The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Otago & Southland Provincial Districts]
Alexandra South , formerly known by the more euphonious name of Manuherikia, is the centre of the golddredging industry in Otago. Situated on the Dunstan Flat, at the junction of the Molyneux and Manuherikia rivers, Alexandra, like most towns in Central Otago, is surrounded by a series of ranges and hills, prominent among which are the Obelisk and Dunstan Ranges, locally termed the Old Man and Old Woman Ranges. The town, which is in the county of Vincent, lies 128 miles north-west page 710 from Dunedin, via Lawrence, and 141 miles, via Ophir, the present (1904) terminus of the Otago Central railway. From both these railway stations there are coach services connecting with Alexandra. In the early days a large traffic across the Molyneux was carried on by means of a punt, which subsequently gave place to a pontoon ferry service. Now a large suspension bridge spans the Molyneux, and carries the traffic of the main south road. A smaller suspension bridge has been built across the Manuherikia river. From the earliest days of settlement to the present time the main industry of the district has been gold mining, and some notable claims have been worked in the neighbourhood. One in particular, which was known as the “Frenchman's,” yielded many thousands of pounds worth of gold. For some twenty years prior to 1898, dredging had been attempted on a small scale in the Molyneux river, and that year saw the rise of a dredging boom, which lasted, with the usual fluctuations, till the latter part of 1902. During that period the whole of the Molyneux river was marked off in claims, companies were rapidly floated, and numerous dredges were constructed and set to work. A few were very successful and some moderately so but a great number of the companies went into liquidation. In the vicinity of Alexandra the industry was pursued with great vigour, and there it is still carried on with fair success. The dredges have not only worked the riverbed, but they have also cut their way into the banks on each side, and worked hundreds of acres of ground carrying gold
A more permanently profitable industry than gold mining, namely, fruit-growing, is being attempted with considerable success in the neighbourhood of Alexandra; and with the advent of the Otago Central railway-which is slowly, but surely, creeping towards the Molyneux—this branch of industry will receive considerable impetus. Messrs Howden and Monerieff, who have established a large nursery and orchard near Alexandra, and other older-established orchardists, have not only amply demonstrated the suitability of the soil for fruit culture; but, in addition to growing all kinds of fruit equal to the best Californian, they have also grown the finest hops produced in the colony. Much of the land, however, will require to be irrigated before the best results can be obtained from its cultivation.
The town of Alexandra South is pleasantly situated, and contains a number of substantial business houses and pretty villa residences. Churches of the Presbyterian, Anglican, and Catholic denominations have been erected, while the Methodist body hold services in the public school, and the Salvation Army uses the town hall for its barracks. There are also post, telegraph, and money order offices, two banks, and a number of hotels. A large reservoir on the hillside, providing the borough with a good water supply, has been installed at a cost of about £8000, and this also furnishes the local fire brigade with a high-pressure service. The recreation reserve, situated near the centre of the town, has a bicycle track and football and cricket grounds, and there is a racecourse outside the town boundary. Alexandra has a rifle corps, a good brass band, a public library, and several social and athletic clubs. There is also a local weekly newspaper.
Alexandra South was proclaimed a borough in 1869. It has an area of 840 acres, an annual rateable value of £6800, and a population of about 1000 souls. There is a general rate of Is 6d in the £, a sanitary rate of 6d in the £ on the house property, and a special annual-recurring rate of Is on the rateable value. Members of the Borough Council for 1904: Messrs George Spencer (Mayor), Louis Anderson. Lawrence Ryan, Henry Schaumann. John Duncan Buchanan, William S. Laidlaw, John Lovell Gregg, George G. McGregor, and Samuel McKnight (councillors). Mr. Frank Young is the Town Clerk and Treasurer
His Worship The Mayor, Mr. George Spencer , J.P., was born in 1845, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, where he was educated and brought up to mereantile pursuits. He came to Port Chalmers, by the ship “Aboukir,” and after an experience of goldmining in Otago and on the West Coast, he settled in Alexandra, in 1870, and has since been interested in goldmining in the district. He is one of the proprietors of the Alexandra Dredging Company, to which he acts as secretary, and has been at different times manager. Mr. Spencer has been a Justice of the Peace since 1895. He was married, in 1892, to a daughter of Mr. L. Cameron, of Alexandra, and has one son surviving.
