Or, more precisely, a Bull – but that doesn’t scan for the tune as well!

I come from a lineage of pedigree Black Aberdeen Angus breeders in Canada, and the “Northlane” Stud started in 1916 by my Great-Grandfather Henry George (“Harry”) Leader, MP, in Manitoba became one of the top Studs in North America. Sadly, the Northlane herd was dispersed (sold) in 1941 because of the war, reconstituted in 1948 in Alberta by my Grandfather T A Leader, and the final dispersal of the Northlane herd took place in 1967 two years after his death. The Northlane name now only remains in the national Herd Books, though the progeny live on. I knew that there was a lot of heartbreak around these dispersals, and that was the sum of my “knowledge” until 2011.

I was based at my parent’s place in the Waikato for eighteen months after the Christchurch Earthquakes (2010 and 2011), dividing my time between their place and my brother and sister-in-law’s Eco-Hotel (and that’s a whole ‘nother story!) Before moving back south (though not to Christchurch) in mid-2012, I went through my Great-Grandfather’s Northlane Stud Book which had come down to my father after his brother died. It was interesting reading – meticulous record-keeping was essential – and I found the following fascinating entry:

Bull: Northlane Black Marshall

Born: August 1931

Sire: Black Marshall H

Dam: Blackwood of Northlane

Sold: 1932

To: Mr Clark, Grimswood, New Zealand

Price: $200

My father couldn’t add any further detail as was under a year old at the time. It was the only entry I found for a sale to NZ, and the address is rather scanty compared with others in the book. I’d also never heard of a place called Grimswood here, so I tucked it away to pursue when I had time. Later in the year I tried to find a “Grimswood” to no avail and again shelved the project. In August 2013 I picked it up again and decided to try from the other direction as I’d discovered that the NZ government had ensured (via the National Library of New Zealand/Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa) that every newspaper, journal, Parliamentary paper, and relevant document from the date of settlement/colonisation of NZ by Europeans was digitised and freely available to the public. (See Papers Past – a stunning resource which continues to grow.)

Searching newspapers of the day for a Mr Clark who was both a cattle breeder and wealthy enough to import an expensive bull from Canada, I eventually found a likely candidate in Mr W E Clark of Opua Station in Gisborne. To cut a long story short, using other sources I eventually found confirmation of the importation of Black Marshall in 1932, and finally even a picture of him arriving at Matiu Somes Island - NZ’s Quarantine Station for many years - on 4 November 1932. I think that the other bull may be Elton Glencarnock, also listed as being imported by Mr Clark in 1932.

During this research I got a fascinating look into past lives, for instance, Mr W E Clark’s older and only brother Jack (John) is listed on the NZ Roll of Honour for WWI (k.i.a. 9 January 1917, Rafa, Palestine). Eventually I was able to track down and speak with W E’s Great-Grandson who took over the property in the mid-1980s. I’m still hopeful that he will find the old Stud Books so we can finally determine this well-travelled bull’s fate.

I was so intrigued by this research that I decided that it was time to do something with the human side of the story using the family trees carefully preserved and updated over the years by my mother (for both sides of the family). I started with the Leaders, and on Father’s Day 2013 I emailed my father with the results of my Black Marshall research, along with a “book” containing the results of my data-entry of known Leader family tree material at that date. Just to prove I had been thoroughly bitten by the genealogy bug, I also dug up some online material for my mother. (Naturally I subsequently went ahead and entered my mother’s side of the family!)

My father’s response: What a lot of work you’ve done, but I’m not really interested in a list of ‘begats’. What would be interesting would be stories about who they were and how they lived. And the rest is, as they say, history. Thanks for the tip, Dad.

~ T W LEADER 1931-2018 ~

I hope you found your nebula.

~ E J (GURNEY) LEADER 1930-2020 ~

Through letters and email you kept us part of our

far-flung family network for almost seventy years. Thank you.

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