Compiling family’s story a labour of love

Historian and author Ruth Spain, of Invercargill, with a family history of Pyper With A Y - Through the generations 1763 - 2019.

RETRACING and recording family histories is hard work.

Saving hours of research for many people, historian and author Ruth Spain, of Invercargill, has complied a family history of Pyper with a Y Through the generations 1763-2019

Taking 19 years to put together, Mrs Spain said she wanted to make the book readable and had included “as many photos within reason”.

“Anybody who knows about it [the book] is interested… if they see a copy, they always pick it up and have a look through.”

After her father, Sid Pyper, died in 1988, Mrs Spain decided to start on the project.

It was seeing “all those photos just sitting in the drawer and I thought it was a waste”.

Mrs Spain said growing up on the farm at Oteramika were always happy days.

“People coming and going.

“Dad loved people. His mother, Agnes came from a family of 15.

“I think I must have asked lots of family questions, and when my dad died, my mother said, ‘here your father’s things…’ the birthday book, papers and photos.

“They sat in the drawer and I would get them out from time-to-time, and add anything I could get my hands on.

“My mother was always happy to talk about growing up and married life when I asked her about it,” she said.

“I would write it down at the time.”

Then it came time, when Mrs Spain decided all the family memorabilia was wasted “just sitting in the drawer”, so she began putting it in order and continued to add to it.

“It was a much bigger job than I imagined. Many times I wondered if I would ever get it finished.”

As part of her research, Mrs Spain advertised in the Southland Express for anyone related to the family who had information about the families or any photographs they were willing to share.

About 10-12 people responded, which added to her collection of information.

Mrs Spain’s research also took her to cemeteries, libraries and online.

Her great, great-grandfather Peter Laurie arrived in New Zealand about 1861 with two children, from Berwickshire, Scotland.

His son James Mabon Laurie eventually settled near Riverton, married Jane Gilchirst Brown, and had 15 children, with many settling in the area.

His daughter, Elizabeth Mabon Laurie, married James Nelson Scott and the couple were among the first settlers in Gore, Mrs Spain said.

They also had 15 children including the sixth child, Mrs Spain’s paternal grandmother, Agnes. She married Alexander Pyper, from Aberdeenshire, Scotland. He was also recorded as living in Jacob’s River, Riverton, in 1875, and had five children, with Mrs Spain’s father, Sid, the youngest, she said.

Her father married Violet McKenna, who grew up at Round Hill, near Riverton.

Other family members were descended from Mckenzie, McDonald, Campbell and Spain, having emigrated from the United Kingdom.

includes 536 pages of photographs, stories and research. As well as the Pyper family, other families featured included Laurie, Scott, Thom, McKenna, McKenzie, Mc/MacDonald, Spain, Enright and Beaton.

Her book was available to view at the Invercargill Public Library in the reference section, or if people preferred, they could phone Mrs Spain on 3 216 7421 to make an appointment to see the book.

She would also be hosting two open homes at 99 Milton Park, Invercargill, on Saturday, September 5, and Saturday, September 12, 10am-noon, for those who might wish to see the book, or talk to her.affiliate link trace30 Winter Outfit Ideas to Kill It in 2020 – Fashion Inspiration and Discovery