The Pettersons of Le Bons Bay: Part Two: The Petterson Children.


Banks Peninsula



John Peter Petterson








On their arrival in New Zealand the Petterson children adopted anglicised versions of their Christian names. The family also abandoned the Scandinavian patronymic surname system and also adopted the surname ‘Petterson’ in the English custom. Cardigan was given an English name at birth during the voyage from Sweden, but Maria Josephina Carolina became Mary Josephine Caroline and Johan Petter became John Peter. Whilst Mary and John had been educated in Sweden Cardigan attended the local school at Le Bons. The school was very much in its infancy at the time and his name is one of the first to appear on the school roll. He is recorded as having left school at the end of his standard three year in 1885 to work on his father's farm property with his brother John. Cardigan Petterson played rugby at school and later played for the Le Bons Bay Football Club, becoming at one time its secretary. He played as a forward and was vice-captain of the illustrious 1905 team which won the Peninsula Rugby Association Championship in that year. Of the four games the side played in the competition they won all four, scoring forty points in total with only eleven scored against them. They took on the top Christchurch team, Linwood, as a result. The Linwood team came to Le Bons by sea aboard the 'John Anderson', and was roundly defeated for its trouble.

Mary Petterson married William O'Connor of Le Bons Bay on 7 December 1883 at Christchurch. William O’Connor had gone to Le Bons in 1876 and found work in the local sawmills. He may have stayed in the boarding house ran by Julianna at Le Bons for the sawmillers in the 1870s and 1880s. Once married, Mary and her husband lived in another house built on the Petterson property. It was in that house that the first five of their six children were born between 1887 and 1896. In the late 1890s they moved down the valley to a house near the beach where their sixth child was born in 1899. William O’Connor took up land on the hill near the beach and established a dairy farm. Descendants of William and Mary O’Connor continued to farm and live at Le Bons until 1970. On 28 October 1896 John Petterson married Cara Elizabeth Anderson at Le Bons. She was the daughter of Danish immigrants who settled at Le Bons. The ceremony was conducted by Reverend William Barnett. John had a house built for his bride next to his parents old house in Valley Road. He also purchased a block of land of about fifty acres up the Panama Road. Whilst there was a house on this block he continued to live in the Valley Road house next to his parents. The Panama Road house was only occupied during the cocksfoot harvesting season by itinerant labourers employed to do the harvesting work. The first five of John and Elizabeth's children were born in the Valley Road house between 1897 and 1905.


Champion unbeaten Le Bons Bay rugby team 1905


Cardigan in later life


Three generations of Cardigan's family


Cardigan was the last of the Petterson children to marry. He married Isobel Robinson at Okains Bay on 25 September 1907. He and his new bride lived initially in Christchurch where Cardigan was working at the time, and it was there that their first two children, Marjorie and Ira, were born. Following Jonas Petterson's death at Le Bons on 25 August 1910 Cardigan and his family returned to Le Bons to take up the blacksmithing business. He was also left a small block of farmland by his father to complement this. Cardigan's third child, Raymond, was born at Le Bons in 1914.

John Petterson inherited forty five acres of farmland from his father up the Valley Road, which he continued to farm together with his Panama Road property. He grew cocksfoot on the Panama Road property and ran his dairy herd on the Valley Road property. However in 1916 John and his family moved from Le Bons to Edendale in Southland where he purchased a dairy farm. His youngest child, Grace, was born there in 1918. Unfortunately Elizabeth’s bronchial condition necessitated a further move northwards to avoid the difficult Southland winters. So in 1920 John purchased a pig farm near Timaru which he farmed until 1923 when he and Elizabeth retired to live in Christchurch. They purchased a large house set on a quarter acre section with an orchard at 50 Tilford Street where they lived out their retirement. Elizabeth died in September 1951 after a long struggle with cancer and John died a short while later on 27 March 1952.

 Cardigan Petterson and his family moved from Le Bons to Akaroa in 1918, where he transferred his blacksmiths shop to a site by the main road leading into the township. Julianna continued to live in the old house at Le Bons. She had never really been alone since Jonas died in 1910 as John and his family lived next door, Cardigan lived on the hill above and Mary and her family only lived three miles away at the Le Bons beach. Her grandchildren spent a great deal of time with her and she would fascinate them with stories of life in old Sweden and frighten them with ghost stories. She would spend many hours sitting on her veranda reading her bible in Swedish and rocking in her old armchair. Her religion was important to her and she strictly observed the traditions and festivals of her native Lutheran denomination. Once Cardigan and his family moved to Akaroa Juliana was cared for by her daughter Mary O’Connor. However when Mary herself retired to Christchurch following the death of her husband in 1918 it was necessary for Juliana in 1922 to move to Akaroa to live with Cardigan. She was by then aged ninety three. Juliana spent the last two years of her life in Akaroa before her death on Easter Sunday, 20 April 1924, six week short of her ninety fifth birthday. She was buried in Le Bons Bay with her husband. Mary lived in Christchurch with her daughter Julia Spencer for over twenty years before her death at the age of eighty five on 4 September 1946. Cardigan continued to live at Akaroa for most of his life. His wife died there on 14 June 1945 & he died at Christchurch on 24 April 1965 aged ninety one.

End of Part Two:

Acknowledgements:  Robert O'Connor for Lineage

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