Love letters have happily ever after

Add to favourites

Stratford District Council would like to thank everyone who has been in contact about the love letters found in our archives room. 

As a result of peoples’ time and effort to research this case, we have been able to identify our author Harry as Thomas Harry Penn writing to Grace Martin. 

We have discovered that Harry was the clerk of the Town Board in Stratford, and the secretary of the Stratford Hospital Board for 25 years. Harry married Gracie in 1896 in Roslyn Otago. Gracie remained there with her parents for a few years before moving to Stratford to be with him. 

Harry and Gracie’s son Thomas lived in Stratford with his wife Netty in the Penn residence on Hamlet Street. This building was demolished approximately 30 years ago and it is possible that the letters were handed in to Council then.

A member of the Penn family has been in contact with council and now have custody of the letters. 

Both Harry and Gracie are buried in the Kopuatama Cemetery here in Stratford.

Anna Officer, Information Management Specialist says “We are so pleased to be able to return these letters to the family.”

“This love story has a true happily ever after, and it’s been quite the buzz here at Council and in the community to know the letters are in the right hands now.”

A picture of T. Harry Penn has since been spotted in one of the old Council photographs which line the hallway of Stratford District Council. (below).

The family of Harry and Gracie Penn have expressed their gratitude to Council and those involved in the search. “The family are thrilled to have them,” they said. 

The letters will be making a real contribution to their own family tree research.

Harry Penn