Historian Dr Dean Allen has just launched two interesting books. This Day in History, written with Danica Stanová, is an illustrated, day-by-day account of some of the most interesting and important events in world history. It’s ideal for history buffs, as well as those needing to check dates and facts, Then, there’s the beautifully illustrated, full-colour Frontier LandExploring South Africa’s Eastern Cape. This volume takes readers into settler country, an area steeped in the traditions of Xhosa, Dutch, German, Scottish and British people. It is the shared heritage of so many cultures that makes the region so fascinating and well worth visiting. In the foreword His Royal Majesty iNkosi Zwelothando Mabandla, states: ”Each group has its own language and history. Where else can one find such diverse cultures and languages growing together?” Through the advance of agriculture, innovation, education and faith, he said, inter-cultural ties between the Jamangile ka Mabandla Royal Family and citizens of other communities, is promoted. “Our heritage of shared values will help us build a better future for all to live in freedom, prosperity and peace,” he said, adding: “The book excites me as it depicts the ideals that former President Nelson Mandela stood for.”


Frontier Land is a 123-page, beautifully illustrated, full-colour, book that delves into the histories of some of South Africa’s oldest frontier towns. About 38-pages have been devoted to Cradock, which was founded in 1814, to maintain law and order. These capture the town’s history, plus stories of its buildings and people. And so, it goes through 19 more towns, all with exciting beginnings, but some now sadly crumbling and mouldering many with buildings are already beyond repair. Frontier Land records better times and through its many illustrations ensures that vitally important land marks will be remembered. Hofmeyr’s unusual “pink church” put the town on the map. Here signs of a once prosperous and vibrant past remain, but most of buildings have seen better days. Then, there’s Steynsburg with its eternal link to the family of Oom Paul, the ZAR’s President Paul Kruger. Here again the churches dominate the disintegrating village. Bedford, is an exception – a true success story. This town has not declined thanks to the positive actions and efforts of its community, coupled to continuous bids to encourage tourism. The eternal city of Grahamstown, now Makhanda, encompasses the saga of turbulent times, and wars, coupled to a university and cathedral.


Towards the coast there’s Bathurst, a small town with a big history, and Port Alfred, initially two tiny towns, merged into one and renamed when Queen Victoria’s son, Prince Alfred, visited in 1860. Further along the coast is Port St Johns where, says Dean, visitors are likely to encounter cattle on the beach. Queenstown (now Komani) is currently the administrative and educational centre. Founded in 1853 it has some stately buildings and two cathedrals The tiny hamlet of Ugie would seem to be an unremarkable place until one delves deeper and discovers its proud history tied Scottish medical missionary William Murray. Lady Grey has a beautiful church and dam with a 25m high wall. A natural staircase leads to the top. At Sterkspruit, Chris and Anna-Marie Oosthuizen have made an impact, changed lives and transformed the community by introducing a school. This is a truly heat-warming story. Education also lies at the heart of Alice, the home of Fort Hare University and the old Lovedale Mission and college. Next come the military towns of Fort Beaufort. Adelaide, and Cookhouse, all surrounded by tales of courage and bravery. Among the who played vital roles was Joseph Newey, a master engineer responsible for the stone bridges. Dean takes his readers on a quick jaunt into the Karoo and lastly visits King Williamstown (Qonce) and Dale College. The book contains much more history and tells how the towns were created and named. Copies cost R295 each or R550 for both excluding postage. More from Dean at – also for more on his on-line course How Sport Shaped TheWorld (cost R3 100).


