Cone Family at Waitohi

Written by George Cone's son, Rex in 1979

About 1900 George Cone's father and mother, Fred and Sarah retired to live in Timaru, in Browne Street. They remained there for the remainder of their lives. Fred died in 1917 aged 77, his wife died in July 1927.

About 1900 their eldest daughter Maria who had married Frank Guilford farmed the land until after a short time, they went to live in Timaru where Frank had a coal yard for a time until they went farming on land on what is now known as Pages Road. The second son Fred managed the farm when the Guilfords left until George leased the land in 1907 when he married Eva Hayman of Willowby.

George and Eva had two daughters and one son - Pearl who was born in 1909, Elma in 1912 and Rex in 1916.
In 1936 Pearl married Jack Roberts and after some time they moved to Northland where they were farming for a number of years. They had four children - Beryl, Warren Trevor and Murray. Both Warren and Trevor were killed in accidents.

Elma, the second daughter was born in 1912 and in 1939 she married Walter Beswarick. They have lived in various parts of South Canterbury, Walter working as a wool classer and shepherd. They have one son Ivan.

Rex was born in 1916 and on leaving school, in 1932, he worked on the farm with his father until 1938 when he married Doreen Philp of Winchester and took over the farm at Waitohi. Doreen and Rex had four sons Derek born 1939, Alan born 1942, Malcolm born 1944 and Geoffrey born 1954.

Fred's son George was a hard working, forward looking farm and enterprising farmer and a very good stockman. This was well demonstrated at lambing time in his ability to save and mother-up lambs. In his endeavour to build up capital, he concentrated on wheat farming and on several occasions, he grew over 80 acres of wheat, all sown by mid-May - a big effort with only four horses and a double furrow plough. By 1919 he was well established having bought the farm after leasing it for seven years.

George and Eva Cone at Waitohi and family - Elma, Pearl and Rex

About 1922, George built a new house of six rooms costing a little over 1000 - a lot for a house in those days, included was a septic tank and a flush toilet, the first modern plumbing in the district. 1922 saw the purchase of a Model T Ford car, replacing the buggy 'which I can remember riding in as a small boy. The car cost 180 - petrol was 4/- a gallon then and over the next few years, there were many trips to be enjoyed - regular drives to Studholme to visit Granfy Hayman and the Hayman relatives in that area, also frequent trips to Willowby to visit Haere-mai and one memorable' trip to Christchurch which took 5 hours. I cannot remember the journey home next day but it was a big event. Another memorable ride was to Mt. Cook to visit Jack Hayman on my 8th birthday and several trips to the annual Tekapo sale.

George Cone

About 1923, George bought his first tractor, a Fordson, the third machine in the district but this was followed by a big change in tractors at this time. Most farmers converted their horse ploughs with the Avis lift for tractor use but George bought an American Oliver plough designed for tractor use which steered by the rear wheel and also lifted by the back wheel. It had a very short mould board which made a rough job compared with the colonial ploughs with the conventional long boards, but it broke up the furrow and made for less cultivation after ploughing. It was typical of George that after he had been using the tractor for a short while, that he began to see ways of improving its use. I remember him saying that the implement would be better used if it was part of the tractor but it was many years before the use of hydraulic cultivator and ploughs came into use.

George was among the first to purchase a radio in the district. About 1927, we were able to listen in to the arrival of Kingsford Smith on the first trans Tasman flight.
In the midst of the great depression in 1931, George bought another farm of 180 acres in Lower Waitohi, then in 1935, he partly fulfilled a long held ambition when he purchased a small sheep run in the Cricklewood - Winscombe area. It was in a very run-down condition but it was very good sheep country. This purchase made life very busy and at times hectic as the two properties were 30 miles apart.

