Francis John Eagar

Francis John Eagar History

Francis John and Elizabeth Christina(nee Erasmus)Eagar
Francis John and Elizabeth Christina(nee Erasmus)Eagar 1914

Photo Gallery Piwigo

The Grandfather of Francis John Eagar ,Ross Eagar and wife (maiden name Ford) came with the 1820 settlers from Ireland and landed at Port Elizabeth. Ross Eagar  had 5 children. Francis John Eagar was the second eldest. Francis John Eagar snr was married to Susara Sophia Briel . They had 4 children, Francis John was the second eldest and his younger sister named Florrie ( Florence).

Francis John Jnr married Elizabeth Margaretha Christina (nee Erasmus) 07/01/1914.

When Elizabeth passed on he married Hendrina Jacoba  van den Berg.

Son of Frances John Eagar and Susara Jacoba Sophia Eagar

The following links are to Geni
Husband of Hendrina Jacoba Eager and Elizabeth Margaretha Christina Eager
Father of Franciska Joan Eagar, b5Anna Christina Johanna van der Merwe, b3Sarah Sophia Kieser, b4Christoffel Johannes Eagar, b2 and Raymond Eagar

1899 at sixteen years of age Francis and his father (Francis Eagar snr ) and elder brother Joined The Kommandos  and fought against the British during the Anglo Boer War.

Francis Eagar jnr

1903 after the war, back in South Africa ,Francis Eagar jnr  resumed his studies at a school in Worcester  . To pay the school fees they had to work, the first year 4 hours work and 3 hours school, the second year 3 hours work and 4 hours school, the third year 2 hours work and 5 hours school. the work was building, woodwork, in the vineyard and garden. After three years he went to the Gymnasium in the Paarl and matriculated 1907. His first school as teacher was in 1908, a private school along Leeuwrivier, he boarded with Oom Faan Swanepoel. The house on one side of the river and the school on the other side, and during heavy rains he had to swim through the river to get to the school.

He then received a position to teach at a school at Klipplaatdrift with a salary of 5 pounds per month and free board and lodging. 1909 he applied for a position in the Transvaal and taught for one month at Langverwagt in the district Standerton. he was then sent to Vakplaasskool, where he teached for one year and six months.

Farming
Francis gave up teaching to become a farmer. His father had a farm ‘Swartlagte’ in the freestate at Ladybrand, and a neighbor offered a field on his farm to be sown with wheat at a third of the profit, but misfortune caused him to decide to move to the wilds of Northern Rhodesia, after most of his crop was wiped out by a hail storm.

Trading Northern Rhodesia
He and a friend bought third class train tickets at Kimberley to Lusaka, Northern Rhodesia. Because the country was still wild, a rifle was a necessity , and crossing the border at Livingstone a permit for the ammo had to be purchased at one pound($). At Lusaka he met someone who told him if he had a wagon he could make money trading with the natives, so back to South Africa he went and acquired a wagon from his father, returning to Lusaka.

There were no roads and in order to reach the native kraals a path for the wagon had to be hacked through the bush and bridges built at rivers .Lions would often walk around the campsite at night , roaring and making the oxen restless. All that kept them at a distance was bonfires and a few shots fired into the dark towards the sound of the roars.

The natives were willing to help with the makeshift bridges because they wanted Francis to come to there kraals so that he could shoot antelope for them, as well as a reward of two hands full of salt.

Beads, material,s0ap, and salt was traded for grain, the grain was then sold to a Jew in Lusaka named Collenberg who sold the grain to mines in the Belgian Congo

Francis suffered from malaria 12 times in 7 years, and one time without medication it developed into black water fever, and during the night he drank 2 gallons water, saving his life. His native cook and interpreter refilled his water bag three times during the night.

Back To Teaching Southern Rhodesia
November 1913 he met up with Rev. Smuts from Bulawayo who was visiting members of his congregation, resident in Northern Rhodesia. By that time Francis had had enough of adventure in the wilds and accepted an offer to negotiate for a teaching post in Southern Rhodesia. He promptly left for the Free State and a visit with his parents. On 7 January 1914 he married Elizabeth Christina Erasmus.

