Saturday, 19 May 2012

The Ohoka Lords

Edwin Lord (01-04-1865  -  17-07-1944)
Mary Meng (21-05-1870   -  27-02-1937)

Edwin Lord was the second oldest son of Jabez Lord and Mary Ann Spencer.  Mary Meng was the oldest surviving daughter of Karl Philipp Meng and Elise Katherina Ellenberger.  They were married at St Michael’s and All Angels, Christchurch on 05-04-1893.
Mary Lord (nee Meng) large opel

Edwin Lord large opel edited auto corrected

Once married, Edwin and Mary settled at Ohoka and started dairy and mixed farming.  They had the farm that used to belong to Karl Meng.  It was down Mill Road in Ohoka and was called Willowgrove.  The farm at first belonged to Karl Meng's three daughters after he died in 1885, including Mary.  Edwin leased the property off them and he and Mary eventually paid Mary’s sisters off and owned the property.   Edwin, who was often called Ted, and Mary had four children.  Only two of them survived to maturity.

Elise May Lord (05-05-1896  -  08-12-1962)
Catherine Emma Lord (1899            -              1899)
Dorothy Wingfield Lord (25-10-1900  -  25-04-1997)
Carl Edwin Lord (12-08-1902  -  12-08-1910)

Carl Edwin Lord was born in 1902 and died at the age of seven in 1910 from diphtheria.  He had curly blonde hair and was nicknamed Carly.  Catherine Emma Lord died at one month old of malnutrition, as she would not feed.

The farm, Willowgrove, was a mixed dairy farm with cows, pigs and sheep.  They also had horses and dogs and nine cats.

Farming back in Edwin’s day was a cooperative affair.  Neighbours helped each other out and shared machines and labour and even dogs.  One of the machines used was a threshing machine which separated the ears from the stalk.  The grain was then packed into sacks, while the stalks get spewed out the other end of the threshing machine.  Every part of the harvest was used and the stalks would make straw bedding for animals.  This is a picture of Edwin Lord (far right) and fellow farmers using such a machine in Ohoka.
Threshing machine at Ohoka - Edwin Lord first from right

Edwin was a bit of a hoarder and he kept a whole lot of receipts and lawyers bills in his old writing case.  In there was a lease for the farm  on 03-07-1897 from Mrs Lord and others (Mary Lord’s two sisters) to Mr Edwin Lord.  So he was in effect leasing the farm partly from his wife.  The lease was 75 pounds a year for five years.  He had to paint the house with a good oil based paint four years after the lease began and to not grow grain crops on the land for more than two years running.  Also he was to grub up all gorse and broom that did not make up the boundary hedges and to clean out all the drains on a yearly basis.

The next lease is dated 08-08-1903 and is also for five years at again 75 pounds per year.  After this lease there was a lawyers bill in July 1908 for the purchase of the Ohoka farm from the three sisters but we don’t know what he paid exactly.  In 1915 he had a loan of 894.10.7 pounds which he had reduced by 549.10.7 pounds  to 345 pounds.

Ohoka in the days Edwin and Mary lived there was a real little community and had shops and even a post office.  The local church was St Alban’s which may have been built in 1875 or more likely as late as early 1882.  It was consecrated on 31-05-1882 by Bishop Harper.  The Rev. William Cruden became the Vicar of the Parochial district of Flaxton with Eyreton and Ohoka in 1890 and resided in Ohoka for 17 years.  Edwin and his family knew him well. We have a photo of William and his wife in our family photos. Their daughter Aggie Cruden was friends with Dorothy Lord, their daughter.

The Ohoka Hall, which still stands today, was opened in 1914.  Edwin Lord was Chairman and Treasurer on the Trustees committee at the first meeting held on 8 June 1914.  There was a competition held that year at the hall for the best decorated Christmas tree and Dorothy Lord won a prize.  Edwin and his family were very involved in the local community. The 100th anniversary of the opening of the Ohoka Hall is to be held in September 2014.

In 1909 the St Alban’s Vicarage was made into a college for the Maori girls of the South Island and the girls acted as choir for the Church with Miss Opie as organist.  The college was called Te Waipounamu, the name for the South Island, meaning water of greenstone; or perhaps more appropriately it should have been called Te Wahipounamu, the place of greenstone.  The college moved to Ferry Road, Christchurch and the old college buildings at Ohoka are now used as a residence. 

Edwin’s daughter Dorothy loved living in Ohoka and had many friends from the Te Waipounamu school. Dorothy also remembers an afternoon tea she had at the Ohoka Homestead when she was seven years old (more likely five years old as Bully was dead by 1905).  Her father dropped her off at the homestead with her mother Mary.  The homestead belonged to Mr Joseph “Bully” White and his wife; the original owners.  Dorothy remembers being patted on the head by Mr White and having the afternoon tea served to them by maids.  They had scones with jam and cream and afterwards started walking home until Edwin picked them up part of the way with a horse and trap.

Edwin Lord was one of the first men in the Ohoka district to get a car.  He and Mr. Walker and Mr. Begg got a Ford from the same shipment to New Zealand.  Mr. Radford of Ohoka wrote a poem about the Ohoka Motor Brigade.  Great grandma (Dorothy Pearce)  mentioned this poem one day at Auchenflower rest home when in her nineties and quoted the last two lines.  We wondered what she was talking about!  An old newspaper clipping of the poem was found in some of Great grandma's things and it was then we discovered she had quoted the last lines correctly.  The poem is as follows.

