Sunday, March 31, 2013

WW1 Soldier: Hugh Lyndsay Patton 12/3121

Hugh was killed in Bapaume France on the 27th of August 1918 and is buried at Grevillers British Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais.

His military record at Archives New Zealand is sketchy and incomplete, it contains more correspondence between his mother and the army after the war than it does of Hugh's military service. But from the little it does contain it shows that Hugh was sent to Samoa as a young man with the Samoan Advance Party.  After 8 months, he returned from Samoa, worked briefly as a porter with NZRailways at Huntly and then joined the Auckland Regiment, enlisting at Frankton Junction and embarking on the 9th of October 1915 for Suez.

On the 27th of June 1918 in London, he was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry for reconnoitring the enemy position at Nebi Musa. Later while in England on leave he was sent to the Officers Cadet Unit and ended up as 2nd Lieutenant. For a time he was a member of the instructional staff at Sling Camp, being specially selected to train the men on Lewis machine-guns. He was then posted to France and within three weeks was killed at Bapaume aged 26yrs.

Hugh was the son of William Patton and Julia Costello. William Patton has remained an enigma, his history is still largely unknown but he was from Bangor in Ireland and was a carrier on the run from Kihikihi to Te Awamutu and Hamilton. Julia and William are thought to have married in Auckland on the 3rd of April 1885,  so said Julia on the birth registrations of their four children though the marriage has yet to be found officially.

William Dion Patton 1887 - 1967
Margaret Elizabeth (Sophia) Patton 1888 married James Millen 26th April 1916 at Kihikihi.
John James Patton 1889 - 1895
Hugh Lindsay Patton 1892 - 1918

The eldest son of William and Julia, William, also served in WW1 and returned a broken man, it was up to James Millen to help his mother-in-law see to the affairs of the family after the death of his brother-in-law. James and Sophia Millen are buried at the Te Awamutu cemetery.

Children of James and Margaret Millen.
Hugh Lyndsay Millen, born 23rd Nov 1921, died 1990.
Robert Millen, (may have been Robert Hamilton Millen born 25th March 1917, died 1984).

Hugh's mother, Julia nee Costello had an interesting history. A feisty little woman, she was born on the 31st of March 1850 at Coromandel to John and Ann Costello who had arrived via Australia from Borraschill in Tipperary, Ireland. The family lived a simple life on a Marae with local Maori near the township of Coromandel. 

On the 28th of May 1858, A.H. Spicer wrote in a letter to his mother;
Forenoon walked with Mr Preece to Costelos’ sawpit where we saw Costello and Harry Innes at work cutting up mottled Kauri. This tree is rarely met with and is a pretty furniture wood. Mr Preece says the marble is caused by disease, the tree receiving a check by cold winds when the sap is in full flow. Our course to this pit lay over low swampy land at the base of the hills at the rear or E of Stapleton and up the face of the western ridge on a spur and down a ravine the other side. Half way up the ridge commands a fine view of the Harbour through the trees. Its lake like appearance is very striking and pretty. This pit is on Maori land belonging I believe to Puhata alias Broung, a very superior native one dit of Waiheki who is said, intends settling at Coromandel. The sawyers about here appear a very improvident, intemperate race and although earning excellent wages and residing in a place where living is cheap and sawn wood plentiful are mostly housed in raupo whares nearly falling to pieces, indeed, the natives have far better domiciles.
It comes as no surprise then to find that Julia was illiterate.  She was one of nine children born to John and Ann Costello and she was number 6. The family's life on the Coromandel Peninsula was a sad one. Julia's brother Michael was drowned at a Coromandel swimming hole in 1860, William died in 1918 at Whitianga, their only casualty of the flu epidemic, the youngest, James was killed on his 21st birthday jacking logs at Tairua, the eldest, John, who never married died in 1906 at Christmas Creek, Mercury Bay, their sister, Maryanne, died in Auckland of a foot infection. Julia's sister's Margaret and Mary produced large families.

William and Julia had a successful ballot of land at the Teesdale Estate in Te Awamutu. The Public Trust disputed the ownership of this land with Julia after the disappearance or death of William, saying that they could not find their marriage certificate (and neither can I). However, Julia prevailed and then sold a part of the land to the Baptist Church there.

Hugh and his siblings grew up and went to school at Te Awamutu and Julia's obituary reads:
Mrs Julia Patton, 92yrs 27/6/1942. Died Te Awamutu, youngest daughter of John Costello, born Coromandel. Married 1884 Mr W M Patton coachdriver - lived in Te Awamutu over 50yrs, was a fluent Maori linguist, survived by son and daughter. Headstone reads: Our mother Julia Patton, relict of the late William Patton d 25/6/1942 aged 92yrs.

