Uncovering family stories

Your Family's HistoryChristchurch City Libraries has many overseas visitors coming to the library to research their family history. I enjoy these interactions as they are interesting and can uncover new information for families.

On this particular day an Australian visitor arrived keen to verify a family story about her relatives Nicholas and William Quinn. The brothers had apparently donated to the building of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, lived in Christchurch, and Quinns Road was named after them. So began the research to see if this story was correct.

Christchurch street names P-Q proved an invaluable resource with Quinns Road being named after a John Quinn, farmer of Shirley. The customer did not recognise this John and she did not know where the brothers lived in Christchurch.

AncestryWe checked the New Zealand Electoral Rolls on Ancestry and located a Nicholas Quinn in Waimate. She was unsure about this information as believed the brothers lived in Christchurch. However checking the original record proved both brothers were on the Electoral Roll and living in the Waimate area for the majority of their lives. Papers Past filled in gaps for the customer as there were many entries for the Quinn brothers in the Timaru Herald.

But what about donating to the building of the Cathedral? Google Images returned an image of a Quinn’s brick and we followed the trail. The link provided a detailed summary of the history of the two Irish brothers who originally fired bricks on their own property and went on to build many prominent buildings in Waimate and Makikihi, including the local Catholic Church. Nicholas did contribute to the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament by leaving money, after he died, to contribute to peals of bells for the new church.

Quinn's Arcade c1907 -1918 Waimate Historical Museum and Archives
Quinn’s Arcade
c1907 -1918
Waimate Historical Museum and Archives Object number 2002-1026-01951

William and Nicholas Quinn proved to be fascinating early settlers, and whilst the outcome was different from the original story the family now had one that was verified and enriched through research and perseverance. If you are interested in uncovering family stories Christchurch City Libraries is running a Getting Started: Beginners Guide to Family History for four weeks beginning the 29th July, 6pm to 7.30pm. Ring 941-7923 if you are interested.