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ELMSLIE, ANN nee McGREGOR

 

Ann McGregor was born at Dornach, Sutherlandshire, Scotland, on the 1 January 1850, the eldest child of Alexander and Isabella McGregor. As a baby, Ann sailed with her family from Gravesend, London on the Castle Eden for New Zealand.

 

Isabella was ill for much of the voyage, and Alexander paid 14 year old George Wright to help care for Ann. The vessel reached Lyttelton on the 7 February 1851, and after a few weeks left for Wanganui on the Catherine Johnson.

 

Ann's childhood was spent on a farm at Matarawa where she was a first-day pupil at the school. Later she attended the first boarding school for girls in Wanganui, but it was her mother who taught her domestic arts, such as making homemade candles.

 

When she was 22, Ann married Peter Elmslie, who had arrived from Aberdeenshire, and soon afterwards they settled at Waverley, then called Wairoa, in a three-roomed, pit-sawn home on a small holding Peter called Fernydell. The bridal couple rode to Waverley and Ann's brother Malcolm followed with their chattels in a bullock dray. Several cows were part of her dowry. By sheer hard work, the couple prospered, eventually buying more land and building a two storied house which they named Hillside. It was a Waverley landmark for nearly 100 years.

 

After Ann had been married one year, some of her Maori friends from Matarawa rode up to see that Peter was treating her properly. If they had not been satisfied, they said, they would have taken her back to her parents. Church was attended every Sunday and frequently local Maoris followed them home to lunch, which Ann served.

 

Ann stuffed pillows and mattresses with downy feathers, cured hams, milked cows, churned cream into butter, looked after the hens, and took honey from her hives. These were among some of her produce taken to Wanganui, 30 miles away to be sold. She made sure her six daughters learnt her skills. Later, when shows started in Waverley, her daughters were seen as "professionals" and were not eligible for some classes.

 

Ann Elmslie died on the 5 October 1945, aged 95 years and is buried in the Waverley cemetery.

 

SOURCE

Jessie Pearce, Waitotara

 

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