William Dion Pattons death notice reads:
Forrestry Unit WW1. On Feb 21st, 1967, at his residence Kihikihi, loved uncle of Bob and Hugh Millen in his 81st year, RC church & Int at Te Awamutu RSA Lawn Cemetery, All communications to 1240A Victoria St, Hamilton.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hell Hole of the South Pacific

New Zealand's earliest written history is recorded by travellers, sea captains and missionaries.

The missionaries were a tough lot, dedicated to their task of converting the heathen, spreading God's word and bringing to light their mission to others of standing in their society. Anybody would think that the missionaries were the only decent people to live in New Zealand pre Treaty.

They had  help in that they had servants who accompanied them and material help from various sources. They were supported by stores sent by ship, sometimes chartered expressly for the task, they frequently travelled backwards and forwards to Sydney and London, they sent their children to school in Sydney. Politicians liked them which opened doors for their task to proceed, they had a public face.

The background of society in those times was one of class distinction. There were the poor people, the middle artisans and the top echelon and everyone was desperate to move up a rank or hang on to a current position by their nails if they had to. One way to do this was to exploit others and they went about that with a dedication which we today would consider shocking. The missionaries were no exception. They supported the system.

The 'Hell Hole of the South Pacific' was a constructed thing. NSW taxed incoming ships. Ships needing repairs, those which hadn't attained a profit for the their owners were provisioned and repaired in the Bay of Islands instead. There must have been upwards of 500 ships travelling the South Pacific chasing whales and moving passengers and goods. Yes, there were escaped convicts here, the poor desperate humans attempting to escape their captors and yes, alcohol was their medication and the principle traded item. But look at the other cities overseas at that time including Australian ones and you will see that New Zealand was no worse and no better than these. There were the artisans here to repair the ships, trade with Maori, servants of all kinds, a mix not very different to other cities. So why the hue and cry from the missionaries and gentry about the conditions in the Bay of Islands?

IMHO: The hue and cry was because the gentry didn't have the means to cream the milk of moving money. They needed the law and British army to back the law up so they could take their cut and boost this young economy with more imported cheap labour, free land etc. But this won't be discussed, New Zealand's history is too young and even now too politcally important for truth to prevail.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Auckland records lost to fire and shipwreck

Records Destroyed

In November 1872 the Provincial Government Buildings in Auckland were completely burnt.  In this fire practically all the records of the Superintendent's Office were destroyed, including all correspondence and the minutes of the Executieve Council.  The records of the Provincial Treasury do not seem to have suffered so badly, being either saved during the course of the fire or salvaged from strongrooms afterwards.  Nearly all the Treasury records before this date show signs of fire or water damage.

Lost in the Wreck of the Steamer 'White Swan' reported July 1862

Colonial Secretary's Department Records, various but including the general register of incoming correspondence received since about Oct or Nov 1861
Letter Book          Registrar-General, from Jan 1869
                                Legislative, from 28th May 1860
                                Ecclesiastical, from Jan 1855
                                Medical, from Feb 1856
                                Commissiioners of Crown Lands, from Nov 1855
                                Postmasters from Jan 1856
                                Sub-Treasurers from Jan 1855
                                Customs from October 1859
                                Inspectors of public works from Jan 1858
                                Registrars of Supreme Court from Jan 1842
                                Military from Jan 1856
                                Letters to other depts from Jan 1859
                                Resident Majestrates from Oct 1859
                                Meterorological from Nov 1861
                                Superintendents, from Dec 1861
                                Returning Officers from Feb 1862
                                Foreign from March 1861
                                Misc from Oct 1861
                                Private Secretary from July 1850
                                Secretary for Crown Lands
                                Deputy Adjutant General
Including the whole letters of the department, from 1st January to 30th June 1862, with such of a previous date as were attatched in the usual way.
Plus other records, stated but  not recorded here.

Lands and Survey Department Archives
A disastrous fire in 1852 at the Hope Gibbons building destroyed all Land Department yearly numbered files from 1858 to 1894 except for about eight feet of charred salvaged material.

History of the Post Office Archives
Very few of its records have survived the fire that burned down the Post Office in 1887, and the fire of 1961, which totally destroyed a Post Office store in Aotea Quay, in which were kept the old records created from 1887
The main bodies of records which survived the fires of 1887 and 1961 are those inherited from the Colonial Secretary and those of certain district Chief Postmasters.