With the advent of the header harvester, George was quick to see the advantages and windrowed 50 acres of wheat in 1936. He had adapted a 10 ft power binder, one of the first about, for the windrowing but from then on, direct heading of the wheat was the order of the day. It was about1936 that certified strains of Grass-seed came on the market, opening up a new source of income and this was taken full advantage of - seed production being carried out both on the home farm and also on Clearview as the run was named.
1938 was a busy year with a number of changes in farming arrangements. The 180 acres at Waitohi was sold. Rex and his wife took over the home farm, George and Eva retained the run at Winscombe but bought a house in Timaru at 8 Kitchener Square and had a married couple - in fact several, to work the Clearview property.

This continued until 1941 when George had married couples in a big way, so the house in Timaru was let and they moved back to Clearview but not for long as in May 1942, George had an accident. The horse he was riding slipped on a steep gully and the result was a leg broken in two places. He was on his own and a long way from home. He crawled about a mile before Eva found him. This led to a long stay in hospital and the end of active farming. A clearing sale was held at Clearview on July 1st 1942, but it was not sold for about two years. It was maintained by being let for grazing and the growing of linen flax on a share basis.

The house in Kitchener Square was sold and a newly built house at 53 Orbell Street was purchased. They lived there for many years. George died in October 1956 aged 76 years. Eva lived on there until 1971 when failing eyesight and health led to the sale of the property and she moved into Glenwood home for some time until a fall left her unable to carry on there. A year was spent in Bidwell Hospital and then a move was made to Talbot Hospital. ( Eva died in June 1980, the last survivor of and the youngest of the 18 children of Tom and Ann Hayman.) Eva

Rex and Doreen carried on with the farm at Waitohi which they bought in 1945 as the second World War was ending. In 1958, 140 acres of light land on the bank of the Opihi River was bought bring the area to 365 acres. This land was in a very neglected state but a few years clearing and spraying transformed the area, with most of it being planted in lucerne, this land proved to be most useful as a wintering area for stock and for growing winter feed. The clearing and turning this land into a very productive part of the farm has been the most satisfying and rewarding part of my farming experience.
By those time Alan and Malcolm were ready to be involved in farming so in 1961, a farm of 284 acres was bought in Upper Waitohi, the two sons taking the ownership as tenants in common. At this stage the parnership of R H Cone and Sons Sons was formed and the 650 acres was farmed as one unit with cropping and sheep being the main activity. A move to bulk handling of wheat was made in 1966 with the building of four 40 ton silos and the construction of a grain auger and bulk bin for the truck being complete between August and harvest time as well as doing all the other farm work. Looking back now, it must have been some effort.
At this stage it could be useful to have a look at Doreen and Rex and their farming experience during the Second World War. They started farming on their own account after their marriage in 1938. By September of that year, the war had started and for the next six years things were very difficult on the farming front. Most prices were fixed for the duration - wool at 1/- a lb, wheat at 3/6d a bushell. Lamb was also held at about 1 to 1.2.6d so there was no big profits to be made. Taxation increased to help finance the war, shortages became increasingly worse as time went on. Petrol was one of the first things to be rationed. Such items as wire, nails, staples, timber, bolts, tyres and many spare parts became unobtainable and a great deal of ingenuity was required to keep plant going. Rationing came for many things - butter, meat, clothing, tea and sugar being the most affected. Here of course, those on the farms were best off as some items could be produced for oneself.

During their farming life, Doreen and Rex always milked several cows, the cream cheques usually kept them in groceries and were always a welcome addition to the farm income. Labour was one big problem during the war with so many men being called to the armed forces; the supply of seasonal labour was becoming more acute as time went on. Our main problem was getting a bag sewer for by 1940 we had our own header. On more than one occasion, Doreen took charge of the bag sewing also on several occasions I did the bag sewing and driving myself. 18 acres of linseed was harvested in this way, also grass seed. By 1942, the army set up soldier camps in harvesting areas which was a big help. The only trouble was that the camp truck called for the men at 5.30 pm when there was still many hours of harvesting time left. Another shortage was superphosphate. Supplies had to be ordered months before needed with no certainty that it would arrive when required. In 1945, the war ended and very slowly the shortages were overtaken - farm prices improved with the post war boom and the difficulties of the six war years were over, but the loss of so many lives will never be made good. One of the most pleasant memories of the war years was the good fellowship that was found with the local farmers in the Waitohi platoon of the Home Guard. Parades were held weekly, sometimes for all day - there were many hilarious stories that would take a long time to relate.

