Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Soper Family of Marlborough

In the course of so much research in the Marlborough region I came across the Soper family.  Everything I could find on the internet was incomplete, and merely lists of names, where there was a lot more to these people, particularly someone like Rowden Soper who sounds like a really interesting character - hence the following post, which could still stand being added to:

William Soper (1808 - 1882).  He was married to Sarah Lakemen.  William must have come to New Zealand ahead of the family.  Sarah brought five children out to New Zealand on her own aboard the barque the Cornwall.  The ship left London on 12 August 1852 arriving at Lyttleton Harbour on 10 December 1852.  Sarah brought with her:  Ellen, Rowden, Winsor, Wheaton and Edward Day.  As I have noted below, it seems likely that son John William travelled ahead with his father.  It is also likely that there was another daughter, Susannah, who died in Devon prior to the family leaving England.

Sarah died in 1858.  William then married for a second time, to Mary Agnes Rees (1819 - 8 October 1890) later in 1858.  Mary died at Willow Glen, Spring Creek, her son Felix's home.

By his first marriage with Sarah Lakemen, William had at least five sons and a daughter, who survived infancy, and three who went on to have families of their own:

1. John William Soper (1836 - 21 September 1860).  John died after a "lingering illness" of 'dropsy'.  At the time the family were living at Wairau West.  John was not on the Cornwall with his mother and siblings, so it is possible that he came to New Zealand earlier, with his father.  

2. Ellen Soper (1842 - 1917).  Ellen married Robert Aroa (1837 - 14 October 1886, Blind River, Awatere) in 1865.  Robert and his relative Isaac Aroa had arrived in New Zealand aboard the ship Maori, which landed in Robert was a farmer and the Colonist newspaper outlined, in its 9 September 1859 edition, the land belonging to him:

Robert Aroa
District—The Clarence. Bounded to the northward by the dividing range between the rivers Clarence and Awatere; southward by the river Clarence; eastward by the lake McRae and the run applied for by George Williams, Esq.; mid extending as far westward or up the river Clarence as will make ten thousand acres. Deposit paid—£l5. 

Sadly, Robert was killed in a dray accident, as recounted by the Grey River Argus on 15 October 1886:

Blenheim, October 14. A fatal accident occurred this evening to a man named Robert Aroa, grazing farmer in the Awatere district, about 25 miles from Blenheim. He was driving home in a dray, and when about a mile from town fell from the vehicle, the wheel of which passed over his chest. Death ensued before the arrival of a medical man. An inquest will be held to-morrow. Deceased was an old settler in the district and about 40 years of aga. He leaves many relatives, a wife, and family.

The same day the Marlborough Express published a more detailed account of Robert's accident:

It is with much regret that we announce the death of Mr Robert Aroa, the widely known and respected farmer at the "Blind River”, who was the victim of a fatal accident last night about 6 o'clock in the Maxwell Road. Mr Aroa had been transacting his usual business in town, and was on his way (as was customary to him) to tho residence of his brother-in-law, Mr Denis Broughan, New Renwick Road. His dray was heavily loaded, and he was driving. As he passed the South Star Hotel he was seen to light his pipe, but when near to Mr Douslin's house a sudden jolt jerked him off the seat and down between the stanchions of the dray on to the ground, a wheel of the heavily laden dray passing over his chest. The poor fellow raised himself once from the ground, but never spoke again, and owing no doubt to rupture of internal organs, there was great hemorrhage from the mouth and he died in a few minutes.
The body was removed to the South Star HoteJ, and messengers rode off at once to Mr Broughan's house, and subsequently to acquaint the family of the deceased at the Blind River with the awful news.
Mr Aroa was in his 50th year, and leaves behind him a widow and nine young children. Mr Douslin and other gentlemen who happened to be near when the accident occurred picked him up, and procured the immediate attendance of Dr Nairn, but before that gentleman could arrive life had passed away.
Mr Aroa was much respected by all who knew him, and there will be universal sympathy for those he leaves behind. He was connected by marriage with Mr Wm. Atkinson of Rangiora as well as with Mr Denis Broughan. Mr Richard Beale of the New Road was also a brother-in-law. The deceased came out to New Zealand about 30 years ago, and had been at the Blind River for upwards of 25 years. Deceased was a very old member of the Loyal Marlborough Lodge of Odd Fellows.
As to the immediate cause of the accident it is surmised that the horses made an attempt to turn the corner by Mr T. Horton's house, and that the sudden wrench threw deceased from his seat.

Later on 15 October 1886, the Marlborough Express reported fully on Robert's inquest:

