Hans Jebsen BECK (1878-1901)


Hans Jebsen BECK served and died with the 5th NZ Contingent in the South African Boer War.  A monument (below) was erected in Norsewood in recognition of his service.

BeckMemorial
Hans Jebsen Beck memorial in Norsewood, Hawkes Bay

The inscription on the memorial reads: Erected to the memory of Trooper H.J. Beck, 5th N.Z. Contingent who was wounded in action at Lichtenburg South Africa 3rd March 1901. Died of his wounds 24th March 1901. Age 23.

Hans Jebsen BECK was born 1878 in Hawkes Bay, the son of Mathias Peterson BECK and Anna Maria HANSEN who had migrated from Denmark to Napier on the “Fritz Reuter” in 1874.

On 27 March 1900 he enlisted as “John Beck” to serve with the 5th New Zealand Contingent of imperial troops in South Africa. The following reports in the Bush Advocate give an account of how he was wounded in action and the unveiling of his memorial (shown above).

The War

Mrs P. M. Beck, of Norsewood, has received the following letter from South Africa relating to the manner in which her son, Gunner J. Beck, received the wound which had, fatal consequences :-
Lichtenburg,
5th March, 1901.
Mrs Beck, Ormondville,
Dear Madam, I much regret having to send this letter to tell you of a mishap that, has come to your son John. But as you will probably see the news in cablegrams from here it seemed better to let you know how he was getting along. Last Sunday morning we were attacked by the Boers, who managed to get into the town and very close to the entrenchments where the guns were. The men were, of course, on their guns and with nothing to eat or drink. Your son offered to run across an open space to bring something to the enclosure, and unfortunately while coming back was struck in the leg, the bullet going right through and breaking the bone. The doctor came as soon as possible and made him as comfortable as he could. We had him removed to the hospital the same night, where he is now doing very well. He has of course a good deal of pain, but is bearing up well and when the swelling has gone down and the doctors have set his leg, I hope he will mend rapidly, for otherwise he is in splendid health. We are all extremely sorry for his mishap, his good nature and cheerfulness having made him everybody’s friend in the battery. I trust he will soon be well enough to send you the news of his safe recovery. It is at present necessary that he should be still, which explains why he is unable to write himself. – I am, etc.,
C. T. Major,
Captain N.Z. Battery.
From Bush Advocate 18 May 1901

The Late Trooper Beck

The largest concourse of people that has ever assembled at Norsewood met on Sunday afternoon to witness the ceremony of unveiling the monument to the late Trooper Beck who fell so heroically while helping to get succour for his comrades in South Africa.
A detachment of the Union Rifles acted as a guard of honour, and the Brass Band was in attendance and played most appropriate music.
Punctually at 2.30 Mr P. Martin, the energetic secretary, mounted the platform and read apologies for non-attendance from the Very Rev. the Dean of Waiapu and Pastor Ries. The latter wrote as follow: – In reply to your kind invitation, dated January 15th, I beg to state that it would have given me great pleasure indeed to have been with you on the 26th at the unveiling of the Beck Memorial Monument; but as I have to be in Makaretu on the last Sunday in each month, and this is the last Sunday in this month, I could not possibly be with you. I honour and esteem any young man who shows regard to his country, and I am very glad to learn of the way in which the Norsewood community has deemed it proper to commemorate the deeds of our late trooper, young John Beck. I trust that the monument you are about to unveil will be an everlasting teacher of two things, – Firstly, that the Danish subjects in this colony are loyal to the British Crown, and at all times willing to give their lives for the service of the Empire; secondly, that the people of the colony honour and respect any man who does bis best to help to uphold the prestige of the British Empire. I pray to God that He will comfort the parents and other relatives in their sorrow over the loss of their son and brother. In conclusion, sir, as I understand that you are short of funds for the monument, and that a collection will be taken up, I beg to enclose cheque for £l, which you will kindly add to your collection. You have my best wishes for a successful meeting.
Mr Martin then called upon Mr Hall, M.H.R., who, having; made a few introductory remarks, asked Mrs Ole Ericksen to unveil the monument, a ceremony which that lady gracefully performed, during which the volunteers presented arms, and the “last post” was sounded.
Mr Hall then proceeded with his address, in which he eulogised the bravery shown by Trooper Beck. He also informed his hearers that a cross had been erected over the grave of deceased at Lichtenburg (where he met with his fatal wound) by his comrades-in-arms.
Addresses were also given by Mr C. A. Foston, Adjutant Cook, the Rev Canon Webb, and Pastor Topholm, the last speaker reminding his hearers that though he was not an Englishman by birth, he was a loyal subject of the King. He had traveled in several foreign countries and was conversant with their laws, and could say without fear of contradiction that there was no freer country in this world than that over which flew the English flag.
During the afternoon a collection was taken up and responded to with such good will that the monument is paid for, £12, the amount required, being taken.
Mr Hall, at the wish of Mr M. Beck, father of deceased, then read a few words of heartfelt gratitude to all those who bad helped in erecting such a memento to his son, after which Mr Foston moved that this meeting protests against the recent vile aspersions cast upon the British troops and affirms its belief in their honour and integrity.
Pastor Topholm seconded and the resolution was carried amidst loud cheering, the proceedings being brought to a close by the Band playing “God Save the King.”
The monument, which is a very handsome marble one and comes from the works of Mr J. Waterworth, of Napier, bears the following inscription: “Erected to the memory of Trooper H. J. Beck, 5th New Zealand Contingent, who was wounded in action at Lichtenburg, South Africa, 3rd March, 1901. Died of his wounds 24th March, 1901. Aged 23.” “In grateful remembrance of a brave soldier who gave his life in defence of the Empire.” The monument stands on a 3-tier concrete basement, which was erected by Mr Crossland, of Ormondville, and which does him infinite credit.
From Bush Advocate 27 January 1902

