in 1829 on the island of Tresco, Isles of Scilly, which is 28 miles south-west of Cornwall, England, UK. In 1851 he was a tin dresser before becoming a gold miner. Deason continued with gold mining and workings most of his life and, although becoming a store keeper at Moliagul, he lost a substantial proportion of his wealth through poor investments in gold mining. He bought a small farm near Moliagul where he lived until he died in 1915, aged 85 years.

William_Parker,_Unearthing_the_Welcome_Stranger_Nugget, 680

Miners and their wives posing with the finders of the nugget, Richard Oates, John Deason and his wife.

Richard Oates was born about 1827 at Pendeen in Cornwall. After the 1869 find Oates returned to the UK and married. He returned with his wife to Australia and they had four children. The Oates family purchased 800 acres of land at Marong, Victoria in 1895 about 15 miles west of Bendigo, Victoria, and Oates farmed until his death in the settlement in 1906 aged 79 years.

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