Mr Allen, R.M., Coroner, held an Inquest this morning, at the Court House, on the body of Mr Robert Aroa, who met with a fatal accident last evening.
The Jury consisted of Messrs T. Watson (who was elected foreman), Patrick Maher, C. W. Badge, J. H. Marplo, E. Mead, Joseph Nancarrow, and W. T. Sherwood. The Coroner said that Dr Nairn had informed him that from the external marks on the body he could not tell the exact cause of death— whether from rupture of the heart, rupture of the lungs, or any other vital part. It was for the jury to say whether a post mortem examination should be made.
The Foreman intimated that the jury did not deem it necessary, for if it were shown that the death was caused by the dray going over the chest, it mattered little which of the vital parts was ruptured. The Jury retired to the South Star to view the body, and on their return Sergt. White called the following evidence:
E. G. Walsh deposed that he last saw deceased at half past 5 o'clock p.m., when he had evidently been drinking but was quite capable of taking oharge of the horse and dray. He drew up at the door of Fell's store for some goods, the total weight of which was about 7owt. It was a heavy dray. Witness well knew deceased as a sober respectable man and had never seen him the worse for drink.
Morgan O'Flaherty deposed that he last saw deceased at half past 5 or 20 minutes to 6 o'clock, at Litchfield's corner. He was not very noticeably under the influence of liquor, and was able to take care of the horse and dray. The latter was open at the front, and he sat on the near side corner holding the reins. Witness knew deceased as a sober man.
Thomas Parkinson, residing at the South Star Hotel, last saw deceased driving past there in a dray. He was half leaning on some wool bales and half sitting. He was smoking. Deceased did not call in at the South Star. The reins were tied on to the guard iron, and the horse waa going on at an average walk. Came to the conclusion that deceased was sober, and watching the horse. It was a one-horse heavy dray.
Horace Douslin said that about five minutes past six last evening he and his brother heard the horse start, and saw deceased hanging on to the reins and running alongside the dray. He held on for some ten yards ond then seemed to trip, and fell just in front of the wheel which passed over his body, He was on the near side of the dray. After he fell he was not dragged. Witness ran out and picked him up. Deceased was bleeding at the mouth and nose, and there was a large pool of blood on the ground. He never spoke or moved or made any noise. Witness got some water and bathed his head, and removed him to the side of the road. A cab took him away to the South Star. When witness first saw it the horse appeared to be bolting. After the accident it went on ahead and was stopped some distance up the road. Dr Nairn came up. No one was in the dray with deceased.
W. M. Heywood said that when he first saw deceased he was hanging on by the reins, into which he had evidently fallen. The reins were fastened on to the guard iron, and he was trying to regain his footing. The horse was just in a canter at the time. Witness was not near enough to stop it. Deceased at last fell in front of the wheel, which passed over him from his left side to the right. He tried to get up but rolled over. Witness managed to stop the horse with some difficulty, and in the meantime other people rendered assistance to deceased.
John Nicholson stated that deceased got on his dray at Litchfield's corner a few minutes before six o'clock, and was quite able to take charge of his horse and dray. He had previously got two bags of sugar, and two parcels from Litchfield's store, the weight being about 11/2 cwt.
Dr Nairn deposed that about 10 minutes to 6 o'clock he saw deceased get off his dray to speak to a woman in the road. He pushed her perambulator for her for about 20 yards, and then went after her down a by-road, leaving the dray standing. Witness saw nothing more of deceased until he was sent for about 10 minutes past 6 o'clock. Found him lying on the road-side, quite warm, and apparently about five minutes dead. Saw him removed to the South Star.
Dr Nairn then described the result of a post mortem examination which he made, the jury having, after viewing the body, expressed a desire to have one made. He found the breast bone completely fractured, and nine ribs on the right side broken. The right lung was much lacerated, and contained a great quantity of blood. The other organs were sound. The injuries were quite sufficient to cause death.
Constable Ward said he saw deceased in front of Fell's store at 25 minutes past 6 o'clock. He was able to take charge of his horse and dray. Next saw deceased lying dead in the Maxwell Road.
The Jury returned the verdict of "Accidental Death."

Ellen was left with nine young children:

 2.1 Sarah Elizabeth Aroa (1866 - 1959).  Sarah married James Benjamin Stirling (1862 - 8 November 1908) of Starborough on 2 March 1889 at her mother's residence, by Rev. W.O. Robb.  Sarah and James lived in Hundalee, Kaikoura and had the following children, the eldest aged 19 and the youngest only three years at the time of James' untimely death:

   2.1.1 James William Stirling (1889 - 18 May 1946).  James married Daisy Wilhelmina Nelson (1887 - 19 August 1917, Christchurch) in 1915.  Sadly, this marriage was very brief, as Daisy died within two years of her marriage at the age of 28.  It seems that the reason for her death was complications from birth.  On 15 August 1917 Daisy had given birth to a stillborn child at 473 Gloucester Street, Christchurch - within days, she was also dead.  This must have been devastating for James.   At the time of Daisy's death, the couple were living at 148 Holly Road, Christchurch.  Daisy is buried at the Linwood Cemetery.
In 1919 James remarried to Jeanie Fowler (1892 - 1968), a young Scottish woman who had come out to New Zealand around 1913.  I'm unsure of any living children this couple had, but know that Jeanie had one stillborn child on 23 March 1923.  This child is buried at the Sydenham Cemetery in Christchurch.
At the time of James' death in May 1946 he and Jeanie were living at 110 Milton Street, Christchurch and James was working as a grocer.  Jeanie died on 30 June 1968. James and Jeanie are both buried at the Ruru Lawn Cemetery.  

   2.1.2 Edward Gordon Stirling (1891 - 8 October 1918).  Edward married Hilda Minnie Coleman in 1917.  
Article image
Sadly, the marriage was all too brief as Edward enlisted and left New Zealand on Athenic on 31 December 1917, subsequently being killed in action on 8 October 1918 at Le Cateau, France.  While Edward was away at war, Hilda lived with her father F. Coleman in Alfred Street, Blenheim.    

