Section 11: January-February 1890

Section 11: January-February 1890

Harris, Emily Cumming collection. Collection of Puke Ariki (ARC2002-190).

May 18th, 1890 [Sunday]. It is now a very long time since I wrote in my much neglected diary, no doubt it is better so for everyday details are wearisome & too many repetitions tiresome.

January 1st, New Year’s Day [Wednesday]. Left Nelson for a visit to Mary at New Plymouth. The day before sent to the Port four cases of pictures, screens etc. & one box, New Year’s Day being a holiday I had to send them the day before. I left in the S.S. Mahinapua, a small but comfortable steamer, & most important a kind & attentive stewardess, for I did not escape mal de mer although we had a fair passage.

We arrived early at the Breakwater but had to wait until eight o’clock for the train. When it arrived I looked anxiously hoping that Mary would come to meet me. At last I saw a youth with a woollen comforter round his neck & somewhat swollen face & covered with blotches, it was Hermann. He soon got all my numerous packages together, the cases had to wait for the luggage train, we soon got to New Plymouth & then, taking a cab, were not long before we reached Mary’s.

I found to my dismay that Mary was very unwell, two days before Christmas she was having a grand clean up in the kitchen, she was scrubbing the wall, a large pair of scissors hung on a nail near, as her arm went up swiftly she gave the scissors a knock & as it came down again the sharp point of the scissors ran into her arm. The pain was frightful, she sank down half fainting on a chair, Gretchen & Otto were horrified as the blood began to pour out. Poor children, they did what they could to stop the bleeding & bind it up.

The doctor was fetched as soon as possible but the loss of blood & the pain had a very bad effect upon Mary, and although more than a week had passed she was still quite ill & liable to sudden attacks of faintness. The pain of her arm was very great as one of the nerves had been touched, the doctor gave her three months to recover.

A day or two after my arrival, a note came from Mrs Oswald Curtis inviting us to go and stay a couple of days at Inglewood, so on Jan 10th we went to Inglewood, Mary by the afternoon train. I went to a picnic with Alfred & Kate. Alfred hired a pair of horses & spring cart for the day so we set off early in the morning, Kate with [the] girls & Frank, myself, Otto & Gretchen.

We camped half way by a picturesque river, where we had our lunch which we enjoyed very much, although it began to rain a little. We found a dry place under a high bank with overhanging trees and ferns. After our lunch it held up & we wandered about the banks of the river and across an unfinished bridge. Why the bridge was abandoned I could not conceive for a good many hundred pounds must have been spent on it.

Then we set off again for Inglewood to pay a visit to Mr and Mrs John Newland & family who had moved from New Plymouth about a year ago. We had several showers before we got there. We found the Newlands all at home & were most hospitably received. It did one good to see people so happy & healthy, so thoroughly enjoying their country life even though they all had to work hard & little money to spend.

From the Newlands’ I went to the Curtises’, all the Curtises I had known as children but Oswald had married since I was last in Taranaki. His pretty young wife was a stranger to me but we soon became friends. Oswald was evidently very proud of his wife & the baby, such a fine boy. ‘Curtis Brothers’ have large stores at Inglewood and Stratford, Oswald’s house is close to the store, comfortable & well furnished.

And now I will copy the letters written to Ellen & Frances, written during my stay in Taranaki.

[Emily Harris to Frances Harris]

Jan 11th, 1890

Dear Frances

I have only time to say a word or two. My Exhibition is to take place next Thursday & Friday. I shall go into town Monday evening & Tuesday & Wednesday begin putting up the pictures. Last Thursday Hermann & I unpacked the screens & pictures to show to the reporters of the two papers. Several notices have already appeared. I hope we shall have a good attendance.

Mrs Hetley arrived last week & Mr de Forest is here!

I could have cried about the book, the cover is horrid. Did the other books come out & how many? I accidentally brought away with me the list of Subscribers. Ellen had sent me one of my books, the one of ferns, which Mr Jackson received just after I left, the plates were well done but the cover was the colour of dirty white.

[Mary Weyergang to Ellen Harris]

Jan 11th

Dear Ellen

We are waiting for the train to take us to Mrs Bewley’s so can only send a line or two. I came here by train last evening. Emily, Gretchen, Hermann & all the Moores left town early in the morning for a picnic & came out here in the afternoon. We return to town Monday evening & then will be busy getting ready for the Exhibition. Emily has not been anywhere yet, she has been so busy painting. My arm is much better. On the 20th Emily goes to Stratford. It has been wet and cold lately but today is lovely.


We had just time to write these few lines when the train arrived & we set off to Mrs Bewley’s which is about six or eight miles farther on. After leaving the train we had to walk a mile across Mr Bewley’s clearing before we came to the house. The clearing looks much as it did three years ago, hundreds of tall dead trees left standing & plenty of logs about, but where the house is built was once a Maori garden. A lovely spot with forest on two sides, while English trees, shrubs & flowers had been planted nearer the house & also a well-stocked orchard & kitchen garden.

All the farm buildings were some distance from the house, and as the butter making [is] all done by men it was better to have it away from the house, indeed Minnie with her one servant has quite enough to do to look after household matters & cooking. It looked a pleasant, happy home, a sample of what can be done by people who have education, industry, taste & energy. After dinner Mr & Mrs Bewley showed us the garden & partly over the grounds but it came to a shower so we had to return to the house.

We had to leave early to catch the train, Mr Bewley most kindly drove us to the Station. At tea Mr Oswald told us that he had ordered a coach & pair to take us to see a new block of land where the views were most beautiful. I forget the name of the place.

We, Mary & I, had been looking forward for months to seeing this place. We were to leave at eight o’clock, but alas in the morning it was heavy rain. It cleared up in the afternoon but that was too late. In the evening we went to Church, there was no service in the morning.

Monday morning it was fine so we went ferning in a piece of forest belonging to Mr Herbert Curtis close to town, Mary got some plants she wanted. In the afternoon we left by train for New Plymouth, Mr Oswald making us promise to come again the Saturday before the second Sunday in Feb, when we would go for the long promised drive.

[Emily Harris to Ellen Harris]

Jan 20th

Dear Ellen

I received your letter yesterday morning. We have been very busy all the week about my Exhibition. We opened on Thursday from half past two to ten. The room looked quite as well as the Shelbourne Street Schoolroom, it is a larger room & if it were lined would be much handsomer.

There were so many fresh pictures that the walls were well covered. Mary lent me some pictures and frames, also her mantel drape which we put on a shelf to simulate a fireplace, we arranged the upper end of the room like a little drawing room. We had some pretty little tables to put the tops on.

I was quite satisfied with the appearance of the room when we had finished, and as it was fine we expected a good attendance but only thirty two people came the first day besides a few to whom I had given tickets, and I only sold three things. Frances’ On the Road to Cable Bay to Mr Curtis, ten shillings, Horses [?] to Mrs Crompton, five shillings, my fan to Archdeacon Govett, fifteen shillings.

The next day we had thirty six people & I sold my picture of the little Wren to Oswald Curtis, one pound. We were persuaded to open it the third time Saturday, from twelve to six, only four came & I did not sell anything more. I felt sure the people would not come on Saturday but several said they intended to come again to decide which they would buy, but they did not come!!! We are all so astonished at the public not coming that we cannot understand it at all. I shall pay the expenses but there will not be much over & it has been a very great deal of trouble. Still as I have not lost anything and as Mary & I are none the worse we are glad we have had it. The two Editors were just as kind & polite as the Nelson ones. They gave lots of little locals & several long ones, only more was said about Father’s pictures while Miss Frances Harris & Miss Ellen Harris’s names were frequently mentioned.

