The family of John O’Connor (1850-1896) and Catherine O’Connell (1857-1938)

Family of John O'Connor and Catherine O'Connell 1909: back: Margaret (Ferris), Michael "Morgan", Jim; front: Catherine (Nicholl), Mrs Catherine, John.

Family of John O’Connor and Catherine O’Connell 1909: back: Margaret (Ferris), Michael “Morgan”, Jim; front: Catherine (Nicholl), Mrs Catherine, John.

John O’Connor, Michael’s brother, left Glenagragra, Ireland in July 1877 on the ‘James N Fleming’ bound for Otago. His future wife, Catherine O’Connell, who came from nearby in Ireland, left for New Zealand on the ‘Marlborough’. They met up and married in Lincoln on December 31 1878. John went into partnership with Michael at Longridge Village on 200 acres, both settling with their families about 250 metres apart. John died an untimely death in 1896, in his 46th year having apparently fallen from his horse and been dragged and kicked, when returning from Balfour.

John and Catherine had five children: Margaret m Dick Ferris ; Michael (killed in France in WWI); James; Catherine m Nathaniel Nicholl; and John. John was about two years old at the time of his father’s death and it must have been a struggle for Catherine to manage home and farm. Catherine did expand the farm area after this time by buying Fox’s (154 acres), Graham’s (240 acres) and south of Fox’s (300 acres) which was later farmed by Nicholls, Sandstone (500 acres) and brother-in-law Michael’s share of the original block when he shifted to Gore. Catherine and her son James farmed until their deaths in 1938, when the home was sold to Kitch King. Catherine, the daughter who married Nathaniel Nicholl, farmed one of the blocks previously owned by her mother along with the original Nicholl block. Around 1939 Fox’s block was sold to McCartneys and Graham’s block was sold to Frank Fraser.

In 1922 son John married Mary McCartney and shifted to the Sandstone block. Mary was the eldest daughter of Tom McCartney and Agnes (nee Nicholl). In 1936, along with ten children, they purchased land at Waimea and moved there. Close proximity to the railway for travel to school for the children and the larger house made things easier for the family. Mary moved to Gore in 1959 and died in 1984 in her 82nd year. John and Mary’s family were: Cherine (Cassie) married Bruce Elliot; John married Nancy Collins; Thomas married Kathleen Stanton; Agnes married Sylvester Hoffman; Hazel married Paul Muir; James married Lorna Kelsey; Michael (twin) married Bernadette O’Brien; Nathaniel (twin) (Nay) married Doreen Campbell; Paul married Joan Hoffman; Owen married Aileen Flynn, Owen was elected Mayor of Gore in 2001.

After John’s death in 1953 the farms were run by Tom, Mick and Nay for ten years until Tom and Kathleen took over the Sandstone block and Nay and Doreen the Waimea farm in 1962. Mick left the partnership to live in Gore, Ettrick and later Dunedin.

Extract from: Doug Wing, Balfour: Pioneers to Present, Balfour and Districts Historical Society, Gore NZ, 2004, pp. 412-413.