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Eli Pearce
& Eliese Bode

Eli Pearce was born on 6 July 1837 in Hilperton, Trowbridge, Wiltshire. He was the son of James and Sarah (nee Parsons) Pearce.

He trained as a horticulturist while in Wiltshire and, upon moving to South Africa, took up a position as gardener in the Gardens, Cape Town. While there, he married Eliese Bode at St George's Cathedral in August 1862.

Eliese Bode -- born in Holle near Hildesheim in Hannover in May 1841 -- was the daughter of Wilhelm Franz August and Eliese Bode (nee von Franke) who came to the Eastern Cape as part of Sir George Grey's German peasant settler scheme. Eliese was one of five Bode children on board the ship.

Wilhelm -- Eliese's father -- was probably also born in Holle in June 1816 and married in about 1840. His wife Eliese was born in Marburg, Hannover, in 1815. She died in Bodiam in 1872, while Wilhelm died in 1912.

The Bode family had set sail on board the La Rochelle (1,000 tons), leaving Hamburg on 31 May 1858 and arriving at East London on 28 August 1858. They were settled at Panmure where they were given an acre lot as well as a ten acre lot along the Nahoon River ridge.

Just as it is not known when Eli came to South Africa, it is also not certain when he moved to East London. What is known is that they stayed with Eliese's family on their farm, "The Gumtrees". Later he would buy the farm from them.

    Eli and Eliese were to have ten children:
    • Ernest Edward - b. 9 February 1863, + 2 May 1932;
    • George William - b. 13 August 1866, + 24 June 1922;
    • Matilda Augusta - b. 13 May 1869, + 28 April 1944;
    • Edith Annie - b. 27 August 1870, + 26 July 1955;
    • Theresa Elizabeth - b. 28 December 1873, + 21 January 1926;
    • Mary Louisa - b. 30 June 1875, + 15 November 1961;
    • Lily Rose - b. 18 October 1877, + 30 July 1954;
    • Arthur Eli - b. 29 July 1879, + 3 December 1938;
    • Frank Theodor - b. 7 October 1881, + 3 June 1952;
    • Harry Alfred - b. 3 March 1885, + 12 July 1950.

Eliese died on 6 May 1912 while Eli died on 21 September 1915. Pearce Street was named after them.

Keith Tankard
14 October 2009

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