Someone (Dr O’Carroll) said that the Ex. was the best he had seen in New Zealand. Mrs Hetley came & Mr de Forest, he would have taken a copy of my book if I had had it there. People liked the ferns & one or two said they would like copies when it came out. Father’s pictures brought the gentlemen, they were wonderfully interested in them. One said to me, ‘After looking at your father’s paintings I am not surprised that you paint so well.’

The Voice of the Morning was quite as much admired as in Nelson, the Archway, the Peaches, the Chrysanthemums, the Cat, all my birds, the screens, table-tops, and the two groups of flowers all gave great delight.

Some people seemed as if they could not decide which to have & so did not buy anything. The Rev. Mr Farley said the black screen alone was worth going to see.

I can quite see that these Exhibitions are the right thing for us to do, people will know what to expect in time, even here it has brought us into notice, those who came are not likely to forget the pictures they admired so much.

They tell me this is a musical place, not at all artistic. Hamar Arden told me that his pupils had come down to four & no one else teaching.

I am going out to Stratford tomorrow morning by train, 30 miles. I expect to arrive by ten a.m. & in the afternoon to set off for the mountain to camp out for a week. Gretchen has gone to Inglewood for a week, Hermann has gone to his flax mill work, Concie has gone to Hawera & taken Grace with her for a visit. Mary, August and Otto will be quite lonely. Be sure you write a long letter to Mary. Mr Weyergang is quite well, I have just asked him about the German Christmas tree. I enclose description.

Harris, Emily Cumming collection. Collection of Puke Ariki (ARC2002-190).

On the morning of the 21st January [Tuesday] I left New Plymouth by the early train. Mary came to see me off with my various belongings. I had to take a side saddle which I had hired. I had been thinking how long the journey would be with no one to speak to, when to my surprise I saw Mr and Mrs de Forest in a second class carriage & as I meant to go second class I got into the same carriage.

The carriage was very full not only with Europeans but several Maoris as well. I said to Mr de Forest that I was sorry that I had not had time to go & see his pictures, so he replied, ‘I can show you some of them now,’ & he took two framed landscapes from the rack & began to untie the strings which bound them together, when the guard came in & said, ‘All the ladies in the first class carriage.’ (We had gone a few miles.) So with a comical look I had to follow Mrs de Forest & the rest of the females into the first class carriage & leave the pictures & Mr de Forest alone in his glory.

However, at the first station we stopped at, Mr de Forest’s handsome face appeared at the window. ‘I’ve made it all right,’ he said, ‘& I’m coming in.’ So in he came bringing with him the pictures & a beautifully contrived & made box for holding sketches painted in oils which, after showing me the landscapes, he proceeded to unpack & took out one after the other some twenty sketches which he had taken during a month’s tour up the Wanganui River. They were all interesting & some very beautiful, of course the other people were very much delighted as the sketches were passed round.

At Inglewood we stopped for a short time. I had Oswald Curtis’s picture, which I delivered to Gretchen who came to the door of the carriage as I did not get out, then I stood at the step for a few minutes talking to Oswald Curtis about my Ex. etc. I happened to mention that Mrs Curtis liked the Nikau berries so he asked the price.

‘One pound,’ I replied.

‘Then give it to my mother from me.’

We were soon off again, pleasant companions made the time seem short so that we seemed to arrive at Stratford very quickly.

Mr Charles Curtis was at the Station to meet me. He & another gentleman took up my belongings & with ‘Goodbye’ to the de Forests I soon found myself at Mr Curtis’s establishment, a large store & dwelling house combined. I had a hearty welcome from Mrs Charles, & after several introductions sat down [to] lunch, of which I was very thankful, but I was hardly prepared for a substantial dinner at 12 p.m. However, the reason was that we were to start as soon as we could get the hundred & one things packed for the saddle & pack horses.

I found that one young lady who was going was an invalid & as she was only to walk her horse we two set off an hour before the others who overtook us a little before we came to the forest, a cavalcade of nine.

We had had a good road, only we had to pass several bush fires & some stumps & logs burning in the road. Only horses accustomed to fires would [have] passed quietly through smoke.

Soon the road became a mere pathway through a clearing & we had to go in single file. At one place we had to go up & down a steep place & some of the horses had to be led. Some men were working there so no doubt it would soon be improved. I thought, ‘If this is a specimen of what the road is to be I shall not like it at all,’ but it turned out to be the only bad place all the way. The Stratford gentleman who had cut the pathway at the expense of much time & labour had so carefully selected the route that there were no streams to cross or steep places to go up & yet we were ascending all the time.

When first we entered the forest the trees were gigantic great pines & ratas, their trunks & limbs thickly covered with creepers and pendant ferns, while here & there the rata blossoms showed crimson against the sky.

We walked our horses in single file keeping a sharp lookout that our saddle bags did not bang too often against the trunks of trees or our heads knock against the overhanging branches.

Every now & then by a step or two the pathway ascended, and the character of the forest seemed to change. The larger forest trees were less frequent, the supplejacks disappeared, ferns were still plentiful, the trees were less in height, their trunks & branches gnarled & twisted into the most fantastic shapes. Then as we neared our camping ground the branches of the trees were draped with greenish grey moss, which gave the forest a most weird appearance, as if the whole place had been dipped into the depths of the sea & had come up covered with seaweed.

Where we camped a few trees had been cut down, & through the opening the snowy summit of Mt Egmont was visible. A rough shed had been erected beneath three Towai trees, of galvanised iron & canvas. As soon as we dismounted I found that after a short rest most of the horses were to be sent back that evening as it was difficult to obtain food for so many, so I sat down, tore a leaf out of my drawing book & wrote a note to Mary to tell her of our safe arrival.

The gentlemen soon set about making everything comfortable for the night which they did very cleverly. One half of the shed was divided off for the ladies’ sleeping apartment and there we arranged our things amid shrieks of laughter at the comical contrivances we had to make.

We had good appetites & all enjoyed our tea, our appetites lasted or rather seemed to increase all the time we were there. What we did not enjoy was the smoke from our campfire which seemed to blow every way.

The next day we went wandering about in twos & threes, some for water which was a long way off & some to spy out the land. Three of us followed the line until we found Mr C. and Mr F. working away to improve the pathway. The trees had grown less & less in height until at length it ceased to be forest and we found the long slope of the mountain covered with dense scrub through which a pathway had been cut. Many of the shrubs were in flower. As we wandered on, the scrub became smaller & a change to grass & alpine plants.

Before us rose the mountain, dark rock & snow, & floating above & around it the light, fleecy clouds. Looking back we gazed over a sea of forest, here & there in the distance little islands of cultivation with blue curling smoke. Stratford, Ngaire, Inglewood & others on the left mountain ranges, and far away the deep blue sea & sky. At our feet the dwarfed forest looked white with the blossom of the towai tree.

I had come with a determination not to attempt to climb the mountain but contented myself with one day’s exploring down a deep, wide, steep, rocky gorge where we had adventures enough to last for a long time.

The gorge was grand & magnificent in some parts, most lovely in others. The days seemed [short]. I seemed to have but little time for painting & no inclination so I did not make one sketch although I [planned] several groups of flowers & gathered a lot to take back to Stratford. We were all loth to leave when Saturday came.

