Waitangi Day – A New Zealand Connection

February 2nd, 2011

This is my contribution to the Waitangi Day Blog Challenge – Your Earliest Known New Zealand Ancestor. While most of my ancestors were Australian based, I do have New Zealand connections like many other Australian families. In a lot of cases this is a mining connection with many people crossing the Tasman in search of their fortunes.

My son’s gg grandfather John Barrow Atkinson went to New Zealand first before being attracted to the gold fields of Gympie in Queensland. I couldn’t find his arrival in the immigration indexes at Queensland State Archives so I suspected that he had arrived elsewhere. Similar searches of indexes in other States was also unsuccessful but initially I did not suspect New Zealand.

The breakthrough came because John Barrow Atkinson ended up a very successful miner, mine manager, entrepreneur and philanthropist with 8 children who all continued to live in the Gympie area. He was featured, along with other Gympie personalities, in The Queenslander, on 27 March 1897 – there was even a photograph of JB!

The article gave an account of his life starting with his birth in 1845 at Calthouse in Lancashire and his various jobs including working at the Barrow Railroad Company and the Barrow Ironworks. In September 1867 he left for the West Coast of New Zealand to try his hand at mining. His first miner’s right for the goldfield of Waimea was issued on 20 January 1868 in the district of Canterbury on the South Island of New Zealand.┬áHis youngest son Clyde inherited the New Zealand miner’s right certificate issued to JB Atkinsonon in 1868 and it is a treasured family possession.

However, in 1868 Gympie was being seen as the new El Dorado and many New Zealand miners were moving to Queensland to try out the new mining field. John was persuaded to go too and he reached the Yarrell Station field, 60 miles north of Gayndah in April 1868 but it was a ‘duffer’. He then moved on to the Two Mile at Gympie where he was very successful.

John Barrow Atkinson was probably only in New Zealand for a matter of months but he still left a record of his visit. We are lucky in that we have John’s own account of his movements on the mining fields through the newspaper interview and that he kept his first ever miner’s right. Without those two pieces of evidence, I might have had a hard time proving that John had spent time in New Zealand.

This is true of a lot of miners who spent time on both sides of the Tasman. Suddenly they disappear from one area and you then find them in another. A lot of times there is no official documentation surviving to prove/disprove their wanderings. I hope to do some research on John Barrow Atkinson in New Zealand at some time in the future and at least visit Waimea to see what it is like today.

I have other New Zealand connections but I will save them for the next blogging theme! Thanks for the opportunity to participate.


Mining and Criminal Records in Queensland

November 5th, 2009

In 1992 I successfully completed the Diploma in Historical Studies at the Society of Australian Genealogists. It was the end of an annus horribilus year, my son turned five, my then husband had major cancer surgery followed by chemotherapy, I was working full time at the John Oxley Library while nursing my husband at home and for relaxation I thought I would do the Diploma. Looking back I can almost laugh but at the time the Diploma kept me focussed. Therefore these two theses mean a lot to me and having salvaged them from a Word Perfect format into Word although losing some formatting and style, they are both still readable and informative. The illustrations are not in the document and I will have to scan them and attach separately. Also since 1992 my research has progressed, and some of the questions in my thesis I have now answered. Ideally I will do a sequel but not today. So in the meantime, I have put my two 1992 research theses under Resources on my website. I hope someone finds Criminal Records: A Guide to Sources in Queensland and From Iron Chains to Gold Bars: A History of the Walker Family including the Evans, Potter, Bullen and Atkinson Families, 1814-1941 useful and interesting.

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