Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Amazing Photo Discoveries!

In the past couple of years I have discovered who are in old photos I own.  This is always extremely exciting.

A photo I owned, I suspected it might be one of the three Meng girls who were born in the 1870s, but I didn't know which one.  I found the Jack Baker album a few years ago on the Internet, on one of my favourite historic photo blogs where there was a definite photo of Kate Meng - .  Kate and her sister Mary were friends with Clara Harris who also lived in Ohoka.  They must have swapped a lot of photos.

Kate Meng is in a window with lots of beads around her neck.  She has the same look on her face as all her other photos.  A very distinctive face.

Then I realised that I had a similar photo in my album but of a girl with her hair more out.  It was Kate's little sister Emma Meng - I could now see the resemblance.  This was very exciting as I could now name the girl in the photo.  They have been dressed in the same dress with the same beads around their necks.

It is photos like these that have inspired my own photography.  I love dressing up girls and boys for photos.  Often people don't have their own fashionable clothing or old fashioned gown.  Just like these girls, they had to borrow some clothing for the photo instead of wearing their everyday dresses for school and farm life.  Check out my website for my own modern day take on classic photos.

Monday, 6 February 2017

James Edwin Gillespie - West Coast Gold Chaser

I am still trying to trace my ancestors William Henry Luff and Elizabeth Gillespie.  One way of doing this is to find all the Gillespies in NZ at the time Elizabeth was here and to do short biographies to rule them out of being related to her.  It is unusual for a woman to come by herself to NZ without some sort of relative already here.  She may have had a cousin here bearing a different surname, but for now I will just continue in my quest to find Gillespies.  If I can't find anyone related then I could assume that she has escaped Scotland because of some calamity she got herself into, or the surname of friends and family is different to her own.

The first person I'm tracing is James Edwin Gillespie, gold chaser on the West Coast.

He was apparently the person who discovered gold at what is now called Gillespie's Beach.  My ancestors were in the vicinity when he discovered it and Elizabeth happened to have the same surname.  Hence this blog post!

This is what I've found so far and this proves he is probably not related to my Elizabeth:

James Edwin Gillespie was born in America according to his burial record.  He was interred in Orowaiti Old Cemetery on 11 June 1890.  He died from congestion of the lungs aged 62.  His occupation was inspector and he was a protestant.

He was buried with his wife who happened to be named Elizabeth Gillespie, the same as my ancestor. She died several years after him and was interred on 13 March 1912.  She died on Senile decay aged 78 and was a Roman Catholic of Irish descent.

I looked up their marriage and they were not married in New Zealand.   I looked in Australia as if he is a gold chaser it is likely he came from Melbourne.  I then found a James Edwin Gillespie marrying an Elizabeth O'Brian in 1856 in Victoria.  This is likely them.  O'Brian being an Irish name.

They had a son Edwin in about 1857 in Beechworth, Victoria, Australia and one in New Zealand named Thomas in 1869.  The son named Edwin was most likely named James Edwin.

James Edwin Gillespie Jnr son of James Edwin Gillespie tragically died on 26 May 1882 aged 24 in the Taranaki area.  And Thomas died aged four in 1874.  It appears the couple may have been childless after 1882 which is extremely tragic.

I searched the newspapers for articles about James Edwin Gillespie and found quite a lot.

In 1861 a letter from James Edwin Gillespie was quoted in a Sydney Newspaper.  It says that he is very experienced in gold mining in both NSW and Victoria.

In 1863 he was in Arthur's point, near Queenstown.

In 1864 J. E. Gillespie was still at Arthur's Point, near Queenstown mining. He was a definite gold chaser.

That same year he was also the secretary of the Arthur's Point races.

In May 1864 his speech was quoted in the newspaper.  

Sometime in 1865 James Edwin Gillespie must have discovered Gillespie's Beach which was named after him.  By April 1866 there were reports of the chaos at this beach.  Here is the account published on 19 April in the West Coast Times.  There were no other mentioned of Gillespie's Beach in any newspapers before this, so this is the first ever mention of the name.

In 1866 James Edwin Gillespie was in the Hokitika area.

