Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand ~ Follow Friday

A great resource from the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre – a searchable full-text edition of all six volumes of The Cyclopedia of New Zealand.

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand was published in six volumes between 1897 and 1908 by the Cyclopedia Company Ltd. Each volume deals with a region of New Zealand and includes information on local towns and districts, government departments, individuals, businesses, clubs and societies. Biographical entries frequently include the subject’s date and place of birth, the name of the ship by which immigrants arrived, spouse’s name, and the number and gender of children born to a couple. (NZETC website)

Members of the public paid to have an entry in the publication, so there is a bias towards those who could afford to do so. Few women, Māori or non-Europeans are included in the biographical section. However, it does give a wonderful snapshot of the towns and settlements in late 19th and early 20th century New Zealand, with the added bonus of maybe a snippet or two on your early settler ancestors.

Here is the entry for my great great grandfather, Michael Gaff(a)ney:

Gaffney, Michael, Farmer, “Belper Farm,” Arowhenua. Mr. Gaffney was born in 1836 at Belper, Derbyshire, England, and emigrated to New Zealand in 1858 by the ship “Cresswell,” landing in Lyttelton. He went to Timaru and was employed by Messrs. Rhodes Bros, for many years, principally at bush work and fencing. He was the first to take a waggon team to the Mackenzie country, and was engaged in the carrying business for some years. In 1861, he was the first who took up land on the Levels estate. The farm on which he resides comprises 548 acres, and he has another property of 252 acres at Washdyke, and a considerable amount of township property. In addition to wheat-growing, he fattens sheep for freezing, and disposes of a considerable number annually. Mr. Gaffney has been a member of the South Canterbury Hunt Club for many years and takes a general interest in sport. He was married in Christchurch to Miss Maggie Brosnahan, and has twelve children.1

Some of the biographical entries also included photos – perhaps you had to pay more for that?

This is just a little from the section on Temuka:

Temuka is on the main south line of railway, eighty-nine miles from Christchurch, and eleven miles to the north of Timaru. The surrounding district is rich agricultural country; towards the sea the land is particularly fertile, and was originally a wild swamp, but it now yields crops which average sixty bushels of wheat and from seventy to eighty bushels of oats to the acre. With a few exceptions, the holdings are comparatively large, and the whole district is dotted with fine plantations, which afford shelter to the stock and homesteads and lend a sylvan grace to the landscape. The district is well watered, as the Opihi and Temuka rivers are about half a mile from the town, the Orari three miles, and the Rangitata about ten. These rivers are known to all anglers as being stocked with trout, which, in respect to size and delicacy, equal the best in New Zealand. Temuka is, therefore, in high favour with anglers, some of whom come from Australia, and even England, every fishing season. In itself Temuka is a pleasant country town, with broad clean streets, and fresh water running in the side channels. It is well supplied with schools, churches, hotels, and livery stables. Many of the buildings are in brick, and the shops are supplied with articles equal to those to be seen in the larger centres of population. There are two doctors, two chemists, and one dentist in the town, which has a well kept park and domain, with a bicycle track, and tennis, cricket and football grounds. The post and telegraph office and the courthouse are built in brick. A large amount of business is transacted at the local railway station and the goods sheds. At the census taken on the 31st of March, 1901, Temuka had a population of 1,465; 767 males, and 698 females.2

According to the 2006 Census, Temuka now has a population of 4044: 1950 males, and 2091 females.2

Follow Friday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

  1. “Gaffney, Michael”, The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District], (The Cyclopedia Company Limited, 1903); digitised publication by New Zealand Electronic Text Centre (
  2. “[Temuka]”,  The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District], (The Cyclopedia Company Limited, 1903); digitised publication by New Zealand Electronic Text Centre (
  3. “QuickStats about Temuka”, 2006 Census Data, Statistics New Zealand, ( : accessed 10 Feb 2012).

Excerpts from The Cyclopedia of New Zealand shared under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand Licence.

St Bede’s College Sports, 1928

My grandfather Dominic Gaffaney was a boarder at St Bede’s College, Christchurch, NZ for two years – from 1927 to 1928.  The college is the oldest Roman Catholic Boys’ College in the South Island, founded by Marist priests in 1911, and the only Catholic day and boarding college for boys in the South Island.1

Also attending St Bede’s at the time was his cousin Jim Brosnahan, and his first cousin George Gaffaney.  I love to imagine a bit of family rivalry going on between the three of them, especially when it came to sporting endeavours.

