JOHNS, Rosa Jane
Born: 1885; died 1 December 1918; buried 2 December 1918; age 32
Very little is known about Rosa JOHNS. She was born in New Zealand in 1885, to Robert and Sarah ROSS. She may have been registered at birth as Mary Rose, but was known as Rosa.
Rosa married on 9 December 1908 in Wellington, Stanley JOHNS, who worked as a plasterer. He had been living in Cuba Street in 1905-06, but when the Electoral Roll was renewed in 1911 he and Sarah had moved to Mt Pleasant Road, Mitchelltown. Mt Pleasant Road runs off Raroa Road and climbs the steep slopes above Holloway Road.
Stanley and Rosa had a daughter in 1911, whom they called Edna May. She seems to have been their only child until the birth of another daughter on 29 November 1918. Rosa may have already been sick with the flu when she gave birth, for two days later she died, on 1 December at St Helen’s Hospital, a public maternity hospital. Poignantly, both the birth of the child and the death of the mother were announced in the Evening Post on 2 December 1918.
Rosa was buried on 2 December in the Public Section at Karori Cemetery. Rev Gibb, a Presbyterian Church minister, officiated at the service at E Morris Jnr Chapel and at the cemetery. The plot was never paid for, presumably because Stanley had other preoccupations at the time with a small baby to care for and widowhood to adjust to. Apparently, the baby survived, and was named Rosa Jean.
In 1920 Stanley married again, to Beatrice Clark, and they moved from Mitchelltown sometime in the 1920’s. Stanley had also changed his occupation and worked for the Wellington Harbour Board for 17 years until he retired in 1933. Later the same year he fell from a gantry while working as a casual employee of the Board and was killed. The report in the Evening Post on the day of the incident – 25 October - confirms that Stanley had two children only.
“FATAL FALL FROM GANTRY
A Harbour Board employee named Stanley Johns, who resided at 289 Rintoul Street, fell to the ground from a gantry, a distance of about 15 feet, at Shed 39, on the Thorndon Breastwork, at about noon today, and died at the hospital at 1.45 p.m. The late Mr. Johns was 50 years of age, and joined the permanent staff of the Harbour Board in1916. He served as storeman of No. 16 shed, and retired in July of this year. At the time of his death he was a casual employee of the construction department of the board. He leaves a widow and two children.”
On 26 October Beatrice purchased the plot in Karori Cemetery where Rosa was buried, which allowed her to bury Stanley with his first wife the following day. The plaque on the headstone was presumably also paid for by Beatrice, and says:
In Memory of
Beloved husband of
Died 25 Oct 1933 aged 50 yrs
Also Rosa Jane JOHNS
Died 1 Dec 1918 aged 32 yrs
“May the light of thy countenance shine upon them evermore”
The plot information supplied by Karori Cemetery confirms Rosa and Stanley are the only occupants. The day after Rosa was buried Percival AUSTIN and his infant were buried in the adjacent plot.
Researched and written by Beverley Hamlin
Plot: 289 J