Sunday, 23 November 2014

Old Napier Cemetery Part 5

 Margaret Andrews was a young mother.  Her husband was a talented photographer who ran a business in town. On the 1st of February 1883 Maggie became very sick with lows fevers.  By the 3rd her husband was so concerned that he got a doctor to her.  However the doctor said there was no danger.  Her hubby got a second opinion, the next doctor agreed with the first one.  A local woman and Mr Andrews took turns watching Maggie.  After the second doctors visit her hubby got some sleep.  However by the early hours of the 6th of February she looked worse.  Her hubby ran to get the first doctor back again who this time declared she only had a few minutes to live.  It is believed Maggie died of inflammation of the brain (phrenitis).

Mr Andrews was worried about their baby daughter and gave her to his mother-in-law as the only thing he could give her to help her get over her daughters death.  He asked that the baby could be known as Maggie from then on to remember her mother who the baby would know as she was too young.    Mr Andrews lived in Samoa for the rest of his days.  He cared for people in the 1918 influenza epidemic with no fear for his own health.  Many people owe their lives to him.  He also went on to remarry and father another 3 daughters.

 When I saw this family plot I thought they might be related to the Nelson's which a park and school were named after I dont think they are.  Interesting plot though.

Before 1900 Napier was surrounded by a low swampy area of flat land this along with unsuitable sanitary and drainage amenities often led to the spread of illness and contagious diseases.  When epidemics broke out the lack of proper drainage, sewerage disposal and good drinking water were hot topics.  Those most likely to get were children.  This problem was worse in the Summer months.  Little could be done to help prevent the illnesses from spreading as medicines and cures were not as developed as they are these days.  Contagious diseases came in unforeseen outbreaks.

In 1873 a whooping cough epidemic broke out and affected mostly little children.  This followed 2 years after when  a pandemic of measles and mumps  broke out throughout New Zealand.   121 European children died in Napier and Havelock North.  89 of these deaths were children.  74 of which were children under the age of two.  This was followed closely by  an epidemic of typhoid fever when the Hawkes Bay Provincial Government failed to quarantine infected immigrants from two ships.  To top this all off diphtheria then broke out in 1875.

In the cemetery there are many graves where siblings lie who died within days of each other.

John Pottinger
On the night of January 30th and morning of the 31st 1897 there was a very heavy gale which wreaked havoc in Napier.  As so often it seems in those days ships got into trouble.  This time it was the Rangitiki and it was too dark at night to do anything, even though another ship had made contact. John Pottinger was captain.  He had just returned from getting 1400 bales of wool and a batch of tallow from Southern Hawkes Bay.  The storm was so bad.  Captain told his crew to hold on to whatever they could.  He himself held onto the rigging the brute strenght of a wave dislodged him and flung him the length of the ship he never regained consciousness.

 William and Bessie Burke.  What attracted me to  this grave was that I knew there is a road two actually (Burke Road and Little Burke Road) named after this man.  Turns out he was a bank manager for nearly 12 years.  He was married to Bessie who was one of the daughters of the first mayor of Napier.  He died from a cold that affected his lungs.  

Amelia, Samuel and Joseph Crowther
Samuel joined the Wellington Rangers when he was 20.  He was involved in many military campaigns.  When he was 30 he moved a canteen from one area to another along the napier - Taupo Road? and made it into a fine hotel and store.  

Nine years later Samuel and a fellow businessman brought the Napier - Taupo Coach service.  He still owed the hotel too.  the Napier - Taupo  Coach service began in 1873.  In those days it took passengers  two days to get their destination.  It was a dusty or muddy journey depending on what time of the year you took the journey.  Considerable skill was needed to drive the five horse coach along the route in those days.  It was a tough journey.  In comparison these days it takes a mere hour and a half along a good road.  

At some unknown time Samuel married and had 3 sons.  Sadly Amelia died in 1889 at just 29 years of age.  Ten years later one of their sons fell off a horse and died - he was just 16.  Samuel remarried and fathered another son who regrettably drowned in the sea at Marine Parade aged just 5.  The following month the couple left Napier, Samuel with a recommendation scroll (rather like a modern day CV).

Samuel died in Taupo when he was 76.  It is an interesting fact that his body was taken to Napier where he was buried with his first wife and their son. His son from his second marriage is buried alone elsewhere in the cemetery.  

 Bright Cooper
I found it amusing when I went looking foer this grave that although it was right under my nose it tok me a while to find it.  Maybe Bright was playing with me?
On an early beautiful calm Summer Sunday morning in December of 1896 three young men met at the Masonic? Motel.  They were powerful swimmers being members of the Napier Swimming club.  Bright went out further than his friends.  He was about 25 yards from shore when a shark appeared and started cycling him.  The shark had him!  Cooper fought without success.

Bright's friends thought he would be able to get away.  He was a strong and powerful swimmer after all.  One of his friends despite the danger swam out to him.  The shark was distracted and let go of Bright.  His friend swam him to shore which seemed to take ages.  The shark followed but did not attack again.  It however was too late, such were horrific injuries that Bright had died.

Bright's friends paid for his headstone.  When in the 1931 earthquake it was damaged a member of the Napier Swimming Club raised the money to have it repaired.    

Andrew Dobbie was an engineer on the S.S. Fanny during his working life


  1. You can learn so much history in a cemetery but it always saddens me that so many people died so very young until fairly recent years.

  2. It's the death by shark attack that feels the most harrowing to me.

    1. I agree and I did censor the research material I found out about it

  3. People didn't live very long back then, its sad wandering through old graveyards, but very interesting too.