John Thomas Hooper was born on the 11th November 1882 in the small  rural town of Carterton, New Zealand. John was the son of William John Hooper and Charlotte Compton. The Hooper and Compton families were early settlers in the Wairarapa district of New Zealand. John was named after his paternal grandfather John Thomas Hooper who died in 1904 and was buried in the Clareville Cemetery at Carterton. John was educated at the Dalefield School that was about three quarters of a mile from the Dalefield Road farm in Dalefield Road. John left school at an early age to help his father run the family farm, as was the normal custom of this era. The photograph below of school children at the Dalefield School  is dated about 1890 and may include one or more of William and Charlotte Hooper's children. John's sister, Alice was ten, John was eight, brother Joseph was six and brother Walter was five years old in 1890 and all were known to have attended the Dalefield School (it is probable that one or more of the Hooper children are in the Dalefield School photograph below). John became involved in the Dalefield School affairs when 'Ma Hendy' was the school's teacher. He was the chairman of the Dalefield School Committee in 1928, and Chairman and Secretary in 1929. A paragraph in the Dalefield School Centenary Booklet stes that 'Hockey was not the only sport that was of importance at the school for in 1928 work was completed on a bitumen tennis court and a basketball court. The head teacher and the late Jack Hooper (this is John), who was chairman of the school committee at the time, were instrumental in it's acquisition'.

The Dalefield School children c.1890

  John spent a number of his early years bush-felling in the King Country near Raetihi on the Wanganui River side. The hills were covered in large Kauri trees that were logged for the nearby timber mills at Raetihi and Pakihi. Many years after John's departure from the district the Raetihi bush fires of 1918 destroyed much of the remaining bushland and destroyed many of the timber mills that had still been in operation. Two of the mills were owned by the Makotuku Timber Company which had been formed by R W Smith, F J Carter, Alec Bennett and John Punch. Two families who lost their homes, or had them badly damaged, during these bush fires were the Hooper and Bennett families. The Hooper family living in the area at this time is unidentified but the Bennett family was one of the Mill owners. Bennett and Punch, of Mangateitei Road, lost their mill and all their milled timber. F J Carter, at south Horopito, lost his Orata Timber Mill, the 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. The hollow in the ground had saved his life and John was extremly lucky to live to tell of his lucky escape from death.

The Dalefield Hall - Carterton NZ

  John returned to his home town in the Wairarapa district some time prior to 1904.The Clareville Hall (above) was the scene for many joyous family and community celebrations. John was a keen musician and liked to perform in local plays organized for the locals enjoyment. On one such occassion, a dance, he meet a young local girl by the name of Jessie Marion Allen. Her grandfather George Allen had been one of the Mayor's of Wellington in 1879 and her father William Allen was one of the Wairarapa's early settlers. It is told that Jessie's father did not approve of her association with John Hooper as he considered him to be a rogue. William Allen tried to discourage the relationship from forming, between John Hooper and his daughter, by threatening to cut Jessie from his will. William Allen was probably forced to except John in the hope of avoiding a local scandal as John Hooper married a pregnant Jessie Marion Allen on the 30th March 1904 at St Marks Church in Carterton, New Zealand. Reverend R Young performed the ceremony. John's best man was Mr Bishop and Jessie was attended by bridesmaids Hannah Lily Hooper and Daisy Hooper, John's sisters. Witnesses for the marriage were Hugh McPhee of Carterton and Jessie's aunt Caroline Ann Allen of Wellington. John and Jessie's first born arrived into the world five short months later on the 30th August 1904.

  John and Jessie settled into married life at Carterton. They lived in the Lipinski house that belonged to one of Jessie's realtives. This house was in Dalefield Road, close by the Hooper family farm and also close to the Dalefield Dairy Co-Op. It is here, in the Dairy Co-Op, that John is most likely to have learnt the trade of cheese making. In 1904 when he married Jessie his occupation was given as cheesemaker. The first three of Jessie and John's children were born in this home. Arthur in 1904, Leonard in 1906 and Clarence in 1907 (as seen below in the two photographs on the left and center).


