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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

Site Update

This post is to let you know about recent changes to my website – Chris Korte’s New Zealand Genealogy Project.

The Site visitors page was updated using visitor data from Google Analytics. Information for three calendar years is included in the report. The number of visitors increased in 2012 compared with 2010 and 2011. In 2012 there were over 190 visits per month by visitors who looked at the site, each looking at 3-4 pages on average per visit (these were the “non-bounce” visits).

A new page added with information about Awatuna in Taranaki was added to the site. Awatuna is the district where the Korte family settled in Taranaki, cleared the forest, and dairy farmed.  The purpose of the page is to provide some photos and history on the settlement, now almost gone.

Details of Thomas McLAREN (1862-1958) have been updated, following research showing that his brothers emigrated from Ireland several years before him (instead of all traveling to New Zealand together).

The location of Abergavenny Farmhouse, Scoulton, United Kingdom was added to Rushbrooke family notes. I had visited the farm in 2005 but was unable to locate it on a map previously. Abergavenny Farm is where Ernest Edwin RUSHBROOKE (1859-1940) spent his early life.

A new page was added to the site giving details of Clipbush Barn, Abergavenny Farm, Scoulton – a farm building converted into a residence.  When I visited Abergavenny Farm in 2005 the barn was derelict, but it has since been fenced off and converted into a modern residence.

Abandoned farm buildings in 2005 at Abergavenny Farm, Scoulton.
Abandoned farm buildings in 2005 at Abergavenny Farm, Scoulton, Norfolk.
Clipbush Barn
Clipbush Barn, Abergavenny Farm, Scoulton, Norwich. This is the building front right in photo above.

Another change to the site has been to better enable it for mobile devices like the iphone and ipad.  To achieve this three templates are used for layout.  For iphones, tap on the text to expand to screen width – the layout is affected by a rootsweb header that cannot be reduced in size to match the screen size.

John Ross Somers McLERNON

I started research on John Ross Somers McLernon after seeing he had missed the Titanic which he was booked on.  The following report was published in the Poverty Bay Herald on 3 July 1912.


Word has been received that Mr Aubrey McLernon, son of Mr S. McLernon, of Napier, has passed his final examination at the Municipal School of Technology, Manchester. He leaves immediately on a visit to his brother, Mr Ross McLernon, in Montreal, and then comes on to Napier. Mr Ross McLernon was booked as a passenger, by the ill-fated Titanic from England to America on her recent disastrous journey, but fortunately he missed the boat.

Finding Ross

I did not have Ross in my tree. A search of the NZ birth index did not find Ross McLernon, or his sister Marcella Irene.  However I did another search for McLemon, on the chance that might have been a transcription error.  That did find Ross and his sister.

Once I had found Ross’s name, finding details of his life became a bit easier.  My main sources have been ancestry.com, Liisa Macnaughton from Ottawa and Gary Fox who was researching the Canadian Horological Institute. Ross provided the photograph of Ross.

Early life in New Zealand

John Ross Somers McLernon was born in Hamilton, New Zealand, on 17 August 1881. He was the son and fourth child of Samuel McLernon and Mary Jane Somers. Samuel was a watchmaker and jeweller from Atrim in Northern Ireland who had a business in Hamilton from 1876 to 1888.

Samuel purchased and opened a watch and jewellery business in Gisborne in December 1884.  The Hamilton business was closed in November 1888 and the family moved to Gisborne. Ross McLernon attended school in Gisborne. He was amongst the top four students in the October 1895 scholarship examinations at Gisborne High School and was awarded a scholarship.

The McLernon family moved to Napier about 1897 after Samuel McLernon purchased a Napier jewellery and watch business in August 1896. Ross McLernon worked for his father and gave his occupation as jeweller in the 1905 Napier Electoral Roll.

Life in Canada

Ross McLernon moved to Toronto, Canada in 1903 to attend the Canadian Horological Institute, a school that would gain worldwide attention as one of the finest institutions of its kind. The Institute trained students of all ages and with varying levels of experience in the theory and practice of watch making and repair.

