Saturday, 14 December 2013
A reminder, now that Christmas is almost upon us ----- all eight of the Angel Mountain novels have now been uploaded onto the Amazon Kindle web site, and are available for download to Kindle readers at VERY modest cost!
Please spread the word. The last two to be uploaded onto the Amazon site were Sacrifice and Conspiracy of Angels.
Thursday, 5 December 2013
Mill River Farm, built around 1830 by the Taute family. It's located near George in the Eastern Cape. This water colour was painted by one of the Taute family, but it does not have a date.
When Oliver Percival Porter Hoole (OPP) married Lydia Taute in 1872 they almost certainly lived here for the first few years of their married life. Their first son, named James, was born here in 1874 and died in 1878 -- and he was buried on the farm. Our Grandmother Johanna (nicknamed Hoolie) was born a year after the wedding, in 1873 -- a year before her brother -- and so it is highly likely that this was her place of birth as well.
There is some confusion about who this is -- it's a photo with no date and "Hoolie" written on the back. But is it Hoolie / Johanna? There is another photo in existence with a lady who looks just like this, with her husband Joseph Henry Harvey. So that lady must be Verena, Hoolie's younger sister. So it's most likely that this is a picture of Verena, sent to Hoolie after she moved to Wales at the beginning of the First World War. All very confusing......
As the oldest daughter, she may have taken some responsibility within the family, but she maintained close relations throughout her life with her three younger sisters Lilian (b 1878), Verena (b 1881) and Mabel (b 1884). Hoolie was given some private education together with her cousin Johanna Barry -- they attended lessons with a Mrs Crockett. When they were 12 years old the two girls attended the new Girl's High School in Oudtshoorn, but after a term Johanna was sent to a convent school instead, and it seems that Hoolie went to the Good Hope Seminary in Cape Town for a while. Probably most of her education was in the company of private tutors.
We don't know how and when Hoolie met Edgar Stephens, who was to become her husband on 13 June 1900. By that time the family was living at Fir Glen, in Atherstone near Grahamstown. Over the next eleven years seven children were born -- Owen in Dordrecht, Harold, Ivor, Stanley, Gwladys, and Llewelyn in Queenstown, and Alwyn in Bloemhof. Harold was drowned when he was eight years old, but the other children survived. The family seems to have moved about within the Eastern Cape -- no doubt as Edgar tried to make his fortune in one business enterprise after another. According to family tradition, he tried his hand at ostrich farming, gold digging, diamond mining etc -- and made a fortune in none of these. But he started as a soldier -- and he is referred to in some documents as "Col Edgar Harries Stephens." Which campaigns he fought in, we do not know....... but maybe he was still a military man when he met Hoolie.
Karoo National Park, in the Swartberg Mountains.
Not far away is Oudtshoorn, where OPP settled with his family.
Following his first marriage in 1872 he seems to have moved to Mill River, Avontuur, and in 1879 he bought two pieces of land in Oudtshoorn, together with a house. This was in the "ostrich belt" in the foothills of the Swartberg Mountains and some 400 km west of Grahamstown. He set up a General Dealers Store in the town and also farmed a holding known as "De Rust" -- which was the name later given to the house in Ferryside when Edgar and Johanna Stephens gave up the farm of Coedybrain in favour of Ivor and Esther.
OPP ran the farm at De Rust for maybe 20 years, as a very successful mixed farming enterprise with ostriches, sheep, cattle, goats, pedigree brood mares, fowls and guinea fowls. During the summers family, friends and coloured servants would travel by ox wagon through George and on to the coast, where they would all camp at the sea side. The children were all schooled in Oudtshoorn and in George, and Johanna and her cousin Johanna Barry were very close friends who went to school together -- allthough for a while Grandma Johanna (Hoolie) was sent to school in the Good Hope Seminary in Cape Town.
Oudtshoorn was a great centre of ostrich farming, with two "boom periods" -- one in 1875-80, and one in 1902-1913. The collapse of the industry was partly to do with the First World war, and partly with the arrival of the motor car, which travelled at such speeds that ladies could no longer keep elaborate ostrich plume hats in position on their heads when they were on the move.......
