The Sole Society, a Family History Society researching Sole, Saul, Sewell, Solley and similar names

Edward Sole

from Margery Smith

This article was originally published in the April 2003 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society

Marge Smith in Queensland, Australia has been busy researching information on her ancestor Edward Sole whose descendants formed The Sole Bros Circus. She has kindly provided the following extracts and photos, with her own notes in italics

Obituary - Edward Sole (1923)

Edward and Margaret SoleThe passing of Edward Sole on Friday last, at the age of 86 years, removes another link in the chain of Burnett pioneers.  For many years the deceased had resided in the Burnett, alternately at Eidsvold, Mount Perry and Gayndah.  For the past dozen years, he has resided in the latter town. 

His wife pre-deceased him in February last. 

The deceased is survived by four daughters, Mesdames J. Pickering (Eidsvold) T. McKenzie (Gayndah) G. Buzza (Mundubbera) and another married daughter (Maud) who resides in Toowoomba, and three sons - Edward James and Harry. 

Edward resides in Brisbane and the two latter at Mundubbera and Eidsvold respectively.  Another son met his death some few months ago in Sydney through the explosion of an acetylene gas plant. 

The deceased was buried at Gayndah, the funeral arrangements being carried out by Mr. J. Croucher.

(William Sole died at Blayney NSW not Sydney )

Gayndah Newspaper report

Recently we announced the death of Burnett pioneer in the person of Edward Sole.  That he was a much travelled colonist is evidenced by the following interesting account of his wanderings.

The deceased was born in Hertfordshire, England, on September 21 1837.  He sailed for Australia in the immigrant ship "Sultana" in 1855 arriving in Sydney in 1856.  A year later he took part in the Araluen NSW gold rush, meeting with much success, with William Thorpe as his partner.  As much as 100 to 180 pounds per week was reaped as a result of this mining venture.

The deceased then took over a hotel at Araluen, where he had the rather unpleasant experience of receiving two visits from the notorious Kelly Gang, which, after helping themselves to what they wanted, rode off without molestation. (This would not have been Ned Kelly and his men, but rather, the local bushrangers the Clarke bros.  see Braidwood historical society notes below).

In 1867 the deceased sold the hotel, and with his wife and two sons, James and Edward, took a trip to the Old Land in 1867.  In 1868 deceased and family returned to Australia in the "Sobrine".  Now used as a training ship.  Shipmates of the family were the Earl of Belmore, Lady Belmore and Miss Gladstone, sister of Lady Belmore. (I think his brother Daniel and family also returned home.  Daniel was one of the pioneers of the Guyra NSW district and some of his family still live there).

The land then beckoned to the deceased, who took up a farm at Springfield, near Braidwood.  But the call of the mineral was ever prevalent in his mind.  A gold reef was discovered at Bredbow Creek, twenty miles from Cooma.  The farm was at once sold and away went the family to Bredbow Creek, where a large claim was pegged out and a fifteen head battery erected.  A large number of men were here employed by deceased.  The reef, however, turned out a "dud" and a loss of between 2,000 and 3,000 pounds was experienced.  The family returned to Bathurst to live.

Charters Towers then appeared on the horizon, and away went the deceased to try his luck in that mining area.  But, having no luck, Mr. Sole returned to Bathurst. (The logistics of travelling such vast distances in those days leave me very proud of his  'guts' and persistence.)  Shortly afterwards he received an engagement to manage a large tin claim at Stanthorpe, where he remained for many years. (My grandfather Walter Henry 'Harry' Sole was born in Stanthorpe).   His next scene of activity was the Fairfield Gold rush.

In 1888 came the Eidsvold rush, which found deceased trying his luck on that field.  Mining at McDonald's flat then claimed his attention, but fortune did not favour him and he decided to give Gympie a trial. However, a little later found him back at Eidsvold.  he then went north to Mount Usher, then south to Mt. Perry, where he stayed seven years. Entering into the eve of his rather active life, he decided to settle in Gayndah and live a quiet life, at which place he remained  until his death.

