Friday, December 31, 2010

Even more gravestones from Symonds Street

 Around this time, as I was wandering around, taking pictures of stonework up to 150 or so years old, I realised I should have visited the Wesleyan part of Symonds Street a lot sooner than I did. Of course, the fact that the ground is a slope underlaid by crumbling brick retaining walls, criss-crossed by tree roots, and drops down abruptly at the edge (plus the strange people you see wandering through there) does do a fair bit towards putting off the camera trail. But, it was worth it.

Couldn't quite make this one out, aside from the name which appears to be Arthur B----? Williams. This is a kiddy's grave.


Above are two shots of the grave of Elizabeth, the wife of Thomas Short (died 17 July 1881). I thought the design was beautiful -- by William Thomas, monumental mason of Lorne Street.

WILLIAM THOMAS,
Comer of Lorne and Victoria-streets, Auckland East.
MONUMENTAL, MARBLE, AND GENERAL STONEMASON, ARCHITECTURAL SCULPTOR AND CARVER.
Inscriptions accurate and beautiful.
Monuments, Tombs, Headstones, and every description of Stone Work at the lowest possible prices, or town and country. Agent for Mr Bruce, of Raglan (the Stone Quarry). 
(Observer, 11 February 1882)


 This is another of his (above) -- John and Jane Savory.




(Observer, 7 January 1899)

(Observer, 25 August 1906)

William Thomas seems to have flourished in the trade from the early 1880s through to when he retired.

Mr. William Thomas, sometime of Victoria Street East and of Ponsonby, was born at Ludlow, Shropshire, England, in 1822. He was taught the trade of a stone cutter. In 1864 he came to New Zealand by the barque “Ballarat,” and landed at Auckland, where he remained about twelve months. Then he went to the Thames goldfields and had very in different success until 1867, when he and seven others took up the ground afterwards known as the Thames-Hauraki, and then as the “Queen of Beauty.” This proved a mine of wonderful richness, as Mr. Thomas received for his share £10,000. He then began to speculate in other parts of the field, and lost the greater part of the money which he had made out of the “Queen of Beauty.” With the remains of his fortune, he returned to Auckland, and started business as a monumental mason. He carried the business on until 1894, when he retired with a respectable fortune, and relinquished the business to his two sons, Mr. William Thomas, and Mr. Samuel Thomas, who had always ably assisted him. This business they still carry on with increasing prosperity. Mr. Thomas died at his residence, through an attack of paralysis, after three weeks of illness, at the age of seventy-eight. He left a widow and a family of two sons and three daughters. Mr. Thomas always stood aloof from party strife and politics, but took a great interest in religious matters. He identified himself throughout his life with the Primitive Wesleyan body, and was a constant attendant at the little church in Ponsonby. He was accounted a most estimable citizen, doing his duty all through life, and died deeply lamented by all classes. Mr. Thomas celebrated his golden wedding on the 1st of January, 1900, and died in June of the same year.

This appears to be his grave, but why the broken column, if William Thomas died aged 78? It usually is taken to mean "a life cut short" -- but in this case, it could also have masonic meaning. See here.


James Carlaw's grave.

The well-known turncock at the Ponsonby reservoir. Mr James Carlaw, died yesterday morning from cancer in the stomach, after a long and painful illness, at the age of 67. He was a native of Newcastle on Tyne, and had been a resident of Auckland for nearly a quarter of a century. He was an engineer, and at one time in charge of the Harbour Board dredge. For 16 years he had been in the employ of the City Council, and for 12 years turncock at the Ponsonby reservoir, and engineer of the pumping station, a position which he efficiently filled till his death. Latterly, he took charge of the works at the pumping station at Western Springs, owing to the illness of Mr Gibson. Previous to entering the employ of the City Council he was engineer in several stations.

He visited the old country a year ago, to see the friends and scenes of his youth. In his last illness he was assiduously attended by Drs Haines and Coom, but medical skill proved unavailing. Deceased was much esteemed for his integrity of character and geniality of disposition. He was a prominent Mason and was Past Master of Lodge, Eden, a member of the Royal Arch Chapter, also member of the Mark Lodge, and had been swordbearer in the Grand Lodge of England. Deceased was a Congregationalist and a regular attendant at the Beresford Street Congregational Church. The funeral which, as will be seen by advertisements elsewhere, is to be a Masonic one, will take place at three pm tomorrow afternoon and he will be interred in the Symonds Street Cemetery. 
 (NZ Herald, 14 April 1891). 

He died at the Valve House in Karangahape Road.



What intrigued me was this symbol. Near as I can make it out, it appears to be “IHS”, the first letters of Jesus’ name in the Greek alphabet. Could also stand for “in hoc signo”, “by this sign we conquer” referring to the cross, but has fraternal associations also. See here.




A piece of discarded ornamentation, just lying in the leaves.


Above, Henry White's grave.

The body of Mr. Henry White, an old and well known resident in Auckland, was found in the harbour yesterday. About half past ten o'clock, the attention of several persons walking on the wharf was attracted by the appearance of a body lying at the bottom of the harbour, at some distance on the town side of the steamboat T, and about thirty yards from the wharf. The tide was low at the time, but the onlookers could not be certain whether it was a body or not. The police boat, in which were Sergeant Evers and Constable Carrigan, was pulling out from the wharf at the time and, on being called to, the boat was brought to the spot. The body was brought to the surface by means of the boatbook, placed in the stern of the boat, and conveyed to the deadhouse near the Wynyard Pier. Here several persons, among whom was Mr. Eggington, identified the corpse as being that of Mr. Henry White, bricklayer. Mr. Waymouth, accountant, was one of those who saw the body soon after it had been conveyed to the dead-house, and he undertook to communicate with the relatives of deceased, who live at Remuera. Mr Butler, who is in the employment of Mr. Phillips, painter, deceased's son-in-law, also went to the relations. In a short time after, Mr Phillips came to town, and viewed the body at the dead-house.