Mr. And Mrs G. Spencer And Son.
Mr. J. Kelman.
The Late Mrs J. Kelman.
The Late Mr. G. N. Macdonald.
The Late Mrs. G. N. Macdonald.
Mr. Robert Gunion , J.P., who held a seat on the Alexandra Borough Council, for a number of years, was born at Stranraer, Wigtonshire, Scotland, in 1838, and educated at the Stranraer Academy, and at the Inch Free Church school. He was brought up to agricultural pursuits, and came out to Port. Chalmers, in 1861, in the ship “Lady Egidia,” on her first trip. Mr. Gunion was for some time engaged in sheep-farming, and was a station manager for a number of years. He managed successively Luxmore in Canterbury, for four years; Allendale station, Fairlie Creek, for about one year; Rugged Ridges, Otago, for about four years; and Galloway station, near Alexandra, for about fourteen years. Since retiring from the management of Galloway station, Mr. Gunion has been interested in dredging in the Alexandra district, and has been very successful. He acts as secretary to the Ngapara Company, of which he is one of the proprietors. Mr. Gunion was married, in 1874, to a daughter of Captain Jamieson, of Adelaide, and has four sons and three daughters.
Mr. William Hansen , who represented Clutha Ward on the Alexandra South Borough Council for several years, was born in Norway, in 1849. In his early days he visited London, Melbourne, West Australia, Singapore, India and China. After returning to Europe, Mr. Hansen came to New Zealand in 1871, and settled in Alexandra South, where he established himself in business as a butcher. After the introduction of dredging, he devoted his energies to mining. For about seven years he worked at Sandy Point on the Molyneux river, adjoining the Earnscleugh No. 2 claim, and was afterwards manager. He was also manager of the Chicago Dredge for the Alexandra Gold Dredging Company, and had interests in mining claims. Mr. Hansen served as a member of the Alexandra South school committee, and held office as a deacon of the local Presbyterian church. He was married, in 1884, to a daughter of Mr. L. Cameron, of Alexandra South, and had two daughters. Mr. Hansen died on the 21st of February, 1903.
Mr And Mrs W. Hansen And Family.
Mr. James Nieper represented the ratepayers of Clutha Ward in the Alexandra South Borough Council for some years. He was born within the borough in 1869, educated at the public school, and served his time to the butchering business. Till establishing himself in business in 1891, at the corner of Talbot and Limerick Streets, he worked at his trade or followed mining. Mr. Nieper is a member of Court Pride of Alexandra, Ancient Order of Foresters, and has passed all the chairs with the exception of that of C.R. He is also a member of the Alexandra Jockey Club. Mr. Nieper was married, in 1893, to a daughter of Mr. J. R. Jones, of the Occidental Hotel, Dunedin, and has two sons.
Mr. And Mrs J. Nieper and Children.
Mr. J. Simmonds.
Mr. Henry Symes , J.P., formerly Town Clerk, Valuer, Treasurer and Collector for the Borough of Alexandra South, was born in Lawrence on the 23rd of December, 1866. He was educated at Lawrence and at the Blue Spur, brought up to mining pursuits, and settled in Alexandra in 1891. Mr. Symes conducted business as an auctioneer and mining agent; and was founder and for some time proprietor of the “Alexandra Herald.” He was also the first in Alexandra to connect his office and private residence by telephone. Mr. Symes unsuccessfully contested the Tuapeka seat for the House of Representatives at the by-election of 1898. He was secretary of the Klondyke and several other gold-dredging companies. Mr. Symes was married in 1890, and has two sons and two daughters.
Kilgour And Son (Alexander Kilgour and William Howie Kilgour), Bakers and Confectioners, Tarbert Street, Alexandra South. Bankers, Bank of New Zealand. This business, which was originally established by Mr. Bell, of Clyde, was purchased by Messrs Kilgour and Son, in September, 1898.
Mr. A. Kilgour And Son.
