Surprises in family history quest

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A Timaru woman’s quest to record the history of her family has resulted in her discovering far more than she anticipated.
Cynthia McCaughan’s search for an elusive great-great-greatgrandfather led to her finding out about the long and remarkable life of the wife he left behind and a link to Timaru.
McCaughan has recorded what she has learnt in To Live a Long & Prosperous Life, a 400 page book, which is the result of more than six years of research and writing.
McCaughan said while working on the book she uncovered some surprising information.
‘‘I always just assumed my family had moved straight to the West Coast when they came to New Zealand.’’
However, through her research she discovered her family had two shops inthe centre of early Christchurch, and were involved with fundraising for the Beth El Synagogue in Timaru — once located at Bank St.
‘‘It was amazing to learn all this.’’
Her great-great-greatgrandmother was the unifying personality inthe story, McCaughan said.
‘‘Dinah Hart was a young Jewish wife and mother who showed fearless determination when faced with adversity.
‘‘Abandoned in Christchurch in 1866 with three of her children and a new baby while her husband went to the West Coast goldfields, Dinah’s life could have easily slipped into oblivion.’’
She eventually remarried and became the matriarch of a large family on the West Coast.
The book also documents her great-great-great-grandmother’s involvement in the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and Methodist Church.