Children are:

1 Derek Rex, the eldest son was born at Temuka and went to primary school at Pleasant Point and had his secondary education at Timaru College. In 1955, he started work as an Automotive Diesel Mechanic with Gough, Gough and Hamer in Timaru and completed in Christchurch at the Canterbury Branch where he qualified with his A grade and shortly after this, he was promoted to the Head Office in Christchurch as Assistant technical adviser in Caterpiller equipment and later was in charge of in-service training of the service staff. This required two trips to Melbourne to keep up to date with the latest developments in Caterpiller gear. During this time, he was involved with the American Deep Freeze operations in servicing their caterpiller equipment. This entailed three trips to the Antarctic to organise the servicing of their machines. For his service, he was made an honorary member of the Seebees, the US Navy construction and maintenance force. Later, when service manager at the Canterbury branch, he was involved in commissioning the first Diesel locomotives.
About 1974, he left Gough,Gough and Hamer and took a position with the Department of Labour in the Industrial Training Service and after a Training period in Christchurch, he was transferred to Whangarei to establish the Service there. In 1961 he married Ursula Garvin of Timaru and While in Christchurch Derek served for a number of years as a telephone councillor on the Life Line service.

They had two daughter Sandra Jane and Marie Joy Cone.

2 Alan George, second son was born on his father's birthday, and attended Pleasant Point School. He did his secondary education at Timaru College. On leaving College, he worked on the home farm for two years, then he took a job with Roadways Ltd. at Benmore and worked there for a year driving scrappers and bulldozers carting material for the massive earth dam, part of the Benmore Power scheme.
Alan returned home in 1962 as has been mentioned before, when additional land was purchased at Waitohi. Alan married Margaret Kearnes at this time and lived in a very old house for a few years until a new house was built. Margaret is a very talented gardener and with Alan's help, they made a very attractive home and surroundings.

They have three children - two sons Mark Allan and Paul James and a daughter Lisa Ann Cone.

3: Malcolm Henry went to school at Pleasant Point primary and later to Timaru College and when finished with school, started work on the home farm. Malcolm took a trip to Australia before he married Marion McKenzie of Waimate and they took up residence on the original Cone farm and Doreen and Rex built a home on the land adjacent to the Opihi River. A few years later, Malcolm remodelled the homestead house and turned it into a modern home with a redesigned garden.

Malcolm and Marion have two sons and 2 daughters - Julian Malcolm, Jared McKenzie, Hannah Clemence and Tiffany Carole Cone. They are the fifth generation of Cones to live on the home farm on Cone Road.

4 Doreen and Rex's fourth son Lester was still-born on May 25th, 1948.

5 Geoffrey Peter Philp, the fifth son went to school in Pleasant Point and continued on at the High School there. He went to Timaru College for his U E and continued his education at Canterbury University when he studied Law and graduated LLB in 1977. He then did a post-graduate course for a Diploma of Law the following year. He did his post-graduate study for his LIM at Otago University. At present he is partner (Dec 1984) with Taylor, Shaw and Anderson, ChCh.

Geoffrey mar:  Susan Elizabeth Perry : Their two childen are  Edmund (Ned) Cone/Alison and Miranda Rosemary Cone/Alison

*2nd Wife of  Geoffrey mar:  Deborah Mary Hill - Their two childen are  Augusta Artemis Hill Cone and  Bramwell James Ernest Cone

*3rd Wife of Geoffrey mar: Sarah Hogan Brown 

Alan and Malcolm continued to farm in partnership after Rex retired and later bought a 750 acre property at Hanging Rock. It is very steep country and is used as a cattle and sheep grazing unit. They had developed a large and successful bull-beef enterprise which they combine with sheep and cropping.

George and Rex Cone, Waitohi farm creek bed abt. 1925


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