Margaret Ellen Flanagan’s dream was the empowerment of women. She thus, in 1982, bequeathed funds to Rhodes University for the creation of the Patrick and Margaret Flanagan Trust for scholarships to be awarded to women for fulltime international masters or doctoral studies. In her will she stipulated that these scholarships should have sufficient funding to cover travel, tuition, accommodation and sustenance, as well as a book and clothing allowance. She wrote: “My underlying intention in making provision for the award of the scholarships is my belief that any country is, to an important extent, dependent on its women being educated. She then added several provisos, one being that the women should be of South African descent . She also specified her preferred universities. Now, almost 40 years since the bequest was made 46 scholarships have been awarded, some to women of the Karoo, such as Sue Allen of Sutherland. The current value of the individual scholarship is R550 000. Over the years the winners of this prestigious scholarship have taken up leadership positions as top lawyers, global communicators, medical scientists, psychologists, language experts, philosophers, journalists, literary agents, musicians and economists working to benefit developing countries. The stories of the extraordinary scholarship recipients, as well as their fascinating fields of study, has been captured by Julienne du Toit and Chris Marais. in a book published by Rhodes University and entitled The Flanagan Journey.


Simon Green, author of Anglo-Boer War Blockhouses – A Military Engineer’s Perspective, advises that his Field Guide on Blockhouses is on track for November release. “The publishing process for this unique guide book has gone into the layout phase. The book will have about 180 mainly colour images. In hindsight it was a wise to remove this chapter from the original manuscript as it is a 60k word book in itself and packed with images of well over 100 blockhouses, forts and related sites. Also, many of you have added to my knowledge along the way, especially after the release of the first book, thus allowing this work to be the best it could be. A limited quantity of 400 copies is being published for the South African market. There will be no e-book version. There is still time to buy the first book. It really is a companion book to the field guide and you’ll need both to best appreciate each unique site. I now have big dreams of publishing a more detailed book on some of the lesser fort and hill top sites, as well the blockhouse lines. I will publish it in a different format. Also thinking of interactive websites and tourism ‘experiences’ for sites.” he said. For more simonbsr@gmail.com


The story of John Garlick, the founder of Nelspoort TB Sanatorium, has been captured by Sherry Garlick Stanton in The Accidental Entrepreneur, John Garlick, His Life and Legacy. This soon to be released book covers his years from 1872 until 1931 as a leading Cape Town businessman, department storeowner, city councillor, politician, benefactor, philanthropist and family man. The result of 20 years of research, it is packed with interesting facts, anecdotes and tales. It tells the story of Garlick’s rise as an entrepreneur, and also explains what his successors did with the business and the rest of his legacy. This 460-page book, with monochrome well as colour illustrations, will be enjoyed by anyone interested in South African history. It is available at pre-print price of R395 plus postage (R25 by Post Office fast mail or R100 by Postnet Courier) More from david@footprintpress.co.za This offer ends on October 31, 2021.


James Howse, who was born at Carlesgrove, Oxfordshire in 1799, came to South Africa with Hezekiah Septhton’s party of over 400 Methodists on the Aurora, in 1820. They disembarked at Fort Frederick in Algoa Bay on May 13 and soon after arrival departed for Salem on the Assegai Bosch River, 25km from Grahamstown. He was 20, single and listed as a labourer. He quickly acquired a number of properties, small houses and plots of land and successfully speculated with these. By 1822 he established his home, Eden Grove, in Grahamstown and during that year married Sarah Ann Dold, the daughter of Matthew and Jane Dold, who arrived on the Belle Alliance with the London party of Thomas Wilson. James and Sarah produced four children between 1826 and 1832, two girls and two boys. states freelance researcher, John Hund. James became a successful businessman. From 1828 he acquired several farms along the Great Fish River, including his showpiece, Leeuwfontein, where he ultimately settled. By 1832 he owned two shops in Grahamstown, a butchery and a general dealership. Sephtons’s party had all been granted grazing rights. James sold his to Charles Penny and acquired a license to trade in “native affairs” at Fort Wilshire. This venture prospered and enabled him to expand his businesses. In 1836 James paid the passage and expenses of some labourers from Oxfordshire who had fallen on hard times and arranged employment for them in the Colony. They arrived on the Morning Star.


As a highly esteemed member of the community, James served as Commissioner for Grahamstown for three terms between 1837 and 1843. He was also a highly respected member of the Methodist community and a trustee of the Wesleyan Commemoration Church Fund. A large plaque in the church, which still stands today, honours his memory. While expanding his interests he, in 1839, supported a scheme to open up the Kowie River mouth as a port. Together with William Cock, he was one of the five directors of the Albany Steam Navigation Company, established in 1841. They raised a capital of £7 000, by selling shares for £20 each. The harbour scheme was mooted as early as 1823, when there was a proposal for a deep channel to be dug by cheap labour, i.e. convicts destined for Botany Bay in Australia, but nothing came of this. In 1839, Sir George Thomas Napier, Governor of the Cape, supported this venture, as well as the purchase of a steam and iron ship to convey merchandise from England, to a port on the Kowie. The harbour was opened in 1841 by a small schooner, the Sophia, after that more small schooners and freighters were able to navigate the river. The government later took over responsibility and management of the harbour. Over the years many ships brought goods, including materials for the construction of a railway line, from Port Alfred to Grahamstown over the Blaaukrantz bridge, to this port. There were a several wrecks over the years due to silting and gales in bad weather. Then, the building of a harbour at Algoa Bay led to the lesser use of the Kowie port. By 1889, the cost of maintaining this harbour became untenable; the government ceased its support and the harbour was closed. Nevertheless, it had played a major role in helping to open up the interior. Note: It was William Cock who in 1826 established the Cock House, a well-known hotel and pub in Grahamstown, and now a national monument. He was also a direct forebear of Richard Cock the well-known contemporary musical director.


