Monday 29 May 2017

The Saga of the 'Unlucky' Tokomairiro Church Bell

The Tokomairiro Presbyterian Church and Bell Tower
[Source Google Maps]

Can a Church bell be unlucky? Well, the good residents of Milton in Western Otago in Southern New Zealand might once have thought so. This blog tells the story, or should that be saga, of the Tokomairiro Presbyterian Church bell at Milton. I would wager that no other church bell (being always intended for a house of God) is as well travelled, or has suffered as many indignities or misfortune as the afore-mentioned bell. Curious? Read on my friends...

A church, particularly a new Parish Church, naturally desires a bell. Bells have been part of the church since the earliest days of Christianity, 400AD to be precise. A Church bell would be rung to call parishioners to worship, to an event, or to celebrate special occasions, to be rung at an appointed hour of the day to set clocks and watches, to toll upon a mournful occasion, or even to alert the populace to an unexpected event such as a fire.

Mr John Gillies R.M., 1802 - 1871
Purchaser of the Tokomairiro Church Bell
[Source :  "The Founding of the Otago Settlement
- Its History and Development", 1898 

Our story begins in 1857 when Mr John Gillies, then Sherriff of the Province of Otago, Resident Magistrate and farmer at "Riversdale" Tokomairiro, desired to gift a bell to the new "Fairfax" Church. The church at Fairfax (being about a mile east of the present day Milton) and with seating for 250, had been opened for public worship on the 28th February 1857. Gillies is believed to have written to an associate in Britain (possibly his brother in law), a Scotsman and merchant by the name of McIndoe, to arrange for the casting of a bell which the latter ordered from "Stephenson" [also recorded as "Stevenson"], a foundry in Birmingham. Sometime later, and after being securely packed, the bell would then be sent down to London by the railway to await shipment.

On the 28th October 1857, and with the bell safely stowed as cargo on the 706 ton Liverpool registered 'Palmyra', the good ship carrying around 300 immigrants and under the command of Captain John Tierney, departed Gravesend on the Thames bound for Otago. After a rather protracted and no doubt tedious voyage of 105 days the 'Palmyra', along with its passengers and a considerable amount of freight, duly arrived at Port Chalmers New Zealand on the 19th February 1858. The voyage, other than grounding on a sandbank at Taiaroa Heads at the entrance to Otago Harbour and not being freed until the next high tide, appears to have been concluded without any major incident. A near disaster had however been averted in the Canaries after the lookout fell asleep at his post. A passenger, having gone up on deck to have a smoke, noticed the heading of the ship and the impending disaster. But the ship and bell had arrived safely in Otago. What could possibly go wrong?

For some very inexplicable reason, and despite the ship being in Dunedin for around six weeks, the bell was not landed, perhaps through "some oversight" or "a missing invoice". Another report dated 1914 states that "it was sent by mistake to another port and went Home again". There is no record of Mr Gillies or the parish being unable to uplift the bell, or did they even know it had arrived on this vessel? We do find Captain Tierney charged by John Logie, Collector of Customs at Otago, for having violated around forty different offences under the Passengers Act leading to the latter's appearance in court on the 25th and 26th February. While Tierney was convicted and fined £30 on three proven charges these were passenger related matters rather than relating specifically to freight.

By the 30th March 1858 the 'Palmyra' had arrived in Nelson to unload a large quantity of the original freight carried from London. On the 19th April the 'Palmyra', and still under the command of Captain Tierney, sailed for Sydney on her way back to London. But aboard remained Mr Gillie's bell. The 'Palmyra' departed Sydney on the 13th July, rounded Cape Horn on the 26th August, and was later reported by the Sydney papers as having arrived safely back in London on the 30th October 1858. A report that she had sailed home via China is unfortunately spurious, she had only "spoken to" a vessel returning from Hong Kong which is where the confusion may have arisen. Just eleven months later the 'Palmyra' would be wrecked off the coast of Peru on a voyage in ballast from Sydney to Callao but no lives were lost.

But safely landed back in England, the Church Bell would now be loaded as freight on the 473 ton barque "Henbury" which left Gravesend on the 23rd April 1859, primarily carrying freight valued at £15,000 to £20,000 and just 19 passengers. After an apparently uneventful voyage she arrived at Port Chalmers on the 20th August 1859. Surely nothing could go wrong this time?

After discharging some of the passengers the vessel would await customs clearance for its freight on the Monday morning. But meanwhile the crew obtained a quantity of grog and drank "to great excess" leading to altercations on board. At 3 o'clock in the morning the Chief Mate, who had been sleeping below in the aft part of the vessel was roused by the smell of smoke, discovering the sails and stores in the sail room were on fire. Nothing could be done to stem the ensuing fury of the flames. Scuttling her to extinguish the flames was not wholly successful as she was not deep enough in the water. A full court of inquiry could not determine the cause of the fire so no charges were able to be laid.

"The "Henbury", a Willis and Co. clipper, now lies on the beach at Port Chalmers a perfect wreck; the whole of her after part, as far as the main-mast, with cargo in the fore-hatch, if not of perishable nature, and not liable to be destroyed by water, may be saved; but we fear she and her cargo -which latter was mostly destined for this Port - will be a total loss."

Auction of Goods Salvaged from the "Henbury",
February 1860
[Source : Papers Past]

But had Mr Gillie's bell survived the fire and could it be retrieved? By January 1860 the blackened hull of the "Henbury", along with a considerable portion of her cargo, had been raised and refloated.  As luck would have it, for once, Mr Gillie's bell apparently survived the conflagration unscathed. But the freight recovered from the vessel would now be classed as "salvage" and no longer the property of the expected recipients. Providing the bell had been insured Mr Gillies would have received some recompense but as this is a private matter there is no record of this. Young & McGlashan of Dunedin thereafter sold items recovered from the ship with the remainder of the cargo and the sunken wreck being sold to Messrs James Macandrew & Co., presumably on behalf of the ship's insurers, being Lloyd's of London. Auctioneers James Paterson & Co, of Dunedin then sold the salvaged goods by public auction. 