When we emerged from the forest we found that our road lay through a bush clearing which had been on fire some days before & which had unhappily burnt some of the finest trees in the forest. We found there were fires in many directions. It was the season for burning. To me it seemed dreadful to see the lovely forest so recklessly destroyed.

I stayed a week at Stratford painting a little every day, finishing the flowers I had partly done & one fresh group. As each was finished it was pinned up against the wall of Mrs Curtis’s sitting room, much to the delight of the household. There was so much lamenting about not having been able to see my Exhibition that at last I said, ‘If you can sell a hundred tickets at a 1/ each to pay expenses I will go to New Plymouth, pack up the pictures, bring them out here & have an Ex. in the Stratford Town Hall.

So then there was an immediate setting to work. Tickets to write, the day to fix, all sorts of things to be arranged. It was thought that a little music in the evening would make it more attractive so people had to be invited to play & sing. When I wrote to tell Mary she was amazed.

On Saturday afternoon, Feb 2nd, I left Stratford by train for Inglewood.

Soon after I left Stratford I began to notice how very smoky the air had become & as we went on it appeared to get worse. I noticed that there were dozens of tall dead trees on fire in the clearings on our way. Listening to the talk among the passengers I heard rumours of bush fires and houses burnt. At Inglewood the atmosphere was very smoky & a fine piece of forest on a hill close to the town was on fire.

Mary arrived by the train from New Plymouth. Soon we were having tea in Mrs Oswald Curtis’s pretty sitting room & discussing our plans for tomorrow.

‘If this wind goes down,’ said our host, ‘it will be safe enough but if not I should be afraid to leave the place.’

‘It has been blowing for three days,’ said one, ‘it is sure to go down.’

‘Or go on for another three, that is the rule,’ was the reply.

About ten o’clock the wind dropped & being very tired all of us we went to bed. I fell asleep at once. I had an awful dream. I was in a large enclosed place surrounded by gigantic evil beings who were shooting fiery arrows at me. Of course I could neither move or speak until at last with one supreme effort a dreadful cry burst from my lips & I awoke to find my arm shaken by Mary.

‘What’s the matter?’ cried Mrs Curtis from the next room.

‘Only Emily dreaming,’ said Mary.

A few minutes after came a knock at our door.

‘Mrs Weyergang, are you awake?’ said Oswald.


‘There is no immediate danger but I think you had better get up.’

In an instant I was out of bed & we dressed as fast as possible. Suddenly our room became as bright as day. The forest was crackling & burning, the wind was raging & driving showers of sparks & flame towards the town.

We hastened into the yard & found Mrs Curtis & the servant girl pumping up water as fast as they could. We set to work at once to carry buckets of water, to fill everything that would hold water. We both took twenty buckets, the washing tubs a great many. Then we went into the store and got piles of buckets & dippers, the buckets we filled with water and placed at intervals round the buildings with a dipper to each.

Meantime the smoke was so bad that I had every now & then to run into the house to recover myself. Mr Curtis had gone to help those who were much nearer the fire. When we had done all we could we kept watch round & round the house & stores, ready to put out the sparks as they fell.

About one Mr Curtis came back. The pretty house we thought must be in flames every minute was untouched, thanks to those who were working so to keep the roof wet & to put out the sparks as they fell.

At two o’clock we had some coffee. Mr C. insisted upon our going to lie down as nothing more could be done, which we did, but he watched the premises until dawn, keeping everything wet. Then the wind went down.

Next morning the smoke had cleared away, the fires abated, & we were congratulating ourselves that the worst was over but to our dismay about twelve o’clock the wind began to blow violently. The danger was far worse than before, the smoke intolerable, Oswald hurried off to help his brother Herbert & to work like a lion with many others where the danger was greatest, the fire fiercest.

Mrs Oswald was nearly distracted about her husband but she did what the workers were most thankful for, sent them cans of tea. The heat & smoke were awful there, Herbert Curtis got quite blind for some time.

What a long day it was watching & waiting. Many arrangements were made in case the Town caught fire, for with no fire engine it could not have been stopped. A telegram was sent to Wellington to ask for extra trains in case of such a catastrophe.

In the afternoon fires had broken out the other side of the Town. Mrs Curtis was so restless she could not stay indoors, so Mary went with her some distance for a walk. They met three little children. Mrs C. asked them where they were going, they said they were trying to go home but the road was so full of smoke they could not go on. They had come in from a bush farm to go to Sunday School in the morning & had been ever since trying to get back. So Mrs C. made them go back to her house, gave them each some cake & something to drink & then sent them to try & get home another way, which we supposed they did.

At night the wind went down again. The morning was calm, we were to return by the ten a.m. train and as we could do no good by staying we left very sad & sorry to have to leave our friends until all was safe.

Jan 8th [Wednesday]. (From Ellen’s letter)

[Ellen Harris to Emily Harris]

Only three copies of the fern numbers came & they wanted to know if they were to be bound or loose – did you ever know such idiots? That will make another three months before they come out, of course we wrote that they were to be bound & if not too late to alter the colour of the backs, we have sent a pattern.

When we arrived in town, all the back country seemed covered with smoke, it seemed as if it would be impossible to have the Ex. at Stratford so I sent a telegram to know if it should be put off, and as I felt so sure that it would be put off I did not begin to get anything ready – but on Tuesday came the answer, ‘Better not to put it off.’ So then I had to set to work to unpack everything, take all the pictures with glass out of the frames, repack the screens & all the rest, trouble enough it was in packing such things, you always seem to want just a little more room.

I went off by the morning train, it was a lovely morning, there were a good many passengers & among them two Salvationists who enlivened the time by singing. Fires were burning all along the way in several places, the fires had burnt fiercely on both sides of the railway line at once.

At Inglewood we saw the O. Curtises, the fires had subsided somewhat, they had been very bad for two days after we left. I forgot to mention that when we got into the train on Monday, we found Mr G. Curtis, he had just returned from the Dunedin Ex. He was going into town to see his parents & then coming back to Inglewood to help Oswald, so when we stopped a few minutes at Inglewood he got in the carriage & taking a vacant place by me said, ‘I thought I would come out to Stratford to help you.’ It was so kind and thoughtful.

Arrived at Stratford. I had no more trouble, three tall gentlemen were ready to do everything I wanted. The fires at Stratford had not been serious with one or two exceptions, a gentleman had a hundred acres of grass seed burned.

The cases were soon taken to the Town Hall, with two ladies & three gentlemen to work the unpacking, and arranging went on briskly. When Mary arrived by the afternoon train thinking there would be such a lot to do, she found most of the arranging done.

We opened  next day, afternoon & evening, it was very amusing. A good many people came and all seemed to be very much amused & interested. In the evening Mrs Malone played several pieces on the piano, she is a splendid musician. Mr C. Penn gave a violin solo & several gentlemen sang. It all passed off well, only at the end we could not get the young men & youths to go. I had been told beforehand that they wanted to have a dance, but as I knew that it would not do to clear away all the pictures etc. in a hurry & as they could not remain, being most of them set up against the wall, it could not be done.

The youths said to Mr Curtis, ‘We will help to move all the things.’

‘No,’ said Mr C. ‘Why, you would do several hundred pounds’ worth of damage in a few minutes.’

