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Central Otago, Cemetery Gravestones (FamilySearch Historical Records)
This collection includes records from the years 1864-2010.
This collection contains an index with images of over 13,000 gravestones from 24 cemeteries in Central Otago, New Zealand. The images and index data were created by Bert and Pauline Miller over a period of 11 years.
Cemetery records may give more information than parish burial registers or civil certificates of death. They may include the name and age of the deceased, date of death, date and place of birth, names of parents and/or spouse, and marriage information. They may also provide clues about military service, religion, occupation, place of residence at time of death, or membership in an organization, such as a lodge.
THE MANUHERIKIA JUNCTION CEMETERY
Also known as the Graveyard Gully Cemetery
The old cemetery is located across the ManuherikiaRiver from the Alexandra township. Access is from the Little Valley Road which runs beside the Otago Central Rail Trail. Take the first turn to the right after crossing the old railway bridge. Or you can take a walk to the cemetery via the Shaky bridge. All access is sign-posted.
The first interment in this cemetery is believed to have been of a seven year old boy, William George Robertson, who drowned in the ManuherikiaRiver in February 1863.
Local history tells us that rocks were used to encircle the burial mounds and that only a few of the graves had headstones erected (probably better to be referred to as headboards as they were made of wood. Erecting of headstones in this time period was too difficult in this cemetery due to its location). Although it was close to some of the mining encampments which had sprung up along the river banks it was on the other side of the river to the actual township of Alexandra and funeral parties had to use punts to cross the river. The cemetery was only open from 1863 to approximately 1868 and the first permanent bridge (what is now the ShakyBridge) across the river was not in use until 1879.
It has always been believed that the closure of the Manuherikia cemetery was in 1868 as the new cemetery on the Alexandra Flats (the present cemetery) opened in this year (A newspaper report of the death of a two year old boy, the son of Robert Finlay (first Mayor of Alexandra in 1867) on the 5 April 1868 indicates his body was to be interred in the New Cemetery at Alexandra and is believed to one of the first burials there).
After the last burials and due to it location being difficult to access and very few loved ones around to tend the graves, the Manuherikia Junction cemetery fell into disrepair. In 1898 some restoration work on the cemetery was carried out and on 3 August 1898 the Vincent County Council made an application to the Department of Lands and Deeds for the ground to be proclaimed a Cemetery Reserve – 35 years after the first burial and 30 years after the cemetery closed.
Between 1898 and 1905 volunteers worked to tidy up the area. A wall of schist stone about a metre high was built. It was mortared and vertically set capping stones were used to finish it off. In the centre an obelisk was erected to commemorate those buried there. This comprised a tablet of Oamaru stone set into a concrete base. Inscribed on the tablet was the following:
TO THE MEMORY OF
THE EARLY PIONEERS
WHO DIED BETWEEN 1863 AND 1868
JOHN CURWEN CUMMING
The abnormality about the names mentioned on this obelisk is that the Manuherikia Junction cemetery is believed to have closed in 1868 but John Lord died in July 1869 and John Curwen Cumming in December 1871 and both are clearly shown in the burial registers to have been buried in the NewAlexandraCemetery. There is also a Michael O’Regan buried in the new cemetery having died in September 1872 and it is possible he could be the Michael O’Regan recorded on the obelisk. John Daley is actually John Duley, the punt owner who died in May 1869. He is mentioned in the new cemetery burial records and has a headstone in the new Alexandra cemetery but according to documentation is buried in the ManuherikiaJunctionCemetery. The burial records indicates he was buried in the new cemetery on 11 May 1869, the day after his death but we have a receipt showing his widow did not purchased the plot in the new cemetery until August 1869, three months after he died. She was planning to bring his body across the river for re-interment but fate acted against this happening and the family firmly believe that his body is in the ManuherikiaJunctionCemetery . The plot in the new Alexandra cemetery is empty although a headstone was erected on the plot.
