"Bennett family - neighbours at the Valley"
Pleasant Valley, near Geraldine, South Canterbury, N.Z

Pleasant Valley, March 10th 2013. Jersey dairy cows. Photo taken by Winsome. Dairy farming is taking over from sheep farming in South Canterbury.  Early in the morning looking out over Pleasant Valley, near Geraldine. Sunday 10th March 2013. Photo taken by Winsome.

An earlier settler - sawyer and later a carrier

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District] 1903 page 885
Bennett, William, Sheepfarmer, “Fairfield,” Woodbury. Mr. Bennett was born in Cheshire, England, in 1838, and came to New Zealand, in 1859, by the ship “North Star,” which was afterwards wrecked at Invercargill. He went to Arowhenua shortly afterwards, and worked there for several years. About 1869 he bought a team of bullocks, and was for some years engaged in contract work, and in carting wool from the Mackenzie Country. Mr. Bennett was afterwards farming at Pleasant Valley for twenty-eight years. In 1897 he disposed of his property to his eldest son, and bought his present farm of 203 acres, on which he conducts general farming. He married Miss Foley, who, accompanied by her two brothers and sisters [sic. one sister and one sister-in-law], arrived in New Zealand in 1858 [sic 1859] by the ship “Zealandia.” Of a family of eleven children, seven sons and two daughters are alive.

The problem with the The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, the truth was garnished and those that are published during the lifetime of the subject, whether written by the subject or not, are influenced by the subject's desire to be presented in the best possible light. So the positive is enhanced and the negative omitted. Os. Bennett, his grandson, wrote in 'A Canterbury Tale' that 'Wm. Bennett ran away from home, (in Cheshire, England) next day he left his country (as a cabin boy), permanently. For some years was an able seaman. He eventually reached Lyttelton, whence he saw his old ship with the mate striding on deck. That night, with another man, he escaped by crawling through the marine mud like his prehistoric ancestors. The date was 1858.' He is reputed to have arrived in the North Star. There is no record of this ship in Lyttelton that year, though a wrong name might have been selected to thwart police curiosity.

William Bennett came down to South Canterbury in the late 1850s and purchased half-an-acre of land at Arowhenua, part of Town Section 10 in Georgetown. He first worked in the Arowhenua Bush and then bought a team of bullocks and set himself up as a contract carter. On 6 December 1861 he married Mary Foley (a minor) at St. Mary's Church, Timaru. The bridegroom was a bushman. The witnesses were William Warne and Margaret Patterson. The minister was Rev. George Foster, the first vicar of the church which had been consecrated seven months earlier. By 1863 he was living in Pleasant Valley, his eldest daughter was baptised in St Anne's Church on the 30th August 1863. Mrs Mary Bennett ran a boarding house for single saw-millers, and when the local school was destroyed in the 1868 flood, she taught the local children in her home for a number of years. The school hours were 9 am until lunch time. At this stage William Bennett was away a lot, carting wool from the Mackenzie Country to Timaru. He also carted a lot of timber out of Pleasant Valley to Temuka and Timaru. Some time in the late 1860s he purchased 50 acres of land at Pleasant Valley (part of Rural Section 3607) (Crown Grant made on 9 May 1964 to William Campion. Twelve years later Wm. Bennett bought half of it from Campion and within a year the other half from William Grace). In the 1882 List of Freeholders of N.Z., William Bennett, contractor of Pleasant Valley, owned 90 acres valued at £485. William Bennett sold this land in 1897 to his eldest son and he purchased 203 acres over the hill in Woodbury. He named his new farm "Fairfield". Most of the farm work on this property was done by his three younger sons. William and Mary Bennett retired to North St, Timaru, calling their house "Fairfield Villa". After his wife's death in 1914 he moved to Christchurch, where he died in 1923. William Bennett was a member of the Pleasant Valley School Committee.