The history of the tiny Free State town of Philippolis richly interwoven with tales of missionaries, missions, the San, Griquas, Free State republic, war, a ghost town and the largest free-ranging, self-sustaining tiger population outside Asia. This sanctuary is run by wildlife filmmaker and conservationist John Varty. Philippolis, the oldest settlement in the Free State, was the home of Griqua leader Adam Kok. the birthplace of some well-known South Africans such as actress Brümilda van Rensburg, writer and poet, Terry Terblanche Botha, rugby player Adriaan Strauss and Sir Laurens Jan van der Post, CBE a 20th-centuryAfrikaner intellectual, author, farmer, soldier, political adviser to British heads of government, close friend of Prince Charles, godfather of Prince William, educator, journalist, humanitarian, philosopher, explorer and conservationist. Intertwined in the story are tales of the Scottish minister, Reverend Colin Fraser, and humanitarian Emily Hobhouse, who helped expose and publicise the British atrocities of the Anglo-Boer War and the concentration camps. After the war, in 1905, she established a spinning and weaving school in Philippolis. The town has many interesting things to see including the pulpit of the Dutch Reformed Church. It was carved from wild olive and assembled using no nails, screws or bolts. This church was consecrated in 1871.


This prolific history has led to the creation of a webpage, Its aim is to increase awareness of the town, and to assist genealogists as well as general researchers find out more about who lived there. The town has an excellent collection of reference material collected over the last 15 years. It includes extracts from The Friend newspaper, dating from 1864 – 1874, Braby Business Directories for several years after 1907, maps, property transactions and 5 500 farm transactions, dating back to 1862 and 1886. There is also information on the nearby ghost town, Waterkloof. It also has Dutch Reformed Church records, Baptismal, records and marriage registers, plus information on 650 families. Several reports are also available in pdf format.


It all began when a San mission was created at this spot, 30km north of the Orange River, in 1823 by Dr John Philip, of the London Missionary Society. He served as superintendent to this community from 1819 to 1849 and gave his name to the town. In 1825, a sub-group of the Griquas known as the Bergenaars, broke away from the main group at Griquatown – about 200 km away – and received permission from Dr Philip to settle at the mission station. This Griqua group was led by Adam Kok II, grandson of Adam Kok I, founder of the Griqua nation. A year later Sir Richard Bourke, governor of the Colony, confirmed Kok as the Paramount Chief of the Philippolis Griquas. and during that same year the missionary James Clarke gave him the title of the station and its grounds. This encompassed the entire area between the Orange and Riet Rivers to north of the future Bethanie and east of the future Bethulie.


Kok created a Griqua state, set up a government and legislature, built houses, a school and some churches, one of which later served as the first Dutch Reformed Church in the area He was given possession of the mission station on condition that he protect the San against the Boers. It was hoped that the Griqua mission would play a significant role in the politics of the Colony and the emerging Free State and that it would promote peace, but this did not happen. A number of deadly commandos rode out against the San from there within a year of the Griqua arrival. This violated the agreement; the San were driven out and an uneasy relationship developed. There were constant conflicts over land as a state developed within a state . Dissention spread to the Free State and the British government at the Cape. Then, in1861 the Griquas sold their last land here to the Orange Free State government for R8,000 and migrated across the Drakensberg to settle in Griqualandd East. Philippolis then became a little Free State dorp, but it retained a rich mixture of Dutch, English, Jewish, coloured and black cultures. Much research is now being conducted inro these sectors.


Western Cape Anglo Boer War Society chairman, Peter Greeff, has highlighted points of interest on the calendar for 2022and 2023. “Three ABW day trips are being planned around the Cape metropole, e.g. Maitland, Greenpoint, Wynberg, Simonstown, Stellenbosch and Paarl. “Recce day trips” are already scheduled for visits to Darling, Hopefield and the Hantam. More


Willowmore’s Louisa Scholtz was no slouch. In the 1930s she started assisting F Hermans, the local chemist and found she enjoyed the job so much that she decided to study further. Once she qualified, she began producing a range of popular patent medicines. Among these was Scholtz Tonic and Bitter Drops. This was an instant hit among locals suffering from stomach problems and acid indigestion. The drops not only eased indigestion, but also assisted in eliminating heartburn, nausea, cramps, bloating, and gas. In 1935 Louisa married Colonel Greeff. Five years later, in 1940, they bought a building on the corner of St Johns and Wehmeyer Streets and opened a pharmacy. It proved to be a great success and even after her death in 1984 the chemist kept trading under the guidance of Karl Müller, states The Cape Journal – Willowmore. The shop was sold in 1999 to Anton Landman, who converted it into a general dealer and antique store.


