Dorothy Emily Cobb
20 August 1881 - 11 November 1979

Dorothy was born on 20 August 1881. She immigrated to New Zealand with her parents and eight siblings in 1883. The family arrived in Wellington on 1 January 1884 when she was just two years old.

Joseph and Harriet with their children, 1883.
Dorothy is probably the little girl on her father's knee.

The Cobb family boarded the ship 'Kiwi' to take them to their new home in Napier. They arrived in Napier on 5 January 1884. Below is the notice of arrivals to Napier.

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There they were met by Dorothy's aunt, Emily Lydford, and her husband Richard who had arrived in New Zealand in 1879. There were three little cousins for Dorothy to meet: Richard Jnr, William, and baby George.

The Cobb family lived in Port Ahuriri for a short time before shifting to Hastings around 1885. The Cobbs returned to live in Napier in 1889.

In December 1889 Dorothy was awarded a prize from the 'Infant School' in Napier. Her brother Harold, and older cousins William and Richard (Jnr) Lydford also received prizes.

The Infact School was attached to the Main School which was
located near Clive Square. It's playground is now Memorial Park.
Dorothy and Harold, who were a year apart in age, took part in the Anglican Bible classes in schools. In 1890 while at the Hastings Street school, both siblings received awards for their biblical knowledge.

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Dorothy's youngest brother John Wesley Cobb was born on 6 April 1892. Dorothy developed a close relationship with him.

From left: Dorothy, Harriet, Jack, and unknown girl, possibly Mary, c1893.
Photographer unknown, but likely to be Joseph Cobb.
(Photo from M Toy)

On Wednesday 26 March 1902, Dorothy and her older sister Mary were the attendants at their sister Alice's (known as Mabel) wedding. The wedding was held at the Cobb family's home church, the Trinity Methodist Church, Napier. 

The wedding of Dorothy's sister, Alice (known as Mabel) to Alfred Jacobi.
Dorothy is probably the woman standing in the back to the left of centre.

The newspaper article below described the wedding:

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Dorothy was a bridesmaid for her sister Mary's wedding in 1904.

The wedding of Robert and Mary Graham. 30 March 1904.
From left: Harold Cobb, Harriet Cobb (seated at front), Ida Graham, Robert Graham & Mary Cobb,
Dorothy Cobb, Joseph Cobb, Graham Foreman (best man). This photograph is from Mrs Cobb's studio,
possibly taken by George Cobb since Harriet is in the picture.
(Photo courtesy of S Rabarts.)

Dorothy, Harold and Ida Graham,
at Mary's wedding. 1904.
Photo probably taken by Mrs Cobb.

In 1905/06 the Electoral Roll recorded both Dorothy (25-26 years old), and Mary as residing at Emerson Street (the family home) and doing 'domestic duties' for a living. Dorothy was also described there as a 'spinster'. Harold (24-25 years old) was also living at home and worked with his parents as a photographer. 

Dorothy (26) married 30 year old Arnold Blackman (1877 - 2 May 1955) on 24 April, 1907 at the Trinity Methodist Church. Arnold was a talented singer and sang in the church choir. This is probably the context in which Dorothy met him. It appears that Arnold had immigrated alone to New Zealand from Lancashire, England. 

Arnold and Dorothy on their wedding day.
Photo taken by Mrs Cobb, 1907.
(Photo courtesy of L Cobb.)

Likely to be the wedding of Dorothy and Arnold, 1907.
Back left to right: Harold Cobb, Arnold Blackman, Dorothy Cobb, Joseph E Cobb
Seated from left: Unidentified girl and E Rose Lydford
Photo by Mrs Cobb
(Courtesy of G J Bland)

The Marriage Certificate for Arnold and Dorothy describes her as a housekeeper and Arnold as a cabinetmaker. It is interesting to note that the witnesses for the wedding were Dorothy's father, Joseph, her cousin Elsie Rose Lydford (known as Rose), and her younger brother Harold. 

Wedding Certificate for Arnold and Dorothy 1907.
Arnold and Dorothy's signatures on their Wedding Certificate 1907.

A month after their wedding, Arnold and Dorothy moved to Te Kuiti. They lived at the Grand Hotel opposite the railway station for three months while they built their house which was situated on a corner section on Seddon Street.  

Arnold and Dorothy had four children:
  • Kenneth Arnold Blackman (15 November 1907 - 7 May 1979) 
  • Frank Joseph Blackman (27 Oct 1910 - 5 Apr 2003) 
  • John (Jack) Renata Blackman  (30 October 1912 - 30 Aug 1995) 
  • Phyllis Elsie Blackman (18 July 1916 - 2007)
At the end of October 1907, Arnold (and presumably a heavily pregnant Dorothy) was in attendance at the opening of the Te Kuiti Congregational Church, the first church to be opened in the town. He sang a solo called 'Nazarene' and was part of a quartet during the evening service. 

