Tuesday, 23 February 2021

24/1629 Private Percy Creely, 9/11/1887-26/10/1919.

 Percy Creely was a bushman, working in  the Gisborne area, when he enlisted in the Rifle Brigade of the New Zealand Army in October, 1915.  He was transferred to the Wellington Infantry Regiment in March, 1916, leaving Egypt with them for France.  

It was not long after arriving in France that Percy received the wound which would eventually claim his life.  He suffered a bullet wound to his head and was immediately evacuated, being reported as "dangerously ill" in hospital in England.  By October of 1916 he was well anough to be repatriated in the Hospital Ship "Maheno."

It is possible that Percy's wound was the result of an artillery shell - his Battalion was out of the front line at the time -  whatever the cause it was devastating.

Details of Percy's time when he returned to New Zealand can be found in a letter written to the Otago Daily Times by Brigadier-general McGavin, Directer-general of NZ Medical Services shortly after Percy's death:

"With reference to the case of Creely: on March 30, 1917 the late Colonel T. Hope Lewis recommended this man's treatment at Karitane. Dr Herbert sent this man to Karitane (as appears in a letter to the medical superintendent) in order that he should be controlled in a manner impossible at Rotorua. Creely was admitted to Seacliff on March 24, 1917, was formally committed on October 3, 1917, and died on October 28, 1919. He was suffering from traumatic epilepsy, the result of extensive wounds of the head, and died in Seacliff of his brain injuries."

Much to unpack, as they say, from the above, which was written to counter allegations of soldiers being interned at Seacliff without due process by the military authorities.  His military record has him at Seacliff Hospital, and "dangerously ill," in June, 1917.  It was at Seacliff that he was "found dead," the cause described as "Jacksonion epilepsy," which apparently refers to a localised rather than a generalised epileptic seizure.  Whatever the ongoing effects before his death, it would seem he was too much to handle at the King George V Hospital at Rotorua.


CREELY.—Rifleman 24/1629 Percy Creely, 9th Reinforcements, 2nd Rifle Brigade, severely wounded in head by h.e. shell at Armentieres on the 2nd. June, 1916; operated upon in France; returned to New Zealand by Maheno on the 19th December, 1916, was paralysed as result of wound; and died from its effects on the 26th October, 1919, brother of H. J, Creely. Upper Hutt. Interment at Dunedin.  -Evening Post, 1/11/1919.

Andersons Bay Cemetery, Dunedin. DCC photo.

Monday, 22 February 2021

The Townleys - lost on the "Creole," 28/8/1863.



Commercial Horse Bazaar. 


Ex Creole, from Launceston, daily expected. 

WRIGHT, ROBERTSON AND CO. have received instructions from W. H. Clayton, Esq., to sell by public auction, on arrival, 

The Cargo of the above ship, Consisting of Heavy Draught Horses and Mares, Working Bullocks, and Produce. 

Full particulars of which will be duly announced upon arrival.  -Otago Daily Times, 26/9/1863.


Considerable fears are entertained as to the safety of the brigantine Creole, which left Launceston thirty days ago for Otago, with stock and a number of passengers on board. It was feared she has been wrecked on Swan Island. The following is from the Launceston Examiner :—

Information has been received from the Superintendent of the lighthouse on Swan Island to the effect that on the 29th ultimo he found washed up on the beach, a bowsprit, jib-boom, windlass end, topmast stay-sail, wire jib-stay, chain bowsprit shroud, chain bob-stay, and iron caps. The articles were all entangled with each other, and appeared to have been but a short time in the water, and to have belonged to a vessel of 200 or 300 tons burthen. The windlass end was painted green, and the varnish on the sprit and jib was fresh, and a little chafed. The bowsprit apparently came out of the vessel whole. No maker's name appeared on the staysail, which was made of American canvas. The measurements are as follows: Length of bowsprit 28ft, circumference 4ft. 2in.; length of jib-boom 31ft, circumference 2ft. 6in; length of windlass end 2ft. 6in., circumference 4 ft. We believe that, from the description thus given of the wreck washed ashore, there is every reason to suppose that it does not belong to any vessel sailing from Launceston.  -Otago Daily Times, 28/9/1863.



(BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH.) Port Chalmers, 6th Oct., 7 p.m. The Victor, brig, from Melbourne, is at the Heads. The Lady Denison, brig, was towed up. Passengers for Otago: Mr. and Mrs Nicholson and family, Mrs Solomon and family, Misses Haggitt. Cargo mixed produce. 

She brings Tasmanian papers two days later than the Emma Prescott. She leaaves no doubt of the loss of the Creole; Boat, oars, and life-buoy with name Creole, was picked up, and boxes with Captain and passengers' names. 

A party has been organised to proceed to the wreck, but there are no hopes of finding survivors. 

No appearance yet of steamer Geelong, three days overdue.

Sailed This Evening: Isle of France, Royal Exchange, and Titania.

With reference to the loss of the Creole, we have the following further particulars: — The following telegram from Launceston was posted in Hobart Town on the 26th ult.: 

''Reported here that the schooner Creole has been wrecked near Waterhouse Island. The beach for miles is strewn with cattle, hay, &c, oars, lifebuoy, bedding, and other articles, with Captain's and ship's name on have been found. The above has been known among the inhabitants of the North Coast for the last three weeks, but has only been just reported."

