James & Richard PROUSE
James and Richard (III) Prouse came to Horowhenua in 1891 to set up a sawmill at Weraroa from where they concentrated on felling the bush particularly in the south-east sector of what was becoming the township of Levin. Theirs was the second sawmill in the district, following Peter Bartholomew who began milling at the northern end of the ‘town’ two years earlier.
James and Richard were the third generation of a business begun by their grandfather at Johnsonville in the early 1840s. They each turned to dairy farming once the Levin district was milled out.
James had a hand in the formation of the Cooperative Dairy Company, a highly prosperous enterprise, and in promoting Levin to borough status in 1906. In public service, he was both a borough and county councillor, and a prominent advocate for a water race system across the borough to give ready access to drinking water for grazing cattle.
Richard also became a borough councillor for two terms, and both brothers were instrumental in Methodism finding a home in the town, providing the land and building its first church in Cambridge Street. Richard was a driving force in the landmark community gathering place, the Century Hall, being built beside the church.
Public-spirited men both, with descendants today still living in one of the stately family homes that memorialises their contribution to the budding days of Levin’s emergence from the bush.
Stephen & Karen Prouse