Every picture has to be carefully laid down & covered over with tissue paper. So my three tall friends had to walk up & down until they all went.

Next morning we had to repack all the pictures to return to New Plymouth in the afternoon.

Sold, Mr Charles Curtis, ‘The Cat’ (Ellen’s), one pound ten; View of Stoke, ten shillings (Frances’s); 3 cards, six shillings; Study of fruit, one pound; Mountain flowers to be copied, seven shillings (mine); Miss Bayley, 1 card, one shilling; Mrs F. Arden, two cards, one to be painted, at two shillings, four shillings; Mr G. Curtis, ‘Peaches,’ two pounds (F’s). All paid.

[Frances Harris to Emily Harris]

Nile St East
Nelson, Feb 16th

Dear Emily

We were very glad to get your letter as the Telegrams were very alarming about the fires – we did not know whether you could get into town or not & thought it quite impossible that your Ex. could come off at Stratford. You were indeed fortunate in getting it over so well. I never expected to get anything by it & was very much astonished to find a post office order for so much. It came just in the nick of time to help to pay some of the bills, at least part of it.

I am sure I ought to feel flattered at my pictures selling at all, I shall begin to believe in myself soon – I have not made a sketch or painted a thing since you left. The daily round has been as much as I could accomplish. The weather has been so bad the ground so parched that it is quite melancholy to see the gardens.

Give Mary my love & tell her that if I had none of the trouble of the Ex. I had none of the pleasure. When I came home on Friday night I found F. S. and F. W. waiting for me to return. Mr Frank said that of course I went out because I knew he was coming & I retorted that of course he came because he knew I was out. He has not been in the house since you left. He has been a good deal with the Fells. The Camera Club had a capital Ex.

[Emily Harris to Frances Harris]

Sunday – 2/23/90

Dear Frances

While waiting for Mary to go to church with me this morning I commence a letter to you. I received yours & am glad you got the P.O. all right. It is harvest service at St Mary’s this morning but the decorations I hear are not much on account of the dry weather. Gretchen took a bunch, Mary could not go as she was too tired – she is often unwell, the heat & work are too much for her. I cannot depend upon her at all to go out with me. People are still calling. I disappeared after my Ex. in town & was supposed to have gone to Auckland as a Miss Harris’s name was in the paper among the passengers to that city. On Friday Mary had an afternoon tea party, Mrs Pridham, Mrs Marton, Mrs Woodhouse, Miss Standish, Mrs Dr Leatham, Miss Humphries.

On Tuesday Mary & I went to the Standishes’ to tea. Mrs Smith came over on Wednesday to ask us to a garden party on Friday, she was very much disgusted to find that both our little tea fights were on the same day. However, she will have another next Wednesday. Friday afternoon Kate came in saying, ‘I have come to have tea,’ so I asked her to take off her things. ‘Oh! no,’ she said, ‘I am going to Mrs Smith’s.’

I have been to Church – the decorations were better than I expected. On our way back we called at Mrs Curtis’s to ask George to come and take tea with us this evening.

Mrs Curtis: ‘I have got a compliment to tell you. A gentleman who is a very good judge was here & he said your picture of Cable Bay is better than that Canadian artist’s.’

‘It is Frances’s painting,’ I replied, ‘but I like to hear the praise just the same.’ Mr de Forest’s pictures were thought a good deal of here, so you must take the compliment as worth a good deal.

Harry went to Hawera to see Concie. Harry is not tall as we thought, he is very good looking with nice gentlemanly manners, speaks well, he is musical, belongs to the Bathurst Brass Band. I unpacked my pictures on Friday for him to see & to choose one of yours. I want Harry to return by way of Nelson or rather he would very much like to see you all but the difficulty is about the steamers. At present scarcely any go direct to Nelson but go on to Wellington. I have got my things partly packed in case one leaves for Nelson. I do not want to go to Wellington on account of the long voyage & mostly for fear of having to tranship my numerous cases.

Harry was obliged to go to Wellington by train as there was no steamer to Nelson & he was afraid of missing his passage to Melbourne.

I was very ill going to Wellington. A long voyage & bad weather. Harry came on board to meet me, he was very kind & useful – stayed two days at Mrs Lee’s, went to see Mrs Percy Smith & Lady Atkinson. The latter said she would like me to paint her a little group of mountain flowers.

Reached Nelson at last, found Frances far from well.

Saw Mrs Farrington, she would have bought some of the alpine flowers but as I could not spare them I painted two other little groups. I am so sorry they have gone, I feel I have lost a friend.

[Newspaper cutting pasted into diary]



Very general regret will be expressed in Nelson on learning of the death of Mr Henry Overton Stuckey, eldest son of Mrs F. A. Bamford, which has occurred in Tasmania. At Nelson College he put up a fine athletic and scholastic record, and, with his brother, the late Major Stuckey, was well known for the sterling nature of his character. The deceased took the degrees of M.A. and B.Sc. at Canterbury College, and later taught at King’s College (Auckland), Christ’s College (Christchurch), Wellington College, and Invercargill High School. He left New Zealand with the Second Contingent, and served throughout the South African War. He was a keen footballer and while at Nelson College played half for the Nelson Reps. in several important matches, notably against Blenheim, Wairarapa, and New South Wales. About twelve years ago the late Mr Stuckey went to Tasmania, where he engaged in apple growing. A wife and three children are left to mourn their loss.

Harris, Emily Cumming collection. Collection of Puke Ariki (ARC2002-190).

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At last I saw a youth with a woollen comforter round his neck
Carl Herman Alexander Weyergang (1872-1932), elder son of August and Mary Weyergang, aged about 17.

Gretchen & Otto were horrified as the blood began to pour out
August and Mary Weyergang’s younger children, Ellen Gretchen (1875-1954) and Otto Philip August (1878-1918), aged about 14 and 12.

A day or two after my arrival, a note came from Mrs Oswald Curtis
Catherine Rose Ralfe (b. 1867) married Oswald Maberley Curtis (1854-1909) in 1885. The baby son Emily meets on her visit is Leslie Ralfe Curtis, born Inglewood, 10 October 1888. Two more Curtis brothers, George Newsham (1842-1926) and Herbert Bloomar (1852-1915), are mentioned in Emily’s diary. They ran a butchery in Inglewood (Taranaki Biography Files).

I went to a picnic with Alfred & Kate
Emily, Gretchen and Otto travel to Inglewood with Alfred and Catherine (Kate) Moore, their daughters Constance, Fanny, Ruth and Grace and youngest son Frank.

Then we set off again for Inglewood to pay a visit to Mr and Mrs John Newland
John Newland (Jun) (c.1835-1905) was the eldest son of John and Frances Newland, who arrived with their first four children in New Plymouth on the Amelia Thompson in Sept 1841. The Newlands later owned a farm on Frankley Rd and were neighbours of the Harris family. During the first Taranaki War the Newlands, like the Harrises, took refuge in New Plymouth and sons John and William fought with the Taranaki Militia. Emily makes frequent mention of the Newlands in letters to her family in Nelson 1860-61. See ‘Writing Lines’ 1-8. John Newland (Jun) married Elizabeth Jane Knight (c.1840-1920) in New Plymouth in 1864. The Newlands had a large family of eight daughters. Their move to Inglewood was a permanent one, John and Elizabeth Newland are both buried in the Inglewood Cemetery.

