Tuesday, June 28, 2011


A new article online in The Treasury Journal by Beryl and David Verran, titled:
Verrran family history covered from Cornwall to New Zealand, along with details on occupations and business ventures of the families. One of the businesses mentioned is that of W. Verran and Sons, and later Verran Brothers Ltd, which was started by WILLIAM JAMES VERRAN in 1893. Over the years the business was owned and managed by William's sons. This Thames carrier business traded until  the 1980s.
The advertisement below shows the business premises that were in Queen Street (between Cochrane and Albert Street, western side of street) and a photo Mr & Mrs W VERRAN (the founder of the business).

Source: Thames Goldfields centennial 1867-1967

AJHR's: More years online now

AtoJs Online contains a collection of digitised volumes of the Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives. The collection currently covers the years 1861 to 1906. There are some volumes from this period that have yet to be added to the collection.

This is a major resource, that covers a wide range of topics, especially helpful for those of us wanting information on mining related topics for the Hauraki region. There are drownings listed, Boer War info...everything!! Entering THAMES in the search field brings up reports on the Railway to Thames, goldfield info, military news, land ownership..the list goes on. Just found the War Medal lists. Searching by SURNAME seems also to be very successful. Reports on Thames Hospital detailing population and bed numbers, costs etc. These extra years have really given an endless array of information.

At the search page, you can narrow your selection by section and date if required.

Here is an example REPORTING on drownings 1883-4, with names given for Thames County:
11 Sep 1883 C W WILSON, Waihou
16 Dec 1883 J BLACK, Tairua Creek
21 Dec 1883 J HATTON, Ohinemuri
3 Mar 1884 G HILL, Ohio Creek
9 Mar 1884 A PEAT, Waiheki Creek
11 April 1884 W ONYON, Waihou
AJHR 1884 Session II H2

Monday, June 27, 2011

WWI & Boer War Soldiers of Thames, NZ (Update)

Just a quick note that The Treasury pages on the above topics have been updated.

The South African (Boer) War pages have memorial photos and soldier information.

The WWI pages have new soldier's names, plus many new links to newspaper and cenotaph information.

Victoria Park, Thames showing the Boer War Memorial
(Dunnage Postcard)

A Military Funeral, Grahamstown, Thames
(Dunnage Postcard)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Thames, NZ: Illustrated Captions at Papers Past

An amazing wealth of information can be gained from the ILLUSTRATED CAPTIONS available at Papers Past. (Online newspapers)  If you go to the Advanced search page, and tick the option under CONTENT TYPE of ILLUSTRATED CAPTION. then enter THAMES in your search field. The results range from Cartoons to Photographs, of events to people and places.  Here are a few examples below. To read the context within which they apply, go to PapersPast and read the associated article.
Mrs Henry Greenslade, Mayoress of Thames
Observer 7/1/1899

President Bill Potts, Thames Miners Union
Observer 22 Sep 1894
Foy Bros Photo: The Thames
Auckland Star 1 Dec 1898

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Thames Street Directories: 1903 example A & G Price Ltd

Yes, I admit it. I am obsessed by Street Directories. They tell you so much about a town and the people who lived within it. With Thames we see people moving regularly around the town, from one rented house to another. Streets are some years thriving shopping centres eg. Owen and Mary Streets; subsequent years find them almost deserted or turned into entirely residential areas.

There is am index of some of these at the Thames Resource web pages, The Treasury at Thames has an ever growing collection of the directories and they are able to be browsed in their entirety at Ancestry.

Many years have a house by house location, so you can pinpoint approximately where people lived, whereas others are arranged alphabetically.  The delightful part is the advertisements that are included for many of the businesses of the time. Below are some examples and a full page advertisement placed by A & G PRICE.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

ITEMS for sale at The Treasury, Thames

The Treasury has a growing number of resources for sale of interest to the family genealogist and general historian. Items that cover the wider Thames area.

They include CD's of the oral history recordings, in the photo below is one of the three for Toss Hammond (MBE).  I have just listened to CD 3 and it covers "Thames Sports 1870s - 1880s" and "Trip to Table Mountain 1888" All sports are fully covered as Toss takes us from Tararu to Parawai and outlines all the sporting grounds that existed in the town pre 1900. Delighting in the big outings that took place at the Sports days held at Tararu...and the long walk home if you weren't able to catch a horse driven "cab."

