In the lay of the land

Serious questions ~

Who was the bright spark in ancient geekdom who decided that family history should be defined by lines and begats?

Who were the brighter sparks who devised the rigid wheels and stylised trees to chart and constrain the abundant, multi-dimensional landscape of ancestry?

For a landscape it is, our ancestry; a landscape of wide open spaces,

Wide open spaces

Wide open spaces

crisscrossed with highways and byways, one way roads and slender bridges, little lanes, and streets that go nowhere, signposted for all directions.

A landscape of well-defined boundaries, as well as soft, slippery edges, fluidity and possibility.

A landscape that reveals both the neat and the orderly, the tidy rows of heritage,

Orderly family trees

Orderly family trees

and the more common, impenetrable thickets of entwined limbs and leaves.

Impenetrable thickets

Impenetrable thickets

 

A landscape replete with the swathes and layerings of old growth and new.

Old and New in Kaiapoi Domain

Old and New in Kaiapoi Domain

And let’s not forget the twists and turns which lead to small surprises and unexpected delights.

 

Yes, family history is embedded in the lay of the land,

The landscape of ancestry

The landscape of ancestry

entrenched, without doubt, in terra firma;

or so it seems, until the land falls away, alters and shifts and, suddenly, one is all at sea.

Amelia Sims, the scow built and named for my great great grandmother, formerly of the Isle of Wight

Amelia Sims, the scow built and named for my great great grandmother, Amelia Sims, housekeeper Kaiapoi, formerly of the Isle of Wight

Topsail schooner, “Amelia Sims,” (120 ft., 98 tons) at old wharf, Motueka, about 1903. Built in Australia it reached the home port—Kaiapoi—in 1901 and though having an auxiliary screw for berthing purposes sail was its chief means of propulsion. In moderate weather “Amelia Sims” would carry ten or twelve sails and be a worthy sight in deep water.
—Photo by courtesy of Miss Nina Moffatt, Motueka.http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-NHSJ02_06-t1-body1-d4.html

Gallivanting Note

This post came about following a little jaunt in the countryside at the weekend. I traced some family history, found more questions than answers, and discovered, to my great surprise, that my great great grandmother’s second husband built her a ship, the Amelia Sims which was one of the fleet of sturdy  scows which played an important role in New Zealand’s early transport industry.

© silkannthreades

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113 thoughts on “In the lay of the land

  1. jaggh53163

    Gallivanta – I’ve also thought of our ancestry as a tapestry, different designs and colors intermixing, sometimes seeing it from the back and sometimes seeing the “proper” design from the front. It is truly a fascinating subject.

    Reply
  2. sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.

    A truly interesting blog. Tracing our family heritage takes us on many interesting plus exciting twist and turns. The photo display and the way you allowed us, your readers, to participate in a portion of your journey, is such a wonderful way to engage us and give us a bit of a push to perhaps do a little more research of our own.
    On a completely different note: Tom asked me if I had been to the garden this morning. Of course I don’t usually go out until 5 or so in the evening. Currently it’s a little over 100 degrees out. He wanted me to see that I had a white iris blooming. This is so out of context and had it been a couple of days later, the complete head would have been cut out of that iris in preparation for fall transport to another garden.
    My friend, do you realize you have opened my eyes to so many beautiful things in life when before I met you in this wonderful blogging world, I only saw Tom’s disease, my role as a caregiver and provider. Thank you for getting me out the door and truly enjoying that which awaits.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Phew, 100 degrees, that’s hot! What a brave iris to appear now, and how wonderful that Tom discovered it, for both of you to enjoy. Sheri, you are so kind with your comment about my blog. Knowing that my blog has helped you to enjoy your world more makes every moment I have spent on it worthwhile. There is no greater reward than being able to accompany one another along life’s path.

