Generations of Genes Copyright © Phyllis Jeans 2000
All rights reserved ISBN 0 473 03868 4
PEMM Publishing Cambridge, New Zealand
[p4] [The Jeans Line]
Block, lying beyond the Confiscation Line. Granted in 1868 to Ihaia Te Oriori and nine other Maori, this block was leased and then bought by the property speculator William Thorne Buckland. The area was farmed by large companies until 1900. Mary Ann Ormiston successfully balloted for the original section of 1005 acres and in 1904 sold the area that was to become the Jeans farm. This land was crown leasehold to begin with but was freeholded in 1913. Ernie rode the farm hack to Cambridge to meet his young brother. The return journey over the French Pass track was made in the ‘ride and tie’ manner. First one brother would ride a distance, tie the horse by the side of the road and continue on foot. In the meantime the other brother was walking steadily towards the tethered horse. It was then his turn to ride, passing the foot-slogger on the way. Alternately riding and walking the two finally reached the farm in about two hours.
When Ernie had arrived in 1905, Whitehall was sparsely populated, the farm was mainly fern and manuka except for one small paddock, and deer were numerous. By the time Jim arrived Ernie had already broken in some of the land and this continued. The fern on the easier land was burned, the ground ploughed and grass seed sown. Where the manuka grew it was a harder task. Each tree was cut down and the stumps removed before the land could be ploughed. Later a small dairy herd was hand-milked and the milk taken by horse and waggon to the creamery at Karapiro. For a short time a creamery (known as Taotaoroa, an earlier name for the area) operated at Whitehall which meant a shorter journey with the day’s milk. On occasions, Jim worked off the farm to earn extra income. In 1910 when a good supply of water was sought for the proposed creamery Jim worked on the rig for the four wells drilled in the district. When the chaff-cutter made its annual autumn visit, he worked at feeding the sheaves of oats into the machine. One job he was not sorry to see end was relief-milking on a nearby farm which carried a large herd of dairy cows. Jim’s share of the herd was thirty cows milked by hand, twice daily. An early start was necessary as there were few fences and the herd roamed over a large area. When all the cows were milked, the shed cleaned up and the milk taken to the factory it was just about time to begin the afternoon milking.
But life was not all work. There were socials in the school room or a local barn where dancing and games were enjoyed. In the style of the times,when items interspersed the dancing, Jim’s contribution would be a recitation. The annual school-cum-district picnics, often held at Gorton (a large Karapiro farm) were well attended gatherings. In 1912, Jim won the pillow fight on the slippery pole. One night, in 1911 when returning from Tirau he was greatly impressed by the spectacular brilliance of Halley’s comet. Jim was best man when his brother Ernie, and Alice Read were married on New Year’s Day, 1912. Whatever the function, there was always the ‘call of the herd’ as the local newspaper noted in the report of this event. With that essential chore taken care of, the party continued and ‘in the evening a happy time was spent in social enjoyment’.
The country-wide wharf strike in October 1913 presented Jim with a new experience. With other young men from Cambridge he went to Auckland as a special constable (a less flattering name was Massey’s Cossacks) and camped in the Domain. The Cambridge newspaper the Waikato Independent quoted a letter from an Auckland business-man. ‘The Cambridge brigade boys seem to be getting a big share of patrol work . . . There is no doubt the arrival of the farmers has saved us from a most serious upheaval’. The strike was broken and the Cambridge men came home again where a grand reception in the Town Hall greeted the returning heroes. Some months later a ‘specials’ picnic was held at Ruakura State Farm, when Jim and his friends Gilbert Hulse and Tom Ormiston from Whitehall were among those listed, in a newspaper report, as receiving a commemorative medal.
Jim, 1915, with Mounted Scouts Challenge Cup. Private Collection.