There are small booklets covering snippets from the oral history recordings called OUR PEOPLE OUR STORIES and TREASURY TALES which are stories that have been told on Coromandel FM radios special feature section. (Photo below)

Other books include A History Story of the Man Captain John Butt (which includes later snippets). Capt Butt was famous for his time at the SHORTLAND HOTEL and adjoining AMERICAN THEATRE. Butt's Corner  at the corner of Pollen and Grey Street was an important area in the early Thames Goldfields and the thriving township of Shortland.

Many other resources for sale including a CD of School records for the Thames area. Previously these records were only available on NZSG Index CD (no longer in production), so this will be a welcome resource for researchers. School records provide a wealth of information on more than just the child, giving guardian details, address and destinations, should the family be moving.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Early Catholic Education in Thames, NZ

Genealogists are usually disappointed that no school records exist for the pre1900 period for Thames Catholic Schools, considering how busy the schools were - it is a great loss, they would have had a wealth of family information.

There were two schools: St Thomas of Aquin's or Aquinas (on the corner of Queen and Walter Streets) and St Joseph's (in Willoughby Street). A history of catholic education is available in a booklet written by the 1973 Jubilee Committee; Chairman was Mr A Kenny. "100 Years Catholic Education in Thames" A copy of the booklet and other related church and committee information is available at The Treasury, Thames.

The book contains general information from the early years and a good collection of photographs, showing the changes to the schools over the years.

At present I am collating names from school end-of-year prizegivings, to give an indication of the names of children that attended the schools pre 1900s.  These Prize-givings are an excellent way to collect further information for all the schools in Thames; they were usually published in the latter weeks of December, each year. You may have to be creative with the family spelling of surnames, so I would advise searching by school name (if it is known).

Also look for school concerts in the Thames newspaper; the catholic schools held regular concerts to help with the school fees, to supplement the Sunday donations made at St Francis and St Brigid's Churches, for the schools.

St Francis (Catholic) Church & School Buildings, Thames NZ
(Source: 100 years Catholic Education in Thames)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thames Tennis Clubs in the 1880s

In 1884 the town had decided that the formation of a Tennis club would be a good idea. A committee was formed and they set about to find a suitable venue. The club was to be known as THE HAURAKI LAWN TENNIS CLUB, the officers appointed were: Mr N FITZGERALD (Secretary), Mr J M H LUSH (Treasurer).

In 1885 Mr WHITEHEAD was advertising that tennis shoes had been added to his range of boots for sale, ready for the upcoming tennis season. (Thames Star 15/10/1885). Opening day was 17 October 1885 at the Club's grounds at Parawai, play to begin at 3pm (Saturday).

Thames Star 20 October 1884
The late 1880s also sees mention of the NORTHERN LAWN TENNIS CLUB with advertisements showing them travelling on the ENTERPRISE at 7am to play tennis against Coromandel, returning again at 6.30pm (Thames Star 27/1/1888). A report on the day can be read in the paper 31/1/1888. The happy travellers arrived home at Grahamstown at 11pm!!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mr Williams' memories of Thames July 1867

Thames Star 1 August 1903
By chance a very interesting article found on early Thames, at Papers Past. The writer recalls the arrival of Mr J C Williams of Kopu who arrived at The Thames a few weeks before the goldfields opened the following month.  It makes great reading. Note the time before the road went to Tararu, Grahamstown didn't exist and there was just one whare on the area known as Tookey's Flat.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Grahamstown Shops, Pollen Street

Many people venture to the Grahamstown market that is held each Saturday morning; take a minute to step back in time and picture what the street used to look like.
You can use the street directories to see what shops were in the street or check out the business list

The photo below is taken from the Pollen street & Pahau Street Intersect, looking North. On the right just out of view is the Picture Theatre and Junction Hotel. Further down to Battson's Plumbing shop (still there today) and further down to shops such as Charles Palmer's Confectionery Shop.  On the left hand side you can see the Salvation Army Barracks

Margaret Cornes, mother of Three Thames settlers

Three Cornes brothers settled on the Coromandel Peninsula in the 1860s; Clem (a well known miner), Alfred (Also a miner and early President of the Thames Miners' Union) and Edmond (First headmaster of the Tararu School). Family story available at The Treasury.

The message in this post for genealogists is never, never give up hope of finding new information. Leave as many footprints as you can about your family. For example on newsboards, mailing lists, send emails fill out a pioneer form for The Treasury and ask all possible sources. Just recently I was emailing an expert on mining matters and mentioned my family of miners; and was amazingly given an unpublished document on Clement Augustus Cornes, my GGGrandfather. Within that document was a clue about Margaret Cornes nee Graham (Clement's mother), we had long thought this was an unsolvable brick wall..but now we have a new lead.  Below is a transcript from her obituary that appeared in the Auckland Weekly News 16 Feb 1895.


