Volume 4

Thomas Hammond

Toss Hammond

My father Thomas Hammond was born in the village of Pucklechurch, Gloucestershire, on 22 October 1838. He attended the small village school conducted by Mr Penton Archer, and for religious instruction the Anglican Church Mr Coney, the Vicar. When only a small boy he received a reward for proficiency in Biblical Knowledge, a book, 'History of the Jews' from Miss Coney. By a strange coincidence when I was a small boy I received from my teacher Mr Herbert Cooper a prize for scriptural knowledge. This was a book 'Judas Maccabeus' a history of the Jews. I attended the Baptist Sunday School.

As a youth, my father went to Bristol to learn the trade of a builder, and attended evening classes in hopes perhaps of becoming an architect. Here he came under the notice of Mr Handel [Cossham], Member of Parliament, who was very helpful in advice to the would be builder.

When his apprenticeship ended he left England and spent about three years in the United States where he followed the carpentry trade. Here he found work in the state of Georgia. He often used to tell me of his life in the Southern States. It was then the days of slavery and the builder would often have working among free men, men who were slaves, that he had bought or reared from childhood. Among those working side by side with my father was a good-looking young man, of olive complexion, one that would pass for a Spaniard or Italian, with but little Negro blood. Yet he was a slave, had been born in slavery, as had his parents, and grandparents before him. He had received a good education, and was a good tradesman. He often chatted with my father.

'Do you think it right that I should be a slave?' he asked. 'I am as well educated as the majority of free men with whom I work. I have a good master.. He saw that I was well brought up, and had a good schooling until I was put to my trade. He has always treated me as a free man, but what if he should happen to die tomorrow. His estate would be put up for sale, and among his goods and chattels I would be sold. The men who bought me might be much different from my present boss - treat me like a dog. If I raised my voice in protest, he would knock me down. If I picked up a stick in defence he could pull out his revolver and shoot me dead - quite within the law. However, this state of affairs will not go on for ever. There is a big change coming very soon and I know on which side I will be.'

And the change did come. Father often spoke of the unpleasant climate in the southern states, the prevalence of yellow fever at times, the habits and ways of the Negro population, how the small Negro children would come round and watch him at his mid-day lunch. He would often have a few peanuts with [ ] child would call out to another saying 'Come and see the buckra man eating ground nuts for his dinner.'

One day father saw in a big stagnant pool the swollen up carcase of a big pig sweltering in the tropic heat. A number of other pigs were tearing out the entrails of their defunct mate to satisfy their hunger. Dad was so disgusted with this sight that from that day till the day he died he never ate a piece of pork, nor did he ever have it in the house in my lifetime.

Events were moving rapidly - there was trouble between the Northern and Southern States, likely to break out into open warfare at any time. Dad left the South and made his way to New York where he joined a military force known as the British Volunteers to aid the North in their [war] with the South, At a parade the Colonel's wife presented each member of the 'British Volunteers' regiment with a testament bearing the words 'To the defenders of their Country' under a picture of the star spangled banner. (I still have in my possession the copy presented to my father).

'Man proposes but God disposes'. Dad did not see a shot fired. He was taken ill with an attack of rheumatic fever. Doctors failed to give any relief and he suffered constant agony. At length his great friend Howard [Da-ley] suggested that he give a Hydropathic Institution a trial. This he did. He was placed in a hot vapour bath for some time, then wrapped in a wet sheet and covered with hot blankets. The first treatment gave him great relief and in time he was discharged, cured but with weakened heart. He returned to England, back to Pucklechurch and in 1862 married my mother Mary Ann Sheppard. Father was 24 years of age, Mother his senior by nearly 5 years, but it was a happy marriage. Mother's father, Harry Sheppard, was steward on the estate of the Earl of Radnor, the Forest of Dean - supervising the working of the estate. Mother had travelled round various parts in the south of England and spent some time in Ireland with Sir Richard and Lady England - as a travelling companion. We still have some of the books that they gave to mother.