(left - all dressed up) - Artie, Clarrie & Len   (middle - boys on the farm) Len, Clarrie & Artie (right) Ivy Isabel Christine Hooper

 Some time between 1907 and 1910 John decided to leave Carterton and move back to Shannon and the timber country. The house they lived in was on a one or two acre block 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 this time but had a career change and became the mills cook. It seems John, like many of his family, was able to turn his hands to anything he wished to do. Daughter, Ivy Isabel Christine Hooper was born here on 25th December 1910 (Ivy is in the photograph above right). Several years later John took up an offer to become a share-milker on the Stockholm Station farm at Arapati. The farm was owned by the Strawbridge family, who lived in Waituna West. The two families most likely knew each other already as both still had family living back in Carterton. Waituna is a small country town north of the larger rural town of Fielding. It had a Post Office, Church, Cemetery and one or two other shops and buildings. The local school was known as the Dunolly School as it was on Dunolly Road. This later became known as the Waituna West School (as seen in the photograph below). The Hooper and Strawbridge children attended this school. John and Jessie's house (as seen in the photograph below) was a few miles out of Waituna on the Williamson Road.

(left) Waintuna West Schhol (middle) Arapati Cheese Factory (right) Arapati Farm House

  Stockholm Station was a small settlement with several cottages, a cheese factory (seen in the photograph above), a wool store and numurous farm sheds and barns. The station backed onto a gorge that framed the banks of the Waintuna Stream (this gorge can be seen in the foreground of photograph of dam below behind the trees in the foreground). 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, also tell of seeing a bed of shells, about a foot deep and 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 large vats, slicing and salting the curd for it to be hooped and pressed. John's brother, Herbert Hooper, also came to Waituna and joined John at the cheese factory in the 1920's. Herbert meet and married his wife Muriel Violet Chandler here, a daughter of a neighbouring farmer, Samuel Chandler. Herbert was also a skilled cheesemaker and would have been a great help to John. The Stockholm Cheeses often won prizes at the Dannevirke Show and won first prize for Best Export Quality at the show.

(left) Ivy Hooper's headstone (middle) The Arapati farm dam that Ivy drowned in (right) Ivy Hooper

 Like most children who grow up on a farm life would have been a combination of fun, freedom and work. Most children were required to help out on the farm before and after school. Jessie and John's children were no exception to the this rule. Going mushroom picking was not only fun but supplimented the families diet. The older children would spend time roaming the nearby hills and fishing the local stream. On the farm was a great dam (as seen in the centre photograph above) in which the older children, Artie, Len and Clarrie, used to play and swim. They had a log tied to the edge of the dam. The boys would push the log out into the middle of the dam, scramble up onto it and she who could balance the longest. Ivy, being to young to play in the dam would watch her brothers from the safety of the backyard. The 5th of May 1914 must have been a busy day on the Hooper farm. Jessie's attention was drawn away, Artie was called away by his father and the two boys were in the wool shed playing. Len was supposed to be keeping a watchful eye on Ivy. Little Ivy was unable to resist going down to the dam and tried to emulate her brothers. As she clambered onto the log, it rolled, and Ivy was tipped into the dam. Jessie sensed something was wrong and went running outside but it was too late. Tragically Ivy had drowned. The quilt stayed with Len as it naturally would. He was only eight years old himself at this time. John, it is said, blamed Jessie for Ivy's death. Losing their only daughter and sister must have been a time of unbearable grief for the family. Ivy was laid to rest in the Waituna West Cemetery in plot No3. Jessie and John had another baby born between 1910 and 1917 but the date is not known. A unnamed Hooper is buried in Plot No4 beside Ivy's grave and it is believed to be this baby. John and Jessie had two more children, Trevor on the 9th January 1917 and Isobel Marion on the 1st September 1921. Both children were born in the Fielding Hospital.


