Sunday, August 3, 2014

Middlebrook Reunion Newsletter dated July 24th

Welcome to our new subscribers.!...

Welcome to the 2 new subscribers to this newsletter which now  goes out to 59 families- the first issue went out to 13 so its exciting to see word is spreading.Thanks to those who have already registered and paid for the reunion registration.
We know we are missing lots of current family members from our family tree which we want to be as complete as possible
Please fill out the family group sheet form if you haven't filled one out already so our tree can be as comprehensive as possible
Click here to fill one out - this can be done online . The more information you can add the better.- if in doubt add more to the notes section

Reunion Registration is Open - Register Early and Save!

Early registration discount ends August 30
The reunion will be held on January 24th and 25th 2015 at Fairway Lodge, Silverfield, Takapuna in Auckland.
We have negotiated what we feel is the best  price and format for our needs and we are able to offer
several options in our aim to have as many attend as possible. We hope to make  this event pleasurable and enjoyable as possible while making it as affordable as we can.
To that end we have formatted the two days as follows:
Saturday 24th January
11am - 4pm
The day will begin with check in where you will be issued with name tags denoting which branch of the family you belong to . This will make it easy for you to recognise those who descend from the same branch of the family as yourself.
From 12 noon we will have our photographer taking formal group photos of each branch of the family and of the whole group, along with roaming candid photos throughout the day.
These photographs will be available in an inexpensive  book form, after the reunion. Orders to be taken on the day or beforehand  via a form which will be included in a later newsletter.
Leading up to the reunion we will announce the price of  a photographic family history book which will be available for pre-purchase and pick up at the reunion.
Finger food and tea and coffee will be supplied throughout the day and a cash bar will also be available for those who wish to make use of it.
There will be photographic and informational displays and a large family tree available for viewing.
Saturday primarily though is a mix and mingle event where we can all get to know each other.
Feel free to bring along any photos or copies, along with family mementos you wish to share or display.
Saturday Evening
This is at your leisure. We have suggestions for local restaurants for those interested.
Sunday 25th January
12 noon - 3:00pm
Buffet Luncheon
Sit down lunch with presentations and speakers (descendants) and cutting of the Reunion Cake
Middlebrook Reunion Registration Form
If you prefer to print and fill in a paper form you can download it here

Middlebrook Family History Website is now Live

The first stage of the Middlebrook Family History Website is now up and viewable.
All the links to the first generation are live and more will be added over coming weeks and months. There is also a link to subscribe to this newsletter and a link to the reunion on the website
You can view the website here  Currently this website is being serviced with a free option which requires the small advertising banners- however its possible it can be upgraded at a later date.

Where They Lived

We are lucky to have photos of the homes of many of our ancestors.
Some of the homes are still standing but sadly others are gone - Here are a few of the photos we have.  If you have any more that we could include in our pictorial book for the reunion please email Lauren at
James Middlebrook's House in Opua

This is the house of James and Julia Middlebrook in Opua Julia is standing on the verandah . It is assumed James built this house himself. It was situated on the top of the hill overlooking Opua Wharf. You can clearly see the house under the red dots in these images of Opua taken in the early 1900s.

Unfortunately it appears that James' house is no longer standing.
Samuel Middlebrook's House in Katikati

This is Samuel Middlebrooks house in Mulgan Street Katikati. This house is still standing ( with some additions ) It is assumed that Samuel also built this house himself.
Here is a photo of Samuel's youngest daughter Bess standing outside the house in 1975

Later as we know Samuel lived on is boat the Finella

John Middlebrooks houses in Te Awamutu
At this point we dont have any photos of John Middlebrook's homes in Auckland but we are lucky enough to have several of his 2 houses in Te Awamutu, along with photos of his butchers shops

This house above apparently was in Mangapiko Street TeAwamutu and it was probably the earlier home of John and Mary Ann Middlebrook in Te Awamutu ( It doesnt appear to be standing any longer)
Their subsequent home was in College Street  Te Awamutu

In the above photo you can see Granny Tucker ( Mary Ann Middlebrook's mother) sitting on the porch of the large villa )
Unfortunately we dont have any photos of the residences of Elizabeth nor of Benjamin ( if anyone has any they would like to share that would be wonderful, however we do have several photos of the homes that Jane lived in.
Macefields Fisheries Managers house in Russell

This photo shows Jane ( and probably Hector McRae) along with 2 of her granddaughters in a house that sits to this day at the northern end of the Russell Foreshore . It was originally owned by Macefield Canneries and was for the use of the manager but at some point in the early 1900s Jane leased the house of Macefields.  Apparently at this time she was working as a Teacher Aide at Opua School so would cross the harbour daily for work purposes.
McRae Boarding House Arkles Bay

The rear house in this photo was the house Jane ran as a boarding house in Arkles Bay Whangaparaoa and is the house in which Ellen Middlebrook died in 1915.  It is unknown but unlikely this house is still standing.

The house above is at 20 Kiwi Road Devonport and is where Jane lived in the later years of her life. This house is still standing and looks much the same as it did in this photo of unknown age.
Here is the house as it looks now taken from Google Maps Street view

Here are some additional photos we have of family homes of the past

John Roderick McRae - King Street Pukekohe

Benjamin Farrar Hardy (son of Elizabeth) Howick

Hepburn Street Ponsonby, Briefly home of Ellen Hardy and John Rowley Stewart.