The annual sports of St. Bede’s College, held at the sports grounds, produced the usual keen competition and healthy rivalry, and although there were no outstanding performances the meeting was thoroughly enjoyable.

The senior championship was won by J. Brosnahan, a very promising distance runner and field athlete, G. Gaffaney and D. Gaffaney sharing second place.2

The following events where Dominic was placed:

220yds. Grand Handicap, Open (record, 22 2/5 sec., T.H.Lee, 1924) – First heat: J. Phelan (9yds.) 1, D Gaffaney (scr) 2, Time, 25 sec. Second heat: G. Gaffaney (1yd.) 1, G. Josephs (9yds.) 2, Time, 26 sec. Final: Phelan 1, G. Joseph 2, G. Gaffaney 3. Time, 25 sec.

440yds. Grand Handicap (record 58 4/5 sec. T.H.Lee, 1924) – A. Devonport (10yds.) 1, W. Doyle (20yds.) 2, D. Gaffaney (scr.) 3, Devonport ran splendidly to win very easily. Time 56 4/5 sec.

Mile Senior Championship (record, L. Carmody, 5 min. 1 sec., 1927) – J. Brosnahan 1, D. Gaffaney 2, F. McHugh 3. Time, 5 min. 10 sec.

880yds. Senior Championship (record, 2 min. 13 4/5 sec., J. Payne 1923) – J. Brosnahan 1, D. Gaffaney 2, J. McHugh 3. Time, 2 min, 26 4/5 sec.

440yds. Senior Championship – D. Gaffaney 1, J. Brosnahan 2, G. Gaffaney 3. Time, 59 1/5 sec.
Long Jump, Senior Championship (record, 18ft. 6 ½ in., J. Hendren, 1927) – G. Gaffaney 1, J. Brosnahan 2, D. Gaffaney 3. Distance, 16ft. 2 ½ in.

220yds. Senior Championship (record, 22 3/5 sec., T. H. Lee, 1924) – D. Gaffaney 1, G. Gaffaney 2, F. Foster 3. Time, 25 1/5 sec.

100yds. Senior Championship (record, 10 sec., T. H. Lee, 1924) – G. Gaffaney 1, D. Gaffaney 2, F. Foster 3. Time, 12 2/5 sec.3

In the 1928 rugby season, all three boys made it into the First XV – with George as captain.4

1928 First XV, St Bede's College, Christchurch, NZ

1928 First XV, St Bede's College, Christchurch, NZ

Standing: D. Gaffaney, G. Joseph, K. McMenamin, O. Scully, M. O’Reilly, E. Duncan
Sitting: J. Blackmore, J. Ryan, J. Brosnahan, G. Gaffaney (Capt.), M. Gonley, F. Foster, W. Thiele
In front: G. Duggan, O. O’Sullivan
Absent: W. Quirk (Vice-Capt.), J. Egden, W. Grennell, V. Coughlan, V. Cahill, P. Loughnan.

(St Bede’s is celebrating their centennial this year, postponed from last year due to the earthquakes in Christchurch.)

  1. Wikipedia, “St Bede’s College, Christchurch”, article;,_Christchurch : accessed 07 July 2011.
  2. The Bedean, St Bede’s College (Christchurch: 1928), p 56.
  3. The Bedean, (1928), p 57
  4. The Bedean, (1928)

Competing Cousins ~ Wordless Wednesday

James Brosnahan of Morvern and (Michael) Dominic Gaffaney of Waimate - St Bede's College Athletic Sports 1928, Christchurch, NZ

James Brosnahan of Morven and (Michael) Dominic Gaffaney of Waimate - St Bede's College Athletic Sports 1928, Christchurch, NZ

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

John and Hanorah Brosnahan ~ Tombstone Tuesday

If you have relatives that lived in the Timaru, South Canterbury area, it is well worth taking a look at the Timaru District Council Cemetery Database, which includes the following cemeteries: Arundel, Geraldine, Pleasant Point, Temuka, Paeroa West, and Timaru. They have most, if not all, their burial records online, and many have accompanying gravestone images. Another bonus are their cemetery maps – many of the plots have surnames included, making it so much easier to find the one you’re looking for!

On searching for my John Brosnahan, I found a likely looking plot in Temuka Cemetery1. From his marriage certificate, I knew he was born around 1841, so a death in 1926 at the age of 85 years seemed a pretty good match. And then, there was the fact that a Hanorah Brosnahan was also buried in the same plot, with a corresponding matching age. Bingo!

