Forgotten Hack lacked killer colonial instinct – Eureka Street

I came across this article today in my search for information about a distant relative of mine John Barton Hack.

John Barton Hack was one of the pioneers of Adelaide and, at first, one of its rising stars, a dynamic figure around the small, bustling settlement from the moment he arrived from his native Cheshire in February 1837……….

In the end, he gave his name to an insignificant laneway in North Adelaide and a range of hills and a track near the township of Echunga, a place he singlehandedly established and where he prospered until setbacks, unwise investment, and the ruthless treachery of his ‘friend’ Jacob Hagen set him on a downward path from which he never recovered.

The rest of the article is here: Forgotten Hack lacked killer colonial instinct – Eureka Street

It turns out the writer of this article is the father of an old primary school friend of mine. They lived on Hack Range Rd just out of the township of Echunga where Hack settled.

I have Hack listed as being born in Chichester and all the other articles I’ve found state this, so I’d be interested to hear where Mr Matthews got this information from. I have so far been unable to find Hack’s birth certificate. He also says that part of Hack’s poor fortune was due to the ‘ruthless treachery of his friend Jacob Hagen’. This is intriguing and also unique to this article. Another small mystery to unravel!!! I love it! 🙂

He looks like such a forbidding figure in this picture however it’s also said of him

Hack was too soft-hearted to be a successful pioneer; he paid high wages, gave generous credits and neglected to cover himself. Although he became a Wesleyan Methodist he was a Quaker by upbringing; he befriended Aboriginals and ex-convicts, advocated temperance, presided over the Mechanics’ Institute, looked after James Backhouse and George Washington Walker during their Adelaide visit, and gave land in Pennington Terrace for a Friends’ meeting house.


  1. Herbert Stock

    Yes – Hack was born in Chichester – the Hacks and the Bartons were proprietors of Hack’s Bank in Chichester, though J.B. Hack was a currier (glovemaker).

    As a member of gthe Society of Friends In Adelaide I, in conjunction with a friend, did a lot of work on Hack and the Adelaide Meeting House which he was responsible for.

    There is another street in Adelaide named after him – Barton Road in North Adelaide.

    Hagen was a typical banker of the time and he was under pressure from his father at Hagen’s Bank in London (now part of Barclays Bank)

    Get in touch with me off list if you want more information.

    Herbert Stock

  2. admin

    Hi Herbert
    Thanks for your comment and the information about the Hack and Hagen families. I’ll be in touch.

    Kylie 🙂

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