A serious bunch, photo probably taken on a Sunday as they are dressed to go to church. This photo of Mrs Mary Bennett and children would have been taken about 1875/76. Another family photo (opens in new window). Mother's made their own clothes with whatever material that was around. A child's dress might have been made from an old suit and pyjamas and knickerbockers were patched and repatched.

Catherine is the girl.
Stephen b. in 1875 is probably on the lap wearing a home made frock with colourful binding.
Jonathan "Tom" b. 1873 is probably standing in front. It was not unusual for boys to be dressed in dresses.
Herbert b. in 1869 is probably on the left hanging on to his hat.
Edward b. 1867 dressed in winter clothes with a scarf is probably on the far right.
William Francis Bennett is probably holding a hat but it is out of sight. William left home in 1880 at the age of 16.
Photo courtesy of Winsome. It was in the Guilford photo collection and written on the back - "Bennett family - neighbours at the Valley".

Timaru Herald, 1 March 1881, Page 3
Pleasant Valley School. A meeting of this Committee was held on Feb. 26th, at the schoolroom. Present: Messrs Wm Guilford (Chairman), J. Oregon, William Bennett, D. Gregon, A. Lysaght, and George Gale.

Joseph Bennett b. 1810, a gardener, wife, Margaret, and eight children with William being the oldest, arrived at Lyttelton, N. Z. the Cressy in 1850 moved to Kaiapoi where he was employed on various improvement works for the settlement. He died 24 Nov. 1858, drowned while bathing in the river at Kaiapoi. Their son William was a pit sawyer in the Church Bush near Kaiapoi. Another son Steven was a fellmongery at Askeaton until 1880 when he was taken on by the Kaiapoi Woollen Mills. He died in 1935.

Mary BENNETT nee FOLEY

Mary Foley m. William Bennett (1838 -1923) in 1861 station hand, a contract carter, farmed at Pleasant Valley, and by 1900 was living at Kaiapoi.
Mary Foley arrived in Lyttelton on the Zealandia on 14 Nov. 1859 at age 17 along with her sister Kate, age 15, single girls, domestic servants and John Foley, age 26, plasterer & bricklayer, Elizabeth Ann Foley, 26 and Thomas Foley 11, all from Middlesex. She was a sister to John Foley.

Mary was buried in the Geraldine Cemetery  aged 74
Occupation Wife: Of William
Date of Interment Saturday, 31 October 1914
Section General Block A Plot 499 Row 414
William Bennett died 23rd Jan. 1923, aged 84
Frederick Bennett died 5 Nov. 1899 age 22
Section General Block A Plot 500 Row 414

William BENNETT

Born - 1838 in Cheshire, England, eldest son of Joseph and Margaret Bennett
Married - 6 December 1861 at St Marys Anglican Church, Timaru to Mary FOLEY
DIED - 23 January 1923 aged 84 at Christchurch
Buried - Geraldine Cemetery 
Family:
- Catherine Annie b. 3/12/1862 - 29/6/1950
m - 9/2/1880 to Henry Faber BROWN
- William Francis b. May 1864 - 1/3/1949
m - 1897 to Rose Maria HARROW
- Edward b. 1867 - baptised with John Foley, William & Mary Bennett as the sponsors and the clergyman was L. L. Brown
- Herbert b. 19/3/1869 -
- Thomas b. 1871 - 1872 a few months old
- Jonathan "Tom" b. 1873 - 15/9/1922
m - 1898 to Alice Rose WOODING
- Stephen b. 1875 - 18/1/1953 (wounded at the Somme)
- Frederick b. 1877 - 5/11/1899
- Harold b. 16/1/1879 - 22/2/1936 Paeroa, Thames. (Boer War veteran)
- Mary Elizabeth b. 1880 - 16.4.1947 m. - 1909 to William DRAKE
- Henry Foley b. 1883 - 28/3/1918 Died Wanganui
m. 1911 to Margaret Edith Olive "Pearl" BATES
Boer War veteran