Conservationists Drs Sue and Richard Dean have just launched an easy-to-understand, guide describing the common plants and vegetation of the Prince Albert area. This informative and non-technical guide, which is well illustrated with many colourful photographs, is available on-line at Visitors interested in discovering more about the Karoo in this area, its geology, animal life, cultural history and the like, should join Sue on a two-hour guided nature walk in the Wolwekraal Nature Reserve. It sets off early in the morning. Booking is essential. More from


Hendrik Reynecke recently arrived in Prince Albert searching for an ancestor. He found two and was suddenly immersed in a mystery, reports Prince Albert historian Ailsa Tudhope. Initially he wanted to know more about Elizabeth Mary McLune, however, browsing through baptism records he found that twin girls had been born on June 23, 1872, to Cornelia, wife of wagon maker Stephen McLune. Both were baptised on March 2, 1873, by Reverend John Gibbs. His wife, Magdalene, stood as godmother for both of them. One was named Mary Elizabeth (her names seem to have become reversed) and the other Catherine Johanna. However, after the christening there are no records of Catherine. Did she die? No one knows what happened to her.


During the Anglo-Boer War doctors faced some curious dilemmas. As the war dragged the bulk of the medical personnel were not RAMC trained and the British army became increasingly dependent on civilian doctors. These doctors were still under military orders and subject to the strict demands of military bureaucracy. In his memoirs, Doctor to Basuto, Boer and Briton 1877-1906, British-born Dr Henry Taylor tells of being put in charge of an army hospital but not being allowed to visit his patients after dark. Because he was a civilian, he was subject to curfew regulations. In the end he was relieved of his duties writes John Boje, from the Pretoria University Department of History, in The Doctors’ Dilemmas During The SA War, in Historica, May, 2018. .


Roelof Liebenberg, who joined Hans Pypers’ Commando in October 1900, was still a teenager when he was wounded at Tontelboschkolk on the evening of December 1, 1901. Eben Nel tells what happened in Die Kaapse Rebelle van die Hantam-Karoo. He writes that one evening the British sent three men to a pool to fetch water. They were under the impression that there were no Boers, in the area, but all three were shot. On hearing the shots Hans Pypers, Stoffel Snyman and Roelf Liebenberg went out and stood next to the house. Against the light of the setting sun Pypers noticed somebody moving. . He fired a shot and that resulted in a volley of gunfire. One shot ricocheted from the wall and hit Liebenberg in the shoulder. They immediately took him indoors where one of his comrades used a razor blade to make an x-shaped incision over the wound . Then using his hands, he “popped” out the bullet. Liebenberg recovered and applied for a Boer War medal in 1931.


Towards the end of last year, a memorial stone was unveiled on the farm Goewermentsvlei in the Aberdeen district. This was a Western Cape Boer War Association initiative to honour John “Jack” Alexander Baxter, a Boer soldier who was executed by a British firing squad at that spot on October 13, 1901. He was found guilty of wearing a British khaki uniform. He was a member of the Smuts’ commando and he had lost his way on a misty morning in the Camdeboo mountains. Smuts said that Baxter had no other clothes to wear.


