Nelson researcher Anne McFadgen got talking online to Harris descendant Owen Jones about his family tree. Owen forwarded images of a set of bound letters by Edwin and Sarah Harris, explaining that the letters were copies of lost originals written between 1844 and 1854. He also sent a PDF of transcriptions of the letters made by his grandmother Constance Emily Jones. The letters fill in many details of Edwin and Sarah’s life as immigrants in Taranaki grappling with economic hardship and incipient conflict over land. They are bulletins written from New Plymouth for family members in Plymouth anxiously awaiting news of loved ones on the other side of the world. This week the bound letters appeared in Auckland as an item for auction at the International Art Centre in Parnell… Puke Ariki Museum in New Plymouth was the successful bidder and the letters will soon join other Harris family papers in the museum’s Heritage Collection.
Lead writer: Michele Leggott
Research support: Makyla Curtis, Betty Davis