Burial register ID: 16045
Surname: GROVES
First name: ELLEN
Middle names:
Gender: Female
Age: 88 Years
Cause of death: Unknown
Burial type:
Date of death: 01-Jun-1939
Date of burial: 03-Jun-1939

Block: 106
Plot: 19

Bio contributor:

Ellen Groves née Campbell (1852 – 1939)

Ellen’s story starts in a small cottage in High Street, Belfast, Ireland in April 1852. She was the eldest child of George and Mary Jane Campbell. George was at that time at his trades, as a copper and tinsmith, working long hours each day. The war in India was brewing so he enlisted with the 77th regiment and sailed east. Mary Jane and their daughter followed with several wives and children. Little Ellen was nearly 9 years old. After spending a considerable time camped on the banks of the Ganges River while George was away fighting, Ellen remembered her mother becoming very ill with fever. The heat was unbearable and she watched Mary being taken out daily in a box with a chair on it on long poles carried by two large Indian men. They walked along the shaded paths of the river bank, with little Ellen trotting along behind. The walk usually lasted about half an hour with the men chanting as they went along. When they put the chair down for a spell, the one at the front would pull a fern from a palm tree and waved it in front of the chair to cause a cool draught.

George was transferred to New Zealand in 1861, where the Maori wars were brewing. The soldiers arrived in Auckland and several months later the ship Louisa brought their wives and children. They were housed in barracks near Queen Street. En route to New Zealand, Ellen remembered the passengers being ordered below deck and battened down, while the sailors fought with pirates who had boarded the ship. When the families were allowed up on deck again a few wounds were all that was noticeable. Two small children died during the passage to New Zealand and were buried at sea. To a small Ellen it must have been very sad to see her little playmates disappear in this way. Two weeks after they arrived in New Zealand Mary Jane gave birth to little George and their father came down to Auckland from Pukekohe to visit his family on three weeks furlough. Four months later her mother was rushed to the small army hospital in Auckland where she died. Baby George was taken to a Mrs Smith and when she moved from Auckland he was left at the workhouse. On his next furlough George tried to find his baby son, but never saw him again. Ellen was left with Mr and Mrs Stevens and sailed to Dunedin when Sgt. Stevens was transferred there a few months later. Ellen never saw her father again, nor did she see her baby brother she had loved so dearly. Sgt. Stevens kept in touch with George through the army, and let him know how she was. When she was 12 years old Ellen went to work for a Mrs Coventry who lived above her son’s shop in the Octagon. They were tinsmiths as her father had been before joining the army. She could not read or write so could not correspond with her father. Emma Stevens was a school teacher and she taught Ellen to write her name and read the headlines in the newspapers.

In 1872 Ellen met a gentleman called John Groves. He and his brother Alfred had a coach painting and wheelwright business in High Street Dunedin. For three years he was a constant caller at the Coventry’s home and in 1875 they were married. Emma, her friend since they sailed to New Zealand many years before, was her bridesmaid. Ellen and John set up house at ‘Groves Nook’ at St Clair. John walked daily to work in High Street, across the sand flats and flax covered swamp, now an area covered with houses. It was while living at St Clair that Ellen experienced her first earthquake. She was expecting her first son Robert, when they were awakened with a terrible rumble, the house shook and rocked as John tried to get out of bed. He was thrown against the wall and she was clinging to the end of the iron bedstead as it moved around the room. Eventually when they could get to the kitchen and light a candle, they found a lot of their precious dishes broken on the floor. The roar from the sea sounded very ‘eerie’. It started to rain as they covered the windows with sacks to keep out the lightning. The storm raged all next day and John couldn’t get to work for three days as he was restoring the storm damage to their home. Little Robert was born a week before Christmas. 18 months later they bought an acre of land in North Dunedin on the hillside now called Dalmeny Street. John’s sister Mrs Alpheus Hayes of Centrewood Bush at Waimate sent them a large railway truck filled with Totara timber from their sawmill and a fine solid house was built on their property. The house is still standing at no. 26 Dalmeny Street, with many new homes built above and below, after more than 100 years. Ellen and John had established a large orchard with all kinds of fruit and nut trees. Down each side of the creek that ran through the property they planted raspberries as well as red and blackcurrants and strawberries. Here they raised 11 children and when John died in 1926, Ellen went to live with her daughter Nellie Hurndell on their farm, where she lived for 16 years. At the age of 86 she was laid to rest beside her dearly loved John. She always longed to find her little brother George, but he was never traced, although the family tried through all the agencies for many years. George senior had become a gumdigger in the north of Auckland. Ellen’s eldest daughter Myrtle found his address and wrote to him, we still have four of his letters, copies are included in the album dated from 1896 to 1906. He was living at a farm at Glorit ?, Northland. He died there and is buried on the farm.

The children of Ellen and John Groves were:-

Robert born 1875;

Joseph born 1877;

Violet born 1879;

Myrtle born 1881;

Alfred born 1884;

Alfeus born 1885;

Nelly born 1886;

Anna born 1890;

John born 1893;

Olive born 1895;

Edgar born 1897.

There are 8 Interments in this grave:

Surname First names Age Date of death Date of burial
GROVES ALFRED 43 Years 11-Feb-1929 13-Feb-1929
GROVES ELLEN 88 Years 01-Jun-1939 03-Jun-1939
GROVES HAZEL 11 Weeks 27-Jan-1907 29-Jan-1907
GROVES JOHN MALE 77 Years 16-Mar-1922 18-Mar-1922
GROVES JOSEPH 32 Years 24-Jun-1913 26-Jun-1913
GROVES KATHLEEN 14 Days 19-Nov-1912 21-Nov-1912
GROVES VIOLET 5 Years 26-Oct-1884 29-Oct-1884
JAMES JOHN FRANCES Unknown 17-Mar-1908 19-Mar-1908