NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.




Vicky Darling, Library Service Centre Manager for Clutha District

Talk given to NZSG Balclutha Branch on 1st May 2006


Vicky spoke on three aspects regarding the Clutha libraries role – that of resources, relationships and challenges.


Reference Collection

Local History and Open Shelf Collection

Digital Resources



National On Line Resources

Digital Strategy


Past Papers

Find NZ Articles

Index New Zealand

Te Puna Web Directory

Te Puna – National Bibliographic Database

(May 2006)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.


From ‘Balclutha Public School – 65th Anniversary, 1865-1931’

Part III Reminiscences and Extracts from Correspondence.


“From Mr. W. H. Lloyd (Christchurch)

“In connection with the … Jubilee.., I wish herewith to relate a few reminiscences of 50 years ago in the Clutha.


“Although in the Flood of 1878 only one life was lost, a few had a close call to go over the Great Beyond, and during my visit to the Clutha last month one case in particular came back to my memory and will no doubt be remembered by some of the old residents.  The flood had washed a great hole in John Street (I think that is the name of the street), just about in front of where Wright, Stephenson have offices now, and near the ‘Clutha Leader’ office.        This hole was fenced off to save people and carts etc, from meeting with an accident.  Well, eight of us boys were having a royal time, to our way of thinking, in plunging manuka sticks into the hole and catching them on the rebound.  One of the boys, Billy BARR, missed his footing and fell into the water hole, six or seven feet in depth.  The shouts of the rest of us brought Mr George BAIN to the scene, and fortunately he had a rake with him, and was able to hook Barr by his curly hair and pull him back to the land.  Barr had gone down three times and was unconscious when pulled out, and it took Dr SMITH some time to bring him round.  The rest of us received damn good hidings from our parents as a reward for our share in the affair.  This, I think, was the closest call to death in the flood period, and the Grim Reaper missed.


Flood 1878 - Bridge opened 1869Left:

The Flood of 1878 – looking South

(photo S. O. Historical Society)


“Another matter that will no doubt surprise the present generation is the fact that 50 years ago we had moving pictures and the Edison talking machine in Balclutha.  The moving pictures I refer to were the American War pictures.  Of course it was not anything like the present cinema picture shows.  It was worked on a roller system and went right across the stage in the hall.  The talking machine was a bulky affair, but nevertheless, it recorded a human voice and the sound came from a great horn, something like a megaphone;  and well do I remember the words that came from the machine.  I think it had only two tunes, viz., ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’, and ‘Yankee Doodle’, both famous American tunes in the early days.


“The Balclutha Hall, or Barr’s Hall, next to the Farmers’ Arms Hotel, was well patronized 50 years ago, and most of the leading companies visited Balclutha.  A few of these were; Professor Anderson, ‘The Wizard of the North’;  The Hart Sisters, who were conjurors and did some clever card tricks;  The Lynch Family of Bellringers;  also one of the world’s famous singers, Madame Carendina.  There was also a first-class Christie Minstrel Company of all local talent.  The first circus I can remember was, I think, Cooper and Bayley’s and the tent was erected on a section right opposite the Presbyterian Church in Clyde Street.


“However, time has brought many changes, and ‘the Clutha’ has no doubt enjoyed its prosperity and it has no doubt weathered many storms, but there is no doubt of the loyalty of the residents to their district.  So cheerio to you all.”

(July 2006)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.





1921 - 2006



We pay tribute to Marjory Jean Copeland who passed away last week. Marj was one of our foundation members who answered an advertisement and joined a group of women who had a common interest and started the Balclutha Genealogical Society. Group meetings were held in Marj’s home, at View Street, Stirling for about eighteen years, where she always had a fresh floral arrangement displayed and a cosy warm fire on or in the warm summer evenings, they were held outside. We also housed our small, but growing library there and were made welcome anytime to exchange books. In 1989 at the 18th Annual dinner Marj was made a life member. In her interview with the Clutha Leader she said “I never thought when I first answered the advertisement I would be receiving life membership so many years later. Thank you very much, I’ll wear this with honour.”


As membership increased we moved our meetings to the Museum to hold evening sessions and Marj, who had also moved this time to Hospital Road, Balclutha, continued to hold afternoon meetings at her home up until her accident in 1997.