In November 1862 mother and father said good-bye to England and sailed in the ship Gertrude from the East India Docks to New Zealand. With them came my mother's brother George Sheppard and his wife Emily, and another brother Bill Sheppard. There were on board 365 passengers. Capt. Congden was the Skipper. Among the passengers were the Blomfield family Sam Blomfield, a lad Charles Blomfield (later well known artist), R. N. Smith, T. L.. Murray in later years Manager Bank of N.Z., Cooper, father of Judge Cooper, Geo [ ] [Pan-], E.. M.. Smith. During the passage George Sheppard's wife gave birth to a child, both died and were buried at sea. In February 1863 they arrived in Auckland Harbour. They soon found lodgings. My father leased a section of land in Hepburn St on which he built a cottage, which he called 'Kingswood Cottage'. In Auckland father obtained work as a builder. George Sheppard now a widower found employment as painter [and] [lead] [light] work[er]. In 1864 my sister Mary was born.

A great depression set in many of the English regiments had been disbanded, and no work in the building trade was to be had in Auckland. Things were booming on the west coast of the South Island and thither my father went and found work with high remuneration at Greymouth. There he met Mr John Gleeson, and their friendship lasted for many years. It was during his sojourn there that the murderers Levy, Sullivan, Burgess were at large. While father was in the South Island mother remained in Auckland where her brothers were still living.

In 1867 the Thames Goldfield opened and this brought great relief and employment to many Aucklanders. Father made his way from Greymouth, returned to Auckland and in 1868 brought mother and the [wee] daughter Polly to Thames. He leased a small section of land near the sea front in what was then known as Eyre St., now Queen Street about 3 sections north of where Richmond St. came down to the sea.

In those days a small creek ran along the northern side of Richmond St. from the foothills. This was the Noke-noke Creek. Just north of the mouth of this creek was a small section that remained not built on for many years. Some said it was a Tapu ground. Immediately north of this vacant section was section with 33ft frontage and on this was the residence of the well-known solicitor J.. E. McDonald afterwards Judge McDonald, and partner with J.. E.. Miller. Then came another 33' section on which lived Mr. Heron a contractor who had the building of the Ponui Light house. Next to Heron's was the section on which father built the house that was to be our first home at Thames. It was only a small cottage of 4 rooms with [sk------] at rear and verandah in front.

In front of our home the flat land stretched seaward for about 6 or more feet, just as nature had left it. There was no domestic water supply. All the water used in cooking, washing etc. had to be caught in a tank or large barrel, when rain poured on the house roof. On washing day this water was too precious so the women folk would trudge along the beach road to the Karaka Creek with buckets for a supply. Well water was too brackish, but was used for fire prevention.

In January and February when peaches were ripe, Maoris came and pitched their tents on the flat land between our front gate and the sea shore. Boats and canoes were hauled up on the beach. In the soft soil in front of our home the Maori women made their haangi (sic) or earth oven for cooking their food. Sometimes they used a three legged gypsy pot a ['go ashore']. They brought bundles of flax blades from which they fashioned kits to hold peaches. The men folk hawked round the town kits of peaches at 1/- per kit.

Where all this happened cars can now be seen dashing daily over a tar sealed road. No signs now appear of the Noke Noke Creek

There was plenty of work then for builders as shops dwelling houses were fast taking the place of tents. Batteries were being built, bridges made. Houses were being taken to pieces in Auckland and reconstructed at Thames.

