Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Act Two: Who do You (I) think You Are (I am)? Taranaki & Wellington

So, I stayed with Cheryl for a couple of nights in Waitara. The first day I went and caught up with a distant relation, who also happened to be the convener of the local Genealogical Society in Waitara and compared notes and photos. She was also a descendant of my Great-Great Grandparents John Reardon and Sarah Ann Bruntlett (pictured - you may recognise them from an earlier post).

Following that I mucked around for a bit, and then nipped down to New Plymouth, to check out where Puke Ariki was (the local museum, which also has a great archive). Admittedly it ended up mostly being a recon & use the free Wi-Fi mission. That night I had a small walk down to the beach (in pretty much stark darkness) and then watched a bit of TV and slept after a call to one of my mother's cousins who knew a bit about my mother's mother's (Nana) side of the family, the Melvilles of Kaponga.

The next day I went to New Plymouth and did my research - looking up all my Taranaki ancestors (of which are the majority). Unfortunately, I only found good information on the Melville ancestors, however that was better than nothing.

I had intended to do a bit of a drive around Southern Taranaki once I had finished there, to see some of the places my ancestors had come from, unfortunately it had decided to rain quite heavily, so I cut my losses and headed straight to another set of distant relations - Alan & Annette Reardon - who are related to me as John Reardon (pictured above) my Great Great Grandfather, was the brother of Alan's Grandfather William.

Alan & Annette had recently come back from a big trip around the British Isles - including spending some time investigating our ancestors and exploring where they came from - they managed to find Ballyriordan (The Valley of the Reardons) and met some O'Riordans, so they had some good stories and some extra information, including a map if I ever make it over there. We also had a fantastic feed of corned beef that night, which topped it all off nicely.

The next day I did most of the looking around Taranaki that I had intended to do the day before, first starting with Kaponga (Melvilles), then making my way to Hawera and then around the coast through Patea (Bartz), stopped in Maxwell (Reardons), and then spent some time at the Aramoho cemetery in Wanganui (various - Reardon, Bruntlett, and especially as apparently my elusive ancestor Edwin Valentine Westerby is buried there, but in the row where he is supposed to be, there is no headstone - probably not surprising when you desert your wife and kids, even if they do find out when and where you die, they might not be so keen to fork out for one.)

From there I hightailed it to Wellington, checked into my hostel, and caught up with Campbell - my mate that I worked with at the CPS in London.

The next day was Friday, and I had several things I needed to do on a week day - unfortunately the hostel didn't have it's own parking, so every morning I had to go and move my car before doing anything else. Anyhow, I wanted to visit the consulate offices of Spain, France, and the U.K. and go to Archives New Zealand. The Spanish consulate was very helpful, the French ignored me, and the British were closed by the time I got there.

At Archives New Zealand I mucked around a bit as I figured they wouldn't be so useful, being a bit cynical and jaded from other institutions I had visited so far, however, once I got into the swing of it I found they had a whole lot of my ancestor's wills - which I got them to photocopy for me, and have made very interesting reading.

Admittedly the rest of my time in Wellington was fairly low key, Friday night I did my washing, Saturday night I went out, but otherwise the only thing of great interest was on the way out I visited some more distant (again second cousin, twice removed) relations (Clemoes side) and chatted and shared information with them for several hours, which was great.

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