An inquest will be held on the body to-day, at two o'clock, at the Royal Hotel. Mr. White left his house at Remuera on Saturday morning in good health, and without anything appearing to excite attention. Mr H White, accountant, Wyndham-street, saw deceased about 10 o'clock on the same morning, and Mr. Phillips spoke to him about 1 o'clock. Mr. George Taylor, of the Wharf Dining-rooms, thinks that he dined there on Saturday afternoon, but is not certain. Neither his relations nor the police are aware of any one who saw him after that, but, almost certainly, others who knew him saw him during the afternoon. Any one who saw him at a later hour than 1 o'clock ought to communicate with the police, so that as much evidence as possible should be before the coroner’s jury.

The deceased has been in the province for about twenty-three years. He was a bricklayer, and had built some of the largest buildings in and about Auckland, amongst which we may mention the Wesleyan Chapel High-street ; the new Lunatic Asylum; the new Post-office and Custom-house; the Southern Cross printing office, &c. 

(Southern Cross 20 July 1868)

A Coroner’s inquest was held yesterday at 2 p.m. at the Railway Terminus Hotel, on view of the body of Henry White, found drowned on Sunday morning in the Waitemata harbour. The following jury was empanelled : — Samuel Brown (foreman), John Wilson, Patrick Harkins, Charles Heine, William Miller, Thomas Watson, Hubert Hampton, John George Freer, Abraham Quail, David Fort, James Simpkins, Charles O. Montrose.

Jeremiah Carrigan, a constable in the water-police, deposed that on Sunday morning at about 10.30 he was going down the harbour in the police boat, when a number of persons on the wharf hailed him. Witness immediately turned back to ascertain what was the matter. He then saw something lying on the sand about ten yards from the wharf. There was about 54 feet of water. It was about ten yards from the T where the North Shore boat comes to. Witness put down his boat-hook and laid hold of the object, which proved to be a man, and placed it in the boat. With the assistance of Sergeant Evers, who identified the man, the body was removed to the dead-house. Sergeant Evers was in the boat with witness. The body was then clothed as now, there was nothing on the head. On removing the body to the dead-house, examined the pockets, and found the sum of 4s. 7d. in deceased's trousers pocket, and a silk handkerchief in his coat pocket. There was no watch or papers, or property of any kind. Perceived no marks of violence on the body, and no trace of blood. Judging from the appearance of the body, witness would think it had been about six hours in the water. There was light froth on the mouth when witness removed the body to the dead-house.

Louis James, proprietor of ''James's Q.C.E.," deposed that he knew deceased, and last saw him on Saturday, about 11.30 p.m. or midnight. He was knocking at witness's door. The door was closed, bat a private supper was going on. The night bell was rung, and witness went to the door and asked deceased if he wanted a bed. He said he wanted to rest awhile. Witness saw deceased's face, but told him as it was after hours he could not let him in. Deceased appeared to have been drinking a little, very slightly, but witness did not take much notice, being busy. Witness closed the door and saw no more of deceased. Deceased was alone. Some of the servants said that a man answering to the description of deceased had been in earlier in the evening and had drunk some beer. By the Foreman: He did not want a bed. He only asked to rest a bit.

Henry T. White, jun., deposed : l am the eldest son of deceased, and live at Mount Albert. Deceased lived at Remuera, and he was a builder. His age was 54. I last saw him at 10 o'clock on Saturday morning at the foot of Wyndham-street. He was then in his usual good health and spirits. There was not the least sign of melancholy or depression about him. He left me and went up Wyndham-street. I had brought him in that morning from Remuera. He seemed to have had nothing at all to drink at that time. He had no work in hand then, having just concluded a job. When I left him, he was in company with Mr. Frank Greenwood, a labourer with whom he had worked at the last job. Did not see deceased after that, though he promised to call through the day at my office in Wyndham-street. I believe he did not go home afterwards. I heard on Sunday about noon, from Mr. Phillips, that my father had not been at home on Saturday night. It was at twenty minutes to three on the same afternoon that Mr. John Phillips informed me of the finding of my father 's body. My father was in difficulties at the time of his death, and he was very much disappointed at the reception that was given to his petition by the Provincial Council. I don't believe there was anything in his affairs that would drive him to commit suicide. He was perfectly rational and sane when I saw him. He was not excited in any way. He was certainly not in a state of delirium tremens. He had been at home all last week. He had never suffered from it. I don't believe that he would commit suicide. It was not his practice to go on the wharf. I cannot account for his going on it. He expected his brother up from the Thames, and that may have got into his head. I think he must have inadvertently stepped over the wharf, the night being dark and stormy. He had never been accustomed to fits. My father's habits were temperate generally during the past few months. He had been at home during that time almost daily, during which time he had not been in liquor.

Mr. Freer: There was a steamer came up between 11 and 12 o'clock from the Thames, and that may account for his being on the wharf.

Mr. Hampton: Three steamers came up on Saturday night between the hours of 11 and 12.

Constable Carrigan, recalled, deposed : The wharf is pretty well lighted, but there is a good distance between one lamp and another. There is no security at the sides to prevent persons falling over, except for three or four yards at the watermen's steps. Saturday night was very dark and windy. The wharf was not unsafe for a sober person. A drunken man would stand a great risk of falling over. There is no policeman stationed on the wharf. There are two men on duty in Queen-street at night; the beat of one of them is from Durham-street to the lower end of Queen-street Wharf. I don't know the constable who was on duty that night. Since the reduction in the force there has been no policeman stationed at the landing-place on the arrival of the Thames steamer.