Mr. William Howie Kilgour was born in Balclutha in 1876, and educated at Oamaru, where he learned his trade with his father. He worked at his trade in Dunedin, and was subsequently in the Union Steamship Company's employment, which he left to join his father in the establishment of the firm of Kilgour and Son, of Alexandra.
[After these articles were in type, the partnership was dissolved, and the business sold.]
Aitken, George Brown , Builder and Contractor, Tarbert Street, Alexandra South. Mr. Aitken was born in the Orkney Isles, on the 15th of April, 1837, brought up as a ship carpenter, came to New South Wales in 1857, and settled in Otago six years later. After a year in the Queenstown district, he moved to Alexandra, and engaged in mining till 1868, when he established his present business. Mr. Aitken held the office of Inspector of Works for the Vincent County Council, for about six months, and subsequently for the New Zealand Government, under the Roads Construction Act, for two years, on the Arrowtown and Macetown roads. He was connected with the Cromwell volunteers for two years, and while in the Borough Council he rendered good service in connection with the Cromwell water-works. Of late years Mr. Aitken has not taken any prominent part in local politics, but he is an page 714 out-and-out admirer of the present Seddon administration.
Mr. G. B. Aitken.
Mr. J. Drummey.
Bendigo Hotel (E. M. Bellamy, proprietor), Tarbert Street, Alexandra South. This well-known hotel was established in 1862 by the late Mr. L. G. Ryan, who conducted it till his death in 1897. Since then the premises have been rebuilt, and now consist of a two-storied brick building with thirty bedrooms for the public, four sitting-rooms, a large dining-hall, with accommodation for forty-five guests, two sample-rooms and a billiard-room. The stone stables, on the opposite side of the street, contain six stalls, and an equal number of loose-boxes, and there is also a five-stalled stable and loft, leased to Messrs H. Craig and Co., whose coaches arrive and depart daily from and for Dunedin, via Queenstown, Lawrence, and Ranfurly. The Bendigo Hotel takes rank as the leading commercial house in Alexandra South.
Mr. Michael Mcallen , formerly Proprietor of the Bendigo Hotel, was born in 1862, at Loch Grainey, in County Clare, Ireland, and came to Port Chalmers in 1881, by the ship “Timaru.” He was brought up to agricultural pursuits, which he followed till 1885, when he joined the Armed Constabulary, and two years later was transferred to the Police Force, in which he did duty till his resignation in 1897. Whilst he was at Alexandra, Mr. McAllen took an active part in the formation of the Alexandra Rifles, of which he became lieutenant. He was also a member of the Alexandra Borough Council, and of the local school committee. Mr. McAllen afterwards removed to Wellington in the North Island.
Caledonian Hotel (James Geddes, proprietor), Tarbert Street, Alexandra South. This hotel is built of wood and stone. It contains thirteen bedrooms, two sitting-rooms, a dining-room with seating accommodation for sixteen guests, and a billiard-room. The stable, at the back of the hotel, contains six stalls and two loose-boxes. The Caledonian Hotel was established about 1869.
Mr. Archibald Smith , formerly proprietor of the Caledonian Hotel, was born in the parish of Isla, Port Ellen, Argyle-shire, Scotland, in 1860, and arrived in Port Chalmers in 1868. He was educated at Switzers, and after finding employment as a shearer at Lumsden for about two years, he commenced business as a butcher in Waikaia. Three years later he became a hotelkeeper at that place, and subsequently conducted the Lumsden Hotel for seven years. After being a year out of business, he became the proprietor of the Caledonian Hotel, in Alexandra, on the 9th of May, 1897. Mr. Smith was married, on the 25th of October, 1880, to a daughter of Mr. James Paterson, of Waikaia, and has four daughters and two sons. He went to South Africa after giving up the ownership of the Caledonian Hotel.
Mr. W. Lindsay.
Nieper, James , Butcher, corner of Tarbert and Limerick Streets, Alexandra South. Bankers, Bank of New Zealand. The business conducted by Mr. Nieper was established on the 21 st of May, 1891. The premises, which are freehold, consist of a convenient shop and office, and a five-roomed dwelling-house. There is a second shop, which is well-lighted, and fronts the main street.
Mr. A. Boldero.