In reference to this the Hobart Town Mercury of the 26th ult., says :—

We find that the brigantine Creole, 131 tons, Captain Fluerty, cleared out at the Launceston customs for Dunedin, on the 25th of August, and pasdd

ssed through Tarmar Heads on the morning of the 29th August. The following is the list of her passengers: Mr and Mrs F. A. C. Townley and child. Miss Bain, Mrs Green, Mr Henry Clayton, Masters Clayton (2), Mrs John Rattray and infant, Master Rattrays (2) Miss Rattray, W. Weymouth, Mr James Dean. Her crew comprised seven men, and eight who were shipped as grooms, and their names were entered on the ship's papers as follows: — Crew: Norman Clarke, John Cooke, Richard Mortimer, Thomas Smith, William Wilson, Thomas Joyce, W. Dewar, Robert Thompson. Grooms — Samuel Clewar, Frederick Gibbs, J. Lamont, Wm. Coleby, John Wilson, Thomas Green, and Andrew Stevenson. The Creole had, therefore, thirty-one souls on board, all of'whom have, it is feared, perished. The cargo was also a valuable one, comprising 200 fat sheep, fifteen heifers, twenty-five head fat cattle, twelve cart horses, 160 bls hay, 100 bags bran, 600 bags mangold wurzel, 50bags do, 50 bags carrots, and 50 bags oats, shipped by H. Clayton; 1 horse shipped by Jas. Dean; and 15 packages furniture, shipped by Mrs. Rattray. The Agents for the Creole were Messrs J. McNaughten and Sons. Waterhouse Island is situate about 50 miles to the north-eastward of Tamar Heads, and we are informed by those who have visited that quarter, that the coast is rocky and precipitous and the means of communication with the mainland extremely limited. It is probable that the unfortunate vessel was driven on shore during the night of the 29th August, at which time we are aware very heavy weather prevailed. The register of the weather from Low Heads on that day stated the wind to be strong from the westward, and squally, the barometer standing at 29° 20. It is extremely doubtful whether in the event of a sudden casualty on such a coast, so large a number of persons could be safely landed, and the time which has elapsed since the period of the wreck, almost destroys hope. Vessels are continually passing and repassing within sight of Waterhouse Island, and a shipwrecked crew would be almost certain to succeed in attracting attention by means of signals; besides this however, the inhabitants of the North Coast have known of this wreck for the past three weeks, and would not fail to make search for the survivors, whose names would assuredly have been included in the telegraphic information above given. Terrible as the conviction is therefore; we cannot bring ourselves to hope that one has survived out of the large number of souls on board the ill-fated Creole to tell the tale of her disaster. We must certainly say one word in reference to the gross carelessness of the authorities in not providing adequate means of communication between these isolated beacon stations along our coast and the main land. It is only a fortnight ago since a notice appeared in these columns, in reference to the finding of portions of the wreck on the beach at Swan Island on 9th August, and although there is a lighthouse-keeper and staff at this station, the letter announcing the fact was not dated until three days after the wreck was discovered. Nor did information reach the public until the 9th September, when the letter to the Master Warden was published in our shipping columns.  In cases of maritime disaster, immediate communication with the authorities is essentially necessary, and sure some means could be devised by which information of wrecks on those isolated and dangerous promontories could be forwarded to those stations in reasonable time.  -Otago Daily Times, 7/10/1863.

Some sensation has been created here by the intelligence of the wreck of the schooler Creole, bound from Launceston to this port, and having on board a large number of passengers coming to join their relatives in the province. Large quantities of wreck have been washed ashore on the North coast of Tasmania and the island adjacent to it, together with passengers' luggage, carcases of sheep, &c. But as not a single human body out of the thirty-one onboard has been washed ashore — nor any portion of the ribs or other ships' timbers, except those belonging to the deck house, some mystery is felt to attach to the real nature of the disaster. It is known that on the night after she left Launceston, the Creole must have encountered a fearful gale; and as the vessel had open hatches, on account of the presence of live stock on board, it is conjectured that her decks must have been swept and the vessel have subsequently foundered.   -Otago Daily Times, 17/10/1863.

The Townleys' father, Frederick Augustus, died of tuberculosis before reading the news of his children's demise.  It seems likely that they were on their way to join him, or at least visit him before his death.  For Amelia; wife, mother and then widow, it would have been a tragic time.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.

Joseph Pring, 1859-2/2/1898.


A riderless horse belonging to Messrs Grindley Bros., butchers, bolted up Princes street this afternoon from the north end of the City and knocked down a young man named Joseph Pring, a hansom cab driver, who was standing alongside his horse at the stand opposite the shop kept by Mr Jacobs, tobacconist. Pring was picked up in an insensible state and removed to the hospital, where the doctor pronounced him to be suffering from concussion of the brain. It is not known whether serious consequences are likely to ensue.   -Evening Star, 28/1/1898.

The Octagon, 1905. Cabs in the lower left corner.  Photo courtesy of the Hocken Library.


On inquiring at the Hospital this afternoon we were informed that Joseph Pring, the cabman who was knocked down by a runaway horse yesterday, is making satistactory progress.   -Evening Star, 29/1/1898.


Joseph Pring, the cabman who a few days ago was knocked down in Princes street by a runaway horse, died in the hospital about half-past nine last evening. He never rallied to any great extent since the accident, but he took a decided turn for the worse yesterday and died at the hour indicated. He was a single man, and about thirty-six years of age. The Coroner held an inquest on the body at a late hour this afternoon.   -Evening Star, 3/2/1898.


An inquest was held at the hospital yesterday, before Mr E. H. Carew (coroner) and a jury of six (of whom Mr H. Spiers was chosen foreman), on the body of Joseph Pring, who died at the hospital from injuries sustained by being knocked down by a horse in Princes street on Friday last.

James Jackson, hansom cab-driver, gave evidence that deceased was born in Victoria, and came here about thirty years ago. He was a single man. At three o'clock on Friday afternoon last witness was at the head of the cab rank, standing near his cab. Someone cried "Look out," and witness ran to his horse's head. At that moment a saddle horse, but not ridden by anyone, passed between the cab and a tramcar. It was going at a furious rate. It galloped through and knocked down Pring, who was talking to another cabman named Dick Metcalfe. Pring was thrown heavily on to the footpath. When he was picked up blood was on his forehead.

Richard Metcalfe, cabdriver, deposed that he was talking to the deceased at the time the accident occurred. Witness caught a momentary glimpse of a horse galloping down upon them. Witness cried "Look out," and rushed to his horse's head. Pring looked round, and witness saw the horse strike him on the back, knocking him down. Witness and a man named George Elliot picked him up and carried him to the chemist's shop. Afterwards he was removed to the hospital. He was insensible when he was picked up. 

Constable Hickey gave evidence that he saw the horse galloping along Princes street. It had a saddle, and the reins appeared to be fastened to the stirrups.

