KAROO PARLIAMENT CANCELLED
The 3rd Karoo Parliament, which was to have been held in Laingsburg in September this year, has been indefinitely postponed. “Several factors, beyond the control of the organisers, have led to the Trustees approving this decision,” says Professor Doreen Atkinson.
YEOMEN SOLDIERING ON
Yeomen of the Karoo, the story of the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital, near Richmond, is now in its final stages of production. “Working on this incredible story of a unique hospital, never seen before, nor again, was a fascinating journey,” say authors Rose Willis, Dr Arnold van Dyk and Professor Kay de Villiers. “While working on this book we discovered so much ‘new’ material, hitherto unknown stories and facts.” The well-illustrated 320-page, A4, hardcover book, also contains many illustrations not seen before. The authors aim to launch the book at Deelfontein, the site of this magnificent tent hospital, during the Richmond Book Festival on October 28 and 29.
ROUND-UP SUPPORTER DIES
Mathew Carter, known to all as Midge, died at 21h30 on July 24, in Perth, Western Australia. He was a long-time friend and keen supporter of Rose’s Round-up. The friendship began one day when he and Trish were touring the Karoo in search of graves and stories of Australians who had served during the Anglo-Boer War. They called at the then new tourism office and met Rose Willis, who shared what information she had with them. Midge asked to be on the Round-up mailing list and from that day onwards he regularly supported this newsletter with encouragement and snippets of information. Midge, 86, whose friends called him a “one of a kind type guy”, always claimed to have “lived a lucky life”. A celebratory wake will be held in his honour at the Flying Squadron Yacht Club at the Esplanade in Dalkeith, Western Australia, on July 30.
OLD TRAMLINES SAVED THE ELEPHANTS
Graham Armstrong, a son of the Karoo, saved the Addo Elephants from extinction in 1954. A one-time warden at Addo National Park and an engineer at heart he designed an “indestructible fence” from old lift cables and obsolete tramlines, uprooted from Port Elizabeth streets. Sadly, by that time, 120 elephants had already been shot for damaging crops on neighboring farms and only 15 remained. Graham named each one. They were placed in a 2 000-ha enclosure surrounded by his specially-designed fence. It stood the test of time and allowed the remaining elephants to become the nucleus of a breeding herd. Graham, 85, died at Damant Lodge in Port Alfred on August 14, 1980. Born in Cradock in 1920, Graham was educated at Sandflats and Kingswood College in Grahamstown. He farmed for a while in the Cradock district where he was a member of the local commando. He served in Namibia (then South West Africa), and in both world wars as a member of the South African Engineering Corps. Graham was survived by his wife, Sylvia, and children – Jim, Eva, Malcolm, Lia, Lionel and Cynthia – as well as several grandchildren and great grandchildren, states Becky Horne of http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry
CORAL ISLAND MAN VISITED THE KAROO
Robert Michael Ballantyne, the Scottish author of over 100 works of juvenile fiction – among them Coral Island – visited the Karoo in 1876. The area inspired him to write some adventure stories and a popular book Six Months in the Cape. Most of his work was based on personal experience. Born in Edinburgh on April 24, 1825, Robert suffered from Ménièr’s disease, an inner ear disorder. He died in Rome in 1894.
THIEVES STRIKE IN BROAD DAYLIGHT
Thieves tried to make off with an old military cannon, weighing more than 2 000kg, from Cannon Hill, in Uitenhage, recently. It was rescued in the nick of time by a passer-by who spotted some men trying to cart it away in broad daylight. This cannon, which had held pride of place in Uitenhage for more than a century, is now locked away at an undisclosed location. “I can’t see why anyone would want to steal a 200-year-old cannon,” said Jennie Bennie, vice chairman of the Mandela Bay Heritage Trust and Secretary of the Eastern Cape Historical Society. “We cannot place a monetary value on it, but its historic value is immense.” This military gun monument dates back to the Xhosa Border Wars. It originally formed part of the armaments of the 80-gun ship, the Amsterdam, which ran aground at Swartkops River mouth in 1817, while transporting soldiers from the Cape to Port Elizabeth. The cannon was salvaged by the notorious Colonel Jacob Cuyler, who at the time was magistrate of Uitenhage, and he had it placed in front of the town’s court house. It was moved to the hill named in his honour in 1911. This vantage point had been used as a lookout from 1799 to 1810, when conflict between the settlers and indigenous people was high. The cannon was fired on special occasions and to announce the arrival of royal babies. After firing its final shot in 1923, it was declared a monument, states an item on News24.