No burial records have survived for the Manuherikia Junction cemetery. There is possibly more buried in the cemetery than those mentioned on the obelisk. There is major discrepancies as to who exactly was buried there and who were re-interred in the new AlexandraCemetery and also exactly as to what time period the cemetery was officially closed for burials.
Historical evidence indicates that John Hyde and George Love who both died on 8 December 1863 were probably buried in the ManuherikiaJunctionCemetery along with William George Robertson, aged 7 years, who died 7 February 1863 but they are not mentioned on the obelisk.
After the initial tidy up of the Manuherikia Junction cemetery finished in 1905 very little maintenance work was carried out at the cemetery.
An article in the Otago Daily Times newspaper on 11 June 1960 showed the obelisk was decaying badly and the lettering on the tablet was almost unreadable. Vandalism at the cemetery followed and the obelisk was broken in half.
In the 1980s the local Jaycees took on the cause of repairing the walls and a new bronze plaque was placed on the site in the late 1990s. Today the only signs of what were graves are a small number of depressions in the ground which could co-incide with collapsed graves.
In recent times The Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust have erected an information panel at the entrance to the old graveyard.
A solitary place well worthy of a visit if you are in Alexandra.
The cemetery is located at the end of Ngapara Street. For easy access travel along Tarbert Street from the War Memorial and the cemetery is clearly sign-posted on your left. The cemetery is very well maintained although some of the headstones are showing damage due to a deposit of lime in the water spread by the sprinkler system.
The original cemetery transcripts cover 1868-1977. There are surname conflicts in these transcripts between the burial records, the headstone transcripts, newspaper death notices, probates and family records.
The burial registers for the Alexandra cemetery appear to contain some omissions. In the first two pages which run from 1868 to mid 1887 there are several gaps that exceed 12 months. The biggest gaps is between May 1874 and October 1877 (a total of nearly three and a half years). This does not correspond with burial dates on the headstones in this time period. Death notices in the Dunstan Times newspaper indicate burials in the AlexandraCemetery. Headstones have been found but no corresponding burial records.
The first recorded burial in the cemetery is that of a two year old boy, the son of Robert Finlay who died on the 5 April 1868 and was buried on 8 April 1868. This burial is in lot 52 so it is hard to follow the early burial patterns which do not appear to have started at lot 1. This may have been through a renumbering due to the access to the cemetery. Originally access was through two gates – one for the wagon carrying the coffin and the second for the pedestrians. This entrance was three rows back from the present frontage of the cemetery.
CHINESE MINERS IN CENTRAL OTAGO
Chinese gold miners arriving in New Zealand mostly came from villages near Canton, in southern China.
It has been estimated that by 1868 there were some 1200 Chinese miners in Otago. These miners often successfully re-worked sites abandoned by Europeans who believed they were not profitable. Chinese settlements were established at Lawrence, Teviot (Roxburgh), Naseby, NevisValley, Conroy’s Gully, Arrowtown, Skippers, CardronaValley, on the Kawarau and the CluthaRiver – Cromwell / Clyde (Cromwell Gorge), Alexandra (Roxburgh Gorge) and NokomaiValley, Southland. In the summer months, small numbers of Chinese worked the winter snow areas of the Serpentine and Macetown and moved back to their river claims in winter. They worked the riverbeds and terraces as well as hydraulic sluicing on a small scale.
Some Chinese set up trading stores – mainly for their own people and as the gold ran out others went into small scale market gardening and fruit growing while others worked on road and bridge construction when work was available.
Chinese miners often lived apart from the Europeans in Chinatown’s alongside the mining villages. In the mid 1870’s the Chinese population in New Zealand reached some 5000, of which 4300 lived in Otago. At this time the Government imposed a “Poll Tax”. Immigration slowed down and by the 1890’s the Chinese population began to recede.
Today nearly all of the original Chinese settlements have now disappeared. The last big remains of the Cromwell Chinatown settlement on the lower Kawarau riverbank, vanished in 1992 along with most of old Cromwell under the waters of the newly formed LakeDunstan.