On 24th April 1869, now nearly 95 years ago, I was born in that small cottage in Eyre St., two doors from the McDonalds home, and for some years the Maoris continued to camp on the open land in front of our home. In fact when I just learned to toddle my mother missed me and found me seated on a Maori woman's knee. She was eating fish and every now and then would take from her mouth some well chewed fish, and put it into my open mouth. I was being fed like a young sparrow. Perhaps that is how I got a love for the Maori in my nature. An Irish woman, Mrs.. Murtagh, assisted at my birth, so I am told.
v We continued living in this Eyre St. cottage until 1872 when we changed our house of abode to a place in Willoughby St. nearly opposite the Roman Catholic Church. At the corner of Willoughby St. and Mackay St, the north east corner was the blacksmith's shop of John West, and next to the smithy was our new home known as Doctor Sam's House because it had been the residence of Dr. Sam. Eastward of us lived T. Godkin a Gloucestershire man, and next to him lived Sam Blomfield's family, passengers in the ship Gertrude. While we were in this house a great fire took place in Shortland, when 17 shops hotels and dwelling houses went up in smoke. We did not remain long in Sam's house, but rented a house in Mackay Street between Willoughby and Richmond Streets East. Beside us lived Mr.. Dodd, solicitor, with his two small sons Arthur and Horace. Others in the street were Philp, John Fathers, old Mrs Hickey, West.

Apparently father was restless, for in 1874 he had bought a cottage and section in Pollen St. two sections north of the present Post Office. Among works my father had been engaged in previous to our coming to Pollen Street was the building of the Ponui Light House. Mr.. Heron, our Eyre St. neighbour was the contractor, and with him was my father, Mr. Joe Flatt, Mr.. Jack Morton, and while the lighthouse was being constructed the builders camped on Chamberlains Island Ponui, and came home about once a fortnight in an open sailing boat my father had built and named The Polly. The head of the tiller of this boat was in the shape of an octagon, and my father had let in fourpenny silver pieces as ornament. One morning he found that someone had sawn off the head.

Father's mate Joseph Flatt was a son of Flatt who was brought out by Marsden the missionary to teach the Maoris a trade. Jack Morton was a Cumberland man a fairly good wrestler.

Settled at Pollen St. father was able to get plenty of work without going far from home and by now there were three children in our family. My sister about 10 years of age, myself about 5, and my brother Harry Wilfred about 4 years younger. My brother Fred was called Wilfred after Sir Wilfred Lawson a great leader in the Temperance Lodges. My father had become a keen member of a Temperance organisation known as the Independent Order of Good Templars I.O.G.T. - letters which their opponents declared meant 'I often get tight'. Dad took a great interest in the Temperance movement and for years was head of the Thames Lodge, a position they called 'Worthy Chief Master' - among other members were W. J. Speight who for a time was a member of the House of Representatives, John Nodder, John [Pill-] Jones, Nicholls, Whitehouse - Bagnall. They had a big membership, but there were many hotels at Thames - well over eighty - a couple of breweries - For the young people there was the Juvenile Temperance Lodge, the Band of Hope, The Rechabite Lodge and later the Blue Ribbon Army.

When I was about 10 years of age, father strained his already weak heart. He was examined by a heart specialist, Dr. [----] of Auckland, who declared that he would not last more than two years. He was to do no manual work whatever, must not smoke, must not indulge in intoxicating drink, abstain from tea and coffee. He could drink cocoa - eat brown bread, apples, and look after health generally. This was hard for a man with a young family - and himself only 42 years of age. Fortunately mother from time to time received remittances from England. Her aunt had in her will left property to mother and two other nieces, the interest from which would have been of some use, but the lawyer had fixed it that others participated. Hence the amount though acceptable did not amount to much. About this time, however, several public works were being carried out at Thames. A railway bridge was being constructed over the Kauaeranga Stream, and an Orphanage was being built, some distance up the Kauaeranga Valley. My father was appointed clerk of works, supervising, and the remuneration he received together with odd jobs drawing plans and specifications for houses made it possible for him to carry on. He lasted out the two years and another 15 years, and could have lasted longer. When Twentyman, a builder, died father took over the management of the business until the two sons Bob and Bill Twentyman were able to carry it on. Dad now had more work as an architect, which was more remunerative and less of a physical strain. In 1885 he acted as clerk of works in the removal of Grahamstown Wesleyan Methodist Church from Cochrane St. to the corner of Pollen and Mary St.