Mr. Hampton said that, considering the great traffic now on the wharf at night, there ought to be a policeman stationed on the wharf continually. It was pretty evident to him that deceased was on the wharf with the idea of seeing his son, and it was possible that he may have fallen over. Were a constable placed on the wharf he might be able to save any man in liquor from falling over. The jury, after a short deliberation, returned a verdict of "Found drowned without marks of violence, and that there was no evidence to show how deceased came by his death." The jury also returned the following rider to their verdict :—" And the jury are further of opinion that with the existing large passenger traffic on the Queen-street Wharf, and the frequent arrival at night of steamers conveying passengers from the Thames, it is absolutely necessary, in order to prevent loss of life, that a police-constable should be continually stationed on the wharf; that the wharf itself should be better lighted, and fitted with aide chains, removable as the convenience of the shipping might require." 
 (Southern Cross 21 July 1868)



This is an example of how the land is around here -- the Thorne family vault, built as close to the precipice as it possibly could get, and is slowly slip-sliding away as time moves on. The present day has transformed it into a rubbish tip.



And above, another reason why I treated this area with caution. I wasn't going to try to see whose headstone that was, thanks.


I'll end this part with another sad grave -- Harold, son of William and Lizzie Buddle, aged four. It would appear that he is alone behind the railing.


Gateway to Grafton


Something new added to the corner of Grafton and Park Road since I last wandered around those parts.


A mosaic pillar, featuring oak leaves, welcoming one and all to the suburb of Grafton.




Well, at least it's colourful!

Death on Mayoral Drive in 1995

Road works on Mayoral Drive meant that my preferred stop at the back of the Central Library was blocked off yesterday. Ah well, there's always the next stop ... so, alighting there, and crossing the road carefully, I started to head for the next crossing and Lorne Street. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a plaque in the footpath.

"Benjamin Halaholo, born on 31st March 1979, tragically taken from this spot on the 21st December 1995. So dearly loved and dearly missed, Love you always, Family and Friends."


Benjamin Halaholo, aged 16, had been drinking with other youths at the Globe Hotel, but left around 2 am, headed for the corner of Wakefield Street and Mayoral Drive, and began brawling. After the fight, Halaholo was seen lying on the ground, suffering from head injuries. The police couldn't locate a weapon, but it appeared that he had been struck several times. Eight youths appeared in court that afternoon. In the new year, according to this site:
Filise Mafi, aged 20, student; Francis Tapusoa, 20, storeman; Asani Matulino, 22, process worker; Tony Oscar Johansson, 20, word processor all of Otara, were each sentenced to four and a half years’ imprisonment. A 19-year-old builder’s labourer, Nicholas Gregory Kisina, also of Otara, received a jail sentence of three and a half years.

William Logan Johansson, 19, unemployed of Otara, was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment suspended for two years and 10 months periodic detention; and a 21-year-old Onehunga solo mother, Tapaita Stephanie Sinisa, received six months’ jail suspended for 18 months and for months’ periodic detention. The eighth person, Latuata Benjamin Anae, 19, student, of Papatoetoe, was convicted and discharged on a charge of common assault.

Mafi, Kisina, Matulino, the Johansson brothers and Tapusoa had pleaded guilty to charges of manslaughter. Sinisa admitted a charge of assaulting Benjamin Halaholo with intent to injure. Tears flowed among the families of the prisoners and relatives of Benjamin Halaholo as the sentences were given.

Justice Elias said the incident was a double tragedy.
Four weeks before his death, Halaholo had signed a contract with the Warriors to play in the Superleague Under-17 competition. He had played for the Marist Rugby League Club since 1990, and belonged to the Roskill South Athletics Club for four years.
Mr Ross Lipscombe, the secretary manager for both clubs, said last night that Benjamin had outstanding potential in both sports. "He had amazing potential. He was the best prospect I have seen as an athlete."

(NZ Herald, 22 December 1995)

This year, on the 21st December, his family and friends marked the 15th anniversary of his death by placing a notice in the NZ Herald. He would have been 31 this year. There is an image of his gravestone at North Shore Memorial Cemetery here.

Additional: William Johansson, one of those convicted of Halaholo's death, features on this Te Ara page on killers who kill again:
In 2002 [Johansson] masterminded a robbery spree in Auckland during which pizza worker Marcus Doig and bank teller John Vaughan were fatally shot. Convicted of murder, Johansson was sentenced to life imprisonment with a 23-year minimum sentence. 
Update: Sandy has been very kind in providing links to close-up of her Flickr image of the headstone as linked above -- close up 1 and close up 2. Cheers, Sandy!

More graveyard stories from Symonds Street

You could easily become lost in Symonds Street cemetery. Not geographically lost -- there are main roads and a whopping great motorway all around -- but lost in terms of the beauty of the monuments to the dearly departed, the social themes, the sadness of children's graves, the love and caring still evident as expressed by those who were left behind to mourn. As I've said in an earlier post, it is a dangerous place to go alone. Even in broad daylight. The place for society's dead is also for those society has left behind. But it is still magical in terms of the stories of old Auckland it imparts.

Take this wee monument, for example. Three Osbornes are remembered on this side: Margaret, Thomas and John.


But it is James who has the story, when he died near Poverty Bay, looking for oil.

The Poverty Bay Standard and People's Advocate gives the following account of the drowning of Mr James Osborne, recently from Auckland : — A labouring man named James Osborne, who arrived recently from Auckland, came to an untimely end on Saturday last while crossing the Waipaoa river, at the Rangatira block, on his way to the oil springs in company with his mates, all of whom were under engagement to the Petroleum Company. Three constables have been employed searching for the body, but without success. All that is known of the cause of the accident has been furnished by Mr Williams, engineer to the Petroleum Company, who states that he was proceeding to the oil springs on the 19th ultimo with some workmen, deceased among the number. On reaching the Rangatira crossing, Osborne's horse stumbled and unseated his rider, who suddenly disappeared, and was not again seen by any of the party. The river was much swollen and discoloured at the time.


