THE Bega Pioneers' Museum has countless files on people and places. This history was researched and written by Robert Russell on the occasion of the Tanja Public School Centenary in 1978.
AMONG the first settlers in Tanja were Jack Hayden (a big man – Big Jack Mountain was named after him) and George Nelson, a drover.
Their camp was on the narrow portion of land bounded by the sea and Nelson Lake. Nelson also gave his name to Nelson Beach, Nelson Creek and Nelson Gold Field.
Another man, Hugh Pittman, may have been with them. The river to the west of Tanja is still known as Pittman's Creek.
Moon, living with his family at Moon Bay, shepherded sheep.
A daughter married Fred Brown, blacksmith for the Gowings at Jellat Jellat.
Brown, with his son, made some 200 iron ploughs, long handled and long mouldboard, which did a ploughing job which was a joy to the eye.
Joseph Adams arrived in Sydney in 1852. He went almost at once to the Murrah to work for the Polack Brothers.
With Tim Jess, Adams was the first man to bring a bullock dray from the Murrah to Angledale for wheat. The track was cut through the bush as they went and was later known as Polak's Track.
At the approaching birth of a third child, Mr and Mrs Adams walked to Bega along a bridle track, camping halfway, near to today's Tanja Post Office and then went on to the midwife Mrs Maples at Tarraganda.
In 1861 Sir John Robertson's Land Act was passed. Between 1861 and 1878, 50 people selected land at Nelson.
Some, like Bligh, Rodgers, Sercombe, Kent, Thos Russell, Taylor, Hunter, Lewis and Sproates to farm, others clearing farms, splitting posts, slabs, palings, collecting stringy-bark for roofing, shingles, stripping wattle-bark and burning charcoal.
Included among the first selectors was W H Braine, He came to Tanja late in 1877 after having been the teacher at Bega National School and publisher of the Bega Gazette.
Braine was a keen gardener and grew his vegetables on what is known as the Coffin paddock, below the Sandy Creek Bridge, which was a much wider piece of land than it is today.
Building a home on the hill crest, he included a room 16 feet by nine feet with a shingle roof and a tongued-and-grooved floor.
Possibly the sawn timber would have come from the Gowing Bros Mill at Reedy Swamp.
On March 25, 1878, Mr Braine started a private school in this room, which he called Milford School. There was an initial attendance of 18.