Gravestone, John & Hanorah Brosnahan, Temuka Cemetery, South Canterbury, NZ

Gravestone, John & Hanorah Brosnahan, Temuka Cemetery, South Canterbury, NZ ~ January 2012

In Loving Memory

John Joseph
Who Died March 2nd 1900
aged 15 Years


Also John
Beloved Husband of
Hanorah Brosnahan
Who Died Aug 24th 1926,
Aged 85 Years
Also His Beloved Wife
Who Died Nov 22nd 1928
Aged 86 Years

Also Leo Brosnahan Beloved Son of
Patrick & Nora Brosnahan
Died June 16th 1917
Aged 17 Years

Annie Kleim

The gravestone gave me lots of leads to follow up. The first thing I did was to try and find John’s death entry on the NZ Birth, Deaths & Marriages site so I could order a printout of his death registration.  (New Zealand death certificates post 1875 are a mine of information, usually including parents’ names, birthplace, spouse, date of marriage, ages of living children, etc.) Except I couldn’t find him in the index, even with trying several spelling variants. And then, after asking for help on the TradeMe genealogy forum, someone suggested looking at a probate file they’d found referenced on the Archives NZ site, Archway.

There was a probate file listed for John Brosnahan, Farmer, Temuka, dated 1926, held at the Archives NZ Christchurch office. As there had been access problems following the earthquakes there, I wasn’t too hopeful of getting a copy of the file, but I contacted the archive staff with my fingers crossed.

Tombstone Tuesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

  1. Timaru District Council, “TDC Cemetery Database”, database, Timaru District Council ( : accessed 2011), database entries for John Brosnahan, Farmer, Temuka (ref 18404, row 233, plot 213, buried 26 Aug 1926) and Hanorah Brosnahan, Temuka (ref 13209, row 233, plot 213, buried 24 Nov 1928).

The Brosnahans (no, not those ones, these ones)

My great great grandmother Margaret Brosnahan (1844 – 1927) arrived in New Zealand at Timaru on December 16, 1862 aboard the Echunga, which had left London on September 10.  Travelling with her was her brother, John.1

John Brosnahan

Caption in family album: John Brosnahan, brother of Mrs Margaret Gaffaney, Belper Farm, Temuka

There are a heap of Brosnahans in early South Canterbury, many (most?) descending from a Hugh Brosnahan and Deborah Butler, from County Kerry, Ireland. Their family settled in the area known as Kerrytown.2   (A descendent, Seán Brosnahan, has published a history of the family, The Kerrytown Brosnahans, which I’d love to find a copy of.)  As far as I know, we’re not related to that lot, but it’s a bit hard to sort the wheat from the chaff with so many Brosnahans knocking around the area. (Er, no offence intended to you other Brosnahans!)

Anyway, I wanted to know what happened to my great great great uncle John.  Part of my reason for following up John’s family was that my grandfather had a cousin, Jim Brosnahan, who was at high school at the same time.  Later, as Fr Jim S.M., he married my grandfather and grandmother – it was the first wedding ceremony he conducted.  But, I couldn’t figure out how he fitted into the family – was he related by blood or marriage?

From information my father had, it appeared John had married a Hanorah O’Driscoll.  I found a likely entry in the online NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages  and so ordered a printout of the marriage registration.

John Brosnahan, 23, Labourer, and Hannah Driscole [sic], 21, Servant, were married in the Catholic church in Christchurch on March 31st, 1865.3  No parents’ information was given – customary for marriages registered in New Zealand before 1880 (very frustrating!).  The witnesses were Matthew Driscole, Labourer, Christchurch, and Mary Brosnahan, Servant, Christchurch.

Searching the BDM indexes for possible children of John and Hanorah proved fruitless – none seem to be listed, even after checking variant spellings.  How could I find them?

  1. South Canterbury GenWeb, “The Echunga Arrives”, transcription (, from Lyttelton Times, December 24, 1862.
  2. Michael Brosnahan,”Family Tree”, ( : accessed 2011).
  3. New Zealand, marriage certificate for John Brosnahan and Hannah Driscole [O’Driscoll],31 Mar 1865, Catholic Church, Christchurch, 1865/7579, NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages.

RootsTech 2012, Salt Lake City, Utah

RootsTech is the conference where family history and technology meet – so lots of stuff for genealogists and geeks alike.

No, I wasn’t able to attend RootsTech in person, but I did get to watch some of the presentations that were streamed live.  In fact, they’re being re-streamed over the next week, so there’s still a chance to check them out.  I loved being able to watch a presentation, and then follow the feedback on Twitter.  Over 90 geneabloggers were there in Salt Lake City, and it’s been fun reading about some of their experiences, either via Twitter or their blog posts.