Bennett, Stephen
Serial No. 23/2156
First Known Rank: Rifleman
Occupation before Enlistment: Farmer
NOK: Mrs Drake (sister). Truro, North Street, Timaru
New Zealand Rifle Brigade
5th Reinforcements 1st Battalion, E Company
Embarkation Date: 1 April 1916

Reg No: 9247
Henry Bennett
Unit: South Island Regiment - F Squadron
Rank: Lance-corporal
Contingent: Tenth
Ship: Norfolk 19 April 1902
Occupation: farmer
County/City: Levels
Address: Pleasant Valley Geraldine
Next of Kin: Bennett Mr William
Relationship to Soldier: father
Reg No: 623
Surname: H. Bennett
Unit: no 5 company
Rank: Private
Contingent: Third
Ship: Knight Tempar 17 February 1900
Occupation: labourer
County/City: Geraldine
Address: Four Peaks
Next of Kin: Bennett Mr W
Next of Kin Address: Geraldine
Relationship to Soldier: father

Catherine Bennett

She had strong ties to the area for 87 years and saw a lot of changes - automobiles, planes, electricity, telephone. Her husband Henry was Rev. Laurence Lawson Brown's son and he married them at St Anne's Church, Pleasant Valley. She must have loved St. Anne's. She would have gone to church there, taught school there, was a pupil teacher at Pleasant Valley School, was married there and was buried in the peaceful church yard cemetery in the Brown plot beside her husband. Her father in law was the minister there at St. Anne's. In 1876 they were living at Waihi Bush Part section 7427. She did live in a large house in Timaru.

Timaru Herald 26th Feb., 1880 Marriage
BROWN - BENNETT. On the 9th February, 1880, at St. Anne's Church, Pleasant Valley, by the Rev. L.L. Brown, B.A., Henry Faber Brown, to Catherine Annie Bennett. 


Catherine Annie Brown nee Bennett

James Lawson Brown

   
The Brown family farmed in the Te Moana area, but were residing in Wai-iti Road before the First World War. Photo taken at James. L. Brown's house in Oxford St, Timaru

The 2nd photo - 4 generations - James Lawson Brown to the left with his mother Catherine Brown and son James Faber Brown standing to the right, 1945 photos, Timaru. James Lawson Brown was Henry and Catherine's 2nd son. James (Reg. No. 9/1391 1st NZEF) was awarded the Military Cross for acts of gallantry in the field during the attack on Le Quesnoy on 4 Nov. 1918. On reaching the objective he found that the enemy was holding the farms on the road in great strength. With several men he worked behind the houses and rushed three machine guns in succession. He lived at Priests Corner, Timaru. He was born at Geraldine 24 July 1890. His record is available on Archway. James L. Brown died 2 May 1971. He was buried at the Waimari Cemetery Christchurch.

Dr. Francis Oswald Bennett - His books illustrates his special love for Canterbury.

Rank: Private
Serial No. 74420
Occupation before Enlistment: Medical student
Embarkation Date: 1 August 1918
42nd Reinforcements New Zealand Medical Corps
NOK: W.F. Bennett (father), Fairview, Timaru

A Canterbury Tale, the Autobiography of Dr. Francis Bennett  Oxford University Press, Jan 1, 1980  249pg (Available at the Timaru District Library 92 Z Ben)
This doctor was born 19 Feb. 1898, and died in 1976, in Christchurch, NZ. He describes the hard life of his parents, and pioneer grandparents, besides his own varied and very interesting one. It was published by Oxford University Press in 1980. His grandfather at the age of 14 he ran away to sea, and in 1861 married MARY FOLEY in NZ. They had seven children, including the author's father WILLIAM BENNETT born 1864. In 1880, when he was 16, this WILLIAM BENNETT left his crowded home in Pleasant Valley, working a variety of jobs, eventually buying his own farm. In 1897 he married ROSE HARROW, (born 1864 in London) daughter of JAMES HARROW ( born 1841). Despite their hard life, three of their four sons, & seven of their nine grandchildren got University degrees or college diplomas. Their eldest son, the author, was born in 1898, joined the New Zealand Army arriving in England in 1918. He attended Medical School, University of Otago. In 1940-45, he was in command of a hospital ship helping to rescue British Prisoners of War from Japanese internment camps, and rose to Lieut. Col. He married PEARL BRASH in 1927, and they had three sons and two daughters. Francis Oswald Bennett died 4 Aug. 1976, a much respected man.

