The Adventures of Amos Smart

I wonder if it was easier to go aboard one of the Canterbury Association ships alone to face the odds or did having your family with you lessen or increase the stress of immigration? I guess it is right to say that many people put everything on the line for a chance of something better…Canterbury better.

William Smart – labourer – was a man who risked everything. He and his family arrived at Lyttelton on the ‘Randolph’ and I’m sure watching his family disembark from the ship was something to behold. With William were his wife Sarah and their 9 children!

Amon was the eldest at 18 years old. Amos (pictured here in 1900) was next at 17 years old and these two lads were listed down as labourers just like Dad. Amy was 16 years old and listed her profession as a domestic servant. Then there was Orton, Eliza, Enos, Enoch, Elijah and Eli, all ranging from the ages of 2 to 12 years old.

It was Anita Manning, a descendant of Amos Smart (1834 – 1915) who made me aware of this pioneer family. Amos had shared with a newspaper his memories of his first few years in Christchurch which resulted in verbally painting a wonderful picture.

Both Amos and Amon first found work at Riccarton, employed by the Deans brothers. They are listed down in one of the ledgers of that era as two of the unmarried employees. The brothers worked in Riccarton Bush as sawyers and had in fact, felled the tree that became the flagpole that stood outside the land office. Many old images of early Christchurch show that flagpole proudly standing with the Avon usually in the foreground and the Port Hills in the back ground.

The ‘yet to be’ flagpole was loaded onto a dray and Willam Tod, a long time employee of the Deans was to take it to Market Square (Victoria Square). Tragically, the pole caught on a nearby land bank, overturning the wagon and crippling the horse beyond help. This was devastating for William Tod to whom the horse belonged as the animal was worth around £80 – a great fortune back then for a hard working man to lose.

Amos also remembers two other projects that came from trees he felled during his employment at Riccarton. One was a wooden sundial and the other rain drains – no information of where either item was used.

Next we find Amos making a fence for a Mr Horice Brown of Papanui. I have no doubt, Amos reported with a great smile about how he was taken out for a fine dinner and glass of wine at the White Hart Hotel – on Lichfield Street – as part of his wages. The Hart Family who ran the hotel – the first ever pub/hotel in Christchurch – had been fellow first four ship pilgrims, arriving aboard the ‘Cressy’.

Amos’ next employer was a Mr. John Marshman who lived in Lincoln Road. Amos worked the one horse powered reaping and threshing machine. Next, he was dabbling in surveying in Cashmere.

Moving along next to where he would settle for the rest of his life, Amos packed a tent on his packhorse and left Christchurch. He had gotten a contract to put a fence around the 500 acres of the Mt Grey Station in North Canterbury. In 1860, he became the station’s caretaker and I imagine he felt that he had landed on his feet!

Amos eventually owned his own land, in Sefton, North Canterbury. He had married Margaret Hulcup on the 4th August 1856 and the pair would go on to have 14 children. Amos died in the year 1915. He is buried at Balcairn Cemetery.

Thanks Anita, Amos was a joy to read about

*image courtesy of *

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