In 1868 he owned Gillespie's Waverley Hotel

In 1869, James was named as a miner and witnessed a drowning at Charleston.  Here is his account:

In 1870 he was the manager of the Charleston Progressive Water race company  He also went bankrupt that same year and had to go to the Charleston Courthouse.

In Jan 1877 James was Secretary of the Miner's Association and organised a meeting at the Southern Hotel, Reefton.

In 1886 he was appointed the Registrar of Dogs for the Westport Borough

in 1890 he died and in 1912 his wife died, leaving no children.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

My Uncle Had An Old Banjo

My Grandma taught me a song when I was little which came from my Great Grandad Arthur Cyril Pearce (known as Cyril).   It is a weird song which sounds like it comes from either Australia or the deep south of America or maybe both places!!!  I wish to find out where the song originates from and would love to hear from anyone else who knows this song or a slightly different version of this song. I have a suspicion that it comes from the Victorian Goldfields of Australia as my Great Grandad's grandfather (William Henry Luff) was there way back in the 1850s.  The "Oka Rocka Roo" sounds so Australian.  I'll eat my hat if it isn't from there!  If the song has survived in another goldchaser's family it would indicate maybe a connection to that time.  So here it goes.  Sorry for the spelling mistakes in the nonsensical verse at the end!

My Uncle had an old banjo and it was made of tin
He used it for a frying pan to fry a sausage in
And as the sausage sizzled in the pan, it went off with a bang
And the old man grieved in sadness, and his story loudly rang

Ay-o ring-kim cocum candy
Ring ting John with a rum tum too
Ex-cep flip flop gelatina candy
Ang-eye Twang-eye
Oka Rocka Roo

Monday, 12 December 2016

Updates on my book the Chrysolite

Here are some updates for my book on the Chrysolite.  Every time I publish a book new information always comes out of the woodwork.  One day a man banged on my door saying his ancestor was on the Chrysolite and I hadn't included a biography for him in the book.  Ian, this is for you.  Your ancestor is now in my updates:


John McIlroy was the son of William McIlroy and was born on 25 May 1816 in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.  He married twice, first to Jean Through, (they had four children) and then once Jean died in about 1850, he married Georgnia Christie.  They married on 5 Sept 1853 and had five children, one of whom was born in New Zealand.

John had a market garden at Burntisland, Scotland but other occupations included gardener, labourer and engine worker.

In 1862 John, Georgina and eight children came to New Zealand on the Chrysolite.  On the shipping list they were listed as John (44), Georgina (37), John (23), Jane (20), Robert (17), William (13), Joseph (8), Elizabeth (6), Georgina (2), James (2).

John purchased a farm in Rolleston and had a prize stallion, grew mangles (similar to turnips) and other crops.  They had their own traction engine and some of his sons did farm contract work.

John died at Springston on 6 January 1892 aged 77 years and was buried in the Springston Cemetery. Georgina died at Ashburton on 4 February 1901 aged 72 years. (courtesy of Ian McIlroy)

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Flaxton Cemetery, North Canterbury - Photos of all the graves - a cute New Zealand Cemetery

Today I went for a trip to Flaxton Cemetery in North Canterbury.  My great great great grandparents are buried there, Carl Philipp Meng and Elise Katharina Meng nee Ellenberger along with three of their children.  Two of their children are in unmarked graves, twin girls who wouldn't feed and died as infants of malnutrition.  And buried with her father is Elise Mary, a 12 year old who died of pneumonia.  So sad!

Anyway,  I took photos of all the graves today as there are not many.  If you are interested in seeing a photo of your ancestor's grave, please check it out here.

The lighting wasn't great on some graves (afternoon would have been better for photos - a tip everyone - go in the afternoon!)  And some were unreadable.  Louis, 4,  found it quite interesting and even spent a moment sitting by the graves of his 4x great grandparents.  I thought it quite sweet.  He even found a hut up in the trees.

This used to be the site of St Paul's Church, Flaxton on the corner of Flaxton and Hicklands Roads, Flaxton.  This photo shows there were no trees around the church at one point, it being plonked in the middle of fields.  The Toeless family donated land for the church in 1866 for the people of Rangiora and Mandeville Swamp areas.  The church was consecrated on 25 March 1867 by Bishop Harper.  Click here to read about the consecration in the old newspapers.  It served the people until 1875 but because of poor roads and floods communication was often difficult.  Then a decision was made to build at Eyreton as it was drier land.  It was still used until 1920 but then demolished in 1934.

