Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Antipodes Bound

Margaret Nelson Hamilton was born in Londonderry in 1852. She was the oldest child of Margaret Graham Hamilton. On June 10, 1884, at age 32, she married Robert Newton Gordon. Soon after their marriage they left Ireland for New Zealand where they settled in the city of Dunedin in the southern reaches of the South Island. A year later their oldest son, George Stephenson Gordon was born in Dunedin. Four more sons followed. The youngest, Robert Hamilton Gordon being born in 1907, when his mother was 55 years old.

Dunedin and Environs


Dunedin is the second-largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and the principal city of the Otago region. Its name comes from Dùn Èideann, the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. Dunedin is situated at the head of Otago Harbour. From the time of its foundation in 1848, the city has spread slowly over the low-lying flats and nearby hills and across the isthmus to the slopes of the Otago Peninsula.

The Otago Peninsula is a long, hilly indented finger of land that forms the easternmost part of Dunedin. Volcanic in origin, it forms one wall of the eroded valley that now forms Otago Harbour. The peninsula runs parallel to the mainland for 20 km, with a maximum width of 9 km. It is joined to the mainland at the south-west end by a narrow isthmus about 1.5 km wide.



George Stephenson Gordon

George Stephenson Gordon
In 1912 George Gordon, at the age of 27, married Agnes Bertha Kinnear in New Zealand.  Soon after they left for Australia. George was working as an engineer in 1914 in the then town of Colac in the State of Victoria. George's first three children were born in Victoria; Donald in 1913, Hilda in 1916 and Phyllis in 1918.

Two months after Phyllis's birth, George's brother 2nd Lt Aldwyn Remington Gordon was killed in France during WW I. George and his family returned to New Zealand where his two youngest sons were born; Wallace in 1921 and Rodney in 1928.

According to his granddaughter Marissa, George Stephenson designed and manufactured the 'Gordon Vacuum Brake' - a popular milking machine - of which he sold many to Ireland.  He had a shop set up in Auckland selling these also.  He had various other patents - strangely one for a hairbrush too!

George died at age 79 in Auckland on New Zealand's North Island in 1964 .

George's Children

Donald K Gordon
George's first born was Donald Kinnear Gordon. He was listed as married and working as an engineer according to the 1946-54 Auckland, NZ electoral roles. Donald had a relatively short life, dying in Auckland at age 43 in 1958. Donald was survived by a wife (Gladys) and two daughters whose names remain private. Donald's next siblings were two sisters; Hilda Bertha Gordon (1916) and Phyllis Leslie Gordon (1918).

Hilda Gordon
Hilda moved to the United States in 1953 at the age of 37, crossing the Canadian border at Niagara Falls. She was already married to Judson Titchen at that time. She became a resident of Wyalusing, PA where she died in 2005 at age 89. She had two daughters (Roslyn and Jackie) who still live in Pennsylvania. 

Phyllis Gordon
Phyllis married Frederick Day before 1940 and they settled in the Auckland area. Frederick listed his occupation as a plasterer in the Auckland Electoral rolls for 1949. Frederick died in 1968. Phyllis in 2006.

They had four sons and two daughters. Graham Ronald Day (1940) married and had 3 sons and a daughter. He died in Auckland in 2012.  In 1981 Phyllis and her son Colin Gordon Day (1948), a painter who never married, plus the two other sons, John Frederick Day (toolmaker) and Rodney Paul Day (carpenter) were living at the same address on the North Island in Waikato, Matamata NZ. The men were all working in construction. Colin died from cancer in Hamilton, NZ in 2002. Rodney married and had one son. John married with no children. Of the two daughters, Alison married and had one daughter, Lynette married and had two daughters and a son.

Wallace McGregor Gordon
Wallace McGregor Gordon had 4 sons and lived 85 years, dying in Auckland in 2006. In 1940 at the beginning of the second World War he was a rope maker at Fort Takapuna Artillery Yard in Devonport. At the end of the war he was assigned to an armed infantry brigade. 

For more than 40 years (until at least 1981) Wallace lived in his parent's former home in Remuera, Auckland. [Looks like a nice home and a good neighborhood on Google maps.] By 1954 he was sharing the home with his wife Norah Gordon. During that period he listed various occupations in the Auckland Electorial roles, including shoemaker, laborer and roofer. Norah and Wallace had four sons. By 1978 a student, Stephen Paul Gordon (presumably one of his sons) had joined the household. 

Rodney Keith Gordon
The youngest of George's children was Rodney Keith Gordon, born in Auckland in 1928. Rodney missed the war since he was age 12 when it started. After the war he worked in various construction occupations, like tile maker, laborer, and filter hand (whatever that is?). He lived during those years in various parts of Auckland until at least 1981. He may have worked in Melbourne, Australia part of that time. He and his wife Zenaida raised three daughters (Marissa, Myra and Vilma) and had three grandsons at the time of his death. His obituary indicates that he was a very popular fellow. He died in 2016.


World War I - Aldwyn and Leslie Gordon

Aldwyn Remington Gordon
Two of Margaret Gordon's five sons ultimately died from their experience fighting in Europe during World War I.  The first being George's brother Aldwyn who died of wounds received fighting in France on August 26, 1918.

The second was Lance Corporal Leslie Graham Gordon who left Wellington, NZ with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force for England in May 1916. He succumbed some 15 years later (1933) at age 40 from the effects of poison gas received on the fighting front. Although Leslie married Helen Elizabeth Nelson in 1924, neither brother had any children.


Margaret's Two Youngest Sons

Margaret Nelson Hamilton's last two children were sons; Gordon Clanmore McDonald Gordon (1897) and Robert Hamilton Gordon (1907). Gordon spent his whole life in New Zealand, living in various places before he settled in Auckland. He started out as a clerk in 1919, then was a traveling salesman and was a clerk again by 1957. He died in Auckland in 1963.

In contrast, Robert moved to Sydney, New South Wales, Australia in his twenties. There in 1936 he listed his occupation as an evangelist.  He appears to have spent most of his Australian life saving souls in Sydney and its suburbs. In 1971 he died in St Leonards, a suburb of Sydney.

Both men married. One Family Tree indicates possible children, but does not identify them. The unknown offspring are six (3 girls and 3 boys) for Gordon and two boys for Robert.

End of the Story?

The story of the Gordon descendants in New Zealand ends our story of the Anna Love family diaspora from Ireland. Given that New Zealand is about as far away from Ireland that you can get in this world, it is probably a fitting ending to our story.

Nevertheless, should new information of significance be revealed on the web, future additions to the story may well appear.

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