Saturday, 30 November 2013

Ancestral Journeys of New Zealand Series

Just letting everyone know about this great series of books on immigrant ships.  For more information please click on the link below to see the website for these.  

There are now 6 titles in this series on the following ships:  Clontarf, Sebastopol, Gananoque, Glentanner, Brother's Pride and soon to be released Lancashire Witch.

The books are available for purchase on Trade Me for NZ customers (the cheapest way to purchase) or on Amazon if you are overseas.  They go into great detail about the journeys out and often tell stories of individuals and what they went through.  They are thoroughly researched and well presented books.  Buying these books helps us to do more research and get more books written. 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Sepia Saturday 205: Moustachinations

What a cool word for this week's Sepia Saturday.  Moustachinations is a word I've never actually heard of before.  I've heard of "mo"  and "tache" and then all the other facial hair descriptions like "flavour saver" and "goatie."

Anyway, the following photo is of a lot of moustachioed men which used to fascinate me as a teenager.  It is what began my research into the family tree.  I started this at 15 years old, rather young!  I firstly asked my Grandma many questions about who was in the photos and then stories about their wives, children and general lives came out.  My Mum had done a bit of this with her own Grandma and had a small notebook of information.  I also asked my Great Grandma (who was in her 80s and 90s) many questions about her childhood and wrote them down on scraps of paper, which have eventually turned into this blog.  This blog is even named after my Great Grandma!

16_The Lord Family

My family are just a general run of the mill family, but the fact we have the most amazing family photo collection, has really sparked my imagination into life.  Just look at this photo for example.  The men look dapper and almost self important.  The old man standing in the middle at the back is my 3 x great grandfather Jabez Lord who came from a poor family of weavers back in Yorkshire.  His father was in jail in 1841 in the Wakefield House of Corrections.  What he was in there for, I have not yet been able to discover, but every census record shows Jabez with other family members, not his own parents.  Jabez travelled many thousands of miles to start a new life in Canterbury, New Zealand arriving in 1860 on the Clontarf and did very well for himself.  He probably did better than he ever imagined, owning and running his own farm.  When he sold up and retired to town, he was a wealthy man compared to his family back home.  

The other people in the photo are his family.  Click here for a list of names.  

I think this photo was taken right on the year 1900, probably because it was a year that had a ring about it and seems to tally with the people in the photo.  The photo had "Bealey Street" written on the back.  Fred Lord, son of Jabez lived at 112 Bealey Street, Christchurch, New Zealand and we think that the photo is taken outside this house which no longer exists.  Note the croquet sticks and tennis rackets - truly rich men's sports.  The photo really reflects a family that seemed proud of itself - but hopefully not conceited.  From my Grandma's stories of them, they seem very kind, hardworking and respectable people.   

I think these are the best bunch of taches I have ever seen! What do you think?

Monday, 18 November 2013

Sepia Saturday 204 - Major events - 66th Anniversary of the Ballantynes Fire and Funeral

Another Sepia Saturday and again it drums up ideas of something major and again tragic.  Next week I'm planning to write about something more humorous and lighthearted!  I was not born when Kennedy was shot so decided to write about something a bit different.

On 18 November 1947 my Grandma went to work as usual at Beaths Department store in Christchurch, New Zealand.  She was 19 years old, a dressmaker in a large department store. She would bike to work every day, about 6 kilometres into town, with her friends.  They would all go together.  They parked their bikes up and went into work. 

At about 3.30 pm there was a smoke smell coming from a basement in Ballantynes department store, across the road from where my Grandma worked.  A while later that afternoon my Grandma's boss came informed all his staff about the fire which had now got very big, and they were sent home early.  She said everyone was crying.  Most of them had friends working in Ballantynes and they were all so upset.   Grandma worked on the opposite side of Beaths from the fire.  She was sent around the block a different way in order to get her bike to go home.  She never saw the fire close up, thank goodness, just the smoke rising from behind buildings.  The fire was so terribly hot that it blew out windows in Beaths department store which was on the other side of Colombo Street (the main street of Christchurch).

Meanwhile in Ballantynes Department store there was chaos.  My Auntie Hazel was in the hairdressing department and her boss had the presence of mind to march the staff single file out of the building in a calm and orderly manner.  Many other departments however didn't do this thinking there was no problem, especially the second floor staff.   My Grandma remembers that people tried to get out of some doors but they were locked.  It doesn't bear thinking about, but she said that many people died piled against the locked doors.  I have read other accounts online and there is no mention of this, only that they were at the upper windows trying to get out.  Three women jumped from the third floor windows.  Two survived but one named Violet Cody died of her injuries.  Their workmates who didn't jump all died of smoke inhalation. Violet was the only body to be identified.  All others were unidentifiable.

My Grandma lost two friends that day, her friend Nellie who she went to primary school with and was in her knitting club during wartime (Nellie Elenora Marie Christensen), and a girl she went to Sunday School with.  For a full list of those who died, click here.

For more indepth information on the worst fire ever in New Zealand click here.  To see a video of the fire click here.