A late mail brought news of the death of Mrs. MARGARET CORNES, widow of the late Major John Cornes, 2nd Battalion 18th Royal Irish. The deceased lady has three sons living in this province, one of whom is the well known "Clem" Cornes, of mining celebrity.

Major John Cornes was formerly Cornet in the 6th Inniskillen Dragoons, Paymaster of the 53rd Shropshire Regiment (in which regiment he fought the Sikhs at Feroneshab, Allababad Buddewal, the campaign of the Sutley and Sobraon. After the Sikh war the Duke of Wellington asked "Paymaster" Cornes to become a "combantant" officer, and gazetted him to a Lieutenancy in the Guards. He afterwards exchanged into the 79th Highlanders after the close of the Sikh war (when the 53rd went home), and in the gallant Cameronians saw service in India, China, Persia, the Cape, Canada and in the Crimea. He was the last man over the bridge at the Alma. A shell exploded on the bridge just as he had ridden across (he had no business to be there, as he was a non combatant officer: but, like an old war horse, he liked the smell of powder}. After being invalided for two years he joined the 2nd Battalion 18th Royal Irish, with whom he served two years.

Mrs. Cornes was no unworthy helpmate of "The fighting Paymaster." she too, had seen service. Indeed she was born a soldier, and was daughter, wife, mother and sister of soldiers. Her age was greater than that stated in the Obituary notice in the Belfast papers of 85yrs.

She was at Sir John Moore's retreat to Corunna in 1809, when a child. The writer of this notice has often heard her tell of a curious story of the retreat...Mrs.Cornes was eight or nine years old at the time of Waterloo and was with the baggage at Brussels. She marched into Paris with the allied armies and afterwards saw the great Napoleon on board the Belleraphos, or "Billy Rough-in" as "Jack" used to call her, en route for St.Helena.

Photo believed to be the Cornes Brothers: Alfred, Clement and Edmond

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mining Accidents on the Hauraki Goldfields

A valuable resource available at many libraries, including the Treasury, Thames - is an index of the mining accidents reported in the AJHR's.
"New Zealand Mining accidents 1879-1958" the index is available on Microfiche

To date the AJHR's are online 1862 to 1879; but can be accessed at National Library and various other places. The difficulty is that the place of accident is sometimes a town or a mine. It is therefore difficult to ascertain the right location, given that mine names were repeated in many locations.  But worth a look!!

Here is an example of the names mentioned in 1897 for the Hauraki area:
Surname, Firstname, Place, AJHR
Baker, Samuel, Waihi, AJHR:1897(II) 1897
May, James, Waihi, AJHR:1897(II) 1897
Myers, , Sheridan Mine, AJHR:1897(II) 1897 (?area)
Dabb, John, Talisman Mine, AJHR:1897(II) 1897
Develin, John, Waihi, AJHR:1897(II) 1897
Douglas, Andrew, Karangahake, AJHR:1897(II) 1897
Muholland, Thomas, Coromandel, AJHR:1897(II) 1897
Terrill, John, Whangamata , AJHR:1897(II) 1897

If you are not able to follow up with the details in the AJHR, Papers past provides in most cases a report of the accident and the outcome.  Not all the accidents reported are fatal, but given the dangers of the occupation - deaths or serious injuries were not uncommon.

Charles KIRBY, accident Moanataiari Mine
Auckland Star 11/4/1893
The Auckland Star 20 April 1893 reported: "His [Charles Kirby's] spine was broken and spinal cord very much strained. He is progressing favourably"

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Thames news in AUCKLAND STAR online now

Well time to go hunting!!! Papers past have a new paper on line of great interest for Thames and area researchers: AUCKLAND STAR 1870 to 1903
The Evening Star first appeared in Auckland in January 1870 more by accident than careful design. With ambitions beyond his clerkship at one of Auckland’s morning dailies, the Southern Cross, William Ferrar placed an advertisement seeking a partner in a publishing venture. A former Presbyterian minister, the Rev George McCullagh Reed, responded while passing through Auckland on his way back to Australia from the West Coast goldfields, and the two men met. Despite having little capital, no influential friends and minimal experience, they quickly agreed to begin an afternoon paper, of more liberal persuasion, in opposition to the Evening News.

Full of mining news, general news, plus many BMD notices.Simply everything!! So a great new place to look for history and Genealogy for your Thames families!!!

Auckland Star 26/3/1892