The list of streamed presentations doesn’t appear to be on the site now, so here are the ones you can view at (currently showing as daily recaps, individual videos to come soon):

Thursday, 2 February
Session Speaker
Keynote: Inventing the Future, as a Community Jay Verkler
Presentation for Intermediate Users: Do I Trust the Cloud? D. Joshua Taylor
Presentation for Intermediate Users: Effective Database Search Tactics Kory Meyerink
Presention for Intermediate Users: Twitter – It’s Not Just “What I Had For Breakfast” Thomas MacEntee
Presentation for Intermediate Users: Eleven Layers of Online Searches Barbara Renick
Friday, 3 February
Session Speaker
Keynote: Exabyte Social Clouds and other Monstrosities Josh Coates
Presentation for Intermediate Users: Publish Your Genealogy Online Laura Prescott
Presentation for Intermediate Developers: Optimizing Your Site for Search Engines Robert Gardner
Presentation for Intermediate Users: Genealogists “Go Mobile” Sandra Crowley
Presentation for Intermediate Users: Google’s Toolbar and Genealogy David Barney
Saturday, 4 February
Session Speaker
Keynote: Making the most of technology to further the family history industry Tim Sullivan
Presentation for Beginner Users: Genealogy Podcasts and Blogs 101 Lisa Louise Cooke
Presentation for Beginner Users: Future of FamilySearch Family Tree Ron Tanner
Presentation for All Users: Privacy in a Collaborative Environment Noah Tutak

You can view the full conference schedule, plus check out any interesting individual sessions and see if they have a syllabus available to download – useful for links and tips, and main topics of the presentation.

I managed to catch most of the presentations and learnt something from each. Most enjoyable? Josh Coates and the zombies Cloud. Most useful? Quite a few, but the one that most interested me was Robert Gardner on how to optimise your genealogy website so that your content is properly indexed by search engines, and therefore found by users.

RootsTech 2013 is scheduled for 21 – 23 March next year.

Attendees reports:

Who the heck are these folks?

Group of random folks in old car

Group of random folks in old car

I’d love to know who these people are.  I think that the boy sitting on the running board is my grandfather, Michael Dominic Gaffaney (known as Dom, born 19101).   And if so, his mother Margaret (O’Rourke)  is probably the one sitting at the back of the back seat of the car.  So, is this taken down south, in South Canterbury, where my grandfather grew up near his father’s family, or is it taken up north, in Napier, where my grandfather’s mother is from?  Are the people with him (if it is indeed my grandfather), Gaffaneys or O’Rourkes?

Here’s another photo:

Another group of random folk

Another group of random folk

Now, it looks to me like the older woman is the same as the older woman in the previous photo.  And the girl is the same as well.  And, there is my (possible) grandfather again, too.

Taking a closer look at the younger boy in the photos, and comparing them to a known photo of my grandfather:

Michael Dominic Gaffaney

Michael Dominic Gaffaney

Boy, sitting on running board

Boy, sitting on running board

Young boy

Young boy



Are these all the same boy?
Yesterday I posted a photo of three children sitting outside Belper House c.1915. Taking a closer look…

Three children at "Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury, NZ

Three children at "Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury, NZ


I think these three children are the same children photographed with the older woman above. And so it definitely places them in South Canterbury. From the Temuka gathering, the names given to this group photo were: Tom Gaffaney, Peggy Barron and Albert Halley [sic].

I wonder if Tom was confused with Dom?

The only Tom Gaffaney that fits is Thomas John Francis Gaffaney, who was born in 1906 to Michael Francis Gaffaney and Julia Coughlan.2)

Peggy Barron is likely to be Margaret Christina Ogsten Barron, born in 1907 to Andrew Barron and Mary Teresa Frances Gaffaney.3)

Albert Halley [sic] is likely to be Daniel Albert Hally, born in 1902 to William Hally and Margaret Gaffaney.4)

They would all be first cousins. But, the “Tom” in the photos looks much younger than “Peggy”, who was born a year later. Other possiblities could be Thomas’s siblings Arthur (born 19085) or George (born 19106).

However, I’m still thinking (hoping?) that the boy is in fact my grandfather, Dom. What do you think?