   2.1.3 Ellen Elizabeth Stirling (7 July 1893 - 1979).  Ellen married Horace Spackman (1880 - 1967) in 1919.  Horace was from Waiorongomai, Featherston and worked as a shepherd.  He had also enlisted during WWI.
Horace Spackman in WWI uniform
   2.1.4 Edith Winifred Stirling (29 July 1896 - 1991).  Edith married William Gall in 1925.  

   2.1.5 Ida Minnie Stirling (25 June 1899 - 1990).  Ida married Hillswick John Stove (1887 - 1962) in 1923.  John also served in WWI.  They had at least one son: Gordon Hillswick Stove (1924 - 1935).  Died aged just nine years.

   2.1.6 Myrtle Stirling (2 April 1901 - 1990).  Myrtle married Cecil Algernon Shaw (1898 - 1966) in 1930.  It is likely that Cecil was a relative of Mr Shaw, famous in Marlborough for his 'bird poison', advertisements for which appeared frequently the Marlborough Express in the 19th century endorsed by Myrtle's great uncle Rowden Soper!

   2.1.7 Allan Norman Stirling (26 April 1905 - 1986)

Tragically, Sarah lost her husband James in an accident, in an eerily similar way as her mother had lost her father, almost twenty years earlier.  The Marlborough Express of 10 November 1908 explains:

Our Kaikoura correspondent telegraphs that Mr James Benjamin Stirling was killed on Sunday evening through his horses bolting and pulling him over the splash-board of his buggy. He was discovered dead across the swingletrees, his head and shoulders being much cut about. The deceased was a son-in-law of Mrs Aroa, and was formerly manager of Starborough. He was highly esteemed in Kaikoura.

The following day the Marlborough Express expanded on its story:

Mr James Benjamin Stirling, sheep farmer, of Hundalee, was killed at half-past six o'clock last night. We are informed that he was driving to Mr Goulter's, Omihi, and had just left his wife at Mr C. Smith's, when, after starting off from there, the horses shied and bolted. MrStirling was thrown forward and was seen to fall over the buggy splash board. The horses, being out of control, continued in their mad career across the Oaro river, unchecked until they got opposite the Catholic Church, when they were stopped by Mr Beaton, jun., and others. Mr Stirling was found to be dead, his body across the swingletrees, with the head downward. Apparently his head had struck the ground when he fell over, rendering him unconscious, and it probably bumped against the roadway, as it was much cut about, as also, were his shoulders. The clothes on the upper part of the body wore torn off. Mr Christopher Smith and Mr Gilbert followed up the bolting horses when it was seen that Mr Stirling had not recovered, his seat.
Mr Stirling was successful in obtaining one of the Hundalee holdings when the country was sub-divided some years ago, and as soon as he got buildings erected he made it his home, he and his wife being highly esteemed as settlers. Deceased, who was every thing his name signifies, was a most industrious settler and an unostentatious man. He is understood to have managed Scarborough at one time, and is also said to have been associated with other Awatere properties. He married a Miss Aroa (Blind River) and leaves a widow and young family; his age was about 50.

Letters of administration were granted to Sarah, as James had obviously left no will, on 4 December 1908, by the Supreme Court sitting in Nelson.  Sarah lived for many years, dying in 1959 at the age of 92.

 2.2 John William Aroa (1868 - 1928).  John appears to have taken over the family farm at Blind River, Awatere.  John was married by Rev. T.B. Maclean to Edith Louisa Harris (1870 - 1952) at Christ Church in Wanganui on 30 January 1901.  Edith was the daughter of the late George Harris formerly of Nelson.  Although married in Wanganui, the couple returned to Awatere.  They don't appear to have had any children.

 2.3 Richard Aroa (1869 - 17 January 1921).  Richard moved to Taranaki from Awatere and had a farm in the Kaponga area.  He married Jane Clare (1867 - 10 March 1940) in 1893.  They had at least two daughters, although I'm unsure what became of them as I haven't been able to find records of marriage or of death:
   2.3.1 Sarah Ellen Aroa (1893) - obviously this child was named for Richard's mother and grandmother.  
   2.3.2 Eveline May Aroa (1899 - 20 April 1968).  Eveline/Evelyn didn't marry.  Her ashes are interred in the Te Henui Cemetery in Taranaki.  She was living in Auckland at the time of her death.  

Richard and Jane are buried at the Te Henui Cemetery in Taranaki.  According to cemetery records Richard was living in Onehunga at the time of his death and was a storekeeper.  Jane was a widow, lived at 43 Grey Street, Onehunga, at the time of her death.  

 2.4 Isaac Aroa (1871).  It seems that like his brother Richard, Isaac also made the move north to Taranaki.  Also like Richard, Isaac married a Clare sister - this time, Emma Clare (1878 - 6 December 1965) in 1903.  Emma and Jane were two of ten children of Thomas and Lavinia Mary Clare.  Isaac and Emma had at least two children:
   2.4.1 Lilian Maude Aroa (1904)
   2.4.1 Isaac Vinson Aroa (1908 - 31 March 1961).  Isaac married Catherine Margaret (1906 - 16 June 1993).  By the process of elimination, I suspect that Isaac and Catherine had at least two sons - Male Aroa married June Lynette.  June Aroa (1940 - 10 December 1971) died very young and is listed as being married, and living at 83 Wallace Place, New Plymouth at the time of her death.  She was cremated at the Awanui Cemetery. Kenneth Vinson Aroa (6 January 1937 - 6 January 1937).  This baby died aged nine hours and was buried at Te Henui Cemetery in Taranaki.  