Note: This 18th century cannon is not the only historic artefact targeted by thieves in this area. Four cast iron gates, at the entrance to the monument, were stolen two years ago.
RULED WITH AN IRON FIST
Jacob Glen was the last child born into the marriage of Abraham C Cuyler and his wife, Jannetjie, nee Glen. “An experienced American Marine, he came to the Cape with the 59th Regiment of the Foot to help the British to invade the Cape in 1806, during the Battle of Blaauberg,” says Marthinus van Bart, former editor of Die Burger’s heritage section. “After this he was given a golden handshake and made a magistrate in the Eastern Cape.” He ruled with an iron fist and it was he who condemned five young Boers, who rebelled against British authority, to death. He sentenced them to be hanged in public at Slachtersnek, 15km south of Cookhouse with their wives, children and parents looking on. As the men were hoisted up the scaffold the ox-hide ropes snapped. Cuyler was without mercy. He ordered them to be hoisted a second time, after stronger ropes were fetched. This was painstakingly done. “These men had only talked of rebelling at a heated gathering but had actually done nothing at all. One approached a local chief to find out whether the Xhosas would be interested in joining an uprising. They weren’t. A turncoat at the meeting told Cuyler about “wild talking” and what else went on. So, in typical American Marine style, used right up to the present day, Cuyler demolished the rebels with full gory force, on March 9, 200 years ago,” says Marthinus.
ASSEGAIED TO DEATH
Cuyler, a Free Mason, came from Albany in the USA, where his father, also a Free Mason, was mayor. He insisted that the Uitenhage district of the Eastern Cape be named Albany in honour of his American home. This was done. Die Burger reported on the missing gun on Saturday, July 9, 2016. In the report Cuyler was mistakenly referred to as a general and a settler. He was only a colonel, but a real tyrant and very hard on the British Settlers. Anders Stockentrőm, a Swede, imported to act as magistrate before Cuyler’s arrival, had no time for him. “Anders was quite outspoken about the merciless atrocities at Slachtersnek, so Cuyler organised a band of Xhosa murderers to assassinate him. “I wonder how much they were paid, for they willingly obliged. Anders was ambushed and assegaied to death,” says Marthinus.
THE ROAD TO BECOMNG A MAGISTRATE
Anders Stockentrőm, who was born in Filipstad, Sweden, on January 9, 1757, came to South Africa in 1776. He sailed from Texel as a quarter gunner aboard a VOC ship, ‘t Zeepard. Scurvy broke out when ‘t Zeerpard reached the Equator, and, by the time it docked in Table Bay, 1 202 of the 2 753 passengers and crew had died and 915 were still seriously ill. Anders also worked on a vessel carrying slaves from Madagascar to the Cape, then as an assistant in the Cape Town goods office and later as bookkeeper to the fleet. In March 1796, General J H Craig appointed him secretary to Magistrate A A Faure of Swellendam. He acquitted himself so well that he was sworn in as chief magistrate at Graaff-Reinet on February 14, 1804. This town had not had a permanent magistrate since 1801. Anders held this position until his death in 1811. When Governor, Sir John Cradock, decided to clear the Xhosas out of the Zuurveld in October 1811, Colonel John Graham was tasked with driving them back across the Fish River and Anders was appointed to lead a commando.