(Christchurch Star, 15 October 1874)




George Holdship, an Auckland timber dealer from the last half of the 19th century, apparently put up this memorial to three children who died young: while he still lived here William Samuel, Edith Adeline, and John Charles. George Holdship started out in Auckland selling firewood, timber, sashes and doors from his works on Customs Street in Auckland in the 1860s, before becoming manager of the Auckland Timber Company, which later merged with the Kauri Timber Company by the late 1880s. From that point on, he lived in Melbourne and Sydney.

The monument itself is quite beautiful.



Above, is the headstone for Major William Gordon.

Major William Gordon died to-day at Onehunga. He was commander of the Military Volunteers in the Northern district; he entered the 73rd Perthshire Regiment of Imperial Army as an ensign on 15th September 1854, and saw some service in the Crimea. He was promoted to Lieutenant, Adjutant, and Captain, and having left the Imperial Army obtained the post of Commander of colonial forces in the Northern district where, by his strict impartiality and soldierly efficiency he rendered himself highly popular. He had been ill since October last. His loss will be deeply mourned.

(Southland Times, 13 February 1897)

The remains of the lamented Major William Gordon, late commander of Volunteer forces of the Auckland district were consigned to the grave in the Presbyterian cemetery. The funeral procession included, besides the near relatives of the deceased, some of the leading inhabitants of the village. Everything in connection with the solemn scene was free from display, and was as modest as possible. This simplicity was in accordance with the wish of Major Gordon, who though a thorough soldier, was utterly averse to anything like ostentation and music at the burial of the dead. About 250 of all ranks mustered at the drill shed, representing the Artillery, Engineers, Infantry, and Cadets. Owing to the wish of the relatives, the bands were not to attend, and the corps mustered with side arms only. The column, under command of Major Derrom, was formed into fours, and having marched to the Presbyterian cemetery, received the corpse in open order, and followed it to the grave, four officers bearing the coffin.

(Hawke’s Bay Herald 18 February 1879)

Now, was he actually buried in Onehunga, or was he buried here at Symond's Street -- in the Wesleyan section, not the Presbyterian? The stone was "erected by his officers and volunteers", anyway.

Major Gordon doesn't have the only story here, though. At the bottom, is reference to his son Thomas Boswell Gordon.

We take the following from the New Zealand Herald of a recent date: —" We regret to learn from a correspondent at Rio Janeiro of the death of Mr Thomas Gordon, of Auckland. He was the second son of the late Major Gordon, and his mother and friends are residing at Onehunga. Mr Gordon was well known and respected in this city [Auckland] having been brought up and educated here, and he was for some years connected with the New Zealand Shipping Company's service. He died of Yellow fever, at the early age of 22 years. Much sympathy will be felt with the bereaved relations." 
 (Timaru Herald, 29 June 1891)



This stone, being encroached upon by the adjoining tree and starting to become one with it, also has more than just fading lettering to it.

The funeral of Edward Griffiths, carpenter, son of Mr. William Griffiths, Seafield View, Grafton Road, took place yesterday, in the Wesleyan burial-ground. Deceased was a young man highly respected by a large circle of acquaintances, and from his attendance with the Volunteers throughout their period of active service last year his funeral was largely attended by members of the Volunteer Corps. The Volunteer band was likewise in attendance. A firing party of sixteen men, in charge of Sergeant Leech, assembled in the Albert Barracks, with a goodly muster of No. 1 Company, A.R.V., to which deceased belonged. He was likewise a brother of the Loyal Parnell Lodge of Odd Fellows, M.U . and the brethren met in order to pay a last tribute of respect to his memory, at the Lodge-rooms, Parnell, provided with their regalia— covered aprons, black scarfs, and white gloves. The Volunteers and brethren of the Odd Fellows then proceeded from their respective places of meeting to the residence of the deceased's father, where they were joined by a large number of friends of the deceased. The cortege left the house in the following manner :— Firing party of sixteen men with arms reversed; band of the ARV; the coffin, borne by eight men of No. 1 Company ; the chief mourners ; brethren of the I.O.O.F., M.U., AD.; friends of the deceased, and officers of Volunteers. The funeral service was performed in an impressive manner by the Rev. Thomas Buddle. 
 (Southern Cross, 31 March 1865)

He was 22 years old.




Three stones for the Arthur family.

For Richard Arthur:

It is with regret that we have to announce the somewhat sudden death of a well-known citizen, Mr Richard Arthur, auctioneer, which took place at his residence. Shelly Beach Road. At noon yesterday, Mr Arthur, who had been in failing health for some months past, took a trip to Australia on medical advice, in the hope that change of air and scene would benefit him, but the hope was not realised. He only returned from Sydney on Monday by the s.s. Tasmania, and was in such a weak condition as to preclude the hope of recovery.

Mr Arthur was one of the oldest auctioneers in the city, having over 30 years ago been in business with his father, Mr Carpenter Arthur, under the style of Arthur and Son, and on the death of his father carried on the business. Deceased was son-in-law to the late Rev Thomas Buddle and brother-in-law to Mr Thomas Buddle, or Messrs Whittaker and Russell. Mr G Arthur (of Esam and Arthur) is a brother of the deceased. Mr Arthur leaves a widow and family (two boys and two girls) to mourn their loss. During his illness his son (Mr Thomas Buddle Arthur) carried on the business.