Many historians believe the most interesting historical evidence of the Chinese miners presence is the Chinese writings on gravestones at several Central Otago cemeteries. There are some very interesting examples in RoxburghCemetery. These are in need of some restoration work.
There were many Chinese miners buried in the Alexandra cemetery in the mid to late 1800s but most were exhumed in 1902 and their bodies prepared to be returned to China for burial. Their plots were then resold for further burials and some of the Chinese headstones have turned up in museums.
The Chinese bodies were shipped to Hong Kong aboard the “Ventnor” but it sank off the west Coast of the NorthIsland after hitting rocks in the vicinity of CapeEdmont. The entire cargo of Chinese remains were lost.
Three weeks before this sinking the Otago Daily Times newspaper carried an article on the exhumation of Chinese and their return to China. It is well worth a read and appears on page 3 of the 27 October 1902 issue.
A summary of the article tells how seven railway vans of coffins of Chinese who died in the OtagoProvince in recent years had arrived at Port Chalmers and the people of Dunedin were a little alarmed at their presence. The coffins were zinc lined and each coffin had the name and details of the deceased on the foot of the coffin. A total of 474 remains were to be returned to their respective families in China. The Chinese burial society based in Dunedin had a membership nationally of 2,500. The shipment in 1902 was the first in 21 years and cost £5000.
The process of exhumation and removal was carried out under inspection of the Health Department. Where the remains were now just dry bones they were taken and washed and dried at a shed in Kaikorai in Dunedin. Each bone, even to the finger bones, were wrapped in calico and the parts belonging to each body were placed in a kauri case.
The bodies where decaying was still taking place were put into the zinc lined coffins and placed in outer kauri shells of one and a quarter inch thickness, screwed together and then varnished.
Blackstone Hill was originally named Hills Creek. The area was named after Mr Alfred Hill, an early shopkeeper. Blackstone Hill is located 50 kilometres from Alexandra and 28 kilometres from Ranfurly. Chief Surveyor of the Otago Province, John Turnbull Thomson, and his colleague, Alexander Garvie, named the area in 1857. Its name refers to the black stone of the hills.
Over 600 Metres above sea level, Blackstone Hill was one of the highest settled districts in New Zealand. As well as gold mining there was also coal mining in the area.
In the 1860s it was a flourishing gold mining area. It had, in its heyday, thirteen hotels. One of its main hotels was the Prince Albert Hotel built by Mr and Mrs Samuel Inder. Mr Inder was one of the original trustees of the cemetery when it opened in 1874. The Prince Albert Hotel was the stopping place for Cobb & Co’s coaches at which the four horses were changed and refreshments taken.
Only a few scattered buildings remain of the township.
BLACKSTONE HILL CEMETERY
Blackstone Hill Cemetery is on Hills Creek Road about a kilometre off of SH85 between Idaburn and the turn-off to St Bathans. Alternatively, the other end of Hills Creek Road runs off of the Ida Valley-Omakau Road at Oturehua. Both turn-offs are well signposted and Hills Creek Road is marked on the AA map for Otago.
Contact details for people wishing to make enquiries about this cemetery – Ken Gillespie, R D, Oturehua, Ranfurly.
Telephone: 03 444 5817
Transcripts are part of the NZSG Cemetery microfiche (S03.01) 1864-1977. These transcripts relate to 87 headstones from a total of what is believed to be 292 burials. The cemetery is still open for burials in 2009.
The cemetery recorded its first death in 1864. Peter Curle died in the local lock-up and was interred in a public grave. The first “official” burial, documenting all details, was in 1874.
The surnames from the headstone transcripts are
Formerly know as the Dunstan Cemetery it is located two kilometres from the town centre of Clyde and 10 kilometres from Alexandra on Springvale Road. The cemetery is bordered by a 575 metre long stone wall with entry pillars of local stone and wrought iron gates. The wall was originally built in 1887 by John Holloway, a Shetland Island mason. He also built the Clyde post office which is now a restaurant. The wall was restored in 1990.