Isaac didn't outlive his father by much, and was in fact outlived by his mother!  He was a grocer at the time of his death, living at 1 Clemow Road, New Plymouth.  Isaac and Catherine are both also buried at Awanui Cemetery, Catherine's ashes interred with Isaac.  Catherine was a widow for over thirty years, and at the time of her death she was living in a nursing home, Pinetree Lodge, Mosstown Road, Wanganui.  

Isaac Snr died on 28 July 1959 and is buried at the Awanui Cemetery in Taranaki.  At the time of his death he was a retired grocer, living at 140 Courtenay Street, New Plymouth.  Emma died on 6 December 1965

 2.5 Frank Aroa (28 January 1874) (Fourth son at the time of his marriage).  Frank married Alice Annie Stockley on 20 April 1898 at the Church of the Epiphany, Awatere by Rev. E.N. Ensor.  Alice was the fourth daughter of the late William George Stockley of New Plymouth.
The Marlborough Express summarised the wedding in its 23 April 1898 edition:

Wedding Bells.
A pleasing ceremony took place on the 20th inst. at the Church of the Epiphany, Awatere, the occasion being the celebration of the wedding of Miss Alice Annie Stockley, fourth daughter of the late W. G. Stookley, of New Plymouth, to Mr Frank Aroa, fourth son of the late Robert Aroa, of Blind Biver. The bride looked very becoming in a lavender serge dress with trimmings to match. Miss Aroa attended the bride, and Mr J. Linton acted as best man. After the ceremony the party adjourned to the residence of Mrs Aroa Senr,, where the guests were entertained and a thoroughly enjoyable evening was spent. The bride was the recipient of many useful and valuable presents. 

 2.6 Charlotte Aroa (1876 - 6 July 1912, Lower Awatere).  Charlotte was obviously the "Miss Aroa" who attended her sister in law at her brother Frank's wedding.  She may have already known Mr James Linton, the groomsman, or she may have met him at the wedding, but they obviously enjoyed each other's company as she married him in 1900.  Together, Charlotte and James had the following family:
   2.6.1 Alexander Robert Linton (28 September 1901 - 1986)
   2.6.2 Janet McIntosh Linton (1904).  Janet married Edward Francis Lyle Snowden in 1925. 
   2.6.3 Robert Noel Linton (17 September 1906 - 1993)
   2.6.4 Gwenllean Linton (23 August 1908 - 1986)

Sadly, Charlotte died young, in 1912, at the age of just 36, leaving James a widower with four young children.  I can't see evidence that he ever remarried. It would be nice to think that his spinster sister in law, Minnie or some of his own family, helped him with the children.

 2.7 Minnie Aroa (1878 - 1970).  Minnie never married but worked as a nurse.  She lived to the ripe old age of 92 and is buried at the Omaka Cemetery.

 2.8 Robert Aroa (1881 - 2 April 1962).  Robert married Bertha Christina Jamieson (9 December 1887 - 10 July 1980) in 1907.  However it appears that they had already had at least one son, prior to their marriage.  This child, Ernest, wasn't registered until they married.
   2.8.1 Ernest Lionel Aroa  (17 September 1904 - 1988)
   2.8.2 Clarence Robert Aroa (1907)

It seems that Robert and Bertha followed Robert's brothers Richard and Isaac to Taranaki, as they are both buried the Te Henui Cemetery in Taranaki.  Robert died first and the couple were living at 257 Carrington Street, New Plymouth at the time of his death.  Bertha was 92 years old at the time of her death and had been living at Tainui home (presumably a resthome) Clawton Street, New Plymouth at the time of her death.  

 2.9 Eleanor May Aroa (1883 - 1968).  Eleanor married Noel Paton (1878 - 1944) in 1910.  The Marlborough Express related the wedding to readers on 29 March 1910:

This afternoon a pretty wedding was solemnised at the Church of the Nativity, by the Ven. Archdeacon Grace, between Mr Noel Paton, of Camperdown, Downfield (Dundee), and Miss Eleanor May Aroa, youngest daughter of Mrs Aroa, Maxwell Road, Blenheim.
The bride, who was attired in creme silk voile with the usual wreath and veil and carried a shower bouquet of white dahlias and maidenhair fern, was given away by her brother, Mr Richard Aroa, of New Plymouth. She was attended by her sister, Miss M. Aroa, as bridesmaid (who was attired in white muslin), and two little flower girls (Miss Janet Linton, niece of the bride, and Miss Winnie Flower, cousin of the bride, dressed in white silk, with blue sashes).
The bridegroom was attended by Mr D. Robertson as best man. A reception was afterwards held at the residence of the bride's mother, where a large number of guests assembled to partake of afternoon tea and to express their good wishes to the young couple.
Among the presents, which were numerous and handsome, was a silver salver presented to the bride by her class, and also a silver toastrack from the teachers at the Weld Street Sunday School. From the Church of the Nativity Christian Endeavour Society, of which the bride had been a member for the past seven years, she received a book as a mark of esteem from her fellow Endeavourers. The bridegroom was the recipient of a 400-day clock from his employers (Messrs Ward and Sons) and a set of carvers, from his fellow employees. The happy couple left by the afternoon train on their honeymoon, the bride's travelling dress being a green tweed costume, with hat to match.