We have a photo of the fire being put out but have no idea who took it.  Probably a friend of my great Grandfather.  You can see the hazy spire of our old Christchurch Cathedral in the distance.  You can just see the start of the Beaths sign visible on the right hand side of the photo.

Pearce family photos 15
There had been a terrible lack of urgency to get out of the building and the fire brigade was understaffed, undertrained, and had bad leadership.  The staff didn't understand the severity of the fire until it was too late and their escape routes had been blocked.  Also the Ballantynes building was made of flammable materials and was badly designed so that some areas had no escape routes.

There was a huge civic funeral for the 41 people who died that day, held on 23 November 1947 at Christchurch Anglican Cathedral - the largest ever in Christchurch.  The procession went from the Cathedral to the Cemetery, a distance of three miles but apparently was very long and went for a long time.  My Grandma told me that my great grandfather Arthur Cyril Pearce was driving dignitaries in either a Chrysler or a Plymouth in the procession.  He worked for the Public Service Garage.  I think it was actually a Chrysler he was driving as a friend took photos mainly of a Chrysler driving through the crowds.
 Pearce family photos 16
He also captured pictures of the trucks mounded with flowers which contained the bodies of the victims.  

Pearce family photos 20
The procession ended at the Ruru Lawn Cemetery, Christchurch and the following photo shows some of the 41 coffins laid out with flowers.  I'm not sure who the man is in the middle of the photo.  Apparently 800 friends and family attended the funeral.  Our family doesn't know who took these photos, but it was an friend of my great grandfather.  I'm not sure what this person's relationship was to the people who died and I will probably never know unless someone messages me that their grandfather took the photos!
Pearce family photos 17

Ballantynes Department store is still open today despite the fire and the Christchurch earthquakes.   It was one of the first stores to reopen in the central city after the earthquakes and from what I can see when visiting - it's busy and thriving.  I wrote this post on the 66th anniversary of the tragedy (unknowingly and this freaked me out) and Sepia Saturday is the 66th anniversary of the funeral (23 November), but the Christmas shoppers are out in force and the tragedy is only a distant memory now.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Sepia Saturday 203: A shadowy person in the doorway

The photo theme for Sepia Saturday is of a person standing in a doorway.  I had a couple to choose from but actually not many in our collection.  This was the most interesting. 

Laddy & William Pearce
The person sitting on the porch is my great great uncle, William (Willy) Henry Pearce, not long back from WWI, taken about 1919. He is patting the family dog called Laddy. Nearly all the Pearce family dogs were called Laddy - not partically imaginative. In the doorway is a family member. It is probably Willy's mother Eliza, judging by the long skirt and apron, but we can only guess as the woman's head is in the shadows. The house is 60 Aikmans Road, Merivale, Christchurch where the Pearce family lived for many years. Most old Christchurch houses were made of weatherboards with a porch and some decorative posts, as in this picture, with iron fretwork around the gutter area to make it look pretty. You can see the shadow of the fretwork in this picture. It must have been quite a sunny day with high contrast. Willy's eyes are hidden by the shadow of his hat and he has a fag hanging out of his mouth, possibly a habit he got from the war. Willy Pearce was never quite the same after coming back from war. It was called shell shock back then, or Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) these days.  If we could see the expression on his mother Eliza's face, it may have been an expression of concern for him.

I wanted to research where Willy went during WWI and was excited to find that his army medical records have finally been scanned and put online on Archway, Archives New Zealand.  Click here to view them. I was interested to find out what affected him so greatly. But the record was mainly medical and only mentions the places in England that he went, not the battles he endured.

Willy's medical showed he was a normal and healthy 20 year old man when he entered the army.  He was short at 5 foot, 3 1/2 inches tall, with black hair, dark complexion and grey eyes and weighed 135 pounds.

He was transported on the ship Willochra, departing Wellington on 16 October 1916 and arriving in England on 28 December along with hundreds of other men.  He was admitted to Devonport Military hospital the day after arrival on 29 December 1916 with Laryngitis and bronchitis.  He was discharged to the Command Depot Codford, Wiltshire, England, on 8 January 1917.  He then got mumps on 8 March 1917 and was discharged on 21 March 1917.  He certainly had an unwell time at the beginning of that year and probably wished he was at home sitting on the porch!

What he did after that is not recorded on this particular record.  His other records are held in Wellington and are not accessible on the Internet yet.  Maybe soon I will be able to click a button and read about his war time life.  At the moment what he saw and experienced is still a mystery to me.

Willy married and had children and lived until he was 78 years old.  His mother in the doorway back in 1919, however, would have been very worried about him, a changed man after seeing, hearing and feeling things that no man should have to go through.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Sepia Saturday 202 - A beach scene and the plight of Christchurch

This weeks Sepia Saturday is a tricky one.  I don't have any photos of a camera.  The camera is always invisible on the other side, in my family photos.  I also don't have any photos of Corky the Cat and actually have no idea who Corky is!  However, I do have some very old beach photos such as this one below which I think was taken by my very own amatuer beach photographer, my great grandfather! 