But negotiations between Mr Gillies and the salvor "terminated favourably" thus the latter was able to reclaim his precious bell for an undisclosed but agreeable sum. There is no record exactly who Gillies reclaimed his bell from but consignees for the "Henbury" were requested to apply to "Young & McGlashan" to establish claims for any losses. A report from 1893 simply states that "it was put up for sale by auction as part of the salvage of cargo". The blackened hull of the "Henbury" was later offered as a storage hulk, serving this purpose until being broken up in 1897.

John Barnes Advertising his new
Freight Service to Tokomairiro, 21 Jan 1860
[Source : Papers Past] 

But safely landed, the bell was now entrusted to Mr John Barnes, a Dunedin City Councillor and contractor, who had recently commenced business as a carrier to the Tokomairiro. The bell had only 54 kilometers to travel to finally reach its final destination. But, as expected, nothing concerning the bell would go smoothly.

An article from 1882 notes that; "After some delay, the overland journey was commenced, and the bell was carried the length of Robert Dowie's [stockyard] in the East Taieri, beyond which from the condition of the roads, it could not be forwarded." Another correspondent gives us a good impression of the conditions encountered.

"It is impossible to convey by words a correct idea of what was then called the road to Tokomairiro. It was a series of holes, ruts, bogs, hills, dales, streams and rivers that were to be got over, through, or round, just as the sagacity of the driver could best devise... Many a time [the] animals were down to the girths in bogs, and the axle of the dray ... in constant peril of being upset, was frequently tearing away the tussocks... through the swamps."

As the condition of the road south of East Taieri was advised as being in even worse condition than that already traversed the bell would be forced to remain at Robert Dowie's "for a considerable time as the roads were hardly fit for traffic".

After several weeks, and presumably after the worst of winter had passed, Barnes returned to complete the contract. Succeeding in reaching the Taieri Ferry, the condition of the punt was such that it was not possible to ferry the heavy bell across the river. So another delay occurred until the punt could be put in a sufficient state of repair to safely carry the bell. It would be 1863 before the first bridge would be constructed here. But by the Spring of 1860, and only two and a half years late, the bell had at last finally arrived. As the Rev Thomas Burns, Dunedin's 'Founding Father', wrote upon his safe arrival in Otago in April 1848, Deo Laus! [To God Praise Be]

The Fairfax Presbyterian Church,
before the belfry was constructed
[Source : Tokomairiro Parish History, 1929]

After lying, "for a considerable time" at Mr Goodall's Accommodation House [the "Old Tokomairiro Hotel", which included a barn and stock yards], the bell, and at a cost of £75, would be placed in a small combined porch and belfry erected for this purpose adjoining the newly opened church at Fairfax. In a final indignity, and if this report from 1905 is to be believed [it is the only reference on this point], the bell was found to be too large to fit inside the slender belfry and four unsightly stays had to be built to support the four corners. Then finally, the bell could be used for its intended purpose, the summoning of the parishioners to worship.

In a history of the church published in 1882 the bell is recorded as having been officially rung for the very first time to celebrate Mr Barnes' nuptuals. This seems a little odd considering Barnes married Hannah Bell at the Episcopal [Anglican] Church in Dunedin, the ceremony taking place on the 15th July 1861. The date could be correct as we know the bell was not immediately erected at Fairfax but why would the bell be rung for Mr and Mrs Barnes? So, is this the end of the story? Again, no...

Due to an increase in population in the district and with Fairfax [today known as Tokoiti] no longer being in a central position, a new church was built on a half acre section gifted to the parish in a more convenient location in the town of Milton, a mile east of the site of the former church. The old church site was handed over to the trustees of the Fairfax Cemetery as an extension of their grounds. The new Tokomairiro Parish church, which opened for public worship in May 1863, was also of wood, but with a large and substantial square tower to accommodate the bell. But when it finally came time to hoist the bell up to its permanent position in the tower of the new church; "the weight of the bell and the strength of the wind were found too much for the strength of the edifice, consequently it had to be supported by... wooden buttresses."

The Tokomairiro Presbyterian Church and
substantial wooden bell tower, pre 1881
[Source : Tokomairiro Parish History, 1929]

It is recorded that the wind caught the tower "to such an extent that it swayed and caused the whole building to creak and groan." The sound was likened to that made by a wooden sailing ship in a heavy sea. A memorable storm in February 1864 shook the building to such an extent that it was thereafter required to be strengthened in a very substantial manner. This is probably when the "wooden buttresses" mentioned above were added.

A newspaper report dated the 30th October 1877 states that; "The weather during the end of last week was exceedingly boisterous, so much so, indeed, that serious fears were entertained as to the stability of that old landmark, the steeple of the Tokomairiro Presbyterian Church."    

But on the 4th September 1880 we are informed that; "The tower of the Tokomairiri Presbyterian Church has been taken down... The removal of the tower, we understand, has been effected to ensure safety in tempestuous times. The 'Herald' thinks the church is now a better looking building than it was when the heavy tower existed."

The parish history confirms that the bell was now "hung between three spars" in a temporary belfry. In October 1882 "The Otago Witness" informs us that, "It [the bell] has now been wagging there [at Tokomairiro] for twenty years, tolling faithfully at the desire of the clinkumbell [old Scottish term for bell ringer]". But our story has not yet ended for there is yet one more indignity.

Unfortunately, and in December 1888, the venerable and very well-travelled old bell, which had additionally suffered trial by fire and baptism by water, cracked whilst being rung one Sunday morning;

"The bell which has for so many years past summoned the Presbyterians of Tokomairiro to their kirk, suddenly became a dumb bell on Sunday, 9th inst. By some unaccountable means it got cracked, and just as no decent church would allow a cracked parson in the pulpit, so the cracked bell was ousted from the belfry. It could give at best an uncertain sound, as the prophet said, and would have none of it... Like grandfather's clock, it has stopped short, never to go again".

The "dumb" and "fractured" bell was then blamed for a small turnout at a Church [Deacon's Court?] meeting the same month during "the stormy weather", members having [rather conveniently perhaps?] forgotten due to "not hearing the usual reminder".    

