Rush Family History

The Story of the Rush Family

Henry Xavier Rush, 1880-1959

This page lists the seventh child of John Henry Rush and Sarah Ruth Grennan. The story on this page was prepared by grandson Barry Rush for the book "A Humble Beginning".

Henry Xavier Rush.

Henry Xavier Rush was the seventh of the nine children of his parents, John Henry and Sarah Rush. He was born in Palmerston North on 26 July 1880.

Limited information is available on Henry's early years, but it is known that he was educated in Palmerston North and then trained as a cabinet maker. Although he spent most of his working life in other fields, he retained his trade skills, which must often have proved useful to him.

Henry married Minnie McGhay Pearson in Palmerston North on 6 November 1900. Minnie was the fifth daughter and seventh child of Charles and Maria Pearson, natives respectively of the Isle of Wight and of Hampshire, who had come to New Zealand on the "Euterpe" in 1874 to Wellington, and were among the founding settlers of Feilding in that year. The Pearsons were married on 24 December 1872 at St Mary's Portsea, Hampshire, and had only one child when they left England, a son named Charles. A daughter was born near the end of the voyage on 13 August 1874, but died aged five weeks, at Feilding. (See Surgeon's report on the voyage.) She had been named Minnie McGhay. (See Immigration Passenger List Entry ("New Zealand, Immigration Passenger Lists, 1855-1973," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 03 Apr 2013), Chas Pearson, 1874.) on FamilySearch for Chas. Pearson, a Shoemaker, aged 24, his wife Maria (nee Broomfield) aged 21, and baby son Charles aged 1). The sister born on 17 August 1882, who was to marry Henry, was apparently given the same Christian names, a tribute, one supposes, to her dead sister. The Pearsons had by then moved from Feilding to Palmerston North, where Minnie went to Terrace End School. One imagines that she and Henry met in Palmerston during their teens.

Henry and Minnie were to have seven sons and a daughter over a period of 21 years, from 1902 to 1923. They were:

  • Henry Reginald 1902
  • Stephen Clarence Raymor 1903
  • Joseph Carlton 1905
  • Byron Keneth John 1910
  • Charles Sylvester 1911
  • Nancy Lorraine 1915
  • Maurice Andrew Peter 1918
  • Bernard Diego 1923

There were thirty-six grand-children, 120 great grand-children, and 105 great-great grand children in 1998 - (Henry Xavier's family is the second largest!)

Family of Henry Xavier Rush.

Henry and Minnie moved to Tahoraiti, two or three kilometres from Dannevirke, in the early years of the 20th century. Henry was a farm manager there for the next two decades. Most of the children were born there, and received part or all of their education in Dannevirke, although the younger members went to school in the Waimarino district.

In the early 1920s, Henry and Minnie moved to that district where they were to spend the rest of their lives. Henry was a farm manager first at Raetihi, and then in the remote Ruatiti area north of Pipiriki and near the Wanganui river. He also worked for a time on the famous (or perhaps infamous) "bridge to nowhere"; a substantial bridge built to serve a backblocks farming settlement which never prospered and was soon completely abandoned, leaving the bridge in the wilderness where it stands today.

After a few years at Ruatiti, Henry moved again to the comparative metropolis of Ohakune. There he became borough foreman. With his range of practical skills and experience and his personal qualities he was probably well suited to the position. Later he took over the local bicycle shop and shifted it to premises adjacent to where the chemist's shop now stands in Goldfinch Street. He and Minnie lived behind the shop. On his retirement son Joe took over the business.

During these years, especially in the 1940s and 50s, Henry and his family were very well known in Ohakune, where there were certainly more Rushes than Smiths, Browns or Joneses. Not only Henry and Minnie, but sons Steve, Joe, Barney, Charlie and Bill, with their families, all lived in Ohakune. Times have changed, as not one member of the family now remains there.

Henry Xavier Rush - Headstone.