He was offered a teaching post on the farm Mooilaagte in the Charter district. Travelling first class at the Rhodesian Government’s expense he arrived at Umvuma. From there to Enkeldoorn with the Zeederberg mule coach. The Sebakwe river was high and when crossing a crocodile attached one of the mules which died on reaching dry ground.

At Enkeldoorn he was not expected and there was nobody to meet him. Mr Bezuidenhout, owner of Mooilaagte, arrived on horseback. A Mr. A. Hoffman who was going courting in the same direction, made his horse available for part of the way and borrowing a cart from Rev Liebenberg the trio set off. At Mr. Hoffman’s destination they had to borrow another horse and it was two days after arriving at Enkeldoorn , before he arrived at his new school, with classes due to start the next morning.

On the farm was a stone walled building with a grass roof. There was no classroom or furniture only a chest of books. The parents had to supply and help make desks and chairs for the students.  From trees Francis cut and saw planks to make a desk. A room was cleaned out for a classroom.

Boarding was a problem and the Eagar’s decided to have their own house. During the school holidays, with the help of neighbors he built a pole and dagga house with thatched roof. They bought an iron bed with a choir mattress and two chairs, all the other furniture had to be made from box planks and bush timber.

Milk was bought at six pennies a bottle, this was considered too costly and Francis bought a cow at a price that was more than a month’s salary. He later bought a second cow and they enjoyed home made butter.

The year 1914 was exceptionally wet with persistent rains and the Umniati river constantly in flood. There were no bridges and because of the crocodiles, attempting to swim was out of the question. Everybody soon ran out of groceries. The Eagar’s bought wheat from a nearby farmer and had it ground by Oom Willie Steyn who owned an ox-powered mill. It took two days for Francis and a friend to fetch, convey and mill two small bags of wheat, walking, as the road was too wet for normal travel. Sugar was not a problem as they regularly robbed hives for honey. Most farmers had small hand operated grinders and grinding mealies was not a serious problem. They survived.

In those early days, general transport was a slow process. Horse-sickness killed many animals and even mules were not immune to the insect borne disease . The few that survived, said to be salted, were out of reach of most people and the normal was a donkey-drawn cart and on occasion oxen were used. Francis placed on record his admiration for the donkey. Throughout the early days the donkey was the main draught animal, it was immune to horse-sickness and also rinderpest. The price for a donkey was 30 pounds. The Eagar’s used a donkey-cart for six years, travelling where-ever they wished to visit including a hundred mile trip. Francis and Wessel de Klerk took a business trip to Salisbury, mainly to buy themselves each a new rifle. During January 1915 heavy rains poured and In the Beatrice area they became bogged in the mud and for several days managed less than half a mile a day, going from antheap to antheap where they would rest on the comparatively dry ground. That trip took eight days. On the way back Wessel shot a Reed Buck with his new rifle.

The parents asked Francis to move the school closer to the students, he agreed and a school and house was built at the farm Change. He moved and taught at Change.

During 1916 he was transferred to a school at Iron Mine Hill near Umvuma. Here again there was no school or house for him and wife. The owner of the farm provided the dining room for the classroom and they stayed in a potato shed until he again built a pole and dagga house for themselves at his own expense. The first night in the potato shed it rained and the roof leaked and they took shelter under a canvas and the rotten potatoes had a bad smell.

1918 the Spanish flue epandemic, thousands died black and white and the mine workers bones lay on the road as they tried to flee to their homes, dying on the way. At the school nobody died and a health worker came from Gwelo and gave everybody a vaccine injection.

1921 Francis was again transferred to a farm Ngezipoort which was opposite the Ngezi river to the farm Change where he previously taught. The same problem existed here making furniture  for the school, luckily there was a house with a grass roof and a pole and dagga building for the school.

The inside walls of the pole and dagga building were removed to make a big class room. Unfortunately this building did not last very long in the weather and a school with a cement foundation was built with the assistance of the parents. Francis laid the cement foundation.

Francis taught at this school until he retired in 1939. when he retired he was asked if he wanted his pension lumpsum or monthly, he opted for monthly, a wise decision because he lived another 38 years. Francis bought the Farm Ngezipoort where he farmed. Through the farm flowed the Ngesi river from which water was pumped to water the crops.