James’s prospered until 1834 when marauders plundered about 300 farmhouses, burning four or five, including one of his. They stole 5 715 horses, 111,950 cattle as well as 161,930 sheep and goats. This marked the beginning of the Frontier Wars. Farmers began to leave the area, offering their properties for sale at low prices. James acquired some additional farms between Grahamstown and Fort Beaufort. Then, some people jealous of his success, had him excommunicated for breaching a strict Wesleyan rule forbidding the selling of spirituous liquors “except in the instance of extreme necessity”. When James sent wagons with supplies for the troops and burghers engaged in the Frontier Wars, he included a cask of French brandy “to be disposed of as the person in charge might see as most prudent”. James was stripped of his church offices, but in his own defense stated that he did not believe he had brought “any disgrace upon the cause of God”. He was re-instated at a district meeting on July 30, 1837, when Reverend William Shaw, announced that his expulsion had not been carried out “according to the Law and Usages of Methodism”. In 1846, James visited England where he hoped to encourage more settlers to come to South Africa. While there he received news of the outbreak of another Frontier War and heavy stock losses on his farms. His flock of sheep had been stolen and his eight shepherd dogs killed. These losses totalled £32,000. He returned, but worse was to come, from 1850 to 1852 a number of inhabitants in the area were killed, their buildings burnt, and livestock stolen. He became distraught by his losses and saw no end to the violence. Then, one January day in 1852 he was murdered on his way home.


The Frontier Times of Saturday, January, 31,1852, reported that James, one of the wealthiest men on the frontier, was ambushed and murdered on his way home. He had left Alice at 14h30 for Leeuwfontein on Thursday, but was waylaid by a band of ruffians near Reverend Richard Birt’s Mission Station, at Peelton, and killed. He was unarmed. Some reports say he was alone, but others say he was accompanied by one servant. When he did not arrive home a party led by a Mr Wynne was sent out to look for him. They found his remains quite close to the station. He was unrecognizable and they were only able to identify him by some papers with his signature and one of his socks which had his name on it. This sent a shockwave through the district. His body was taken to Alice. The search party found spoors of the attackers at the spot where his body was discovered. Widely known and highly respected, James was survived by his wife and four adult children stated the newspaper. It added that he was an industrious and enterprising man, but that the frontier wars had made fearful inroads on his prosperity. Many moving tributes from top business men and respected farmers were read out at his funeral. Tributes also came from the Governor, Sir Harry Smith, and Major-General and Mrs Charles Somerset. Major Somerset said that James was a most inestimable man and a great credit to the frontier community.


An article in the Cape Argus in 1920 stated that would-be 1820 settlers were told that: “Every immigrant must have his own sheets, towels and a supply of marine soap. Men must have six shirts, two warm flannel or Guernsey shirts, six pairs of stockings, two pairs of new shoes and two suits. Women require six suits, two warm flannel petticoats, six pairs of stockings, two pairs of shoes and two gowns, one of which should be warm” It is doubtful whether many immigrants would have been able to afford these accoutrements said the Argus.


Anne Francis, one of the early settlers to South Africa, was not enchanted by her new home. In A Tale of Two Settlers, she writes: “The thought of staying in this miserable solitude is dreadful: debarred from all social intercourse – not one female friend to converse with – no doctor within 50 miles – no clergyman or church – no post office nearer than Graham’s Town, which is a wretched place, and the road to it is terrible.” Ellen Case, who came to South Africa in 1888, found the environment challenging. When she, her husband (a clergyman) and their children arrived at a remote Eastern Cape mission station, she wrote: “We could not see our house till we got over a lot of hills. Then suddenly we saw the church, our house, and 4 or 5 huts scattered on the side of the hill. When we got to the house, we found we were surrounded by mountains. It is very pretty and grand, but very lonely.” Her husband had a hearing problem and so had to settle for small, poor, remote rural parishes. Ellen was unable to reconcile herself to the “foreignness” of the areas. Church services were conducted in Xhosa and this simply increased her sense of disorientation, “The first service was so strange that a great sense of loneliness came over me and I felt fearfully homesick.”


