Monday, 25 July 2016

Margaret MacKay

Margaret MacKay (1896-1970)
photo: Allan Stearne
Her name is not so familiar these days, but we owe a great debt to Margaret MacKay. She was born in Otautau 120 years ago, the daughter of Ewen Matheson Jr (1868-1950) and granddaughter of Ewen Matheson Sr (1836-1915). These men were instrumental figures in early Otautau - owning a big general store and being members of the Otautau Town Board.

In 1918, Margaret married Bob MacKay and moved to Waikaia. She maintained ties with Otautau, and in her later years, wrote two books: Amanda, published in 1963; and Customers and Green Men, published in 1967.

The latter book is the first of only two books ever written about Otautau. Customers and Green Men is about the people she grew up with in the early 1900s. The book was published when she was 71. Imagine writing a book at that stage of your life. It was a great gift that she gave to the town. Next year will be its 50th anniversary. Margaret passed away in 1970 just three years after it was published.

We recommend this book. It's well-written and fortunately not hard to find - get it at the SDC library and on TradeMe. And say a thanks to Margaret...then maybe think about writing your own.

Note: We're open Sundays, 2pm-4pm and by request.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Recent Acquisitions

We've added a new page to our blog called Recent Acquisitions. It has a little bit about the items that people have donated to us over the last year. We show an image or two to give you an idea of what the object looks like. And if you recognise a face or want to share a memory, there is a place at the bottom of the page to add comments.

Hope you like it!

Note: We're open Sundays, 2pm-4pm and by request.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Virtual Exhibit - The Jacksons

James Alan Napier Brown
WWI soldier, formerly of
Brown Bros Butchers
Main St, Otautau
One of the things we like to do is dig a little deeper and find out more about things in our collection.

Two years ago, we'd been researching WWI soldiers and became aware that there were Otautau soldiers whose portraits had been painted by a Christchurch couple, Alexander and Honor Jackson. You can read the old post here.

As a result of that post, we received inquiries for more information about the artists. Even better, we were given more examples of their artwork. The pictures are so nice that we thought we'd put them all together in an 'exhibit space' of their own. If you click on this link, you can see them here.

In the meantime, we are still digging into who the artists were and making some progress. We plan to share what we find in a future post so stay tuned.

Note: We're open Sundays, 2pm-4pm and by request.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Somme - Roll of Honour

In remembrance of the five local lads who gave their lives in the battle of the Somme, 1916. The first four all died the same day in September.

Sydney Ford
Otago Witness, Collection of
Toitū Otago Settlers Museum

Sydney Ford

Sydney Ford, the fifth son of Richard & Emma Ford of Valeview, Otautau. He was born in 1894 and apprenticed as a carpenter after he left school. He enlisted for the war in 1915.

Private Ford served in the 2nd Battalion, Otago Infantry Regiment and was killed in action, Somme, France, 15 Sep 1916, aged 21. He was the first in his family to die in the war.

Sydney Ford “...made the Supreme sacrifice in the great struggle for freedom...”The Otautau Standard, 5 Jan 1917

Ernest John Pay
Otago Witness, Collection of
Toitū Otago Settlers Museum

Ernest John Pay

Ernest John Pay was the son of Frederick & Margaret Pay, born in Kennington, Invercargill, in 1895. He was a cheesemaker at the Ryal Bush Dairy Factory.

 Private Pay enlisted Nov 1915. A large gathering of Bayswater residents fare-welled him in Jan 1916 as he had worked there for a few years.

As a member of the 2nd Battalion, Otago Regiment, he was in the front line of a planned attack at the Somme, 

As a member of the 2nd Battalion, Otago Regiment, he was in the front line of a planned attack at the Somme, France. Private Pay was killed in action 15 Sep 1916, aged 21.


Francis Andrew Laidlaw
Otago Witness, Collection of
Toitū Otago Settlers Museum

Francis Andrew Laidlaw

Francis Andrew Laidlaw was born in 1894 to Hannah & John Laidlaw of Isla Bank. He became a sawmiller for Mr McCallum at Fairfax.

Private Laidlaw enlisted in Nov 1915 with his brother John. He served with the 2nd Battalion, Otago Regiment, and took part in the first offensive in the Somme. Under heavy artillery fire on 15 Sep 1916, 21-year old Private Laidlaw was killed in action.


Thomas Henry Poole
Mollison Family

Thomas Henry Poole

Thomas Henry Poole was the son of Margaret & Edward Poole of Isla Bank. He was born in 1889 and worked as a farmer.

Private Poole enlisted Feb 1915 with the Otago Mounted Rifles. He transferred into the NZ Pioneer Battalion a year later. In 1916, the Pioneer Battalion built communication trenches at the Somme under heavy artillery fire. Private Poole was killed in action, 15 Sep 1916, aged 27. 

He was one of 600 NZers to die that day and the first of three Poole brothers to die in the war.

Nisbet Shirreffs Lamont
Nisbet Shirreffs Lamont
photo courtesy of Rick Lamont

Nisbet Shirreffs Lamont was born in Woodlands to John & Jane Lamont of Edendale. He was a teacher and 1st Assistant at Otautau School.

Private Lamont enlisted Jan 1916 serving with the 2nd Battalion, Otago Regiment. He was killed in action at the Somme, 1 Oct 1916, aged 21. 

The Otautau school committee erected his portrait in the school in commemoration of his life and service.

“… a life of effort, crowded in good service and consideration for others.”The Otautau Standard, 3 Apr 1917




Note: We're open Sundays, 2pm-4pm and by request.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

AGM Wrap

The museum trustees met on Tuesday night for their annual general meeting. They're a smaller group than a decade ago but no less dedicated to the governance processes that make the museum possible.

The following officers were re-elected:
Chairperson - John Low
Secretary - Pam Booth
Treasurer - Peter Campbell
Exhibition Manager - Peter Gutsell
Publicity Manager - Pam Booth
Roster Manager - Graham Milne
Fundraising Managers - Roger Scott and Peter Gutsell
Trustee - Mervyn Officer

The Collection Manager position is still open so if anyone is interested, please get in touch. Caring for a collection involves cataloguing, labelling and storing items. Photographs need to be scanned as part of their preservation. Computer skills are important, and we can show you the rest.

Note: We're open Sundays, 2pm-4pm and by request.