Last Thursday Hermann & I unpacked the screens & pictures to show to the reporters
Thursday 9 Jan 1890. A preliminary notice for the exhibition appeared the same day:

In St. Mary’s Sunday Schoolroom, on Thursday and Friday next, Miss Harris, of Nelson, will hold an Art Exhibition —the works of art being paintings by Miss Harris, Miss Frances Harris, Miss Ellen Harris, and Mr Harris. Miss Harris’ works embrace paintings of New Zealand flowers. Two very handsome screens, and some beautiful table-tops, with flowers painted on them, were sent by this lady to the Indian and Colonial Exhibition, held quite recently in London, and there they were greatly admired. This lady’s work is in much variety that it would be impossible to denote everything in a preliminary notice like the present. The paintings should be seen by all who have an eye for the artistic. Some oil paintings by Miss Frances Harris are effective, one scene — an archway in one of the Sugarloaves at the breakwater, painted about three years ago —being very natural. “A basket of Peaches” is another very effective painting by the same lady. Miss Ellen Harris has also some pictures in oil which show considerable artistic ability. Some historical pictures pertaining to Taranaki by Mr Harris, who was a surveyor here in the early days, are very interesting. One shows the landing of troops in the roadstead in 1860 from three steamers and a small schooner, with the town (then very small) and Mt. Egmont showing. Another sketch shows the town of New Plymouth in about 1845, and the Mt Elliot Hill shows out prominently. On this hill a great number of Maoris are holding a meeting, and a number of trees are adjoining the hill, making the place look quite like a park —a great contrast to Mt. Elliot of the present day. There are numerous other pictures, making in all a very good art collection, which should be seen by all whose tastes are in that direction. (Taranaki Herald 9 Jan 1890: 2)

Mrs Hetley arrived last week & Mr de Forest is here!
Both artists attended Emily’s New Plymouth exhibition. Georgina Burne Hetley (1832-1898) was the second daughter of Dr Dugald McKellar and Annette Clark. Annette McKellar was widowed in Madeira and she and her 10 children emigrated to New Zealand, arriving by the St Michael in New Plymouth in 1852. The family settled at Omata and named their property Fernlea. Georgina Burne McKellar married Charles Hetley at Omata in 1856 and was widowed with an infant son in 1857. When hostilities broke out in Taranaki in March 1860 Annette McKellar and her daughters moved to New Plymouth. Their Omata home was burnt, crops destroyed and livestock carried off. During her time in Taranaki Georgina Hetley made pencil sketches of Fernlea and Brookwood, and of New Plymouth during the hostilities. She left New Plymouth in 1863 and by 1879 was living in Auckland, where she established a reputation for painting native flora. Hetley’s full DNZB entry details her time in the Auckland Society of Arts, the creation and publication of her London and Paris published book The native flowers of New Zealand, her time and success abroad in London and Australia, and the local and international exhibitions in which her art was featured. The National Library of New Zealand has sixteen of Hetley’s artworks available for online viewing and her book The native flowers of New Zealand, now in the public domain, is available online and as a PDF.

I could have cried about the book, the cover is horrid
Proof copies of New Zealand Ferns have arrived in Nelson. It is not possible to know whether the colour of the card cover was changed in response to Emily’s objections: surviving sets have off-white covers.

We are waiting for the train to take us to Mrs Bewley’s
Marion Susan (Minnie) Brind (1859-1941) was the daughter of James Brind and Susan Newland, and a grand-daughter of John (Sen) and Frances Newland. She was born in New Plymouth and taken to India as a baby: see Emily Harris’s letter of 29 Mar 1863: ‘I received a letter from Susan last post, containing a lock of her baby’s hair (such a pretty colour)’ (‘Writing Lines’ 11). Susan and Minnie Brind returned to New Plymouth in 1865 after the death of James Brind in India in 1861. Minnie married Walter Bewley (1855-1922) in New Plymouth in 1882. The Bewleys farmed an extensive property near Tariki between Inglewood and Stratford in the 1880s and 1890s. Walter Bewley subsequently established a successful auctioneering and agency business in New Plymouth.

By the death of Mr Walter Bewley the ranks of those intimately connected with the early development of the Inglewood district have been further reduced (writes the News’ Inglewood correspondent). Settling first near Tariki, he soon made his presence felt as one who meant to prove what could be done by practical treatment of Taranaki land. From the start Mr Bewley took keen interest in any movement for the advancement of the community, was one of the promoters of the old Moa Farmers’ Club, whose monthly meeting for discussion of matters of general interest to the men on the land bore good fruit, and whose annual shows of farm and garden produce were quite a feature in the events of those days. To his example, too, the Tariki district owes some, at any rate, of its present prominence as a centre of the Jersey breeders of Taranaki, for he was one of the first in the Moa Block, if not actually the first, to introduce stud cattle of that breed amongst the settlers. In that and other ways he showed that he believed in securing the best to be had of whatever line he decided to develop, and so set an example which has been followed to their advantage by some of his former fellow settlers, many of whom will have learned with regret that he has passed on, and will sympathise sincerely with his bereaved family. (Hawera and Normanby Star 18 Jan 1922: 4)

The clearing looks much as it did three years ago
Emily refers to her visit to Taranaki in the summer of 1887, when she recorded also meeting Percy Stephenson Smith in New Plymouth.

Monday morning it was fine so we went ferning in a piece of forest belonging to Mr Herbert Curtis
Herbert Bloomar Curtis (1852-1915) married Caroline Larsen (born in Denmark, 1860) in 1878 (Taranaki Biography Files). [Along with his brother Charles] Herbert began a store, butchery and bakery in temporary premises [in Stratford]. Herbert also ran a butchery with another brother, George, in the recently established town of Inglewood. Showing faith in Stratford’s future, Charles and Herbert replaced their temporary premises with a substantial two-storeyed building and bakehouse in January 1879. The store also provided the postal services for the town until they were transferred to the newly opened railway station (Charles Curtis, DNZB).

We have been very busy all the week about my Exhibition
The exhibition ran Thursday 17 and Friday 18 Jan 1890 and was opened again Saturday 19 Jan. Newspaper notices reiterated their description of the show and its contents, now in situ:

Miss Harris’ Art Exhibition was opened in St. Mary’s Schoolroom at half -past 2 o’clock to-day (Thursday), and was visited by a number of persons, whose artistic tastes must have been gratified by the capital display shown. The pictures and other works of art, which are the work of Miss Harris, principally, Miss Frances Harris, Miss Ellen- Harris, and Mr Harris, are arranged with due care to effect and shading, and on the whole make a splendid display. Miss Harris exhibits a great number of paintings of New Zealand flowers, among other things. One picture, called “Voice of the Morning,” in which the bell bird and the pretty native clematis are greeting the morning, is very natural. The number of paintings of New Zealand ferns, flowers, birds, etc., is large, and some beautifully painted table tops, screens, and panels, some of which were shown at the Indian and Colonial Exhibition further testify to Miss Harris’ artistic ability. The works of Miss Harris are so numerous and excellent that it would be impossible to describe them in so short a notice as the present. Those who have an eye for the artistic should not fail to pay the exhibition a visit. Mr .Harris, who, it might be mentioned, was a surveyor in this district in the early days of the settlement, has a number of scenes, some showing New Plymouth in its infancy. One scene in particular — the landing of the Imperial troops here in 1860 — is worth seeing. It shows three steamers and a small sailing vessel in the roadstead, and from these the troops are shown as disembarking in boats. The painting was done by Mr Harris from the deck of the S.S. Airedale, which steamer was lying in the roadstead at the time. A view of New Plymouth —a ” remarkably small place then, apparently —is obtained from the picture. Another scene by Mr Harris is a view of New Plymouth, with Mount Eliot showing out prominently, in 1845. This is an instructive scene to those who reside in the town now.