William Kelly, butcher, in the employ of William Grindley, stated that he was delivering meat on Friday afternoon, and at the corner of St. David and George streets he tied his horse up to a telephone post to deliver meat. He unbuckled the bridle and tied it round the iron bar running up the post. When he was coming back a kerosene tin used for ashes blew along the street, and the horse taking fright pulled back from the post and broke the bridle. It started trotting along George street, and at Albany street a man ran out to try and stop it. It then galloped away up town, and witness, going back and procuring another horse, rode up Cumberland street to get the runaway. He got it at the tram stables. If the man had not tried to stop it the horse would have gone down Albany street home. 

Dr A. Stenhouse, house surgeon at the hospital, stated that be examined deceased when he was brought to the hospital, and found him suffering from a fracture of the base of the skull, contusions on the right temple and at the back of the head. He was bleeding from the ear and nose. He was unconscious. He showed slight signs of improvement during the first few days. On Wednesday afternoon he developed congestion of the bases of both lungs, and quickly sank, dying about half-past nine in the evening. The cause of death was congestion of the lungs, with concussion of the brain from fracture of the base of the skull. 

The Coroner: Was congestion of the lungs in connection with the fracture? — I could not say. 

The Coroner: Would he have lived if congestion of the lungs had not set in? - Possibly.

A verdict was returned "That deceased met his death by being accidentally knocked down by a horse." and the jury added a rider "That dust tins should not be allowed out at a late hour of the day." The dust tin was the cause of the accident. It was a common thing for dust tins to be left about the streets, and they were blown about. The coroner was requested to write to the City Council to that effect.  -Evening Star, 4/2/1898.

 A number of cabmen (including more especially hansom cab drivers) propose to take steps to collect funds to defray the cost of the funeral of their late comrade Joseph Pring, who died in the hospital on Wednesday evening from injuries sustained by being knocked down by a runaway. It is also proposed, if possible, to erect a suitable memorial over his grave.   -Otago Daily Times, 4/2/1898.

The funeral of the late Joseph Pring, the hansom cab driver who died from injuries sustained by being knocked down by a runaway horse in Princes street, took place yesterday. The body was followed to its last resting place in the Southern Cemetery by all the hansom cab drivers of the city and a number of cabs and landaus. The vehicles numbered nearly a score.   -Otago Daily Times, 5/2/1898.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin. DCC photo.

Sunday, 21 February 2021

2/1751 Corporal Alfred Nind Andrews, NZFA, DCM, MiD, 21/12/1894-17/6/1917.

Alfred Andrews, a clerk and son of a carpenter, volunteered for the New Zerland Army in April, 1915, being appointed Cook in October of that year and then relinquishing that job to serve on trench mortars.  He musgt have found his place in the war, being promoted to Bombardier at the beginning of 1917 and then Corporal the following March.  This second promotion would seem to be the result of his actions - which were "Mentioned in Dispatches" by Commander in Chief Sir Douglas Haig - with the Auckland Regiment as detailed below:

At Bois Grenier on 21st February 1917, this NCO did exceptionally good work during the raid of the 2nd Auckland Battallion. The batteries were heavily shelled throughout and in spite of the heavy fire Bombardier Andrews remained with the mortar, adjusting the mechanism which was causing trouble during the action, and set a splendid example to the men under him. During a previous raid by the enemy, the Corporal in charge of the detachment was killed. Bombardier Andrews took charge although the mortar was out of action, removed same to a dug out, exhibiting coolness and resourcefulness throughout, thus saving his mortar from being captured. 

In August of that month he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal:

London Gazette, 16/8/1917: For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He showed the greatest coolness and contempt for danger on three seperate occasions, when his mortar had been put out of action by hostile fire, repairing it himself and getting it back into action. On another occassion, although wounded himself, he assisted to carry one of his comrades back to the dressing station. His cheerful disposition and pluck at all times inspired great confidence in his men. He has since been seriously wounded.

Alfred died in No. 2 Australian Casualty Clearing Station of abdominal wounds received in action.  That he survived to reach the Station indicates the possibility of a painful death.  I hope he was given morphine for the rough journey from the front line to the CCS.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.

Saturday, 20 February 2021

Matthew Thomas, 1874-6/1/1898.

 Preservation Inlet Goldfields


Many hearts were made sad on the arrival of the s.s. Invercargill last week bringing the news of the death of Matthew Thomas, one of our most respected and popular residents. Mat, as he was generally called, was quite a young man and was working in the Morning Star mine. He left here in apparently perfect health, with all the others, for the holidays, took a severe cold and died at his home in Dunedin. He was a general favourite in the community and will be much missed. Great sympathy was expressed on all sides for those left sorrowing. The weather for the past week has been dreadful — rain and wind, hail and thunder in succession, and a remarkable thing was that during the 11th and 12th, an extreme darkness overhung the district, so much so that in the houses the lamps had to be lighted at five o'clock. The miners have all returned to-day, and work will be commenced next week. While the steamer was at the wharf this afternoon J. Haberfield, by some mischance, fell into the water, but was promptly rescued by a boat's crew that was passing, and nothing more serious than a ducking was the result.   -Southland Times, 17/1/1898.


Thomas. — On the 6th January, at Josephine street, Caversham, Matthew, the third son of Margaret Jane and the late Matthew Thomas and late of Morning Star mine, Preservation Inlet, aged 23 years. Deeply regretted.  -Otago Daily Times, 18/1/1898.

A very pretty incident, showing the good fellowship which exists among miners, has just come under our notice, and is deserving of full publicity. About two and a-half years ago, amongst a number of others, a young man, Matthew Thomas, went to Preservation Inlet to work on the Morning Star reef. He soon made friends, and by the geniality of his disposition was respected by his comrades. Last Christmas, accompanied by his brother, he came up to Dunedin to spend a few days with his mother, who resides at Caversham. Both were in splendid health, but influenza, which attacks strong and weak alike, attached itself to one of the brothers (Matthew), and in a few days he died from its effects. Upon hearing the sad news, the fellow-miners of deceased and the residents of Preservation Inlet generally clubbed together and raised the sum of £50, ($9710 today) with which they have erected a handsome granite headstone to the grave in the Southern Cemetery (Dunedin) of their late comrade.  -Evening Star, 13/6/1898.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.

