The headstone of Zephaniah Mark Hoar. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Among the many graves in the Pioneer section of the Masterton Cemetery, one stands out for the care with which it is tended. Unsurprisingly it is a member of the Hoar family, undertakers and monumentalists for generations. GARETH WINTER looks at the story behind the stone.

It is unusual to come across someone with a Christian name that starts with a ‘Z’ – it is especially surprising to come across a family where both husband and wife have such a name.

Annie Zeruiah Hammond was born in the Hampshire, England, village of Droxford in 1841, the daughter of William Hammond and his wife Lucy.

In 1865, she married Zephaniah Mark Hoar at Portsea Island, Hampshire.

He had been born in Catherington, Hampshire, in 1844, one of 16 children of George Hoar and his wife Esther.

By the time of the 1871 English census they were living with three of their children in Catherintgon.

Three years later, the family migrated to New Zealand, arriving in Wellington on the ‘Howrah’.

They were in Masterton by at least 1879, as Zephaniah was in the news that year, his honey attracting good reviews at the local Horticultural Society show.

He was working as a carpenter as well as a beekeeper, and, by the late 1880s, was serving as the custodian of the recently purchased Jubilee steam-powered fire engine.

He was finding it an onerous task to keep the water warm in the engine at all times, and experimented with a quick way to bring cold water up to speed.

It failed, much to the chagrin of the fellow Fire Brigade members.

In 1889, Zepahiah Hoar announced he was branching out into a new line of work – as well as working as a carpenter he was commencing business as an undertaker.

He continued to serve as an undertaker until the 1920s, by that time trading as Hoar and Permain.

He was clearly of an entrepreneurial bent.

In 1891, he went to the Masterton Park Trust with an ambitious concept for helping them to pay their debts, while at the same making money for himself.

He would pay the trust a set amount each year, while he would erect a fence six feet high, 10 feet back from the existing fence, repair that fence, erect a dressing shed, booths, grandstand and seats, and make bicycle and skating tracks between the two fences.

He said he would allow the Masterton Park Trust to keep the value of improvements at the termination of his 10-year lease.

The matter was discussed in detail, the trustees reluctantly deciding they could not accept the offer.

He and Annie were staunch Methodists, living close to the church on its old site [now occupied by McDonalds], both very active in the Sunday School.

At the time of the Women’s Suffrage Petition in 1893, following the lead of many other Methodists, Annie, her daughter Annie Amelia, and daughter-in-law Mary all signed.

Annie Hoar died in early 1926, after suffering a 20-year-long illness.

Later in the year, the local newspaper reported that Zephaniah’s time as the custodian of the church was coming to an end.

“On the last Sunday evening of the old year Mr. Z.M. Hoar handed over the keys of the church he had so zealously guarded for 50 years.”

They commented that older members recalled that he lived in the church cottage, where the present infant room stands and that he took pride in the grapes he grew for the Harvest Festival.

In September 1928, Zephaniah Mark Hoar died, the last but one of a family of 16.

His obituary recalled his many years of service to the Methodist Church and the Forester’s Lodge.

He left a family of four children, 17 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.