The old bell would now be removed from its belfry and sent to the Dunedin foundry of A&T Burt (who had been casting bells since 1872) to be broken down, returned to molten metal in a furnace reaching at least 1,000 degrees centigrade, and then recast in a mold as a brand new bell. With incorporating the metal from the old bell at least something of the spirit of the former bell would live on, hopefully not with the bad luck though. The cost of recasting came to £18.0.4 [NZD$1,226.00 in today's values]

The Rev Dr Donald McNaughton Stuart of Knox 
Church, Dunedin, 1819 - 1894. Rev Dr Stuart 
opened the new Tokomairiro Church in 1889
[From my own collection, having been
found unidentified in a second hand shop]

Fortuitously, the new bell, after a "very successful recast", could be incorporated into the bell tower of the new 600 seat church ready for the dedication and opening of the Church by the above Rev. Dr. Donald M. Stuart on Sunday, the 13th October 1889. This sturdy English Gothic styled building, having been designed by the eminent architect Robert A. Lawson, and which survives today, would be constructed with Port Chalmers bluestone, a facing of Oamaru limestone for the mullions and windows, concrete foundations and base, and a slate roof. Even then the substantial construction of the building took account of the risk of earthquakes. The new 105 foot spire housing the bell would however be slightly truncated from the original planned height to keep overall costs within £3,000 The tender price of J & W Gore came in at £2,997

The "measured toll" of the Presbyterian Church bell was what first alerted the residents of Milton to the sad demise of Her Majesty Queen Victoria in January 1901. Another notable occasion, but for equally sad reasons, was the ringing of the Church bell upon a fire being discovered at the nearby Bruce Woollen Mills factory in the early hours of the morning of the 28th April 1901. A crowd soon gathered but as there was no fire brigade in the town no practical means could be taken to avoid the complete loss of the building and machinery, now placing the livelihoods of 100 employees at risk.

The use of the Presbyterian Church bell as a "fire alarm bell" had been publicly suggested as long ago as 1872, adding, "It might be made of great service, especially in the night time." Even by 1904 nothing had been done and a town fire bell was again suggested, "as at the late fire, when the alarm was given, the church bell used proved fruitless." It would be 1907 before a less than successful fire bell would be set up, thus releasing the Church bell back to regular use.

Today, the recast bell of 1888 still hangs in the 1889 bell tower, ever since having faithfully served duty to the Parish. And therein, we hope, ends the saga of the Tokomairiro Church bell. 

Sources :

- Papers Past [National Library of New Zealand / Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa]
- Te Ara, The Enclyclopedia of New Zealand
- The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, 1966
- Heritage New Zealand / Pouhere Taonga
- Trove (National Library of Australia)
- Dunedin Public Library McNab Room
- Presbyterian Research Centre, Dunedin
- "Tokomairiro Presbyterian Church Milton, New Zealand. 75th Anniversary Souvenir : A History From the Arrival of Rev. W. Bannerman in 1854" (published 1929)
- "Our Heritage : The First Century of Tokomairiro Presbyterian Church, Milton, New Zealand 1854 - 1954" (published 1954)
- "The Founding of the Otago Settlement - Its History and Development", 1898 (from my own collection)
- "The Cyclopedia of New Zealand", 1905 (from my own collection)
- "Dr Hocken's Laptop Guide to the South", compiled by the Rev. JG Sinclair (from my own collection)

Monday 22 May 2017

In Search of "A. Totin", A Late 19th Century Portrait and Landscape Artist

"Die Ersten Rosen" & "In Die Blühtezeit"
by A. Totin
[From my own collection]  

Since 1992 I have owned two very large approx 66 x 55cm gold framed late 19th century oil portraits of a rather attractive young woman and it is these paintings shown above which form the subject of this blog. My apologies though for the slight parallax in the images. But frustratingly I know nothing of the specific provenance of the paintings before I purchased them, only a name for the artist, with the paintings having a German title without identifying the name of the sitter. They were sold to me by a picture framing business in Arrowtown New Zealand, being sold on behalf of an elderly lady in Invercargill but no other information on their history was known or made available to me. But being elderly I would imagine the lady and / or her family had at least owned them both for some years.

So firstly, what do we know of the artist? We know at least that the artist has clearly signed his paintings "A. Totin" in the bottom right hand corners as well as on small plaques affixed to the frames - but that is all. Totin's name is not quoted in any art books. The titles given to the paintings are in an old style of German which is at least a clue. This would indicate that Totin could have been German, French-German (ie Alsace-Lorraine), Swiss-German, or even Austrian. Narrowing this down any further would appear to be impossible without further specific clues. The name Totin does however appear to have origins in northern France. And where did Totin study art?

"A Lady With White Rose",
by A. Totin
[Source : International Art Centre, NZ]

Secondly, are any other works by "A. Totin" known? Well, on the positive side yes. A 67.5 x 54.0 portrait titled (probably informally) "Lady With White Rose", was sold by the 'International Art Centre', in Auckland New Zealand on the 5th May 2011 for USD$633.00. This is also of a similar size to my own two portraits. And is it a mere co-incidence that my two portraits and "Lady With White Rose" were both found in New Zealand?

"Personnages Sur La Grève À L'entrée Du Port"
by A. Totin, dated 19th - 20th century.
My apologies that this is a low resolution image.
[Source :]

Additionally, in December 2006 the Paris auction house of 'Lombrail-Teucquam' sold a circa  31.5 x 53cm late 19th - early 20th century Totin beachscape entitled "Personnages Sur La Grève À L'entrée Du Port", the hammer price being a commendable 1,750 Euros (previously passed in at two previous auctions). This title roughly translates to "people standing on a flat area covered with sand or gravel at the entrance to a harbour". Totin's name appears on the lower right, the same as on my paintings. But being a French auction house, they may also have added the title but no location for the beachscape is given. While we still cannot assume that Totin was French the fact that this painting was sold in France at least helps to confirm his European origins.    