Thomas Wood, 1809-3/8/1885


Many of our readers will remember Mr Thomas Wood who was for a considerable time lessee of the billiard room at the Commercial Hotel, Milton. He is now in London, living at the Britannia Hotel in the City Road, kept by Mr Drummond, the husband of Dolly Green, the well-known actress. By the last mail, a lady residing in Dnnedin received a letter from Mr Wood, and she has kindly placed it at our disposal: 

London, 22nd May, 1876.

Dear Madam, After four months' travelling, I sit down to acquaint you with a few of my "sights." You know the grand sights and display that are to be seen at Cadova by seeing the natives come off to the vessels, and through the tropics to the Sandwich Islands. There I stopped one day, and was much delighted by seeing about 15 mules coming down through the valleys, loaded with bananas, to our good ship, consigned to merchants in 'Frisco.' After leaving the Islands, Washington's birthday came on, and we had a grand ball on board. We enjoyed everything right through to 'Frisco.' Then agony began; for it hailed and rained in torrents. I saw all I could possibly see in one week - then for the snowy mountains. I stopped at Hogden, and went to the salt lakes but returned the same night, for I could see nothing but snow, and the Tabernacle resembled a mushroom top among the snow. I went on to Sacramento; there had been no trains through for three weeks. We had five engines on, and one snow plough. We buried one engine and smothered three chinamen. At last we got through to Chicago, where I saw Julia  Matthews and Johnny Hall. I stopped there two days, and then went to the Exhibition, where, in three days I got disgusted, for the buildings there bear no comparison to our Crystal Palace or the Alexandra. I then went on to New York where I expected to see Mr Moody, but did not through Mr C— giving me the wrong address. I stopped in New York a week, and then left for Liverpool. As I do not like Liverpool I went on to London. 

Since I have been here we have had nothing but rain and bad weather, and I wish I had taken your advice, and stayed a couple of months later. However, I pased my time seeing the fair sex: — in Rotten Row, the morning flower-shows, in Albert Hall, and at the Operas and fireworks in the evening. I have been to all the races, and saw the Inflexible launched at Portsmouth — the Prince's arrival, the banquet, the procession, and ball - a sight I shall never forget. As the song says, "I wish I were a boy again, and had but a thousand a year, gaffer." I saw Mr Sam Lazarus and several more old faces, and they all wish they were back in Dunedin. 

To conclude — I hope this will find you in good health, as it has left me at present, thank God! Remember me to all old friends. 

Yours respectfully, Old Tom Wood.

PS.— If all is well, I will be back by November. I have not made up my mind which way I shall come. I can get plenty of rooms in London but I cannot sit down to mark a game of billiards for sixpence, as the Summer is setting in, and very little play.  TM  -Bruce Herald, 25/7/1876.

Mr Thomas Wood, or "Old Tom Wood" — to use a name by which he is more generally known — has returned to New Zealand, and in a very short time he will be in Milton to entertain us with stories of his wonderful adventures on land and sea. It will be remembered that he left here less than a year ago to visit the Philadelphia Exhibition, and since then he has visited the Eastern and Western States of America, Great Britain, and the continent of Europe. Society in San Francisco did not suit Tom Wood, so after becoming pretty proficient in the use of the revolver he left for the East, carrying with him as mementos of his visit three revolver bullets in the calf of his left leg. He found Salt Lake City more to his taste, but there he narrowly escaped having thirteen wives and a small family of forty-seven children "sealed" to him, so he determined to move eastward again. At Brooklyn he met the Rev. Ward Beecher, who was delighted to hear that the people of Milton sympathised with him in his late troubles. Tom resisted the earnest entreaties of his eminent friend, and declined to take shares in a new church about to be started on Long Island. After being introduced to President Grant, he left New York for Liverpool, and soon found his way to London, where he was hospitably entertained by the Colonial Secretary. With much good sense, Mr Wood gracefully but firmly declined the honor of knighthood, and after wandering over the continent for a month or two became so disgusted with the effete civilisation of the old world that he determined to return to New Zealand once more. He will tell the rest himself. 

John Smith.  -Bruce Herald, 12/12/1876.

Town Topics

Most residents of Milton will remember Mr Thomas Wood, or if they don't remember him they may perhaps be able to recall "Old Tom" to their recollection. He left your township nearly two years ago, and after enjoying the hospitality of the King of Samoa, Brigham Young, the President of the United States, and an old lady who keeps a tea and shrimp shop at Gravesend, he returned to New Zealand firm in the conviction that marking billiards at sixpence per game in the old country was more than he could stand. Some months ago Thomas entered into arrangements with Mr W. L. Philp, of the Shamrock Hotel, who has just erected one of the most comfortable billiard rooms in town, and furnished it with one of the most handsome and expensive tables made by Alcock and Co, of Melbourne. The room was opened to the public on Friday night last, and the occasion was celebrated by an inaugural game at general pool and a grand supper. Tom did not succumb until a late hour in the morning, when he was borne on two billiard cues to his bed, where a facetious member of the company read the rules for devil's pool over his remains. He's better now; but a strong demand has increased the price of brandy and soda.  -Bruce Herald, 26/6/1877.

Public Notices


IF you wish to see a Brilliant light visit the Shamrock Billiard saloon. 

TOM WOOD. August 8.   -Evening Star, 8/8/1877.

An invitation was extended to our City Fathers by letter at last night's meeting, in the following terms: "Northern Hotel, Oamaru Feb. 3, 1881. — To his Worship the Mayor and Councillors of the Borough of Oamaru Gentlemen, — I have the honor to invite you to inspect the splendid billiard saloon at the Northern Hotel this evening, where will be seen the prince of tables, the prince of markers, and the prince of lights; open for inspection uo to 12 o'clock. — Yours faithfully, Old Tom Wood." Councillors smiled blandly as the letter was laid on the table.   -North Otago Times, 4/2/1881.

BILLIARD CHALLENGE £500 For the Best Table in the Colony. 




To be found at 


Grand Room. Furniture unsurpassed. 