A view of Mount Egmont, and a forest scene in Taranaki, are two more pictures shown by this gentleman. Miss Frances Harris has a number of oil paintings on view, one being a local scene. This is an Archway at the Sugar Loaves, which Miss Harris painted a few years ago. Miss Ellen Harris has also a number of works of Art on view — the 1 portrait of a nun, paintings of scenery, and a number of other specimens of this lady’s work call for especial notice. As an exhibition of Art the whole collection cannot be too highly praised, and as it will be open to-night till 10 o’clock, and to-morrow (Friday) from 2.30 till 10 o’clock, no one should miss the opportunity of paying the exhibition a visit. (Taranaki Herald 16 Jan 1890: 2)

I sold my picture of the little wren to Oswald Curtis
Few of Emily’s numerous studies of native birds have been recovered. An undated pencil drawing at Puke Ariki is titled ‘New Zealand Wren and Nest’ (A66.659) It is part of the collection of papers and artwork donated to the Taranaki Museum in 1961 by Ruth Moore and Ella Grace Hobbs.

The Rev. Mr Farley said the black screen alone was worth going to see
Rev Thomas Beresford Farley (1852-1930), appreciative of the black satin screen Emily sent to the Wellington Industrial Exhibition of 1885 and the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London in 1886. See section 1. The same screen drew comment later in 1890 when it was exhibited in Nelson: ‘A painted screen of three panels, which stands near the former, claims admiration. With a few effective sprays of lycopodium and of ferns, the native clematis, convolvulus, and lacewood flowers are effectively reproduced.’ (Colonist 15 Aug 1890: 3)

Rev Thomas Farley of Auckland married Gertrude Webster, a teacher at St Mary’s Sunday School, in New Plymouth later in the year. (Taranaki Herald 10 June 1890: 2)

Hamar Arden told me that his pupils had come down to four
Artist Francis Hamar Arden (1841-1899) and his father Hamar Humphrey Arden, also an artist, bought the Harris farm on Frankley Rd in 1876, renaming it Ardendale. See ‘The Family Songbook’ Letter 24. Puke Ariki holds a substantial collection of Hamar Arden’s work.

ARDEN, Francis Hamar (known as Hamar Arden Jnr) 1841/42–1899

Born in England, son of Hamar Humphrey Arden, probably received some instruction in the use of watercolours from his grandfather the Rev. Francis Edward Arden, Vicar of Gresham, whose work is very similar. Was with his family until 1861, then served with the Military Settlers, Voluntary Rifles and Armed Constabulary: later farmed at Frankley Road. By 1871 was practising with his father as a professional artist in New Plymouth. Was invited by the Society of Artists, Auckland, to exhibit in their first exhibition 1871. In the 1870s the knowledgeable in Auckland regarded him as one of the leading New Zealand artists, and his work was praised for its liveliness. Exhibited with ASA 1887. Represented: ACAG; Taranaki Museum; and a watercolour attributed to F. H. Ardan is in Turnbull. (Platts)

I said to Mr de Forest that I was sorry that I had not had time to go & see his pictures
Canadian artist Henry Josiah de Forest (1855-1924) and his wife Ruth made an extended tour of New Zealand 1888-90, spending several months in Nelson where de Forest was one of the defenders of John Gully’s work in the Bishop’s exhibition in May 1889 (see section 8). His New Plymouth exhibition was advertised in the same paper as Emily’s:

Mr H. J. De Forest, a Canadian artist who is on a sketching tour through New Zealand, is now in New Plymouth, where he will remain for a few days. He has been in the colony about two years, having travelled up from the south, taking sketches of all the most picturesque spots he came across. He has on exhibition at Mr W. A. Collis’ several pictures and sketches. He has views of Mount Cook, the Manawatu Gorge, Mount Egmont, from Normanby, and several other places. The pictures and sketches are very artistic productions and will repay a visit of inspection. (Taranaki Herald 9 Jan 1890: 2)

A Vancouver Masonic biography records de Forest’s life without mention of the New Zealand visit:

The evolution of his name from DeForest to De Forest to de Forest may be ascribed either to his own hand or the whim of printers and typographers. Regardless, he studied drawing and painting at South Kensington School of Art, London, the Julién Academy in Paris and in Edinburgh, Scotland. From 1880 to 1883 he travelled and sketched in England, France, Italy, Egypt, Palestine, Germany and Switzerland. He first settled in Vancouver in 1891 and settled here permanently in 1898. In 1921 he moved to Banff. His paintings were exhibited in Vancouver in the 1890s and he became the first secretary of the Art, Historical and Scientific Association in 1894. He was also the first secretary of the Vancouver Museum.

Three of us followed the line until we found Mr C. and Mr P. working away to improve the pathway
Charles Curtis and Thomas Henry (Harry) Penn continue working on the mountain Track above the campsite at the edge of the Te Popo gorge. The five-day expedition to the mountain included a summiting that Emily did not take part in, probably the second ascent from Pembroke Rd up the eastern side of the mountain.

The first had occurred the previous year:

A successful ascent of the mountain by the Pembroke Road track was made on the 17th by a party consisting of Mr and Mrs C. S. Curtis, Mr and Mrs F. G. Arden, Mrs Percy Bayley, Miss E. Dixon, and Messrs H. P. Webber and T.H. Penn. The distinction of being the first ladies to reach the summit from the Stratford side was gained by Mrs Curtis and Mrs Bayley. The party was fortunate in getting a splendid view, the clouds which had hung about all the morning clearing off as the peak was reached. (Taranaki Herald 21 Mar 1889: 2)

Another report one day later supplies a possible reason for extending work on the camp and track the following season:

A party of ladies and gentlemen made the ascent of the mountain on Sunday last from the new track up the Pembroke Road, and were all successful in reaching the summit with the exception of two. The track is spoken highly of, and the climbing, although rather steeper at times than the Egmont Village side, is much shorter, and the ground gives a good foothold. It has been decided to shift the present camp higher up the mountain, so as to make the ascent and return an easier day’s work. A trip even as far as the camping ground will well repay anyone the trouble, as the scenery is very pretty, and the ferns, flowers, and mountain shrubs have delighted every tourist, and form one of the principal sources of attraction. (Taranaki Herald 22 Mar 1889: 2)

Harry Penn (1854-1933) and his younger brother Charles emigrated from England and settled in Stratford with other family members in 1882. Both brothers were accountants, prominent in local council business and enthusiastic contributors to musical, literary and theatrical activities in the town. Harry was for many years the Stratford correspondent for the Taranaki Herald. His diaries for 1885, 1888 and 1889 are held by Puke Ariki in New Plymouth and contain frequent references to mountain explorations. A typescript made from a handwritten source, ‘Notes by T Harry Penn. Early History of Stratford Mountain Track,’ is also at Puke Ariki (ARC2003-744). The notes pinpoint the date on which members of Emily Harris’s party made their summit ascent but some details appear to have been confused with the first ascent of March 1889:

On the 24th of January, 1890 the first ascent to the summit by the Pembroke Road was made by a party from Stratford consisting of Mr and Mrs C S Curtis, Mr and Mrs F Arden, Mrs P Brigley [sic], Miss Dixon, Miss [sic] H Webber and TH Penn.