Noel and Eleanor seem to have settled in the Blenheim area.


When Ellen Aroa died in February 1917, the Marlborough Express published the following obituary:

The late Mrs Ellen Aroa, whose death occurred at Blenheim on Friday at the age of 75 years, was an old and esteemed resident of the Awatere district. Her husband, Mr Robert Aroa, who was a well-known settler at Blind River, predeceased her by several years. The deceased lady was born at Brixton. Devonshire and arrived at Nelson with her parents when she was eleven years old, her association with the colonising days thus dating back 64 years.
She was married to Mr Aroa in the Wairau district 51 years ago, and spent some thirty years of her life at Blind River, removing about 16 years ago to Blenheim. In recent years her health had weakened, but she remained in a comparatively active condition until almost the last, death being due to heart failure. Throughout her long, life her kindly and hospitable nature endeared her to many friends.
She leaves five sons and three daughters. Mr John Aroa, of Blind River, is her eldest son, and four sons are settled down in the North Island. The surviving daughters are Mrs Stirling (Kaikoura), Mrs Noel Paton (Blenheim), and Miss Aroa who is a member of the nursing profession.

3. Rowden Soper (October - December 1844 - 1 June 1915) married Emily Squire (27 May 1931) in 1873.

The Sopers, as a larger family unit, obviously enjoyed the Hunt.  Rowden was President of the Hunt Club between 1890 and 1893 and the Marlborough Express, on 25 July 1889, recounts a hunt at Rowden's property:

Marlborough Hunt Club.
The Club was favored with a glorious day for its meet at Mr Rowden Soper's, Spring Creek yesterday, and a good attendance. Amongst those following I noticed Mrs Hanna on Kohai, Mrs C. Earp on Mac, Miss Douslin on a bay, Mrs H. Weir on Zephyr, Mrs D Burns on Hope, the Master (Mr G. B Richardson) on Mercury, Mr P. Douslin on Kauri, Mr J. B. Green on Hotspur, Mr T Gregory on Clarence, Mr Fred Dodson on Farina, Mr Rowden Soper on Upcot, Mr Weir on Sawdust, Mr T. Bax on a grey, Mr Ballantine on Appy, Mr J. Barr on Stockman, Mr A. Gifford on a bay, Mr J Gifford on a bay, Mr Felix Soper on a bay, Mr W. Soper on a bay, and the Whip on Cloud.
Starting from Mr Rowden Soper's a hare was put up in a few minutes but heading for the river-bed it managed to elude its pursuers, another one was soon started, which gave a full view for about a mile and half, the hounds working in beautiful style. Three or four more hares getting up gave some dodgy runs. It was now growing late and there was a general feeling that this day a hare must die, and the Master worked as hard as the hounds for a kill.
A hunted hare being picked up in Mr Winsor Soper's was soon hard pressed and made for the flax it started from where the hounds killed. The tip was pre sented to Mrs Hanna, who had ridden well to the front throughout the day. The runs gave some capital jumping and particularly I noticed Mr T. Gregory who cleared two high wire fences with nothing more than a coat hung across the top wire. The Master and Whip in working the hounds cleared a five foot gate, the jump of the season.
A most enjoyable day was spent and and all were grateful to Mr Soper for affording such good sport. After partaking of Mr Soper's hospitality, a homeward start was made and the kindness of Mr and Mrs Soper was acknowledged by three hearty cheers. 

In 1893 Rowden decided to sell his property in Wairau, in order to buy more land in Takaka.  On 12 April 1893 this report was published in the Marlborough Express. 

A day in the country is not to be despised by a journalist, and when it is spent on so fine a place, and with so genial a host as Mr Rowden Soper, it can hardly be improved on. Yesterday in company with Mr R. D. Nosworthy, representatives of the local papers drove out to spy out the land that is to be sold shortly. If one had not known it before, a visit to the farm would soon convince him that in losing him the Wairau is parting with a first-class farmer, and Takaka (Nelson) gaining one.
We need not go into all the details of the property to be sold next Tuesday. The house is sound, and well arranged round it is a garden in which is placed a good collection of flowers. Almost at the back door is a vinery 70ft in length, walnuts grow in profusion and fetch in about £4 a tree every year, orange trees, almonds, and peaches (the fruit of the latter being some of the best and largest we have seen) are all placed near the house. A short distance away is the orchard, an acre in extent, and from it we were shown a large pit of apples, which will be kept till about the time next year's apples are ripening. Till we actually saw the land and its products, there was a feeling extant in our minds that Mr Soper was telling a “fairy” when he spoke of 3ft 6in parsnips which the shearers could not finish, and a 21lb cabbage, after the outer leaves had been given to the pigs, but a visit to thy place is quite sufficient to convince one. 72 bushels of wheat, from 60 to 70 of oats, and over 50 of barley are not bad records.
When Mr Soper's father laid out the farm he had the foresight to lay it off in paddocks with quick hedges, and on his death he so divided it as to give his sons an equal portion of good land. This was done by cutting the farm longitudinally. Mr Rowden Soper has 208 acres, divided into eleven paddocks, several of which are ploughed for fallow, while in one are four acres of potatoes, which Mr Soper reckons will go from eight to ten ton 3 per acre. Not being farmers, we cannot say whether the practice he adopts is general, but he assured us that in place of digging now and pitting, he leaves the “taties” in the ground till the spring when they dig fresh, do not sprout as if stored, and sell better.
The farm buildings are very complete. The stables have a number of stalls and a loose box, a chaff store, working room, loft, dovecot, and chaffcutter worked by horse-power. Below the grain store is a trap house, fowl house and machinery shed, and of course there is a pig-stye, slaughtering tackle, and all the appurtenances of a first-class farm. At present Mr Soper has 271 sheep running on the place. They are a second cross. The rams are half-bred Lincoln and Romney Marsh, and the ewes Merino, and the result is sound healthy looking lambs, and Mr Soper says that for both wool and carcass he prefers this cross.
Having gone round the farm and enjoyed the hospitality which Mrs Soper showered on us in the way of peaches, walnuts, grapes, and apples, making up the round with tea and homemade bread, the party prepared to depart and on leaving we received a hearty send-off. It may be asked why with so fine a property does Mr Soper wish to go. His answer is that he has a large family and the place won't stand any more subdividing, so that he had to look ahead, and get into new territory. He does not like parting with the old place, and building a new home, but for the sake of his family he has determined on denying himself some pleasures, and sacrifice them to better his youngsters.