OLD TOM WOOD, (From the Shamrock Hotel Dunedin,) 

Has the pleasure to announce that he has brought up his Magnificent Alcock Table for the use of the Oamaru players; and by his well-known attention and civility, hopes to meet with the public patronage.

Pool every night.   -Oamaru Mail, 23/2/1881.



OLD TOM WOOD (late of the Shamrock Billiard Room) is now in harness, having taken the Royal Exchange Room, which is furnished with two of Alcock’s best Tables, and invites his old friends to rally round. 

Pool Every Night.  -Evening star, 3/9/1881.



Is now Open under the management of the renowned TOM WOOD. For style and comfort this Room stands unrivalled in the Australasian Colonies.   -Otago Daily Times, 1/3/1882.

Mr Thomas Wood, better known as Tom Wood, a well-known resident, and somewhat of a celebrity, died yesterday of heart-disease and dropsy, in his 75th year, at the Shamrock Hotel, after a long and painful illness. The deceased, who was a native of Devonshire, came out to New South Wales when a boy of 16 as a servant to the late Dr Finlay, one of the earliest stockowners of that Colony. In the early digging days of Victoria he was the second, if not the first, to drive the coach between Melbourne and Ballarat on the breaking out of the goldfields. He arrived in New Zealand about 23 years ago, where he followed principally the two occupations of coachdriver and billiard-table keeper. He was much liked and respected by all who knew him for his genial and hearty manner, and kindly disposition.  -Otago Dauily Times, 4/8/1885.

Dunedin Gossip

Genial, jovial, light-hearted Tom Wood has also joined the majority, and his well-known figure and "frosty now" will be no longer seen in our streets. Thomas Wood was known to most people in Dunedin as the lessee of several billiard-rooms — and those he kept were always distinguished for their freedom from the objectionable features common to some — but old Victorians will know him best as the second, if not even the first, driver of Cobb's coach between Melbourne and Ballarat, and many will remember him when handling the reins for Cobb in Otago. Vale!  -Cromwell Argus, 11/8/1885.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

23640 Private Robert Wallace Watson, 16/12/1895-17/1/1921.

Robert Wallace Watson was a Glasgow-born, Dunedin-based painter when he enlisted. He left New Zealand for France in mid-1916.

Robert Watson was wounded in battle three times, all minor wounds, before he received his ultimately fatal gunshot wound in 1918 which left him a cripple.  

A memo sent to the military records office in Wellington, giving details of his military burial, adds theis description of the cause of death: "GSW spine, mental aberration, asthenia." GSW (gunshot wound) seems simple enough, but "mental aberration" is a shocker.  As for "asthenia," it needed some research to find that it refers to a general and extreme fatigue of the body and mind.

Mr Robert Wallace Watson, the eldest son of Mr and Mrs R. S. Watson, of Belleknowes, died in the Dunedin Hospital on Monday morning from the effects of wounds received in action on July 21, 1918. Though discharged from the forces in April last, he had never been out of hospital since his return to New Zealand in January, 1919. Private Watson was wounded four times during his two years in France. He bore with great fortitude the spinal incapacity from which he finally succumbed, and his loss is greatly deplored by a large circle of friends and comrades.  -Otago Daily Times, 18/1/1921.



WATSON. — On January 17, at Dunedin Hospital (the result of wounds received on active service, July, 1918), 23640 — Private Robert Wallace Watson, the beloved eldest son of R. S. and M. Watson, 7 Carnarvon street, Belleknowes, Mornington; aged 25 years.

“A patient sufferer gone to rest.” 

MILITARY FUNERAL. The Friends of Mr and Mrs R. S. WATSON (and Family) are respectfully invited to attend the Funeral of their late SON, 23640 — Private R. W. WATSON, which will leave their Residence, 7 Carnarvon street, Belleknowes, Mornington, TO-MORROW (WEDNESDAY), the 19th inst., at 2 p.m., for the Anderson’s Bay Cemetery.— HOPE & KINASTON, Undertakers, 36 St. Andrew street.   -Otago Daily Times, 18/1/1918.

Andersons Bay Cemetery, Dunedin.

Sunday, 14 February 2021

Moses Brown, 1855-27/8/1940.





Reminiscences of the early mining days at Kyeburn Diggings are retained by Mr Moses Brown. 84 year-old pioneer of Naseby, who must be one of the oldest residents of Otago still actively associated with gold mining ventures. Mr Brown went to Kyeburn Diggings in 1880, when there were hundreds of miners in the district, and he still has a claim which is being worked successfully. Mr Brown was born at Sawden, Yorkshire, in 1855, and was brought up to an agricultural life, which offered few hopes of the adventure, excitement, and success that he was later to enjoy on the mining fields of Otago. Mr Brown did not remain for long a farmer's boy and instead became a puddler at an ironworks. The puddler's job then was the hottest in existence in this world, Mr Brown says, and he can remember his cheek and arm being almost raw from the burning heat. He still has the scars to recall that job, and he often wonders how the others on the same work stood up to it, for he remembers how their arms and cheeks looked like raw beef. They seemed to feel the heat far worse than he did.

The Lure of Gold

The depression of 1880 caused the ironworks to close down, and so Mr Brown decided to seek his fortune in New Zealand, from which country stories of gold rushes were emanating. He set sail in the Coromandel early in 1880, and arrived at Port Chalmers on April 1, 1880. He travelled straight to the Kyeburn Diggings, and immediately set to work with the hundreds of other miners who were trying to wrest a fortune from the land and river bed.

Success soon came to him, and in 1884 he was able to buy out the claim of John Francis Christian for £1500. Christian had a fairly rich claim, but found difficulty in working it. On one occasion he had a quarter-acre claim just below what was known as a white drift, and in one small spot recovered 33lb of gold. When this was cleaned out they looked for more near the drift, but could not find any. The pocket seemed to have fallen out of the clouds. When Mr Brown took over the claim he introduced pipes to get the required pressure for sluicing, and he believes that he was the first man to use this method at the diggings. At that time he was employing men on 12 hour shifts at 1s an hour. Later on he and a brother and four others were engaged in dredging the Big Kyeburn, but the Great War put up the costs of labour and machinery so high that they had to cease operations. Mr Brown kept on working at the Diggings, and met with considerable success at different periods of his life. It was no uncommon thing for him to bank 50 or 60 ounces of gold at the Ranfurly Bank for a few week's work, and he is very proud of his first bank book, which he commenced in 1884. He is still supervising the working of a good claim at Kyeburn Diggings, in which his son and nephew are engaged. 