Mr Charles Curtis was at the Station to meet me 
Charles Stuart Curtis (1850-1923) and his brothers were prominent storekeepers in Stratford and Inglewood from the late 1870s. Charles had first-hand knowledge of Mount Taranaki and its access points, in particular the Stratford Road track by which he took Emily and the party of Jan 1890 to the lower slopes of the mountain.

Charles Curtis and his brothers were major figures in the social and commercial development of Inglewood and Stratford. Charles took a prominent part in the town’s affairs, serving as a member and chairman of the Stratford Town Board. On 3 April 1880 he married Emma Clara Low at Omata church. They were to have two children: Minnie Violet and Henry Stuart. As a teenager Charles was known as a fine athlete. Later he spent much of his leisure time with his brothers exploring the eastern slopes of Mt Taranaki, and cutting the original track on that face. Over Christmas 1888, with T. H. Penn and Frank Arden, he spent five days making the first recorded alpine circuit of the mountain. During this climb they named a ridge on the eastern side of the mountain and the falls on the Manganui River after Curtis. Emma Curtis was also a mountaineer, and in 1891 she became the first woman known to reach the summit by the Stratford Road track. In later life Charles Curtis was one of the pioneers of the Stratford Bowling Club. He retired to New Plymouth, where he died on 4 April 1923, survived by his wife and two children. (DNZB)

Before us rose the mountain, dark rock & snow, & floating above & around it the light fleecy clouds
Emily’s evocation of alpine landscape found poetic expression in her unpublished book ‘New Zealand Mountain Flora.’ The typescript poem  faces a watercolour entitled ‘Flowers from Mount Egmont’ (ATL. E-001-q-006):

The mountain looked down from her realm of snow

On the stately forest that grew below

            With ferns and blossoms sweet

She cried to the forest, “Oh, trees come higher

I would that your branches and leaves were nigher

            A mantle across my feet.”

Then the forest trembled and whispered low

“We fear the might of the wind and the snow

            Would doom us to death or retreat.”

With a timid step went the little flowers

But the mountain sent down her vapoury showers

            And wrapped them round.

They broidered her robe as with silken sheen

They smiled up to Heaven the rocks between

            And bloomed on their vantage ground.

I seemed to have but little time for painting & no inclination so I did not make one sketch
Though she did not paint or sketch while on the mountain, Emily’s enduring impression of the experience, recorded in her diary, was later filled out in the preface to ‘New Zealand Mountain Flora’:

I can recall the time when my idea of a mountain was of huge rocks piled up wedged together, dreary to behold and impossible to climb.

In those days our splendid Alpine ranges were known only to a few hardy explorers, now they are visited by thousands. Great was my surprise when first I realized that the mountains were not all storm swept, snow-clothed giant rocks and stones, but that their rugged sides were often clothed with vegetation, grass, moss, tiny flowers and hardy shrubs, while in sheltered places and valleys a more luxurious growth springs up, larger flowers and magnificent leaves charm the eye and cause one to marvel how they can exist on such scanty soil; a botanist would understand, but how few of us are botanists, and even when described in plain language a vivid imagination only could picture them as they are.

During a visit to Taranaki I went to the Egmont ranges and found a number of flowers, Ourisia macrophylla, Anthericum Hookeri, Everlastings and others. I camped for five days at the foot of Mount Egmont. The forest flowers were nearly over but in the adjoining scrub were many flowering plants, the most beautiful of these, Ourisia macrophylla, grew plentifully under the bushes and in sheltered rocky crevices. Farther on among the tussock grass and stones grew quantities of yellow Ranunculus with unusually fine glossy leaves. Down the steep sides of the mountain grew masses of white everlastings, pale-blue harebells, small white celmesias and many other lovely flowers. I was fortunate to be able to paint then while fresh, and to see for myself how they grew. Since that time I have added continually to my collection, every season bringing something new (ATL. E-001-q-001, E-001-q-001-1).

We found there were fires in many directions
Emily deplores the longstanding practice of burning off cleared bush during the summer months. The fires she was shortly to encounter at Inglewood were preceded in 1886 by out-of-control burn-offs that almost destroyed Stratford and the livelihood of local farmers. See ‘Taranaki and the Stratford Fire Storm,’ which begins:

As they followed the news of the Hawke’s Bay fires, it would have seemed incredible to the Stratford settlers that they were shortly to experience a blaze whose fury would outdo all that had gone before. Their district had a reputation for drenching rain and mud, and even in these days of drought there was everywhere the sound of rushing water from the rocky, boulder-strewn beds of the upper reaches of the Patea and Waingongoro Rivers and their tributaries, fed by the melting snows of Egmont’s white cone towering above them. Early in the New Year the mayor of New Plymouth, probably inspired by the reports from Napier, offered Charles Curtis, Chairman of the Stratford Town Board, the loan of a fire engine. Curtis wrote back on 5 January, declining the offer. He reported that the previous day, even though the wind had been moderately high and there had been some danger to four houses, the situation had been kept under control. The wind having since abated he judged that there would be comparatively little danger of fire.

On Saturday afternoon, Feb 2nd, I left Stratford by train for Inglewood
Emily’s account of the Inglewood fires is corroborated by first-hand newspaper reports:


[from our own correspondent.] Monday, February 3. — The bush of Mr H. Curtis and Mr H. W. Marsh, on the east side, and close to Inglewood, caught fire last night. The flames rose to a great height, and the strong wind from the south-east carried the fire through the Recreation Grounds, the flames burning and roaring with wild and terrific grandeur. I have never seen such a sight before. All the east side of the town was in imminent danger of being destroyed. Men were up all night protecting the residence of Mr Grant, the headmaster of the Inglewood school; also at Mr Hoskins’ and Mr Beggs’ (tinsmith). Mr Wills’ house caught fire, but Mr C. Wills and others kept the fire under. Mr Wills was away rendering assistance to Mr Barron, whose residence was surrounded by fire. The engine from Mr Brown’s mill was taken to Mr Barron’s place by the mill hands, but on arriving no water was to be had, the creek being too far away for the hose to reach. Some men who reside on the new block had to remain in Inglewood all night, not being able to get through the fire and smoke. Messrs Hignett and White’s butcher cart had to remain in the new block all night, and is there still, the man not being able to drive through to Inglewood. We are surrounded by fire and smoke, and if the wind continues as it is at present I am afraid that all danger is not yet over. About 11.30 last night the sparks from Curtis’ bush were carried a considerable distance through and over the town, and looked like falling stars. I fear there has been some damage to those persons who reside about a mile on the east side of the town. As I write the smoke is very thick in that direction. I trust I shall not have any further bad news to report, but it looks dangerous at present. (Taranaki Herald 3 Feb 1890: 2)

Mrs Malone played several pieces on the piano, she is a splendid musician. Mr C. Penn gave a violin solo
Charles Penn (1857-1943), brother of Harry Penn, was an accountant and for many years clerk to the Stratford County Council. He was a noted violinist and contributed to local concerts and dances. The music for Emily Harris’s 1890 exhibition in Stratford was a family affair. Mrs Elinor Lucy Malone, née Penn (1864-1904) is the sister of Harry and Charles Penn. She married Stratford farmer William George Malone (1859-1915) in 1886. Malone, also a competent pianist, famously commanded the Wellington Battalion of 1NZEF in Egypt and at Gallipoli in the early part of World War I. (DNZB)

When I came home on Friday night I found F. S. and F. W. waiting for me
Probably bachelors Frank Stephenson Smith and Frederick Worsley.