Graham raise three forces. The first was deployed near the Sundays River mouth, the second at Coerney, near Addo, and the third, a commando from Graaff-Reinet, led by Anders, was stationed in the rugged Zuurberg area (south of Ann’s Villa). Their orders were to protect Bruintjeshoogte and Graaff-Reinet against Xhosa incursion. On December 27, 1811, Graham discovered that a major Xhosa force had gathered near Addo and ordered Anders to join the force at Corney. where Cuyler was in charge. Anders, however, believed that if he did this the Zuurveld area would be vulnerable and that the Xhosa’s would almost certainly attack there. He decided to discuss the matter personally with Graham and so set off at sunrise on December 29 with 24 men. After a ride of about five hours, he encountered the Xhosa of Imidange and their clan chief, Kasa at Doringnek, near the peak of the Zuurberg, at the watershed of the White and Coerney rivers. Despite warnings from his men, who wished to proceed, Anders banked on his popularity as a benefactor of both colonists and indigenous people and dismounted to talk to the war party. He was unarmed. He and Kasa chatted for about half an hour during which time Anders endeavoured to persuade Kasa to retreat without bloodshed. He thought he had succeeded, went to mount his horse and ride off, when suddenly the Imidange closed ranks, surrounded the party and attacked killing Anders and eight of his men. They were Jan Christiaan Greyling, (whose widow, Magdeline Johanna de Wet, later married future Voortrekker leader, Piet Retief), Jacobus Potgieter, Philip Botha, Izaak van Heerden, Jacobus du Preez, Willem Pretorius, Pieter Botha, Michiel Hatting and Philip Buys (an interpreter, said to be a son of the infamous Coenraad Buys). Four men were wounded but managed to creep under bushes and later escape. They were Paul du Plessis of Zwagershoek, Christian Roberts, Cornelis Erasmus and Andries Krugel. All of this happened in the first few days of the Fourth Frontier War.
NO MONUMENT DESPITE MANY PROMISES
When news of the massacre reached Bruintjieshoogte Anders’s son, Ensign Andries Stockenstrőm raced to Doringnek with 18 men. There they surprised some of the murderers, shot 13 dead, and recaptured eight horses. Young Andries, who succeeded his father as magistrate and became Lieutenant General of the Eastern Cape, wrote: “The spot where the massacre took place (on the road to the Zuurberg Pass, built in 1848) was on the northwest part of Doringnek.” He later tried to buy the massacre site, on a Mathews’s farm, but Mathews refused to sell stating that he would be honoured to erect a memorial. He did not do so. On another visit Andries again tried to buy the spot from Matthews’s brother, “but was too sick to proceed with the matter”. Later Graaff-Reinet burghers applied to build a memorial at the site but were refused with the assurance that the colonial government would erect one. This also never happened, possibly because Andries had become a controversial figure and was out of favour with the authorities. The poet, Thomas Pringle, visited the area in 1821, but could not find the precise site. He said: “Not even a rude stone has been erected to mark the grave of this meritorious magistrate and those who perished with him.” So, neither the spot of the massacre nor the graves were marked. In an article, Massacre at Zuurberg, Keith Meintjies writes: “The Zuurberg Inn, (formerly Mathews’s Hotel) has a framed document, written by Mrs D E Rivett-Carnac of Grahamstown stating that Landdrost Stockenstrőm’s grave was at a spot near the Post Office, but removed to the family home, near Bedford. This would be Maasstrőm, granted to Andries Stockenstrőm in 1820.”
THE LANDSCAPE WAS PERFECT, THE PEOPLE LESS SO
Andries Stockenstrőm (later Sir) befriended Scottish doctor Robert Know, the infamous buyer of bodies from murderers Burke and Hare, when he arrived in the area. Knox was posted to the Cape in 1817 and for quite some time was he only surgeon for 140 miles along the Great Fish River, writes Alan W Bates in The Anatomy of Robert Know: Murder, Mad Science and Medical Regulation. “Knox’s duties were lighter and his patients healthier than those he might have seen in Scotland.” Knox said he was “in the healthiest of countries where the salubrious climate ensured immunity from disease”. It “took hours of riding to reach a patient”, but fortunately call outs were few and “soldiers, in the prime of life, were the healthiest men I have ever seen.” Boer families, he said, kept 30 to 40 labourers, “who had little work to do, while their masters never laboured at all.” There was very little necessity for labour and very naturally everyone avoided it. Knox learned to ride and shoot in the Eastern Cape. He spent much time exploring and hunting animals for their skins and skeletons. He practised swordsmanship and recorded meteorological observations. Knox found his “African banishment was boring, the Boers boorish “and the English vulgar. He told his brother Frederick that “the populace was uninteresting, but the landscape was beautiful and perfect. It speaks directly to the soul.”