The earliest headstone dates from December 1863 but the first burial in the cemetery is dated 7 August 1866.
The cemetery headstones have been transcribed up to 1978 and form part of the New Zealand Society of Genealogist headstone transcriptions on microfiche. These are available in most libraries around New Zealand.
The NZSG Dunstan Informal Group has recently transcribed the headstones to the present day. See Family Search Historical Records above.
The ClydeCemetery is administered by the Central Otago District Council , P O Box 122 , Alexandra (phone 03 440 0056).
Surnames associated with burials in the ClydeCemetery –
Te Hon, Ah
Le Hon, Ah
Hon Ah Te
Gon, Ah Le
Chin Hong Soy
Allamby or Allanby
Drybread is located in the gully of the Dunstan Mountains, five kilometres east of Matakanui, 11 kilometres north of Omakau and 38 kilometres north-east of Alexandra. One theory on how it got its name concerns a Russian prospector who complained that all he had left to eat was dry bread. Formerly an important goldmining settlement in the 1860s all that remains of Drybread are some old miners diggings and the Drybread cemetery. The Drybread school is now a woolshed located in a farm paddock and the Drybread hotel was shifted down to Tinkers (name changed to Matakanui in 1887) and was known as the Newtown Hotel (some references refer to it as the Newtown Tavern). The Newtown Hotel stopped serving beer in the late 1960s and today is a private holiday residence.
DRYBREAD CEMETERY The Drybread Cemetery is to be found on farm land off of Glassford Road. Glassford Road can be approached from a number of roads leading off of SH85 in the Becks /Lauder / Omakau area. Glassford Road and the roads leading to it are clearly marked on the AA map for Otago. On Glassford Road there is a “Cemetery” signpost pointing down what looks to be a private farm road. However it is a public accessway to the cemetery. There are gates on the route into the cemetery. Remember to leave gates as you find them. Along this track it is easy to miss the turning point to the cemetery. Look out for a point where one gate leads straight ahead while another gate to its right takes you off at 90 degrees along a tree-line. This is the way you need to go and from this point the cemetery should be visible in the distance. Be sure to follow the defined route across the paddock just before the cemetery. There is a drainage ditch hidden in the long grass. The defined route passes over it safely but to either side you could easily fall into the ditch and would probably get stuck, not to mention the damage you would do to your car! Cemeteries in Central Otago are managed by the Central Otago District Council or separate cemetery trusts. Contact details for people wishing to make enquiries about Drybread Cemetery are: Gary Glassford, Glassford Road , R D 1, Omakau, telephone: 03 447 3952. There are transcripts to headstones only which start in 1870 and go up to 1975. Transcripts are part of the NZSG Cemetery microfiche (S04.05) 1870-1975. These transcripts relate to 72 headstones from a total of what is believed to be 136 burials. The cemetery is still open for burials in 2009.
The surnames from the headstone transcripts entry is 1865 and the last is in 1976.
HAMILTONS CEMETERY, MANIOTOTO
Location: Approximately 5 kilometres from Waipiata on the Patearoa-Waipiata Road turn into Orangapai Sanatorium Road. Continue uphill past the Christian Community buildings (originally a Tuberculosis Sanatorium, later a “Rehabilitation Centre” for youth offenders) to Hamilton Road. Alternatively, approximately 3 km from Patearoa turn into Hamilton Road (gravel road and one ford to negotiate which may be impassable in winter). The cemetery is signposted.
There is an excellent site containing a double-sided notice board within the cemetery documenting the history of both the area and the cemetery itself. While worth spending time reading all the information posted.
GPS location: S 45° 14.878 E 170° 08.403
Overall maintenance: It has been sympathetically restored and is well worth a visit.