The Bennett house at Fairview, near Timaru. From the Timaru Library.
Os Bennett attended Fairview School (1907–11). He educated himself by reading his way through a cupboard full of cancelled books from the Timaru Public Library, saved from the dump by his father. Attended TBHS (1912–16) / When the British Medical Association arranged an exhibition of doctors' hobbies, Os was the only one with three exhibits - a painting, a book and a piece of wood inlay.

Rose Maria & Wm. F. Bennett
Children:
1898 Bennett Francis Oswald
1899 Bennett William Edward
1901 Bennett Roland Henry
1906 Bennett Frederick James

March of The Little Men by F O Bennett.  Hard cover- 1st edition- published 1971
Dr. Francis Oswald Bennett's third book 'The March of the Little Men' is the story of the gradual development of Waiweka, a small Canterbury township, by people who were not the original pioneers, nor their children, but their children's children. The process [the author] describes is historical though the characters who bring the process to life are fictitious. Waiweka owes its existence to a road maker's horse which went lame, and its gradual development to sturdy people who with their wives and families are the fabric of any provincial town - runholders, small farmers, merchants and artisans. Slowly it became a place with a name and a stopping place for new settlers seeking a livelihood in the vastness of the plains. This, like so many of his books, throws some light on Bennett's growing up in the midst of hardship and privation.     

The genes have come through whatever their origins, wrote OS Bennett.

William Guilford

Wm. Guilford a sawyer who worked at Church Bush, Kaiapoi moved to Pleasant Valley and bought land next to church and helped in church building. He married  Ann Benbow in 1866
1866 - Intentions to Marry 22 Aug William Guilford, Batchelor, Sawyer aged 27 years who had been living at Pleasant Valley 3 years to marry at the Benbow House, Temuka to Ann Benbow, spinster aged 17 years living at Temuka 1 month - father Wm Benbow gave permission to marry, Rev Brown District 1289

William Bennett had the Pleasant Valley Hotel and in 1867 Wm. Guilford took over his licence

Timaru Herald 9 March 1866, Page 3
RESIDENT MAGISTRATE'S COURT. The application of Mr. Best, of the Pleasant Valley, for a transfer of his License to William Bennett, was granted.

1867 Timaru Herald, 15 May 1867, Page 5
RESIDENT MAGISTRATE'S COURT COUNTRY HOTEL LICENSES: CONDITIONAL LICENSES J Gilford, Pleasant Valley

1868 Timaru Herald, 11 April 1868, Page 3
APPLICATIONS FOR PUBLICANS' LICENSES RECEIVED AT THE RESIDENT MAGISTRATE'S COURT, TIMARU, 4th APRIL, 1868.
CONDITIONAL. Guildford. William ... Pleasant Valley Accommodation House ... Pleasant Valley

1867 Timaru Herald,  14 September 1867, Page 2
Friday, September 13. The Valley races take place on Thursday, There is to be a ball in the evening at Mr Guildford's Valley Hotel

1867 Timaru Herald, 14 September 1867, Page 3
PLEASANT VALLEY RACES, 19th SEPTEMBER, 1867. A BALL AND SUPPER, At GUILDFORD'S On the evening of the Races.

1868 Timaru Herald, 6 May 1868, Page 2 RESIDENT MAGISTRATE'S COURT COUNTRY HOTEL LICENSES:
CONDITIONAL LICENSES J. Guilford, Pleasant Valley 

It is not unusual in the horse and buggy days for neighbours to migrate together.


