From the MTG: Diary and sketches treasures of museum's archive

From the MTG: Diary and sketches treasures of museum's archive

One of the many fascinating treasures in the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust collection is a small, simple handmade diary written by Frederick Chapman and illustrated by his brother Alfred, whose nom-de-plume was Alfred Steelpen.

The diary, written in a spidery, uneven hand, is peppered with illustrations providing fascinating and comical snippets of the day-to-day existences of the two brothers between June – November 1854.

In 1851, Alfred Chapman, Joseph Rhodes and William Rhodes applied for and purchased 10,100ha (25,000 acres in the imperial measurement of the time) of land east of Otane in the vicinity of Elsthorpe.

Alfred Chapman and Joseph Rhodes stocked the station with 500 sheep each, after which Alfred, with the help of his brother Frederick and two men named Stutfield and Ticehurst, worked and lived together breaking in the land.

The brothers named the station Edenham after the parish of Edenham, Elsthorpe and Grimsthorpe in Lincolnshire, England, of which their father was vicar.

Frederick’s talents lay in animal husbandry and music. His main occupation was caring for and checking the whereabouts of the stock, which were continually disappearing because of the lack of fencing and density of bush.

Wild pigs and dogs, not averse to killing newborn animals, and weaker stock presented an even greater problem. On one occasion nine sheep were found drowned in a creek, which Alfred surmised had been “rushed in by a wild dog”.

Almost daily Frederick went hunting for pigs, carrying “the young fat ones fit for meat” immediately back to the homestead.

The older carcasses, which were used for dog meat, were left for collection the following day.

The warmth of Frederick’s words gives a telling picture of his close affinity with many of the farm animals: his faithful horse Nobs, the hens, the pet cock (who regretfully he had to kill because “the pig bit it”) and in particular his dog Jolly, who became very ill and subsequently died.

He was often called upon to act as veterinary surgeon, having to bleed a “sheep bad with tictic” after which treatment the sheep survived, and lancing the “swelled head & purse” of a sheep from which “nearly a pint of liquor” oozed.

When not searching for sheep and shooting pigs, Frederick spent countless hours digging a vegetable and flower garden, manuring the soil, weeding and forming a seed bed.

He planted a variety of vegetables including carrots, broccoli, potatoes, turnips, beans, cabbages and onions. Frederick was also fond of flowers, surrounding the edge of the seed bed with sweet peas and convolvulus.

Next to the garden he planted vine slips and sapling peach trees, which he had purchased from Māori at Patangata. He also transplanted gorse cuttings and carefully weeded around these to encourage unimpeded growth.

His brother Alfred, an extremely talented artist, engineer and builder, was constantly employed in designing and constructing farm implements and tools such as sheepskin whips, pack saddles and dog kennels.

Alfred’s engineering skills were evident in his design and construction of a flour mill, which he began by building a model, next assembling the spindles and drums for it, and finally sewing and hemming the calico sails.

The building of the mill was a joint project but it was Alfred who thatched the roof and walls and, with help, erected a “flag staff up by the mill house, with a wind teller on the top”.

He had to fine-tune his first attempt because, as Frederick records “Alfred tried the wind mill to ground a little flour, but the sail was not quite big enough.”

Undaunted by failure, Alfred merely enlarged and rehemmed the sails and altered the plan of the mill by “putting the sails on the mill itself”. The direction of the wind, required for the effective production of flour, was recorded each day by Frederick in his diary.

Music was an important part of the brother’s lives. Both, were competent at playing wind instruments: Frederick the cornopean or cornet, and Alfred the flute.

Frederick in particular had a great love of music. He described the excitement of collecting his cornopean, which had arrived by boat at Ahuriri, Napier: “breakfasted … after which I opened the box, was much delighted to find the cornopean was such a good one”.

Later that evening “he played a few tunes on the cornet for the first time”. He would practise at night and at any other opportunity: “milked the cows, & went after the sheep, took my cornopean with me to hear the echo on the hills”.

The diary entry connected with the drawing is captioned “The return from Ahuriri with the Cornopean” and dated Saturday 1 July. It reads: “Rose early. Got a load of sugar all ready for the pack horse, and started off, the day looking very threatening, reached home by 8 o’clock at night wet through with the rain which had fallen … The cornopean I carried on my back which sadly interfered with the fit of my waterproof coat as will be seen by the accompanying sketch by Alfred Steelpen.”

Most nights were spent entertaining themselves and visitors with music. One evening in particular they held a grand concert: “Tin dishes of all sizes, flutes, jew’s harp, cornopean and the voices of those who performed on dishes and harps, the least that can be said is that we made a stunning noise.”

