John Thomas Hooper was born on 11th November 1882 in Carterton, New Zealand to parents William and Charlotte Hooper. John was named after his paternal grandfather, John Thomas Hooper who died in 1904. John was educated at the Dalefield School that was situated about 3/4 of a mile from the family farm. It is likely John would have left school at an early age, as was customary, to help his father with work on the family farm. The photgraph below is dated about 1890 and taken at the Dalefield School. It is probable that there is at least one Hooper child within the photograph. John's sister, Alice was ten, John was eight, brother Joseph was six and brother Walter was five years old in 1890 and all attended the Dalefield School.

Dalefield School abt 1890 possibly with several Hooper children in attendance

John spent a number of his early bachelor years bush-felling in the King Country near Raetihi on the Wanganui River. The hills were covered in large Kauri Tress that were logged for the nearby Timber Mills at Raetihi and Pakihi. Many years after John's departure from the district the Raetihi bushfires of 1918 destroyed much of the remaining bushland and destroyed many of the Timber Mills still in operation. Two of these mills were owned by the Makotuku Timber Company which had been formed by R W Smith, F J Carter, Alec Bennet and John Punch. Two families who lost their homes were Hooper & Bennett. The Hooper family living in the district at this time is unidentified but the Bennett family was one of the Mill owners. Bennett & Punch of Mangateitei Road lost their Mill & milled timber. F J Carter, at south Horopito, lost his Orata Timber Mill, milled timber and eighteen houses. Only one house was left standing in the wake of the fire. The remaining forest to be cleared near Raetihi had been felled and logged by 1920. It is said, in modern day statistics, that workers in the Forrestry industry have a 70% higher death rate than in any other industry. In an era that had no 'Health & Safety' regulations the death percentage would have been greatly increased. John was one who narrowly escaped serious injury and possible death. A large tree he was felling came down and swung towards him. The other men, working along side of John, scrambled away to safety but John stumbled. He fell into a hollow in the ground and the falling tree landed directly above him. John was lucky to live to tell the tale. Others have not been so fortunate to survive. Many families lost fathers, sons and brothers in this unsafe and extremly dangerous industry.


The Clareville Hall  (in 2006 privately owned)

John returned to the Wairarapa sometime prior to 1904. The Clareville Hall was the scene for many joyous family and festive community occasions. John attended the local dances held in the hall. On one such occasion he meet a local girl by the name of Jessie Marion Allen. Her grandfather, George Allen, had been the  Mayor of Wellington in 1879 and her father William Allen was one of the early settlers in the Wairarapa district. Jessie's father did not approve of her association with John Hooper a person he considered to be a rogue. William tried to discourage the forming relationship, between John and his daughter, by threatening to cut Jessie from his will. William was probably forced to except his daughters intention to marry John in the hope of avoiding a local scandal. John Hooper married a pregnant Jessie Allen on the 30th March 1904 in St Marks Church, Carterton. Reverend R. Young performed the ceremony. John's best man was Mr Bishop. Jessie was attended by her bridesmaids,John's sister's, Hannah Lily (Lily) and Daisy Hooper. Witnesses were Hugh McPhee of Carterton and Jessie's aunt Caroline Ann Allen of Wellington. John and Jessie's first baby arrived into the world five months later on the 30th August 1904.

(left to right) ? Bishop, Daisy, John, Jessie (nee Allen), Hannah Lily Hooper & William Allen

Jessie and John settled into married life and lived in the Lipinski house situated in Dalefield Road. This house was close to the Hooper farm and the Dalefield Dairy Coop. John worked in the dairy factory so it was likely that he was employed as a cheese maker. At the time of his marriage to Jessie, in 1904, this was listed on the marriage certificate as his occupation. The first three of their children were born whilst they were living in this house. Artie in 1904, Len in 1906 and Clarrie in 1907.


