The Pettersons of Le Bons Bay: Part One: Emigration to New Zealand

The Cardigan Castle 1873

Jonas and Juliana Petterson immigrated to New Zealand from the Swedish island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea in 1873. Jonas was born on 1 October 1832 at Karlstorp in the province of Jönköping on the Swedish mainland. Sweden used the patronymic naming system until the nineteenth century. Hence Jonas Petterson was the son of Peter Isaacsson, who in turn was the son of Isaac Johansson, who as his surname reveals was the son of Johan Hansson, who was the son of Hans Johansson. Jonas and his family settled on the small island of Sando, off northern Gotland, in 1848, and then on Gotland itself in September 1851. Jonas worked as a blacksmith in and around Visby, the biggest town on Gotland, where on 12 December 1857 he married Juliana Söderberg. Juliana was born on 7 June 1829 at Loysta on Gotland, where her father, Mårten Söderberg, was the village shoemaker. Following their marriage Jonas and Juliana settled in the village of Othem, north of Loysta, where their first child, Anna Maria Josephina, was born in March 1858 and a little over a year later, in August 1859, died. In 1859 they moved to the village of Vänge where their next three children, Maria Josephina Carolina in 1861, Johan Petter in 1865 and Hilda Mathilda Catherina in 1870, were born. Unfortunately Hilda also died in infancy, in July 1871. In the early 1870s Sweden suffered from the effects of a prolonged economic depression, and as a consequence, in 1873 Jonas and Juliana decided to emigrate. In May 1873 they completed the necessary emigration documentation, and even though Juliana was by then pregnant with her fifth child, the family sailed to England, from where their ship to New Zealand departed. Their ship, the ‘Cardigan Castle’, sailed from Plymouth on 23 August 1873. The ‘Cardigan Castle’ was a twelve hundred ton sailing ship built of iron, and on this voyage was commanded by one Captain Davies. She was built by Messrs R and J Evans of Liverpool in 1870, and although not originally intended for the passenger trade had been adapted well for the purpose. According to the report of the ship's arrival at Lyttelton on 15 November 1873 in the 'Christchurch Press' newspaper the facilities for the passengers were excellent and the voyage was a most comfortable one. Before the ship arrived at Lyttelton Juliana gave birth to her fifth child at sea on 29 August 1873, who was appropriately named ‘Cardigan’.

Banks Peninsula, Canterbury, NZ

An old Blacksmith's Anvil

Once landed the Petterson family, together with the whole body of emigrants, were sent to the immigration barracks at Addington near Christchurch. They had to walk over the Port Hills from Lyttelton to Addington via the steep Bridle Track walked by so many new arrivals to the colony. After a short period at Addington the family resided at Lyttelton and then moved to Duvauchelle on Banks Peninsula where Jonas found work as a blacksmith at Piper's Sawmill. There he earned two pounds a week, which was almost five times the amount he was able to earn in Sweden for the same work. After about a year the family then moved to Le Bons Bay where Jonas found work at Smith's Sawmill. In this period closed Jonas also established his own blacksmiths shop along the Valley Road in Le Bons. In order to establish the blacksmiths shop it was necessary to purchase an anvil and the story is told by Gordon Mackay, an old Le Bons resident, of how this heavy instrument was transported to Le Bons. There were no roads connecting Le Bons to the outside world at the time and Jonas, together with William O'Connor and a man remembered only as Neilson, walked from Le Bons to Akaroa to collect the anvil for the blacksmiths shop. As the walked through the bush and over the hill they fashioned a study pole from a fallen tree from which they intended to suspend the huge anvil on the return journey. They stayed for two nights in Akaroa before returning on foot with the anvil suspended from the pole by rope as it was carried in turns by two of the men. The exhausting journey was made by way of a track which ran from German Bay, now called Takamatua, over the hill. Despite the arduous journey the task was completed, and was acclaimed in the district as a feat of strength and determination sufficient to be remembered to the present day by old Le Bons residents. In the event 'Wises New Zealand Post Office Directory' records Jonas as the blacksmith at Le Bons Bay in 1881.Jonas also purchased farmland along the Valley Road. In 1885 he purchased twenty five acres. He acquired a further eighteen acres in 1886 and twenty more in 1891. On this land he ran a dairy herd which he milked for the Le Bons Bay dairy factory, which opened in the early 1890s. A stream ran through the property which also featured an abundant orchard. There were also a number of large walnut trees on the property. The house was a two storied structure with three bedrooms and a large veranda overlooking a flower garden and the orchard. At the back of the house was a large mulberry tree, underneath which ran a path which was continually stained purple by crushed mulberries. Juliana, who according to her obituary which appeared in the 'Lyttelton Times' newspaper following her death, “shared all the vicissitudes of the early pioneers”. She was strong and robust in stature, standing six foot three inches in height. Jonas was by comparison shorter. He was placid and quiet by nature and his complexion was fair and his eyes a vibrant blue. He wore a beard which faded, together with his hair, to white in old age. Juliana parted her hair down the middle and tied it into a bun at the back of her head. She was a highly practical woman, although she never fully mastered the English language, continuing to prefer her native Swedish.

Jonas and Julia Petterson in later life

Jonas and Julia's gravestone in Le Bons cemetery

End of Part One:

Acknowledgements:  Robert O'Connor for Lineage  


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