Rowden and Emily had the following family, and I believe their eldest son is named after Rowden's brother, who died prematurely:

 3.1 John William Soper (1874 - 1921).  John doesn't appear to have married.
 3.2 Louise Emily Soper (1877 - 1959).  Married William Samuel Osborne (1869 - 1949) on 23 April 1898 at Puramahoi, at Rowden's Soper's propery.  They were married by Rev. H.W. Klendenger.
   3.2.1 Leonard William Rowden Osborne (1901 - 1901).  This child died as a seven month old infant. 
 3.3 Edith Isabella Soper (1879 - 1938).  Married Norris George Franklyn 1875 - (1932) in 1906.
 3.4 Ethel May Soper (1881 - 1957).  Married John Morton in 1913.
 3.5 Frederick Rowden Soper (2 July 1883 - 1972).  Married Constance Mary Leck (1893 - 1970) in 1914.
 3.6 Frank Harold Soper (7 December 1885 - 1972).  Married Leyden Hume (1900 - 1971) in 1921.  They had at least one daughter together:
   3.6.1 June Leyden Soper (26 April 1929 - 2010).  Married Mr Pomeroy.
 3.7 Algernon Leslie Soper (1889 - 1950).  Les married Jean Winifred Vaughan in 1921.  They lived in Takaka, Nelson.  They had at least one son:
   3.7.1 Terence John Soper (1922 - 8 November 1943).  Terence was killed at the age of just 21 in WWII during air operations.  More can be read about him here

 3.8 Vera Constance Soper (1892 - 1955).  Married George Richard Heath (1882 - 1945) in 1915.
 3.9 Alfred Gordon Soper (1897)

Rowden died at his residence, Puramahoi.  Emily and Rowden are buried together in the East Takaka Cemetery.
On 2 June 1915, the Colonist newspaper published this account of Rowden's sudden death:

Takaka, June 1
A very sudden and tragic death occurred at Puramahoi early this morning. Mr Rowden Soper went out to feed ducks at the creek alongside his home. As he did not return, search was made, and his body was discovered in the creek. It is surmised that the deceased had a stroke, and, falling into the creek, was drowned. Mr Soper, although well on in years, was a hale and hearty man. He had a slight stroke a few years ago, but at the time of his death he was apparently in good health. He belonged to an old Marlborough family, but had been at Puramahoi for over twenty years. He was very well known and highly respected, and was a successful farmer. He leaves a widow, and a family of five sons and four daughters, all grown up. One of the sons is in Egypt with the main body of the New Zealand Mounted Infantry. News of Mr Soper's death caused a shock throughout the entire valley, the deceased and his family being universally known and respected. The family have the deepest sympathy on all sides. Mr Soper recently sold his fine property to a land syndicate, and intended retiring from active farm life very shortly.

4. Winsor Lewcraft Soper (1846 - 10 February 1916) married Eliza Squire in 1874. 
 4.1 Gertrude Lakemen Soper (1875 - 1941).  Married Joseph Ford in 1909.
   4.1.1 Victor Joseph Ford (1910)
   4.1.2 Ronald Edwin Ford (1911)
 4.2 Alfred Douglas Soper (1877 - 1878).  Died as a six week old infant.
 4.3 Ada Soper (1879).  Ada married Albert Ernest Gane in November 1904 and it was recounted in the 16 November 1904 edition of the Marlborough Express:

