Monday, February 20, 2017

The Johns Family

Florence Johns was the  youngest daughter of Annie nee Cousins and Ezekiel Johns.  She was the young wife of Russell Francis Kitto, and mother to his two young sons, who died far too early in 1928.  This post is about Florence's parents, grandparents and immediate family.  

Florence's father Ezekiel Johns was the son of Ezekiel Johns (1835 - 1 February 1910) and Mary Johns (1834 - 17 July 1917).   Florence's grandfather Ezekiel was apparently a native of St Hillary, Cornwall, England.  Reports state that around 1856 he went gold mining in Victoria, Australia and that he spent 14 years there.  Following that he returned to Cornwall around 1870 and then went to California for a couple of years.  He then came to NZ, settling in Roxborough and Wetherstone before staying in Blue Spur.  Based on cemetery records and newspaper reports, I estimate that the Johns family came to NZ around 1875/76.  Ezekiel Snr died after ill health over a twenty year period and particularly bad health from around 1905.  His widow, Mary herself died seven years later at 1 Queen Street, Dunedin, her daughter Mrs Uren's home.  

Ezekiel Snr and Mary had the following children:

1.  Mary Jane Johns (1854, England - 8 November 1938, Dunedin) married John Henry Uren (1854, England - 9 September 1940, Dunedin).  John worked as a Mine Manager.  Mary and John had lived at Blue Spur but then retired to Dunedin.   At the time of their deaths John and Mary was living at 14 Duke Street, Dunedin.  
Mary and John had the following children:

1.1 . Mary Selina Uren (1878 - 1956) married Sydney James Varcoe (1871 - 1937) in 1900.  Sydney was the son of Ephraim and Angelina (nee Williams) Varcoe, who had married in NZ in 1870.  Mary and Sydney had the following family:
1.1.1  Clarence Albert Varcoe (1901 - 2 November 1953, Dunedin) married Amelia Adelaide Maddock (1900 - 22 November 1984, Dunedin) in 1926.  Clarence and Amelia lived at Opoho prior to his death and Clarence worked as a Grocer.  
1.1.2  Gladys Mary Varcoe (16 September 1904 - 1986) married Alfred Wilson Christie (16 April 1900 - 1980)  in 1925
1.1.3  Sydney James Varcoe (1902)
1.1.4  Ephraim John Cyril Varcoe (1905 -14 January 1978) married Eileen Mary Jones (1907 - 18 November 1980) in 1928.  They had at least one stillborn baby, born in 1934.  
1.1.5  Harold Philip Varcoe (1907 - 24 March 1991) married Georgina Buchanan McCabe (1908 - 13 January 1984) in 1930.  
1.1.6  Stanley Ezekial Varcoe (1910)
1.1.7  Raymond Wallace Varcoe (1911)

1.2 . Emily Maude Uren (3 October 1880 - 1975).  Perhaps never marrying contributed to Emily's long life!

1.3 . Christiana Beatrice Uren (1884 - 1968).  Like her sister, Christiana also never married and lived to a fairly decent age. 

1.4 . John Henry Uren (1885 - 13 November 1968, Dunedin) married Mildred Falconer (1887 -  28 August 1961) in 1914.  John and Mildred lived in Roxborough where John worked as a Grocer.  

1.5 . Joseph Philip Uren (1887 - 21 March 1919).  At the time of his death, Joseph was working as a Bank Clerk and living at 1 Queen Street, Dunedin - his parents' home.  

2.  Christiana Johns (1863 - 1940) married Richard Pilling (1859 - 1919) in 1885. The couple lived in Wellington and had the following children:

2.1 . Christiana McColl Pilling (1886 - 1970) married Alfred Harding Sheehy (1884 - 1962) in 1912.  They had at least one son:
2.1.1  Richard John Pilling (11 April 1914 - 1979) 

2.2 . Ethel Mary Pilling (15 February 1888 - 1972) married Thomas Henry Turvey (12 August 1901 - 1972) in 1924.  Thomas was the son of William Henry and Rosa Turvey.  He was considerably younger than his wife.   