      Reply
  3. Britt Skrabanek

    Beautiful photos, Gallivanta! Felt like you whisked me away to the countryside. Mr. H is pretty handy…I’m going to request a ship for our ten year anniversary next year. : )

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Indeed, you must insist. Every girl, whatever her age, needs a ship in which to sail away to the land of her dreams. 🙂 Failing that ask him to take you on your dream cruise!

      Reply
  4. Pingback: Such a pretty me…. a true story | silkannthreades

  5. tableofcolors

    What an interesting and insightful post Gallivanta…I think my favorite landscape is one that has some of the old and new…some orderly and some wild as that portrays what real life is all about. My yard at the moment is too orderly and still quite fresh since we built our house five years ago in the middle of a field. In time the trees will grow and become gnarled and show the signs of history, perhaps for our children to revisit.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, the juxtaposition of old and new is lovely. It creates layers and depth and different textures. I am sure that one day your home yard will look very lived in and very loved, and future generations will return to it and tell tales of the fun and love and laughter and good food that belong to it.

      Reply
  6. ordinarygood

    Found the article! It is from “Boating New Zealand”, Jan 2007 and the enquirer gleaned a wealth of replies to his questions. You can send your views and questions to The Editor
    editor@boatingnz.co.nz or use snail mail to PO Box 12-965, Penrose, Auckland. This is the 2007 information so details may have altered. We are such a maritime nation and there are boat lovers galore and numbers of old salts that someone may well know all about your boat. Good luck!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thanks for that info. I am impressed by your efficient information retrieval system. 🙂 There’s bound to be someone who has knowledge or who has written in detail on the scows. Not so long ago someone wrote to our Press suggesting that ships, like the scows, should be brought back as an ecologically friendly transport system. Not a bad idea, I thought. Also your find in Boating New Zealand reminded me that I have a box of old NZ history magazines in the dusty garage. They are usually a great source of information. I am sure there will be something on the scows in there. Must put on my dust mask and investigate.

      Reply
  7. ordinarygood

    I sense in this post that while you were out and about searching for your ancestral roots that you have returned to more of your very own self both in your words and gorgeous photos. The late afternoon image of the daffodil is stunning! I am heartened so much by this as I process my events of the year to date.
    I’ll have a dig in my family history files as I have an article about old wooden ships in NZ from a magazine or some such and that might be a lead to finding out more about “your” ship…..I’ll let you know. It is a good day for family history here as the winter continues to bite viciously.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Lynley, it felt so good to be out and about in the sunshine of spring, and the late afternoon sunshine looked gorgeous on that little patch of daffodils. Cares and woes seem to dissolve in the open spaces and vistas. As I write this I am listening to the Crown apology to Tuhoe. When I went on my outing at the weekend, I felt I had a small insight into that deep bond that is possible between a person and the land. The area I travelled through was important to my family but even more so to others, namely the people of Tuahiwi.

      Reply
  8. Ralph

    Hi Gallivanta 😀 Yay ! Fantastic ! Ewe managed to place YouTube videos on your sidebar AND in these comments. Well done ! Big hug. Ralph xox ❤

    Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Yay! Always pleased to help out a friend. Now, a small reminder of our joint (not that kind!) interests. My Amelia Sims is my ancestor who was born on the Isle of Wight where your folk grew sweet peas. I don’t know if that branch of the family ever went fishing. Did you fish whilst on the Isle of Wight?

      1. Ralph

        I used to fish a lot with my father in the 1950’s. Mainly for conger on the south coast off the Isle of Wight. Usually all night on the beach with a roaring fire of driftwood. During the days we used to go out into the Solent from Wootton Creek catching mackerel on the way out (and back) to the huge buoys that the battleships used to moor on. The chains on the buoys would dig huge holes on the sea floor with the strong currents and tides, in which where hundreds of pouting. My job, as a young boy, was to take buckets of fish around the village and give them to the villagers as in those days there were no fridges or freezers.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          That’s a fascinating story for me to hear. Makes me keener than ever to visit the Isle of Wight and see what my ancestors may have seen. I hope those days didn’t give you a distaste for all things fish.

