Chapter 8: Great-Grandpa Hoole
Our Great-Grandfather Oliver Percival Porter Hoole (1850 - 1929) was born in Grahamstown as the fifth child of James Cotterell Hoole and his first wife Harriet Rhodes. (Harriet was a cousin of the infamous Cecil Rhodes, and that particular family link was never spoken about with any pride in the family.) Luckily for OPP, his life was less turbulent than that of his father or grandfather........... but he still had to live through violent times which included the two Boer Wars. He had twelve children by two wives, although two of his sons died in infancy. He also took into his home the two children of his eldest sister, for reasons that are unclear. So there must have been a very busy family life........
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 (see later).
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 -- although for a while Grandma Johanna (Hoolie) was sent to school in the Good Hope Seminary in Cape Town.
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.
A very old photo -- maybe taken around 1865. On the back of it my Mother wrote "Grandma Hoole" -- ie HER Grandma and our Great-Grandma. So this is Lydia Taute, who was born in 1850 and who married OPP Hoole in 1872. In the photo she is around 15 years old.
Johanna (Hoolie) when she was a little girl -- maybe six years old?
Karoo National Park, in the Swartberg Mountains. Not far away is Oudtshoorn, where OPP settled with his family.
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.......
Great-grandfather OPP Hoole -- date unknown. His oldest daughter was Johanna -- our grandmother.
Typical eastern Cape landscape and flowering plants
Another photo of OPP Hoole. Date unknown.