  1. NZ Dept of Internal Affairs, “Birth Search,” database, Births, Deaths & Marriages Historical Records ( : accessed 2011), entry for Michael Dominic Gaffaney, 1910/25894.
  2. NZ Dept of Internal Affairs, “Birth Search,” database, Births, Deaths & Marriages Historical Records ( : accessed Jan 2012), entry for Thomas John Francis Gaffaney, 1906/2249.
  3. NZ Dept of Internal Affairs, “Death Search,” database, Births, Deaths & Marriages Historical Records ( : accessed 2011), entry for Margaret Christina Ogston Barron, 2006/16023.
  4. NZ Dept of Internal Affairs, “Birth Search,” database, Births, Deaths & Marriages Historical Records ( : accessed Jan 2012), entry for Daniel Albert Hally, 1902/6784.
  5. NZ Dept of Internal Affairs, “Birth Search,” database, Births, Deaths & Marriages Historical Records ( : accessed Jan 2012), entry for Arthur Marcus Gaffaney, 1908/25001.
  6. NZ Dept of Internal Affairs, “Birth Search,” database, Births, Deaths & Marriages Historical Records ( : accessed Jan 2012), entry for George Joseph Gaffaney, 1910/15483.

The old homestead, Temuka, South Canterbury, NZ

"Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury (late 1800s)

"Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury (late 1800s)

This is the original home of Michael Gaffaney and Margaret Brosnahan, and I’ve posted this photo in an earlier post.  I’m not sure when it was taken, but at the recent family gathering in Temuka, the photo was displayed with the following note:

Michael and Margaret Gaffaney with, probably, their five eldest daughters, Susan, Annie, Margaret, Ellen, Kate and their eldest son, Thomas.

Their son Thomas died in 1900 at the age of 28, and if it is indeed him on the horse, he looks considerably younger, so I’m guessing this photo is at least a decade earlier than that.  (Where is Jayne Shrimpton when you need her??)

"Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury, NZ, c.1915

"Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury, NZ, c.1915

I have a copy of this photo, but was never sure who the children were, or when it was taken.  At the Temuka gathering, it was displayed with the following caption:

Belpher [sic] House approx 1915-16
Tom Gaffaney, Peggy Barron, Albert Halley


"Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury, NZ, 1989

"Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury, NZ, 1989

This is a photo my father took in 1989, possibly just before the house left family ownership.

"Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury, NZ, January 2012

"Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury, NZ, January 2012

This is what the house looks like today – a bit run down and unloved. (And yes, I should have moved a bit closer, so that darn post was not in the way.)  Apparently many of the character features of the house are long gone, and it’s in need of serious repair.  That didn’t stop me asking my cousin to let me know if it ever goes up for sale!

Temuka, South Canterbury, NZ ~ Those Places Thursday


I finally got to visit this very special place last month.

My grandfather’s cousin was celebrating 50 years of life as a nun, having a jubilee Mass and lunch afterwards, with many family members invited.  I was pretty keen to attend, despite having to travel halfway round the world, and when I found out it was to be held in Temuka, I started booking my flights immediately.

Near Temuka, in Arowhenua,  is where my great great grandfather, Michael Gaffaney,  bought his first piece of land in New Zealand, after immigrating from England in 1858.  And it’s where he and his wife, Margaret Brosnahan, brought up their 14 children.  Their original house still stands, though it’s no longer owned by family.  The farm, however, is still in family hands, run with pride and passion by my cousin (second, once removed), who gave us a tour with marvellous commentary.  Who knew farming was so scientific nowadays?  (Not this townie, at any rate.)

Belper Farm, Arowhenua, near Temuka, South Canterbury, NZ

Belper Farm, Arowhenua, near Temuka, South Canterbury, NZ

The celebration was wonderful, and a great chance to meet many relatives for the first time.   Mass was celebrated at St Joseph’s church, which was built in 1879 at the instigation of Father Louis Fauvel, a French priest.  He baptised my great grandfather, Peter Dominic Gaffaney, on 16th August 1879,  before the new building was completed.  My great great grandmother, Margaret, donated  two of the many beautiful stained glass windows in the church. (The cost was apparently equivalent to a year’s wages, so the farm must have been doing pretty good!)

Blessed Virgin Mary & St Gabriel, windows donated by Mrs M Gaffney, St Joseph's church, Temuka, South Canterbury, NZ

Blessed Virgin Mary & St Gabriel, windows donated by Mrs M Gaffney, St Joseph's church, Temuka, South Canterbury, NZ

I can’t wait to visit again!

Those Places Thursday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

St Joseph’s church, Temuka, South Canterbury, NZ ~ Wordless Wednesday

St Joseph's church, Temuka, South Canterbury, NZ ~ January 2012

St Joseph's church, Temuka, South Canterbury, NZ ~ January 2012

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.