v When the Prohibition Party grew strong at Thames, the Licensing Committee were all members of the Prohibition Party and my father was their chief. On one occasion Nathan's were applying for a transfer of a licence from Shortland Hotel to Grahamstown where Ehrenfried had the majority of hotels. Ehrenfried objected to the transfer. The matters came before the Licensing Committee. My father was the only member of the committee who voted for the transfer. The other members voted against it. Some years after this [Sim] Moses, traveller for Nathan, told me that the committee had received a bribe from Ehrenfried to oppose the transfer and that my father was the only one who would not accept the bribe.

Before the opening of the Thames Goldfield there was a great depression in Auckland when the Imperial troops were recalled and a reward was offered for the discovery of a goldfield in the vicinity of Auckland. Gold was supposed to exist in the Thames district, but the Maoris strongly objected to the coming of prospectors. James Mackay used his endeavours for a considerable time before he managed to have Thames thrown open for mining.
v When great quantities of gold were being won from Thames goldfield, there was a great desire to have Ohinemuri included in the goldfield, but the Maoris of that district from the Hikutaia Stream southward absolutely refused to throw up their land for mining. Most of these Maoris had joined the King movement and had pledged themselves neither to sell, nor lease their lands to the pakeha. Many were Hau Haus. Among the most determined of these were Maka Te Moananui, Te Hira, Taraia, Tukukino and Mere [Kuru]. Mackay adopted a cunning scheme to overcome the opposition. He proceeded to advance big sums of money to the Ohinemuri Maoris, so that they might have good displays at their tangis. At length the Maoris found themselves faced with a debt of £20,000 and Mackay demanded instant payment, threatening that if the amount was not paid the Government would confiscate all Ohinemuri in settlement of the debt. The Maoris offered all that land from Waiomu to Waikawau, 30,000 acres, in payment but Mackay was adamant. At last Maka Te Moananui and Te Hira gave way and the others followed and Ohinemuri was thrown open for mining. Every miner had to pay £1 miners right and every kauri tree cut down had to be paid for at the rate of £1.5.0. These sums of money would go to liquidate the £20,000 debt. Te Moananui built a fine home near Totara Point Thames, and Te Hira had a modern house built at Ohinemuri. Many Maoris declared that Te Moananui and Te Hira had received £1,000 each from the Government as a bribe to influence the others.

Mr [James] Lavery, Mr. Jas Farrell and my father built the house for Te Hira in what was known as Te Moananui's Settlement, not far from Paeroa. This would be about 1877, when I would be nearly 8 years of age. During the school holidays, in the summer my father took me to Ohinemuri where I spent a holiday while the building of Te Hira's house went on. It would be about the year 1877 when we made our journey up the Waihou River in a small side paddle steamer. The whole river past Turua on the western side was a dense forest of Kaihikatea trees. Between this forest and the river was an endless line of flax and toe-toe. The water seemed to be as clear as glass. Before we reached Paeroa, the small steamer came to a halt by the high river bank. Here we stepped ashore and stood by our luggage. Lavery went up the river, the Ohinemuri for some distance and returned in a canoe. Into this our luggage was thrown, and father, Farrell and I took our seats in the canoe. The men folk took up the paddles and we were soon nearing Te Moananui's settlement.

At length we came to a halt. The canoe was made fast and we stepped ashore. Near the bank were two upright poles with small roof at top, under which hung a church bell. Lavery gave a few tugs at the bell rope to announce our arrival, and Maoris soon appeared on the scene. It was evening and the Maoris were about to partake of their [ ] meal. They seated themselves around a large tin dish in which was a good quantity of boiled wheat. This seemed to be the main item of fare. The house for Te Hira was under construction and this we made our head quarters. A tent thrown over shavings on the floor was the bedding. The Maoris here were Hau Haus, and held an evening service - no dancing around a pole and shouting Hau hau hau however.
v I did not spend more than a week here - so have no good idea of what the surrounding country looked like. My father made great friends with the Maoris, the Kemara family, Mary [Kuura] and others, and often afterwards when these Maoris paid a visit to Thames [and] call at our home to see my father 'Tommy' as they called him.

