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Josiah Viles - pioneer - dies

Evening Post, 21 February 1931



One of the few remaining pioneers, Mr. Josiah Viles, passed away peacefully this morning at his residence at Featherston at the age of 91.

The late Mr. Viles was born at South Petherton, Somersetshire, England, in 1840, and when he was nine months old his parents with their three sons and two daughters emigrated to New Zealand in the sailing ship Arab. The voyage took five months. The late Mr. Viles's father died on board the ship on the voyage.

Mrs. Viles and the family landed in Wellington in 1841, and settled on the Kaiwaira Flats, and experienced the big earthquakes of 1848 and 1855.

Mr. Viles was of an adventurous nature, and travelled over a considerable portion of both Islands of New Zealand. During his travels he had many experiences with the Maoris. He also served in the Maori War, for which he was given his first piece of land. Very often he and his companions were in extreme danger from the Maoris, and on one occasion Mr. Viles narrowly escaped being tomahawked.

He told exciting narratives when he could be persuaded to relate them, especially in connection with the old coaching days over the Rimutakas. He also went with his brother Jim. to the gold rush at Gabriel's Gully.

Mr. Viles finally settled in Featherston and took up farming, where his residence is one of the few remaining old land marks in the Wairarapa.

Mr. Viles was married in the Presbyterian Church near the late Joe Dixon's factory in Wellington. His wife was a daughter of the late Richard Bright, of Greytown and Martinborough. Mrs. Viles, who survives her husband, was born in North Mandeville, Essex, England, and with her parents arrived in New Zealand at the age of six. There were twelve children by tho marriage. Eight are now living, Messrs. W. J. Viles (Apiti), W. F. Viles (Colyton), A. V. Viles (Greytown), A. E. Viles (Featherston), S. S. Viles (Napier), Mrs. W. Goodrick (Pukekohe), Miss E. M. Viles and Miss E. B. Viles (Feathcrston).

The funeral will leave the Church of England, Featherston, at 1.30 p.m. tomorrow for the Feathcrston Cemetery.


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