Press, 3 March 1911, Page 9
Countryside Wanderings - Geraldine 
THE PIT SAWYERS. The sawing of timber by the pit sawyers had been going on in the Pleasant Valley bush prior to its being started in the Raukapuka bush. This bush, though rather more distant from Temuka, was more accessible on account of there being a better road to it. Among the first settlers and sawyers in "The Valley," as it is usually called, were Messrs W. Grace, A. Best (who had an accommodation house), W. Bennett, Jas. Reid, Jas. Fergusson, George, Thomas and Charles Meredith, Wm. and Jas. Guilford, T. Patterson, G. Nicholas, W. Grace, jun., S. Taylor, W. Young, and J. Bull. In the Waihi bush, Mr W. Scott, who had previously been sawing in the Raukapuka bush for Mr Cox, was the first to commence work, splitting fencing material for the Raukapuka station. Messrs Taylor and Flatman, who had been carting with bullock teams between Timaru and the Mackenzie Country, afterwards started a sawmill in the Waihi bush, and it continued working there till the timber at the lower end was cut out, Messrs Penny and Webb having a sawmill at the upper end. The inevitable fire followed the bushmen, and swept the bush from end to end. Messrs Taylor and Flatman also carried on a store at Woodbury, as the township at the Waihi bush is called. The Kakahu bush subsequently claimed the attention of the bushmen, and as with the other sources of timber supply, including the smaller bushes on what was formerly known as Rhubarb Flat, and now To Moana, it was ultimately "cut out." The timber industry, which was one of the firsthand most important in the Geraldine district, came to an end, and many of the old sawyers and bushmen afterwards became successful farmers or business men. Some of these hardy old pioneers are living still in or near their early homes, and none are more proud of their district its fertility and climate, and its peaceful surroundings—than they are.

SOME OF THE EARLY FARMERS. Among the early farmers who settled in the Geraldine district were Messrs J. Megson, J. Dale. A. Kelman, A. Shaw, J. Bell, and A. Rose. In Pleasant Valley Messrs Thos. Hardcastle, W. Upton Slack, and E. B. O'Flannagan had settled; at Kakahu, Mr John Hay; at Valley, Mr Wm. Gapes ; at Fairfield Bush. Mr T. Quaid and between there and the Waihi Bush, Mr W. G. Campbell, and adjoining Mr S. Thompson, better known as "Yankee Sam," who was the first to establish an orchard in the district. Mr Allan Macdonad subsequently purchased his homestead and the surrounding land. In about the year 1866 a party of Victorian diggers, sturdy men from the South of Ireland, who had visited the Otago and West Coast diggings, settled on the west side of the Hae-Hae-Te-Moana river, from Pleasant Valley towards Temuka and those who stayed and began in a small way became, by hard work and thrift, some of the most successful farmers in the district, and from time to time they were joined by relatives and friends from the Old Country. Among them were Messrs A. Finn, A. Lysaght, Thos. Daniel, and Jas. Gregan, T. Higgins, D. Guthrie, R. and M. Brophy, P. Ryan, William and Job Earl, J. Connolly, P. Bourke, J. Scott, T. Owens, M., W. and R. Campion, and W. Clogher. Messrs A. Ormsby, and T. G. Bradley and Toomey were early farmers in the Hilton district. The end of the 'seventies and early 'eighties, before the frozen meat trade, started and saved the situation, were severe times for farmers, but those who weathered them have done well for themselves. Many of the prosperous farmers owed their start in life to employment as shepherds and general hands on the sheep stations, and a typical instance of this class is Mr A. Mackenzie, of Geraldine, who was formerly a shepherd for Mr W. K. Macdonald. Two of his sons, Kenneth and Colin, are successful farmers in the Geraldine district, and the third is the well-known minister in charge of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Christchurch. Mr Allan Macdonald was also an old shepherd, two of whose sons, Donald and Farquhar, are well known as farmers in North Canterbury and Ashburton, and his daughter, Mrs A. Allan, of Waikari, has a reputation for the quality of the fat sheep she regularly supplies to the Addington market. Mr Alexander Fraser, the head shepherd at Four Peaks for about half a century, has only recently retired from active service. 