(left) The Dalefield Dairy Co- Op Factory in Carterton (right) John Thomas Hooper taking his milk to the Co-Op by horse & cart

 In 1921 John's brother's Jo, Frank and Edgar Hooper decided to leave the Dalefield farm. Herbert agreed to remain at Arapati to run the Stockholm Station. This left John and Jessie free to return to Carterton to take over the family farm. (The location of the farm can be seen in the photograph above, behind the horse and cart, which was John Hooper taking milk to the Dalefield Dairy Co-Op). Little is known about how the move took place but Old Girlie, John's favourite horse, went to Dalefield with them. It is most likely the horse and drey was the means used to take families belongings from Arapati to Dalefield. Artie remained behind to finish 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 farm but also worked on other farms in the district or cutting wood at Martinborough for Mr Ross, as did his brother Clarrie. Clarrie, at the age of twelve had already left home, before the family moved from Arapati, after an arguement with his father. Jessie, with baby in arms and young Trevor in tow, would most probably have travelled by train back to Carterton. Trevor, who would have been aged five at this time, vaguely recalls catching a train with his mother and baby sister Isobel. He recalls walking across the paddock's to his Grandfather Allen's house at Clareville, from the train station, and being chased by his grandfathers prized bulls. John and Jessie were unable to move into the Dalefield farm house as Edgar had not yet moved so they rented a small four roomed cottage on the Dalefield Road just past the cross-roads and about a mile from the Hooper farm until Edgar left.

Jessie Hooper (nee Allen) milking a cow and son Artie

  The original two story home, once occupied by John's grandparents, John and Rebecca Hooper, had fallen into disrepair and was basically an empty shell. The smithie (black smiths buildings), that had stood for years 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 reaminder of the paddocks were mostly swamp land. John worked from the early hours of morning until after ten in the evenings, digging ditches and lining them with stones, in order to drain the water from the back paddocks. At one stage there were fourteen men helping John with the drains. This work took years to complete 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. Jessie was required to milk the cows (as seen doing in the photograph above, with her son Artie).

(left - right) Clarence, Isobel, John Thomas, Leonard, Jessie Marion, Trevor & Arthur Hooper

   John and Jessie had two more children who were born at Dalefield. Jessie was a tiny built lady and worked extremly hard on the farm. Jessie spent little time, or had little time, to properly care for her own health and many of her babies were born very tiny and under weight.  A son, Vernon Hooper, was born at Nurse Peter's house in High Street, Caterton at the end of April in 1924. He had been carried to full term but at birth weighed only four pounds. Vernon slipped from life four days after birth on the 1st May 1924 due to general debility, malnutrition and heart failure. He was buried in Plot 75 in the Clareville Cemetery on the 2nd May 1924 in the same grave as his great grandmother Rebecca Hooper. This grave is unmarked. Jessie gave birth to another son around 1928 but this baby also died as the cord wound around the babies neck causing strangulation. Jessie's daughter recalled visiting her mother at this time who was being cared for by a friend in Clifton Street. The baby was named Clifton. There is no record of his death or burial other than family memories. Jessie gave Clifton's baby clothes to John's brother Len and his wife May for their first born child in 1932 by which time Jessie had become a widow.

 The Hooper family had gathered back at Carterton to celebrate the 50th birthday of Alice Miscall (nee Hooper) on the 3rd May 1930. On the 2nd May 1930 John Thomas Hooper rode his bike into Carterton. He was attending to some family business in town and the day was coming to an end. Some family members say he had called into the local hotel for a drink before returning home and had been offered a lift home by a family friend, James MacKay, in his car. Whilst driving along the Dalefield Road and approaching the Maungatarere bridge James had been dazzled by the lights of what he thought was an oncoming car. James pulled his car over onto the side of the road and misjudged the distance. His car plunged off the road and into the creek. James escaped but John was pinned under the car. Althought the creek was only shallow, John, unable to free himself, was drowned. Jessie was devastated, as was the rest of the family. The Hooper family who had gathered to celebrate their sister Alice's birthday, were now gathered in mourning for their brother John's death. John was buried in the Clareville Cemetery in Carterton. Jessie never remarried. Her sons helped her manage the farm and the last Hooper to manage the family farm was her son Clarence John Hooper. Jessie Marion Hooper died in the Masterton Public Hospital on the 14th September 1964. Jessie was reunited with John thirty four years after his death when she was buried beside him in the Clareville Cemetery.


Arthur William Hooper (1904-1980)
Leonard Allen Hooper (1906-1995)
 Clarence John Hooper (1907-1995)
Ivy Isobel Christine Hooper (1910-1914)
Unknown Hooper (    -    )
Trevor Jack Hooper (1917-2004)
Isobel marion Hooper (1921-    )
Vernon Hooper (1924-1924)
Clifton Hooper (unknown)


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