Walter and Elizabeth Blommaart


Walter Joseph and Elizabeth Ella Blommaart nee Thomas

Seaview Cemetery, Block 30, Plot 594

Walter Blommaart was the child of Joseph and Clara, nee Ashby, who married in 1878.1 Walter was born in about May 1880 in Featherstone.  Perhaps Clara died soon after [there no death registration listed in official records.] Walter's father Joseph remarried in 1907 in Masterton, but his second wife died three years later and Joseph died in 1916.

Walter Blommaart

Walter Joseph and Elizabeth Blommaart. Seaview Cemetery

Life was tough for Walter at the Stoke Industrial School better known as the Stoke Orphanage where he spent his childhood from 9 July 1886, aged six years eight months, to 1895, aged fourteen years eight months.2  Also admitted on 9 July 1886 to St Joseph’s Orphanage in Wellington was Emma Blommaart aged four years eight months.3

In 1900 there was a Royal Report on the state of the Stoke Industrial School and the treatment of the boys. The orphanage was established by Father Garin in 1874. This Stoke Orphanage was for boys nine years and over, while younger boys and girls went to the Convent at Nelson. In 1900 the staff consisted of ten Brothers looking after 125 boys. The Brothers were from England, Ireland, Scotland, the Colonies and two foreigners, including the Director. The boys came from all over New Zealand. Complaints were made to the Nelson Charitable Board as follows:

  • The boys were very young, under the management of unmarried men, with no matron.
  • The punishment was very severe. The boys’ food was insufficient, poor quality and not varied.
  • They were poorly clothed. Some of the work the boys had to do was too hard.
  • Boys who died were buried in the grounds at the school.

St Mary’s Industrial School/ Stoke Orphanage/Stoke Industrial School was a private school and not subject to the same supervision as government schools.

An example of the punishment – flogging on the bare posterior with a supplejack inflicted for absconding and other serious offences. Boys were put into solitary seclusion from four days to three months. If boys reported not feeling well they were given a dose of water and mustard.

One immediate result of the inquiry was the complete withdrawal of the Brothers from the Stoke school, in September 1900. The immediate reason for their departure seems to have been the recommendation of the Commissioners for the employment of women, which was contrary to the custom of the Brothers at the time.

A Royal Commission of Inquiry was appointed. Its reports exonerated the Brothers from the allegations of cruelty.

On 27 April 1903 the whole School was destroyed by fire and William Wilson aged nine years lost his life and is buried among the trees. Within six weeks plans and specifications for a new St Mary’s were ready but tenders were too high and Rev George Mahoney began a brickworks and using day labour managed to build a replacement for less than the lowest tender. The new St Mary’s Orphanage was opened 24 May 1905.

In 1917 the Education Department turned St Mary’s Orphanage into a State Training Farm for delinquent boys.

Walter married  Elizabeth Ella Thomas 16 September 1908  - working on railway track maintenance. They lived and worked at Kohatu. A farewell to the family is mentioned in The Colonist of 8 May 1917, when Walter was transferred to Stoke.4 Mrs Blommaart was presented with an afternoon tea set and Mr Blommaart with a shaving cup and brush. An enjoyable evening was brought to a close about midnight with all joining hands and singing Auld Lang Syne and The National Anthem.

Walter bacame the Station Master at Stoke and lived in Station Road/Street, which later became Songer Street.

Walter and Ella had three children: Mavis, Ian Clement  (buried at Seaview Cemetery) and Beryl Jean. A fourth child, Stanley Walter, died aged ten weeks on 7 Jan 1914, his funeral leaving the residence of Mrs J.Thomas, Wakefield for St John’s Church. Walter was a member of the Mansion of Peace Lodge.5

Ella was involved in the Wakefield Literary and debating Society.6

2017 (updated 2021)

Sources used in this story

  1. New Zealand Society of Genealogists,  Kiwi Index v1.
  2. Archives ref. CW 14/12.
  3. Archives ref. CW 14/4.
  4. Country News (1917, May 8) Colonist.
  5. New Advertisements (1911, August 3) The Colonist, p.2
  6. New Advertisements (1909, May 8) The Colonist, p.2.

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  • I think its got a lot to do with spelling of the surname Blommaart/Blummont. Clara second marriage she is registered Blummont

    Posted by Tracey Harris, 10/11/2023 1:24pm (8 months ago)

  • As per Grace's comment, the information in regards to parentage is incorrect. I have the same information as Grace in my family tree.

    Posted by Tracey Harris, 10/11/2023 11:00am (8 months ago)

  • Cheryl Carnahan’s record of Walter Joseph Blommaart’s life is so very sad. I found this article while researching a part of my family tree. I picked up some points in Cheryl’s article that made me question what is recorded in my family tree. Did Walter’s parents misrepresent their situation?
    I am only a beginner genealogist with only publicly available research facilities so if I have got anything incorrect, my apologies.
    Clara Elizabeth Ashby married Joseph Blommaart in 9 July 1878 (NZ BDM1878/2646)
    They had three children according to NZ BDM (although another family tree suggest there was a fourth but I have been unable to confirm it:-
    1. Helen Matilda born 1878 NZ BDM 1878/14583. NB Her marriage and death NZ BDM records show her name was Ellen. Ellen or Elanor was also the name of her grandmother.
    2. Walter Joseph born 1880 NZ BDM 1880/5282
    3. Emma Elizabeth born 1882 NZ BDM 1882/6528. She died in 1887, cannot be long after being placed in the orphanage. NZ BDM 1887/218.
    There are no records that I can find on Archives NZ to show Clara and Joseph divorced.
    Clara Elizabeth Blommaart (nee Ashby) remarried to a Thomas Mallett on 23 July 1897. I have a copy of their marriage certificate. It lists she was a widow at the time, with effect 6 June 1885.
    The marriage certificate to Thomas Mallett confirms it is the correct Clara Elizabeth Blommaart (nee Ashby). Her father being James Ashby.
    Joseph Blommaart remarried to a Lucy Brune in 1907. NZ BDM 1907/5175. This suggests he did not die in 1885 as stated on Clara’s second marriage certificate.
    Papers Past Manawatu Standard Issue 161 date 7 June 1935. Refer to the obituary for Clara Mallett.
    After reading this I was sure I must have the wrong Clara Ashby as it states her father’s name was Frederick but at the end where it lists the children of both her unions, I realized it was the one and same person and the article has incorrectly recorded her father’s name. Listed is Ellen Clinton (Helen Matilda) and Walter is merely shown as J Blummont. It then lists the seven children to her marriage to Thomas Mallett. The article also suggests Joseph Blommaart died before she married Thomas Mallett.

    I would be interested to find out whether or not my facts are correct and if so how did both Clara and Joseph remarry without being divorced? What am I missing?

    Posted by Grace King, 21/02/2020 11:21am (4 years ago)

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