Henry Drinkwater, bottom left.
Henry Drinkwater wasn’t famous, wealthy or notorious but he still had one hell of a story.
Deb went looking for an ancestor.
Ever wondered if you are related to royalty? What about a notorious pirate? Or even worse, a politician?
Most people have wondered a time or two about previous generations.
With lockdown this year Mother’s Day was harder than normal. Unless you were very organised or could send something online, there was nowhere to go for a pressie.
So I got thinking, what if I played to my strengths and sent Mum a story?
I started looking for a particular relative who had always interested me and ended up with another, Henry Drinkwater.
Henry was born in 1849 in England and with his mother, brother and sister ended up in a poorhouse. Poorhouses were generally considered places of disease and poverty, conditions were sometimes dreadful and usually all were put to work.
He lost his whole family soon after but was lucky enough to end up in an orphanage where he received an education.
He met Sarah Franklin in 1974 and shortly after they married they came with Sarah’s parents to New Zealand - back then a three month trip at sea - and ended up in Hawke’s Bay.
After working there, he and Sarah went to what was then a small town - Dannevirke. He started his own carrying company and helped found the volunteer fire brigade
Henry is a good example of how our ancestors shape our lives. He started with literally nothing and worked hard all his life. He and Sarah’s children - 15 of them - spread out around the country. His son Robert was my great grandfather, one of those who stayed in Dannevirke.
We found a picture of the ship Henry and Sarah sailed in and then I was delighted to find a picture of Henry - along with the rest of those who founded the fire brigade. He looks very official in his uniform.
All of this was done online - there are a vast number of resources available for people looking for their past relatives. There was even an obituary in a local paper when he died aged 61 in 1910. Sarah died 10 years later.
On a recent trip (out of lockdown!) I had the pleasure of finding Henry and Sarah’s graves in the beautifully maintained Dannevirke’s Settler’s Cemetery.
Here’s a tip - most councils have a search system to allow you to search by name for someone which gives you a plot number. They also have maps of their cemeteries, allowing you to find grave sites quickly, most can be downloaded from their websites.