John CLIMO and Katherine (Kate) HARRINGTON
John CLIMO was born on 19 April 1846 whilst, it is assumed his parents were living in Kawhia. He was the second child (and eldest son) of James and Jane CLIMO. It is more than likely that he had been named after his two grandfathers – John CLIMO Snr, who was still living in Cornwall and John PHILLIPS, who had died in England, sometime before 1841. His early life was spent in Manakau, then on the family farm at Tataraimaka in Taranaki. When he was aged 14 years old, he was evacuated with his family to Nelson at time of the Taranaki Land Wars, in which his father James had fought in. John followed in his father's footsteps and became a saw-miller, working mainly in the Pelorus area.
On 11 October 1872 at the Registrar’s Office in Havelock, he married Kate HARRINGTON. Kate’s family were a family of early settlers from Wellington. Kate’s father, Jeremiah had served with the 65th Regiment (“Royal Tigers”) for 16 years – in Ireland, West Indies, Canada and England before arriving with his wife, Margaret, in the Bay of Islands in 1847. Jeremiah obtained his discharge from the Regiment in 1848 and settled his family in Wellington, where Kate was born.
After their marriage, John and Kate settled for a few years in the Pelorus area in the heart of the bush country and many trips were made between Picton and Wellington in a ‘flat bottomed’ boat. On one occasion, Kate lost her wedding ring while trailing her hand in the water. Their home was a typical earth floored mill cottage. It was here, in the Pelorus Sound that their first two children were born – James Henry on 13 July 1873 and John William on 23 July 1874. In 1876 the family moved to Ormond (near present-day Gisborne), where the CLIMO mill had been established. The family continued to grow with the births of George Frederick on 08 June 1876 and Walter Richard on 20 May 1878. In 1880 the mill was taken over by William King so John and Kate made a break from the rest of the CLIMO family. They moved with their sons to Makotuku, near Norsewood where they settled for 10 years. In later years, Kate would tell her grandchildren of the time she was left alone in the middle of the bush for 3 days, with only her children for company, while John went to get provisions and how she would sit up late at night, making the boys’ clothes out of unbleached flour bags.
At Makotuku, five more children were born – Arthur on 19 June 1880, Frank on 16 December 1882, Alfred on 14 March 1885, Henry on 31 July 1887 and Elizabeth Catherine (Lizzie) on 03 May 1889. Tragedy also struck the family - in September 1882, John William and Arthur both died of diphtheria and whooping cough within a few days of each other. Then on 09 October 1885, Frank died. All three boys are buried in the Norsewood Cemetery but the whereabouts of their graves is not known. There was one bright spot with the birth of John and Kate's youngest child May, on 26 May 1891. Two years later tragedy struck yet again when Henry died at Rata from acute rheumatism and pneumonia on 21 June 1893. He was only 6 years old.
James Henry followed the same occupation as his father and grandfather and became a saw-miller. On 01 March 1884, at Hunterville, he married Hettie Fanny TAYLOR, who was the daughter of Fanny Ellen TAYLOR, the second wife of his uncle Richard.
The following year of 1895 brought another tragedy to the CLIMO family. While working at Bailey’s Mill, John had built a fishing boat which was transported by rail to Wanganui. On the morning of 21 April 1895, John, his brother Richard and another gentleman went out fishing in the boat, crossing the bar of the Wanganui River. At 5pm that afternoon, when coming back in, they asked to be “hitched” onto a steam fishing launch, for a tow in. This caused their boat to capsize and the men on the steamer cut the line to release the boat, and allow the men to get out from underneath. John and Richard drifted away and John quickly became exhausted. He let go of his brother and drowned. Richard was able to grab the floating mast and was soon rescued. John’s body was not found until 08 May 1895 and he is buried in an unmarked grave in the Old Wanganui Cemetery. After John’s death, Kate remained in Rata for a few years while James Henry and Hettie went back to Pelorus. In 1899, James Henry was working along with his uncle Richard, as a saw-mill hand at Manaroa but he later moved on to the Fawcett & CLIMO Mill at Okoha. There was no widow’s pension in those days so to make enough money to feed her family, Kate took in washing and ran a dance in the local hall. Lizzie and May were only small girls at the time but they went along to the dances with their mother and while Kate saw to the supper, they would dance around together. Kate could only afford to buy meat once a week and it was mostly frying steak, which would be well-cooked. They also had no candles so a strip of material would be put into a tine of tallow and that was burnt for light.
John and Kate’s younger sons would have all started work at an early age. George Fredrick went to sea, working as a cook on ships belonging to the Union Steamship Company. Walter Richard chose to work in sawmills and he had a bullock team which he used to haul logs for the local mills, later going on to driving steam haulers. Alfred first started work as an engineer but in 190, went into the Dairy industry to work as an assistant at the Bulls Dairy Factory - he later became the manager of the Rata Dairy Factory. In 1905 Alfred moved to Pihama, in South Taranaki, where he was appointed manager of the Skeet Road Creamery. Alfred was a keen sportsman and he played a rugby match in which the All Blacks team was to be selected but unfortunately, Alfred had to withdraw from the game when he injured his knee.
Meanwhile, Kate moved her younger children to Hunterville, where they lived in several houses before buying a house in Milne Sreet, which only cost 400 pounds. It was a four-roomed cottage and an extra bedroom and bathroom were added on, with timber that came from the Raurimu Mill (more than likely the mill owned by James Robert CLIMO). In October 1906, John and Kate’s remaining three sons were married – George married Bertha Mary PARRY at Wanganui on 23 October, Walter married Matilda Harriet HOWE on 29 October at Bulls and Alfred married Jane Augusta KAPPELY at Pihama on 31 October. Also in 1906, James Henry and Hettie moved their family north to work at the mills in the Taumaranui and Ohakune districts. Lizzie and May travelled on the first train on the Main Trunk Line as far as Taihape in 1908 and as a momento of their trip they each brought back an ornament for Kate. These ornaments were last known to be in the possession of May’s daughter, Dalvine.
Kate and her youngest daughter, Lizzie (who never married) ran a restaurant and also sold fish. They had a proper cart equipped with ice and Lizzie would take the horse and cart around the houses to sell the fish which had been delivered to Hunterville by train. After giving up the restaurant business, they milked a few cows and took in washing and ironing. Lizzie also took on various jobs as cleaner of the local school, library, bank etc. Kate was a marvellous ‘home doctor’, treating sores with plantain leaf ointment and for any that festered, she would bind a leaf around it and it was always 100% cured. Kate was known to have a try at treating most things.
Kate died in Hunterville on 18 August 1934 and is buried in the Rangatira Cemetery.
on 2010-05-15 23:51:58
I have been researching my family tree for over a year now & have a lot of information regarding the Climo's. So I am hoping to connect with any descendants of James and Jane as well as descendants of my 3rd-great-grandfather's family, the Popes. His name was George Whiting Pope. And lastly, I am trying to find information on my 2nd-great-grandmother's family, the Cotton's, who lived in Nelson. I have found some information which I am happy to share here and am ever hopeful that I may connect with descendants of this family also.