Deceased was widely known and respected throughout the province, not only by a large circle of acquaintances but by the general public. For 20 years he was superintendent of the old High-street, and afterwards of the Pitt-street Wesleyan Church Sunday school, and also a steward of the church. He took a good deal of interest in Band of Hope work. The funeral of deceased will take place tomorrow. There will be a service in Pitt-street Church at two pm and the funeral cortege will leave for Purewa Cemetery at half-past two.
 (NZ Herald, 10 July 1895)

He wasn't buried at Purewa, it was definitely Symonds Street.



Above, the grave of his father Carpenter Arthur., died 1871 aged 64 years., while below, Bessie, Richard Arthur's daughter, died just under a year and a half old.

Keals family tragedy


In the Wesleyan section of the Symonds Street Cemetery, there is a grave for Catherine Keals, who died in 1864. A family history site speculates that she may have had Kennedys disease. Her husband was well known architect Richard Keals, who died while in England, in late 1885, about to return to New Zealand. He’s buried in Cornwall. A considerable amount of information on him to be found here.

Their son Robert William Keals (1848-1925) had children of his own, one of whom was Richard George Norman Keals or the “Little Norman”  of the headstone below. 


ON
1ST MAY 1885
DEAR
LITTLE NORMAN
AGED 5 YEARS.
YOUR 
FAVOURITE LILLY
MAMA

The year after Little Norman’s death, Richard and his wife Marion had another son, and named him Norman Edwin.

AUCKLAND, 16th September.
Norman Keals, after a week's remand, was brought before Mr. Kettle, S.M., at the Police Court this afternoon to answer the charges of breaking and entering the residence of the Rev. E. Perry at Penrose, and stealing money and jewellery to the value of about £30 and further with stealing a buggy, the property of Mrs. Hamlin, and a pony and harness, the property of P Eccles.

At the outset Mr Johnson, who appeared on behalf of accused, who is a young man of twenty-five, intimated that an information had been sworn that Keals was insane. He asked, therefore, that the information should be dealt with before the charges were gone into. Chief-Detective Marsack did not agree with this. He thought that the depositions of the witnesses should be taken at once, and the defence could then prove the man's insanity at the trial in the Supreme Court, were accused sent there. Mr. Kettle said that he could not overlook the information. It was true, he understood, that the defence did not deny the facts of the robberies, but how could Keals admit the facts if he were a lunatic? Mr. Johnson pressed for the question of sanity to be settled first, and at length Mr. Kettle set the case aside until two medical men could make an examination. After about an hour's delay, Mr. Marsack announced that the two doctors who had examined Keals pronounced him to be sane. The case was, therefore, proceeded with, and accused was committed for trial, reserving his defence. The doctors who examined Keals recommended that he should be kept in custody for observation, but Mr. Johnson made formal application for bail, the sureties being fixed at £50 on each charge.

(Evening Post 17 September 1908)

A sturdy-built young man, 22 years of age, named Norman Keals, appeared to answer a charge of breaking, entering, and theft. The case was adjourned till to-morrow to permit of prisoner being medically examined. It is alleged that he had met with an accident some time ago that had caused him to behave peculiarly.

(Evening Post 11 November 1908)

He was later sentenced to one year on each charge, to be served concurrently. Then, he headed to Australia.

A young man of good appearance named Norman Edwin Keals pleaded guilty to a series of four charges of housebreaking and stealing in the suburbs of Sydney. The accused was respectably dressed, and all the while he was In the dock a smile played upon his features. The haul from the four places in question was considerable and varied, running from tins of preserved fruit to clothing and jewellery.

His Honor asked whether the police knew anything of the accused's past
The gaol authorities stated that at Auckland in 1909 he was sentenced to 12 months' hard labour on two charges of breaking and entering and stealing.
His Honor: You are remanded at present. 
(Sydney Morning Herald, 7 August 1912)

Norman Edwin Keals was charged with stealing a boat at Mackerel Beach on February 13, the property of Mr. Bernard Stiles; with stealing clothes at Woodberry on May 15, belonging to Mr, Chas. Todd; stealing property from the house of Mr. Thomas Burnett at Wyong; and with stealing preserved fruit at Mona Vale from the dwelling-house of Emma Catherine Scott Fell. He was sentenced to three years' imprisonment with hard labour on one charge, and three and half years' penal servitude on three others , sentences to run concurrently. 

(Sydney Morning Herald 14 August 1912)


In 1915, Edith Keals, the wife of another son of Robert and Marion Keals, Leslie William, was murdered at Onewhero, along with a baby girl less than a year old.
The woman, Edith Emma Keals, who was murderously attacked near Onewhero, died at the district hospital this evening without regaining consciousness. A Herald representative, who is at the scene of the tragedy, telegraphed to-night that the baby is still missing, and although there are strong indications as to the identity of the assailant, settlers who are searching have been unable to locate his whereabouts. The lady help, Miss Hunter, who is now in Auckland, stated that as she had done washing on the day before the crime she went to bed very tired and slept soundly hearing no noise. Mrs. Keals retired to bed lated .When she opened deceased's bedroom door in the morning she saw blood on the sheets, and a club about the length of a beer bottle lying near. She immediately gave the alarm.
(Grey River Argus, 11 February 1915)


When the police caught up with her murderer, her brother-in-law Norman Keals, it turned out that he’d shot her, didn’t want to leave the baby behind “singing out”, so he took her as well, and strangled her five minutes later.
He had gone to the house on Monday night, intending to kill his brother and all of them, but after he had fired one shot he thought he had done enough. His motive for the crime was revenge, because when he was in Australia he heard that an interest in property near Onewhero had been taken away from him.
(Poverty Bay Herald, 15 February 1915)


He was sentenced to hang, but on the evidence of three mental health experts after the trial, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. (Poverty Bay Herald, 26 June 1915) In 1916, while at Mt Eden Gaol, he broke a medicine bottle in his cell, and mutilated himself with the jagged edges. (Evening Post, 4 January 1916), apparently cutting into his own scrotum. (Update 16 October 2011 - anjistree.co.uk link now dead) After that, he seems to have been committed to the Auckland Mental Hospital at Pt Chevalier, from where he escaped in 1918. (Thames Star, 22 July 1918) Keals was found two days later in a “deserted whare” at Henderson and recaptured. (Thames Star, 24 July 1918) He was then returned to Mt Eden Gaol, and was still there in 1928. (NZ Truth, 13 September 1928). He died at Cherry Farm Hospital in 1965.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Old Summit shirts ad spotted


Spotted on the skyline above Albert Street as it heads to and from Mayoral Drive today: an old Summit shirts sign painted on the back of one of the buildings.