One day while we were at the settlement an old Maori died, and as the hut in which he died was 'tapu' it was burned. Next morning when my father was getting breakfast ready he got some hot embers from the burning hut to start his morning fire. The Maoris noticed him and were greatly concerned, made him light another fire as the former was now tapu and might cause him untold misfortune.

One day a Maori came to the scene of building and asked my father to lend him the kuti-kuti - Father thought he meant a pair of scissors, but no, the Maori pointed to a chisel. This was lent and about 15 minutes later the Maori returned the chisel. It had blood on the blade. 'Did you cut yourself?' Asked Dad. 'Oh no,' said the Maori. 'That the [heihei]'. Then he explained the hen has been scratching up his watermelon patch, so he had chopped off the tips of the fowl's toes to prevent further scratching.

A painting of Mere [Kuura] may be seen in Lindauer's collection. She was a noble old lady, of great courage, and influence among her people. A week ago 9th Jan 1964 I stood near the spot where I had seen those old people 86 years ago. The place had of course changed out of recognition - well laid out paddocks, modern houses, a few of the descendants of the Te Moananui family were still there. Small Maori urchins scrambled round the car as I called to a Maori woman. The old order has changed.

As I grew up I saw a great deal of my father. He did not go out at night except to attend Temperance Lodge Meetings - and to attend Church - on a Sunday. He was always there to superintend my doing of school home work and I think I learned as much from him as I did from my school teachers. He was a great reader, and kept well versed in world affairs. If he came across a word that he thought I should know he would ask the meaning. If I did not know he would tell me to get the dictionary and look it up. If a place were mentioned in what he was reading, I was asked what I knew about it. Get your atlas. I had to locate the place, and so on, always questioning me and seeing that I found out the answers. He subscribed to the medical journal, 'The Lancet', and taught himself all he could about the heart and other vital organs. He had no yellow-backed novels in the house, and often criticised his friend Mr. Nodder, a bookseller, for selling to children cheap literature. He would never have earned a living as a bookseller.

Father subscribed to the 'Leisure Hour' and 'Sunday at Home', monthly magazines, and had them bound at end of year. He had good eyesight and a perfect set of teeth, the heart seemed to be the only weak organ. He was musical to a degree - could play on German Concertina, Flute, and small organ. He never travelled far from home. Except for his journey to Greymouth, I do not think he ever went further than Auckland. He was very keen on astronomy - and his great ambition was to be able to buy a good telescope.

During his later years he was a member of the Kauaeranga School Committee of which he was Chairman. He belonged to no church, but was a regular attendee of the 'Church of Christ', when E. [H.] Taylor was pastor. He never had a pack of cards in the house but at times had games of draughts with me.

When father first came to Thames there was no road along the Thames Coast beyond Tararu. At that time there was a good peach grove on the Puru flat and he and my uncle George Sheppard decided to make an excursion for peaches. They had to walk along the sea shore all the way to Puru when the tide was out. The entrance to Puru Flat was palisaded - some of the palisading posts being carved. As they were about to make their way through the gateway, a Maori gun in hand came up and ordered them back. My uncle proffered the Maori a plug of tobacco, which he willingly accepted, and invited the two to enter and get as many peaches as they liked. They soon filled their bags and made their return home, fairly wet with perspiration and peach juice.

In March 1880 I went with a party of school boys to Puru. The road had been formed only the year before. Puru was uninhabited, but there were many peaches, small lemon peaches, a late variety, and from every Karaka tree there was a grape vine, and many ripe black grapes. But there was no sign of a Maori carving.