An interesting wedding took place last Thursday at the Holy Trinity Church, Upper Spring Creek, the contracting parties being Ada, second daughter of Mr Winsor Soper, and Albert Ernest, eldest son of Mr Samuel Gane.
The ceremony was performed by the Rev. W. Woolstein, The bride, who was given away by her father, wore a pretty costume of cream silk voile, trimmed with frills of silk and lace yoke, with veil and orange blossoms, and carried a shower bouquet of white flowers and asparagas fern; and also wore a gold brooch, the gift of the bridegroom.
Miss Florence Gane, sister of the bridegroom, acted as chief bridesmaid, the other bridesmaids being Miss Annie Soper, sister of the bride, Miss Mabel Gane, and Miss Nellie Soper. All wore gold brooches, gifts of the bridegroom, and carried shower bouquets. Mr Edward Soper, brother of the bride, acted as best man, and Miss M. Gilford played the Wedding March as the bridal party left the church.
After the ceremony the guests were entertained at the residence of the bride's parents at afternoon tea, when a number of toasts were honored. The bride's travelling dress was blue flaked voile, with cream hat to match. The happy couple left during the evening for Wanganui, via Picton and Wellington, where the honeymoon will be spent, and were followed by the good wishes of their many friends. The presents comprised a handsome and useful collection. 

 4.4 Annie Eliza Soper (1880 - 1969).  Doesn't appear to have married. 
 4.5 Edward Winsor Soper (1882).  Edward moved away to Morrinsville, and it was from there he enlisted to serve in WWI on 16 October 1914.  See more information about his service record here. Edward lost a leg at Gallipoli and returned home and the following was published in the Marlborough Express on 18 March 1916 recounting his return home:

A cordial reception was tendered to Lance Corporal H. S. Macey and Private Edward W. Soper, who returned to Blenheim last evening. In the presence of the National Reserve, the Territorial Forces, and a large gathering of the public, the Mayor (Mr J. J. Corry), speaking from the Market Place rotunda, complimented the returned soldiers on their participation in the fighting at Gallipoli, and extended to them a hearty welcome home. Other speakers were Mr E. S. Parker (Deputy Mayor) and the Rev. B. F. Rothwell. The Tenth Mounted Regimental Band rendered appropriate music. Private Soper has had a leg amputated below the knee, and wears an artificial limb. 

On 6 May 1916 the Marlborough Express reported upon the formal Welcome Home for Edward Soper, held in Rapaura:

The Rapaura Hall was well filled on Wednesday evening, when a welcome horne was given to Private Edward Soper, who lost his leg on the Gallipoli Peninsula during the fierce attack which followed the memorable landing on April 25th of last year.
Private Soper was one of the first to obey the call of duty, and enlisted at Morrinsville in the 6th Hauraki Regiment. Although residing away at the time of his enlistment, it was felt by the residents of the district that it was only fitting that honor should be rendered to one who had been born and lived the greater part of his life in the district.
The proceedings ocened with the singing of the National Anthem and a selection ("Songs for the Allies") by the Rapaura Orchestra. Vocal items were given by Misses M. Pigon, F. Morrison, K. O'Dwyer and Messrs Bull and Wintringham, all of whom met with hearty appreciation. The Mayor of Blenheim (Mr. J. J. Corry) was called upon to welcome Private Soper and present him with a well-filled wallet (suitably inscribed) as a token of admiration and regard from the residents of ther Spring Creek district.
In an interesting speech Mr Corry reviewed a little of the past history of the district, and showed how the Soper family had always been to the fore in matters of volunteering and rifle shooting, and therefore it was only natural that as member of such a family should have responded early to the call of his King and country. Mention was also made of the serious loss Private Soper had sustained and the hope was expressed that he would receive something commensurate from the patriotic funds to supplement the pension granted by the Goyernment.
The Rev. W. Wollstein in a stirring speech also spoke words of welcome and admiration of the ready response that had been made by Private Soper, and appealed to all who were eligible to follow his worthy example.
Private Soper, in replying, thanked his friends for the welcome and kindness, and in a calm but thrilling manner related his experienees from the time of his leaving New Zealand to the receiving of his wound. There was not a trace of egotism, but the audience realised that he had done "his bit" well,and were proud that one of their number had participated in that historic landing.
Mr Corry then called for three cheers for Private Soper which were given most enthusiastically. After another selection by the orchestra, suppeir was handed round. A few dances followed, and terminated one of the pleasantest functions ever held in the hall.

In its 5 May 1917 edition the Marlborough Express updated the district on Edward, recording his marriage to Emily Sykes:

Private Edward Winsor Soper, a Marlborough boy who went to Gallipoli and a member of the 6th Haurakis, Main Body, and was severely wounded, was married in Auckland recently to Sister Sykes, who was in charge of the ward for New Zealand soldiery in the Manchester Infirmary while Private Soper was there. The staff of John Court Ltd where Private Soper is employed, presented him with a spirit kettle as a mark of esteem. 

Edward died in 1939 at the age of 57.  

 4.6 Ida Ellen "Nellie" Soper (1884).  Married Robert Walker in 1924.  
 4.7 Hugh Douglas Soper (19 April 1887 - 1975)
 4.8 Victor Henry Soper (1890 - 20 October 1891)
 4.9 Vivian Roy Soper (22 October 1892 - 1977).  Married Joyce Dorothy Laslett (17 September 1901 - 2002) in 1922.  Joyce lived to be over 100 years old!
 4.10 Aubrey Leon Soper (1894 - 1964).  Married Agnes Blain Philip (8 December 1898 - 1988) in 1924.  They had at least one son:
   4.10.1 Philip Aubrey Winsor Soper (7 August 1925 - 2004)
 4.11 Reginald Charles Soper (1896 - 1970).  Married Margaret Louise Elbeck in 1924.

