"Are you a descendant of the Captain?" She asked smiling widely, as she handed me some extra blankets.
I nodded, thrilled. "Yes, yes I am." I replied.
"Let me shake your hand." she said.
I was rather thrilled to find that my Great great great Grandfather James Wybrow was still respected and revered by the community over a hundred years later.
We had come to the Catlins to find him.
James comes with his own legends. A larger than life man, who widowed with three young sons, married my Great great Grandmother, Elizabeth Newton. A Stewart Island girl, daughter of a Maori woman and a Scottish man. She was 13 when she married James. Thirteen!
I have heard that he was good friends with my G, G, G, Grandfather George Newton. Maybe they used to work together in their business of whaling and timber milling. I imagine him sailing over to the Island in a little boat and getting to know the family. Apparently, my family - my Maori family on Stewart Island had a reputation for their hospitality. Nobody ever left their home empty-handed. And so I think of James meeting the young girl, Elizabeth and taking her for a bride. How young is that, to be marrying and perhaps raising three young boys who were not her own.
James and Elizabeth moved to the lower part of the Catlins and set up their home. They founded the little seaside village of Fortrose.
James and Elizabeth had 7 children, one of whom was my Great great grandmother Isabella.
We have a very rare photograph of Elizabeth. Someone sent it to me by email a few months ago. What a treasure.
My own Grandmother said her mother used to talk about her grandmother, Elizabeth, as a warm and caring woman. What a heritage. If there was to be only one thing about you to be passed on to your descendants, don't you think that 'warm and caring' is the best tribute of all. What a dynamic couple she and James must have been. What strength and what leadership. I am proud to be counted among their children. To be a daughter of the Captain.