Seven army chaplains lost their lives during the Anglo-Boer War. Among them were the Reverends Charles E O’Reilly, William de Burgh, Gerard Chilton Bailey, MA, and E N Aylen, states Valerie Parkhouse in Memorialising the Anglo-Boer War, Militarization of Presbyterian Chaplains. She explains that the part played by religion in the army became recognised towards the end of the 1800s and more chaplains were appointed. “The Army Chaplains Department, however, dates back to 1796 when it was established by Royal Warrant. Before 1812 all chaplains were Church of England priests, however in that year the first Presbyterian chaplain was appointed. Then came the first Roman Catholic chaplain, in 1836; Wesleyan chaplains were not recognised until 1881 and the first Jewish rabbi was appointed to serve in the army in 1892. The chaplains were assigned military rank ranging from captain to major-general. They did not carry arms.”


One day during the Anglo Boer War two despatch riders suddenly came face to face. One was a Boer and the other a Brit. The Boer, Pieter Wolfaardt, was quicker on the draw, but just as he was about to pull the trigger, he recognised his neighbour. He put his gun down, saying: ”No neighbour, not us.” Wolfaardt then turned got a half-jack of brandy out of his saddle bag and the two sat down in a shady spot to enjoy a “dop”. Then, states Andrew MacNaughton, in When Ants Get Angry!, Wolfaardt stood up, embraced his friend with a huge bear hug, swung himself into the saddle and rode off. At the top of a ridge he turned, waved and vanished.


The tiny town of Middleton has some interesting tales to tell. One relates to lads who served with the Town Guard during the Anglo-Boer War. Among them was Wessel Johan Wessels, a 25-year-old farmer from Hardebeeskant, Walter Webster, a 37-year-old wheelwright, and the Jewish Gochin brothers, who became the Bergman brothers, but who were neither Bergman nor brothers. Jacob and Joseph were cousins who came to South Africa from Lithuania in 1892 with another cousin, named Abraham, and settled in the Eastern Cape. Around 1896, Joseph and Jacob left Abraham and went to the then Transvaal, where they bought Bergman Brothers, a general dealer’s store. The two almost instantly became known as the Berman brothers. At the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War they returned to the Karoo, joined up with Abraham and settled in Middleton, After the war they decided that the town was too small to sustain a business like theirs, so they split up. Jacob went to Uitenhage where he began farming. He died there is 1938, aged 64.


The year 1865 was not a good one in the Karoo. The area suffered a dreadful drought, the wool price dropped and a disease affected the vineyards leading to a severe fall in wine and brandy production. Many Karoo dwellers became desperate and some began selling off “family treasures”. Sharks, charlatans, merchants and greedy financiers took advantage of the situation. Profiteering was rife and interest rates climbed; bankruptcies became an everyday occurrence and swindlers abounded. Then, in 1867 came the dramatic news that diamonds had been discovered between Hope Town and Kimberley. People across South Africa and from abroad flocked to the diamond fields in search of a fortune, but many Graaff-Reinetters found there was money to be made at home as diamond hunters travelling from Port Elizabeth to Kimberley had to pass through their town. Farmers were persuaded to treat their vines with sulphur. The vines recovered. General businesses boomed and soon wine and brandy was back on the market – at a price, of course, states Graaff-Reinet Heritage Society Stoep Stories No 16. Thirsty Kimberley-bound travellers soon proved that one man’s thirst is another man’s fortune!


A search for grandpa ended in total confusion for Canadian genealogical researcher, Elesa Willies. Major Willem Steenkamp stepped into help her out. He said: “I think your confusion arises from incorrect raising and disbanding dates and this has resulted in your confusing the Cape Light Horse (CLH) with the South African Light Horse. This was a completely different unit raised in 1899 and disbanded in 1907. The CLH was established in 1909 by amalgamating the Transkei Mounted Rifles, the Border Light Horse and the Tembuland Light Horse. In the pre-Union days, there were various part-time volunteer units like the CLH dotted around the country, many in the rural areas. They were not cavalry; South Africa has never really had any pure cavalry, as it has no application in this part of the world, but there was a great demand for ‘mounted rifles’ or ‘light horse’ – horsed infantry that could move far and fast because they were mounted, but normally dismounted and fought on foot. Essentially they were the same as the Boer commandos, except that they were more formally organised. Usually (as with the commandos) they tended to be good horsemen and marksmen.”


“A number of these units were later classed as ‘dismounted rifles’, said Major Steenkamp. “This meant that they became infantry units, but still drilled and were organised as mounted troops. The idea being that in times of emergency they could be re-horsed with the minimum difficulty. This was more of a peace-time economy measure than anything else. This seems to be what happened to the CLH. It seems to have been quite a colourful unit. It had its own mounted band. It also had blue facings on the collars and tunic cuffs of its khaki uniform, and mess dress for all ranks, not just the officers. It had quite a nice badge, its own regimental call, which was the same as the British Army’s 15th Hussars, and a handsome drill hall at Keiskammashoek. In 1913, when the Union Defence Force got going, various of these light horse and mounted rifles units were absorbed.”


Wendy van Schalkwyk, who many years ago wrote a very popular history of Aberdeen, came across a hilarious story during the course of her research. She found an item stating that an Anglican priest once confessed to reading a report mentioning brothels on Karoo farms. “He admitted that when he got over his shock and took a second look at the document he found it was referring to boreholes,” she said.

Happiness is a direction, not a place – Sydney J Harris