Her knowledge of the area of Southland and particularly Winton was very helpful to any one researching there and she would loan you any of her own books that were relevant to your research.  She attended many seminars and conferences and had the ability to power nap through some of these but become fully alert and could interject with the speaker and know exactly what they had been saying.  We also appreciated the gadgets she had, especially one night at the Museum when the power went out and Marj produced her trusty torch to help us down the narrow stairs.


Marj will be remembered by many of us with great fondness for her generosity, knowledge and her sense of humour.  It has been an honour to have been part of her life.  Happy ancestor hunting Marj.


Foot note: I felt privileged to be asked to write this tribute to Marj and wish to thank Roma B and Barbara L for sharing their memories as well.

June S (July 2006)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.





The Owaka Museum has numerous books, booklets and pamphlets available for people to look up possible relatives.  We have been very lucky to be donated the Falconer Diaries which are the diaries of William Falconer from about 1876 onwards to the 1920s.  These are completely indexed and though the daily recordings are very short they mention many of the people living in the district at the time.  Most of the entries are along the lines of  “Frosty day. Sold potatoes to Jones.  2/6.  Ploughed.”


We also have the Logan diaries which talks in more details about the early settlers and their lives.  These have been indexed. There are quite a number of family trees and genealogies.  Some of these are Bates, Hays, Forsyths, Landreths, Haywards, Ewarts, Faddes.  Most of these also have family histories with them as well as the straight genealogies.  Some other general histories also have a good deal of information about people in the district.  One of these is ‘Saw-Milling in Southern Areas’.   I am in the process of indexing this.  Books like ‘Full Circle’, ‘Eight Schools in the Bush’, ‘Catlins Pioneering’, ‘Stepping Out’ and ‘Pioneering in South Otago’ have many residents mentioned, as do the more specific histories of the area, such as ‘The Two Posts’, the Presbyterian Church centennial books, Owaka rugby and cricket histories and there are also short memoirs from quite a number of former residents.  They talk of such things as the 1935 bush fires, travel in the Catlins, travelling from Britain, the postal service, and shops.


The museum also has many photos, including portraits, activities and buildings.  Considerable information on the ‘Surat’ and ‘Manuka’ shipwrecks are also available, including photos and passenger lists.  We also have addresses of some descendants who are interested in corresponding with others. 


These are free for you to look at, though copying photos attracts a charge.  We also are beginning to charge for volunteers doing research for you in line with other organisations. 


Carolyn Deverson

Catlins Historical Society

August 2006

Opening Hours:  On request in winter months and daily from 1.30 - 4.30pm from December to March.

Contact:  Carolyn Deverson 


(August 2006)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.


The following reminiscence is taken from;

Sketches from the Life of William Paterson


Mr Paterson was an early resident of South Otago and President of Otago Early Settlers’ Association from 1937 to 1941.



“On the first of June, 1858, Father, Mother, and we three children bid good-bye to Edinburgh, never to see it again, and started out on the first lap of our journey to Glasgow, en route to far-away New Zealand.  On the afternoon of the same day we embarked on board the ship Jura, Captain Chalmers, 750 tons, with 375 passengers …  In the evening of the same day we sailed away for our destination, Dunedin.  I have no recollection of boarding the ship, but I remember the tug towing us down the river, past Greenock, to the open sea, and passing a number of ships and steamers on their way to Glasgow, but I was too young to remember much about it …..There were several births, also a number of deaths, but eventually, after a voyage of nearly four months, we arrived at Port Chalmers on the 23 rd September, 1858.


“The question then arose, how were we to get to Dunedin, ten miles up the Harbour.  There was no road, only a kind of track through the bush over the hill to North-East Valley, and quite a number of the passengers went that way.  Our family and a number of other passengers engaged an old lighter called the Gallie to take us to Dunedin.  We went on board in the morning … and sailed away…, but, alas, we had many stops on the way;  again and again we were stuck on a sandbank, and did not reach Dunedin until the evening.  Tired, cold, and hungry, we made our way to the Barracks.  …..  We remained in the Barracks for a few days, when my father leased a house in Princes Street … and there we remained for about a year.



“……… My father always had a longing to settle in the country, and in 1862 he bought some land at Port Molyneux, a busy little township at the mouth of the Clutha River.  In 1863 he sold his Dunedin business…  We then moved to Caversham, where my father had some houses ….