Crosscut saw hanging up in Geraldine.

1865 – 1908 Peel Forest was a busy saw-milling village. Kahikatea was the first big timber to be felled and used for building. Totara was cut for fence posts and building. Bullock teams dragged the felled timber to sawpits where they were cut into boards. Steam engines, winches and tramways were built to make the log extraction easier. By 1908 it was cheaper to import wood from Australia and the timber boom was over. Today the remains of several sawpits are still visible. The park was established in 1909 when 94 hectares of Crown land was set aside as a scenic reserve. Further additions have led to its current size of 773 hectares.

Unknown

"Family - neighbours at the Valley" photo courtesy of Winsome. Probably another family from Pleasant Valley, Geraldine. Look at how tall the toi toi (toetoe) is. Toetoe is New Zealand's largest native grass, growing in clumps up to 3m in height. They are standing in a river bed, look at how the stones have been rounded. The girls probably have been paddling in the water as they have no shoes on. Photo probably taken in the summer. Everyone is wearing hats. I do like those aprons. Posted August 2012.


"Undocumented" the word for facts that were not written down and sealed.

Timaru Herald, 11 June 1914, Page 11
Pleasant Valley. One of its pioneers was the late Mr William Grace, who in the early fifties purchased and farmed the land on which Mr S. Gale now resides. His barn was used for a ballroom as well as for storing the produce of the farm. Threshing was done, by the primitive flail, while a tin dish and gentle breeze did the cleaning. In 1863 the late Mr C. Maslin grew 25 acres of wheat and oats in Geraldine. The ploughing was done with bullocks., the crop cut with a scythe, and prepared' for market as above described. Old- Yankee Sam" in 1862, owned and occupied the site at Woodbury where Mr Maurice Harper lately resided. In 1863 the late Mr Thomas Hardcastle purchased land at the head of Pleasant Valley, known as Castlewood, also on the Te Moana flat, then known as Rhubarb Flat. Here he started dairying, getting together a fine herd of cows, and engaged in butter-making for the growing market of Timaru. Land settlement continued to move steadily forward. The late Mr W. H. Slack purchased the land subsequently' known as the Woodside Estate, and in 1866 a party of successful West Coasters purchased practically the whole of the land then known as Kakahu Flat, extending from the late Mr M. Guerin's to the late Mr Austin Finn's. This land required men with the heart of a lion to bring it into subjection, being for the most part wet and cold, and covered with flax and manuka, and full of crab holes from one end to the mother Logs and roots of trees showed that in the remote past the land had been covered with heavy forest. The present condition of this land shows what perseverance and hard work will accomplish. Of the original pioneers of this block only two remain in possession, Mr Job now over eighty years old, and Mr Andrew Lysaght. Most of the others have passed over the borderland. The cutting up and sale of the Raukapuka Estate opened up for settlement some of the finest land for agricultural purposes, and the prosperous looking homesteads are an indication of the fruitfulness of the soil. Fruit growing is now carried on in the district,'. and the splendid orchard of over 20 acres of apple trees owned by Mr M. Campbell, shows the suitability of that land for fruit culture. Geraldine also possesses a substantial cheese and hjrtter factory, where the proprietor, Mr James Craig, produces the finest cheese for export, and butter that cannot be surpassed for texture and flavour. The factory pays out thousands of pounds annually to its-milk suppliers, and the increasing supply of milk shows the profitable nature of milking, for factory supply. Geraldine has of late years become a popular district, where men of independent means have come to reside.

South Canterbury NZGenWeb