The Motor Brigade

What is that (said Billy) toot, toot, I hear?
A warning, I replied, that a car is near.
O Lore, he exclaimed, do the Yankies trade
With the Ohoka boys of the Motor Brigade.

Smart things, you know, to get along the road,
And will carry, quite easily, five at a load,
Twenty miles an hour, and the distance soon fade;
Knights of the road are the Motor Brigade.

Billy thought when a car is turning a corner
The driver should pull up and cautiously steer her;
If they run you down they will render no aid,
But drive like the devil, the Motor Brigade.

Suddenly a car turns the corner and into us steer,
No warning was given that a motor was near;
Forty miles an hour, no less, no, not a shade,
Travelled this road hog of the Motor Brigade.

Now all you motor scorchers, and record breakers,
The faithful friends of doctors and undertakers,
Pray, let the sexton have a rest with the spade,
Or leave the ranks of the Motor Brigade.

All are not maniacs of the road, oh no,
Take, for example, the Ohoka Motor Trio:
Beg' the Lord to Walk-er when on parade
Is the motto of the Ohoka Motor Brigade.

Ohoka.                            LANCE CORPORAL

The Lords had a different car later on called a Ford Beauty.  It had a hard top instead of the soft-top of the earlier car.

Edwin and Mary sold the farm in 1919 to Mr L. F. Foote for 4220.9.0 pounds after Edwin caught the flu in the 1918 epidemic and was too weak to continue farming.  There was a thought in the family that Edwin was not the most successful farmer anyway, but whether this is true or not we are not sure.  In 1919 the family moved to 156 Papanui Road in Christchurch.  Apparently the family were extremely sad when they moved.  Their new house was small but had a thriving garden.

We are not sure quite how this happened but on 13-03-1926 Edwin and Mary sold the Ohoka farm again.  This time to George Moorhead of Ohoka for 3430 pounds to be paid over quite a few years with the final payment on 01-12-1933.  Mr Moorhead was paying Edwin 6% per annum in interest.

The next financial transactions that appear in his paperwork were for a mortgage given to Mr W Farquhar for the same Ohoka farm in 1938 and 1939.  Mr Farquhar was struggling to pay the mortgage, probably because of the depression and had applied for relief.   Valuations on the farm were getting lower and lower with the worst being  1860 pounds.  Edwin was losing money as sums were being written off.  This must have worried Edwin as he left many pieces of paper with calculations on them regarding this.  Later on the farm was owned by Frank Ward.

After the Lords lived at 156 Papanui Road they sold their Christchurch property and bought a little house at Stewarts Gully.  Edwin and Mary's daughter Dorothy said that they may have done this to pay for her and her sister May's weddings.

The house at Stewarts Gully was used nearly every weekend as a bach by other family members.  Edwin and Mary Lord's granddaughters often went fishing in the Waimakariri River.  Edwin had a Waimak flattie, a small flat boat, pictured left, which the family took out on the river.  It was moored in some willow trees at Stewarts Gully.  Other members of the family to stay there were Fred Lord (Edwin's brother) and his wife Alena and their children.

Edwin and Mary often visited their daughter, May, at Port Levy on Banks Peninsula.  A letter written by Mary in 1936 describes how the journey was rough in Lyttelton.  They must have taken a boat part way and then been picked up by car and taken to May's place. 

Mary was a well loved auntie to the sons and daughters of her sister Kate Fraser.  She enjoyed needlework and passed this craft onto her daughters.

Mary Lord died in 1937 at her daughter's place at Matsons Ave.  She had bowel cancer for many years and there was nothing that could be done about it.  Her rimu coffin with silver mounts and satin lining cost Edwin 27 pounds.  The black granite headstone also cost 27 pounds.  Edwin kept all the receipts!

Edwin Lord moved in with his daughter when his wife Mary died.  He was a very religious and strict man.  He used to hit his grandchildren's legs under the dinner table with his walking stick if they did anything wrong.  He also used to smoke a pipe and would leave it in strange places.  His granddaughter remembers him leaving it on a cushion and the whole cushion started smoking.  He took it outside and tipped some water on it but the next day the cushion was burnt away.  He also put his pipe in his pocket once and smoke started coming out of his pocket.  He would often look after his granddaughters when their parents went on holiday.  Once he bought a huge lot of tomatoes and the three of them lived on tomatoes for the whole time!  In December 1939 Edwin bought a Chrysler car with the registration plate 45423 and on 18-01-1940 he inherited 42-16-4 pounds and 320-7-8 pounds from the estate of H. C. Lillington.

Edwin died at 200 Matsons Ave in 1944 after being nursed by his daughter Dorothy.  Edwin and Mary are buried in the Bromley Cemetery.

Edwin and Mary Lord (nee Meng) on the street

M. Flintoft, Ohoka Hall information
CCC cemeteries database
Edwin Lord's old documents
Births, deaths and marriages


  1. I've been enjoying looking through your photos. I've just been talking through my Aunt's recollections of life in that area, going to school in Ohoka. I guess it would have been the 20's and 30's. Lovely to see your family history and imagine what it was like back then. thankyou

  2. Thanks Carla for your lovely comment. I think it would have been a wonderfully close knit community back then in Ohoka. I think it is becoming that way again now. You should write your Aunt's recollections down!