Headstones and hidden histories

Headstone, Nurse Isabella Maude Manning (1870-1918). O’Neills Point Cemetery, Bayswater, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Anabel at The Glasgow Gallivanter often writes about the women who have helped shaped history in her part of the world; sometimes telling their stories through the physical memorials that exist to them.

A couple of years ago, Anabel’s post Hidden Histories inspired me to search Auckland for public art that commemorates women (Suffrage and service, celebrating women in Auckland’s public art). More recently, her visits to the Glasgow Necropolis and Cathcart Cemetery reminded me how much I enjoy wandering around cemeteries reading the headstones – and how easily I fall down the rabbit hole of researching the lives those inscriptions only hint at.

Which brings me to Isabella Maude Manning (1870-1918).

I first read about Maude (the name she seems to have gone by) Manning about a year ago, on an information board at O’Neill’s Point Cemetery in Bayswater, Auckland. The board commemorates twenty one victims of the 1918 influenza pandemic who died in the Fort Takapuna army camp nearby at Narrow Neck.

Twenty are buried at O’Neill’s Point; nineteen soldiers and Nurse Manning.

It was easy to find the soldiers’ graves, as almost all are official Commonwealth War Graves, with well-tended and easily identifiable headstones. But despite quite a lot of trudging up and down (it’s a hilly cemetery), I couldn’t find Maude Manning.

Some of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstones, for servicemen who died in the influenza epidemic. O’Neills Point Cemetery, Bayswater, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Fortunately, the Auckland Council website has an online register of burials.

Unfortunately, while I found the plot reference, I couldn’t find a map to tell me where that particular plot was located, and the graves themselves had no numbers attached.

Eventually I found it by searching the names on headstones I could see, and using their plot numbers as a guide.

It seemed from her rather neglected — and definitely not CWGC — headstone, that Nurse Manning wasn’t, as I’d assumed, a military nurse.

That piqued my interest, and sent me off researching her life.

Although I found Nurse Manning’s name on the “Roll of Honour” of New Zealand Army Nursing Service (NZANS) members who died in the 1918 pandemic, an article I found about her life makes it clear that she had spent her career as an Anglican Mission nurse, working specifically with Maori communities.

Her history

Maude Manning was born in Christchurch in 1870; the fifth of 10 children born to Samuel Manning and Ellen Piper (m. Christchurch 1861). 

The Manning family was one of Christchurch’s most affluent. Samuel Manning had arrived in New Zealand as a sixteen year old in 1856. Both he and his father were brewers by trade, and after working in his father’s business for a few years, he established his own brewery. During the course of his life, he held directorships of a number of companies and served as the Mayor of Christchurch between 1885-1890.

It’s not clear exactly when Maude became a nurse. I found a newspaper article from June 1891 which reports that had she sat and passed the St Johns Ambulance First Aid exam, but the first record I can find for her that clearly shows her in a nursing role is in 1909, when she joined the Anglican Mission House in Paeroa, as a nurse/midwife.

This is supported by a memorial article in an Anglican newsletter (October 2018, vol. 8; issue 9) which says that she trained at Christchurch hospital before joining the Mission as a nurse/midwife to local Maori, where she learned Te Reo Maori (the Maori language). The article goes on to say that in 1910 she transferred to another mission house at Kaitaia in the Far North, again working with Maori communities. The following year, during an outbreak of typhoid in nearby Ahipara, she volunteered to nurse fever patients, until she too contracted typhoid and was eventually sent home to Christchurch to recuperate.

By 1914, the electoral shows that she had returned to the Mission House in Paeroa, where she continued to nurse until the 1918 when she volunteered to move to Auckland and nurse influenza patients.

This decision was in response to a nationwide call by the government for nurses to care for the many returned servicemen who had contracted influenza. Military camps in New Zealand (and probably worldwide) recorded a very high incidence of influenza infections. This is hardly surprising given the communal living arrangements, and the fact that most of the men living there had very recently returned from war.

Fort Takapuna had been a military base since the late 1880s. In 1915 it began housing a training camp – known as the Narrow Neck camp — specifically for the Maori Contingents of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Nurse Manning’s experience working amongst Maori, and her ability to speak the language, would have made her invaluable.

About the Maori Contingent

The formation of a separate Maori Contingent (which also included Pacific Islanders) in New Zealand’s military was an initiative of Maori leaders at the time, who:

…  hoped that military service would increase both the status of Māori, that Māori service (made more visible by separate units and Māori leadership) would result in their recognition as full and equal citizens of New Zealand, and that they would be treated as such. In short, Māori military service would serve to affirm both the rights of citizenship, reminding both the Crown and Pākehā that Māori were equal citizens as guaranteed under Te Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi, and to demonstrate that Māori could live up to the duties and the ‘price’ of that citizenship.