The Summit brand still exists, part of the firm Ambler & Co which was founded by Fred Ambler in 1919. The company's slogan, still used, can be seen: "No one ever regretted buying quality." The Summit brand seems to date from around 1927.

(from Evening Post, 30 November 1927, p.15)

Finding the Pitts

In an earlier post this week, part one of my wanderings through the Wesleyan section of the Symonds Street cemetery, I found this stone cross (left) -- belonging to an Anglican burial, out of place there on the grave site for the Gribble family.

Along came Sandy, who with additional info in the comments section, pretty well set down the challenge (in a nice way, don't get me wrong) of finding William Augustus Dean Pitt's true resting place. Hey, if anyone knows about cemeteries, it's Sandy. So, knowing I'd have to do some more photography in one of the scariest parts of Auckland personal-safetywise (Symonds Street Cemetery is home to the homeless and the spooky among the city's community)  anyway -- my curiousity called to me -- I said I'd go looking.

The result is -- yes, Sandy, I've found the Pitts (and I'm still in one piece!). Here they are:


Their graves are at left of this shot, right next to Governor William Hobson's resting place (they weren't removed in the great tidy up around Hobson's grave which set up the present day tourist attraction, thankfully).



His Excellency Maj.-General George Dean Pitt was Lieutenant-Governor of New Ulster (the North Island, before the days of the Provincial Councils) from 3 January 1848 (sworn in 14 February 1848) until his death on 8 January 1851.

Death of His Excellency Lieutenant- Governor Pitt.

It is our melancholy duty to record the death of His Excellency Major -General George Dean Pitt, K. H., Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of New Ulster, which took place at his residence in Princes-street at three o'clock on Wednesday morning last. For about two years past his health had been so broken down that the continuance of his life for any lengthened period could not reasonably have been anticipated; and when the final hour arrived, he expired without a struggle —having attained the period said to be allotted to human existence — " three-score years and ten " — and having had his declining days cheered by a solace especially sweet in a land so far away from that of his birth, the presence and anxious care of a numerous and affectionate-family circle.

On the afternoon of Wednesday, a Government Gazette Extraordinary was issued, announcing the lamented event, and stating that in consequence of it, no business would be transacted at the Public Offices, and they would remain closed until the remains of His Excellency should have been interred. The spirit of the direction thus given with regard to the Public Offices, was spontaneously acted on —or rather anticipated — throughout the town, on most of the shop windows in which shutters were immediately put up. The colours of the ships in the port were also exhibited half-mast high, as was, of course, the Union Jack at Fort Britomart. The Funeral was fixed to take place at three o'clock on Thursday, according to a programme which also was published in the Gazette Extraordinary. About that hour, amidst the firing of minute guns from Fort Britomart, the procession moved forward in the following order :



The number of attendants at the Funeral included in the last-named class, was very large indeed, extending for a long line of road; while crowds of spectators were gathered at those localities from which a view of the procession could best be obtained, so that it might seem as if Auckland had sent out almost its whole population to manifest, in one way or another, an interest in the melancholy occasion. At the entrance of the Burying Ground, the Body was met by the Rev J F Churton, Colonial Chaplain and Chaplain to the Troops, by whom the sublime Funeral Service of the Church of England was read.

The remains were deposited in a grave near that of Governor Hobson, in a plain black coffin, having no ornament beyond the simple plate on which was inscribed :
Major-General
George Dean Pitt, K. H.
Died January 8th, 1851.
Aged 70.

While the grave was being filled in, thirteen minute guns were fired from field-pieces brought up for the purpose. The 58th Regiment then fired three volleys, and the final military honours to the deceased having thus been completed, the proceedings terminated.

The first commission in the army borne by the deceased gallant Officer was dated June 4, 1805; he became Lieutenant on the 5th of December in the same year, — Captain on the 10th of August 1809, and Major on the 13th of January 1814. On the 18th of April, 1822, he was appointed to the Lieutenant-Colonelcy of the 80th Regiment. His subsequent steps of promotion were a Colonelcy on the 10th of January 1837, and the rank of Major-General on the 9th of November 1846.

The deceased had seen much service, having been engaged at the capture of the Danish West India Islands in 1807, and of Martinique in 1809. He served also in the Peninsula from 1811 to 1814, and was engaged in the most memorable operations of those eventful years, including the battles of Albuhera, Vittoria, Pampeluna, and the Pyrenees, and also the siege of Badajoz. He was subsequently employed as one of the Inspecting Field Officers in Great Britain, and then appointed to the command in New Zealand.

His entrance on the Lieutenant-Governorship of this Province took place on the 14th February, 1848, the Governor-in-Chief having appointed him to that office pursuant to the authority vested in him by the Charter of 1846. During the periods in which the Governor-in-Chief being absent, he wielded this authority, scarcely anything was called for beyond routine official acts, and few, if any, political associations are connected with his memory.

