THOMAS and LUCY SOAL
A New life in New Zealand
from Bev Trotter
This article was originally published in the April 2009 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society
Note by Bob Sheldon: This is an abridged version of a simple but detailed family history written after extensive questioning of her relatives, research of New Zealand records and research help in England.
Frank was 11 when he arrived with his mum and dad in Canterbury. He married on the 15th June 1887, Evangeline Edge daughter of William Edge and Frances Sarah nee Smith, from Norfolk. Frank’s first position was as labourer for Longbeach Estate. He was then employed by the Road Board for the formation of roads in the area. He would take his tools and materials in a horse and dray. He held a block of land comprising 57 acres from 1910 and leased a block of land for his sons to get started. In 1884 he was a shareholder in the Waterton Mining Company. He was also a member of the Ashburton Mutual School of Arts.
Frank was a quiet gentleman who always did things right, hard working and well respected. Evangeline worked for a well to do family in Ashburton, in a two-storey house. The only job she wasn’t keen on was drawing the bath for the family. It meant heating the water in a copper, and then taking buckets up the staircase, which wasn’t an easy task to do. Later she worked at a bookstore in Ashburton. Frank tried to teach Evangeline to drive a car. Her first experience didn’t go well as down a country road when she saw sheep approach the car, she panicked and drove straight through them. She decided that it was easier to have someone drive her around. Frank was not a traveller and as Evangeline had two brothers in the North Island Evangeline would make the long journeys to see them.
Frank and Evangeline had five children, Andrew Thomas, Louis Owen, Ernest, Frank Leonard and Eva Isabel. Frank had a love of horses. During harvest times local families all helped each other out, but during one of the harvest seasons, Frank caught a chill and never recovered completely. Frank’s children all have wonderful memories of growing up around the Waterton area. They used to fish in the creeks, milk cows; one family member broke his arm swinging off a cow’s tail. They were caught smoking down by the bridge that went over Grahams Road. Having all their cousins close by was a plus.
Andrew, eldest son of Frank and Evangeline, married Florence Emma Wotton, daughter of Thomas and Mary Ann Wotton. Andrew was a violinist and Florence played the piano. They were my grandparents and had eleven children, my father Stanley Morris Soal was their sixth. They used to pack the children in the horse and dray and take them to the dances where they played as a band. They can remember sleeping behind the piano and then being woken to go home. Andrew passed away on 5 August 1955 and Florence on 25 May 1986.
Second born Louis Owen enrolled to join the contingent to go to WW1. In 1917 he was posted to the 2nd Battalion from Wellington Regiment NZEF. Six months later he was gassed and invalided for a while, recouping in England. Transferred back to France he lost his life five months later, on 25 August 1918 at the age of 27 when he was blown to pieces. His remains were buried at Shrine Cemetery Greviller, but later exhumed and reburied at Adanac Military Cemetery Miraumont, France.
Ernest Soal married Florence Eva nee Bailey. After finishing school he worked as a farm labourer, with his brother Louis . Like his brother he went away to WW1 serving in the Canterbury Mounted Rifles in Egypt, leaving in 1914. Ernest was invalided once when his appendix burst in May 1915. When he didn’t heal, he was sent to England to convalesce staying some time with his cousins the Edges at St Helens, before returning to Egypt in November the same year. Ernest passed away on 16 August 1965 and Eva on 14 June 1980.
Frank Leonard the fourth born son became a mechanic, training under his uncle Bill Edge. His father Frank put money into the garage to help Bill get started. Len as he was known served in WW2 and was away for just over four years. On returning he took up employment again as a mechanic and met and married Eunice Mary Read. Len passed away on 28 September 1979 and Eunice on 17 October 1981.
Eva Isabel was the only daughter of Frank and Evangeline, her four brothers had a pet name of Babs for her. When her uncle Walter passed the house while he was out delivering his produce sometimes he would throw a bag of lollies her way. Eva was sent with her favourite horse Nellie to take supplies to her brothers, on Poplar Road. Nellie also came in handy for trips to town with her mother. After Louis and Ernest left for WW1 she helped her father run the property at the age of 10. Her father taught her to drive the family Rugby car. She was soon out ploughing paddocks with a six-horse team, or stacking oats.
The family would take trips to see the Lester family in Lyttelton, quite often going to the races. Eva remembered the trips to Lyttelton to see her cousins, she said there was so many of them, and she felt sorry for auntie Elizabeth who always appeared to cope. When Eva was old enough her father thought she should have a career. So Eva was sent off to the Ashburton Convent School to learn music. She excelled gaining her ATCL in piano. This wasn’t without bother though as the sister’s thought she should join in with bible studies and prayers. Eva refused and was told by the sisters that she was strong willed and stubborn. Her qualification enabled Eva to teach the piano to the younger generation around the area .
Eva married Ray Thomas, and had Patricia Merle and Ian. Both went on to become schoolteachers. Eva was on Church committees and her love of sport and participating kept her young. Her family has followed in her footsteps, her other love was her garden, not a weed showed its head in her garden. Eva lived to the ripe age of 96 passing away on 25 October 2002 and Ray on 30 April 1998. Frank Soal died on 7 January 1936 and Evangeline on 7 July 1954. They have left behind a proud family, and one who will never forget them.
Jesse Lewin was only 4 when he arrived in New Zealand, with his parents and brother and sisters. Like his older brothers he joined the Waterton Lodge had the distinction of serving twice as Grand Master. He was also a trustee of Ashburton District from 1935-1949.
When he finished school he worked as contractor for the Longbeach Road Board, before purchasing 76 acres of land in 1909 which he owned until 1922. He married on 11 May 1898 Wilhemina Felicite Cobb daughter of William Cobb and Mary nee Fillans. They had four children, George William, Helen Fidelity, Dorothy Mabel and Edgar Ernest. After the birth of Edgar Wilhemina lost her life to pulmonary embolism (blood poisoning) on 18 June 1910, leaving a month old baby and three small children. Her parents the Cobb’s helped raise the children . It would have been difficult for Jesse to have kept working and bring up a small family.
Jesse purchased a haulage and carting business which he sold in 1920. In 1922 he went into partnership in a greengrocers business , called Soal and Henderson. They sold seed, were grain and produce merchants, fruiterers and confectioners. This was a bad investment after Henderson took off with must of the profits. Jesse retained the confectionery side for a while but later had to close down. Jesse attended with his sister Elizabeth the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the “Crusader” on 21st March 1925. It gave the old friends a chance to catch up on reminiscences of their voyage, their life and changes from their arrival to the present day. Read out at the gathering were the names of the immigrants on the shipmates list.
From here Jesse worked in an implement business. He took over a threshing mill business from 1934, this he kept until ill health meant he had to give it up around 1940. Jesse married for a second time on 9 September 1935 Julietta Gluyas and they had one son Murray Lewin. Jesse died on 19 May 1949 and Julietta on 20 May 1967.
Thomas and Lucy have left behind a very proud family, they are still prominent today. A lot of the descendants still live in the Ashburton County. I am sure they would be pleased with what their children went onto achieve in all facets of life.
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