2.3 . Emily Onslow Pilling (1889 - 1956) married George Stanley Amos (5 April 1890 - 1982) in 1914.

2.4 . Richard Valentine Pilling (1892 - 1911).  Richard died prematurely at the age of 19.   At the time of his death, the Pilling family were living at 314 Taranaki Street, Wellington.  "So loved, so mourned".  

2.5 . James Milton Pilling (1893 - 10 September 1893).  At the time of little James' death, the family were still living in Lawrence and had not yet moved North to Wellington.  

2.6 . Ida Florence Pilling (1895 - 1974) married Angus Murdoch Nicholson (1891 - 1960) in 1922. 

2.7 . Clarence Pilling (1898 - 1966) married Susannah Irene Turvey (1903) in 1925.  Susannah was the daughter of William Henry and Rosa Turvey.  Early in their marriage, Clarence and Susannah resided in Blenheim.  

2.8 . Lilian May Pilling (30 March 1902 - 1978) married Arthur Hopkins in 1923. 

3.  Ezekiel Johns Jnr was born at Blue Spur in 1869.  His father was one of the first mine managers at Blue Spur.  He went to school at Blue Spur School and became a building apprentice to D Eggleston, a builder in Lawrence.  On 27 July 1892 Ezekiel married Annie Cousins in the Presbyterian faith by Rev. I. Jolly, at the home of Thomas Cousins (1833 - 1908) who was most probably her uncle.  Thomas was an owner of the Blue Spur Mine.  John Cousins, her father, had was deceased by the time of their wedding.  Annie was apparently the daughter of John Cousins, who were locals of Blue Spur also.  Ezekiel worked as a builder at Lawrence for a few years and then moved to Miller's Flat and ran a grocery store.  He then retired and went to live in Dunedin.
Ezekiel died at his son Harold's home in Mosgiel in 1940.  Annie was born in 1867 and died around 1920.  
Ezekiel and Annie Johns had the following family:

3.1 . James Arthur Johns was born on 3 August 1893 at Miller's Flat.  He married Gladys May Fort (1890) on 7 April 1920 at the Social Hall, Central Mission, by Rev. Eaton.  Gladys was the daughter of William and Adelaide (nee  Ruston) Fort who had themselves married in 1889.  According to Wikipedia, James attended Otago High School and qualified as a pharmacist in 1912.  In 1914 he migrated to Sydney, Australia and served with the Australian Imperial Force.  After a year working as a pharmacist in Britian, he returned to Austrlaia and went to to marry Gladys, in New Zealand.  They had at least one daughter together.  James worked as a pharmacist and in 1929 moved to Maffra in Victoria.  From 1942 to 1954 he served on Maffra Shire Council.  Although initially a member of the Country Party, in 1945 he joined the Labour Party and was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assemply for Gippsland North.  He was defeated in 1947.  James worked as a JP and retired from work in 1957.  He died in Maffra in 1959.   

3.2 . Emily Johns was born on 20 March 1895.  She married Wilfred Curphey (1881 - 1955) in 1919.  Emily died in 1985.  The Curphey's lived in Alexandra.

3.3 . Annie Johns was born on 24 January 1898.  She married William Nils Peter Kloogh (31 August 1894 - 1979)  in 1921.  (The Kloogh family were also related to the Kitto family, who Annie's sister Florence married into).    Annie died in 1978.  The Kloogh's lived in Port Chalmers.  

3.4 . Florence Johns (1901 - 1928).  See the post on the Kitto family to see her marriage and children.

3.5 . Harold Cecil Johns was born in 1904.  He died on 9 June 1971 at Outram.  


There are a number of twins in my family - I have twins, as does my sister.  I have twin first cousins, my Grandmother was a twin, and her aunt and uncle were twins.  So multiple births have always interested me.  These days, most multiple births are successful and end with two or more health babies as well as a live mother.  

Multiple births in times gone by were fraught with danger for both mother and babies.  Most often one, if not both (or more) children would die during or soon after birth.  For example, my grandfather Pat Nidd's mother had stillborn twin girls in 1918.  Twins being born alive and healthy and staying that way were rare.  Triplets were even rarer.  Following are the histories of some families who did have triplets - normally the outcome was not good, and multiples rarely all made it through infancy - or even through the first day of life. 

