Wilderness Wally's Americana
FROM NEW ZEALAND - Originator of the 'Birthday Season'

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Friday, 14th of June 2024


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The Wilderness Kiwi Connection

The Wilderness New Zealand American Connection

My connection to New Zealand is relatively recent and somewhat thin; Mother-in-law Wilderness lives here and our family arrived around twenty-one years ago to join her. Naturally, Mrs Wilderness wanted to be near her Mother and I happened to be in a state of male menopause, looking for change. Although Wilderness Junior was dragged kicking and screaming to the plane, we knew it was best for him as well. It was a good decision, and New Zealand has been our home ever since.

It is obvious that if there are deeper ties to New Zealand, it is on the Mrs Wilderness side... far deeper than one could imagine for a girl born in California. One of Mrs W's first family ties to New Zealand was her Great, Great Grandfather Daniel Dee Hyde who was born in 1836 in Shepperton, Middlesex, England.

1836 was the year that Charles Darwin returned to England after his five-year voyage of discovery that took him around the world. It was also the year that Sir Thomas Clifford Allbutt was born. An English physician, he invented the short (6 inch) clinical thermometer. Before this, a foot long thermometer was used that took 20 minutes to determine a patient's temperature. I'm still not sure where the foot long thermometer was placed! But I digress; in the meantime, a guy named Alonzo Philips patented the phosphorous friction safety match in the US. Needless to say, all of this was a long time ago.

In November of 1853 at the age of seventeen, Daniel and two of his brothers arrived in Melbourne on the barque "Graham" out of England via the Cape of Good Hope. He quickly made his way to Castlemaine where gold had been discovered in 1851. He obviously didn't find much gold but he did find a good woman and he married her in 1857. The couple had three boys and then in 1863 Daniel's wife passed away. After the death of his wife Daniel left Australia for our shores on 4 February 1864.

The Daily Southern Cross newspaper of 29 Feb 1864 recorded the arrival event by proclaiming: "The Thomas Fletcher arrived in Auckland. The military settlers were landed on Monday 29 Feb. It would seem from the way in which the men marched to the Barracks that they have already been under training; they were, indeed, a fine and cleanly looking company. The women and children were conveyed by drays and omnibuses to their temporary residence at Onehunga."

Yes, Mrs W's Great, Great Grandfather, arrived in New Zealand as part of a military force (4th Waikato Regiment) formed in Australia to fight in the New Zealand wars. The regiment paid his passage and that of two of his sons. They were stationed in Onehunga for a while but were soon transferred to Fort Hamilton. At the time he was twenty-eight years old. After serving with the regiment he was allotted a small parcel of land in the Waikato as a reward and payment for his service to the Crown.

To put this in perspective, at the same time, the US was fighting the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln was President. Atlanta had just been captured and Sherman was starting his march to the sea.

In 1889, twenty-five years later, the regiment would hold a reunion in Hamilton at what is now known as Steele Park. The place was so named after the officer that went to Melbourne to recruit members of the 4th Waikato Regiment. On that occasion they planted an oak tree in the name of each member of the regiment. Mrs W's family oak tree still stands in that park, named after her pioneer family.

Of course this story is about the 'newcomer' to New Zealand in Mrs Wilderness' family. On her Grandmother's side, Mrs W's Great, Great , Great Grandmother, Dorothy Ann Williams came to New Zealand and first set foot in Wellington in 1839! Granted, it is nowhere near the rich and long history of Maori in New Zealand but not bad. It was reported that when she set foot on dry ground in NZ she said, "Where is everybody?"

I find it quite extraordinary that there is such a strong tie to the very early history of this country and, at the same time, she has identified members of her family in America who fought in that country's War of Independence in 1775.

Through the two of us, we have a foot in both countries and are able to call both 'Home.' That is quite unique and we are also, quite fortunate.

Updated!Colin Lee sends:
Hi, Dorothy Anne williams actually arrived in New Zealand 21 April 1840 on the ship Bolten (over five month journey), I too am a direct decendant of her and daughter Maria. If you have information on relatives and actual names of the people you refer to in this artical etc I would appreciate it being e-mailed to me.hope to hear from you.

Thanks for that Colin; you are right, Dorothy Ann Williams did arrive on the Bolton in 1840. She left England in 1839 ... my error. Mrs Wilderness will be in touch.

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Joy & Frank said:

Great site, we enjoyed our brief visit. Have a great trip.


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