Frederick Cone's death certificate states he was born at Hadleigh, Suffolk but he was born at Aldham and the birth registered at Hadleigh just a short distance away.
According to the
Lands and Survey records, Fred bought 3 acres 2 roods on the north bank of
the Opihi River at Waitohi on April 1st 1856 when he was only 16 years of
shortage in Christchurch was acute by 1860 and the cutting out of the
Papanui Bush in 1861 focussed attention on the resources of Hoon Hay and
here both Fred and brother William bought a block each in
the Kennedy's and Burke's Bush areas. The Kennedys Bush Road was
surveyed in the late 1850's and constructed in 1863 to provide a route up
to the bush areas of Hoon Hay and Landsdowne Valley. The area was named
Kennedy who purchased 11 hectares of native forest there in 1856.
Edward Coppell, Edward Murray, Frederick Cone, John Campion and John
Parish ( either the uncle or the brother of Isabella Parish - John Parish
was a farmer of Ferry Road where the Cones were, on the jury list of 1853)
all had bush sections there.
An adventurous type, Fred some time later went by boat from Lyttleton to Timaru landing by surf boat before there was any breakwater. He may have stayed at the accommodation house kept by Sam Williams on the beach below the present city of Timaru and would have had to travel over the broad plains stretching away from the Levels station and some three miles ahead of him, would have seen the projection of land standing out conspicuously called Pleasant Point. He was working at the Walton flour mill on Mill Road about a mile from the Pleasant Point township near the Opihi River during the big flood in 1868. He and some others had to spend the night and part of a day on the roof of the mill. Fred purchased 85 acres on January 8th 1868 at Waitohi. This area was divided into Upper Waitohi and Lower Waitohi 12 miles from Temuka. The lower flat had a school, store and blacksmith's shop.
In those days the countryside was practically all tussock, flax and matagouri with a few rough tracks which served as roads. It would have taken about three weeks in those times to get from Timaru through to the Mackenzie country by bullock train travelling two or three miles an hour to take in stores and bring back wool.The "Point" as Pleasant Point was then known, was a guiding landmark and bullocky resting place for waggoners making their inland journey. They would pull in for an overnight stop where there was ready access to water from the creek and good grazing for the bullocks, to save carrying fodder. As many as 30 from two or three teams might pull in and the township grew from this camping ground. If returning from the back country they made this their stop, going on to Timaru next morning and returning in the evening. Gradually horses replaced bullocks, so a hotel to accommodate travellers was built in 1864 by Wm Warne.
By 1868 besides the accomodation house there sprang up two general stores, a boarding house, a blacksmith's shop owned by James Gammie. A tri-weekly coach service was started . There were very few houses then but with the opening of the railway December 1875 there came rapid development. Main trafic was wool, grain and livestock along with passengers and mail. Homes were simple of cob or sod, others of wood and the more substantial citizens utilised limestone. But Pleasant Point lay on the other side of the Opihi River and it was not spanned by a bridge until after 1900, so the distance to Timaru was lenghthened by many miles or else people were reliant on fine weather crossing.
In January 1869, Fred Cone was granted 140 acres from the Crown at Waitohi but he did not immediately occupy it. On the 11th November, 1870 at the age of 30 he married Sarah Barnard at the residence of the Reverand W Kirk of Christchurch.
Intentions to Marry: - Nov 11, 1870, Frederick Cone , Occupation, servant, age 30; dwelling place Tai Tapu, length of residence 2 years. The marriage is to be solemnized in the house of Rev W Kirk, Ferry Road to Sarah Barnard, spinster, Profession servant, age 20, living at Tai Tapu 3 years. Consent given as in the case of a minor by father, Thomas Barnard National Archives (BDM 20/15 P494 /2296) Witnesses - Thos. C Barnard, Watchmaker, Christchurch and Elizabeth Barnard (sister-in-law who was married to brother Charles Thomas Barnard).
At the time of his marriage Fred was working at Tai Tapu for
Mr Barnett and the couple's first child was still-born at Southbridge the
following year. Not long afterwards they moved to Ashley and lived in
the sod hut on William's property and Fred worked in the area. Eldest
son Frederick Edward was born at Rangiora and next son Albert Charles was
born at the sod hut on the land owned by William his brother in 1874.
About this time, Fred purchased a further 50 acres near his other land at
Waitohi for £150 - he now had a holding of 214 acres.
William Cone sold his land 25th July 1874 where Fred and family
lived so they moved from Ashley by horse and dray to South Canterbury
where Fred had built a sod house prior to his move on the 50 acre
block. He planted some blue gums and pine trees and because water supply
was a problem, he dug an 80 ft well which continued as an unfailing supply
for household use until 1938 when a piped supply was installed for the
district. Absence of firewood was another problem and the only source was
matagouri gathered off the Opihi River bed. This acreage was later
increased to 650 acres in 1970 by Rex Cone and his sons. Fred and
Sarah Cone's children
Fred also had in common with other brothers, a
very good knowledge of fruit growing and established an excellent orchard,
a range of plums that gave an almost continuous supply from early July to
April, apples of many varieties from the early harvest to the late winter
keepers, two kinds of cherries and seven different types of pears. By now
most of the apple trees have died out but the pears are thriving and still
yield well. Fred also planted a number of walnut trees but only one
survived - Sarah declared that he killed them with kindness, but the one
that grew, is still bearing nuts.
The children were a happy family - quiet and hardworking. Fred was badly crippled with rheumatism contracted when driving a wagon to various parts of the country and sleeping on damp ground under his wagon. As time went by, more and more of the farm work had to be done by the elder boys, and son George recalled spending many hours minding the sheep on the Opihi riverbed and on other parts of the farm before the gorse fences that his father had planted were grown enough to hold stock. About 1900 Fred, badly crippled and later to be in a wheelchair, with Sarah retired to live in Timaru at Browne street where they remained for the remainder of their lives. Fred died in 10th June 1917 aged 77 years and Sarah passed away 1st July 1927 aged 79 years. Their heastone at Timaru Cemetery Block D2, Plot 636.
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