“On Monday morning, 11th January, 1864, we set out on our long trek overland to Port Molyneux.  Our conveyances consisted of two covered drays, three horses in each;  our party of my father on horseback, in the drays my mother and the four children, Mr and Mrs James SHIELS and family of five, Mr and Mrs James TAIT and family of four or five.  The heavy luggage had been sent on to Port Molyneux by sea, but it was a great job loading up the drays in the early morning with all the varied things that remained for us to take.


The first day we reached the Reliance Hotel, near the Taieri ferry;  the second Milton;  the third Balclutha, where at that time there was no bridge, so we had to cross in the punt.  That night we camped in a carpenter’s shop (James DUNNETT’s), a friend of the family.  On the morning of the fourth day we started off for Port Molyneux.  At that time a good part of the road was not formed, but bridges were over the Waitapeka [sic] Creek, the Puerua, and the Oamaru.  After a tiresome journey we reached our destination about 5 pm, and there and then settled in the new house that was to be the home of the Paterson family for many long years to come – ‘Pleasance’ by name.


'The Ferry' 1870 showing original bridge‘Clutha Ferry’, 1870 showing original bridge

Ph: SO Historical Soc


“……  For several years Father carried on the farm, unsuccessfully like many another amateur farmer;  and, growing tired of it, he decided to return to business.  Just about that time a man named Robert MILLER, who had … a general store in the Port Molyneux township, went bankrupt.  My father purchased [the business] and from that date, 1867, until 1936 the property remained in the hands of and was carried on by PATERSONs. ….. Now, 1940, the buildings have been pulled down … and where the well-known old building stood for 80 years is now a vacant section.



“ ….. In November 1875, my father bought a business carried on at Puerua by the late David WHYTOCK;  this was six miles from Port Molyneux, and I was …. put in charge of the new shop, being then twenty-one years of age.  There I spent nearly forty busy years, the best years of my life.  Up to about 1913 it was a good and successful business, but, with the advent of the motor cars, there, as in many other district, the country store became of less importance, and business began to drift to the nearest towns.


“During the many years of my life as a country storekeeper I had a very wide experience and played many parts.  I came to know the farmers and their wives in all their woes, for in the early days the storekeeper had to be lawyer, doctor and general adviser.  They were a kindhearted, generous folk, hospitable in the fullest degree – no one ever went past their doors hungry.  It was a privilege to know them and to be associated with them.  Among them I had many kind friends, nearly all of whom have now passed away.”

(Sep 2006)


j0285313It's our Anniversary!


This is a special year for us.  The Balclutha Genealogical Society has been in existence for 35 years.  At our November meeting, Life Member Roma Buchanan will be joining us to celebrate. Noeline Cox and our NZSG Councillor, Avis McDonald, are unable to attend.  Here is a little of the history of the group.


Foundation Members

Foundation Members of the

Balclutha Genealogical Society 1971

Photo:  Roma Buchanan

Left to Right:

Back – Gladys Masters, Marjory Copeland, Alison Henry, May Reeves, Marilyn Robertson

Front – Joan Hogue, Noeline Cox, Bev’ Baughan, Roma Buchanan


The group began in May 1971 when a group of girlfriends met casually, calling themselves ‘The Grave Hunters’ and began transcribing local cemeteries – seven being completed in five months!  In October that year they became a formal group with eleven members and met in the Stirling home of recently deceased Life Member, Marj’ Copeland.  From these early beginnings we have become what we are today and we owe a great deal to the hard work and enthusiasm of these early members.


In the process of putting together ‘My Grandmother’s Kitchen’ I got to chat with Roma Buchanan and Noeline Cox, and was especially delighted to receive from Roma, the following article, originally printed in the NZSG magazine in 1973 (pgs 535/536).



“Each fine Tuesday, Mrs Gladys Masters and Mrs [Roma] Buchanan of Balclutha go “tombstone hopping”.  They are building up a fine collection of cemetery records for their area and have earned the respect and co-operation of local sextons and cemetery boards.  In the following account, Gladys Masters share some of their adventures with readers:


“It was with some apprehension that we approached the first few cemeteries in our local South Otago area as they were in most cases very overgrown and situated many miles from any civilisation other than the four-legged variety.  The first cemetery we visited was surrounded by a hawthorn hedge eight feet high.  While scrambling on hands and knees under briar and flax bushes endeavouring to read a moss-covered tombstone, a cow mooed on the other side of the fence and we really did think our last days had come.  Another time we had to contend with the six foot broom.  On this occasion I had with me my four year old daughter who at first found this weaving in and out of the tall bushes a delightful game of hide and seek but later this novelty wore thin.  As many of the tops of the graves had collapsed leaving holes one and two feet deep, especially where the concrete had broken with age, we had to examine the ground cautiously before each step.