John & Jessie Hooper and sons Artie, Clarrie & Len

Some time prior to 1910 John and Jessie left Carterton and moved back to timber country near Shannon. The house was situated on an acre or two of land. A wooden tram line ran past the house and carried logs from the bush to the nearby Mill. John was not employed as a tree feller for this Mill but was employed as a cook. On Christmas Day 1910 Jessie gave birth to their first daughter, Ivy Isabel Christine. Several years later John took up an offer to share milk at the 'Stockholm Station' at Arapati. This property was owned by the Strawbridge family who lived in Waituna West. Waituna was, and still is, a small country town north of Fielding. There was a Hall, Post Office, Church, Cemetery and a School known as Dunolly School which later became known as the Waituna West School. The farm and farm house that John and Jessie occupied was a few miles out of Waituna, at Arapati ,on the Williamson Road.

     Waituna West School                         Arapati Cheese Factory 1993                         Arapati Farm House      

Stockholm Station (as it was known) was a small settlement with several cottages, a cheese factory (above in photograph), wool store and numurous sheds and barns. The station backed onto 'The Gorge' that framed the banks of the Waituna Stream (this can be seen in the picture of the pond below). Jessie would tell her children how sea shells and an anchor had been found in the banks of the gorge. Decendants who have visited this area have  seen a bed of sea shells, about a foot deep, six feet from the top of the bank.  The Cheese Factory was located next to the 'Hooper' farm house. John would work in the factory stirring the large vats, slicing and salting the curd for it to be hooped or pressed. John's younger brother, Herbert Hooper, joined John to work on the farm in the 1920's. Herbert married Muriel Violet Chandler . Muriel was the daughter of Samuel Chandler a neighbouring farmer. Herbert was also a skilled cheese maker and his skills would have been a valuable asset to John in the Cheese Factory. John often won prizes for his cheese. He won first prize at the Dannevirke Show and first prize for export quality cheese. Cheese at this time was selling for two and a half pence per lb. Other families in the area were the Pratt, Chandler and Strawbridge families. John and Jessie's children spent many happy hours doing what 'farm' children do. Picking mushrooms, playing in the pastures and roaming in nearby hills. John's children lived in an age were children's safety was not an issue and they were free to enjoy the whole of the farm, and beyond, as an extended backyard. Children, for the majority, never came to any harm (In 1960 I was still enjoying this freedom allowed by children).The 'boys' would most likely have spent many hours helping their father with the general farm jobs that had to be done.

'Two little children went out to play & only one little child came home that day'

Leonard, Clarrie & Artie   The Arapati Farm Affluent Pond   Ivy Isabell Christine

Artie, Len and Clarrie often swam in the pond (pictured above) at the back of the farm house. Ivy was to young to be allowed the freedom her older brothers enjoyed. She had only been able to watch, from the safety of the back yard, as her brothers swam in the dam. They had a log tied to the edge of the pond and the boys would push it out into the middle of the dam, scramble onto it and try to keep their balance. Three little boys in a dam, on a log and splashing about would have produced much laughter and gaiety. This place would have held a huge errisistable attraction for little Ivy. The 5th May 1914 must have been a busy day as everyone was occupied with various farm duties. Eight year old Len (about this age in the photograph above) had been told to watch Ivy. The two children were playing in the wool shed but Len was momentarily distracted when he was called to help with something. Ivy wondered off down to the pond and decided to emulate her brothers. As she clambered onto the log (which the boys had probably pulled into the bank when they had finished playing on it previously) it rolled over tipping Ivy into the dam. Jessie sensed that something was wrong and went running outside but it was too late. Tragically Ivy had drowned. Poor little Len was left feeling the burden of guilt because Ivy had died whilst he was supposed to be looking after her. This guilt stayed with Len for the rest of his life. Len felt his father hated him. John, it is said, blamed Jessie for not watching Ivy better. Losing their only daughter must have been a time of unbearable grief. It is likely things were said, or overheard, that would leave permanent scars in the minds and hearts of the family. Ivy was buried in the Waituna West Cemetry in Plot 3. It is believed that Jessie gave birth to baby between the years 1910 and 1917 at Waituna because of the age gap between the children. Clarrie recalled the birth of a deformed baby with webbed hands and webbed feet. (I also recall hearing about a child being born with this deformity in the family but did not know which branch of the family this baby belonged to). Next to Ivy's grave (Plot 3) in Plot 4 is the body of an unnamed Hooper child. Jessie and John must have been devasted for this second lose. Jessie and John had two more children before returning to Clareville in the Wairarapa. Jessie gave birth at Fielding to Trevor Jack (Toby) Hooper on the 9th January 1917 and Isobel Marion Hooper was born on the 1st September 1921.