Equality and Autonomy:  An Overview of Māori Military Service for the Crown, c.1899-1945 Ross Webb A report commissioned by the Waitangi Tribunal for the Military Veterans Kaupapa Inquiry (Wai 2500)

In October 1918, the camp was home to around 400 servicemen – mostly Maori and Pacific Island – recently returned from Europe. Around 200 had already contracted the disease.

Within three weeks of arriving at Narrow Neck, Maude Manning had also contracted influenza and died.

The Influenza Epidemic

Worldwide, the 1918 pandemic killed an estimated 50 million people. In New Zealand, the number was around 9000, around 2,500 of them Maori.

The actual number may seem very low, but it has to be remembered that we are a small group of islands separated from the rest of the world by vast oceans, and at the time, the country’s total population was barely more than one million. One of the more sobering facts I found was that “half as many New Zealanders lost their lives in little more than two months than during the entire First World War.” NZ History.

Another is that the death rate for Maori in the epidemic was 49 per 1000 people, compared to about 6 per 1000 residents for Europeans. Amongst the military and medical staff the rate was over 20 percent, and included the country’s first woman GP.

Dr Margaret Cruikshank graduated from Otago University School of Medicine in 1897 and spent her career in the South Island town of Waimate. She died 10 days after Maude Manning, on November 28, 1918, aged only 45.

Remembering

As well as the headstone in O’Neill’s Point, Nurse Manning is commemorated on her family’s headstone in Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch, in the Nurses’ Memorial Chapel also in Christchurch, and on a plaque dedicated in her honour in St Paul’s Church, Paeroa.

Not here today #17

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With the boy-child, Cambridge, England. Image: Leslie family archive 2006

With the current lock-down over, technically I am able to leave Auckland. However, as there are still cases of Covid-19 being transmitted within the city, I think I’ll be staying put a while longer. My desire for a holiday isn’t greater than my respect for the health of other New Zealanders.

So today’s #notheretoday is a little different. It’s certainly true that I can’t currently ravel to England, but the physical and geographical barriers are less in my mind than the temporal one.

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” — LP Hartley “The Go-Between.”

No longer is my son small enough to pick up and hold in my arms. He now has a full set of (beautifully regular) adult teeth, and there’s a different aesthetic at play in his choice of t-shirt.

But the smile is the same; he still has the dog, and I love the twenty-two year old boy-child with as much intensity and absolute joy as ever.

Day Two, no baking but a family story finally told

last coffee shot edited

Turns out, it was a two-coffee story. Image: Su Leslie

For anyone who didn’t know, I originally started blogging to document the family history research I’d begun in 2011. That blog, Shaking the Tree, has been much neglected of late.

In part that’s due to the general bustle of life, but also because every research avenue I’d optimistically entered had turned into a cul de sac. Recently however I’ve had a couple of breakthroughs. And with my enforced Covid 19 confinement to barracks, today seemed like the right time to set out some hypotheses I’ve developed regarding a 3x great grandfather, Thomas Boswell Bisset.

I won’t try and tell the story here, but if you are interested, part one can be found in A tangled web, while today’s tentative conclusions are in Tall tale? Or true.

And a little woo hoo in praise of bloggers. Looking for an image to accompany today’s post, I found Something Over Tea. For completely unrelated reasons, Anne had visited the site where the man who probably wasn’t my 4x great grandfather had died during Britain’s 19th century wars in South Africa. She took photos of the memorials erected there, including one specifically dedicated to my possible ancestor.

fort hare gordon memorial

Memorial to John Gordon (1808-1850). Many thanks to Anne at Something Over Tea, who took this photo and included it in her post The University of Fort Hare.’

How flipping cool is that!

Into my arms

tony and su at whenuapai 94

Gray-Leslie family archive c. 1994

Sometimes, no words are necessary.

Into My Arms

I don’t believe in an interventionist God
But I know, darling, that you do
But if I did I would kneel down and ask Him
Not to intervene when it came to you
Not to touch a hair on your head
To leave you as you are
And if He felt He had to direct you
Then direct you into my arms

Into my arms, O Lord, into my arms
Into my arms, O Lord, into my arms
Into my arms, O Lord, into my arms
Into my arms, O Lord, into my arms
Into my arms, O Lord, into my arms
Into my arms, O Lord, into my arms

And I don’t believe in the existence of angels
But looking at you I wonder if that’s true
But if I did I would summon them together
And ask them to watch over you
To each burn a candle for you
To make bright and clear your path
And to walk, like Christ, in grace and love
And guide you into my arms

Into my arms, O Lord, into my arms
Into my arms, O Lord, into my arms

But I believe in Love
And I know that you do too
And I believe in some kind of path
That we can walk down, me and you
So keep your candles burning
And make her journey bright and pure
That she will keep returning
Always and evermore

Into my arms, O Lord, into my arms
Into my arms, O Lord, into my arms
Into my arms, O Lord, into my arms

Nicholas Edward Cave

We’re nearing the end of the 30 Days, 30 Songs challenge hosted by Sarah at Art Expedition. You can see her latest musical choice here.