Cemetery background: The restoration of HamiltonsCemetery was from 2001-2003 by Friends of Hamiltons, a group of locals concerned at the demise of the cemetery since its closure in 1962. Their aim was to restore HamiltonsCemetery as a heritage precinct for future generations. A combination of damage from fallen giant macracarpa trees, the disintegration of the stone wall surrounding the cemetery over a century of existence, livestock intrusion and an invasion of periwinkle and broom had devastated this historic site. The finding of the original minute book for the cemetery revealed that in 1878 the cemetery trustees were addressing the same maintenance concerns, planning cemetery improvements and calling on the community for assistance.
Transcriptions: The HamiltonsCemetery was transcribed in October 1980 by former NZSG Dunedin branch members Jean and Allen Thompson. A copy of the headstone transcriptions is in our branch library. This transcript was prepared before the location of the burial records and these burial records have revealed that some of the original transcript contains errors in spelling of surnames and dates due to the weathering of the headstones at the time of transcribing. These names have been confirmed with a check against the death indexes and newspaper death notices. On the following pages is a listing of all burials in the cemetery and a copy of this burial list will be placed with the HamiltonsCemetery transcript in our library for future reference.
For further information:
HamiltonsCemetery is a closed cemetery administered by the Central Otago District Council, P O Box 122 , Alexandra.
Burial transcripts up to 1981 are held at Ranfurly office of the Central Otago District Council.
For other queries, try Heather Benson (Friends of Hamilton) Telephone: 03 444 9291 or Glenda Herlihy Telephone: 03 444 7860
In October 1863 gold was discovered on Captain James Hamilton’s run on the northern slopes of the Rock and PillarRange. The discovery was not reported in the press until 12 December and was at first believed to be a hoax. When the truth was realised, virtually the whole of Naseby ‘decamped’ to the new rush in a matter of days (Naseby had a population of about 2000 at that time).
Hamiltons proved to be easily the richest of the smaller Maniototo goldfields and for a time it eclipsed the Naseby field. Within 18 months, 80,000 ounces of gold was recovered from the ground. Good returns continued until 1868, then the special gold escort laid on for Hamiltons was discontinued and reverted to the Naseby escort.
Today Hamiltons is all but a ghost town. Only a rock-walled cemetery, the sluicings and holding dam remain.
Close to Hamiltons a small rush took place at Sowburn (Patearoa) while the Hamiltons rush was in full swing. Although this rush was short-lived and attracted only 200-300 miners, there are some interesting relics at Sowburn today including miners’ huts and a sluicing monitor.
‘To Honour those known and unknown who lie within these walls. This plaque was placed here by the Friends of Hamiltons in 2003 to mark the completion of this historic site”
The beautiful plaque which stands in the centre of the cemetery has a chronological listing of known burials in the cemetery. The list has been transcribed for our newsletter and is reproduced here in alphabetical order to make locating individuals easier. By the years of deaths it is interesting to note what appears to be several generations of the same family being buried in the cemetery. The earliest
|Date of Death||Surname||First Names||Age|
|1903||BLAKELY||Guy Francis||16 months|
|1937||CARR||Margaret Stewart||83 years|
|1898||CHIRNSIDE||Charles John||10 years|
|1928||CORAM||Emily Jane||80 years|
|1926||CORAM||John Bloyd||79 years|
|1907||CROSBIE||Robert Fingland||47 years|
|1876||EDMONDS||Bertha Jane||15 months|
|1903||EDMONDS||Sara Emily||35 years|
|1893||EDMONDS||Thomas Henry||35 years|
|1865||FRENCH||John Black||35 years|