The image below is of the headstone erected by his comrades at Lichtenburg, South Africa.

Grave headstone image
Headstone erected over the grave of Hans Jebsen Beck at Lichtenburg, South Africa

Details of Hans Jebsen BECK, his parents and siblings can be viewed on RootsWeb.

Danish Berkahn Ancestors


As part of the recent update to my Family Tree on RootsWeb WorldConnect (16,270 people), Danish ancestors of the New Zealand Berkahn family were included.

Preben G. Kristensen from Denmark contacted me regarding the Berkahn family tree. Preben lives in Denmark in the area where Franz Frederick Heinrich BERKAHN and his wife Inga Maria LARSDATTER were living before migrating to New Zealand in 1874.

Preben has been documenting family in Denmark and around the world. Information he has collected can be viewed at The Gravgaard family and other of our relatives website, in both English and Danish.

Following contact with Preben I have been able to add ancestors of Inga Maria LARSDATTER to the family tree on RootsWeb, dating back to the 16th century.   Inga Maria POULSEN‘s name was corrected to Inga Maria LARSDATTER in the update. Birth and christening information for her children born in Denmark was also added to RootsWeb.

Thanks Preben for sharing your information which I am sure family in New Zealand will find interesting.

Berkahn Photographs


These are reproductions of Berkahn family photographs that will be of interest to  Berkahn descendants. Source: Margaret Wallace.

Franz Frederick Heinrich BERKAHN

Born 01 Sep 1832 in Denmark, migrated to New Zealand with his family in 1874, and settled at Makotuku (near Ormondville and Norsewood) where he farmed. He died 17 Sep 1916 in Dannevirke and was buried in Norsewood. Additional details at Rootsweb.

Image of Franz Frederick Heinrich BERKAHN
Franz Frederick Heinrich BERKAHN

Inga Maria POULSEN

Born 2 Sep 1843 in Denmark, married Franz Frederick Heinrich BERKAHN in 1859, and migrated to New Zealand in 1874.  She had twelve children and died at Makotuku in 1914. Inga was buried in Norsewood. Additional details at Rootsweb.

Image of Inga Maria BERKAHN - nee POULSEN
Inga Maria BERKAHN – nee POULSEN
Photo of Henry and Inga Berkahn
Henry and Inga Berkahn outside their Makotuku home

Wilhelm Franz Heinrich BERKAHN family

Wilhelm Franz Heinrich BERKAHN was the eldest child of Franz Frederick Heinrich and Inga Maria BERKAHN, born 14 Jul 1859 in Denmark.  He migrated to New Zealand in 1874 and in 1884 married  Anne Mary JENSEN.  The following photographs are of the couple and their children. Additional details at Rootsweb.

William and Anne Berkahn family - 1907
William and Anne Berkahn family – 1907

In the above photograph (left to right):

  • Back row: Christie (b 1890), Henry (b 1886), William (b 1892).
  • Middle row: Anne, Mary (b 1885), William, Gydine (a cousin).
  • Front row: Hazel (on knee, b 1906), Leslie (b 1899), Gladys (b 1901).
Photo of William and Anne Berkahn family - 1913
William and Anne Berkahn family – 1913

In the above photograph (left to right):

  • Back row: Gladys (b 1901), Leslie (b 1899), Henry (b 1886), Christie (b 1890), William (b 1892).
  • Front row: Anne, Hazel (b 1906), William, Mary (b 1885).
Sons of William and Anne Berkahn - 1913
Sons of William and Anne Berkahn – 1913 Leslie, Henry, William, Christie

Christie Berkahn (below) served with Wellington Mounted Rifles in Egypt. He was killed in action in July 1916.