Years afterwards I was talking to a member of the Te Moananui family and asked him what had become of the carvings. He said that at a Land Court Meeting Haora [Tararanui] and Paraka were adjudged owners of the Puru, so the Moananui family pulled up the carved posts, and other property they had formerly claimed as theirs made a fire and burned them.

By 1926 my father had ceased to take a great interest in Temperance Lodge matters, leaving that business to younger members. One night two young men members of the Lodge came to our home in Pollen Street and informed my father that they had to audit the books of the Lodge, but that Nodder who was Sec. and Treasurer refused to let them have the Lodge Keys and so get access to the books. My father advised them to remove the lock and gain access to the Lodge Room and said that he would accompany them. Mother tried to dissuade him, knowing that excitement was what he should avoid. However, he went. Nodder was on the scene with a policeman, and my father did not spare Nodder in saying what he thought of him.

He returned home, pale and in a very exhausted state. He said to mother 'I am afraid I have reached the end. I will see a doctor in the morning to avoid a post mortem.'

Next morning he visited Dr. Callan, who informed him that he would not live a fortnight. He died within the two weeks. He would, with due care, have lasted many years.


Thames Star 30 May 1895:
Widespread regret was expressed in town this afternoon when the sad news became known that Mr Thomas Hammond had passed away to that bourne from whence no traveller returns. The deceased had been a sufferer from heart disease for some years past, but was able to follow his avocation as an architect until a few days ago, when he became so bad that he was confined to his room. He was attended by Drs Callan and Payne, who did everything possible for the sufferer, but without avail, and he passed peacefully away about 2.30 o'clock this afternoon. Mr Hammond had been a resident of the Thames for upwards of 25 years, and was one of our most esteemed and respected citizens. He has been a total abstainer from boyhood, and was especially well-known for the active interest he has always displayed in the Temperence cause. At the time of his death he was a member of the Thames Licensing Committee, A Past Chief Templar in the Northern Pioneer Lodge, I.O.G.T., and a member of the Kauaeranga School Committee. He was a gentleman of sterling integrity and genial temperament, while his many kindly and unostenatious acts of benevolence will long be remembered by many. Universal regret is expressed at his death, and his widow and grown up family - two sons and a daughter - will have the sympathy of all classes of the community in their sad bereavement.

Thames Star 11 July 1895:
ADAMS _ HAMMOND On the 15th May, at the residence of the bride's parents, Pollen Street, Thames. William John, second son of the late William Adams, to Mary, daughter of late Thomas Hammond, both of Thames.

Thames Star 6 August 1895
ANNUAL MEETING OF THAMES BRANCH. ..More recently we have suffered an irreparable loss by the death of Mr Thomas Hammond, a member of the Licensing Bench, and the Treasurer of our League. He will be sorely missed in the town generally, and especially by the Temperance party, whom he faithfully served for many years, and by whom he was admired and trusted for his good judgement and strict integrity. ... The death of Mr Thomas Hammond created a vacancy on the Licensing Committee, and the Government, very unfairly in our judgement, filled it up by appointing a supporter of the liquor traffic. In any future election, it will be desirable to run more than a bare majority of candidates to prevent a recurrence of the present unsatisfactory position of affairs. In closing this brief account of the year's work, we would earnestly urge upon our members to put forth every effort to maintain ground already won, and to assist by vote, and advice, and personel influence the national struggle for the suppression of the iniquious traffic in strong drink.

Thames Star 28 July 1914:
We regret to record the death at the residence of her son-in-law, Mr W.J. Adams, Tararu Road, of an old and respected resident of Thames, Mrs Mary Ann Hammond, relic of the late Thomas Hammond. Deceased, who had attained the ripe old age of 81 years, was the mother of Mr W. Hammond, the popular head teacher of the Parawai School, and formerly of Baille St. School. The funeral takes place tomorrow, leaving the residence of her daughter, for Shortland Cemetery.


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