Archive for January 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday: Tips for the early settler

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Brett’s Colonists’ Guide and Cyclopaedia of Useful Knowledge was first published in 1883. All information that could possibly be needed for the new settler to New Zealand was covered in this book. From how to keep bees, shoeing horses, making a will and treating sore nipples, to recipes for Jugged Hare and Christmas cake, the breadth of tips and tricks to living in the colonies is wide and variable.



Of the many different and fascinating chapters, one I particularly like is called Cottages for Settlers. The chapter is introduced with, “A large proportion of the country settlers of New Zealand are compelled, by the exigencies of their location, to become their own architects…” In the following pages “three designs of convenient cottages, of very simple construction, with specifications of the sizes and quantity of timber required to complete them…” are provided, with illustrations. Below is an example of one of these designs.
Henry Brett was an interesting man.  In addition to newspaper publishing (after working for the Daily Southern Cross and the New Zealand Herald, he bought into the Auckland Star) he produced a number of popular guidebooks and almanacs, introduced photo-engraving in New Zealand and, amongst others, wrote the shipping guide White Wings.
Henry Brett was an interesting man.  In addition to newspaper publishing (after working for the Daily Southern Cross and the New Zealand Herald, he bought into the Auckland Star) he produced a number of popular guidebooks and almanacs, introduced photo-engraving in New Zealand and, amongst others, wrote the shipping guide White Wings. Click on this link to see what we, at Auckland Libraries, hold of his works.

Bridget

Summer Reads: The Runaway Settlers by Elsie Locke

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Our third book in the summer reads with a family history theme is a famous Kiwi classic – The Runaway Settlers by Elsie Locke. It’s a sturdy read for children - a great one to read to them before bed, a few chapters at a time. It rocks along with loads of adventure, although it is written in an older style (it was published in 1965).  Interestingly, it's based on a real family, and author Elsie Locke spoke with descendants of that family in her research. Thus this is a true "family history" (albeit fictional) story about settler New Zealanders in the mid 1800s.

The Runaway Settlers begins in 1859 New South Wales - the story of Mary Small and her children Archie, Emma, Mary Ann, Bill, Jack and Jimmy. Mary has been squirreling away money, waiting for the chance to escape her violent husband, and when he leaves home for a cattle sale, she takes the opportunity to get out.  She and the children make their way to Sydney to find a ship to take them away.  They end up in Governors Bay in the South Island and begin their new life.

Here's an excerpt from after they've arrived in New Zealand:
"A bar of sunlight woke Jack in the morning. He edged away from the sleeping Archie and stepped outside. Every piece of him ached with stiffness and his shoulder reminded him of its old bruises. He moved out into the centre of the clearing and looked around at its encircling trees, at the Sugarloaf towering above, and at Mount Bradley with its squared-off crags, like the Egyptian Sphinx he had seen in a book; and a joyful thought came surging up inside him.
Father will never find us here."


This is a story of settler life that takes place over several years, with everything that goes along with it - from farming and food production, a new community, the lure of the goldfields, not to mention the coming of age of the older children. Historic events are included, such as the discovery of gold at Gabriel's Gully, and the Otago goldrush.  
Gabriel's Gully during the goldrush of the 1860s.
From 'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19110601-2-1 '
There are of course rough times and sadnesses - the pets! It's always the pets! - but its a story of forging a new life and leaving behind an old one. Its also the story of a plucky woman who waited for the perfect opportunity to change her life around - and succeeded.
Auckland Libraries have several copies of this classic, and you can also check out more about Elsie Locke on the NZ Book Council website.  And if you're still fascinated, take a look at a biography written about her a few years ago - Looking for Answers  - available throughout Auckland Libraries.

Happy Reading
Joanne.

Treasure Chest Thursday: Using local histories when doing your family history

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The old adage about putting flesh on the skeleton used by genealogists reinforces the beauty of using local histories when building a picture of your family.

Heritage et al recently blogged about the most recent winners of the J. M. Sherrard award in New Zealand regional and local history.

The ultimate award went to Robert Peden for his book, Making sheep country: Mt Peel Station and the transformation of the tussock lands (Auckland University Press, 2011). Writing on early agriculture, “the economic and ecological transformation of New Zealand”, the information on the early high country sheep farmers and the decisions they made about where they, and how they, farmed provides social context to those others farming in nineteenth century New Zealand. Although focussing on Mt Peel station and John Acland’s experience of establishing large-scale sheep farming, what Mr Acland went through could easily provide the background for a family historian’s understanding of how life was for their own ancestor. As written in the book’s preface, “Acland’s story is in many ways typical of the experiences of his fellow pastoralists.”

Making sheep country : Mt Peel Station and the transformation of the tussock lands
by Robert Peden

Another winner from the J. M. Sheerard awards for 2010-2013 was David Verran’s book on the North Shore, The North Shore : an illustrated history (Auckland, N.Z. : Random House, 2010).

This book is also an excellent example of how you can glean a picture of the way your ancestor lived through studying the local history. One of the chapters is on boatbuilding and the various boat yards that existed. Described are these various yards, their owners and how they operated; “At about the same time that the Holmes family was building the Waitemata, George Beddoes’ shipyard was constructing a schooner and three cutters. Other work this yard undertook included the repairs and alterations to a paddle steamer. It was this shipyard that built the paddle steamer Devonport in 1870, the first timber and steel ship built in New Zealand.”

Bailey and Lowe's boatbuilding yard at Sulphur Beach, Northcote Point, around 1910.
The North Shore : an illustrated history by David Verran

Auckland Libraries holds a large and varied collection of local histories from throughout the wider Auckland region to around the country. You can search our catalogue under the name of the area to see what we have in our collection.

Bridget