Arnold went into business in Te Kuiti, with Dorothy's brother, Harold Day Cobb, calling it 'Blackman & Cobb'. The following notice appeared in the King Country Chronicle, 6 March 1908.

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Together Arnold and Harold developed a well known shop selling household furnishings, furniture and picture framing services, pianos and organs. They even offered their services as funeral directors. Dorothy would apparently, make the floral arrangements and Arnold would officiate. Sometimes some Maori folk couldn't pay so they paid with meat! 

Some examples of the sales strategies for 'Blackman and Cobb' can be found in the King Country Chronicle. One with an interesting graphic of an old hearse can be seen here.

Dorothy's youngest brother John (known as Jack) did his joinery apprenticeship at Blackman & Cobb. According to Jack's 1914 diary, he boarded with the Blackmans while living in Te Kuiti. 

In February 1909, Dorothy and sister-in-law Madge (Harold's wife) were in attendance at the first wedding at the St Luke's Anglican Church in Te Kuiti, a little over one year after it was consecrated. Both ladies wore white muslin according to the report in the newspaper! As Anglicans, it appears this was the Blackman family church.

In 1910 when the Druids opened their Pride of Te Kuiti Lodge Dorothy and her sister in law Madge were involved in a social event. Madge set tables, and Dorothy sang. 

Arnold and Harold (Arnold's business partner and brother-in-law) attended the first annual meeting  of the local fire brigade in August 1910, and were instrumental in getting the 'rules' for the brigade voted through. Later in August, Arnold, Harold and another brother-in-law, Jack, was nominated as members of the fire brigade.

By Christmas Eve 1910, the Blackman & Cobb shop had reopened in a new premises where it seems their wares were more prominently displayed. It was advertised that the business was specialising in glass and china, and customers were given the hint to purchase a vase or ornamental china as Christmas giftsA local paper described Blackman & Cobb as a progressive and expanding business.

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Te Kuiti held a Sports Day for the town on Wednesday 1 March 1911. On that day all the local businesses were requested to close up from 11am on that day. Blackman & Cobb obliged. 

In March 1911 Dorothy's father, Joseph, passed away in Napier, aged 70. 

At Easter 1911 the new church hall was opened (but we are not sure exactly which church this is referring to). It was built to accomodate 200 people. The seats were constructed by Blackman and Cobb.

The advertisement for Blackman and Cobb appeared in the local paper in October 1911.

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The business partnership between the Blackmans and Harrold Cobb ended by mutual concent, in June 1912, and Arnold carried on the business in his own name.

A Mr Blackman, presumably Arnold, sang at a fundraising concert in the local Town Hall, in aid of the Te Kuiti Volunteer Fire Brigade on May 22 1913. He sang a solo 'What Care I?' in the first bracket, and a duet with Mr Dodge in the second half entitled, 'The Battle Eve'. The concert was advertised as "Fun galore, Fun for everybody, and nothing to offend the eye, the ear or the mind of the most fastidious." Mr Blackman again sang at a concert in August 1914. Apparently Arnold was an amazing singer, and could have made a career out of it.

Arnold and Dorothy began building a new home on Awakino Road. According to Dorothy's recollections, the Blackman family moved into their new home just before Christmas 1913. At this stage they had three children.

Arnold was on the organising committee of the Musical and Dramatic Society, being appointed in 1915.

In June 1915 Arnold donated a table to be auctioned off at a social organised by local business people to raise money for their entry into the Queen of the Carnival competition. The table was sold for 4 pounds, 5 shillings.

A curious story appeared in the Auckland Star 1916 regarding a letter addressed to Arnold Blackman:

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It appears that Dorothy was a keen gardener. She entered some flowers in to the Methodist Bulb and Industrial Show in September 1916, winning a prize for her fresias and another for miscellaneous flowering bulb. In December, she also won prizes for flowers and vegetables at the Te Kuiti Horticultural Society Flower Show, while young Kenneth also won two prizes in the junior section for flowers. It appears that Arnold and Dorothy encouraged each of their children to also become gardeners and to submit their flowers and vegetables into local shows. In the 1930s the Blackman boys Kenneth and Jack won numerous prizes for their daffodils and chrysanthemums. 