Henry was a much loved and respected father and grandfather, as Minnie was mother and grandmother. They were also respected citizens in Ohakune. Henry was a man of integrity and quite wide interests. He was a staunch member of his church, and brought up his family in accordance with his own high ideals. He followed political and public affairs keenly, on both the local and national stages, and was chairman of the local fire authority. His greatest sporting interest was probably rugby. He had played the game himself, all his sons played and several achieved union or district honours. A grandson, Maurice Rush, was to have a long career as a loose forward for King Country and Wanganui.

But Henry was also one of the moving spirits behind the cycle races which were held for some time in Ohakune. He enjoyed a small flutter on the horses. He usually had a good vegetable garden. Above all, he was a good family man, devoted to Minnie, their children and grandchildren. No doubt having most of the family living so close was a pleasure to him. Forty years after his death, Henry is still fondly remembered by many of his grandchildren as their much loved "Pop".

A happy partnership of 45 years ended with Minnie's sudden death, aged 63 in March 1946. Henry lived on alone in their home for some time. Later, as his health began to decline, he lived for some years in a bach on son Steve's property. In 1959 he was spending a little time with son Barney Rush in Wellington when his final illness overtook him. He died in the Home of Compassion on 14 May 1959, aged 78, and was laid to rest alongside Minnie in the Ohakune Cemetery (headstone pictured).

Death Notice

RUSH - On May 14, 1959, at Wellington, Henry Xavier Rush, dearly loved husband of the late Minnie and loved father of Reg, Steve, Joe, Barney, Charlie, Nancy (Mrs McMenamin) Peter and Bill; aged 78 years. R.I.P. Friends kindly note that the funeral of the late Henry Rush will leave St Joseph's Church, Ohakune tomorrow (Saturday) May 16, 1959 after Requiem Mass which will be celebrated at 9.30 am. A special Rosary will be recited at 8 pm today (Friday) May 15. Waimarino Funeral Directors.


Mr H Rush. The death of Mr Henry Xavier Rush, which occurred at the Home of Compassion, Wellington recently, records the passing of another old identity of Ohakune. Born in Palmerston North in 1881, he settled in the Waimarino district about 35 years ago and remained here until a few months ago when ill health necessitated his entering the Home of Compassion. He first came here in 1900 but returned to Palmerston after two years finally settling here in 1924.

He worked on various farms in Raetihi, Ruatiti and Ohakune until 1930 when he started the business of Rush Bros in Ohakune. He was the Govt representative on the Ohakune Fire Board for a number of years, a traffic inspector, a borough councillor and president of the Cycling and Athletic Club which is now in recess. He was married in Palmerston and his wife predeceased him 13 years ago. All of his eight children, seven sons and one daughter are still living. They are Reg (Taihape), Stephen and Joseph (Ohakune), Byron known as Barney (Wellington), Charles (Opotiki), Nancy, Mrs McMenamin (Lower Hutt), Peter (Feilding) and Bernard (Bill) Ohakune, he also leaves 35 grandchildren and six great grandchildren. Mr Rush was buried in the Ohakune Cemetery after a funeral service conducted by Fathers Fouhy and Karalus. Mr and Mrs W Hodson, Ohakune Jtn.

1998 Family Reunion

The photo below shows the family group for Henry Xavier at the 1998 Family Reunion.

Family Group - Henry Xavier Rush- 1998 Reunion.

2017 Family Reunion

The photo below is the John Henry Rush family group at the 2017 Family Reunion held in Palmerston North.

Descendants - John Henry Rush.

A great-great-great grandson is born

On 26 July 2013, Henry Xavier Rush's great-great-great grandson, Luke William Hartle, was born in Brisbane, Australia, and they now share the same birthday.

Minnie McGhay Pearson

You can read the full story of the Pearson family on their own webpage along with the Pearson family tree (3 generations).

Contact details

If you have any information or photos to add to this page, or any corrections, please contact Dale Hartle in Levin, New Zealand, by phone +64 021 45 34 24.