Once completed, “The Illustrated Diary or Life in the Bush” was sent to the brother’s parents in England. The diary and sketches allowed family members an intimate and rare glimpse into the rich tapestry of Frederick and Alfred’s daily lives in 1854: how they lived, spent their leisure hours and successfully managed and broke in the Edenham farm property. It’s truly a treasure of the archive.

• Gail Pope is social history curator at the MTG.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Study monitors noisy bird scaring 'boomers' in rural areas

Diane McCarthy, Local Democracy Reporter Kiwifruit are budding and bird scaring devices are booming – for some people living in rural areas this makes spring a very annoying time of ... Read more »

Poultry farmers face added costs in effort to stamp out Salmonella strain

The Ministry for Primary Industries has introduced stricter controls for the poultry industry in a bid to control an outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis. The disease was first discovered in an ... Read more »

Earthworks start on Te Puke's Rangiuru Business Park

Development of the Rangiuru Business Park officially began last week. The land development site in Rangiuru was blessed with the support of the Tapuika Iwi Authority and local kaumātua as ... Read more »

Te Puke Community Board trialling solar-powered lighting

Te Puke Community Board is shining a light on dark places. In a trial designed to illuminate areas not covered by street lighting, the board is assessing the effectiveness of ... Read more »

Bay of Plenty Lotto players in the money, Powerball jackpots to $35 million

Lotto Powerball was not struck last night, and will jackpot to a whopping $35 million for Saturday’s draw. The numbers were: 5, 19, 21, 28, 30 and 39. The Bonus ... Read more »

Northland news in brief: Witnesses sought for fatal crash on SH1; new technology to monitor heavy rainfall

Sports ground upgrade Moerewa’s sports ground, Simson Park, now has competition-standard floodlights, thanks to the Far North District Council and ratepayers. FNDC recently installed six floodlights on each of the ... Read more »

Three Waters reform: Whanganui Feds say rural water schemes have fallen through the cracks

In the absence of an opportunity to address the Government directly, Whanganui Federated Farmers executive member Tim Matthews has made this submission to the Whanganui District Council. It concentrates on ... Read more »

Whanganui secondary school students are discovering pathways to careers in conservation

A growing awareness of the environment among the teenage fraternity has helped form a unique alliance in Whanganui designed to teach the fundamentals of conservation.In May, AGC Training partnered up ... Read more »

Two separate Whanganui farms are legitimate cases to be sold as carbon credit banks

A variety of options, including carbon farming, makes this Kauaraparoa Rd property an attractive block for astute investors. Photo / Supplied Two separate, established forestry blocks with legitimate cases to ... Read more »

Counting blessings rather than sheep is proving an ideal slumber tonic for farmers during difficult pandemic times

David Cotton drifts off to a peaceful sleep counting his blessings rather than sheep as his favoured slumber tonic in these difficult pandemic times. The independent Whanganui farmer, livestock trader ... Read more »

Just when you think things are rosy, something out of left field slaps you fair in the face

Just when you think you’ve reached the bottom of a cycle and things are looking slightly rosier on the horizon, along comes something out of left field and slaps you ... Read more »

Lamb prices high - at the moment

Sheep farmers are soaking up the good times as lamb prices remain high. Lamb returns jumped to $9.35 a kilogram for a 17kg lamb in the South Island last month, ... Read more »

National Shearing Circuit: Nathan Stratford takes the lead

Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford is heading the PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit leaderboard with the maximum points from the first two rounds. Stratford’s 24 points came from the open ... Read more »

The Country - Birthday edition

Today on The Country, it’s Jamie Mackay’s birthday. However, The Country host was determined to deflect attention from his big day, by revealing it’s also “another great shearer’s” birthday – ... Read more »

Two injured, one serious, in Whanganui crash

Two people have been transported to Whanganui Hospital following a crash in central Whanganui. Emergency services were alerted to the crash at the intersection of Glasgow and Pitt St shortly ... Read more »

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Jacinda Arden on the vaxathon and Three Waters

Data shows that rural Kiwis are lagging behind when it comes to vaccination rates, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hopes this week’s Super Saturday will change those statistics. The Super ... Read more »

Rotorua Police seek occupants of car seen in area during fatal Te Ngae Rd crash

Police are still investigating the circumstances of a fatal crash on Te Ngae Rd, Rotorua, on October 2. “As part of our inquiries, we would like to identify and speak ... Read more »

Central Hawke's Bay Sport Awards caught by Covid

Covid-19 continues to bite into Hawke’s Bay’s events and functions, with the latest event to fall casualty being a usually sold-out sports awards evening in Central Hawke’s Bay. The 2021 ... Read more »