In April 1917 Arnold was voted in as a Councilor of the Borough of Te Kuiti. To acknowledge the more than 200 votes he received in the election, he wrote the following note of thanks in the local newspaper:

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Dorothy's youngest brother Jack, a Lieutenant with the ANZAC forces during WW1, was killed in action during the Battle of Messines in 1917. Dorothy's feelings for her lost brother were cleary evident in the death notice she placed in the paper three weeks later. In it, she described herself as his "sorrowing sister." In 1921 on the fourth anniversary of his death, Dorothy placed a memorial to her Jack in The New Zealand Herald, calling him her "beloved brother."

The following acknowledgement, thanking friends for their concern and sympathy was placed by Dorothy and her husband in their local paper, 11 July 1917 following the death of Jack.

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Dorothy also placed a memorial to Jack in the paper in 1919 and 1920. In the 1920 one, she used another of his nicknames, Cobbie. 

COBB - In loving memory of Lieutenant
Jack W Cobb (Cobbie), 6th Hauraki, 1st
Battalion Auckland Regiment (Main Body),
who fell at Messines, June 7 1917: the be-
loved brother of Dorothy E and A Black-
man, Te Kuiti.
For the deeds they did, that our glorious
heritage might be preserved, their memories
will never die.

Arnold was, apparently a lover of animals and was in favour of having those who abused animals punished. A letter to the editor of the local paper outlined his suggestion, as well as his support for the local branch of the SPCA. He has marked Awakino Road, Te Kuiti, as the sender's address.

In September of 1917, Arnold made a special and inspiring presentation to the children of the Te Kuiti Public School, gifting them a framed painting. The picture was a copy of a painting done by W Hatherall, entitled 'Faithful Unto Death'. The painting told the story of a young 16 year old who was severely wounded in the Battle of Jutland Bank, but continued to stand his post until the all clear was given.

A newspaper advertisement from February 1920 states A Blackman as being simply a funeral director, and gives the following telephone numbers for him: Workshop 76, Residence 145.

In June 1920, Phyllis was a flower-girl at a wedding at St Lukes Church in Te Kuiti. She would have been about five years old. 

Arnold was elected to the Waikato Hospital and Charitable Aid Board in 1920. In 1921 he ran for the Borough Council. Later in 1923, it seems that he ran for mayor, coming second, eventually becaming the deputy mayor of Te Kuiti.

In September-October 1924 Arnold successfully performed in the opera Les Cloches de Cornville (The Chimes of Normandy), playing the part of the bailiff (baritone).

The Blackman family were keen gardeners, growing both flowers and vegetables around their villa named 'Boscombe' - a nod to Dorothy's hometown in England. Arnold submitted several entries into the Te Kuiti Spring Flower Show at the Methodist Church in September 1926, winning a number of first prizes for his daffodils, then won first prize for his dahlias at the St Johns Flower Show of 1928.

On 15 January 1929, Arnold, who was by then, the deputy mayor of Te Kuiti, lost one of his employees, Mr Amos A. Avery, who died in a fire that broke out around 10am in the second floor of his factory. Arnold managed to escape the fire but suffered from shock and burns to his arm.

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Arnold gave his account of what happened to a newspaper reporter, and late was the chief witness an the inquest into the death of Mr Avery. It was found that no one was to blame for the death but it recommended that regulations be put into place for businesses where methylated spirits were used.

Dorothy was involved with the Te Kuiti croquet club. In 1929 she won the 'Handicap rose bowl' and donated prizes.

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Arnold opened the Te Kuiti District Winter Show in July 1929, in his position as deputy major. 

1930: Arnold was the people's warden at the St Lukes Anglican Church. 

It seems that Dorothy was playing croquet in Takapuna, Auckland in 1931, also donating the prize. In 1932 and 1937, Dorothy was elected the vice president of the Te Kuiti croquet club. In 1937 she was also the secretary.

In 1933 Te Kuiti held its ninth annual autumn horticultural show. Arthur won several prizes for flowers, a cactus plant and for his vegetables. 

The engagement notice for Arnold and Dorothy's youngest son John was announced in the Auckland Star 19 December 1935.

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Daughter Phyliss and one of her Cobb cousins from Hamilton (either Dorothy or Dawn) attended the 1936 Batchelor's Ball at Te Kuiti. 

Sir Charles and Lady Marr were weekend guests of Dorothy's in March 1937 according to the King Country Chronicle, 23 March 1937. Lady Marr was a childhood friend of Dorothy's. Sir Charles was a Member of the Australian Parliament, representing Parkes, Syndey. 

On Easter Saturday 1937 Arnold and Dorothy's eldest son, Kenneth was married to Gweneth Muriel Aroha at the St Luke's Anglican Church in Te Kuiti. Kenneth's cousin Dorothy (his uncle Harold's daughter, who lived in Hamilton) played the Wedding March, his sister Phyliss was a bridesmaid and one of his brothers was an usher. 