        2. Ralph

          I really do hope that you manage to get to the Isle of Wight one day Gallivanta. I suggest you travel around on the top deck of a bus. You’ll see so much more and not have the worry of the traffic. You can also buy unlimited travel tickets which work out so much cheaper.
          Once I grew up I never took up fishing as I was keen on other sports such as sailing. 😀

        3. Gallivanta Post author

          Sailing! Puts me in mind of The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea in a beautiful pea green boat, …. and they sailed away for year and a day etc. Written by Edward Lear, also associated with the Isle of Wight.

  9. Joanne Jamis Cain

    I am drawn to the daffodil and the thicket pictures. The daffodil because you are entering spring and we are watching summer wind to a close. That’s ok. I think I’m ready for fall.
    The thicket picture is fascinating- I love the lighting. The limbs look almost silvery.What time of day did you snap it? Once, Jim and I stayed at a resort in Mexico. It was surrounded by thicket and I felt very safe because of it.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Glad you enjoyed the photos Joanne. The photos of the daffodil and the thicket were taken about 5pm just as the sun was going down.The light from the setting sun was intense. The thicket is part of a macrocarpa hedge. These used to be very common but you don’t see them in towns much anymore. So the ones you do see are likely to be old!

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Family history is as captivating as your beads! (By the way I am captivated by that smokey quartz bracelet! Oh so very, very lovely.) I am rather sad that these little work horse ships are no more. They must have looked lovely as they travelled from port to port throughout NZ. Perhaps you will be able to load this video and see how lovely they looked at sea http://www.ecasttv.co.nz/program_detail.php?program_id=1299&channel_id=60&group_id=

      Reply
      1. Tracy Rhynas

        The ships were rather elegant work horses weren’t they? Great little film clip – I love the commentary to these old films, it always sounds like the same chap talking!! (I am glad you like the bracelet, it ended up looking nothing like it did when I started it! I am still trying to decide whether to add some charms or not…creative indecision!!)

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Charms would be charming. I love the little chink -clink of charms. And, yes, the narrators of old were so sedate and so much the same. Reassuring somehow.

  10. thecontentedcrafter

    I like when I come to your posts later because the conversation becomes interesting – especially today! That Mrs P is a bit clever!! Here’s an interesting, but inconsequential, addition. My aunt, named Elsie, married Frederick Hall. He was some twenty-five years older than her and had fought in the Boer War as a very young man [under-age according to his stories.] My aunt would have born sometime around 1905 -1910. I doubt they are connected to your story, but I like the inconsequential link anyway. I would love the opportunity to do more research into these things. I also like the way Jewish people trace lineage through the maternal line. It would be grand if you could discover what happened to the ship. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I love inconsequential links! You never know where they may take you. And, yes, research is very time-consuming (unless a certain Mrs P comes to the rescue 😉 ). I would love to do more but I rarely get more than a day or so, every now and then, to do it. I also have a back log of family information to record on my private family history blog.

      Reply
  11. Coulda shoulda woulda

    What a perceptive perspective about family trees!! I totally agree and quite frankly I think we should include friends and lovers whose presence aren’t documented but in my case a lot more important to my nature and those nurtured me more than a cousin! I love the imager you have created her Gallivanta. Bravo.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Naomi…..how did you guess how much I left out of this story? 😉 Not because I am ashamed of the unwritten history but because I don’t know enough about it. For the most part it is speculation and hearsay with just enough fact that would suggest there is more to the unwritten story than gossip. To give you an idea, there is bigamy, mistresses, lovers, and possibly children out of wedlock……life was full and rich in the colonies. 😀

      Reply
      1. shoreacres

        Ah, yes. These things do happen. It was a bit of a shock to my mother and me when a cousin showed up at my uncle’s funeral with (ahem) both of his wives in tow. Actually, one was with him, but #1 was in a back chapel, sobbing her eyes out because no one knew wife #2 existed until SHE insisted on no longer being hidden, and coming to the funeral. It’s all better now, I think. “He” has divorced both of them, but continues to see both of them. Very strange, indeed.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Oh goodness! Not sure I can top that story but one never knows…. Actually, I am wondering why the subject of my post “One of the Many”, my great-uncle, was in the North Island when he enlisted. Was he there because of work or a woman, or both. There is a name on his army record which intrigues me. Who is that person??

