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BREMER, JANE nee WILKINSON

 

Jane Wilkinson was born on the 25 June 1854 in England, the daughter of John Stuart and Sarah Wilkinson nee Smith.  Just after Jane’s birth, the family sailed on the Herald of the Morning to Melbourne, where John, engaged as a surveyor, helped plan the city of Melbourne.  In 1867, Jane, her mother and family came on to Wellington, her father already being there.

 

Sarah Wilkinson opened a private school in Wellington and Jane assisted her until she was appointed teacher of Kohi School, near Waverley.  It was there that she met her future husband, Frank Adolph Bremer, and they married on the 9 May 1878 at Whenuakura.  The couple took up land at Whenuakura, and while there met the American renegade and British Army deserter, Kimbel Bent, who was living with the local Maori.

 

Frank and Jane later bought a farm at Whakamara, and as there was no school, Jane undertook to teach the children of the district for three hours daily.  School was held in the farm kitchen where her pupils ranged between the ages of seven and eighteen years.  When a school was established at Whakamara, Jane was appointed headmistress, a position she held for many years.

 

While at Whakamara, the troubles at Parihaka began, and the men of South Taranaki were armed and drilled in case of problems.  One night, all the women and children of the district were sent to the blockhouse at Manutahi.  Jane, not knowing how long they would be away, had all her fairly new saucepans, cutlery and chine, covered in tallow, and buried in one of the numerous store-pit holes of the Maori, not far from her home.

 

“Whakamara soil was very rich and we always had quantities of vegetables and fruit.  We even tired of strawberries at times, and so did our shearers unless they were stemmed for them!  We boarded the shearers, and supplied them with three hot meals a day and two light ones, the latter taken to the shed.  So there were no idle hours.”

 

During the early 1890s the family moved to Okaiawa where Frank established the Armadale stud of Clydesdale horses, Lincoln sheep and Ayrshire cattle.  After his death in 1914, Jane and her youngest daughter Dorothea, moved to New Plymouth.  Here she spent most of her time in her garden, which became large and colourful.  In her late 70s, she suffered a stroke, but ever resourceful, she taught herself to crochet and to write with her left hand.

 

Jane Bremer died on the 2 October 1940 at New Plymouth aged 86 years, and is buried at the Te Henui cemetery.

 

SOURCE

“Petticoat Pioneers – Book Two” by Miriam Macgregor

 

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