Picture of Christopher Kolle BERKAHN
WWI Trooper Christopher Kolle BERKAHN (Christie)

Updates – April 2014


Updates have been added to my New Zealand Genealogy Project website.  Previous updates were in December 2013.

Genealogy Project Website Masthead

Changes and updates include:

  • Additional biographical details added for Frederick Ernest Trueman (1897-1903) and Norman Edward Trueman (1903-1903) based on newspaper reports of their deaths.
  • The Site Visitors page updated to include visitor details from Google Analytics for 2013, and statistics on the 25,000 visits over four years.
  • Additional family photo added to photo page for Christian August Berkahn.
  • Photographs of Alice Jones (1894-1981) and Walter Jones (1896-1980) added to page of Family notes for David Jones.
  • New page added to site with photograph of nurse Alice Jones (1894-1981).
  • An 1894 letter from Elizabeth McLaren (nee Duxfield) to her children, in case she died, added to her biographical notes. A photograph of Elizabeth’s notebook that contains the letter is shown below.
  • New photo of St Mary’s Matawai Anglican Church added to Matawai page, replacing a previous photo from Google.
  • New page added to site with historical photographs of the Gisborne to Motuhora (Moutohora) railway.
  • Menus and Site map page updated to include links to new pages.

People photographs were obtained during a recent visit to New Zealand. In a visit to Tairawhiti Museum in Gisborne, Dudley Meadows was very patient in looking for photos about Matawai I could use – a couple have been used for the page of photos from the Gisborne to Motuhora (Moutohora) railway.

Elizabeth Duxfield's notebook
Elizabeth Duxfield’s notebook. The 90 mm by 60 mm notebook is closed with an ivory pencil.

George Henry Trueman Photographs


I recently obtained an old photograph album and loose photos that belonged to Harold Trueman. After Harold died, the photographs were retained by the Palmerston North City Council from when they cleaned out the house that Harold rented.  Catheryn Te Paiho contacted me about the photos and sent the collection. Some of the photographs are labelled on the back, but many are not.

I have added a page to my genealogy web site that has some of the photos.  This post has several additional photos.  Please comment if you can help identify or confirm identity.

George Henry Trueman (1876-1961) and his wife Mabel Alice Halpin (1894-1935) had a daughter (Thelma Rita 1927-1987) and two sons (Harold 1930-2011 and Alick 1932-2006). The family lived in Palmerston North. Most of the photos in the collection are of members of the family.

Labeled G Henry Trueman, Palmerston North. 160 mm x 210 mm print
Labelled G Henry Trueman, Palmerston North. George Henry Trueman.  160 mm x 210 mm print
Labeled Harold Trueman Palmerston North at the A&P Show. 88 mm x 139 mm print numbered 413-19 010/3.
Labelled Harold Trueman Palmerston North at the A&P Show. 88 mm x 139 mm print numbered 413-19 010/3.
Unlabeled 62 mm x 90 mm print. G. Henry Trueman on left, and Harold Trueman on right.
Unlabelled 62 mm x 90 mm print. George Henry Trueman on left, and Harold Trueman on right.
Unlabeled 62 mm x 90 mm print. G. Henry Trueman on right, and possibly Thelma Rita Trueman on left.
Unlabelled 62 mm x 90 mm print. George Henry Trueman on right, and undoubtedly Thelma Rita Trueman on left.
86 mm x 136 mm print labeled Harold Trueman Palmerston North.  Photo by Candid Camera Specialties, 23 Parata Street, Palmerston North, phone 677-R. Thought to be Alick and Harold Trueman.
86 mm x 136 mm print labelled Harold Trueman Palmerston North. Photo by Candid Camera Specialties, 23 Parata Street, Palmerston North, phone 677-R. Thought to be Alick Trueman (left) and Harold Trueman.
Labeled G Henry Trueman, Palmerston North. 118 mm x 80 mm print.
Labelled G Henry Trueman, Palmerston North. 118 mm x 80 mm print.
Label - Harold Trueman. 95 mm x 120 mm photograph by Fenwick Photography, Rotorua
Label – Harold Trueman. 95 mm x 120 mm photograph by Fenwick Photography, Rotorua
Labeled Thelma Rita Trueman, December 1987. 68 mm x 91 mm photo on white 96 mm x 104 backgound - KODAK FILM on black back.  There are several labeled photos of Thelma in the collection.
Labelled Thelma Rita Trueman, December 1987. 68 mm x 91 mm photo on white 96 mm x 104 backgound – KODAK FILM on black back. There are several labelled photos of Thelma in the collection.
Unlabelled 54 mm x 80 mm print. The other remaining photograph on the page is of the War Memorial, Blenheim.
Unlabelled 54 mm x 80 mm print. Thelma Spurdle Wallace (1919-2003). Graham Wallace identified photograph.
Unlabeled 52 mm x 78 mm print. In album beside group photograph of nine people. A photo of Thelma Trueman?
Unlabelled 52 mm x 78 mm print. In album beside group photograph of nine people. A photo of Thelma Trueman?
Unlabeled 82 mm x 140 mm print. Possibly Thelma Rita Trueman or her mother Mabel Trueman, nee Halpin? Imprint at bottom right - "Photo by G F Framjee, Palmerston North". George Feroza Framjee (1889-1957) was a photographer who settled in Palmerston North about 1918.
Unlabelled 82 mm x 140 mm print. Possibly Thelma Rita Trueman or her mother Mabel Trueman, nee Halpin? Imprint at bottom right – “Photo by G. F. Framjee, Palmerston North”. George Feroza Framjee (1889-1957) was a photographer who settled in Palmerston North about 1918.
Unlabelled print 50 mm x 50 mm.  Thelma Truman with brother or boyfriend?
Unlabelled print 50 mm x 50 mm. Thelma Truman with brother or boyfriend?
Unlabelled 55 mm x 80 mm print, possibly of cousins?
Unlabelled 55 mm x 80 mm print, possibly of cousins?
Unlabelled postcard by WHALLEY & Co. The Crown Studios, Palmerston North.
Unlabelled postcard by WHALLEY & Co. The Crown Studios, Palmerston North. Whalley & Co. was listed in the 1915 edition of Wise´s New Zealand Post Office Directory, but not the 1940 edition.

