Black Americans and Te Aroha mining
Hart, P. (2016). Black Americans and Te Aroha mining. (Te Aroha Mining District Working papers, No. 131). Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato, Historical Research Unit.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10470.1
Although no black Americans lived in the Te Aroha district, several, including some miners, lived in Hauraki and indeed elsewhere in New Zealand. In general, blacks were stereotyped as figures of fun (as were the Irish often), but those who were known personally were treated differently. Visiting black American singers were admired for their skills, and some settled in the colony, notably Robert Bradford Williams, who became mayor of the borough of Onslow in Wellington. This paper focuses on three very different men peripherally involved in mining in the Te Aroha district. About the first, Alexander Jackson, a carter, little is known apart from his marital problems. The second, William La Grenade Mitchell, was an Auckland accountant and land agent and was well respected, being a prominent Mason. He quickly lost this respect when forced to flee to Australia, whereupon his complicated financial and marital circumstances became public knowledge. About the third man, Edward Ralph Martin (who claimed an exotic ethnic background), a great deal is known because of his incessant efforts to raise money, including from the government, for his enthusiastic but incompetent prospecting. Calling himself a ‘professor’ of music, in his efforts to make money he was involved in several frauds, although there may have been an element of self-delusion about the prospecting skills claimed. His private life was also complicated. One feature of this sample was that all three married white women, two of them also having white mistresses at a time when such liaisons, regular or irregular, were most certainly not socially acceptable.
Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato
© 2016 Philip Hart
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