The Lost Boot

Friday, July 17th, 2015 | Anna Blackman | 2 Comments

Blog Post prepared by Archivist David Murray.

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The Union Steamship Company steamer, Maori (Hocken Archives MS-1046/419)

In the winter of 1908, a curious complaint was sent to the Union  Steam Ship Company. It concerned a lost boot …

Denniston

27th July 1908

C. Holdsworth Esq.
General Manager
Union S.S.Co. Dunedin

Dear Sir,

The U.S.S.Co is noted for the care of and Courtesy extended to its Passengers. These pleasing qualities I am able to amplify from personal experience on many occasions, BUT, “The best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley”.

On the night of the 13th inst I boarded the S.S. ‘Maori’ en route to Lyttelton, “clothed and in my right mind”.

I retired (as sole occupant) to Cabin 34, and in due course sought oblivion in sleep, previously having disrobed, even boots and all!!! which boots, as events proved, I had better have kept on.

When the time arrived to dress on the morning of the 14th, only one boot belonging to yours truly could be found on the ship.

Not having a wooden leg, this was inconvenient and necessitated my leaving the boat in slippers.

Now I have never desired to form one of a party to explore Arctic of Antarctic regions, but whilst crossing the white-frosted wharf at Lyttelton to board the train, I felt as though I were going through an involuntary course of drill or training for such a project.

This idea was intensified during the cold railway journey to Dunedin.

I have all my life believed that many Biblical quotations can be aptly applied to incidents in our every day life, I am now more than ever confirmed in this belief – St Matthew 24ch[apter] 40V[erse] “The one shall be taken and the other left”.

Yours truly

JW Dixon

This is not a claim, therefore it suggests a “bootless” matter altogether – JD

LostBoot1

AG-292-005-001/104

The letter was meticulously filed, but disappointingly there’s no sign of a reply from the company. Dixon’s letter was addressed to General Manager Charles Holdsworth, who was on an overseas trip at the time. A newspaper notice in the Evening Post confirms that a Mr Dixon travelled from Wellington on board the Maori.

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AG-292-005-001/104

The writer was apparently Jonathan Dixon (1853-1911), manager of the Denniston Mine on the West Coast. He had an adult son who was also named Jonathan, and it’s possible he was the author, but the handwriting is a good match (though not conclusively) for the signature on Jonathan senior’s will.

According to the Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Jonathan Dixon was born in Durham, England, and educated in Sydney. He was a mine manager in New South Wales and was involved with the restoration of the mine at Stockton following a disaster in 1896. He took similar roles at Dudley, Greta, East Greta, and Burwood. He arrived in New Zealand in 1899 to manage the Millerton Mines (Granity) for the Westport Coal Company. After about two years as mines inspector in New South Wales, he returned to the West Coast to take up his position at the Denniston Mine, again for the Westport Coal Company.

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Jonathan Dixon

Dixon, who was married and had seven children, was described as a man who had ‘literary attainments and a taste for poetical composition’. An obituary stated that he was ‘a well-read, brainy man, with a decided literary bent, and would have made his mark in journalism had he abandoned mining’. He was also a strong supporter of educational movements and a staunch advocate of temperance. He died in August 1911 at the age of 58, following an operation for appendicitis.  His illustrated story of the lost boot survives as an example of his wit, and one of the cuter curiosities of the Hocken Collections.

 

References:

Alphabetical A – E, Inwards Correspondence, Union Steamship Company Records, Hocken Archives AG-292-005-001/104

Photographs of ‘Maori’, Cameron Family Papers, Hocken Archives MS-1046/419

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Volume 3. – Canterbury Provincial District  (Christchurch: The Cyclopedia Company, 1903)

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 12 August 1911 p.6

The Maitland Daily Mercury, 11 August 1911 p.4

The Dominion, 14 July 1908 p.10

 

Thanks to the Papers Past and Trove newspaper databases, and to Archives New Zealand Christchurch Regional Office for providing access to Dixon’s will and probate file.

 

Good things come in small packages…

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Blog post by Debbie Gale, Arrangement and Description Archivist

I have recently returned to work from a year’s parental leave and while I am very pleased to be back, my mind is still often occupied by all things ‘baby’.

During one of my more recent 4am night feeds, I thought now would be the perfect time to take inspiration from this maternal period in my life to focus on the ‘wee ones’  whose care I am partly responsible for in my professional life.  Those ‘littlies’ in the archives that may be small, but are also perfectly formed.

Our “octavo” sequence of archives is broad in range, and runs to a full 90 linear metres in length.  It includes personal volumes such as diaries, reminiscences, letter books, notebooks and bibles, as well as records of organisations such as minute books and ledgers.  Many of the volumes are in a very fragile state and have preservation copies so that researchers can have access to them, without further harming the original.

Octavo is a book binding term that refers to small volumes which were originally made by folding a full sheet of paper three times to make eight leaves, each leaf being 1/8 the size of the original sheet of paper. In practice such volumes are roughly 8-10 inches in height.

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Our octavo archives shelving

 

 

 

 

However, our diminutive friends are not just to be found within the octavo sequence alone – they will often be found dotted throughout the collections in various guises, from the tiny appointment books of poet, editor and Hocken benefactor Charles Brasch through to the miniature soldier’s diaries that have miraculously survived through rough war conditions.

This blog takes a look into just a few of the more significant of these babies, safely ‘swaddled’ within their phase boxes for maximum care and protection.

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Diary of surveyor John Wallis Barnicoat, kept during a voyage from England to New Zealand in the ‘Lord Auckland’, 1841-1842. Misc-MS-1451/001.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The diary includes pen illustrations of the ‘Lord Auckland’, detailed life aboard ship and diagrams of the ship’s accommodation and deck layout. Misc-MS-1451/001.

 

 

 

 

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In March 1844 Barnicoat was employed to assist Frederick Tuckett in selecting a site for the future Otago settlement. This beautifully sketched map shows ‘The route from Molineux [sic] to Otago’. Misc-MS-1451/003.

The corresponding diary entries (written in pencil on the sketch page and partly transcribed below) relate to the purchasing of the Otago Block.

‘S. June 15: …This [sketch] shews to what extent it is proposed to effect purchases from the natives for the purpose of the New Settlement.’

‘Th. June 20: Tuawaike, Karetai & Taiaroa signed a memorandum binding them to sell the whole country from Otago to Molineux as shewn in the sketch…with a single reserve for the sum of £2400.’

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This volume of handwritten notes on New Zealand and Otago history and people, is part of the original ‘nucleus’ collection of Dr Hocken, and is dated around 1892. MS-0037.

 

 

 

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One of Dr Hocken’s entries on the origin of Rongowhakaata leader, military leader and prophet Te Kooti’s name – a transliteration of Coates, the name he received in baptism.  MS-0037.

 

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MS-0484/001.First volume of reminiscences, began in 1916, of Civil and Mechanical Engineer Edward Roberts (1851-1925). It spans his upbringing on the Bendigo Goldfields of Victoria, his arrival in Dunedin in 1881 and engineering career. There are some excellent ink sketches and an interesting account of the Dunedin and Kaikorai Tram Company in 1894. MS-0484/001.

 

 

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I will finish with this interestingly titled volume from Rev. James West Stack (1835-1919), the oldest son of missionary James Stack. It consists of handwritten anecdotes and reminiscences drawn from a period of more than forty years, many relating to Stack’s experiences among Maori.  MS-0123.

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