(New Zealander 11 January 1851)



And here is what is left of William Augustus Dean Pitt's headstone. I've let David Verran of Auckland Central Library know (David does great tours of the cemetery during our Heritage Festival each year), and hopefully whoever handles things at the cemtery maintenance-wise will be able to rectify things for the younger Pitt.

Update 28 November 2011:
I received an email today from Garth Cockerill, a descendant of George Dean Pitt's sister. He's looking for further information on the family, and I have his permission to publish his email to me.

"I read with interest your article concerning George Dean Pitt.  Have you any information on his parents?

"As I understand it - he was one of two children born to  Miss Patience Dean, fathered by George Pitt, the Second Baron Rivers, in Swallowfield, Hampshire, ENG.  The Baron Rivers never married.

"The children were Susannah Rivers, and George Dean.  This has never been proven, though many attempts have been made to verify the relationship between Miss Dean and George Pitt - the upper classes were very adept at 'cleansing' records.

"It is interesting that both children came out to the Antipodes - Susannah married a John Vincent in England, and they came out to Australia in 1823, where they raised their family.  And, of course, George came to NZ in a military situation.

"If you have any further information I would be very interested to hear from you.  I am descended from Susannah, albeit a few generations ago.

"Your article on the burial of George Dean Pitt was most fascinating, and the photos add to the story. Thank you.

"Regards, Garth Cockerill, Napier, NZ."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

George Kitchen and the "loafing tailor"

If anyone can tell me what was meant by "loafing tailor" in the context of the following -- please do let me know.

We understand that a lesson in official courtesy is being imparted in the dismissal of an officer under the Provincial Government. It appears that Mr Kitchen, who has charge of the water supply in the capacity of "stopcock" has been in the habit of rather exciting than allaying the irritation in the minds of our citizens, caused by the unsatisfactory supply of water, and forgetting that the public are his paymasters, has usually expressed himself in a manner more forcible than polite.

A few weeks ago, a citizen who takes an interest in the general welfare of his fellow men, waited on Mr Kitchen, and asked for a supply of water for some of his poorer neighbours who were unable to obtain a drop. He was abruptly asked if he paid for water. He replied no, that he had water enough himself, but only felt an interest in his poorer neighbours. The stop-cock told him he believed he was a "loafing tailor" and that he was drunk, which our citizen being a Good Templar, and a strict devotee of "aqua pura" was the heaviest cut of all.

But it appears that not satisfied with this the "stop cock" pulled off his coat and invited him outside to settle the question vi et armis. Our fellow citizen being a man of peace said that he declined making a something or another of himself, but stated that in lieu thereof he would complain to the Provincial Government, when stop-cock answered, as we are informed, "You and the Provincial Government may just go" -- well, some place where the thermometer is said to range over 150ยบ in the shade.

Our citizen, instead of going there, preferred calling at the offices of the Provincial Government, and a commission, consisting of Mr Allright and Mr Mahony, was appointed to investigate this and some other charges of vigorous deportment. We understand that the report has been sent in, that it is unfavourable to the stop-cock, and that another hand is to turn the tap of our city water supply.

(Auckland Star, 23 January 1875)

We have very much pleasure in affording opportunity to Mr Kitchen for the following explanation:-- "Sir, - In reply to your rather severe strictures on myself, allow me in self defence to say that there are generally two versions to a story. Your statement was evidently prompted by the self-styled loafing tailor (as I did not call him one). The facts of the matter to which you refer are these -- I was called upon some weeks ago at my works in Lorne-street by a person whom I did not then know. He complained in a very excited manner that there had been no water in the standpipe near his place in Victoria-street for four days. I know this to be incorrect, and told him so, when he placed himself in a threatening attitude, putting his fist in my face and told me he was one of my masters, and would kick me out of my billet, and making use of very strong language, boasted of his power with the Superintendent and John Sheehan, and in order to protect myself from his heatened violence, I divested myself of my coat, and proceeded to eject him from my workshop, when seeing my determination, he ran out, this is the sum total of the affair. Having made a tool of the Superintendent he tries to gull the public by making use of your columns to effect his object of revenge, by holding me up to the ridicule of my fellow colonists. I trust in your spirit of fairness you will not allow such meanness to pass by unanswered. Yours respectfully, GEORGE KITCHEN.

(Auckland Star, 26 January 1875)

George Kitchen was indeed the water supply stopcock for the Auckland Provincial Council up until late 1874. He also operated a fairly successful brass foundry on Lorne Street. In 1874, as a result of a  series of major fires on Queen Street from April to July, his job as stopcock created some controversy even before the near fisticuffs incident. This was in the days before the Western Springs supply, when Auckland's water for emergencies such as the fire came from the spring beneath Seccombe's Brewery in Newmarket.


It was seen from the first that none of the wooden buildings could be saved, as there was no water in the pipes. The hoses were pointed at the buildings certainly, but the force of water was about as great as if a small syringe had been used. There was scarcely any wind, but on account of the want of water nothing could be done to stop the progress of the fire ...

Mr Seccombe's pumping engine broke down in the afternoon and, consequently, there was no water in town excdept what remained in the pipes. Mr Kitchen sent a horseman out to Mr Seccombe's, and the messenger returned with the information that there would be a good supply on in half an hour. The good supply did not come in time, however, if it came at all, and consequently people had to stand and look on helpless whilst their property was being consumed.