FRIENDSHIP ENDED BADLY
Andries ‘s friendship with Knox deteriorated when Knox accused his brother, OG of misdeeds. OG was arrested and faced court martial. The charges were dropped, but for some reason, which Andries considered to be Knox’s doing, his brother remained in custody. Andries openly accused Knox of slander. Furious altercations and mud-slinging followed and almost ended in a duel. Andries called Knox “the most wretched of beggars”. Their friendship was over. Andries demanded and got a court of enquiry to clear their brother’s name. Bishop Burnett was a key witness, but Knox tried to discredit the Bishop, who challenged him to a duel. Knox accepted, but then backed down, calling the Bishop a blackguard, Burnet wrote: “I soundly horsewhipped him on the parade in front of every officer of the garrison. The coward then rushed into a house for a sabre. He came at me, I tripped and lay at his mercy. He was too arrant a poltroon to run me through. I escaped with a cut on the arm and a dislocated finger.” The Bishop then “made public Knox’s calumnies” and this led to Knox’s expulsion from society.” With his reputation ruined, it was impossible for Knox to remain at the Cape. He sailed for England on the Brilliant on October 22, 1820.
JAILER JAILED BUT NOT FOR LONG
Towards the end of 1861 a Negro jailer was appointed at Beaufort West jail. Conditions very soon deteriorated. One night he joined the festivities of a local wedding and left the jail unguarded and four jailbirds took the opportunity to escape, writes Wynand Vivier in Hooyvlakte. They demolished the door of a shop, entered and helped themselves to the most expensive clothing, some rifles and ammunition. They then stole four horses and made good their getaway into the Great Karoo, never to be seen again. The jailer returned in high spirits, to find his jail empty. Of course, he had to report this to the police. He was summarily arrested at the police station and hurled into his own jail, where he was expected to await trial. But, he simply did what the four previous occupants had done. He escaped – never to be seen again. Many believe he lay low and then sailed on the Alabama, an American pro-slavery warship which docked at the Cape to replenish supplies in 1863.
TWO DIFFERENT “ALIBAMAS”
Some attribute the Cape Malay song “Daar kom die Alibama” to the coming of this American ship, but that is not true, says Marthinus van Bart. The Alibama (spelled with an “I”, not and “a”) was a smallish, flat-bottomed freight boat belonging to the fishing family, Stephan of Langebaan and Velddrift. They sailed regularly to Cape Town with fish, bokkoms, (died fish), kreef (crayfish) and dekriet (a special type of grass). The latter was highly sought after by Malay brides to be because their religion prescribed that a bride’s bed (called a rietkooi) should be stuffed with freshly cut dekriet or rietgras. This does not grow well in the Peninsula, so there was always great excitement when the Alibama called at Cape Town every two or three weeks. Teenage girls would gleefully sing: “Daar kom die Alibama, die Alibama die kom oor die see. Nooi, nooi, die rietkooi nooi, die rietkooi is gemaak: die rietkooi is vir my gemaak om darop te slaap.” “Those who say these girls sang this as a political song about the Alabama being sent by the Americans to free the Cape from slavery are very much mistaken,” says Marthinus, who has included this and many other similarly interesting stories in his book Kaap van Slawe. The British government of the day, he says, was importing “indentured apprentices” (slaves) captured from Portuguese and Arab ships on the East Coast and selling them to anyone in the colony willing to pay. Dr Phillip, a missionary from the London Missionary Society, was also importing Irish orphans and selling them – at a commission. The boys were bought by farmers to serve as shepherds or farm hands and the girls went to wealthy city households as maids. These children were locked up in the Slave Lodge before being auctioned.
MYSTERY FIRE CONFUSES AUTHORITIES
The Maskell family woke in terror in the early hours of a June morning in 1840 to find their home filled with smoke. They fled coughing and choking. “Fortunately, this diabolical attempt at incendiarism claimed no lives,” reported the Cape Frontier Times of June 3. The family woke with smoke billowing through their home. Upon searching for the cause, they discovered a fire had been kindled in the passage close to the back door. A basin containing dripping, which had been in the kitchen the previous afternoon, was found in the fire. The lower part of the door was burnt and so was a considerable part of the passage floor. There was nothing to indicate where the fire had been kindled. The Maskells are a universally respected family and it is impossible to assign motives or suspicions as to the fire’s origins,” said the newspaper.
The chief danger in life is that you may take too many precautions – Alfred Adler