(Top left - clockwise)

John, Jessie & family    Clarrie Hooper at Dalefield Dairy Factory   Jessie & Clarrie   Dalefield Hooper House

In 1921 Jo, Frank and Edgar Hooper had decided to leave the Dalefield farm. Herbet Hooper agreed to remain at Arapati to run the Stockholm Station leaving John free to return the Wairarapa to take over the Dalefield Road farm (the location of the farm can be seen in the photograph of the Dairy Factory above - the farm house is in the top right hand corner of the same photograph). Little is known about how the move took place but 'Old Girlie, John's favourite horse, went to Dalefield with them. John is most likely to have used 'Old Girlie' to pull a drey to transport the families worldly goods from Arapati to Dalefield. Artie had remained behind to finished his schooling at Hikaurangi College. He also worked as a farm hand at Pirinoa, but was soon reunited with his family at Dalefield. Len worked on the Dalefield farm but he frequently worked elsewhere. There was a time when Clarrie and himself went cutting wood at Martinborough for Mr Ross (see Hugh Ross Family Tree). Clarrie, at the age of twelve, had already left home after an arguement with is father (see Clarrie's story). Jessie, with baby Isobel in arms and young Trevor in tow, would most likely have travelled back to Dalefield by train. Trevor, who would have been nearly five at the time of this journey, vaguely recalls catching a train with his mother and sister Isobel. They then had to walk across the paddocks to reach 'Grandfather Allen's' house at Clareville and were chased by 'hundreds' of grandfathers prize bulls. It is probable Jessie went back to Dalefield by train to to spend time with her parents before John arrived at Dalefield. John and Jessie were unable to move directly into the Dalefield house (in the photograph above) as Edgar was still in residence. John and Jessie rented a small four roomed cottage, on the Dalefield Road just past the cross-roads, about a mile from the 'Hooper' farm. (This house no longer remains but a round hay barn stands on the old cottage site).    

The orginal two story home ,once occupied by John's grandparents John  and Rebecca Hooper , had fallen into disuse and was basically a shell. The 'smithie' (blacksmith buildings), which for many years stood near the entrance to the property, had gone. John, it would seem, had exchanged a comfortable lifestyle for one that would demand many hours of hard work in order to bring the house and farm back to workable and liveable standards. The main paddocks near the house were in reasonable condition but the remainder of the paddocks were mostly swamp land. The working hours were long. John worked from the early hours in the morning till after ten o'clock in the evening digging ditches and lining them with stones in order to drain the water from the back paddocks. At one stage there were 14 men helping John with the drains. This work continued for many years and John's grandchildren can recall being paid threepence for each kerosene tinned they filled with stones and delivered to their grandfather on the farm.    

John and Jessie had two more children at Dalefield. Jessie was a very tiny lady and worked extremly hard on the farm. It is said that Jesie spent little time (or had little time) to care for her own health properly. Due to her size and condition many of her babies were born tiny and underweight. Vernon Hooper was born at Nurse Peter's house in High Street Carterton at the end of April . He had been carried to full term but at birth weighed only four pounds. Vernon died four days after birth, on the 1st May 1924, from ' general debility, malnutrition and heart failure'. Vernon was buried in plot 75 in the Clareville Cemetery on the 2nd May 1924 in the same grave as his great grandmother Rebecca Hooper. Jessie gave birth to another baby boy sometime around 1928. The baby was born with the cord wound around it's neck causing strangulation. Daughter Isabel, who was about eight at the time, recalls visiting Jessie, who was in bed being cared for, at a family friends (Milton's) house in Clifton Street. They named the baby Clifton. There is no record of the death or burial for Clifton other than family memories of this time. Clifton's baby clothes were given away a few years later in 1932 to John's brother, Len and his wife May, for the birth of their first child.    

It was around this time that Herbert (John's brother who had taken over the work on the Stockholm Station) along with his wife, May (nee Chandler) and family came to Dalefield to help John out. Herbert used the main wall of his grandfather's old house to secure his tent to.      




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