JAMES STEPHEN SOPHA III, Methuen Twp Pioneer
and the Sophas of the Sopha Settlement
later known as Vansickle
Francis Paul ( Frank) Sopha of Cordova Mines died February 21, 1975, at the age of 90 at his daughter's residence, R R 1, Havelock. He was born in the centre known for years as the Sopha Settlement, which later became known as the Vansickle Settlement, some 15 miles from Marmora Village. He was predeceased by his wife, the former Elsie May Youmans with whom he had celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary August 31, 1970. He was ill only briefly.
Until 1967, Frank Sopha was the owner of the Cordova General Store, and was a member of the Cordova United church, as well as of Springbrook I.O.O.F. Lodge. He and his wife, Elsie lived in Belmont Township until her death, Dec. 31, 1971.
As of 1975, Frank had 67 survivors: his daughters, Maxine (Mrs. Kenneth Pierce, R RI) and Mrs. Mabel McFaul, R R 3, Havelock, (Mrs. Mary Pierce, and son, Ivan, predeceased him) There were 18 grandchildren, 45 great grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren, surviving.
But as Frank explained, he was the son of the first pioneer family to trek into Methuen Township, set up camp and proceed to produce a family of 13 children. Add to that, 70 grandchildren, and who knows how many descendants thereafter!
Had this family remained in Methuen Township, it might have been indeed the Sopha Settlement, to this day and not Vansickle.
IN 1975 FRANK SOPHA WROTE:
"Our grandfather, James Stephen Sopha was French, from Quebec in Lower Canada, as it was called earlier. He settled at Belleville, and later moved to the Campbellford area. They had four sons and three daughters. When James Stephen (named for his father) died, he was buried in Cardiff Township, and when my grandmother died, she was buried in Northumberland County.
In 1864, a third generation "James Stephen", my father, married Catherine Anne Armstrong (1845-1911), and later carried a fourth generation, "James Stephen", two years old at the time, five miles through the dense bush of Belmont Township to Methuen Township to settle on 400 acres of heavily timbered land, where they built their log cabin. The exact location of that log cabin is known to the surviving family, and interestingly so, as these were the first settlers in Methuen, on free grant land from the government.
The closest store was a Preneveau where highway 7 is located. Approx 15 miles from home. The closest medical help was at Stirling, and their habit to walk to Marmora, Village, hire a horse there and ride on to the doctor's office. Then a school was built in succeeding years. The Sopha family picked up mail at Warrington Post office, when the name change was made from Sopha to Vansickle.
Later, Warrington became Cordova Mines, after the gold rush was on. I recall my father building a two-story log house right out on the boundary line on lot 6, Concession 1, Methuen township, and a horse and stable which held 10 horses. I think in 1876 they built a frame barn. Years later we raised the barn and horse stable. We put up a stone wall under each one of them. They are still standing today.
The Third-Generation James Stephen Sopha and his wife raised a family of 11 sons and 2 daughters. 'The big house', to which the family currently refers, was built from logs he and his brothers cut and sawed. That 'big house' has nine rooms, two lengthy hallways, and a summer kitchen, in which Sopha's lived for 10 years before retiring to Cordova mines. Mrs.Sopha, the former Catherine Anne Armstrong, died in 1911 at the age of 66 years, four months and 23 days."
In 1913, James Stephen Sopha III sold his home in Cordova Mines and moved to Cobalt and Timmins to be with his oldest daughter Hester ( Mrs. Robert Cole) but visited Cordova Mines from time to time with others of his family. It was when visiting in Hastings with his son George, and daughter Jane that he fell and broke his hip, dying shortly thereafter at Jane's ( Mrs. Robert Simpson ) January 23 1922, at the age of 86 years and eight months. These Sophas are buried in Marmora Cemetery.
Of their 13 children, Francis (Frank) Paul Sopha was the last survivor.
(Information supplied by Dale Sopha)
Children of James Stephen Sopha III
James Stephen born March 31st 1862; married Victoria Cole- 4 sons/ 3 daughters
Hester January 10th 1864; married Robert Cole- five sons, four daughters;
Robert Waiter February 15th 1866; Robert Walter died at the age of 15;
Phillip Marshall January 31st, 1868- 1935; married Cynthia Tomkins 2 sons, Norman and Marshall, 1 daughter, Florence Clarke; See photos below
William Henry January 12th 1870; married Mary Bailey one son, one daughter;
Sarah Jane January 29th 1872; married Robert Simpson five sons, two daughters;
Wellington March 12th 1874; married Annie Wilson - two daughters;
Willard (twin) March 12th, 1874 married Ethel Soya (who was born and lived in USA until she married) - Four sons, five daughters;
Edward Burton March 21st 1876; married May Airhart - three daughters;
Charles Lorne January 28th 1878; married Sophrona Hurald four sons, four daughters;
George Potter November 9th 1881; married Ceile Winfield two sons, one daughter;
Frances Paul December 13th 1884; married Elise Youmans 1 son and 3 daughters;
Henry Richard April 19th 1887. married Maude Revoy - three daughters.
Norman (Tut) Sopha bottom right - In Holland, Liberation Day (from son, Dale Sopha)
Norman Sopha married Louise
Click on the certificate to see her collection of Legion pins and badges
Following the closing of the Green's business at 26 Forsyth Street, Marmora, Phillip Marshall Sopha and his wife Cynthia Tompkins leased the 'Green Block' to operate a livery and teaming business. Mr. Sopha died in 1935, but the Marmora Herald wrote the following:
"The late Mr. Sopha had been in business in Marmora for over thirty years. Before autos and trucks came into general use, he carried on a livery and teaming business, and in recent years had operated a taxi and trucking business. For that reason he was one of the best known men in this district. He had built up an enviable reputation for punctuality and reliability."
Norman (Tut) Sopha in Holland WWII
(father of Patti Shaughnessy and Skip)