        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I am not an only child but there are 6 years between me and the youngest sibling and 6 years between me and the oldest sibling. Do you have lots of cousins?

      1. Mélanie

        I do have a few cousins, but we haven’t kept in touch after I left Romania in 1980 during the tough communist régime(ceausescu’s dictatorship!)… in fact, even as kids, we didn’t meet often ’cause we lived in different towns…

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          My cousins are few. I am close to most of them but we don’t see each other all that often because, we, too, live in different towns and countries. My mother and her cousins were very diligent. Until recently they would try to meet at least once a month, but, with increasing age, that isn’t possible anymore.

  12. BEAUTYCALYPSE

    I’m loving this genealogy talk. It’s so exciting to find “physical” traces of our families’ history, isn’t it? Also similarly to the belief that everybody on the planet knows everybody else through six degrees of separation, most of us must be at some point relatives. Or maybe our mutual ancestors have met? (Well, hopefully not in trenches) So much room for speculation, guessing, and musing. Love it.
    I was so excited to find old, archival newspaper articles about my great grand-father’s art shop in St. Petersburg, and another about an exhibition of his work.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I love the physical traces and I can well imagine your excitement at finding the articles about your great grandfather. Your remarks about mutual ancestors is possible. One never knows. 🙂 Also, your connection with St Petersburg reminded me of New Zealand’s early encounter with Russia in 1820. If it weren’t for the fact that the Russian expedition was exploratory and scientific, we may well have become Russian territory! I am giving you the link to the documentary about that extraordinary connection between Russia and NZ. The doco was very slow to load but I hope you can see it. https://www.maoritelevision.com/tv/shows/pakipumeka-aotearoa/S03E001/russians-are-coming And here is a review of the documentary http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/culture/television/5918725/The-Russians-are-coming-again It was thanks to Bellinghausen that we still have physical traces of certain Maori; incredibly moving.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It really is very serene. So much of New Zealand is still like that. Quiet and mostly empty of people. You may be interested to know that another scow, the only one that now exists in NZ, as far as I know, was used by the US Army in the Pacific during WW2. Her name was Echo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Echo_%28IX-95%29 Her story was made in to a film and a TV series; The Wackiest Ship in the Army.

      Reply
      1. gpcox

        Oh, did you bring a smile to my face!! That movie was hilarious, but I never knew it was based on a real ship – that makes it even better!! Thanks so much for that link!!

        Reply
  13. Poetsmith

    You never know when you go gallivanting what you’ll discover! Very interesting history of your English background. The “Amelia Sims” named after your great great grandmother must be a great honour to her. The write-up together with the photos do give us a good insight into family history. A lovely post. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I haven’t seen an apostrophe on a street sign since……since I don’t know when. The New Zealand Geographic Board which is responsible for place names seems to have a policy to omit the apostrophe. I expect this policy has filtered through to local bodies responsible for street names. I have found one local council document which expressly forbids the use of the possessive when proposing street names.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thanks Tiny. It gave me such a boost to see the lambs and daffodils. And, of course, there were lots of trees covered in blossom. As for family history, I wish I had started earlier. So many places associated with our history were destroyed in the earthquakes. Never mind. I heard someone on the radio say family history isn’t just something you draw on,a finite resource , you have to add to it. It’s dynamic. Sigh, she said it much more eloquently than that!

      Reply
      1. Tiny

        I have tried to research my family history, but it seems impossible to get further than my great grandparents…I would need to be where the physical “books” are as not much has been computerized yet…Btw, I loved the lambs too 🙂

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Yes, I think there comes a point where one has to connect with the physical records. And then there is also a point where one has to ask “How much money do I want to spend on this?”