"Die Ersten Rosen" - The First Roses,
by A. Totin
[From my own collection]

Now, what do we know of my portraits? In both cases the sitter is definitely the same woman but her identity is unfortunately unknown. In the second portrait she additionally wears a pearl and gold ring on her wedding finger which does not appear on the first portrait where she only wears a gold wrist band. The face would, I believe, be considered reasonably well executed and with some obvious talent while the the clothing and background are much less detailed, the latter being either done in haste or in such a way as not to detract from the main subject of the painting. The shadowy background on one of the portraits includes a Church spire.

Pasted on the back frame of both portraits I could just read obviously original titles hand written in ink in German language, being "Die Ersten Rosen" [the first roses of the season] and "In Die Blühtezeit" [literally "in the blooming time"]. I would have photographed these but for the difficulties of single-handedly lifting such large and unwieldy framed portraits off a stairwell wall. That no name was given to the actual sitter made me wonder if Totin may have painted these for an exhibition of his work in a gallery rather than being specifically commissioned to paint a portrait of a client. The fact that Totin's name is also painted in black on the small gold plaques affixed to the bottom of the frames would support this scenario. Additionally, even at the time the solid and really very heavy plaster and gilt wood 90 x 76.5cm frames would have been at some cost. While roses appear to have been a favourite accessory for his subjects they were in fact a very common accessory for portraits of this era.

"In Die Blühtezeit" - In the Blooming Time,
by A. Totin
[From my own collection]

But how did no less than three of Totin's portraits end up half way around the world in New Zealand? Digitized New Zealand newspapers make no reference to this name nor do official death and marriage records so I think we can safely discount any direct New Zealand connection to Totin unless there is a connection to the sitter.

I fully appreciate that there were many obviously talented and as well as 'run of the mill' portrait and landscape artists around in this era who produced a prodigious number of paintings but never reached the echelons of becoming a 'known' artist. But what makes these paintings special to me is that they are an attractive pair which have not been separated and I do hope that they shall remain together in the future. I have never had them professionally appraised though as I have never considered that their value would justify the expense. The sale price of "Lady with White Rose" is probably an accurate representative base figure.

So, while not valuable and in need of a professional clean to renew darkened varnish as well as requiring some restoration of the gold painted and gilt frames I have always loved and appreciated my own "Junge Dame Mit Rosen" [Young Lady with Roses] which have elegantly graced my large stairwell for the past 23 years. In fact, when I bought these portraits I didn't at the time even own a house that particularly suited such large paintings let alone a place to adequately display them. I simply fell in love with them and knew I would never have this opportunity again.

If anyone should have a Totin portrait or landscape or in fact knows anything more about the elusive "A. Totin" I would be very pleased to hear from you. My email link appears in the right hand menu bar or you can leave a comment below with your email address. I moderate all comments so this will remain private.

Copyright : 

Unless otherwise stated, all images are from my own personal collection and may be freely copied for non-commercial and academic use provided this site is acknowledged. Images may not be used for commercial purposes without my express written permission.

Monday 15 May 2017

"Boghead" - The Story of a House and a Family on the Taieri

"Boghead" [Duddingston] as it appeared circa late 1890's
[From my own collection]

"Boghead" - or "Duddingston" as it is now known - is an attractive and historic two-storied colonial era home built on the Taieri Plains of Otago New Zealand and has held a well deserved Heritage New Zealand Historic Places Category 1 rating since 1983.

This blog is an attempt to weave together information about the house and the Oughton family who built and first resided at "Boghead" through to 1900, some of it being from published sources and some from unpublished personal and extended family records and photographs. This story also has a connection to my own family hence my holding some Oughton related photographs.

The Heritage New Zealand [HNZ] report written by Melanie Lovell-Smith in 2003 states that David Wilson Oughton, an early Otago settler, built "Boghead" at North Taieri, in 1865.

The house, being built in an "L" shape, is of brick with with dormer windows to the front and rear, decorative barge boards with finials, corrugated iron roof, and a small verandah with the rear including a lean to. The HNZ note that "The 70,000 - 80,000 bricks used to build the house were purchased from neighbouring Salisbury estate, where Donald Reid... had them fired in his own kiln and sold them to Oughton". All but the bricks on the porch have subsequently been covered with a concrete wash as a form of protection but are visible in the above 1890's photograph.

But firstly, what do we know of David Wilson Oughton? David, one of a family of ten children, was born in Roslin, Parish of Lasswade, Midlothian, Scotland, the son of John Oughton, "Vintner [Roslin Inn], Roslyn" and his wife Margaret Wilson, on the 21st October 1831. The former Roslin Inn on "College Hill" and built in 1660 is still extant, being located just a short 20 meters from the historic Rosslyn Chapel on the present day Chapel Loan.

David Wilson Oughton 1831 - 1869.
Copyrighted Photo
[Source : David & Pamela Oughton]

We next find that on the 23rd November 1851 and aged just 20 years, David Oughton arrived at Port Chalmers in Otago, New Zealand on the 597 ton "Simlah" from London via Wellington. This puts him only three years after the first organised influx of European settlers in 1848 and is acknowledged as one of the earliest European land owners on the Taieri Plains. Accompanying him were fellow emigrants "Mr and Mrs [Andrew] Todd and three children" from Largo in Fifeshire, Scotland. It would be Andrew's 20 year old daughter Jean [known as Jane] Todd that the 24 year old David Oughton would marry on the 1st November 1855. The extended Todd family also became very well known and established residents and agriculturalists on the Taieri.

David Oughton truly appears to have been the model of an ideal settler, becoming fully involved in the local community including being a member of and supporting the local East Taieri Presbyterian Church, a member of the East Taieri School and District Education Committees,  a member and later convenor of the Taieri Agricultural Societies, a member of the Otago Agricultural Society, actively supporting political candidates, representing settlers in land matters pertaining to "the Otago Scheme", representing settlers in matters of public interest and making representations on their behalf to the Otago Provincial Council, and generally supporting local social events in general. The generous nature of the settlers, including Mr Oughton, is evidenced by their often being noted as assisting new settlers with a day or two of free ploughing.

David Oughton initially lived at "Janefield" [click for link] on Factory Road, East Taieri, having built this also still extant and listed property around 1852 and naming it after his wife Jane Todd.