|1894||GRAHAM||Rose Hamilton||3 months|
|1898||HAMBLY||Mary Emily||30 years|
|1891||HOWELL||Louisa Rosina||31 years|
|1888||KENNEDY||James Edward||6 months|
|1901||KENNEDY||James Edward||3 years|
|1893||KERR||Anna Maria||3 months|
|1905||KINSMAN||Richard James||33 years|
|1912||KINSMAN||William Edgar||29 years|
|1912||LEDINGHAM||John Gordon||72 years|
|1906||LUSHER||Alice Mabel||22 years|
|1899||LUSHER||Elizabeth Jane||69 years|
|1896||LUSHER||James Henry||29 years|
|1912||MATHIAS||Alured George||66 years|
|1926||McALPINE||James Henry||82 years|
|1900||McALPINE||Margaret Isabella||10 years|
|1880||McDONALD||Patrick Thomas||2 years|
|1920||McLEAN||Susan Hunt||61 years|
|1904||MURRAY||Catherine Mary||31 years|
|1886||NEWTON||Thomas Arundle||43 years|
|1886||OGILVIE||William Baird||47 years|
|1885||O'GRADY||Mary Ellen||14 years|
|1923||PEARSON||William Mouther||87 years|
|1905||RICHARDSON||William Harris||77 years|
|1945||RIDLAND||Jane Scott||82 years|
|1896||ROBERTS||Catherine Emily||21 years|
|1955||ROBERTS||John Henry||77 years|
|1914||ROBERTS||Joseph Henry||73 years|
|1906||SCHERP||John Henry||68 years|
|1930||SMITH||Robert Douglas||25 years|
|1907||STEWART||Robert McIntyre||34 months|
|1904||STEWART||William Thomas||31 years|
|1918||TREGONNING||Garnett H.||35 years|
|1976||TREGONNING||Mary Ada||88 years|
|1942||TREGONNING||Mary Ann||52 years|
|1944||TREGONNING||Russell Hooper||65 years|
|1940||TREGONNING||William Henry||91 years|
|1892||UDY||William Henry||57 years|
|1901||WALSH||George Edgar||16 months|
|1947||WILSON||Albert Henry||70 years|
|1951||WILSON||John T.||77 years|
LONELY GRAVES – MILLER’S FLAT
Location: There are two routes to the “Lonely Graves”. They can either be accessed from the BeaumontBridge end, a dry-weather road beside the CluthaRiver or down the road from Millers Flat on the true left of the CluthaRiver. Eleven kilometres from the Millers Flat end you will come to the site of Horseshoe Bend Diggings. No sign of the village that once existed but there is a walking track to the swing foot bridgeacross the Clutha (worth a visit) while the Lonely Graves are just a kilometre further on.
GPS location: S 45° 43.513 E 169° 28.811
Overall maintenance: Well maintained and worth visiting as an alternative route from Lawrence to Roxburgh. Recommended in the summer months as the Beaumont Millenium Track section of the road could be a bit testing during winter without a four wheel drive.
The legend – William Rigney was from Dublin. He arrived at the “Horseshoe Bend” diggings near Millers Flat in 1864 via Australia and Gabriel’s Gully. At the “Bend” he found employment. In 1865, when a flood held up all mining activity along the river banks, William was making daily inspections to find out when work could be resumed. It was in the course of one of those inspections that William, about to return to camp, came across a shivering dog and, nearby, the body of a young man. The police at Roxburgh were notified and after the necessary inquest and other formalities had been concluded, William obtained permission to give the body a decent burial. The present day “Lonely Graves” site was chosen by William for the interment and a suitable ceremony, at which every man, women and child from the nearby workings attended, was conducted. Later, William burned the words “Somebody’s Darling Lies Buried Here” on a piece of black pine planking. This was placed at the head of the grave. In 1903 a marble stone replaced the wooden headstone which many years later was found disregarded in a gully. The original headstone was placed in a glass case and attached to the marble headstone. When William Rigney died in 1912 he also was buried there; the site having, much earlier, been proclaimed a cemetery. Inscribed on the stone that marks William’s grave are the words “Here lies William Rigney, the man who buried Somebody’s Darling”. This story has become part of Central Otago folklore.
