The following is a copy of an article published in an
It tells of an interview with
Few records of the lives of Aucklands pioneer fathers and mothers hold such elements of tragedy and absorbing human interest as that of an aged lady, Mrs. Thomas McLarnon, of Clarence Street, Ponsonby, who sat in a snug corner of her little verandah last week, and talked reminiscently of days long gone by.
McLarnon, who was one of a family of six, was born at Maidenhead in 1836, her
father being Mr. Benjamin Hawkes. They came to
Within a few short weeks of landing, dire tragedy darkened the lives of this pioneer family. A baby boy, who had suffered greatly as a result of the rigours of the long sea-voyage, died a day or two after landing. Soon afterwards a twin baby girl died in a tragic manner, through a poisonous beetle falling into her mouth from the roof of the "whare" while she slept. A week or two later, the mother, while doing the family wash in one of the old fashioned three-legged iron pots, was fatally scalded, and within a very short time the other baby girl was dead too.
Housekeeper at Eleven
Hawkes laid his wife and three children to rest in old
little girl was sent to Mrs. Woodleys boarding
Tamaki, which in those days was considered the very heart of the wilds, the
little orphan and the widower came under the notice of the good Bishop Selwyn
and his wife. Mrs. Selwyn "mothered" the little girl with loving care, and Mr. Hawkes did a good deal of work for Bishop
Walking to the City
was no road to
It certainly seemed a wonderful record, especially when the valiant old lady went on to speak of the breaking up of the Tamaki homestead, and a new trip out into the back blocks, this time into the wilds of Pokeno. Then came the Maori War and fresh adventures and excitements, but no further harm came to the Hawkes family. Finally Mr. Hawkes settled at Papatoetoe, and his daughter married Mr. McLarnon of that district. For a few years the father, who had never re-married, lived with the young couple; then one day, just after the birth of Mrs. McLarnons second child, his horse bolted with him and he was thrown. Thus ended tragically, at the comparatively early age of 52, the life of a man who had known more than his share of sorrow.
Twelve Children Still Living
For many years Mrs. McLarnon lived in the Papatoetoe district, rearing a family large even for those days of large families, eight sons and six daughters. Twelve are still living, all being married with the exception of one daughter, who is the stay and comfort of her mothers declining years, Mr. McLarnon having died over 20 years ago.
There are over 30 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, and when this valiant old lady celebrates her ninetieth birthday next January, there will be a memorable foregathering of her descendants. Mrs. McLarnon, although slightly deaf, is still able to read the papers and takes interest in all that is going on around her.
But of one things she is convinced- the present generation does not come up to the past! "Too much pleasure" she said with a shake of the head. "Too much excitement and not nearly enough thanking God for His blessings. They dont know what theyve got to be thankful for, especially those with mothers."
Gather ye the fragments that remain that nothing be lost