He has been a good deal with the Fells
Edith Emily Atkinson, eldest daughter of Arthur and Jane Maria Atkinson, married lawyer Charles Yates Fell in 1881. Fell was also an artist:

Born Nelson, son of Alfred Fell, merchant. Took lessons with the Rev. Meyrick Lully, “The Glen”, Brook Street, Nelson, and later with Archdeacon Paul. From 1859, when his parents returned to England, educated at King’s College School, London, and at St. John’s College, Oxford 1863–67. Was admitted to bar, Lincoln’s Inn, Inner Temple. Married 1867 and returned to New Zealand 1870. After death of his wife he married the daughter of A. S. Atkinson, niece [actually cousin] of the painter D. K. Richmond. In 1885 visited England but returned to Nelson. Fell had painted in watercolour while at King’s College but did not paint seriously until later life. He accompanied the painter H. M. Gore on a sketching tour of Maitai Valley. Died in Nelson. (Platts)

The Camera Club had a capital Ex.
The Nelson Camera Club held its first photographic exhibition at the Shelbourne St Schoolroom 4-6 Feb 1890. Detailed descriptions of the exhibits appeared in local newspapers, including comment on work by Charles Fell, Frank Stephenson Smith and his surveyor colleague Mr Ward:

Mr Fell, the President of the Club, shows a splendid collection of photographs, and he seems to be equally at home on the land, or on the sea, or in the studio. His portrait of Judge Richmond is only one among many real pictures that claim admiration. Then his interiors, taken by the magnesium flash light, are also remarkable, and one, “Saturday night,” a picture of a child enjoying its “tub” is decidedly clever. Twenty platino-type notes of a trip from Totaranui to Bark Bay and back are amongst the most interesting of the whole of the exhibits, and amongst his other contributions to the collection may be mentioned the portraits of a “Well known footballer,” of Mr Ben Crisp, “An Anglican Captive,” and others, his picture of the Magellan Straits, taken from the deck of the ss Tongariro, and some moonlight effects, including a view from the Boulder Bank with a ketch coming down to the harbour, and his exhibits which took a prize at Wellington. […] Messrs Smith & Ward have a magnificent collection of lake and mountain scenery. Amongst these may be mentioned Lake Psyche, Spencer mountains, Wairoa Gorge, Lake Guyon, the Gate Rock,, Amuri, and amongst the Spencer Mountains, Mr Smith also shows very beautiful photographs of the Camera Falls, Bark Bay, a lime stone bluff, Amuri, the Sands, Fisher’s Island, Astrolabe, Mount Egmont, and Totaranui, as well as interiors of drawing rooms, of the Cathedral, and of the Provincial Hall. (Colonist 5 Feb 1890: 3)

Mrs Pridham, Mrs Marton, Mrs Woodhouse, Miss Standish, Mrs Dr Leatham, Miss Humphries
Mary’s afternoon tea party, Friday 31 January 1890, includes women whom Emily would have known from Taranaki days and newer friends of Mary’s. Mary Rachel Rouget (c.1854-1937) married Ernest Pridham, MA Dublin (d. 1927) in England in 1877. Ernest Pridham was the first principal of New Plymouth Boys’ High School 1882-1911. Miss Standish is probably Mary Standish (1871–1954), eldest daughter of Arthur and Frances Standish. The Standishes were close friends of the Harrises; see ‘Writing Lines’ 1-8. Mrs Dr Leatham is Mary Louisa Rawson, who married Dr Henry Blackburn Leatham in 1887. Miss Humphries is likely to be Mary Charlotte Humphries (1840-1921), eldest daughter of Dr Edward Larwill Humphries and his wife Ellen Maria. See section 8. Mary Humphries’ autograph book from the 1860s is held at Puke Ariki (ARC2002-702).

Mrs Smith came over on Wednesday to ask us to a garden party
Hannah Stephenson Smith (1814-1891), mother of Stephenson Percy Smith, living nearby on Devon St with her unmarried daughters Ida Ann and Dora Isabel Stephenson Smith who continued to live in the family home into the 1900s. (Wise’s NZ Post Office Directory 1902-03) An obituary reads:

We regret having to record the death of Mrs J. Stephenson-Smith, which sad event occurred at her residence on Monday evening. For some time past she has been suffering from a painful illness ; but her death was more sudden than was expected. She arrived in the colonies with her husband and family in the ship Pekin early in 1850, and the late Mr J. Stephenson-Smith was for several years Chief Postmaster at New Plymouth. In 1865 he was appointed Crown Lands Commissioner, which he held to his death which occurred in 1875. Mr J. Stephenson-Smith was also Sheriff of the district, and a Justice of the Peace. The deceased lady leaves three sons and three daughters, the eldest of the former being Mr S. Percy Smith, Surveyor-General, and one of the latter is married to Colonel Gorton, of Rangitikei. Mrs J. Stephenson-Smith was a lady who endeared herself not only to the immediate members of her family, but to many friends also, who, we are sure, sympathise with the family in their bereavement. (Taranaki Herald 16 Sept 1891: 2)

Harry went to Hawera to see Concie
Alfred Henry Moore (1864-1942), eldest son of Alfred and Catherine Moore, visiting his Taranaki family and soon to return to his home in Bathurst, NSW. Harry married Emma Florence Willis in Sydney in 1895 and the couple had six daughters who were all named for Harry’s sisters and his Harris aunts. His descendants live in NSW and Queensland. See ‘The Emily line in NSW: Moore, Tregeagle, Needham’ (17 Oct 2019), ‘Sue Needham Writes’ (24 Oct 2019) and ‘Emily writes to Harry Moore, 1910’ (5 Dec 2019).

stayed two days at Mrs Lee’s, went to see Mrs Percy Smith & Lady Atkinson
Mrs Lee is Fanny Thompson Lee (1848-1942), daughter of John and Jane Gully and married to Robert Lee. See sections 6 and 12. Mrs Percy Smith is Mary Ann Crompton (1837-1911) who married Stephenson Percy Smith in 1863. Lady Atkinson is Sir Harry Atkinson’s second wife, Annie Smith (1838–1919). Atkinson’s final term as Premier was 8 October 1887 to 24 January 1891. (DNZB)

Henry Overton Stuckey’s obituary appeared in the Nelson Evening Mail of 14 Sept 1920. It has been pasted into the diary 30 years after the preceding entry. Emily’s connection with Henry’s stepfather Frederick Bamford (see section 8) may explain the clipping and it is possible that Henry (c.1876-1920) attended the Harris sisters’ school as a boy. A Miss Stuckey was among the children who took part in the school’s Maypole dance for the Olde Englyshe Fayre of 1885 (see section 3).

Full Navigation

Section 1: August 1885
Section 2: September-November 1885
Section 3: January-March 1886
Section 4: March-July 1886
Section 5: August-November 1886
Section 6: August-December 1888
Section 7: January 1889
Section 8: February-August 1889
Section 9: September-October 1889
Section 10: November-December 1889
Section 11: January-February 1890: You Are Here
Section 12: August 1890-February 1891