… the moments don’t last

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Carshalton, England. c. 1966. My brother, mum, great uncle Tom and me. Leslie family archive.

My parents divorced when I was in my 20s. The family photographs were divided, though over the years some have been given to me as the de facto family historian. Others have been lost, probably forever (most of Mum and Dad’s wedding photos — I’m looking at you baby brother).

And for all the hundreds, if not thousands, of photos that I take, very few are of people. Especially now that the boy-child has grown.

Something to think about.

Wish that I took more photographs of us
Said goodbye now, our love’s collecting dust
Just a memory of you is not enough
I wish that I took more photographs of us

I can’t believe I left you feeling solo
I was just at Nan’s going through old photos
And you ain’t in many of them, you’re barely in any of them
Three or four of them I wish you were in more of them
I just wish there were more of them
‘Cause now all I got is memories
And I cry but that river’s run dry
If only time was something money could buy
Goodbye, but it ain’t
With words there’s only so many pictures I can paint
And I’m running out of film now
There’s only so many pictures I can take
How does Faith feel looking at pictures of B?
How does Courtney feel looking at pictures of Kurt?
Is the pain worth the thousand words, I love you
But I hate looking at pictures of you ’cause it hurts

Wish that I took more photographs of us
Said goodbye, now our love’s collecting dust
Just a memory of you is not enough
Wish that I took more photographs of us
Oh oh oh, oh oh oh
I wish that I took more photographs of us

We all thought we’d live forever
We all thought that the moments would last
But the moments don’t last, the moments pass
And the only thing that lasts is the photograph
But what about the pictures we didn’t take?
What about the moments that we forget?
What about the memories that we’ve lost?
That only leave you full of feelings and regret
Over the people we neglected
And the time we took for granted
When all you can do is close your eyes
And hope that the memories develop in the darkness
Like photos do, I wish I had a time-machine and a photo-booth
I know to grow I’ve got to learn to let go
But I just wish that I had something I could hold on to

Wish that I took more photographs of us
Said goodbye, now our love’s collecting dust
Just a memory of you is not enough
I wish that I took more photographs of us
Oh oh oh, oh oh oh
I wish that I took more photographs of us

Last time we met, I saw change in you
You sat there calm and explained the truth
How addiction ain’t nothing but greed and guilt
Could just eat the whole world like a baby roof
And you got under my skin
All the nights that eyes-rolled sunken in gin
‘Cause I don’t want you to go die like Owen and Brian
I already wish I had a picture with him

I wish that I took more photographs of us
Said goodbye, now our love’s collecting dust
Just a memory of you is not enough
I wish that I took more photographs of us
Oh oh oh, oh oh oh
I wish that I took more photographs of us

Songwriters: Emily Warren / Chris Loco / Rory Graham / Stephen Paul Manderson

The very talented Sarah, at Art Expedition, is hosting 30 Days, 30 Songs. You can see her latest musical choice here.

Our castle and our keep

black and white, two children aged 5 and 3 standing by letterbox outside a typical New Zealand house of the 1960s.

Big sister, little brother. Image: Leslie family archive.

I have two brothers; one two years younger than me, the other eight years.

My relationship with “the baby of the family” is strong, loving and straightforward. With my other brother, it’s more complicated.

As kids we were constant playmates, best friends. We share the same sense of humour and listened to the same music. But my mum was never good at hiding the fact she valued sons more highly than daughters (possibly because she’s the fourth sister of five) and as “The Firstborn Son” my brother was indulged to the point of becoming, for a while, a horrible little brat.

We’re in our fifties now, and the tide of our relationship has ebbed and flowed, washing away all but the bedrock. He’s my brother and I love him.

For a long time, music was a powerful bond between us, and since I am participating in Sarah’s 30 Days, 30 Songs project, I thought I’d sneak a bonus track into today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt | sibling.

In many ways, the best time for us as brother and sister was in the early 1980s, and there are so many songs from that time I could have chosen.

But this one’s fun, and it is about family.

The title of the post comes from the line:

Our house, was our castle and our keep
Our house, in the middle of our street

 

Seven Nation Army

band pre gig b&w Frostbite; getting ready for their first gig. Image: Gray-Leslie family archive, 2008

The boy-child is a talented musician, and for several years played in bands. Co-ordinated through the Auckland School of Rock, the bands gave our pre-teen and others a chance to not only learn how to work together to create music, but opportunities to perform in front of (some quite large) audiences.

The focus was on writing original material, but they also performed covers. One that I particularly liked was The White Stripes song Seven Nation Army. It has a very catchy bass riff (which apparently was actually played on a guitar and digitally lowered an octave). Since the boy-child was at that stage a bass player, the riff was heard a lot around our house.

I found a recording of the kids playing this song, which reminded me just how young they were (my son was about 10 I think).

And here are The White Stripes.

Sarah at Art Expedition is hosting 30 Days, 30 Songs, and it is a great chance to stroll down some musical memory lanes. You can see her latest post here.