The following endorsement was attributed to Ross in 1912 “It was for the sake of experience, and to obtain a more complete horological training, that I decided to leave New Zealand. When doing so I was not satisfied to accept the statements of one school alone, but made careful enquiry about many of the schools on the American continent. Eventually I came to Toronto, and it is with pleasure, and with perfect confidence, that I can recommend the Canadian Horological Institute.

Photo of Ross
Ross McLernon in 1903

Ross McLernon married Edith Acer, a Canadian, about 1908.

Ross was listed in the 1908 to 1920 Montreal City Directories as manager of John Round & Sons Ltd, an English silver company with showrooms in London and Montreal. In the 1911 Canadian Census the Ross and his wife were living in Montreal, and  Ross gave his occupation as silversmith.

In 1921 Ross changed career, obtaining work in with his brother-in-law’s Montreal pulp and paper company, J. H. A. Acer and Co Ltd. In 1929 Ross formed Acer McLernon Paper Company Ltd with his brother-in-law John Hamilton Adams Acer, a Montreal based company that became world agents for  many of the major Canadian pulp and paper companies. Ross traveled extensively for the company and was company President from 1948.

Ross died in 1962 aged 80. He was survived by a son and two daughters, his wife Edith having died in 1958.

The company he formed still trades today, since 1978 as Acer, Mclernon Canada Inc. (Acer, Mclernon). The company offers paper packaging products and flexo graphic printing services. In addition, its subsidiary Multipak Ltd., offers laminating and coating solutions, including adhesive laminations extrusion laminations, and multi-layer coatings. The company caters its products to various markets, including bakery, biscuit, cheese, coffee, confectionery fish, frozen food, industrial, liquids, meat paper products, pasta, pet food, pharmaceuticals, and snack industries. Acer, Mclernon is headquartered in Montreal, Canada.

Descendants of Ross hold positions in the Acer, Mclernon and are on the Board of Directors. David H. McLernon is a Director and President of the company. Robert A McLernon is Chief Administrative Officer for the company.

Any descendants wishing to add to this account, or correct it, please get in touch. This is posted under McLaren because my branch of the McLernon family in New Zealand adopted the name McLaren.

Gallipoli – Captain Leslie Somers McLERNON

It is ANZAC Day today so I have posted details of Captain Leslie Somers McLERNON on RootsWeb. Leslie fought at Gallipoli with the Wellington Infantry Battalion and was a casualty on 8 August 1915 in the Battle of Chunuk Bair.

Captain Leslie Somers McLERNON
Wellington Infantry Battalion

Read Leslie’s biography on RootsWeb.

This is posted under McLaren because my branch of the McLernon family in New Zealand adopted the name McLaren.

1921 Duxfield Letters

My mother inherited three letters that had been passed down from her grandmother Elizabeth McLaren, nee Duxfield. Two of the letters were written by Elizabeth in 1921 when on holiday. The third was written about the same time and appears to be from a family friend in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

The first letter was written on the voyage from Wellington to England, between 1-14 May 1921 while sailing towards Panama.  The sixteen page letter describes Elizabeth’s illness due to being seasick, and once she had recovered, life on the ship. I have not transcribed this letter because it is of little genealogical interest.

The second letter is to my grandmother, written in August 1921 from Northern Ireland. Elizabeth and her husband Thomas McLaren were visiting family near Carmavey in County Antrim where Thomas had grown up. I have transcribed this letter: Letter from Ireland.

The third letter, from the family friend, describes the house where Elizabeth Duxfield spent her early childhood. The description mentions changes made to the house between the time when it was occupied by the Duxfields (until about 1865) and when the letter was written (about 1920). I have transcribed this letter also: Willington North Farm.

If you are a Duxfield or McLaren descendant you may be interested in reading the transcripts of these letters.