John & Georgina Oughton
of "Roslyn Lea", Southland,
Taken 1890's.
[From my own collection]

On the 15th November 1855 a happy reunion would have occurred when David's brother John Oughton, his wife Georgina Wallace, and their three children arrived from Scotland, eventually settling at "Roslyn Lea" near Invercargill. I have included their photo as I can see a family resemblance between John and his brother David.

But tragedy would strike David and his family in March 1860, when after only five years of marriage, Mrs Jane Oughton née Todd aged 24 years died of consumption [tuberculosis] at "Janefield", East Taieri. Jane left behind two children, James Sinclair Oughton born 14th September 1857 and Annie Todd Oughton born 10th July 1859.

Surprisingly, the Toitū Otago Settler's database note that as of the 10th September 1861 David Oughton held Miner's Right No 1388 and that he was then a miner resident on the Tuapeka Gold Fields of Otago. The finding of gold at Gabriel's Gully had been made public on the 8th June 1861 and it would appear that David was keen to try his own luck. This was along with 14,000 others who flocked to the Tuapeka and Waipori goldfields. How long he spent here is unknown.

We next find that David Oughton sold his plant and stock at "Janefield" by auction on the 24th September 1862. On the 3rd October 1862 friends entertained him to a dinner "prior to his departure for the home country". In a farewell speech, David stated that "he had passed the happiest period of his life in the East Taieri" and "that he hoped, at no very distant day, to return to the Taieri, which he would always consider as his home." An obituary for his son James Oughton published in 1902 states that the latter suffered a fall (presumably from a horse) in his youth which resulted in a permanent lameness and that "His father took him to the Old Country for expert advice, but without much result".  

By February 1863 plans were afoot by David's brother in law, Mr James Todd, who advertised for tenders for erecting a barn and stable for Mr D.W. Oughton at "Boghead Farm". North Taieri. There is no earlier specific reference to the name "Boghead". Heritage NZ state that David Oughton had purchased two pieces of land along North Taieri School Road as early as 1861. It would have no doubt been 'in the rough' and I daresay the name given to the farm was in fact a reflection on the nature of much of the land in this area until adequate drainage turned it into reasonably productive farm land. The Rev William Will, the first Presbyterian Parish Minister on the Taieri, had initially only been able to negotiate the boggy land between Mosgiel and North Taieri by stepping on tussock heads in order to avoid the muddy water logged ground.

David Oughton, taken around 1863-64.
The lady on the right is believed to be his 2nd wife
Janey Hunter Oughton (with ring on hand), &
son James Sinclair Oughton. The lady on the left
will be her sister, most likely Margaret Hunter.
Presumed taken in Scotland.
Copyrighted Photo
[Source : David & Pamela Oughton]

David Oughton appears to have spent his time in Scotland back in his home Parish of Lasswade. On the 7th March 1864 David, then aged 32 years and residing at "Moat" farm just out of Roslin Village, married Wihelmina Jane Hunter (known as "Janey") aged 30 and also of Lasswade Parish. Janey was related to my own paternal family through her mother, Jane Hunter, née Cochrane. This union led to a close family friendship with the Oughtons which would endure for many subsequent years. The Oughton, Hunter and Cochrane families were all from Roslin so thus knew each other but were now additionally connected by marriage. On the 4th July 1864 David, along with his family and 2nd wife Janey, arrived at Port Chalmers, Otago, New Zealand on the 1,100 ton "Vicksburg" from Glasgow.

HNZ state that "the adjacent piece of land [on North Taieri School Road] became his under a crown grant of 1865 and he settled here and built a house on his return to New Zealand". So we can be fairly sure that the present dwelling of "Boghead" [now "Duddingston"] was constructed in 1865. There is however no published record of a tender being advertised. Meanwhile, David again continued to support political candidates to the Legislature (including the still well known Julius Vogel) as well as pursuing such interests as supporting North Taieri and Taieri Ploughing Matches and being an active member of the Taieri Agricultural Society.

On the 7th March 1865 we note the birth of their daughter Jane Hunter Oughton at "Boghead" followed in 1868 by a son, William Hunter Oughton. All seemed set for a secure future for David and his family until tragedy would strike yet again. On the 20th February 1869 David Oughton himself died of bronchitis at "Boghead", aged just 37 years, the burial taking place at the East Taieri Cemetery on the 24th. The legal Executor of his will, Mr W.B. Ogilvie of the Crown Grant [Land] Office, duly advertised for any outstanding debts to the estate.

With a young family comprising of James aged 12, Annie aged 10, Jane aged 4 and William aged 1, Janey Oughton was now faced with a difficult decision. What she decided to do was to return to Scotland with her family and lease the 87 acre property at "Boghead" including grassed paddocks and "a superior seven-roomed brick house", as well as arrange a new lessee for "Janefield", the former 183 acre property David Oughton had purchased around 1852 at East Taieri. Tender offers were to be sent to the above Mr Ogilvie, the successful tenderer for "Boghead" being Mr Robert Miller. All stock, plant and household furniture at "Boghead" were then sold by auction. Janey and the children departed on the "Rangitoto" for Melbourne on their way to Scotland on the 22nd June 1869.

Part of Janey's plan involved her step-son James being sent to "Hillend" to learn farming. At the age of 20, and with sufficient farming skills, James Oughton returned to New Zealand on the 1,702 ton "Dunnottar Castle", departing from Gravesend, London on the 29th January 1879, arriving at Port Chalmers, Otago on the 8th May 1879 after a 98 day port to port voyage.

But accompanying James on the voyage out as his travelling companion was my 28 year old paternal Grandfather who appears to have been swayed to come out to New Zealand instead of Canada after no doubt hearing first hand accounts of the country from the Oughton family. My Grandfather, who had also learnt his farming skills in Scotland, later worked for a short time for Mr William Todd at "Willow Acre", East Taieri and later with another of their relatives at Tuturau so the extended family connection by marriage was certainly put to good use whilst agricultural work was scarce during the general economic slowdown.