Wellington teenager's final moments a tribute to 'best friend' mum and 'hero' dad

A selfless Wellington teenager who has raised nearly half a million dollars for brain cancer research slipped away “beautifully and calmly” last night, says her father. 15-year-old Jemima Gazley was ... Read more »

Government announces new courthouse for Tauranga

The Government is moving ahead with new courthouses in Tauranga and Whanganui, which the Justice Minister says provide an opportunity to redesign court facilities that help put victims at the ... Read more »

Strong odour brings fire service to St John's Hill School in Whanganui

The fire service was called out to St John’s Hill School on Wednesday after an alarming smell began emanating from a drum near the swimming pool. The incident happened about ... Read more »

Direct Hit: A new comedy-drama at Whanganui Repertory Theatre

Written By: Shona Wilson Directed By: Kerry Girdwood New Plymouth can now add a new name to their marvellous array of creative venues and persons. Shona Wilson has written a ... Read more »

$1,744,066 in NZCT community grants awarded in September in Bay of Plenty

The latest round of New Zealand Community Trust grants have been revealed. Grants awarded in Bay of Plenty in September totalled $1,744,066. The recipients are:• Apanui School: $17,000 – Voice ... Read more »

Is whole-fat or low-fat milk better for kids? Study finds it makes no difference

A world-first study from Edith Cowan University (ECU) has found whole-fat milk is just as good for kids as low-fat. The research, published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition ... Read more »

Northland news in brief: Whangārei man in custody after border breach; two crashes kept emergency services busy

Two crashes Two crashes kept Whangārei’s emergency services busy on Tuesday. The first came at 10am when a station wagon was discovered crashed off the side of State Highway 1 ... Read more »

The Hits: New ideas for trick or treat costumes

The spooky season is upon us. Or so we are led to believe – Halloween (at least for those in lower levels of restrictions, and of course pre-Covid) seems to ... Read more »

Hastings, be prepared for some wild folk music

The wired and wonderful romp of a band that is Ish are in many ways a group that captures the spirit of 2021 – they’re positively infectious. Their raucous caravan ... Read more »

Yarrows Taranaki Bulls continue unbeaten run with win against Otago

It wasn’t convincing, but the Yarrows Taranaki Bulls continued their unbeaten run in the national provincial championship with a 30-23 win against Otago. The Bulls also take a comfortable nine-point ... Read more »

Six social housing units to be constructed in Ohakune

A government investment of $2.1 million will be used to build six new social housing units in Ohakune. The announcement, made last Friday by Housing Minister Megan Woods, will see ... Read more »

The 90% Project: Hawke's Bay DHB urges region to get vaccinated this Super Saturday

Hawke’s Bay is inching closer to 80 per cent of its population receiving at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, and the DHB along with regional leaders is urging ... Read more »

Covid19 Delta outbreak: West Auckland dairy among latest locations of interest

There are only three new Auckland locations of interest released by the Ministry of Health this evening. A Whangārei Subway store is the most recent Northland location of interest. There’s ... Read more »

Aggravated robbery at Hastings' Railway Rd dairy

Detectives are investigating an aggravated robbery of a Hastings dairy. Police were called to the Railway Road Mini Market, on Railway Rd Hastings, late Tuesday morning. A spokesperson for police ... Read more »

Sunflowers a rotational crop option for New Zealand growers - Research

Growing sunflowers to produce high-oleic oil could provide additional income for New Zealand growers as a rotational crop during the summer period, new research has found. The Foundation for Arable ... Read more »

'Devastated': Hawke's Bay Wine Auction cancelled for second year

The country’s oldest wine auction has been cancelled for a second time as Covid-19 continues to impact the event industry. This year’s Hawke’s Bay Wine Auction, set to mark its ... Read more »

The Country - 151 Off The Bench edition

Today on The Country, Jamie Mackay spoke to Sir Ian Taylor about #151 Off The Bench – his business travel trial that uses private MIQ. On with the show: Sir ... Read more »

Dr Jacqueline Rowarth: Regenerative agriculture and the Snark Syndrome

Opinion: The Illusory Truth Effect or “Snark Syndrome” is allowing people to blame poor nutrient density on farming practices rather than their personal food choices, writes Dr Jacqueline Rowarth. The ... Read more »

RSE workers arrive in Central Otago

More than 80 of the first seasonal workers to come to New Zealand as part of the country’s one-way travel bubble with three Pacific countries arrived in Central Otago last ... Read more »

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Contact of positive case identified in Wellington 

A contact of a confirmed Covid-19 case has been identified in Wellington. The person is associated with the first Northland case, a woman who allegedly used false documents to travel ... Read more »