Biographical, Historical, Fiction

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The Williams family was growing up. Jonathon and Alicia were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. It was now 1870. The older son, Alexander (named for Alicia’s Grandfather), was now doing most of the work on the farm. The next youngest was Edgar (named after his Uncle in the United States) and he was a major help to his older brother. The older boys were 24 and 22 years of age. The youngest son was also the youngest child. His name was Walter (named for his Grandfather) and he was 16. In between, at 20 years old, was Emma. Emma was Jonathon’s pride and joy. She looked like Alicia with flowing hair and bright, blue eyes. She had no shortage of suitors but had not found a young man that struck her fancy.

Alexander and Edgar were natural sheep farmers. They absorbed everything that Jonathon could teach them and yearned to learn more. To gain perspective on the industry, each of them were sent to England to work with Percival at Windermere. They each spent a year in England. They also worked with some of the other successful sheep farmers in New Zealand to see if there was anything that they had missed. There wasn’t. Jonathon had done a good job.

Alexander was spending more and more time in Wellington. He told Jonathon he was working on farm business. Actually, he was working on Alexander business. He had met a young lady that worked at the bank the farm used. Her name was Mary. She and Alexander got along famously and every time he was in Wellington they had dinner together. The time finally came that Alexander asked to meet her family and for her to come to Windermere South to meet his family. A date was set. Rather than meet everyone separately everyone was invited to the farm for a party. Only Alexander knew that it would be an engagement party. Mary and her parents arrived at the farm and were cordially welcomed by Jonathon and Alicia. That is when they learned that Mary’s Father was also the owner of the bank. They discussed various things that were happening in the world and found that they had a great deal in common. At dinner that evening, Alexander made the announcement that he wanted Mary to be his wife. He asked Mary’s Father for his permission and that permission was readily given. A date was set for February and Mary and her parents left the farm in a very happy state.

Edgar was very happy for Alexander. He was not yet ready to settle into a marriage and he was enjoying escorting all of the eligible young ladies in the area. He decided that he would wait for a time before he would take that step.

Captain Theodore Peters came to the farm to discuss some business with the owners of the land. The New Zealand Army was interested in establishing an Army base in the Southern part of the North Island. They needed land to use for artillery practice. They had the land for the camp but needed some isolated land to teach the men how to fire the cannon. They had located 500 acres that appeared to have no use and wanted to lease that land from the owner. This isolated land was on Windermere South. Jonathon, Alexander, and Edgar knew of this parcel of land and agreed that it had little use. It was a very rocky patch and the grass was not abundant. They could probably only feed about 50 sheep on this parcel and it was not worth having a shepherd watch over that few sheep. They met with Captain Peters and made a deal to lease the land to the Army for a moderate fee. They also made an agreement that the Army could drive across their property to get to the firing range. Captain Peters was invited to have dinner with the family and to spend the night before returning to Wellington.

Captain Theodore Peters was an up and coming officer in the New Zealand Army. He had never wanted to be anything but a soldier and had devoted all of his energy and effort toward becoming an officer. He had gone to England to study at the Sandhurst Military Academy. This was the leading leadership training academy for the British military. He graduated from the Academy with honors and returned to New Zealand and was immediately commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Army. His leadership skills and knowledge made for rapid advancement and he was a Captain in three years. Everyone in the military knew that Captain Peters would be a leader of the Army at some point.

The Peters family lived in Auckland in the north of the North Island. Auckland is the major port for New Zealand. Almost all trade for New Zealand is centered in Auckland. The only other major port is Wellington and the Wellington port is primarily for agricultural products. Captain Peters’ Father was the owner of six trading vessels. His vessels travelled all of the South Pacific buying and selling trade goods. They went to Australia, New Guinea, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands and any other islands that were inhabited. Captain Peters had two brothers that helped the father in running the business. It was a very successful business.

Captain Peters continued to find reasons to visit Windermere South. There always seemed to be some minor piece of business that needed to be resolved. Emma was delighted that Captain Peters had to keep returning as she saw something in him that was not visible in the local boys. There was strength of character and a straightforward manner that was very appealing to Emma. It was not undesirable that he was, also, a very attractive man. It soon became apparent to everyone that the business that kept Captain Peters coming to the farm could have, and should have, been handled by a subordinate. Emma and Teddy spent more and more time together during his visits. Captain Peters asked to speak to Jonathon in private and everyone knew what he wanted to discuss. He asked for permission to marry Emma. Jonathon, Alicia, and the boys were all delighted as they liked Teddy a lot. The wedding was set and it was destined to be the social event of the year in Wellington, if not all of New Zealand.

One of the happiest of the Williams family was Walter. Walter was just turning eighteen. He was not a sheep farmer. He had no interest in sheep farming or being a farmer of any kind. He wanted to be a business man. He had begun handling many of the business affairs of the farm such as finding buyers for the wool, negotiating prices, and arranging shipments. He spent a lot of time with Teddy discussing his families trading business. He wanted to learn the business. Teddy arranged for Walter to go to Auckland and meet with his Father and Brothers so they could enlighten Walter on the business. Teddy knew very little about the family business as he was as disinterested in the business as Walter was in sheep farming. It was arranged that after Walter finished his schooling he would move to Auckland to work in the Peters family business. It was also agreed that when Walter was ready for the responsibility he would be a partner in the business. The willingness of Jonathon to invest in the business and to arrange for the Peters’ ships to carry their wool to China and India was a major factor in this happening. The Williams family investment enabled the Peters firm to buy two additional boats which increased their profitability. Walter was now in place to do what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. He was happy.

With both Alexander and Edgar running the farm it was decided that they could expand. The man farming adjacent to Windermere South was getting old. He had only daughters and none of his son-in-laws was capable or interested in running a sheep farm so he offered to sell his 6000 acre farm to the Williams brothers. They jumped at the opportunity and now had 15,500 acres of usable land for grazing sheep. They employed 10 shepherds and during shearing time the work force jumped to 50 men. They were now the largest sheep farm in New Zealand. They produced more wool and more meat than any other farm.

Jonathon and Alicia were delighted with how their life had turned out. Alicia had never been to England so they decided to go. Jonathon had a surprise for Alicia. They would take a ship to San Francisco and take a train to Nebraska so Alicia could meet Edgar and his family. They would spend a month in America and then travel to New York to sail to England to meet with his brother Percival and his family. They would plan on spending a month at Windermere and then take a tour of Europe. It was to be a dream trip. Unfortunately, Alicia became ill and died before they could make the trip. Jonathon was devastated. After about six months of grieving he decided that he wanted to see his brothers so he made the trip alone. He did it all except the tour of Europe. He was anxious to get back to his family.

It had been a good life.

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