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, it’s not everyone who gets a ship in their name. He also had a ship built and named for his daughter. The Emma Sims was constructed in 1895. So perhaps my gg grandmother thought it was time she had her own boat, too.

      Reply
  14. Mrs. P

    Okay, my friend…I have an assignment for you, instructions that will lead to more answers about “Amelia Sims”. Off to work, no time to send links but you can find the answers by Googling this exact phrase:

    Kaiapoi—in 1901, “Amelia Sims” schooner

    Have fun!!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you Mrs P. I have found much of interest. I did know that the Amelia Sims came from Australia under Captain Whitby. I didn’t know that her rudder was broken on its maiden voyage. I also see that John Sims owned the Amelia Sims from 1901 to 1912 when it was sold to a Robert Robb and renamed Elsie Mary. Robert Robb was also, amongst other things, a timber and coal merchant, in Gisborne. He was bankrupt in 1916. The Elsie Mary then seems to have passed to Frederick Hall of Gisborne. ” Schooner Elsie Mary – built at Brisbane Water in 1901 as the Amelia Sims. Owned by Frederick Hall of Gisborne and lost in the Bay of Plenty on 18th March 1929.” The crew of seven landed on Alderman Island and were eventually taken to Auckland on 20th March. Wow, Mrs P, there it all is. From start to finish. You are a genius.

      Reply
      1. shoreacres

        What a wonderful ship that is. Too bad about the rudder, though. If you’d like to see my very own broken rudder, you can read about that here.

        It must be wonderful to have so many and various connections to the land, the sea, your ancestors. I did smile at your comment about roaming New Zealand to get in touch with your Englishness. But your larger point, that the charts and graphs never can tell the whole story — or even the most interesting ones — is exactly right. They’re good to keep a few things straight, or to figure out where this person or that fits into the picture, but it’s the stories I love.

        Unfortunately, my family didn’t tell many stories, let alone the good ones, and by the time I was becoming curious, most of them were gone. Even the aunt who remains is beginning to lose the ability to recall names and details. She’s 87, and time is short. I need to get back up to Kansas for another visit.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Thanks for the link to your rudder story. Being without a rudder is possibly more serious than being up the creek without a paddle, though I am not entirely sure on that, never having experienced either situation in the real sense. Our family stories are few and far between because we weren’t together a lot with the wider family to tell stories. I try to write down what I hear now and what I remember, but inevitably a lot will be lost; but that is as it always has been and perhaps how it should be.

        2. shoreacres

          I think I’d prefer losing a paddle or two. They’re more easily replaced, and more quickly. I’ve seen some pretty interesting things used as paddles – including human hands! Not so good in heavy weather, but on a millpond? Perfectly acceptable.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Sheryl, the linear forms/charts are handy, or a sort of short hand way to record our ancestry. But, you won’t be surprised to realise that I am a visual person, so I find the charts a little hard to grasp. I prefer to see things in situ or in a context. That makes so much more sense to me. This is probably more my style of recording family history < though I am not sure how to do it!

      Reply
  15. Mrs. P

    Oh my, this is a wonderful post…really wonderful!!! I think it is now my favorite! You must ad genealogy, ancestry and tracing roots to your tags. So many genealogists would appreciate what you wrote here today!

    Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Amelia, the scow, was, I believe, sturdy and strong. A work horse. I expect Amelia, the person, was sturdy and strong, too, as well as hard-working, feisty and independent, if her offspring are anything to go by. Her daughter and granddaughter were also very good with animals and training animals. Perhaps Amelia had that knack with animals; perhaps she knew how to talk to sheep.

  16. KerryCan

    Your countryside jaunt led to some fascinating musings and connections! The idea that your “great great” had a ship named after her just tickles me to no end–and what a ship!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It tickles me, too. Sadly, I am not finding any information on what happened to it. I would desperately love it to be still sailing somewhere but that is highly, highly unlikely.

      Reply

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