Letters from P.E.I. - Angus Stewart, Mangawai, N.Z. to his sister on P.E.I., May 12, 1914.


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From the collection of Carole Stewart, c-a-b@paradise.net.nz

Carole would be very interested in further family information.


Letter from Angus Stewart, Mangawai, N.Z. to his sister on P.E.I., May 12, 1914.

Note: This is an edited letter sent from Angus Stewart, Mangawai, New Zealand to his sister in Prince Edward Island, Canada, where he was born. It has only been edited in the sense that in the original, some sentences ran together, as did the paragraphs. Except for the odd ‘and’ or ‘but’ all the words belong to Angus.

Angus was the second son of ‘Big’ Malcom Stewart (1808 – 1901) and Mary McPherson (1809 – 1889). His siblings were Mary (d. 9/12/1916), Ann, John, Christy, Charles, Donald and Alexander.

‘Big’ Malcom’s parents are said to have been Charles Stuart and Mary McMillan, who came to PEI from The Isle of Skye on The Polly.

Edited by Carole A Stewart: This was found in the roof of a house in Prince Edward Island. These were handed onto Carole by Beryl Smith (nee Judd)

Mangawai, Auckland, New Zealand. May 12,1914

Dear Sister:

I am writing you a few lines to let you know that we are both well and in good health; getting old of course.

I was born 19th of November 1833 and was 80 years 19 November last. I got married 17th of February 1858 and sailed for New Zealand 1st December the same year. We crossed the equator 4th January, 1859. The south east trade winds blew us on the South American coast and we were beating along that coast for 10 days, seeing land every day until we came to a town called Pernambuco on the Brazilian Coast. (This is the old name for present-day Recife, Brazil)

We stayed there 4 days, taking in water and other things. No English is spoken in the country, only Spaniards and Portugese. The Captain got an old Dutchman who spoke English to do all his business. There were many negro slaves there; it was them who brought us the water in big barges. All of them were naked only a little cloth around their middle.

1st February we sailed for Africa, the Cape Of Good Hope. We arrived there at Lymonds Bay [? – his dairy says Simons Bay] 1st. March. (? Simonstown) is a small town of mixed races with 3 or 4 English Man-o-wars to look after the country. We anchored in the harbour, took in water and provisions and sailed for New Zealand on the 17th March, St .Patrick's in the morning. (His dairy says the 14th March).

We sailed on until we came to 46 South Latitude and encountered snow and hail-stone. Our Captain altered his course to N.E. and we sighted Cape Maria Van Dieman on the 4th of May 1859. We had very rough weather along the coast until we came to Auckland on the 12th May.

So than makes it 55 years since we arrived in New-Zealand. Auckland was a small town then, of 10 thousand; today there is 120,000 Winter commences here in May; the very opposite to yours. We never get snow or frost, but there is plenty of wind and rain and bad roads.

On arrival in Auckland, an old Scotch farmer employed us for 12 months at 70 pounds a year, to go on a farm he had 20 miles south of Auckland. We stayed there 10 months, when the Maori or natives began to be troublesome. They shot one of the men that was working on the farm, so I left for Auckland and bought 20 acres of land 45 miles north of Auckland at 26 pounds an acre. Margaret and I put up a wharie or shantie off neikau leaves, and lived there over 12 months. We were without a floor or furniture and only had the bed we took from Prince Edward Island. We have that yet, up at Kaiwaka. It is quite sound.

I chopped all the bush on the place into firewood and sent it on to Auckland by boat at 10 shillings a ton. The boat took half the money and I had the rest. I cleared all the land, fenced it and put it in grass. Then I built a nice cottage on it of sawn timber. Then I sold it to a family who came from England for 120.pounds.

Then we went to Kaiwaka where we had 120 acres free hold. We got 40 acres each free for coming to New Zealand, and I bought a 40 acres order from Sandy McDonald. He was a sailor on board the boat, and I gave him 6 pound for it, as he did not want the land.

I put up a cottage of sawn timber, then commenced chopping bush and clearing ground for grass. 1 year we grew 200 bushels of wheat and put up a windmill. We ground our own wheat and sold the rest at 10 shillings a bushel.

We bought cows: the first 3 ones cost 17 pounds, one 16 pounds and one 15 pounds. The first 2 working Bullocks I bought, I paid 42 pounds for them. Cattle was very dear them times. I bought more young stock and they soon increased. We commenced butter and cheese-making and sold a keg of 100 lbs butter once for 10 pounds. We sold a 2 year old heifer once for 13 pounds.