Activities of the Chinese 

There were about 200 Chinese working at the Diggings when Mr Brown first arrived there. They seemed to live in tribes in peculiar houses made of tussock and scrub. They worked in gangs of about five, and were very successful in their search for gold. They turned over the main line of the Kyeburn for miles, and had a way of working that was entirely their own. The river had a fall of about 40 feet to the mile, and the Chinese would shovel in at water level until they reached the river bottom. Then they would start a race to carry the water of the river into their box. Two of the gang would shovel the material into the box, one would stand on the bank and pick out the big stones, and the other two would shovel away the surplus material. They got a large quantity of gold in this way, and no one ever bothered them.

In 1881 a Mrs Young was murdered, and a Chinese was hanged for the crime. From that time on, Mr Brown said, the Chinese began to drift away from the Diggings, and soon there were very few left. Mr Brown recalled the murder of the Chinese, Chum, at Mount Buster some years ago, and related an interesting story connected with the crime. Chum was very popular with everyone in the district, Mr Brown said, and it was a big shock when it was known that he had been murdered. Just before the crime, Mr Brown had a dream that something happened to Chum and he saw him lying dead on the ground. He saw in his dream £800 worth of gold hidden in a wall of the hut under a window-sill. Then came the discovery of the crime, and Mr Brown was appointed as mining expert at the trial and washed up the claim. About a year after a diviner was going over the area, and his rod told him that there was a small quantity of gold in the wall of Chum's hut. They investigated, and discovered a hiding place under a window-sill just as Mr Brown had dreamt. The gold had been removed, however, and only a very small quantity of gold dust remained. What happened to Chum's horde will never be discovered, but it was known that he had a fair amount of gold hidden away.

" The Golden Age "

Mr Brown has vivid memories of old Naseby, when thousands of miners used to come into the town to spend their earnings and to enjoy the varied entertainment offered in the mining town. He remembers the start of the little cemetery at Kyeburn Diggings, when a man named Scarlett, who was killed in a fall of earth was buried under a crude tombstone. He remembers the school at the diggings that once accommodated 60 children but is now almost a ruin. "They were unforgettable days" Mr Brown concluded as he bade the Otago Daily Times reporter farewell, "but they were cruel, brutal times. I like to see the increased use of the machine, for it is freeing the horse and other working animals. Man was never intended to make animals work for him, nor to slaughter them for food. I look forward to the day when he will be able to exist on vegetable matter and stop slaughtering the defenceless animals. That will be the golden age, and I hope I may live to see it."  -Otago Daily Times, 26/4/1939.

MR MOSES BROWN, A veteran miner of the Kyeburn diggings pictured with just under 60 ounces of gold.  -Otago Daily Times, 26/4/1939.


Mr Moses Brown, aged 85 years, a well known and respected resident of Naseby, died last week. He was engaged in gold mining for many years, and met with considerable success.   -Dunstan Times, 2/9/1940.

Kyeburn Diggings Cemetery, Otago.

Saturday, 13 February 2021





[FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.] NASEBY, August 3. Two boys living at the Upper Kyeburn, named James and Thomas Meikle, aged eighteen and fourteen respectively, were rabbiting on J. and J. McReady's run, on the Maerewhenua side of the Kakanui Ranges, on Thursday last, when the younger boy became exhausted. His brother's story is to the effect that, being unable to assist him, he travelled some miles to his hut, obtained a blanket, and returned to the little fellow, wrapped him up, and stayed with him till five o'clock on Friday morning. Then, seeing the boy apparently dying, he again left him, and, reaching home, informed his father, who set out with him to the boy's assistance. The ascent of the mountain proved too much for the father, who entirely collapsed, and was severely frost-bitten, but managed to return to the nearest house, but not till Saturday morning, when the neighbors were informed of the occurrence, and 

A SEARCH PARTY OF NINE was immediately organised for the purpose of rescuing the boy, with young Meikle as a guide. He led them up Nobbler Peak, and then informed them that he was sure he had guided them wrongly, as his brother was at the back of the opposite spur. The party, with the object of crossing to this spur, prooeeded round a steep sidling, covered with a deep coating of snow, between Nobbler Peak and Mount Alexandra, Young Meikle, Alphonso Beer, and Robert Blanchard being slightly in advance of the others, when the snow gave from under them, and they immediately disappeared from the view of their companions, being 

COMPLETELY ENVELOPED IN THE AVALANCHE, which slipped fully 400 yards down the side of the mountain into the gully, and then precipitated with awful velocity over a perpendicular cliff of 50ft in depth. The remainder of the party, being unable to find any trace of their unfortunate comrades, and being utterly unable to do anything towards their assistance, returned to Kyeburn and despatched a messenger to Naseby with the object of procuring help. Early on Sunday morning a large party left Naseby with ropes, shovels, etc., and were augmented by a large party from Kyeburn, there being over 200 men altogether. Considerable difficulty was experienced in reaching the scene of the fatality, the ascent of the mountains being exceedingly trying, but the difficulties were at length surmounted, and the operations of digging away the snow quickly commenced. Very soon 

BLANCHARD'S BODY WAS DISCOVERED about 100 yards from the foot of the cliff, embedded in six or seven feet of snow. One side of his head was frightfully bruised, a portion of his legs also being broken. About a chain further up the gully 

BEER'S BODY WAS FOUND, his head also being badly bruised. Some twenty or thirty yards further up 

MEIKLE'S BODY WAS DISCOVERED without any marks of injury, and it is thought he must have lived some time after reaching the bottom. The other two were evidently killed outright by the fall. The three bodies were with the greatest difficulty conveyed down the mountain, and afterwards removed to Monk's Pass Hotel, where an inquest will be held to-morrow. Blanchard was twenty-two years of age, and Beer twenty, and both young man were greatly respected throughout the district. The two boys Meikle were the main support of the family. The sad affair has caused tremendous excitement, it being the 

MOST AWFUL in its nature that has ever appeared in this district. A party has been organised to search for the little boy Meikle to-day, but it is anticipated they will not be successful for some time, as the only person who knew of his exact whereabouts was his brother, who is now dead. One of his dogs is, however, supposed to be still with him. Of course there is not the slightest hope of finding the boy alive.  -Evening Star, 3/8/1891.