Samuel McLERNON (1854-1926)


Samuel McLernon, born in 1854 in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, emigrated to New Zealand in 1875 aged 21.  He became a successful jeweler, with a business initially in Hamilton, and subsequently in Gisborne and then Napier.  He died in Napier in 1926. Samuel is my great-great-uncle.

Picture of Samual
Samuel McLernon

Samuel was the second son and fourth child of James McLERNON and Ann McCOMB from Carmavy near Belfast.  According to the The Cyclopedia of New Zealand (1908) James McLernon was a builder. Samuel was educated at Coleraine and Belfast, and became a manufacturing jeweler.  In 1875, aged 21, he obtained an assisted passage and emigrated to New Zealand on the ship Dunedin. He gave his occupation as mechanic. On arrival in Auckland, Samuel obtained work with Henry Kohn, an Auckland Queen Street Jeweler.

Image of Dunedin
The Dunedin in 1876, with the colours of Shaw, Savill & Albion Line of London. Painting by Frederick Tudgay.

A description of the voyage to Auckland was published in the Evening Star (subsequently Auckland Star) on 19 May 1875, the day after the ship arrived in Auckland.

Captain Whittson declares the voyage as having been a very pleasant one. Gravesend was left on the 13th February. Light winds with foggy weather were experienced in the Channel. The trades were met in 25 NT., and the Equator was made on the 11th March, only 20 days out. The S.E. trades were carried to 21 S and were very consistent. Variable weather to the Cape, the meridian of which was crossed in lat 41.30 S., on the 7th April. The ship made fine running across the Southern Ocean, her speed for weeks together averaging 10 knots. Tasmania was passed on the 10th inst, and the Three Kings on the 17th. Fine weather with showers at intervals down the coast. Three cases of typhoid fever occurred on the passage, one of which proved fatal on the 8th April. Two births took place. An accident happened to one of the crew on the 14th April. He fell from aloft while making fast the spanker, but luckily was not much hurt. Dr Flood comes in charge of the immigrants.  Owing to the unsettled state of the weather the landing of the immigrants has been delayed til tomorrow.

The Dunedin was an iron clipper passenger ship built in 1874, designed for transport of 400 passengers. She was 230 feet long on the keel, and nearly 250 feet overall; 36 feet in her extreme breadth, and 21 feet deep from the top of the floor.  She had accommodation for 28 first class and 20 second class passengers.  The Dunedin was famous in New Zealand for starting the frozen meat trade from New Zealand to Britain following a refit with a refrigeration plant. On 15 February 1882, the Dunedin sailed with 4331 mutton, 598 lamb and 22 pig carcasses, 250 kegs of butter, as well as hare, pheasant, turkey, chicken and 2226 sheep tongues.