In 1899 OPP sold De Rust and the family moved to "Fir Glen" near Atherstone, in the Grahamstown District, and it was from here that his eldest daughter Johanna (Hoolie) married the young Welshman named Edgar Stephens on 13 June 1900. This was shortly after the Relief of Mafeking, when there was a general sense that the Boers were on the run and that their territories were about to be brought back under full British control. At that time OPP seems to have been managing a large estate called the Sundays River Estate, and in 1903 he and seven others raised enough capital to purchase the estate outright. It was involved in farming and irrigation projects. He continued as manager, and was able to move into a dwelling called Hillside as well as being given various other privileges. The estate appears to have been quite successful for some years, but gradually the demand for ostrich feathers declined, and cash became very tight, and with the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 it was close to collapse. In 1917 it was bought by a new company under the control of Sir Percy Fitzpatrick.
OPP survived for another twelve years, and the family seems to have moved yet again. He died at Oakvilla in Kirkwood (not far from Port Elizabeth) in 1929. He is buried in the local cemetery.
Gravestone above the Hoole family vault in the old Grahamstown cemetery. GG Grandpa Hoole is buried here.
Our great-great Grandfather James Cotterell Hoole was born in 1816 in England, and was four years old when the family emigrated on the Chapman to South Africa. He must have had a tough childhood, coping with all of the deprivations of the early colony as his parents and their neighbours struggled to build a new village (Cuylerville) in the wilderness while coping with the hostility of both the environment and the local Xhosa tribes.
When James was eleven, the family moved to Grahamstown, where things were less precarious, and as a teenager he helped his father with setting up and running various trading posts. In 1834, at the age of 18, he knew at least one local language well enough to act as an interpreter to the military forces operating beyond the Kei River in the Sixth Frontier War. In 1837 he and his brother Abel started a bakery business in Grahamstown, and for some years they ran a variety of storehouse businesses, also buying and selling cattle and sheep. No doubt the brothers received great help from their father -- and like him they suffered from fires, losses of livestock and occasional outbursts of tribal violence.
In 1838 James married Harriet Maria Rhodes -- the daughter of one of the other 1820 settler families who had come to South Africa from Hull. Seven children were born to this marriage, including Oliver Percival Porter Hoole -- the fifth child -- born in the year 1850. OPP, as he was called, was our Great-Grandfather. Harriet died in 1856 in Grahamstown, and after her death JC Hoole married twice again, first in 1857 and then again in 1868 (?).
James carried on with his trading businesses after 1840, building various stores and winning contracts for the provision of forage corn to the military. In 1845 he bought a farm called "Begelly" and at that time he was involved in the local Wesleyan Church and also local politics. In 1846 he was again involved in the conflict between the colonists and the Xhosa tribes, acting as an interpreter once again when British troops were operating in hostile territory during the "War of the Axe".
Shoot-out between British and Xhosa troops during the "War of the Axe" in 1846
At various times over the years he was a member of the Albany Divisional Council, Municipal Commissioner, town councillor, member of the Upper House of the Legislative Council and a justice of the peace. In later years, as a successful and relatively wealthy businessman he was a member of the Kowie Harbour Improvement Company. He died in 1878 in Grahamstown, and is buried in the town cemetery in the family vault, alongside his parents, two of his wives and various other family members.
James Cotterell Hoole was perhaps typical of the "next generation" of the 1820 settler families who knew all about deprivation and disaster and who managed to come through it all to establish a strong family -- underpinned by trading or merchant activities. Through his involvement in chapel and civic affairs he also seems to have become quite a pillar of society in the growing community of Grahamstown.
On 9th April 1820 James and Jane Hoole, and their two surviving children (Abel, aged 8, and James, aged 4) were among the first of the immigrants to step ashore in Algoa Bay (later Port Elisabeth) in South Africa. They and their worldly belongings had been ferried ashore in open boats from the three-masted sailing vessel Chapman which had carried them from Gravesend on a four-month voyage. They were the pioneers -- members of the first party of settlers who would face the rigours -- and the endless possibilities -- of their new homeland.
After a period of adjustment in a vast tented village on the shore, the new settlers were organized into wagon trains, and then Bailie's party of 90 families (256 persons in all) set off under the protection of Colonel Culyer, heading inland towards one of the most remote and dangerous of the designated locations. With three families packed into each wagon, progress was slow, and the journey took six days -- during which the travellers saw not a single human being or sign of habitation.
At last, in the middle of a forbidding wilderness near the mouth of the Great Fish River, the wagon train stopped, and Cuyler announced that they had reached their destination. Without further ado the wagons were emptied of their contents and everything was piled onto the grass. Then the drivers cracked their whips, and they were gone -- leaving the Hooles and their fellow settlers under a fierce sun with only tents for shelter and with limited food supplies to see them through the coming winter months. The men immediately set to work at erecting the tents and collecting fire wood for the fires that would be needed to keep wild animals at bay.