Monk's "Pass Hotel," Hocken Library photo.


A movement is on foot to erect a suitable monument in the Kyeburn Cemetery in commemoration of the victims of the recent casualty at Kyeburn. Messrs. A. P. Beer, Robert Blanchard and James Meikle met their death in their heroic endeavours to save the life of Thomas Meikle, and it is only right that their noble conduct should be thus recognised. Subscription lists have been distributed throughout the district, and should be returned to Mr. W. Guffie, County Chairman, who, at the request of a number of subscribers, has consented to act as treasurer. The names of subscribers will be published in The Chronicle.  -Mt Ida Chronicle, 8/8/1891.

The Mount Ida Chronicle reports that a movement is on foot to erect a suitable monument in the Kyeburn cemetery in commemoration of the victims of the recent casualty at Kyeburn. Our contemporary states with reference to the avalanche which caused the deaths of A. P. Beer, Robert Blanchard, and James Meikle, that it descended without the slightest warning, and the remaining members of ths party were horrified to see their three companions who were leading swept out of sight in a moment. Two others of the party — Messrs T. Blanchard and C. Archer — very narrowly escaped a similar fate, being drawn back just in time by Mr H. Smith. Nearly the whole side of the mountain appeared to move, and the avalanche swept with terrible velocity into the gully, a distance of about 400 yds, then along the bed of the creek, over two waterfalls, the latter being a precipitous cliff of about 50ft in depth, and finally became wedged in between the two banks of the creek. The rest of the party were almost stupefied for a time, but quickly recovering themselves, they hastily made their way down to the creek but failed to find any trace whatever of their ill-fated comrades, with the exception of a cap belonging to James Meikle. Regarding the recovery of the body of Thomas Meikle, our contemporary reports that the search party when they were about a mile and a-half on the Tokorahi side of the range espied a number of dogs down a gully, and, hurrying down, they found the body of the poor little fellow, partly protected by a rock. He was lying on his back with his cap over his face, and had evidently passed away in his sleep. Three or four dogs were with him, while one faithful animal lay right across him, and was only removed with difficulty. The other dogs at once scampered away, following the party at a distance of about half a mile, but this one remained close to the body of his young master, and acted in such a way as to make it apparent that he fully understood what had happened.  -Otago Daily Times, 10/8/1891.


On Sabbath evening last, at the Presbyterian Church, Naseby, the Rev. J. McCosh Smith spoke with reference to the recent sad calamity at Kyeburn, taking as his text the 13th verse of the 25th chapter of Matthew: "Watch, therefore; for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." After narrating the connected with the sad event, he concluded, with the following impressive remarks:

"I shall now call attention to what I call the crucial or trying positions. The first crucial position is that of the young men face to face with the disaster — two Archers, two Blanchards, John Parker and H. Smith. All these were within a very little of being swept away in the same avalanche. Think of their position, especially that of the brothers of Robert Blanchard. No warning, nothing to prepare their minds for what had happened! In a moment their comrades swept away, swept down to death! The shock must have been tremendous. These young men can never forget what they then saw: their hearts can never lose the impression then made. To all these the words of Christ must come with solemn power: "Watch, therefore; for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." What a sight! What a moment in their lives! Never before, never again are they likely to be in such another impressive situation. The world can never efface the impression then made; time cannot destroy it. Surely, indelibly, it is written in their hearts to bless, to deepen life, to introduce them to something more solemn than they have yet known. Think especially of the brothers Blanchard, their situation, the agony of their hearts, the awful moment in their lives! Therefore, be ye also ready; for at such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

The second crucial situation is that of the father of Alphbnso Beer. He was in the search party too, only about a mile behind the foremost band. He never reached the scene of the disaster. The news was carried down to him, and what bewildering news too! His son and two others lost, swept down to death amid snow and ice, precipice and waterfall! What crushing news! He who had watched over his son from infancy up, he who had been so proud of his boy all the years he had had him, he now having the news brought him as he stood there that his son had been killed! What a crushing, what an overwhelming power of grief entering into his heart! A torrent of anguish, and one that could in no way be turned aside. It was true; it could not be otherwise. No hope, not a shadow of hope. What heaviness of heart! No wonder he turned himself about and walked home more like one dead than alive.