Hamilton

In April 1876 Samuel moved to Hamilton and opened a Jewelery shop. He advertised first class workmanship, punctuality, and attention to business. He  repaired watches and clocks, providing a warranty they would keep correct time for 12 months.  Jewellery was repaired. He advertised an assortment of clocks for sale. Agents in Cambridge, Ngarawahia and Hamilton East could send clocks and jewellery for repairs.

In August 1876 Samuel married Mary Jane SOMMERS in Auckland. Mary was the youngest daughter of John T. C. Somers of Dromore, Mallow, County Cork and niece of the Ralph Somers, Government Inspector of Telegraphs in Belfast. The couple had six children while living in Hamilton between 1877 and 1886.

Gisborne

Samuel purchased and opened a watch and jewellery business in Gladstone Road, Gisborne in December 1884.  The Hamilton business was closed in November 1888 and the family then moved to Gisborne.  Samuel and Mary had three more children while living in Gisborne.

In May 1890 Samuel was elected to the Gisborne Borough Council and he remained on the council until moving to Napier. During 1894-1896 he was a member of the Waiapu Licensing Bench, a body that administered hotel licenses to sell alcohol in the Gisborne district. Samuel was also on the school committee for the Gisborne District High School.

Napier

The McLernon family moved to Napier about 1897 after Samuel McLernon purchased a Napier jewellery and watch business in August 1896. He continued to operate the Gisborne business with a manager after moving to Napier.   In 1903 he erected a new building in Hastings Street for the Napier business. The Gisborne and Napier jewellery businesses continued to operate until 1920.

In February 1898 Samuel was elected to the Hawke’s Bay Education Board and represented the Northern Ward that contained the Gisborne and district schools for several years. He was also chairman of the local holiday association for several years, and at different times took part in the management of various public bodies.

Samuel’s wife, Mary McLernon, was widely known as a valuable and untiring social worker, and was associated in an unostentatious manner with many Napier organisations for the promotion of social welfare. She was a zealous church worker, who gave of her time unstintingly, notably in connection with St. John’s Cathedral in Napier.

Samuel died in 1926 and was buried in the Park Island Cemetery, Napier.  Mary died in Gisborne while at her daughter’s residence in 1937.

Family Tree

Details of descendants of Samuel McLernon can be seen on Rootsweb where a family tree is maintained. Details of one of Samuel’s sons, John Ross Somers McLernon can be seen on an earlier posting.

James Wallace 1826-1899


Tracing James Wallace has been a mystery for me and other researchers for some time.  Sue Penrose put me onto some information that I believe solves the question.

A query was posted by lynbee on Rootschat.com – James Wallace-I have lost this line of the family!  She posted what was known about James Wallace: his birth in Ireland in 1826, his enlistment in the 65th Regiment, guarding convicts on a voyage to Tasmania, posting to New Zealand, and discharge from the army in Wanganui in 1849.  Lyn’s question – did anyone know what happened to James?

Descendants of James Wallace and Maria Brophy from Tasmania replied to the query because they thought they might be related. Their James was also from Ireland, had been to Australia before being posted to New Zealand “and fought in the war there which we believe was in Wanganui. In the 1850’s he moved to Tasmania and married.”  However marriage and death registration did not have details of James’s parents.

The Rootschat.com exchange does not provide a definitive and documented link between the James Wallace in my tree and the James Wallace who died in Tasmania.  There is considerable overlap of the facts though.

Discharged in New Zealand, by Hugh and Lyn Hughes, lists soldiers of the Imperial Foot Regiments who took their discharge in New Zealand between 1840 and 1870.  A search of the book shows that there was only one James Wallace discharged in New Zealand. This was the brother of Arthur Wallace and John Alexander McKane Wallace who were also discharged in Wanganui.

The headstone for James Wallace in Westbury Cemetery gives his age at death as 72 years (see image below). This matches with his birth in 1826.

Headstone of James Wallace, his wife Maria and son; Westbury, Tasmania
Headstone of James Wallace, his wife Maria and son; Westbury, Tasmania. Photo from Darryl Booth.

I believe that the story passed down to the children of James and Maria from Tasmania matches sufficiently with what was known from army records and New Zealand to conclude that this James Wallace is the the brother of Arthur Wallace and John Alexander McKane Wallace.  I will be updating my tree accordingly.

Please let me know if this is an error and you have an alternative James Wallace who fits better.

NOTEDischarged in New Zealand, by Hugh and Lyn Hughes, was published by the NZ Society of Genealogists in 1988.  A pdf version is now available on CD from the Society’s website.

UPDATE (6 June) – I have now updated the tree on Rootsweb with descendants of James Wallace I have found to date.