In July 1937, Dorothy's daughter Phyllis and her daughter-in-law Frances (Jack's wife), attended the annual ball of the D Company, Waikato Regiment.

Also in 1937, John won many prizes for his vegetables at the Cambridge Horticultural Show. He also won prizes for his flowers at the 1936 flower show in Te Kuiti.

Arnold became a Justice of the Peace. There is a report of him officiating at a court appearance of a man charged with drunkeness. 

In 1939, Arnold was the vice president of the Te Kuiti Band.

In 1944 Arnold lost his position on the Hospital Board by less than 10 votes.

Dorothy in her later years.
Photo by Richard Wallace, Otorohanga. Date unknown.

Arnold passed away in Te Kuiti 2 May 1955, aged 78. He was buried in the Old Te Kuiti Cemetery, Block IV, Plot 288. Dorothy died in Te Kuiti on 11 November 1979, aged 98. She was buried next to her husband in Plot 289. A photo of their grave can be found at the Billion Graves website. Click here to see it. 

The children of Arnold and Dorothy Blackman

Kenneth (Ken) Arnold Blackman (15 Nov 1907 - 7 May 1979) 
  • Ken married Gweneth (Gwen) Muriel Aroha Boles (1909 - 3 May 2009) in 1937. They had one son born in Te Kuiti Hospital on 26 March 1945.
  • Ken had a nursery with his brother, John. They lived on Awakino Road, Te Kuiti.
  • Ken is listed on Electoral Rolls as living in Waitomo between 1935 and 1949, Otahuhu, Auckland in 1949, Manukau in 1954 to 1957. 
  • Cremation records from Purewa Cemetery, Auckland, show that Ken died on 7 May 1979, aged 71, and was cremated. 
  • The Electoral Roll of 1981 states that Gwen was living in Pakuranga. She died in 2009, aged 100, and was cremated at the Waikemete Cemetery, Auckland.
Frank Joseph Blackman (27 Oct 1910 - 5 Apr 2003) 
  • Was born in Te Kuiti on 27 October 1910.
  • Frank was awarded a Bachelor of Banking from Victoria University in 1934. 
  • As a young man he moved to Australia and lived in Mosman, Warringah, and then North Sydney and Bradfield, New South Wales, where he worked as a bank officer.
  • Frank married Sydney-born nurse, Florence Amelia Anderson (10 Apr 1912 - 23 Oct 2005) on 4 March 1939 at the St Augustine's Anglican Church, Neutral Bay, Sydney. 
  • Frank and Florence had a son and a daughter.
  • Frank served with the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II (Service number 74752) as a Leading Aircraftman, enlisting for service on 8 January 1943 and receiving his discharge on 29 May 1946. 
  • The 1949 New Zealand Electoral Roll lists both Frank and Florence as living on Awakino Road, Te Kuiti, along with Frank's parents, his siblings and their families. It is unknown how long Frank and Florence lived in New Zealand before they returned to live in Australia.
  • Frank died on 5 April 2003. He is buried in North Ryde, New South Wales. Florence died in 2005. 
John (Jack) Renata Blackman (30 Oct 1912 - 30 Aug 1995
  • Jack was born in Te Kuiti in 1912. 
  • His engagement announcement to Frances Grace Eileen Harris (1906 - June 1980) who was known as Grace, appeared in the Auckland Star on 19 December 1935.
  • Jack and Grace had two children.
  • Jack won a Queen's Service Medal (QSM) in 1980 in recognition of his public service in Te Kuiti.
  • Jack and Grace lived in Te Kuiti all their lives.
Phyllis Elsie Blackman (18 July 1916 - 2007)
  • Phyllis married Joseph Richard Dean (25 Dec 1908 - 20 Jan 1991) in 1938. They had five children- two daughters and three sons.
  • One son, Richard Robert Dean (23 Oct 1942 -  26 Oct 1987) predeceased them. His ashes are buried at the North Shore Memorial Park, Central Division, Section 6, Block A, Plot 250. 
  • Joseph died aged 82, on 20 January 1991 and was cremated at the North Shore Memorial Park.
  • Phyllis died in 2007, aged 91.

Sources of information:
Family held records
Papers Past
Births, Deaths and Marriages Online
The Blackman Family website, accessed 10 October 2015
Waitomo District Council cemetery records
Auckland Council - Cemetery Records
World War Two Nominal Roll Website
Photo from M Toy
NZ Electoral Rolls
Purewa Cemetery Records

Anonymous. (1937, March 37). Australian Statesman. King Country Chronicle. 5.

Last updated 17 May 2022

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