Then comes the third crucial situation — that of the three mothers and two of the fathers at home. How can the news he told there? How can the darkness be best admitted into these homes — homes already dark, especially that of the lost boy Tommy Meikle? How can the news be told to the sisters and brothers on the Sabbath, at home and abroad? You cannot conceive the state. I was there when the last ray of hope vanished. No tongue can tell the effect; words cannot convey any idea of the anguish in these homes. Tears were nothing; hearts so full that no tears could flow. Silent weeping, silent enduring, or outbursts of agony that no heart of man could hear and be unmoved. The most callous, the most hardened, the most indifferent could not enter and see and hear and go away without a deep pain at their hearts. But not there alone was there grief and lamentation. As the news spread the grief rose up in all hearts. The whole district felt the solemnity of death lying upon it. There was not a man; not a woman, not a boy or a girl that would not have run to the rescue. There was not a heart that did not share the burden. There was sympathy for those who had lost. There was more: all had lost as well as fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers, all had lost with the parents who had lost. The whole district felt itself poorer by the calamity. What, then, is the voice here? What does this calamity say? Does it not take up the language the Saviour used long ago and say: "Watch, therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come"? Have we not here a new edition of the old words, and with tremendous emphasis too? Think of Tommy busy rabbiting all Thursday without a thought of danger. Think of him toiling on past the sunny noon into the afternoon, and not a thought of death in all his mind. Think of him having wandered away in his work, and now, when the sun begins to set and the stars to rise, he cannot or is unable to find his way home. Think of him at first becoming a little uneasy, but yet brave and courageous. Think of him as the sense of danger grows in his mind, at first small and next larger. Think of him as he comes to the conclusion that he cannot now get home without help. Think of him in the snow, cold and wet, yet brave and determined to do his utmost, firing the tussocks to attract the attention of his elder brother. Think of the joyous meeting when his brother finds him — the relief, the hope his presence would give Tommy. But they now both conclude that they cannot get home, and lie down, wrapping themselves in the blanket in a vain endeavour to cheat the frost and the snow out of their victims. Then in the morning, when the night is coldest, the elder boy finds that his young brother is dying, stiff and cold, gasping for breath, and he can do nothing for him. At last he can stand it no longer, and he rushes away again to try for more help. Tommy, noticing: this, makes a last effort, and, rising to follow, falls in a pool of water. The elder boy returns again, and lays him down in the most sheltered spot he can find, and hastens away. He cannot stay: he must go. And, really, what more could the elder brother do in the circumstances? He cannot carry him, he cannot warm him. He can do nothing more than stand by and see the final end. He had sought him in the darkness of night in the snowy mountain, he had trudged over rock, past cliff, and through snowy wreath; wearied as he must have been by his exertions the previous day, he could not stay at home — he must be out and away, and at last, after doing in the darkness what twenty men were employed about in the broad daylight on the Monday thereafter, he found him after prodigious efforts. He wrapped him in a blanket, and took him to his bosom, and yet he could not save him, yet he could not ward off death, and yet Tommy was gasping for breath and dying. Does all this not say to us: "Watch, therefore"?

Think again of the three young men, the same elder brother one of them. Think of their efforts to find Tommy dead or alive. Think of them as they step into the snow that is to clasp them in its cold embrace and carry them down to death. They are alive on this side of time the one minute; the next minute they are dead and in eternity! They suffer no lingering illness. They have not a second in which to think, not a moment in which to say farewell. They reach eternity with one bound. What does this not say? Does it not say: "Watch, therefore"? I make no attempt to penetrate the secrets of the lives of these. I pass no judgment upon their state before God — I do not think that this is within my power, as it is not within my right. But certainly it is true that where these were best known they were most loved. It is true that our last sight of them, risking their lives to render help or to save life, is as good a sight as we could wish to have of any man at death. Their parents, their sisters and brothers could not have their last look of them more gratifying than it is. They may look at their lives all along as they have seen them: nothing in their lives became them like their leaving it. Yet their departure was so startling sudden, so overwhelming in its immediacy that the language to us who are left behind must be "Watch, therefore."

The voice is one, the voice is loud that all may hear. The voice enters every ear, and forces its way into the conscience of the old, of the middle-aged, but especially it is a voice to the young men of the neighhourhood. It is but as yesterday that two young men lost their lives as suddenly. To-day, you may say, four young men have met a similar end. Is it possible that any young men are so careless as to consider themselves abpve the need of a religion or of a Saviour? Is it possible that any young men have been saying: ''We are young; we can never die; we need no religion"? Is it possible that any young people have been living under such an influence? Does this catastrophe not dispel the delusion? Does this event not tear the veil aside that has been hiding the terrible reality of life and death from these? Is God a name and nothing more? Is Christ the Saviour that any do not need? Can any afford to trample on sacred things? Can any afford to give themselves up to a life of ungodliness? Are there not clouds of dust about, clouds of small talk that act as a net thrown over the unwary? Are mists and fogs not lying low, obscuring the spiritual vision and tempting the young to their ruin? Can there be any such thing? Gossip — ungodly gossip often, and all talk — warping the judgments, entangling the wills of men! To these I would say, in the language of Scripture: "Take heed lest there be any one that maketh spoil of you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ!" Death will stand no such nonsense; the coming of eternity will not postpone its time for a moment, not one. Beggarly elements, indeed, are all such philosophy and vain deceit —beggarly elements for any one to live and die in. Is there not a Saviour? Has Christ not come? What could be nobler than to be found in Him — living in Him? Is He not the light of the world? Are not all other lights sheer darkness and bewildering confusions? Words and philosophies of men — what are these in comparison with the words of eternal life in Christ? Let the district hear the voices, then, that comes from out of this calamity. Let men's ears be opened; let men's hearts be impressed. Let it be a voice calling us all to life and not to death. Let it be a voice we can never forget. Something to teach, to instruct, to warn, to direct, so that we will be ready when the decisive moment comes to each one of us.  -Mt Ida Chronicle, 13/8/1891.


List of Subscribers towards erecting a suitable Memorial in the Kyeburn Cemetery to commemorate the noble efforts of A. P. Beer, R. Blanchard and J. Meikle, who lost their lives in an avalanche of snow in their heroic endeavours to rescue Thomas Meikle. Amounts previously acknowledged — 

Per Mr. John Law, Gimmerburn. - Total .. .. £7 17 0 

Per Mr. P. J. Greer, Sowburn - Total .. .. £2 15s 6d. 

Per Mr. T. Forgie, Kyeburn — Total .. .. £9 10s. 

Per Mr. A. O. Mathias, Hamilton. - Total.. .. £2 10s 6d. 

Per Mr. William Pyle, St. Bathans. - Total .. .. £l2 18s 6d. 

Per Mr. Donald McLennan, Maruimato. - Total .. .. £5 15s 6d 

Per Mr. W. A. Johnstone, Blackstone — Total .. .. £6 8s. 6d. 

Per Mr. James Brown, Naseby — Total .. .. £l3 8s. 

Per Mr. G. Wallace, Lower Spec. - Total .. .. £2 10s. 

Per Mr. R. Little, East Kyeburn. - Total .. .. £11 16s. 6d. 

Per Mr. J. M. Maisey, Eweburn. - Total .. ..  £1 10s. 

Per Mr. A. McSwan, - Total ..  £1 8s. 

W. GUFFIE, Treasurer.  -Mt Ida Chronicle, 12/11/1891.

The £79.8s raised then is worth $10,328 at time of writing.

Kyeburn Diggings Cemetery, Otago.