Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 1, Issue 6, March 1964
The Marsden family were prominent in Stoke's early history, and were among the community's wealthiest settlers. The original Mr. Thomas Marsden was a jeweller, and came out in one of the earliest ships. In those days it was the practice for new arrivals to be allotted one area of good land and another area, usually hill country farther afield. Mr. Marsden purchased a further allotment and later, under the New Zealand Company's scheme of 1848, was able to thus consolidate his holdings. He thus acquired quite a large area of land up Poorman's Valley, and extending down to the main Road.
Even so, it is believed that he did not make his money from his actual farming activities, the bulk of it coming to him in the form of bequests from England, which were well invested. He originaliy commenced to build up Poorman's Valley, but just after he had made a start, an easterly storm blew up, and in the morning all his framing was flattened. He was so disgusted that he gathered up all his materials, and transferred them to the place where "Isel" now stands. His son, John, was the donor of the Marsden Recreation Ground, and on his death a large tract of land was left to the Cawthron Institute.
The lane that runs along behind the Methodist church is the remnant of a road that used to cut straight across the paddocks, and join the hill road at Wakatu. This was known as the Old Gorse Road, and was always a source of irritation to Mr. Marsden, as it made a number of his paddocks very odd shapes. Finally he was successful in getting the road closed, and in exchange he gave the land for what is now known as Arapiki Road.
Notes taken on Stoke history by Mrs. D. E. Holcroft at a meeting arranged by Mr. J. T. Baigent and held at the residence of Mr. H. Chisnall, Nayland Road, Stoke, in June, 1949. Among those present were Messrs. D. Giblin, E. Chisnall, E. Saxton, J. Biggar, A. Ching, and W. Ching.
These notes are printed as then compiled but it is obvious in parts of the text that allowance has to be made for the changes which the passing of the years between 1949 and 1964 has brought. Our readers will be able to discern most of these.