Bush cleared in Queen St for farm and home

James Parsons first came to the local area to survey the timber for Prouse Bros some years before they established their sawmill in Levin.

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It is said he came by coach up the beach so it must have been before 1886 as the coaches ceased then when the railway was operated. 

When Prouse Bros came to Levin to establish their sawmill in 1891 James was the bush foreman for some years, living in one of the mill houses at first. 

He married Mary Swanson (the spelling had been slightly altered from its original Swedish spelling) in the early 1890s. 

James bought 50 acres of land fronting Queen St on the south side from Mrs. R. Prouse in about 1892.  He probably kept his bush job until 1902 when he commenced supplying the dairy factory, as clearing the land of bush would have been many years of work in his spare time.  A house was built on the farm, utilitarian at first, but later extended to make a fine family home. 

Six children were born to the couple, Dorothy, Constance, Bernard, John, Mabel and Emma. 

The house was added to in the 1920s and a fine garden layout established, the daughters giving significant help in this. 

James made all his furniture by hand and also made elaborate fretwork some of which still exists. 

Bernard (Bunny) joined the Levin Cooperative Dairy Co staff as a boy in 1917, working up to factory manager in 1945 and retiring in 1963. 

During his term as manager many awards were won for the butter produced, carrying on the reputation of the former manager, James Smellie. 

John worked for Abraham and Williams first and then became the secretary of the Dairy Co in 1921 (being thought by many as being too young for the job) until his death on 1961. 

Constance worked on the farm for some years and then worked for James Rimmer in his grocery shop (now GEM) from 1927 to 1947, the last few years for Mr. Trim who had bought the business. 

James and Mary died in 1942 and 1943. 

Godfrey Bowen had bought most of the land leaving one acre around the house.


Waiopehu College and Levin East School are sited on the back part of the original farm.  This area had been the farm’s hay paddock.  Parsons Avenue is named after the family. 

The house and the one acre was sold to Mr. Shailor in 1956.  In 1960 Kenneth Shaw bought and occupied the house for several years.  It is now fronted by numbers 624 to 632 Queen St.




Appreciation of the help of Miss Constance Parsons in the research for this article is given by Mr. Swanwick.

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Bush cleared in Queen St for farm and home

Creator:Corrie Swanwick
Creation date:08/09/1982
Publisher:The News
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License
Bush cleared in Queen St for farm and home by Pippa is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License