The Morgan Triplets

One such case were the Morgan triplets who were born in the small town of Kumara, on the West Coast of the South Island in 1888.  Their father James Henry Morgan had married Annie Carroll in 1876.  In reasonably quick succession, Annie Morgan gave birth to seven children:

Ellen Morgan (1878)
Margaret Maria Morgan (1879)
Henry Morgan (1880)
George Morgan (1881)
Annie Jane Morgan (1884)
Barbara Elizabeth Morgan (1885)
Peter Morgan (1886)

At the time of the triplets' birth James Morgan was the Manager of the Long Tunnel Gold Mining Company - he was already supporting a large family.  Then on 13 July 1888, at their home on the Main Street of Kumara, Annie gave birth to triplet babies.  Amazingly, they all survived birth. However, they were no doubt premature and without special care, and a mother no doubt beside herself busy with a gaggle of small children under the age of 10, the good luck ended there.  The triplets were:

Charles Morgan (13 July 1888 - 15 July 1888).  Little Charles died aged only two days.
Bridget Morgan (13 July 1888 - 1988).  The sole female triplet, Bridget, died aged 5 weeks.
Thomas Morgan (13 July 1888) appears to have survived birth and hopefully lived a love and happy life!

Following the triplets birth, the Morgans went on to have at least three more children:

Robert Morgan (1889)
William Laurence Morgan (1891)
Bella Morgan (1892)

The Bremner Triplets
For some families the tragedy of losing triplets was to be only the beginning. The case of the tragic Bremner family, is extreme.  

William Gordon Bremner married Mary Alice Booth in 1891.  They had both been born in 1862 meaning they were almost thirty by the time they married - a little late for those days.  The couple lived in the Poverty Bay area.  Following their marriage they had three little boys:

James Halloran Bremner was born in 1892.
John "Jack" Robertson Bremner was born a year later in 1893. 
William Gilbert "Gilbert" Booth Bremner was born in 1895.

Two years later, no doubt unexpectedly Mary gave birth to the triplets - two girls and a boy.  However, the sisters died within a week and the little boy didn't survive to see two years.  The triplets were:

Isabella Bremner (29 May 1897 - 29 May 1897).  Little Isabella died aged just two hours. 
Helen Bremner (29 May 1897 - 31 May 1897).  Baby Helen was next to pass away,  aged only 48 hours.
David Moray Gordon Bremner (29 May 1897 - 1899).  David lasted longer than his baby sisters, dying aged 22 months.

It's hard to imagine how hard it must be to lose one baby, let alone two in quick succession - little David must have been very much loved, and his loss must have been devastating to the family and put a huge strain on them.  However, even worse was to come.  

William Gordon and Mary Alice Bremner appeared before the Supreme Court in Gisborne in September 1909 and obtained a divorce.  The grounds are unclear.

When World War One rolled around, all three of the popular, sporty Bremner sons enlisted.  Tragically, as with their triplet siblings, one after the other, they succumbed. 

Jack, the middle son, was the first to die, being killed in action at Somme, France on 22 June 1916).  
A year later, on 20 July 1917, Gilbert was also lost, dying of the wounds he received at a battle in Palestine.
The eldest son, James  was the last to die of wounds he received at Gallipoli, finally passing away on 8 September 1918.

It's unclear what Mary's relationship had been with her sons after her divorce from their father, as she is not mentioned in the war records, or in the newpapers after their deaths - sympathy being given to their father and aunts instead.  Mary died in 1925 and William followed in 1927.  The end of their family line as far as I can ascertain.  

The Holmes Triplets

Make no mistake, all babies were at risk of failing to survive birth.  Before having and losing a multiple birth, some families had already lost children.

Gustaf Holmes came to NZ and was naturalised in 1893.  He married Rhoda Emily Rainton (born in 1872) in 1895.

Gustaf and Rhoda's first daughter Jane Louisa Holmes was born in 1897) but sadly passed away aged only 5 weeks.