The facts – There is a lot of doubt about this legend. The body was found in February 1865 but not by Rigby as he did not arrive in Horseshoe Bend until mid 1865. An inquest confirmed that it was probably the body of Charles Alms, a butcher from the NevisValley who drowned on 25 January 1865 at Clyde while herding cattle across the CluthaRiver. But due to decaying of the body no formal identification could be made so therefore no death certificate was ever issued. There is no record of who actually buried the body but it was Rigney who provided the headstone as he felt it a shame someone was buried without a marker. The story was first published in the Tuapeka Times in 1901 and Rigney, concerned about the misleading facts, wrote a letter to the editor stating he never found or buried the body as he was not in the district when the body was found but admitted erecting the headstone. Nevertheless, when Rigney died in 1912 he was buried beside “Somebody’s Darling” and the words “Here lies William Rigney, the man who buried Somebody Darling” were placed on his headstone and the legend, as we know it today was born. Note the original headstone says “Somebody” and not “Somebody’s” darling.
For further information: Epitaph by Paul Gittins published 1997. Copies available in most public libraries.
The township of Naseby is located 15 kilometres from Ranfurly, near the foot of the Mount IdaRange. Naseby is situated on the Hogburn stream and was formerly known as Hogburn Gully. In 1857 John T. Thompson explored the area on an official survey. Gold was discovered in May 1863 by the Parker brothers. Naseby name was changed from Hogburn to Parkers after early prospectors, but its name was changed yet again to Naseby. No one is exactly sure of how it got its name. Some believe it is named after Naseby in England, which was the birthplace of the Otago Provincial Superintendant, John Hyde Harris. Other sources say it is after the battle of Naseby in England during the Cromwellian times.
It was estimated that there were upwards of 5000 diggers on its gold fields, but it did not yield wealthy finds. While many miners moved on quickly to other gold fields some miners persevered and over time Naseby became the main centre of the Maniototo. There were many hotels, a Court House and CountyOffice, banks, a school, churches, a town hall, police station and commercial enterprises such as stables and grocers. Other rich fields were found nearby at MountBuster and south across the TaieriRiver at Hamiltons. The 112 kilometre Mount Ida water race and sludge channels from Naseby to the TaieriRiver was constructed in 1877. Sluicing to recover gold was followed by dredging from 1890 with reasonable returns, but all dredging had finished by 1920.
Naseby was proclaimed a borough in 1873. The establishment of the Central Otago Railway through the centre of the Maniototo Plain saw Naseby lose its importance as Ranfurly became the main service town. The railway from Dunedin to Ranfurly opened in 1898 and bypassed Naseby despite a strong fight from the Naseby people. A coach service was required from Naseby to connect with the trains at Ranfurly. The county office and hospital shifted to Ranfurly in the 1930s and a district high school at Ranfurly replaced the one at Naseby. The primary school at Naseby, which was opened in 1865, closed in 1994 and children travel by bus the 14 kilometres to ManiototoAreaSchool in Ranfurly.
The Naseby newspaper was the Mount Ida Chronicle. It was published from 1869 until the end of 1926.
The Naseby Volunteer Fire Brigade was founded in 1868, making it the second oldest in New Zealand. Naseby was one of the first brigades in Otago and Southland to recruit women firefighters with their first appointment in 1979.
In more recent times Naseby has become an important forestry centre with the initial forest being planted as early as 1900.
Today the town has preserved many of its old buildings. One of these is the Old Doctor’s Residence. It was built in the early 1870s as a gold miner’s cottage. Ten years later it was extended and a second cottage built alongside. This extra space provided successive town doctors with their waiting room and surgery. This dwelling was built from bricks crafted from the local clay at Dansey’s Pass. In the early part of the 1900s a further residential accommodation was built onto the Doctor’s Residence in the style of the Victorian villa. Newspapers dated 1902, and used as wallpaper backing, have been found in the villa section of the house. Today the three are combined and used as a bed and breakfast.
