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




An Update


By William Saul

 This article was originally published in the March 2012 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society

This article was compiled by John Slaughter from
notes and information provided by William Saul. It should be read
in conjunction with the article that was published in the
August 2008 edition of Soul Search.

Saul - The Paternal Side

My grandfather, George Joseph Saul (c1863-1949) was the youngest of four known siblings, all born in Dublin, Ireland. They were Agnes (1857-unknown ref 1), Susannah (1859-1899), and Robert (c1858-1934). They were all reported in the England 1881 Census as living in Blackburn, Lancashire. 1881 marriage records for the two women, Susannah prior to the census taker’s visit and Agnes after, appear to identify birth dates for the women. Birth dates for all four siblings varied by a year less or more on the various ‘official’ records. They each reported their father as George (deceased) in the England census reports, their mother is unnamed.

In an ancestry family tree report, Winter Family, in which Susannah’s family is found it was further reported that their father was named George Joseph, the same as his youngest son, that he was born in Bentham, Yorkshire, England, no date given, and that he died in 1869. In addition, their mother was identified as Agnes Talbot who died 24 July 1864 in Ireland, no birth date or marriage date given. The name of the mother also shows up in a later American document as having been Agnes Talbot. None of this data has been confirmed in the ‘official’ records; moreover, the source appears to have been orally transmitted through Lila Vera Saul (1903-1990) a daughter of Grand Uncle Robert Saul (the brother who came to America with Grandfather Geo. Saul) who either obtained this information from her father or through correspondence with one of her aunts in England - there is no verification of either supposition at this time.

Susannah Saul (1859-1899)

Susannah Saul (1859-1899)

As I recall from what my grandfather said his mother had died when he was quite young and his father had died within a few years later. This is verified by the above dates with his birth in 1863, his mother’s death in 1864 and his father’s in 1869 when he was only six years old. His father had bachelor brothers, the eldest named John William, who was named guardian of the four children. The family made their living hauling goods between England and Ireland, i.e., over the Irish Sea. Circumstances therefore required John William to hire a nanny to take care of the children. He hired a nun and the children’s experience with her was such that the boys became anti-papist (in my grandfather’s words). The family had apparently been Catholic. My grandfather did not mention dates, the name of the nanny, or anything more about his childhood. However, the 1871 England Census reports a Mary Saul, age 40, living in Bentham, Yorkshire with children George age 7 and Robert age 13 all three born in Ireland. This is almost too much of a coincidence; a nun named Mary, an expected name, her surname may have been adopted by her or she may have been a relative - this is speculation. There is no mention found of the girls in the 1871 England Census. As mentioned previously all four of the siblings show up in the 1881 England Census, however since the boys emigrated to America in 1883 only the women showed up with their husbands in the 1891 England Census.

Susannah married James Hall Martin 11 January 1881; he was age 23 and born in England. The 1891 England Census reports them living in Hornsey, Middlesex with three children Herbert 6, Eveline M. 5 and Agnes S. 2. It reported that Susannah died in 1899 and James in 1897. I may have located the children in the 1901 census living with relatives but have not verified this data although an Agnes Martin married George B. Winter in 1914.

Agnes Saul married William Emmison 28 April 1881; he was age 23 born in Darwen, Lancashire. They were reported in the 1891 England Census living in Preston, Lancashire with three children, James H. 9, Ethel M. 7, and Ada 1. We have no verifiable further records for them, the family could not be found in the 1911 England Census. However, we have family knowledge of Ethel Maude who married John Lavin from a series of four letters she wrote from 1933 to 1940  to her cousin Mary in America, Lavin died c1927 leaving the widow with sons Francis 7, Bernard 9 and Joseph 15. Apparently their communications were curtailed during WWI and later during WWII. I visited them in the 1970's in England to find that Francis had served in the Army, Bernard in the Navy, and Joseph in the Air Force during the war and all three survived. Joseph had died shortly prior to my visit having married a woman in India, their son is named Winston. Francis was unavailable at the time of my visit, however we met with Bernard and his wife and had a fine evening together with Winston, his wife and mother as well as a few in-laws of theirs. I do not believe that Francis nor Bernard had any children.

Robert, Agnes and George Saul, taken in England prior to Robert and George sailing

Robert, Agnes and George Saul, taken in England prior to Robert and George sailing

William Emmison’s father had a drapers shop, apparently this is a store that sells cloth, in Blackburn, Lancashire in which Robert Saul and then George had served apprenticeships, Robert by 1881 being a Draper Master employing 3 persons and George a Draper’s Apprentice. For economic reasons the Saul brothers decided to go to the colonies, make their fortune, and return. They debated between Canada and Australia and decided to split the difference and go to the USA; they shipped out on the SS Philadelphia arriving 30 August 1883 in Philadelphia. Arriving on their own and knowing no one they noted a sign designating free land in Nebraska from the Burlington Railroad and proceeded to acquire 80 acres each in Antelope Township, Franklin County, Nebraska. We do not have details of their travels or transactions in regard to this but without knowledge of farming - they were dry-goods merchants, they took jobs with local farmers and by 1885 had a few acres each under cultivation. They also became acquainted around sufficiently to find wives!

The family in Nebraska shortly after the brothers arrived in the early 1880s. The brothers are on the left side of the photograph on in and next to the wagon - note the vest and white shirt on one and the jacket on the other.