5. Wheaton Soper (1847 - 1930) married Mary Ann Sarah Squire in 1873.
 5.1. Arthur Wheaton Soper (1874 - 1952)
 5.2. Alice Maude "Maude" Soper (1875 - 1952).  Maude married Albert Henry Gifford (1857 - 1909) in 1902 and they had two daughters together:
   5.2.1. Alice Muriel Gifford (10 June 1903 - 1998).  Alice married Mr Pennall.  
   5.2.2 Nessie Maude Lilian Gifford (1905).  Nessie married Charles Edward Clarence (1897) on 15 June 1932.

Albert's death was acknowledged in the Marlborough Express on 10 May 1909:

It is with, deep regret that we record the death of Mr Albert H. Gifford, which took place at "Springfield," Upper Spring Creek, yesterday afternoon, after a short illness. Mr Gifford, who was about fifty years of age, was the youngest surviving son of the late Mr Isaac Gifford. He was born in Nelson, and it was in his early infancy that his parents settled in Spring Creek, which has been his home ever since.
The deceased gentleman was a prominent member of the A. and P. Association, and of the Spring Creek Road Board. For many years he was manager of his late father's large farm, which has since been under his sole control.
Kindly, genial and sympathetic, he will be sincerely mourned by a large circle of friends. Mr Gifford leaves a young widow (formerly Miss M.Soper) and two little daughters. His aged mother survives him, and there are two brothers, Mr T. Gifford (North Island) and Mr W. Gifford (Spring Creek), and five sisters, Mesdames Rose ("Kegworth"), Gane (Spring Creek), W. B. Parker, W. D. and T. Pike (Blenheim). Mr Gifford was amongst those elected to the Committee of the A. and P. Association on Saturday afternoon.

Following Albert's death, Alice married Donald Maclaine in 1913.  They don't appear to have had any children together.

 5.3. Herbert Edward Soper (1879 - 1951).  Herbert married Annie May Robinson (1880 - 1949) in 1908.  Herbert and Annie had at least four daughters:
   5.3.1 Mabel Maude Soper (4 April 1909) Mabel was born at Mrs Jellyman's Nursing Home on Grove road, Spring Creek.  
   5.3.2 Hilda Lucy Soper (1911)
   5.3.3 Bertha Annie Soper (1916 - 1965)  Did not marry. 
   5.3.4 Grace Evelyn Soper (1917 - 1918).  Died as a two month old infant.

 5.4 Lilian Elsie Soper (1889).  Married Robert William Bryce in 1911.  This couple may have moved overseas, as I can't find any further trace of them at this time.

6. Edward Day Soper died in 1860.  I expect he could not have been more than a teenager.  

By his second marriage with Mary Agnes Rees, William had a daughter who died as a baby, and two sons, one of whom went on to have a family:

7. Louisa Soper (1859 - 1860)

8. Felix William Soper (1861) married Mathilda Borck in 1886.  This family lived at Willow Glen, Rapaura, Marlborough.  Felix was President of the Rapaura Orchestra during the 1918/19 year.  He was assisted on the committee by his nephew Herbert Soper, who acted as Orchestra auditor.
 8.1 William Henry Soper (1887 - 1970).  Married Alison Marion Diedgson in 1906.
 8.2 Mary Eleanor Soper (1887). Married Frank Strangman Davis-Goff in 1915.
 8.3 Bernard Felix Soper (1888 - 1971).  Married Violet Annie Gregory (25 May 1994 - 1973) in 1930.
 8.4 Norman Soper (1893 - 1918).  Norman was killed in action in France on 26 May 1918 during WWI.  He was a very young looking 25 year old, as you can see in the photo below.  
 8.5 Albert Stainsbury Soper (7 June 1895 - 1980).  Albert also served in WWI, departing New Zealand on 16 February 1917.  He married Clara Falvey (1906 - 1970) in 1929.

Details of the circumstances in which the late Private Norman Soper met his death in France on May 25th have been received by a recent mail. The deceased soldier was a member of a party of six sent out at night to capture a German listening-post. The enemy apparently became aware of their approach and withdrew from this particular post in consequence. On rushing the post the New Zealanders were bombed by the Germans from a position of vantage farther on, and four casualties were inflicted. The late Private Soper was hit in the chest, and died when being carried back to his lines. He was buried in No Man's Land in a particular part of tho sector known as La Signy Farm, which was the scene of heavy fighting in the early days of the war.

9. Rees Tarring Soper (1863 - 1934).  Married Margaret Annie Lambert in 1891, but the marriage was apparently extremely short lived.  The following Notice appeared in the Advertisements column of the Marlborough Express on 12 September 1891:

TAKE Notice that after this date I decline to be responsible for any debts contracted or to be contracted by my wife, Margaret Annie Soper (nee Lambert), and that any claim for Board or Lodging for those sheltering her will not be recognised by me, as she has voluntarily left a comfortable home without lawful excuse.
REES SOPER, Spring Creek. September 12th, 1891. 

It is probable that a divorce was eventually effected between this pair, and no children were born of the brief union.  

It is possible that William Soper and his first wife Sarah also had other children who died prior to the trip to New Zealand.  These may have included:

Susannah Winsor Soper who died in 1838;
Ellen Winsor Soper who was born in the April to June quarter of 1841.


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