Original settlers and well-wishers congregated recently for an afternoon tea to commemorate the setting up of the Glengarry Block 100 years before and on the precise spot where the settlement received a visit from Governor-General Lord Bledisloe and his wife in 1931.
The group of 50 local people comprised current residents and relatives of the settlers.
A commemorative cake was cut by the two oldest and the youngest descendants, John Ryan, Clive Webber and Maggie Curran respectively.
After looking at photos and maps of the district and its early development the group shared an afternoon tea and heard from researcher Mike Harold more detail of its early development.
The original block of 1950 acres and owned by the Armstrong family was sold to the government in 1919 and distributed/sold to returning soldiers from WWI in November 1920 on a lease to buy arrangement, 29 farms of between 70 and 100 acres going by ballot and designated as dairy farms.
Mike described how life was really tough in those first years as the bush-cleared block still required very hard work stumping and fencing and many of the soldiers had not had any experience of farming before the war.
To make things worse, many of the soldiers had returned from Europe with wounds and diseases like influenza and measles and just as they began to make headway the butterfat price halved, driving some families off their properties.
The settlement, however, thrived by seeking other sources of income like firewood, selling meat and making bread for the Dannevirke community nearby.
Mike says they also survived by helping each other – a spirit which remains in the community today.
One hundred years on only the Curran family of the original settlers remain farming their land but the district is a very prosperous and award-winning in the dairy industry.
Mike still seeks more anecdotes and information about the district before he launches into writing a book which he hopes to publish by Anzac Day 2021.
A novel written by
Harriett Webber has been uncovered describing accurately what life was like in the 1950s with local names changed.
Contact Mike Harold on 06 374 5725 or 021 0220 5413 or on email email@example.com.