The family in Nebraska shortly after the brothers arrived in the early 1880s. The brothers are on the left side of the photograph on in and next to the wagon - note the vest and white shirt on one and the jacket on the other.

Robert Saul married Elizabeth Coleman (1866-1932). They had nine children including Gertrude (1885-1924) and Bertha (1886-1920) who later helped their Uncle George acquire land in Colorado through various of the national land give-away programs then active; both are buried in Minden, Nebraska. Their son George (1894-1952) and my father, cousins, became very good friends. George became a military casualty of WWI, a ‘shell shock’ victim from which he never recovered living under military care until he died in a facility in Wyoming. Another daughter was Mame (1891-1966) who I do not recall ever meeting but who I believe was the ‘cousin Mary’ who corresponded with Ethel Maude Lavin in England. I did meet several times with Ida Victoria Saul, she married a Stearly, in Scottsbluff, Nebraska where she lived, a retired school teacher. She was an interesting lady who supplied me with photographs and family information which will appear later in this narrative. Robert Saul became Postmaster in Norman, Nebraska in which position he served for many years eventually becoming Postmaster. I have since lost track of this part of our family, hopefully that will be remedied.

Robert Saul and Elizabeth Coleman, 1884, at about the time of their marriage

Robert Saul and Elizabeth Coleman, 1884, at about the time of their marriage

This is the end of William’s notes so far but he did send a transcript of a letter written in March 1937 by Ethel Maude Lavin (nee Emmison), a daughter of Agnes Emmison (nee Saul) to Mary Saul in America.  He says:

This is a copy of letter received by Mary Saul (a daughter of Robert Saul) (Note: My list of the Robert Saul children does not list a Mary; however, any one of Mame, Ester, Lila, or Mildred may have been known as Mary?). The letter includes minor editing for clarity; paragraphs & footnotes inserted. William Saul, 5 May 2007

137 King St.
Drighlington (England)
March 7th 1937

Dear Cousin Mary,

I am always pleased & happy to receive a letter from my Mother’s people (ref 2) in America because when Uncle Robert & Uncle George went to USA it was good bye to all (ref 3).  I don’t remember seeing them, I was 6 months old (ref 4).   Uncle George was the one that planned it. So he ought to tell you better than me.

Robert Saul with his horse and shay probably taken in the early 1910s or 1920s. He later became the postmaster of Norman, Nebraska

Robert Saul with his horse and shay probably taken in the early 1910s or 1920s. He later became the postmaster of Norman, Nebraska

I believe my mother’s people lived in Bentham, Lancashire. They became acquainted with my father’s people (ref 5) with being at Paul Birry’s (ref 6) shop.   He (ref 7) kept a gentlemen’s outfitting shop; sold collars, shirts, etc. in Darwin. Your father (ref 8) & my father were at this shop in Darwin, Lancashire. Uncle George & the Emmison brothers James & George were at a grocery shop in Darwin. My father had 6 brothers all born in Darwin, Lanc. I know more about my father’s side with living nearer.

I believe your grandfather was called John or George Saul. I also think your grandma was of Irish extraction. They called her McKenna (ref 9)  {I am not certain}. But it started with Mc. Now she died giving birth to your Uncle George now living in America (ref 10). Your father Robert and my mother Agnes, & Uncle George had a sister Susan which I do not remember seeing; she is dead (ref 11). There were two brothers belonging to granddad Saul, two bachelors who traded in eggs & butter. They describe them as merchants. They died leaving all their money to their nephews & nieces. That was my mother, Susan, Uncle Robert & Uncle George. Your father & Uncle George went to America with their money married your mother & aunt (ref 12). And this is all I know until your late sister Gertrude (ref 13) wrote to me & my father at Birstall. I think if Uncle George wrote to Betham in Lancashire he might have (ref 14) some one…, it is a small place. Send him this letter & it may recall his memory. My father met my mother at a large shop in Liverpool. They were both serving their apprenticeship. My mother was a dress maker at the same shop as my father was a draper assistant.

This is all I can tell you. How many children have you? There are some Harlans living in Birstall I wonder if they are any relation to your husband. Our Bernard plays football. They won the cup last year. There was great rejoicing when they brought the cup home. I am answering this letter at once. I do not wear glasses but I shall have to get some for writing. Write to me with type or otherwise I cannot hear enough from you. The letters are never long enough. George’s stamps are not out yet……


1. Agnes in the 1901 England Census but  absent in the 1911 census in which her husband is reported a widower living with a daughter so she probably died during that decade, possibly in Ireland since she is not reported in the England record of deaths.

2.  her mother was Agnes Emmison nee Saul

3. the Saul brothers landed in Philadelphia 30 August 1883

4. she, the letter writer, is Ethel Maude Emmison born June 1883; she married a Lavin, they had 3 sons

5. her father was William Emmison

6. assumed that she means that they both worked there

7. Paul Birry

8. Robert Saul

9. No other reference to this, may have been a nick-name or she was misinformed.

10. She died a year or so after his birth, not at birth.

11. Susannah died in 1899

12. respectively; Robert Saul & Elizabeth Coleman, and George Saul and Margaret Adams

13. Gertrude Ramick nee Saul 1885-1924

14. Known meant here perhaps?

William Saul’s Grandfather, George Joseph Saul with his Grandmother Margaret Adams in Sterling , Colorado, 1940s