Pearce family photos 24

My photo for the week shows a picnic on a beach.  I think it is a beach near Christchurch, New Zealand, possibly Redcliffs, although nothing was written on the back of it, like most of my family photos!  I love it because the man in the middle is handing the photographer what appears to be a biscuit (or cookie to those of you who are reading from America).  They are looking so relaxed and dressed up for their picnic, having a lovely time together.  It is from a bygone era that will never return.  Our family don't know anyone in the picture and we are pretty sure they are not related to us.  It is a relaxed and happy photo. 

I have recently entered many of my photos into a photo hunt competition.  Christchurch, where I have lived my whole life, has gone through many earthquakes in the past few years and the Christchurch Library is collecting photos of old Christchurch to preserve online.  I contributed 46 old photos including the beach scene above which I'm sure was taken by my Great Grandad Arthur Cyril Pearce.  

For those of you who don't know my city, let me explain what happened in Christchurch.

Christchurch has been described by some as the most English city outside of England with beautiful heritage buildings and gardens.  It is often called "The Garden City."  On 4 September 2010 we had a massive 7.1 earthquake which was centred about 40 kms from Christchurch at a place called Greendale.  Not much is at Greendale except sheep, but the shake was enough to really rattle the city in the early morning at 4.35am.  The earthquake just didn't seem to stop.  It was about 30 seconds long, but felt like an eternity as I ran down the hallway and ripped my children out of bed.  I really thought that the house was going to fall down on us and we were going to die.  The house stayed up and was virtually undamaged, but we sat in bed in the cold and dark (the power went out) of the night hearing the rumbles of aftershocks coming towards us like freight trains going through the house.  Literally through the house.  I was shaking with shock.  You can try and explain a large earthquake to those who have never been through one, but they just will never understand what it is like!

The centre of our city was damaged extensively by this earthquake with many old buildings toppling but we couldn't get over the amount that had survived.   Plus noone died in the earthquake.  Yippee!

However there was a second large earthquake which was labelled as an aftershock.  It happened on 22 February 2011, but this one was a different story.  It happened in the middle of the working day at 12.50pm and even though it was smaller (a magnitude 6.3) it did more damage as it was so close to the city and had extremely large accelerations which made the earth bump up and down as well as sideways.  I was at home.  I knew my sister was going to lunch at 1pm and that she would be on the 19th floor of a large office building, the Price Waterhouse Building.  I burst into tears and my four year old daughter was rubbing me on the back and saying "it's all right Mummy."  Luckily my sister was ok, but tragically 185 people died that day.

I turned on the TV soon after the massive shake and a line of text ran across the bottom of the screen.  "Breaking News.  Large Earthquake Hits Christchurch."  Then a few minutes later a TV cameraman pointed his camera at the Christchurch Cathedral, an icon of our city, and the image showed that the top of it had come off.  My heart lept out of my chest.  I knew at that moment, without being told, that many people had died that day.

The aftershocks continued for many months.  They would always come at the worst moments such as on 23 December 2011 when another massive aftershock hit and closed down all the malls and stopped Christmas shopping in its tracks.  My family couldn't be bothered with Christmas day that year and illness hit the family, probably from the stress we had been facing.

Our central city has now had a large percentage of its buildings demolished and many of the very old ones have gone.  The aftershocks are getting less and the rebuilding is slowly starting.  Nature however continues on.  The daffodils still bloom every year and the trees still change colour in autumn.  We have so much to appreciate!

If the above photo is indeed at Redcliffs or Sumner, then great chunks of the cliffs have now come down and shipping containers keep the road safe below.  Houses hang precariously on the edge, their owners long gone.  Click here for a blog that shows the earthquake damage at Redcliffs, Christchurch.

The loss of heritage is why the local libraries are looking for old photos!  They don't just want old building photos however.  They want people shots as well which is the category that my photo fits into. A lesson we have all learnt in Christchurch is that buildings and possessions really don't mean as much as human life.  And of course nature continues on.  This photo shows how we should all try to feel on a daily basis, relaxed and happy on a summer picnic at the beach, surrounded by our family and friends, as we never know what is just around the corner!

If anyone is interested in seeing other photos entered in the photo hunt please click here.

Monday, 4 November 2013

The Clipper Ship Chrysolite: New Zealand Immigration Ship 1861-1862

The latest clipper ship to be turned into a book by me is the Chrysolite which brought two loads of immigrants to the port of Lyttelton in 1861 and 1862.  I'm excited to announce that this book has now been published by Rock Your Boat Publishing (July 2014).   Copies can be ordered on Trade Me but be quick as I'm selling out of my last few cheaper copies.   This is the cheapest option for New Zealanders - just $18 with free postage.  The book is also available from Amazon in your respective country which is the cheapest option for overseas buyers.

The Story of the Chrysolite:

"The beautiful and fast clipper ship Chrysolite made two trips to the Port of Lyttelton, New Zealand in 1861 and 1862 delivering loads of immigrants to a new land on the other side of the world.  A floating cap on the water and an amputation by anchor were both part of the Chrysolite's fascinating story.

Using original passenger lists, official documentation as well as passenger biographies, the story of the Chrysolite is being retold once again."