Augustus Beresford Faulkner was the third child in the family of six. He had two elder brothers, two younger sisters and a younger brother. His father’s name was Joshua Faulkner, a tailor by trade whilst his mother was called Hannah Faulkner. Augustus was commonly called Augus in the family.
Augus’ grandmother, Caroline Johnson was a centenarian and was a member of the Liberated Africans. Fortunately, she was able to tell the story of her liberation, even though she was quite small when captured and put on board a boat with some other older girls to be sold as slaves. She was so young that she did not know the date of her birth, nor her own town from which she was stolen. She was a Mende by tribe.
As the story goes, the boat in which they were sailing sustained a leak when they reached Goderich area. The sailors had to anchor at the beach in order to mend the boat. Whilst they were waiting for the repairs to be completed some of the older girls made their way secretly to the Goderich Police Station and reported the incident.
On the strength of this report, a team of policemen was sent to rescue all of them. From the Police Station, they were taken to a mission station at Leicester Village. The missionaries there were Germans. She was well taken care of until she grew up and married to another Liberated African, a Yoruba from Nigeria, called Zephaniah Johnson.
Caro, her pet name always gave a beautiful testimony of God’s mercies. Thanking the Lord for bringing these German Missionaries (who were more than a father and mother to them) over to Sierra Leone. She would end up with this song:- God bless our missionaries, God bless our missionaries, who taught us how to pray. They came from their own country they came from their own country to teach us how to pray.
Augustus was born on the 7th of August 1898 and died on the 14th of December 1974. He grew up as any normal child and loved to play games with his brothers and sisters when young. One of the games he liked most was “hide and seek”. When it was his turn to go and hide, he would go to his mother and ask her to cover him with her big flowing frock, which was common for women to put on in those days. The others searching in vain for him, would call out, Augus’ Augus! Augus would answer from his hiding place, under his mother’s frock “hum”. The others would then ask “who sai you dae” (where are you?). Augus would reply – “under mama’s frock” and all would end up in laughter.
The parents of Augus were poor and so not able to send him to a secondary school. The elementary school he attended was mostly four days in the week, as he had to go around for wood, fruits etc every Friday to sell on Saturday for him to get money for his school expenses and other necessities. On leaving school, he took up his father’s trade, as tailor.
As he was not satisfied with this, he started to do some repairs; starting with his sewing machine, watches etc. By this time he had learnt to play the organ and was a good photographer. Always anxious to do something new, he would pass on all his achievements to any of his friends, who were interested in them for him to be free to explore new fields.
In this way, he taught James Samuels of the then Sierra Leone Railway and Reginald Samuels a Carpenter of the Public Works Department (PWD) who were two brothers staying at Congo Town, the art of photography. They later made a fortune out of it. At this time, the new field for Augus was repairing organs which had a good grip of him. He ordered out books on organ, which he read exhaustively, acquiring a good knowledge on them. He took a bold step forward in starting to repair pipe organs. He quickly excelled in this and made friends with many dignitaries in the city he met whilst doing this job.
Finally he decided to build his own organ, from the practical experience he had got by repairing and the vast knowledge from reading. With a team of three, Pa Sawyerr, Mr. Herbert, Pa Momoh and himself making four, he launched out. Mr. Herbert was a faithful friend with miscellaneous duties, being a man of many parts and Pa Momoh was an expert in the manual work.
Augus first started with the bellows. He spent long time with this, before he was able to get it to what he wanted. The next thing he took up was the metal pipes, which he did by the trial and error system until he succeeded in getting them to the required standard, as in the case of electricity in which the best material to use as conductor is silver; but the electrician had to resort to copper, the next economic material as conductor. This is by far cheaper and more available than silver. In the same way Augus had to use zinc sheets in making his metal pipes instead of lead, which is the best material. Pa Sawyerr, the carpenter was very indispensable in making the wooden pipes.
The organ which took three years to build, when completed had five stops and a foot pedal. This should have taken a much shorter time, but Augus had to cease working on the organ several times when funds were low, to do other jobs to get money to run his home and buy materials for the organ.
Augus completed the work on the organ in 1939 unveiled and dedicated it in the then Wilberforce Memorial Hall. He gave it to his church, Judea W.A.M. Church at Wilberforce, as gratitude for the blessing the Lord had bestowed on him in giving him the knowledge and ability to build it. The work on the organ was not a smooth sailing business. It had so many obstacles. Worst amongst them were the Samballats and Tobiahs, some of them were Augus very countrymen from Wilberforce, who cried the organ down, ending up by saying, it was of no use and should be thrown away. On the face of it all, the organ proved to be not only useful, but helpful. It served the church for many, many years, until a severe rainstorm, which blew off part of the roof of the church, preyed on it severely leaving it a total wreck to be written off.
I do not think I shall be doing justice to myself, if I should close this article without paying tribute to the following people:- Messrs J.L. Cole, J.C. Dougan, I.C. During, Amos Cole and T.A. Faulkner, the eldest brother of Augus. The eldest brother was commonly known as the organist and Augus, the organ builder. There were some women also, whose names should be added to the list- Mesdames Agnes Scotland Dalmas, Augusta Davies and Juliet John. By Biodun Faulkner