(Southern Cross, 20 April 1874)

To the Editor : Sir,— In answer to Mr. Asher's flat contradiction in yesterday's Cross, permit me to endorse S H Matthew's statement in Wednesday's issue, and to ask Mr. Asher who fixed the hydrant to the Fire Insurance main, and ran the hose upon the roof of Messrs Owen and Oldham's, and whether any man that had any brains would discard a Fire Insurance fire plug and go to a 14-inch stand pipe with a supply that was running on the night of the late fire. I must state if it had not been for G P Pierce, Esq., going with me for the hose reel he would have found out his error. In respect to Mr. Asher's recommendation to confine myself to my duty, I cau assure him I try so to do, and to remind him that I had to come down from the roof of Messrs Owen and Graham's, to repair the hydrant that was torn from the fire-plug which, if he had been up to his business, would not have happened. And to remind him of the night of the fire in Fort street, when he turned the water off the main and gave the hydrant in charge of a constable, whilst the fire was raging, and I had to be brought from the Post office to turn it on again. Sir, I should like to hear Mr. Asher's special reason for using the smaller supply instead of the larger one, for I have been some twenty years connected with water supplies and Fire Brigades and have always been under the impression that the larger the quantity of water the better able you are to cope with fire. — I am, &c , George Kitchen.

(Southern Cross 10 July 1874)

To the Editor : Sir, — Notwithstanding your editorial foot note yesterday, you will concede me the right of reply to what I consider an unblushing letter from Mr. Matthews, and its echo from a person named Kitchen, evidently dictated from a mean jealousy. ... I may add that I am prepared to give lessons to Messrs Matthews and Kitchen on the best method of extinguishing fires, any time between the hours of eleven and three o'clock, free of charge.— I am &c, A. Asher, Fire Inspector.

(Southern Cross 11 July 1874)

By quirk of fate, as Kitchen was a brass founder by trade, he was the successful tenderer for the job of putting in the joints for the water pipes which replaced all the contentious system from the Domain -- this time, in connection with the new Western Springs supply in 1876, a year after the Provincial Council gave him his marching orders.



Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Poor old Walsh the grave-digger

Some time ago, a small series of clippings from the Auckland Evening Star from 1875 caught my attention, involving a nearly 70 year old gravedigger known as Mr Walsh, who would have likely worked at Symonds Street Cemetery.

It began with an accident.

Another name is added to the list of accidents which are almost daily occuring, and the majority of them happen through carelessness.

On Saturday last, poor Walsh, the old gravedigger, so many years known in his profession, as obliging and kind in the extreme, fell a victim to furious driving. It seems he was passing the corner at Wyndham and Queen-streets, when a trap driven by a boy at full speed, and belonging to Mr Young, butcher, Grey-street, came suddenly upon him, knocking him down, and passing over his middle. He lay insensible for more than an hour, when he came to, but now lies in a dangerous state, with small hopes of recovery.

The worst part of it is that the poor fellow has no means for his support but that of grave-digging, and now others must be employed. It is a very hard case and one for the proverbial sympathy of the Auckland public. A few shillings would be of great help to him, in his helpless condition and we think would find a grateful recipient in the old man. He is now nearly 70 years old. We shall as usual take charge of anything any kind person may send.
(Star, 21 January 1875)

A Mr. A-- took up a subscription for the ailing Walsh a few days later. But then came a letter to the paper from True Charity.

To the Editor: Sir -- Seeing your readiness to enlist sympathy for every case in distress I would be sorry to have either you or the kind hearted of the public made a fool of. In yesterday's STAR I see a subscription got up by some good fellow Mr A --, for "poor old Walsh the grave-digger." I would like to know how much money this "poor" man has out on mortgage; how much short of £300 a year [he] has been netting for a great number of years: how much he obtains of the wages of his son who lives with him, but who finds grave-digging better than cabinet-making.

If "poor old Walsh the grave-digger" or any one for him answers these questions fairly, and if he has not more money laid past than I have earned for many years, I will put my name down for a pound. -- YOURS, TRUE CHARITY.

(Star, 26 January 1875)

A response came three days later.

James Walsh, of Symonds-street, writes: "Sir, -- Seeing a letter in Tuesday's issue, concerning the poor old gravedigger I will, with your kind permission, make a few remarks. "True Charity" must not think for a moment that Walsh wanted his assistance, for it is well known that "True Charity" wants assistance himself, although he talks of putting his name down for a pound. Now if he thinks Mr Walsh has got £300 a year, he is mistaken, for I think if there was £300 a year to be got at gravedigging there would be a great many at it in Auckland; and as to the mortgage, I would like "True Charity" to explain himself on that subject, as he does not in his letter of Tuesday night. I should also like to know what business it is of "True Charity's" what the poor old man gets of his son's wages, or grave-digging, or cabinet-making either. I think it is likely that "True Charity" would like the billet of grave-digging himself, as he talks so much about it. If "True Charity" wants assistance himself, why not ask through the papers like a man, and don't stop another from getting a few shillings because he can't get it himself.
The Star, that day, had their own response.

From enquiry we are satisfied that "True Charity" was perfectly correct in his statements, and he is entitled to the thanks of the public for defeating an attempt to obtain money from the public by a false pretense of poverty. While there are so many deserving cases of distress in the community, such impostures as that practised in Walsh's case ought to be exposed, being calculated to do injury to any deserving cause for which an appeal to public charity may be necessary.

(Star, 29 January 1875)

Three days later.

We publish the following: -- To the Editor of the EVENING STAR: Sir, -- After perusing a letter in your issue of Friday last, signed J WALSH, also your comments upon it, it appears evident to me that Mr Walsh is a fitter subject to give alms than solicit them from the tenor of his own remarks. I have therefore to request Mr Walsh as the recipient of 22s. 6d., collected by me on his behalf on the strength of false representations made, to return the same from whence it came, thereby saving himself the pain of further exposure. -- I am, &c., A.

[We call on Mr Walsh to return this money -- Ed. E.S.]

(Star, 1 February 1875)

I'm not sure how this curious incident ended up, but one thing seems certain: it is likely few in Auckland who read the Star would call Mr Walsh a "poor old gravedigger" after all that.