As the reality of the situation hit home on her, Jane Hoole sat down on the grass beside a great pile of dirty washing and wept unconsolably. According to legend, a sturdy Yorkshirewoman took pity on her and put her arm around her shoulder. "You're not fit for this kind of thing, Mrs Hoole," she said. "Here now -- leave the washing to me. I'll be pleased to do it, and if you like we can do a deal, and you can give me some of your tea..........."
In the new settlement that was created over the following months and years (called Cuylerville, near Queenstown) each family was allocated 100 acres of land -- and on that basis they simply had to make the best of the situation in which they found themselves. The initial years were not easy, and we know that the Hoole family home was burnt out on more than one occasion during the rumbling and never-ending Frontier Wars with the Xhosa tribes, bringing James and Jane to the brink of ruin each time. James then seems to have taken up trading among the local tribes, and the family moved south to Grahamstown in 1827, where they would be closer to the core of the Eastern Cape colony and less vulnerable to attack. Abel and James helped in the business, and with a partner they established trading posts somewhere in the district called (at that time) Kaffraria. The posts had to be abandoned at another outbreak of hostilities in 1830, and as if that was not enough to be going on with, James lost another three trading posts in the 1834-35 (Sixth) War, costing him over £1000 in goods and cattle.
James survived for another ten years after that, becoming a pillar of the local community in Grahamstown. He must have been a resilient and determined man, who was knocked over time and again and who nonetheless got back up again each time, dusted himself down and carried on..........
In the end, at the age of 55, he succumbed not to a spear, arrow or bullet, but to an influenza epidemic which was rampant in Grahamstown in the month of December 1845. He died on 16th December, and his wife Jane survived him by more than ten years. According to an obituary in the local newspaper, "......his demise will be greatly deplored by all who knew him. As a man of intelligence, of unimpeachable integrity, as a kind neighbour, an affectionate husband and parent and as an exemplary amongst those who deserve well of their country and whose memory is justly entitled to be honoured in esteem by his compatriots."
Wednesday, 4 December 2013
Sister Heather has been digging into the ancient records to try and find out who was awarded the Freedom of Pembroke for doing something very heroic a very long time ago. (All the male members of the John family are entitled to receive the Freedom of the town in perpetuity as a consequence......)
At last she has discovered our hero. Able Seaman Thomas John, born c 1768 -- originally from Milford but maybe based at Pembroke Dock -- was a seaman on HMS Defiance, a 74-gun ship of the line in the thick of the Battle of Trafalgar on 21st October 1805. Thomas was one of 17 seamen from this ship who were killed in the battle, and it's most likely that this happened during the capture of the French vessel Aigle, of a very similar size. The Defiance lashed herself to the Aigle and there was fierce hand-to-hand fighting on board the French ship. There was a surrender, and then a counter-attack, and the Defiance eventually backed off and blasted the French ship into submission. She surrendered again, and later the British ship tried to tow her back to Britain. But she was so badly damaged that she was lost in a storm.
Heather hasn't yet found any citation relating to the death of our heroic ancestor, but she is working on it! According to family tradition, our heroic ancestor was a officer rather than an able seaman -- so that's a bit of a surprise. It's also quite surprising that he came from Milford -- we hadn't realised there was a family connection there, having assumed connections with the Neyland - Houghton - Burton area instead.
Thomas John would have been 37 when he died, and he must have left a family including at least one son! All hail to thee, ancient heroic ancestor!!
Tuesday, 3 December 2013
I'm not greatly into earth goddesses and such, as readers of this blog will know, but I am prepared for a certain amount of speculation regarding the pagan or prehistoric significance that might have been attached to the silhouette or profile of the mountain, when seen from certain directions. Paul and Jon take a look at this tradition, but they have to be 100% incorrect when they say that according to tradition the goddess's head is in the east and her feet are in the west. See the caption in the illustration above. It is patently obvious to anybody who knows the mountain that the head is in the west and the raised knees and legs are in the east. The breast is in the right place, as is the rib cage and stomach -- and if you insist on anatomical details, the navel (the grassy patch near the eastern summit) is also precisely located, and the damp ferny area below that is in exactly the right place for the genital area.
So there we are then. All sorted.
Here we see the profile more clearly. It's not perfect, but from west (left) to east (right) we can see head, neck, breast, rib cage, stomach, raised knees and legs.
To cite this article: Paul Devereux & Jon Wozencroft , Time and Mind (2013): Stone Age Eyes and Ears: A Visual and Acoustic
Pilot Study of Carn Menyn and Environs, Preseli, Wales, Time and Mind: The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1751696X.2013.860278