James Sinclair Oughton,
taken after 1879
[From my own collection]

Upon his return to Otago in 1879 James Sinclair Oughton then took over "Janefield" farm, the house and property having been specifically left to him in his late father's will upon him reaching the age of 21 years and with a life rent payable annually to his mother Janey of fifty pounds, "Boghead" would remain leased. Upon David's other children reaching the age of 21 years. David had directed his trustees to sell his other remaining property and to distribute the funds between his children but excluding James who of course would inherit "Janefield". But it appears no sale took place until 1900 when "Boghead" was eventually sold although the estate may have come to some prior arrangement. Under the will Janey would also receive no further benefit other than the £50 pound annual payment from James.

Meanwhile, and in May 1879, Janey moved, along with her family and her 80 year old mother Jane Hunter (my relative as above), to "Avenue Cottage" in Juniper Green, a pleasant leafy suburb out of Edinburgh. The 1881 census confirms two children as still attending school, travelling into Edinburgh by train for their schooling. Janey's step-daughter, Annie Todd Oughton, then aged about 19, acted as one of two witnesses at the marriage of my Grandfather's sister Ann (who lived nearby) to Mr Robert Lawson in a local Church on the 19th June 1879 which again demonstrates the close connection with my own family.

But a letter from a family relative in London to his sister in Nelson New Zealand dated the 21st February 1881 includes a worrying reference to Mrs Oughton :

Mrs Oughton, that is Jane Hunter, is still at Juniper Green, and is I believe very well, but says her mother is getting very feeble and doited [faculties impaired by age], she just sits by the fireside and never goes out… I believe Mrs Oughton has suffered some loss lately by the defalcation [mis-appropriation] of one of her trustees at Otago, for which I am very sorry.”

I can however find no published reference to this "defalcation" but all of David Wilson Oughton's original trustees would appear to have been fine upstanding members of the community, (1) Mr William Ogilvie, for many years Chief Clerk of the Dunedin Land Office; (2) Church Elder and farmer, Mr Robert Somerville of "Riccarton", East Taieri; (3) and David's own brother in law, Mr Robert Todd of "Johnstone" farm, Mosgiel. But I do note that Mr Ogilvie lost his legal position when the Otago Provincial Government was abolished in 1876 and thereafter sought "station life" on the Maniototo. Additionally, Robert Somerville died in May 1879. So two new but unknown trustees must have been appointed after 1876 or 1879 but the trail has unfortunately gone cold as to who was specifically responsible for the said misappropriation.

A grainy image of Janey Oughton sitting knitting on the
porch at "Boghead", most likely with her granddaughter
Annie Oughton (a daughter of William and Mary).
Taken circa late 1890's
[From my own collection]

Mrs Janey Oughton, along with her family returned to New Zealand on the 1,196 barque "Embleton" from Glasgow, arriving at Port Chalmers on the 24th September 1883, her elderly mother apparently having died prior to this date. By January 1885 Mrs Oughton is noted as residing back at "Boghead". Over the ensuing years she appears to have farmed it with her son William Hunter Oughton. The latter married Mary Jane Shaw, also of North Taieri, in August 1895.

Another family tragedy occurred when Janey's 33 year old step-daughter Annie Todd Oughton died at "Boghead" on the 29th March 1893, the funeral service being held at the house before departing for the East Taieri cemetery.

James Sinclair Oughton with his wife
Jeanie Couper and children.
Copyrighted Photo
[Source : David & Pamela Oughton]

James Sinclair Oughton, who continued to farm the 150 acre "Janefield" property, married Jeanie Couper, a teacher of "Rosebank" East Taieri, in September 1887. In April 1899 he offered it to the Government for "close settlement purposes" under the 1892 Land Settlement Act, the sale price being £4,888.34 James thereafter moved to "Monte Cristo" at Wright's Bush in Southland with the intention of developing this new and larger property. But fate would soon deal another unfortunate hand.

Just the following month, Wilhelmina (Janey) Oughton died at "Boghead" on the 15 May 1899 aged 66 years. Her death was then followed on the 22nd December 1902 by her step-son, the above James Sinclair Oughton, who died at Wright’s Bush in Southland after a short period of ill health at the age of 45 years and leaving behind his wife Jeanie and nine now fatherless children. Janey's own daughter, Jane Hunter Oughton, who remained a spinster, died in April 1941 aged 76 years. All are buried in the family plot in the East Taieri cemetery, including both of David's wives which I find rather touching. The headstone is fairly weathered but legible close up.

Sale of "Boghead",
2 June 1900
[Source : Papers Past"]

On the 2nd June 1900 David's youngest son, William Hunter Oughton, finally sold "Boghead" to an adjoining landowner, Mr Robert Smellie, a native of Lanarkshire, Scotland, the former having purchased a larger farm. I note that the house then comprised of seven rooms, with a laundry, scullery, and dairy attached. A "men's house, stable, barn and byre" were included in the sale. The Smellie family would subsequently own the property for over 80 years.

It was after this sale that "Boghead" was renamed "Duddingston" after Duddingston Loch in Edinburgh, no doubt being considered a more appropriate name than a reference to a local peat bog! William Hunter Oughton, the last surviving child of David and Janey Oughton, died on the 16th December 1942 aged 74 years, his wife Mary having died in 1917 aged 49 years. Both are buried in the Calcium cemetery in Southland,

"Duddingston" [previously known as "Boghead"],
taken 1998 with the kind permission of the owners.
[From my own collection]

Today, "Duddingston" is a very attractive and well cared for colonial era home set in pleasant wooded grounds, being partially visible from the road but easily missed. According to historian and writer Lois Galer, the home includes original interior features including exposed pit sawn kauri beams in the living room (formerly the kitchen), with all woodwork and doors also being of kauri. The original pantry survives, complete with one inch thick slate shelves. I have myself been inside the house which I remember was modernized in places but I could still feel the sense of history that went with this now very historic and much loved home.

The Gravestone of David Wilson Oughton
and Family in the East Taieri Cemetery
[From my own collection]

Copyright : Unless otherwise stated, all images are from my own personal collection but may be freely copied for academic and non-commercial use provided this site is acknowledged. Commercial reproduction is prohibited without my specific written approval. Any reproduction of images owned by the Oughton family will require their specific approval.