On January 13, 1900, during the Anglo-Boer War, a tall, handsome New South Wales Lancer, became the first Australian to be nominated for a Victoria Cross. Yet, he never received it. He was Trooper Tom Morris, son of Joseph Morris, a carpenter, and by his own admission he had neglected athletics for military exercises. He could not box, scull, play cricket or football. After joining the Lancers, he was sent to Aldershot for training and in the end, he achieved a long list of prized military honours. Tom’s act of bravery happened near Arundel. “A body of us under Major Lee were ordered out to examine a row of kopjes about 6km long. We had ridden about half the distance when suddenly the Boers opened fire on us from both sides. All we could do was to retreat.” Tom was near the rear of the detachment and, as he charged along, he saw Boers coming round the koppie to cut them off. He looked back to see if any Boers were following and saw Trooper Harrison’s horse shot out from under him. “I raced back, took Harrison up and galloped away,” said Tom. However, in telling his story Tom omitted the most important part, states Rob Droogleever on the Australian Boer War Website. “As Harrison fell Boers rushed down from both sides evidently intending to take him prisoner. Firing was so heavy that Harrison was forced to take cover behind the body of his horse. There the Boers kept him pinned down. Morris swung his horse around, and galloped back into the fray. With enemy bullets raining down from three sides, he picked up Harrison and rode back safely, running the gauntlet of enemy fire for the second time.”


Tom was present at the Relief of Kimberley and also saw action at Riet River, Modder River, Dronfield, Paardeberg, Poplar Grove and Driefontein. By March 1 he and his regiment had reached Bloemfontein where he contracted typhoid. After three months in hospital, he was invalided back to Australia. Tom’s regimental commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel James Burns wrote to his parents on February 5 to convey the regiment’s great delight “in learning that Trooper Morris has been recommended for the VC being, as far we know, the first Australian to gain this high honour.” Trooper Harrison went on to take part in 42 engagements from Arundel to Witkop before the Lancers were withdrawn, but nothing came of Tom’s nomination, possibly because in 1899 Australian troops were classed as “colonials”. Yet, when Ogden and Taddy cigarette companies issued cards to commemorate South African war heroes, Tom was included and even shown wearing the VC. After recovering Tom joined the NSW Police and served for 25 years. This long service earned him an Imperial Service Medal. He married Amy Clare Nickson on March 5, 1906, in Coolamon. They had three children. He died in October, 1955.


Dr William Guybon Atherstone meticulously recorded his activities in about 200 notebooks now kept in the Albany Museum in Grahamstown. In one he tells of receiving a telegram on August 25, 1890, from Johannes Hendrik Schoeman asking him to come to Schoemanshoek, near Oudtshoorn to examine a sore on his lip and mass in his neck. This resulted in an 8-day, 1600km trip. Schoeman stated that his own doctor was “dangerously ill”. Atherstone took the 20h05 train from Grahamstown to Prince Albert Road Station, arriving there at 23h30 the next day. He then travelled by horse and cart to Prince Albert and over the Swartberg Pass, to Oudtshoorn arriving at 17h30 on August 27 – a trip of 800 km and 45 hours. Atherstone diagnosed “colloid glandular cancer from a pipe.” Schoeman stated that two years previously a dry scaly pimple had appeared on his lower lip, formed a crust and fallen off. It then became a moist wart for eight to ten months and would not heal. Oudtshoorn’s Dr George Russell cauterised it three times, but it became a sore which Russell excised together with a wart on the chin. This healed, leaving the left gland slightly swollen. A lump developed on the left side of the neck. It grew steadily. Schoeman said that he had always placed his pipe and cigar on his lip at that spot. In keeping with professional ethics, Atherstone travelled a further 15 km into Oudtshoorn to discuss the patient with Drs Russell and Herbert Urmson Smith. Schoeman was admitted to Albany Hospital on October 2, 1890, and placed in the care of visiting Surgeon John Baldwin Smithson Greathead. Two weeks later, against medical advice, Schoeman discharged himself and returned home. He died on October 28, 1890, aged 53 years. Up until the sore appeared he had been a strong, active and healthy man.

NOTE: When Thomas Muir visited Oudtshoorn Dr Russell, one of the Cape’s pioneer motorists, tried unsuccessfully to take him to visit the Cango Caves on two occasions. Both times they were forced to turn back by bad weather and swollen rivers.

Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think – Albert Einstein