18 June 2012

Where I Come From: The Martian (Marsh In) Me Vol 1

I'm not a complete family history boffin. But I do love finding out more about my people and their people and their people's people. I love the thought that despite being wonderfully and fearfully created by God, I am also the product of the genetic heritage passed down through the generations. And so today I explore a little more of the Marsh side of the family (my mum's mum's side - that's Gee Gee to us):


This letter appeared in the Taranaki Daily News less than a month ago, and tells the story of my great-great-great (I think that's the right number of greats!) grandfather Alfred Marsh. If you find yourself squinting a bit to read the article, here's what it says:

Alfred Marsh 1831 - 1912
One of Taranaki's pioneer settlers, Alfred Marsh was born at Netherbury, Dorset, England in 1831.

Meg's comments: In a stroke of coincidence, the town of Netherbury is a mere 15 miles from where Mark's parents live now!

Alfred arrived in New Plymouth with his parents, James and Maria, his brother Esau, and sister Matilda, on the sailing ship Timandra in 1842. He later met Emily Batten and the couple were duly married on November 3, 1855. During the Maori Land Wars he served with the Militia as a bugler.

After the conclusion of the war, he continued his business as a wheelwright until the 1870's when he went farming in the Mangorei district. He was one of the earliest and most successful farmers in the district. His homestead near the Junction Road (this is mere 5 minutes drive from where my gran Gee Gee, his great grand-daughter lives now) was a well known landmark with an expansive view.

Alfred was an ingenious mechanic and he was sought after for the construction of waterwheels. He also showed great skill with farm and harvesting machinery. 

Socially he was a popular man with a cheerful and genial disposition and could spend many hours giving his recollections of the early days of Taranaki.

He took a keen interest on the district's school committee and was a director of the Mangorei Co-operative Dairy Company for 10 years. 

He died on February 1, 1912, aged 80 after a long illness and is buried in Te Henui cemetery (this cemetery is only a 5 minute walk from my gran's house and is also where both my grandfathers were laid to rest). His wife died in 1918 at Inglewood.


I wish I could have known Alfred, he seems like a pretty good sort, and that beard is darn impressive too, don't you think.

It's also fascinating for me to realise how much, and how deeply my history is intertwined with a part of the country I know and love so well despite never having actually lived there.

Tune in next week for the story of the wedding cake that has been around for 90 years!

 
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