Dawson, Richard , Orchardist, Rose Vale Gardens, Conroy's Gully, Alexandra. Mr. Dawson was born in 1833, in Lancashire, England, where he was brought up as a carpenter and joiner. He worked at his trade for eight years, and in 1854 emigrated to Victoria, and followed goldmining till 1862, when he removed to Otago, where he was for many years engaged in mining. At first Mr. Dawson leased his property of about fifty acres in Conroy's Gully, but ultimately purchased the freehold. It is well named Rose Vale, and in the season is remarkably attractive, for both its flowers and fruits. Mr. Dawson has made a success of fruit-growing, and has been prize-winner for the best collection of choice fruits, at the Dunedin Show. He was married, in 1865, to a daughter of Mr. P. Darling, of Dublin, and has one daughter.
Enterprise Gold Dredge Company (No liability). Head Office, Rattray Street, Dunedin. This Company's claim consists of fifty-two acres. It has two dredges, one of which has been working since May, 1894, and 33s. per share has been paid in dividends.
Mr. S. J. Luke.
Spring Vale Mine , the property of Messrs John and James Gartley, has been worked by the firm since 1889. The Messrs Gartley are the owners of valuable water-rights. The main race is brought over a distance of ten miles, and they have been successful in their operations in the Spring Vale mine.
Mr. James Gartley was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, in 1845, and was brought up to agriculture He arrived at Port Chalmers, by the ship “James Nicol Fleming,” in the year 1869, and settled in the Alexandra district, where he has been continuously engaged in sluicing operations. Mr. Gartley is a member of the Spring Vale school committee. He was married, in 1881, to a daughter of the late Mr. R. Toohill, of Ireland, and has six sons.
Mr. James Austin was born in Cheshire England, in 1851, and is a coppersmith by trade. He came to Port Chalmers in 1873, by the ship “William Davie,” and, after three months in Dunedin, settled in Alexandra, where he became engaged in mining. For some time he was representing a share on the “Galatea,” one of the last of the spoon dredges, and afterwards worked on a current-wheel dredge. Mr. Austin was employed on the erection of the first large steam dredge built by Messrs Kincaid and McQueen, in 1882. He has been largely interested in the industry, and is one of the proprietors of the Ngapara Company, which has several dredges in operation. He is chairman of directors of the Alexandra Coalpit Company, and has a seat on the boards of the Klondyke and Success Gold Dredging Companies, besides owning interests in other private dredges. Mr. Austin was married, in 1898, to a daughter of Mr. Andrew Rutherford, of Nelson. He now (1904) resides in Dunedin.
Mr. Gilbert Paterson Blue Manager of the New Fourteen Mile Beach Company's Dredge, was born in 1862, in Greenock, Scotland, where he was educated. After six years at sea he landed in Port Chalmers in November, 1880, and has been connected with dredges; at first, under the Dunedin Harbour Board, and since April, 1881, on the Kawarau and Shotover rivers, and on the Molyneux at Alexandra. He became manager of the Chatto Creek Company's dredge in November, 1898, and is now with the New Fourteen Mile Beach Company. As a Freemason, Mr. Blue is attached to Lodge Manuherikia Kilwinning, No. 109, in which he has held office as senior deacon.
Mr. G. P. Blue.
Mr. John Magnus , formerly a dredge owner at Alexandra, was born in Sweden, in 1856, but educated and brought up in England. He served for two years in the Police Force, at Hull, in Yorkshire, and subsequently in the Police Force, in China, but was afterwards at sea for a number of years, and travelled an over the world as a ship's carpenter. In 1887, Mr. Magnus arrived at the Bluff, by the ship “Soukar,” and settled in the Alexandra district, where he engaged in mining and dredging. He was at one time manager of the Molyneux and Butcher's Point Hydraulic Companies, and Gold Beach Hydraulic and Dredging Company, and he also held considerable interests in dredging companies, being a director of the Gold Queen Dredging Company. Mr Magnus was married, in 1890, to a daughter of Mr B. Butler, of Roxburgh, and has two sons and one daughter. He now (1904) owns the Wheatsheaf Hotel, at Teddington, on Banks Peninsula, Canterbury.
Mr. And Mrs W. A. Thomson.