Letter from Christine Wright, Braidwood Historical Society

The name of Edward Sole's hotel in Araluen was the Happy Vale Inn. There is also a reference to a Sold owning a crushing battery at Major's Creek in 1870. The Majors Creek rush began about 1869 and Edward Sole may well have come back to this area after his trip home, particularly as he had a battery at Bredbo.

From the Bicentennial Gayndah Gazette: March 1988

The Birth of a Circus

The beginnings of Gayndah being linked so closely with the beginnings of Queensland, some great and enduring institutions were born in the township, none the least of which is the famous Sole Bros. Circus, one of the few surviving big name circuses in Australia.

Grandmother and grandfather sole (as they were called by the children of Gayndah) lived on the corner of Barrow and Arthur Streets.  It was one of their sons, William, who launched sole Bros. Circus, with the help of his brothers (including Gayndah bandmaster Ted Sole) and his sisters. (I don't think the Sole girls had anything to do with the circus , the Sole boys had a band in Mt. Perry, Queensland - a very good band I might add - when Perry Bros circus came through town the boys joined the show, but only William remained with the circus, the three brothers married and settled in different areas of Queensland.)

William married a girl from the "Perry" family and, from that merger came Sole Bros. and Perry Bros. circuses.  (Actually, Perry Bros circus was well in existence when William Sole and the Sole Bros. band joined the circus in Mt. Perry). 

...The band was always a popular feature of William's circus and it would commence playing on the outskirts of town (near the saleyards) and march through the streets, heading the circus procession.  Grandmother and Grandfather Sole would march with it.  Then, as now, circus life was sprinkled with a mixture of glamour and danger...excitement was intermingled with heart-stopping suspense.

It was in such a situation that William and his brother-in-law were performing in Sydney and, to the crowd's horror, a gas explosion blew the two men to pieces. (The accident happened in Blayney, a small NSW country town north of Sydney)

The life blood of the circus ran through the veins of William's eldest son, Bill, who stepped into his father's position as owner of the circus.  However, Bill also paid the supreme price and was savaged to death by a lion during a performance in Brisbane.  His younger brother, Andrew, continued on as owner of sole Brothers for many years. (I have to do more research in the near future.  My records indicate that William Jr. died of pneumonia - I will update this when I get more info)

Andrew's speciality, was the Bounding Jockey act, where he would perfect a back-somersault dressed as a jockey, on the back of his horse, which would gallop and three quarter pace around the ring.  At that time, Andrew Sole was recognised as the only person who could accomplish this feat.

In 1948, the present owners of Sole Bros. Circus, Joe and Jean Perry, bought complete control from Andrew Sole and members from both families feature in the acts.

Margery’s grandfather Walter Henry (Harry)  Sole born 24th November 1874 in Stanthorpe, Queensland (son of Edward and Margaret), and his wife Emily Jane Fleiner born 14th March 1875 in Mt. Perry Queensland, with the first two of their five children - Walter Barry(1899)  and Margaret Catherine (1901)The circus disbanded some years ago after the death of Joe Perry.  Jean and her son Lindsay carried on for a few years, but eventually closed the show. 

Modern technological circus performances today are a far cry from the gutsy people who traversed the dusty roads of Australia in the 1800's and 1900's.   Animal liberation groups worked diligently to have animal performances abolished.  Political correctness was unknown and the people who knew no other life eventually gave way under the stress of conforming to the new rules.  Whether or not  they conformed to today's vision of political correctness does not apply to their story.  They created history and we are proud of them.

Above: Margery’s grandfather Walter Henry (Harry)  Sole born 24th November 1874 in Stanthorpe, Queensland (son of Edward and Margaret), and his wife Emily Jane Fleiner born 14th March 1875 in Mt. Perry Queensland, with the first two of their five children - Walter Barry(1899)  and Margaret Catherine (1901)

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