As mentioned in an earlier article James (Snr) found work as a stonemason when he arrived in Dunedin.
He was returning from a job at Port Chalmers by boat when two collided, he got out through a hole in the side of the boat made by the collision.
It is the families understanding that he left for Central Otago soon after. He found stonemasonry work building roads and bridges and while working in the Cromwell – Clyde area he prospected for gold.
He returned to Dunedin for the birth of his son, Malcom.
Six weeks after the birth James (Snr) packed all their possessions, building materials for their house in Cromwell into a horse drawn dray and brought his wife Betsy, 3-year-old daughter Bess and young son to Cromwell via the Pigroot.
In 1865 this was a very basic track; it is now a tar sealed road which follows basically the same route.
(Hw 85). The trip took many days, today, 2021, Palmerston to Cromwell takes just over two hours.
Malcom’s parents told him years later that during the trip to Cromwell each night they camped under their dray. One particularly cold rainy day, late in the afternoon, they saw a building in the distance and decided to seek shelter there.
They were very surprised when a childhood friend of Betsy’s opened the door. Neither knew the other was in New Zealand. One can imagine a great reunion took place that evening.
After arriving in Cromwell in 1865, he completed his house near the junction of Alpha and Inniscort St.*
Between 1867 and 1887 six boys were born bringing the family to 8.
As well as gold mining and stone masonry, the family as was to become involved in farming, business, and civic affairs in the district. (More on this in later articles)
A family reunion took place in Cromwell in 2002. The clan had grown to 318 direct descendants of James (Snr) and Betsy, of these approximately 70% attended the reunion. There are descendants living in Cromwell today.
*At a family reunion in 2002 a plaque was unveiled here to commemorate 140 years since James Ritchie (Snr) first arrived in Cromwell.