I bought more land; up to a 1000 acres. I have left all that with my youngest son Charley with cattle, sheep and horses, home as it was. My other family had homes of their own.

Malcolm, my oldest son, has a fine house of his own in Kaiwaka. He milks 40 cows in the season, and he has a milking machine to do the milking. He has got a family of 6 boys and one girl grown up. He bought his neighbours farm 2 months ago and paid 1500 pounds cash down for it, and now he is having carpenters making alterations in his house.

My second oldest son Sandy, is married and has 2 daughters. He sold his farm for 2,200 pounds and bought 100 acres along side of me at Mangawai. He paid 300 pounds for it, and put up a good new house on it. We live by ourselves in a little cottage of 7 rooms and we have over 600 acres of land. It is willed to Sandy when we are dead.

Our oldest daughter is dead many years. She was married to a man named Angus McKinnon. (His mother and my father were first cousins and they came from Scotland). She left 4 boys and 2 girls; the oldest is 35yrs. One is married. They have all got good homes and they live 60 miles south of Auckland. We went to see them 2 months ago; they milk 50 cows with a machine.

Our second oldest daughter is married to a school master. They have no family.

My youngest daughter Flora, is married and has 3 boys and one girl. The girl is married and has a girl 3 year old. Two of her boys are managers of butter factories; one of them 3 mile from here. Judd is their name.

My youngest son Charlie was married, and his wife died having had twins. Two girls and their mother dead and put in the same coffin. He has a housekeeper to look after the house. He pays us 50 pound a year for the old home.

The next settlement to us is from Cape Breton; most of them speak the Gaelic language. They have a minister from the Isle of Lewis by the name of Angust McDonald. It’s a large settlement of 60 years in New Zealand. We live here quarter mile from the wharf (at Mangawai). A steamer calls twice a week from Auckland. There are 2 stores, post office, public houses, 2 churches and settlers all around.

You never mentioned who your daughter was married to, or who is the mother of those rowdy children you live with. In fact, you did not tell any news about the people of Belle Creek. Mary sent me a few words. I was surprised when she said she could not write herself.

Where we settled first in 1850, it is called Omaha. Our neighbours could speak the Gaelic: Mathesons, Camerons, McKenzies, Campbell from Cape Breton.

The Maori war commenced then and lasted 4 years. It took 1,000 men shoulders to conquer them. They were very numerous them days. Cannibals and great fighters; and eat all their enemies they took in war. Many years ago, two tribes had a great battle at Kaiwaka. The tribe that won the day gathered all the slain and cook and eat them in their canoes on the Kaiwaka river. Kai is food in the Maori tounge and Waka is a canoe, so the river is called Kaiwaka since.

They cooked their food them days in copper maories, put stones in a hollow or dug out hole and put wood on top of the stones. Then they fire the wood until the stones was hot, then cover the stones with matting and food. They then pour water on the hot stones over with earth, so they steam cooked the food in no time. They made fire by rubbing 2 sticks together until they burn. When Captain Cook came to New Zealand many years ago, he gave the native a 3 legged pot.

So ashore he told them go ashore in the name, yet when Capt.Tasman sighted New Zealand over 300 years ago, he could not see the land for smoke. There were great forests of kauri pine burning. This timber is very gummy; Kauri gum its called. It’s dug out of the ground 2, 3 to 10 feet deep. Sixteen millions, 16,000,000 pounds worth of it dug in the North Island; mostly north of Auckland. It is sent to all parts of the world and it is made into varnish.

Mangawai was a great place for gum. The other day the steamer took over 200 sacks of it to Auckland. Every week carrying gum.

Five or six years ago I let 12 acres of my land to an Austrian, to dig in the face 2 or 3 feet deep. So he took 1200 pounds worth of gum out of it. He had 21 Austrians digging for 12 months; paid 1 shilling an hour to the men while they worked. He put in a lot of drains through my land for the use of the 12 acres.

The Country is full of Austrian (I think he means Alsatian, as most of the gum diggers in N.Z were Dalmatians or Yugoslavs) gum diggers and they send their money to relations. Two years ago I let 200 acres of my land to a store keeper for 2 years for gum digging. He paid me l75 pounds cash down for the use of the land; he put a lot of men on it and done all right.

I let 20 acres to another store keeper (he paid me 30 pounds for the use of the land for 12 months) and to another party: 2 acres for 8 pounds. Twenty five years ago a company bought Kauri forest back of my place. Also, Kaiwaka put a railway through my land and paid me 1 penny a 100 feet to let it go through. 30 million went through. [end of letter]

View Diary of Angus Stewart written on board The Prince Edward bound for New Zealand


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