The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]
The Wanganui County Council consists of eight members, viz., Major Joe Reginald Sommerville (chairman), and Messrs. David G. Polson, Alex. Higgie, J. C. Paterson, A. M. Georgetti, D. Ross, E. E. Fletcher, T. W. Howie, and J. McGregor. The Wanganui County is bounded by the Taupo, Rangitikei, Hawkes Bay, and Waitotara Counties. The are about 250 miles of made and unmade roads in the county. The rateable value exclusive of Crown and Native Lands is £789,758, and the Annual income by a rate of three farthings in the pound is £1467. The loans of the county amount to £1480. The Council contributes towards the interest and sinking fund on the splendid bridge across the Warganui river, which is £130 per annum, and in addition one third the cost of maintenance. The population of the county is about 3000, and the number of ratepayers 440.
Councillor (Major) Joe Reginald Sommerville, who is Chairman of the Wanganui County Council, is also a member of the Wanganui Harbour Board, the Hospital and Charitable Aid Board, chairman of the Kaukatea Road Board, and member of the Wanganui River Trust Board. He is a son of the late Sergeant C. Sommerville, of the 65th Regiment, who came to New Zealand in 1846 and fought in the war with the natives at the Bay of Islands, at Pahautanui, and Horokiwi. He left the service in 1851, and was drowned in the collision between the, “Pride of the Yarra” and “The Favourite,” in Dunedin Harbour in 1863. Born in 1843 in Ireland, and educated in Wanganui, Major Sommerville was brought up to a country life. Entering the Volunteer force in 1859 in the Wanganui Cavalry, and passing through all grades in the service, he was subsequently promoted to the rank of major, and in now in command of the Wellington Battalion Mounted Rifles, and is known to all Volunteers and shooting men throughout the Colony as chairman of the New Zealand Rifle Association. Major Sommerville has been connected with local bodies ever since the Counties Act came into force in 1876, and was placed on the Commission of the Peace in 1881. Possibly he is connected with more local bodies than any other man in the Colony. Major Sommerville farms 130 acres on No. 2 Line, known as “Ash Grove,” where he resides, and 700 acres named “Fairview” on No. 3 Line. These two fine properties depasture 1800 sheep, besides cattle and horses. In 1869 he married the daughter of Mr. Thomas Dew Jones, a settler in Marlborough, and has seven sons and five daughters.
Photo by A. Martin
Major J. R. Sommerville.
Councillor Edward Exton Fletcher joined the Kaitoke Road Board at its inception, and has represented Kaitoke Riding in the Wanganui County Council since 1895. He was born in 1855 in Lincolnshire, England, and after some experience in farming he came to New Zealand in 1877, taking up land in company with his brother at South Karori. For several years he was engaged in contracting in the Wairarapa. His estate— “Gracefield”—about nine-and-a-half miles from Wanganui, is about page 1372 5000 acres in extent, and carries 1400 sheep, lambs, cattle, and horses. Councillor Fletcher, who was one of the promoters of the Wanganui Freezing Works, has held office in various local organisations. He he been married twice, and has four children.
Councillor Donald Ross, who was elected a member of the Wanganui County Council in 1891, was re-elected without opposition in 1896, after five years' service. Born in 1855 in Rosshire, Scotland, where he was educated, the subject of this notice was brought up as a sheepfarmer, and came to Port Chalmers by the ship “Canterbury” in 1877. For three years he worked as a shepherd under the late Mr. Logan, of Kelso, Otago, and served for a like period in Canterbury on Mr. Tripp's Rakaia Estate. In 1883 Mr. Ross removed to the Wairarapa, where he became one of the managers of the Glen Donald Estate. During the five years that he continued in this position great improvements were made in the property. On leaving, Mr. Ross acquired the Kaiwhaike Estate of 2000 acres—partly freehold and partly leasehold—which now carries 3000 sheep, besides 100 head of well-bred shorthorn cattle, for which he has been a prize-winner at local shows. Mr. Ross has for four years been chairman of the Mangawhero Road Board, and for some time of the Upokongaro School Committee. In 1888 he was married to a daughter of the late Mr. H. Barber, a Gloucestershire farmer, and has one son.
Photo by A. Martin.
Councillor D. Ross.
Mr. Ernest Barns, who is Clerk to the Wanganui County Council, is the second son of Mr. A. Barns, well known in business circles in Wanganui. Mr. Barns was born in Wanganui, and received his education in his native town. He entered general mercantile life in his father's office, with whom he remained some years. Mr. Barns has held his present appointment for about six years; he is also clerk of the Kaitoke and Purua Road boards. He is a licensed native interpreter of nine years' standing, and undertakes, any business with the natives. Mr. Barns resides in the suburb of Taylorville.