“CHAPPLE, John Cole (1829-1899) was perhaps the most prominent citizen in the first years of Alexandra, while his son served as a member of Parliament in New Zealand and Britain.
An Englishman, Chapple emigrated to Victoria to seek gold and came to Central Otago shortly after the Dunstan rush. He settled in Alexandra and immediately formed a party to divert the Manuherekia River, near the confluence with Chatto Creek, so that the exposed bed could be mined. This done, Chapple formed a syndicate of 10 men, known as the Rose, Thistle and Shamrock Company, to cut a race to bring water from the Manuherekia Gorge to the Tucker Hill diggings.
The massive undertaking, begun in January 1864, involved making cuttings through solid rock, a tunnel and an immense wooden viaduct to carry the race across the Manorburn - described as one of the largest contructions on the goldfields. Through a mistake in levels the end of the race was too low to reach Tucker Hill and the syndicate went into receivership.
Meanwhile, Chapple was taking an interest in civic affairs. In August 1863, he led a successful delegation to Dunedin to complain to the Superintendent about the high fees charged by the river ferries. probably the first person to be registered as a mining agent, he was also busy representing miners in the Warden¹s Court. He was elected mayor of Alexandra in mid-1871 and served for one term.
In the early 1870s Chapple left Alexandra and took up a large sheep farm known as “Allandale”, west of Ophir, where he acted as ranger for straying stock, tried (unsuccessfully) to set up the first flour mill in the district in 1876, hosted the first ploughing match in 1877, and organised the first Agricultural Show in the district in 1881. His wife Elizabeth (nee Allan) wrote fervent letters to the paper about the need for good education for both boys and girls. J.C. Chapple died on 16 December 1899, survived by five daughters and one son. J.C. McCraw.”