Now the site has the old graves and a lot of different trees which have grown up over the years.

The following article has many names in it of living people who are now buried in this cemetery. Quite sad really to read.  They are now all at rest.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Updates on my Brother's Pride and Bahia book

This book on the Brother's Pride and Bahia was the one I had the most emails about.  It can still be purchased on Amazon.  It was a horrendous journey and everyone who had an ancestor on that ship seemed to know something about it or their ancestors being on there.  So I have a LOT more information.  I may do an update some time in the future, but at the moment I am so busy with children and photography.  So here are the updates I have received.  Apologies to those who wanted their information in a new edition.  It may still happen in the future but will be a while!  In the meantime there is this page of updates!



I met a lady recently who told me the name Scarcombe on the ship Bahia passenger list, printed in the newspapers, was a massive mistake.   "It is hard to follow up on names when they are misspelt.  I was stuck about the Larcombe Family for years as I refused to believe that it was them written Scarcombe.  With experience I discovered that L and S are often transcribed wrongly."  (courtesy Jenny Mayne).

Brother's Pride


Henry Banton aged 22 was a passenger on the "Brother's Pride" to New Zealand.  He emigrated after the death of his parents Henry Banton (a baker), and Jane Megee, both buried in the Church grounds at Presbury, Cheshire in 1861/62.  Henry travelled with his first wife Mary (nee Foden), an "infant" who was 6 month old Henry and Mary's brother James Foden.  Henry's younger brother John Banton came on the "David G. Fleming" arriving on 8 December 1863.

Henry worked at Anderson's Foundary for over 60 years.  He was a "highly skilled machinist and it is claimed for him that he helped to turn out some of the best work that was ever produced in this country."  He died 22 May 1926 aged 86 and was buried in Bromley Cemetery. (courtesy of Helen Cornick)


"Secondly, and more importantly is that my family owes its existence to the survival of the Sparkes [note with an e], being direct descendants.  I cannot tell you a great deal about them but you may be interested to know that far from being daunted by the trip they turned round and sailed back to England.  They missed what London had to offer.  Four years later they arrived back again on the 'Glenmark', November 1867, determined to make the most of Christchurch.  William Sparkes was actually a Shakespearean actor who used his set-making skills to describe himself a carpenter, a more desirable trade for winning an assisted passage, [or two].  Two of his daughters later married two brothers in another of my family lines."  (courtesy Lex Calder)

Updates on my Glentanner book


Henry Abraham Corinaldi and his older brother David, came on this ship from Jamaica to Australia, arriving in Melbourne on 27 Sept. 1853.

The ship had a quite a few single men from Jamaica who probably left due to the unpleasantness of the times in Jamaica following the freeing of the slaves. The time also coincided with the discovery of gold in Ballarat. Henry and David went to that area of Victoria where they operated as pharmacists. (courtesy Rod Corinaldi)


Andrew Hymers married Barbara Oliver on 31st March 1854 in the Parish of Halkirk, Caithness.  
They had two children (not twins)  James Oliver Hymers was born on 25th February 1855 at Dalganachan in the Parish of Halkirk and Jane Hymers was born on 14th December 1956 at Wagg, Berriedale in the Parish of Latheron, Caithness.
Andrew married for a second time on 3rd June 1859 at The Church, East Taieri, Otago.  His bride’s name was Margaret Russell.  Around 1871/1872 Andrew returned to Scotland, once again a widower and with him were his two daughters Jane (born about 1860) and Elizabeth (born about 1864).   These girls were later to return to New Zealand along with their husbands and children.
I have done extensive research on this family but have been unable to find a record of death or burial for his wife Barbara, who you say died on 12th October 1857 in Christchurch Hospital.
I am also unable to find birth records for Jane and Elizabeth and the death of his second wife Margaret and their daughter Helen.

I did find in the Lyttelton Times dated 21st October 1857 that Andrew Hyness and child sailed for Otago. Although the surname is spelt differently I am pretty sure this is Andrew Hymers as he was accompanied by the Pringles. (Margaret Ross)


Pictures of Ward Robinson, passenger on the Glentanner, courtesy of Robin Hodkinson