For some years there is no record of any birth.  Perhaps Rhoda had difficulty becoming pregnant or perhaps she miscarried many times.  What we do know for sure is that on 28 October 1901 she gave birth to triplet babies - one boy and two girls, in Ponsonby, Auckland.  

The first triplet, Annie Beatrice Holmes died five days later.  The second triplet, 
Albert Edward Holmes died 3 months later in 1902.  

However, the last triplet, Clara May Holmes appeared to be made of stronger stuff, and so it must have been torturous for her parents when she too passed away aged just five months on 29 March 1902, at her parents' home in Farrar Street, Ponsonby.

A final child, Mary Annie Holmes, was born to Gustaf and Rhoda in 1903 - this must have given them a huge amount of joy.  Tragically though, Rhoda herself is noted to have died at the age of 35 in 1908.  Gustaf's fate is unclear, as is that of little Mary who would have only been 4 or 5 at the time of her mother's death.  It is possible that they left for Australia or elsewhere, to leave the tragedies Gustaf had experienced in New Zealand behind.  

The Aydon Triplets
Archibald Alexander Aydon (1856 - 1929) was a bootmaker who lived in Nelson.  Born in 1856 - 1929), he married May June Woodward (1860 - 1939), in 1881, when she was 20 or 21 years of age.   

Boys seemed to be in the blood, and the couple's first seven children were all strapping boys:

The eldest son, Phillip Woodward Aydon (1882 - 1963), married Amy aka Emma Caldwell (1886 - 1969) in 1907.  

The second son, Archibald Joseph Woodward Aydon (1883 - 1958) married a girl who was undoubtedly a relative, Gertrude May Woodward, in 1911.  They had a son, Keith Langley Aydon in 1912 and a stillborn baby in 1916.  Sadly, young Keith died prematurely in 1928 aged just 16 years.  Gertrude died in 1960.  

The third son, Frederick Edwin Woodward Aydon, was born in 1885.  Fred worked as a confectioner and married Phoebe Ellen Bartlett (who had been born in 1884) in 1914. Together, they had a baby, Allan Aydon (14 March 1916 - 1998).  Fred was a solo cornetist with the National Reserve Band.  Tragically, Fred died of influenza on 12 November 1918 here in New Zealand, at the Featherston Military Camp.   Phoebe never remarried, dying in 1959 at the age of 75.

Fourth son, George William Woodward Aydon was born in 1887 and married Mary Barnes in 1914.  George and Mary's son, Albert, was born on 15 July 1915 (died 1992).  George worked  as a tinsmith in Wellington.  He died at his home, 48 Rolleston Street, Wellington on 16 November 1918 of influenza, four days after the death of his older brother Fred. 

Fifth son was Harry Woodward Aydon (1890 - 1964).  Harry was probably named after Mr Aydon's brother in law, Harry Rickards a well known theatrical proprietor who had married Mr Aydon's elder sister in 1879.  

Sixth son, Horace Woodward Aydon (1891 - 19 July 1936), married Alice Collard  (24 August 1992 - 1976) in 1914.  Horace worked as a biscuit maker at Griffins in Wellington.  Horace and Alice's daughter, Audrey Jane/May, was born on 29 September 1916.  In 1936 Audrey married Noel Victor Rogers (16 July 1911 - 1996).  She died in 2001.  Horace and Alice also had two sons, Maurice William (24 January 1919 - 1993) and Horace Frederick (1 March 1924 - 1997).  

The seventh of this run of boys was Sydney Alexander Woodward Aydon (1893 - 1956).  He married Louise Neville in 1923.  

These boys were then followed by two little girls, and yet another brother, who was not as strong as his elder brothers:

Charlotte Winifred Beatrice "Beattie" Aydon (1897).  The eldest Aydon daughter was also known as Beatrix and apparently had a lovely soprano voice.  She left Nelson in November 1917 and it is unclear where she went.  
Percy Woodward Aydon (1898 - 1898).  Little Percy died aged 5 weeks.  
Maselle Woodward Aydon (2 March 1901 - 1986) married Arthur Earnest Strong (29 October 1890) in 1927.