Sources :

- Family papers and photographs (held by the writer)
- The late Helen Whelan, Nelson
- Pamela & David Oughton, Titahi Bay, Wellington
- "Houses and Homes", by Lois Galer, 1981
- "The Cyclopedia of New Zealand" (Otago and Southland Provincial Districts) [from my own collection]
- "Old Roslin", Roslin Heritage Society, 2003
- Papers Past [National Library of New Zealand / Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa]
- Heritage New Zealand / Pouhere Taonga
- Toitū Otago Settler's Museum Archives Database (compiled by Bob Matthews)
- Archives New Zealand / Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
- Dunedin Public Library / Ka Kete Wānaka o Otepoti
- Hocken Collections / Uare Taoka o Hākena
- Scotland's Places website
- Scotland's People website

Monday 8 May 2017

"Tintype" Memories of a Visit to Kilmarnock

A Group of Friends at Kilmarnock, circa 1880.
John Humphrey's Photo.
[From my own collection]

Today I am featuring an apparently unremarkable and slightly faded CDV (carte-de-visite) studio portrait of nine men taken in a photographer's studio in Kilmarnock, Scotland sometime around 1880. But unremarkable? Well, as I have discovered, perhaps not.

It was only a couple of years ago while I was slowly cataloguing my large collection of old family photographs and inputting the information into an Excel database that I made a surprising connection with this photo. But I still don't know why these nine rather dapper looking friends from around neighbouring Dalserf and Stonehouse Parishes in Lanarkshire visited Kilmarnock in East Ayrshire. While this was a distance of only some 25 miles by the Caledonian and Glasgow & South Western Railways from Stonehouse to Kilmarnock via Darvil it must still must have been to attend an unknown event. I do note some of the men have what appears to be a flower in their lapel buttonholes. But if one specifically wanted to have a special photograph taken then nearby Hamilton or even Glasgow would have been the logical choice and other photographs in my collection support this.

Without a known date or some other clue solving this mystery is probably beyond my normally successful research skills. But it was certainly not unusual to be professionally photographed while away from home, And of course people wished, as they still do, to have a record of a special occasion or of their visit as a personal memory and gifting a photograph to friends and relatives was also commonplace. But it was more unusual to travel some distance in a group.

The dates and places where Humphrey is known to have been in business are 123 King street Kilmarnock from 1864 until 1867 (in partnership with James Paton) then on his own account at 127 King street from 1868 until his death in March 1889. My photos are taken during this latter period. Judging by the age of a relative who appears in the photograph I would say no later than around 1880, give or take a year. My relative left for New Zealand in January 1882 so it is definitely taken prior to this date.

I also note that Humphrey's name is spelt "Humphry" on the tintypes below. Although I note both spellings as being common in Kilmarnock census returns, John Humphrey always appears to have traded with this latter version of his surname. It may be a throwback to an older phonetic spelling of the surname and the printer inadvertently assumed this to be correct. A Humphrey family descendant in Canada cannot explain this use of different spelling and had not been aware of this before. Nor had he been aware of 'tintypes' produced by this studio from such a late period. So, another mystery!

Names Recorded on Rear of Group Photo.
John Humphrey Photo, Kilmarnock.
[From my own collection]

Although I could recognise my young looking Great Great Uncle James Watson among the group, my Great Aunt has usefully recorded all the names on the back of the photograph, probably identified in latter years by her elderly mother as it is the latter's writing on the back of all the "tintypes". Most are residents of Dalserf Parish and in and around Stonehouse. At least two are related to each other (Watson and Muter).

Back Row Standing (left to right) : Francis [Frank] Struthers ('Broomfield', Dalserf'); James Watson ('Muirhead', Dalserf); Alex. Baird ('Canderside', Stonehouse); [..?..] Wilson (Buck's Head Inn, Stonehouse); Mungo Shearer (Stonehouse?).
Front Row Sitting : Thomas Shearer ('Yards', Stonehouse); William Thomson ('Netherburn'?); William Muter ('Watston', Stonehouse); Gavin Baird ('Canderside', Stonehouse & 'Gartliston', Coatbridge).

But what makes this photograph different?

Scattered throughout two large photo albums of period photographs are novelty "Tintype" individual and very clear portraits apparently taken on the same visit of no less than five of these men, one being my above Great Great Uncle James Watson.

Rear of a "Tintype" clearly showing
not only the almost octagonal shaped
small metal support for the photo but
also the propensity to rust

What is a "Tintype"?

"Tintypes"  (also known as "Ferrotypes") were "made by creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of metal coated with a dark lacquer or enamel and used as the support for the photographic emulsion."

They were inexpensive and easy to process and thus became popular at fairs and carnivals. They were most popular around the 1860's and 1870's but persisted for many years later. As they had a solid metal support they could be prepared, exposed, developed, varnished and dried within a matter of minutes and handed to the waiting customer. But I would discount these being taken at a fair as I also hold the matching studio portrait, same people, mostly wearing the same clothes except two who appears to have changed to a lighter jacket and bow tie, and of course the same photographer.

Another interesting point to mention is that unlike the above carte-de-visite studio portrait, tintypes were "direct positives", in other words there was no negative so that each image is unique. This also means that each person normally appears as a mirror image of themselves. If you compare the photograph of Francis Struthers below with his image in the group portrait above you will see that his button hole flower has swapped sides from left to right. "Tintypes" do need to be kept in a dry and stable environment free of damp as they have a propensity to rust as can be seen in the image above.

Close-up of a "Tintype" of Francis Struthers
showing the clarity of the image

These photographs were obviously purchased by or for my young looking Gt. Gt. Uncle who appears in the main photo and himself as a tintype. Knowing that the 'tintypes' were the cheaper option it is very interesting to note that they are in almost original condition whereas the albumen print has faded, suffers from 'spotting', and had been touched up (note James Watson's and Mr Baird's eyes). But the advantage of the albumen print photo was that a glass negative existed from which any number of copies, including an enlarged print, could be made from the original negative which was retained by the photographic studio.

