Abigail Stoddart

Abigail Stoddart

Female 1861 - 1953  (92 years)  Submit Photo / DocumentSubmit Photo / Document


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Family Folklore - compiled by Peter Moffat

A compilation of some anecdotes about some members of the Moffat family, compiled by Peter Moffat.

FAMILY FOLKLORE — compiled by Peter Moffat.

I am sure every family has a collection of favourite stories concerning their parents and grandparents - some of these stories may become exaggerated or modified as the years go by, but they are still too good to be forgotten. It is through such stories that we come to see our ancestors as human beings and not the dour Scots their photos would suggest.

The Moffats, on the whole, had large families - do you realize that during the "life of the Te Houka school there were Moffats attending from its opening in 1846 until it closed in 1944, with the possible exception of two or three years in the 1920s.

The story goes that someone once stated that in most parts of Otago you could kick a tussock and a rabbit would run out, if you kicked one in Te Houka it would be a Moffat or a Houliston who ran!.

George had a large family; ten children, so maybe had trouble recognising them at times. One day Vic wanted to play with her brothers Bill and Stan; they agreed, on condition she dressed as a boy which she did. The transformation was so good that when George arrived on the scene he asked his sons who their new playmate was. Several years later a similar thing occurred - his youngest daughter, Jean put on her niece's school uniform, once again George was to ask who the new friend was.

Jack and Burnie were great pals, always getting into mischief. One day they disappeared, and when their Mother went to look for them she took the wheelbarrow with her to make things a bit easier when bringing the troublesome pair home again.

There was less than a year between the two boys, and someone asked their Uncle Adam what was the difference in their ages. Adam gave his well remembered hearty laugh, and said "Oh, about six months, I think."

Adam was at the receiving end of a practical joke soon after he was married. On returning from their honeymoon Adam and Isabella found their "friends" had put a dray in the kitchen.

Will and Emily were also the victims of a practical joke concerning a vehicle. While attending a function one night some of their "friends" changed the wheels around on their buggy, two large ones on one side, two small ones on the other. Being dark when they left the function they did not notice the alteration but all the way home Emily kept telling Will to get the buggy on the crown of the road and stop driving with her side in the water table.

One story that is now remembered with amusement, but perhaps was not so amusing at the time, is about Alice and her scones. Alice Moffat had gone to a lot of trouble preparing afternoon tea for a visit from her neighbour, and no doubt was very upset when Mrs. Whittaker asked her how she managed to get her scones so "nice and tough".

Another cooking story concerns Nettie and Ernest. Nettie, as a very new bride, was most upset about overcooking Ernest's breakfast bacon. Ernest, also very anxious to please, told a white lie, assuring Nettie that that was exactly the way he liked his bacon cooked. Consequently Ernest had to eat burnt bacon for many years.

A couple of good stories about Albert Rooney are worth repeating. Albert, being a drover, had to have good dogs and he earned a reputation as being a good man with them. He always became very attached to them and vice-versa. Once Robert Houliston from Hokitika sent a young dog over to Albert to be trained. When the dog was returned to its home it fretted so much for Albert it would neither eat nor work so it had to be sent back to South Otago and be replaced by another pup. It is not known who trained the second pup, it certainly was not Albert.

Another time Albert's prowess on the Rugby field inspired some one to write a poem. He had been selected to play in an "Old Buffers" fun game. In the preview he was described as a "dogged" player) and a facetious critic Wrote:-

"I think the selectors must have been looney,
For why did they include Albert Rooney?
If the selection must be done in haste
There's old Ted Sanderson going to waste"
(This Ted Sanderson was almost 80 years old.)

Hannah Rooney was one of the first nurses, along with her cousin Bessie Moffat, to be employed at the Balclutha Hospital when it was opened. She loved her work so much she disliked being off duty. Incidentally she passed her Finals with Honours. Later when working in a private hospital in Timaru the children all looked to her for reassurance, especially before an operation. One day when a child was clinging to her the doctor threatened to anaesthetise Hannah also.

Douglas has recalled two stories concerning his father Adam; "Dad loved an argument and would never concede defeat, even if it meant going to ridiculous extremes to gain his point. Once he was having an argument with Jack (Moffat) about wool bales. There were two sizes of them in those days. Dad was all for the large ones for they held more and you did not have to buy so many. Jack, on the other hand, liked the small ones because they were lighter and more easily handled. "Besides", he said "you can get just as much wool in them by packing it tighter." This was the last straw for Dad he exploded. "In that case why have bales at all?" he said "You could put it all in sugar bags."

"Another time Mr. Whittaker was at our place. He just recently had had all his teeth extracted and was boasting about all the things he could eat without them, nothing was a bother. He said "1 could even crack a nut if it was big enough." This was too good an opportunity for Dad to miss. It just so happened there was a coconut on the kitchen bench so he said, "Here you are then, have a go at this one." The challenge was not accepted.

Talking about enjoying a good argument - some of the "in-laws" probably feel that Adam was not on his own they feel it is a common trait amongst the Moffats some of them never will concede defeat.

Linked toEmily Sale Dallas; Janet “Nettie” Bethia Dewar; Robert Houliston; Isabella Hunter; Adam Houliston Moffat; Alexander Burns Moffat; Ann Victoria Moffat; Douglas George Moffat; Elizabeth Jane Houliston Moffat; George Moffat; George Stanley Moffat; John Robert Moffat; Samuel William Moffat; William Alexander Moffat; William Ernest Moffat; Albert Thomas Clement Rooney; Hannah Alice Rooney; Abigail Stoddart

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