All the children went to St Mary's School in Nelson.  

Following the birth and survival of these two girls, the family must have seemed complete - ten children after all in the space of 19 years was probably enough for Mrs Aydon.  However, at the age of 42/43, on 20 May 1903, she gave birth to triplet boys.  

The first of these triplet boys, Thomas Woodward Aydon died aged just three weeks.  The second, Edward Woodward Aydon died in 1904 aged a year.  However, in this case, the surviving triplet, William Woodward Aydon lived to the age of 68.

The Jacobsen Triplets

Sometimes, however, against all odds, all three triplets survived to adulthood. Imagine how much of a novelty the following three babies must have been in their day!

A fellow called John (possibly also known as Johan) Jacobsen lived with Mary Eliza Reid (1870 - 1944) in Blenheim.  He doesn't appear to have actually formally married her, however, until 1929!  
This lack of a marriage certificate didn't stop them from having a fair few little Jacobsens.  It did stop them legally registering their children's births until 1939, however!  Why did they take so long to marry?  Perhaps one or the other were legally married to another and unable to obtain a divorce?  It is possible that they married around the time of their triplet's 21st birthday.  In any event, the children of their union are:

Eldest son Ernest Frank Jacobsen (1892 - 1959) married Maud Newth (1891 - 1951) in 1914.
Eldest daughter Ethel Maude Jacobsen (11 June 1894 - 1981) married William Roy Askew in 1917.  However Roy, as he was known, was killed in action during WWI in 1918. Ethel then married Clifford Woolley in 1918. 
Third child Miriam Frances Jacobsen (1897 - 1971) married James Atwood in 1917. 
Fourth child was Bruce Theodore Jacobsen (1901 - 1962)
Fifth child was Lilian Myrtle Jacobsen 
Sixth child was Jacob Neils Jacobsen (23 June 1905 - 1978)

Following the birth of six healthy children, Mary Reid gave birth to triplets - two little boys and one girl.  
Christina Olga "Olga" Jacobsen (21 April 1908 - 1956) married Albert Cecil Rohde (1 July 1908 - 1977) in 1929. They had at least one son, Johan Christian Rohde (1933 - 1997)
Ivan Wilson Jacobsen (21 April 1908 - 1978)
Archie John Jacobsen (21 April 1908) married Margaret Amy Neame (1888 - 1949) in 1932.

The triplets were christened at the Methodist Church in Blenheim in April 1909 and were described as being 'fine, healthy and thriving'.  

The Thurlow Triplets

Yet another happy ending for a triplet birth starts with the marriage of Albert Edward Thurlow (1878 - 1968) and Beatrice Margaret Corliss (1878 - 1952) in 1902.  

Their first child,  Eleanor Marguerita Florence Thurlow was born on 10 January 1903.  She married Alexander Howard Abernethy (2 November 1898 - 1977) in 1926.  Eleanor died in 1986.

Next came  Albert Cyril Thurlow on 15 April 1904.  He died in 1985.  

Third born was Thelma Beatrice Thurlow was born on 4 March 1906.  She married Redmond George Wingham in 1930.

Next to be born were a set of triplets and their births were reported as being somewhat unusual, even for triplets - with newspapers reporting that sole female of the trio, Gladys, was born on 30 September while her brother were born days later on 2 October.  This is highly unusual - especially given that the triplets all survived.  The triplets were:

Gladys Mary Thurlow (30 September 1909 - 1987).  Gladys married Thomas Andrew Haig (19 November 1906 - 1986) in 1935.
William Raymond "Ray" Thurlow (1909). 
Francis Bagley "Frank" Thurlow (1909).  Frank's middle name was in deference to the doctor who delivered them.  In 1935 Frank married Isabel Mary Burridge (2 September 1913 - 1982)

The triplets were born in Becks Township in Central Otago and their mother was attended to by a Dr Bagley.  

Years later the triplets all celebrated their 21st birthdays on 30 September 1930 with their family.  Triplets all attaining the age of majority was a novelty.    

The triplets were followed by a younger brother:

Clyde Kitchener Thurlow on 15 October 1914.  He died in 1999.