In the 1840s, four families - the Martin, Jacka, Crougey and Coombe families - made separate decisions to emigrate from Cornwall to South Australia. Their stories came together in the small Upper North town of Hammond....

In 1894 the South Australian marriage of Arthur George Martin and Rosalie Blanche Jacka - Arthur and Rose – brought together four families with origins in central Cornwall, in Stithians, Gwennap and Wendron parishes and in the town of St. Day. They were relatively humble people, miners, farmers and blacksmiths. Emigrating to South Australia between 1847 and 1849, they took a great leap of faith to achieve better lives.

Central to the book are three generations of these families: the grandparents who decided to leave their lives in Cornwall, the parents who were young adults in 1849 and saw themselves as ‘colonists’ trying new ventures to create a different way of life, and the generation of Arthur and Rose choosing to consolidate or set their own directions.  Many of the emigrants went to the Victorian goldfields, with varied success. After 1860, mines in Moonta and the northern expansion of agriculture drew a number of the extended families north, reflecting themes in South Australian history. The four families contributed to the colony in mining and slate-production, retailing, education, blacksmithing and stove-making, brewing and hotel-keeping. Their stories are intertwined with the histories of Adelaide, Moonta, Willunga, Auburn, Melrose, Willochra and Hammond.

Using letters, contemporary newspaper reports and family reminiscences, this book seeks to flesh out the character, motivations and family relationships of individuals behind the bare facts of their history. There are many births, deaths and marriages – some weddings with very pregnant brides. There is a potato famine, mighty winds and crashing waves, many droughts, a few floods and plagues of rabbits and sparrows. There are assaults, the breaking down of doors and death by tramcar. There are career changes, medal-winning achievements and frustrated ambitions. There is the heart-rending loss of much-loved children, a young man dead on the way to his wedding, marital infidelity and reconciliation - in short, a typical two centuries of family life.