“By the time we had completed four cemeteries, we had gained sufficient confidence and knowledge to set about the task with ease and efficiency but we doubt whether we will ever overcome the hazards which we did not think went with transcribing cemeteries.  On one occasion we took two hours to reach a cemetery but only half an hour to transcribe it.  We set off quite confidently one afternoon along some back roads near my own district to go to a small cemetery 20 miles away but after travelling the distance of miles by road, we arrived back to where we set off, so away we went again and this time we made it.  Another time we pulled too far off the narrow gravel road at a cemetery alongside a golf course.  After spinning the car wheels for a considerable time, we were most grateful for the help of four gentlemen golfers who kindly pushed the car back onto the road.  A month ago, as the weather was in our favour, we donned coats and gumboots – I borrowed my son’s with flaps and long criss-cross laces, definitely not the type to be seen in – and we set off on another cemetery hunt.  We would never have found this particular cemetery without the help of a farmer who was driving sheep along the road as it was perched on top of a very steep hill.  As the ground was very wet we had to hold onto the wire fence on the way back down otherwise I am sure we would have descended on our seats.  As there has never been any form of road, they must have used a horse and cart to take the coffins to this burial ground.


“Earlier we had noticed that many graves in these cemeteries had no tombstones and we felt it was a pity that the names of those buried in these graves could not be recorded along with the others.


“We made enquiries and obtained access to the appropriate Cemetery Records and Burial Registers.  Since then, we have been transcribing these as well as the legible tombstones and in most cases where records have been efficiently kept, we have been able to compile a record of 99% of those buried in these cemeteries, including other information such as occupation;  where born;  how long in New Zealand;  family relationships etc.  This would be a tremendous help for genealogists.  We have found everyone very co-operative in lending us these records except for one case when, on writing and then phoning for permission to borrow these records, we were refused very abruptly.  However, on approaching another Trustee, we were told that it had been decided at the general meeting that we should be allowed to see the records.  When he borrowed the books ‘for audit’, we were given the opportunity to search them at his home, beside a lovely fire and with a delightful afternoon tea prepared by his wife.


“To anyone who has thought about transcribing cemeteries but who has never taken the plunge, I would recommend donning coat and gumboots, taking pad and pencil and setting forth.  For us it has proved a worthwhile outdoor hobby and we will be almost sorry when all our local cemeteries have been completed.


Footnote:  Kathryn Masters goes on many of these expeditions and she is learning fast.  Recently she was seen rubbing at a fire-plug with a toy hearth brush and saying seriously, ‘This old grandfather was born in 1908’.”


(Oct 2006)




As the South Otago Historical Society turns 40 and the Museum turns 20 we are all reflecting on what has changed in the Heritage field and the fundamentals that seem to go on forever.


The biggest evolution at the South Otago museum in recent years has been the introduction and the ever changing applications of modern technology in the archives.  Computerized cataloguing and indexing has made searching and cross referencing research inquiries much faster and more efficient.


SO Museum Cloth Ledger

Hand written ledger on fabric, part of the new digital archive.      (Believed to be Warepa church fund raiser, part of the Ross collection).

Some of you may be aware that the complete photographic collection and document archive have been completely catalogued and indexed but it may be of interest to note that the entire archive collection has now been digitized. This means that any named individual, group or organisation identified throughout the photographic and document collection is now stored digitally on our archive hard drive.


There are many applications of this technology including printing, e-mailing, and even up-loading entire collections from research results in the same day the inquiry was made.


Recent arrivals at the museum include:

  • The font and the lectern created by W.S. Pillans.
  • The estate of historian Alma Murray including Moffat, Hunter and Telford material.


Some Statistics of note are 2000 photographic images, 200 catalogued & archived original documents, authentic collection of Otago Witness newspapers 1883-1892, a complete copy of the Otago Witness 1916 picture book (extensive military portrait collection) and the complete set of Clutha Oddfellow lodge records (indexed).


The archives are open from 10.00am - 4.00pm Monday to Friday. With the museum now having the use of a laptop and digital projector it is possible to “take the show on the road” and to display, and even carry out, research on the big screen


Gary Ross

South Otago Historical Society

teacher reduced

A power point presentation in the museum

foyer on a recent school tour.

(Nov 2006)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.



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