Celebrating fathers in history

By the time you read this Father’s Day will have come and gone for another year. Some many have celebrated it in style with gifts and a card, while others may have ignored it.

As some may have guessed, the celebration of fathers and father figures began in America. However it is not, as many assume, a modern idea generated by retailers.

Father’s Day was suggested by Sonora Smart-Dodd in 1910. Her father, William Jackson Smart, was a farmer and fought in the American Civil War. He was married twice, twice widowed, and with the help of his only daughter cared for his 13 children (including three step children). He is quoted as saying ‘We are a family of steps, halves and wholes.’

In 1972 the Americans declared Father’s Day a national holiday, and they observe it on the 19 June, but here in New Zealand we celebrate it on the first Sunday in September.

While father’s today play a large part in the bringing-up of their children, in the past fathers were often a shadowy figure, working long hours to provide for their family.

For that reason, Ashburton Museum sadly does not have as many images of fathers with their children as it does of children with mothers. However, we hope you enjoy this selection of ones we have located.

1 Early Ashburton resident John Hunt, with two of his great grandchildren, Julie Crawford and Neville Childs..png

Early Ashburton resident John Hunt, with two of his great grandchildren, Julie Crawford and Neville Childs.

 

2 Dr Boyd with his family..png

Dr Boyd with his family.  Dr Boyd was a doctor in Ashburton from 1901 until about 1906. Although the family did not stay here very long, both Dr and Mrs Boyd was popular and well known for their kindheartedness.  One of the children in the wheelbarrow is his daughter Julia, who also became a doctor.

 

3 Mr William Martin with his daughter.png

Mr William Martin with his daughter, Mrs Thomas Blackburn, grand-daughter Mrs E Atkinson and Miss T Hayes.

 

4 Sadly unknown, this family group is one of our collections earlier images.png

Sadly unknown, this family group is one of our collections earlier images.  It was brought out to New Zealand, (if the trews are any indication, from Scotland) in 1862.  The darkness of the image is due to it being not on paper, but tin. These images were common during the 1850s and 1860s.

 

5 Father’s Day can be time for remembering fathers who are no longer with us..png

Father’s Day can be time for remembering fathers who are no longer with us. This image, of John Redhead with his daughter Betty is a lovely image, but with a sad twist.  John, curator of the gardens here, and over 40, was killed in action during World War One.

 

6 Another sad image from the collection is this image of well-loved local Dr Trevor with his little daughter, Mildred..png

Another sad image from the collection is this image of well-loved local Dr Trevor with his little daughter, Mildred. The widowed doctor remarried and in his twilight years was presented with this little girl.  Naturally, her father adored her, and was devastated when she died, aged 4 1/2 .

 

7. The Heffords.pngHaving a son can mean someone to share your passions.  Here patriarch John Hefford sits proudly in front of his sons: Henry, William and George, all members of the Ashburton Guards volunteer unit.

By Kathleen Stringer

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