The Naseby Post Office was built in 1900 to replace a
large and solid wooden structure built in 1871. For a very long time the Naseby Post Office was the Maniototo’s main post office. It closed in 1988 which ended 117 years of post and telegraph activity on the site. It is now the town’s Visitor Information and Craft Centre.
CHURCHES IN NASEBY
ANGLICAN – St George’s Anglican Church located on Derwent Street opened on St Stephen’s Day in 1874. It is recorded as being the first concrete church built in New Zealand. However it is actually not built of concrete. It is built of a unique mud brick called “Jacob’s Mixture”, which is more clay than cement. This mixture was dreamed up by Mr W. Jacob who not only built the church for £761 but also made all of the furniture inside. It has a self-detached porch with its own steep pyramidal roof which many say is more interesting in shape than the actual church.
Transcripts of the Naseby Anglican Marriages 1874 – 1923 are available in the OtagoSettlersMuseum and the Hocken Collections in Dunedin.
ROMAN CATHOLIC – The Church of the Sacred Heart, Naseby’s Roman Catholic Church, is located in Foyle Street. It was opened in 1865. The current church was designed in 1906 by Francis (Frank) William Petre (27 August 1847 – 10 December 1918) who was a prominent New Zealand-born architect based in Dunedin. He designed the main Roman Catholic cathedrals of Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin.
PRESBYTERIAN – The Naseby Presbyterian Church opened in 1872. It is located in Oughter Street, Naseby. There appears to be no Presbyterian records in existence but the Mt Ida Parish marriages have been indexed from 1871 to 1920. The IdaValley records have also been indexed 1905-1920.
UNION CHURCH – The Union Church was opened in November 1865 by Henry Flamank, a Wesleyan Home Missionary. The First Union Church has been used as a Library / Athanaeum since 1873. It would appear that all records for this church are missing.
When writing the history of the Presbyterian Church in Central Otago in 1932, the Rev Alexander Don mentions the almost complete loss of or lack of recorded history for these early unique goldfields Union churches.
One amusing story is told of the Naseby Union Church in Central Otago. A “musical box” which played 100 sacred tunes and the same number of secular airs was always set up beforehand to play the “Auld Hundredth” (the 100th Psalm) at the appointed time. One day, the congregation received somewhat of a shock when some person set the machine incorrectly so that the rather inappropriate tune “Yankee Doodle Dandy” was played. The “dreadful instrument” (as it was described) had to be set outside until four secular pieces had finished playing before the machine could be reset to play the correct tune.
SALVATION ARMY – The Salvation Army arrived in the area in 1900.
On arriving in Naseby travel along the main street and you will see a sign which states:
CEMETERY – NO EXIT. Follow the sign for about a kilometre along a tree lined road until you reach a clearing where the cemetery is located.
The cemetery burial records show the earliest burial to be about 1873 but the headstone transcripts shows that at least two interments were recorded prior to this date – one in 1869 and another in 1871. These could relate to headstones erected in memory of someone with no actual body in the grave. But if we can accept there were burials in the cemetery prior to the burial book being kept then the first interment seems to have been for Mary Ann Woodney, aged 29 years, who died in October 1869.
The cemetery had a complete change of plan and numbers in the earliest days of its existence and this has made it very difficult to pin-point the location of graves without headstones.
An area was set aside on the extreme right of the cemetery for the interment of Chinese miners. However many Chinese miners body’s were exhumed and returned to China for burial so it is impossible to actually work out who is buried in the plots.
The cemetery was transcribed in the early 1980s and a transcript of the headstones 1869-1980 are available in hardcopy with the Hocken Collections, the Otago Settlers Musuem, McNab New Zealand Room, Dunedin Public Library and New Zealand Society of Genealogists (NZSG Family Records Centre, Auckland). They also form part of the NZSG cemetery collection on microfiche.
See the Family Search History link at the top of the page to get grave details.