ANCESTOR LEGEND (week 33)
the paternal side of my ancestors were all born in Northern Ireland. They were wild and wonderful. Full of life. Everything they did was dramatic and (to me) funny.
My grandfather arrived in New Zealand as a young man. It was told to me that he 'ran away' from Ireland to escape a young admirer. However, she was determined to marry him and followed on a later ship and marry him she did !!!
Very soon, to improve their lives from that of the troubles of Northern Ireland, nearly all his siblings joined him in New Zealand. Time they arrived, Wellington had a population of nearly 40,000 (today nearly 400,000), so was a thriving city!! Most of the back-breaking work had been done
... They were all extremely hard workers but they 'lived hard' too and their average life span was probably around 50-60
the maternal side of my ancestors were, in comparison, a quieter, more 'refined' bunch of early settlers. They had arrived in the country at least 60 years before the Irish side of the family. Arrived, some of them, when there was yet no houses. They built makeshift shelters and slept on the beach where they landed. They then set to working the land, clearing the bush, building rough roads etc, going through all the trials and troubles that all early pioneers everywhere went through.
... They were all extremely hard workers but they lived off the land, off the fruits of their labour. Their habits were more moderate and their average life span (not counting infant mortalities) was around 80
All this side of the family were very proud of their grandfather. As I grew up I was often told the story at family gatherings of how he lived to be 99 years and 9 months and how he longed to reach 100. They told us how, as he was on his death bed, they gathered around and told him that he was indeed now 100 and that he died happy in the knowledge.
THEN, they would recount, with glee and wonder, they found his birth certificate months after his death and he was actually 103 !!!
I loved this story. I retold it often, just as it was told to me. I told friends (who did not have a longtivity story as good as that one) and passed it down to my family as an inspiration on what healthy living will do ...
Then I became interested in genealogy. I learnt how to 'find' verification on all the 'folk lores' and 'legends' of the ancestors.
I poured over old newspapers, checked BDM, collected photos, notebooks, recipe books (believe it or not I have found that women wrote wonderful snippets in these. Not much chance that a man would ever read it I guess), bibles, (they are a great source of old family info, although sometimes not quite accurate so they need to be double checked).
Finally, I found that the gentleman in question had actually died aged 99 years and 10 months!! This is a fantastic age for sure but he was not 103
I believe I was quite disappointed to find the truth
By this time all those that had thought he had been 103 had also since passed
In hindsight I am pleased that I did not find out sooner because I suppose I would have told them. I would have thought I was so clever to have discovered the truth and this truth would have spoilt a wonderful legend. A legend that in telling did not hurt anyone and surely does not matter at all now
52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy
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Mr Reuben King of Taita meets the (then) Duke and Duchess of York in 1927 when he was 98. On the abdication of Edward VIII in 1936, the Duke and Duchess came to the throne as George VI and Queen Elizabeth