Probably 27 McKelvie Street  Ponsonby, home of Jane Elizabeth ( daughter of Jane Thompson Middlebrook ) and George Douglas Simpson

The house in the background is believed to be 8 Adams Street Waihi, the home of Bess ( daughter of Samuel) and George Burk.Her brother Bert also lived in the same Street .

This house/business premises belonged to Robert and Margaret Harris ( nee Middlebrook - daughter of Samuel)
It is said to have been situated in Kenny St Waihi

The house above still stands at 110 Rosemount Rd Waihi. and was the home of Robert and Margaret Harris in the early years of the 1900s

This house at 264 Balmoral Rd was the house of Phillip and Ellen Goodwin   ( nee Middlebrook - daughter of Samuel) from the 1940s. It is still standing today.


Here is the continuation of the series of transcriptions of letters between Jane McRae ( nee Middlebrook) and her brother in law Welsh McRae

Auckland 21st Nov1887

Dear Jane
Yours of the 17th to hand, also one each from Amy and Nellie. Contents of all three individually noted, Will answer collectively only question perpounded. (Viz.”” When will you return to Opua”). Cannot tell..future.. in that direction: a dead wall of uncertainty... without a break to hang a hope on. Inclination directs me that way.. Prudence cries “Keep back” Let Prudence be obeyed!
Sorry you misconstrued my meaning re moral training of girls. Please read sentence considerately again. You will doubtless discover the true interpretation of it. No reflection indented, I do assure you. It would be criminal to insinuate , in the way you put it, on so limited an acquaintance. Moreover, I esteem you too highly for that.
Would be happy to advise you re lease of land to Jim. But knowledge of your business and domestic relations too circumscribed to draw upon. Would counsel guidance of your own judgment in the matter. No one can be better posted than yourself.
I note your remarks on the young lady.. she is altogether too youthful for me. I am in dead earnest on this matter of matrimony and would like if you could name a suitable person, equally in earnest, willing to open a correspondence right away and exchange photos. She must not be under thirty or over forty, moderately good looking, tolerably plump, to make amends for my “leanness”. Education not so much an object as disposition..’country’ rather than ‘city’ birth preferred. That’s my  style!  There are hundreds around qualified to fill this bill. I pass them on the streets every day. If they, dear creatures, were aware of the existence of the bait, the rest would be easy of accomplishment. They would take hold as leeches to a blood vessel. My bachelorhood would be a busted bubble and my matrimonial existence a stern reality.
But enough! I trust you received the goods in the same order as sent. The wicker casing of the tea would have made you a pretty lunch basket if it reached you safely. Two letters to hand to date. I thought you said there were three, Hectors address is Hokaikau, Bay of Islands. Forgot to enclose it last mail, though I had written it out.
Remember me to Amy and Nellie, I was a little disappointed in their letters, but happy to receive them, nevertheless, especially Amy’s . Will always be pleased to hear from them. I would reply separately but as this is a triple combination for you and them please let them read , if they are so minded. And oblige.

Yours very sincerely

P.S.  I will send along some grocery fixings for your Christmas, if you will let me know your needs in that respect. They will go by the “Norval” (if convenient). I lost track of her last trip.
I witnessed the funeral of Colonel Lyons yesterday, conducted in military style. A very imposing affair, Streets crammed with struggling humanity, eager to observe and be observed. He expired very suddenly in his bath from disease of the heart.

Unfortunately we don't have a copy of the letter from Jane that Welsh  refers to. If we did it may answer some of the more pressing questions we have regarding Jane and her relationship with the father of her children.
It would also be interesting to see what inference Jane too regarding the  upbringing of her daughters. Clearly she took some offence to Welsh’s comments in the previous letter regarding their moral “downgrading” .

One of the most interesting points in this letter from Welsh is the reference to Jane enquiring about his opinion of her “leasing land to Jim”.  One would assume  she is referring to James John McRae, her estranged “husband” , however it could mean her brother James Thompson  Middlebrook.
Either way, it would be wonderful to know what land she thought about leasing him and where it was, and moreover  how she had come into this land as she appears not to be particularly wealthy at this time in her life.

It seems Welsh had quite a high opinion of himself as a marriage suitor, and this was quite likely a relatively legitimate view. He clearly was a man of quite independent means, and was kind and generous ( at least toward his sister in law and his nieces.  He was 58 years old at the time of this letter, and as far as we know had never married.  In fact he never did find himself a wife, dying a bachelor only 5 years after these letters were written

The Colonel Lyons, that Welsh refers to in his postscript was actually Colonel William Lyon, an Imperial veteran, who commanded the Constabulary and Volunteer forces in the Waikato, with headquarters at Cambridge,in the 1870’s , and was in charge of the Auckland Volunteer District, 1884until his death in 1887. He began his soldiering career as an officer of the Coldstream Guards, and exchanged into the 92nd Highlanders, serving with that regiment for ten months in the Crimea. He lost an arm through a shooting accident in England, and left the Army to settle in New Zealand. When the Waikato War began he was appointed to the New Zealand forces, and served throughout that campaign and afterwards in the wars on the West and East Coasts. He was second in command under Colonel Whitmore in the final campaign against Titokowaru in 1869.

Your Stories Urgently Required

We are still urgently requiring stories for the newsletter and also for the reunion book. Without your help there are most certainly going to be gaps in the research. This could be as simple as jotting down your memories of your parents, grandparents, or any stories you have been told relating to all branches  the family. 
Remember to fill in a Family Group Sheet Form here if you havent already

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