The Five "Tintypes" With Short Biographies

So, here are the five individual tintypes which have been placed in colourful card mounts, there being three variants in style and colour. It will be interesting to see if any descendants recognise family members and of course the photographs you see below could not be duplicated so are, as noted above, unique. Please do let me know if you see any of your relatives and / or can add any additional information, even if you also hold a photo relating to this 'snapshot in time' commemorating the visit by a group of friends to Kilmarnock. My email link appears in the right hand menu bar.

James Watson, 'Muirhead', Dalserf

James (Jimmie) Watson of 'Muirhead Farm', Dalserf and 'Meadowbank Farm', Heddon Bush, New Zealand. Born 1st October 1859, the son of Thomas Watson & Helen Dougall, emigrated to Southland New Zealand January 1882, Died 26th November 1935 aged 76 years, never married. Interred in the old Winton cemetery, Southland, New Zealand. [Link]

William Muter, 'East Watston',

William Muter, born 'East Watsone Farm', Stonehouse, 28th October 1847, the son of John Muter and Elizabeth Letham, Farmer at 'East Watstone Farm' Stonehouse residing with his brother in law, Archibald Steele as Head of House and family, never married, died 19th September 1921, Buried in St. Ninian's Churchyard, Stonehouse. William appears in a lighter jacket and white bow tie in the group photo. 

Francis [Frank] Struthers, 'Broomfield',

Francis [Frank] Struthers, born 'Broomfield', Dalserf, born 6th January 1861, the son of Allan Struthers and Catherine Weir, Married Isabella Black, had issue, died 4th June 1926 in Dalserf Parish, aged 65 years, buried in Dalserf churchyard. 

Gavin Baird, 'Canderside', Stonehouse
& 'Gartliston', Coatbridge

Gavin Baird of 'Canderside Farm' Stonehouse and Gartliston, Coatbridge. Born in Avondale Parish 3rd December 1859, the son of William Baird and Ann Kirkland. Married Ann Fleming, had issue, Died Townhead Road, Coatbridge 27th August 1926, aged 66 years (cancer).

Thomas Shearer, "Yards", Stonehouse

Thomas Shearer, a Farmer on own account of 'Yards' Farm, Stonehouse, born 22nd September 1861, the son of James Shearer and Mary Lamond, married Elizabeth Hamilton, died at 'Yards' Farm, Stonehouse, 4th May 1931 in his 70th year, buried in Stonehouse cemetery. Thomas appears in a lighter jacket but the same shirt and tie in the group photo.

Sources :
- Watson family photographs (held by the writer)
- Various Internet resources
- Family Search

Monday 1 May 2017

A 1930's Album of Deerstalking in the South Island of New Zealand

A collection of "Trophy" Red Deer Antlers including a Stag's Head
and antlers in centre with an impressive 7 x 7 (14 point) trophy head.

British settlers first liberated red deer in the South Island of New Zealand during the latter part of the 19th century, firstly near Palmerston in Otago in 1871 and then in the Rakaia in 1897. The herds gradually spread to cover much of the New Zealand high country. While protected by law until 1923 the sheer numbers of deer and the damage they wreaked to the delicate New Zealand high country tussock lands and the erosion this caused led to the ending of such protection. By 1932 "game seasons, licences, bag limits and other restrictions were dropped. The scene was set for a war against the ‘deer menace’." They were now firmly declared "noxious animals" and deer stalking and shooting became a popular sport. My family and their friends enjoyed going on deer stalking expeditions and I can recall the impressive multiple pointed stag antlers hung up in my father's old barn, having been shot by him, mostly up the Eglinton and Lillburn Valleys around Fiordland.

Friends At Camp.
Bill Andrews appears standing at rear in the centre.
Note the clothes laid out to dry and the small barrel
which I suspect would be "something stronger"

By the 1920's trophy hunting had become a very popular sport. The photographs shown on this blog appear to cover the 1930's period, at least to 1938. All I know is that these images, not all being shown here, were collected by the late William (Bill) Lowe Andrews of Heddon Bush in Southland (died 1941 aged 59 years) and placed in a small album. Many of the photos have his name on the back. I don't believe any of my family were actually on these particular hunting expeditions but the album was found among old family photographs after my late uncle's death in 1982. Perhaps it was given to my family after Bill's death as both had been neighbours and good friends and I am fairly certain that my father and Bill would have gone deer stalking together on occasions as they obviously shared the same passion. Bill appears in at least one photo shown above but does not seem to appear in any photos taken in the mountains so may have taken a less active role by this stage, perhaps just helping out at the campsites.

Men and Pack Horses with at least one trophy head

Unfortunately the locations of the most of the photographs is not recorded. My guess is that some do relate to Fiordland but also some taken up in the high tussock country of Northern Southland or inland Central Otago. One photograph is dated 1938 and marked "Mount Cook" which is almost invisible away in the distance across the jagged peaks of the Southern Alps. I believe most of those showing snow country would be taken at the same time, probably up one of the alpine valleys south of Mount Cook. Based on the photo a mountaineer might have a better idea of exactly where this might be taken.

Up in the High Tussock Country.
Deer on the Ridgeline?

Culling of the Red Deer population as a form of sport is still very popular today, being a necessity in order to alleviate high country erosion with considerable damage to tussock lands as well as native forests. Government sponsored culling effectively ceased in 1987 and Regional Deer Stalking Associations assist in regulating this sport [Link].

A 6 x 6 (12 point) Trophy Head.
Note the ammunition belt  

A High Country Canvas Tent Campsite

"Mount Cook" (almost invisible on the horizon)

Hunters Surveying the Snow Capped Mountains in the High Country

A Tarn or Mountain Lake Formed by Glacial Activity

Crossing a boulder strewn stream in the mountains

Spot the Deer

Up in the Mountainous Snow Country

A nice 6-pointer

Time for a snack and a cuppa

A Trophy Head up in the Tussock Country

Boiling the Billy's for a Meal at a Tent Camp
(possibly Bill Andrews on the right)

A Good Collection of Trophy Stag Antlers at the end of
a hunting expedition. Is the lady a resident of the house?

Sources :

- Family Photographs (held by the writer)
- Te Ara, The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
- The New Zealand Deer Stalkers' Association. Inc.