The Karoo Development Foundation has started placing a series of Cameos on its website. These are compiled by Rose Willlis, a recognised chronicler of the Karoo since she started writing Rose’s Round-up in January, 1993. They are edited by KDF trustee Professor Doreen Atkinson. who has almost three decades of experience in issues related to government, agriculture, water, tourism and heritage in the Karoo. Currently on line are Adendorp, Kendrew, Murrayburg, Noupoort, Three Sisters, and Wolwefontein. But why cameos? Well, a cameo is a gem, a carving, part of a larger object, mostly of stone or shell. These are cut in relief with a contrasting layers serving as background. Cameos brings into delicate, yet sharp relief the character of a person, or place. They highlight the special beauty of the Karoo which expands across the vast limitless dryland with flat-topped mountains, scrubby bushes, conical hills, endless vistas and the largest open air stone art gallery in the Western Cape. They highlight the intriguing history of the Karoo which is richly interwoven with tribal tales and sagas from many lands. Magnificent Dutch reformed churches are true icons of the region’s religious heritage reigning proudly over villages where crumbling buildings seem beyond repair. The cameos cover rough rugged roads, the wagon route, farms, early settlements, old hotels, businesses and the once powerful railway network, with its links to the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital at Deelfontein, the largest most exclusive surgical and convalescent facility of its kind created by the British during the Anglo-Boer War. It was also the most expensive. Over the years some villages have flourished; others have disappeared; and yet others have become quirky little sleepy hollows, yet in all cases, they shape legacy of the Karoo. visit


Reverend James FitzHenry a curate of the Roman Catholic church, was the son of Michael FitzHenry and his wife Mary, (nèe Meyler). He was born in 1846,in Monamolin, Wexford, Ireland. By 1874 he had moved to South Africa and taken up residence in Port Elizabeth. Later, however, his work took him to various other towns in the Colony. He was active in a number of local scientific societies and had a particular interest in geology. When the short-lived SA Geological Association was formed in Grahamstown in June, 1888, he was elected to the committee. At a meeting in Grahamstown, on January 17,1889, he read a paper on coal reserves. He moved to Grahamstown, and served on the committee of the Albany Museum. By 1903 he was residing in Noupoort and had become an member of the SA Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1906 he is listed as “Chaplain to Forces” in Middelburg. According to he died on April 30, 1919, in Grahamstown


British regiments returning home after the Anglo-Boer War brought back with them some curious creatures. Among these was a stork. It was brought back by the 16th (Queen’s) Lancers at Colchester. The Evening Express, of November 14, 1904, said it was a fine specimen and that it had been installed as the regimental pet. And then, there was a baboon which led the little town of Guildford on a merry chase. The County Observer and Monmouthshire Advertiser, of April 5, 1902, reported that the 3rd Battalion Queen’s Regiment had returned from South Africa with a fully-grown baboon. He was a very spoiled regimental pet and marched on all parades. Then, one evening while an official regimental dinner was underway Tom, as the baboon was known, escaped, and evaded all attempts at recapture Taking no notice of enticing tidbits, he took up a commanding position on a roof overlooking the drill hall. All attempts to lure him down were to no avail, and eventually the men had to return to barracks without him. For several hours Tom provided a great deal of amusement, going from house to house and street to street, visiting the post office and police station. Then he just seemed to tire of the game and went meekly to back to barracks.


The first Henry Nourse came to South Africa with the 1820 settlers. His ship, the Elizabeth was the first to successfully cross the sand bar at the Kowies River. Henry quickly established himself as a trader. Years later one of his descendants and namesake turned out to be quite an adventurous and entrepreneurial fellow. He was a keen sportsman, encouraging friends and colleagues to play. In time he was appointed as chairman of the South African Olympics committee and also of the Amateur Athletics and Cycling Association. He served as a soldier in the Zulu War and in both South African wars. He was a post contract holder, prospector and early entrepreneur. Born in Uitenhage on April 23, 1857, he travelled with his parents to Natal where he was sent to school. He left home when he turned 13 and set off to seek his fortune on the Kimberley diamond mines. (This was the start of many speculations and investments in the South African mining industry.) He prospected in Barberton and on the Witwatersrand and, in time, floated several gold and coal mines. Among these was the Kambula Gold Mining Company on which the first 10-stamp battery on the main reef was erected. He later sold this to Robinson Gold Mining Company, The Henry Nourse Gold Mining Company later became part of the Central Mining group. In Kimberley he met many interesting people including Cecil John Rhodes and Owen Lanyon, the administrator of Griqualand West.


Henry assisted with the raising of the Kimberley Light Horse which was captained by Cradock-born Sir Joseph Robinson. In 1877 Lanyon suggested that he should move to the then Transvaal and this he did, arriving in Pretoria just before Sir Theopholis Shepstone annexed the territory for Britain. During the Zulu War, he commanded ‘Ferreira’s Horse’ and in the First Boer War he raised and commanded ‘Nourse’s Horse’. The men of Nourse’s Horse wore blue pleated scarf-type bands around their slouch hats and the regiment caried a blue flag. As a result they were known as “the blue pugarees”. In 1882 he was sent by Sir Hercules Robinson, Governor of the Colony, to Bechuanaland as an investigator and negotiator. Sir Hercules asked him to report on the troubled situation there and to try to reconcile the warring chiefs. After the First Boer War, Henry and Ignatius Ferreira ran a profitable mail coach service from Kimberley to several places in the then Transvaal and Natal. He later took up another government postal contract trading under the name of Dow & Company.


During the Anglo-Boer War he served as a lieutenant colonel and chief staff officer of Colonial Forces at the Cape. He was mentioned in dispatches by Lord Kitchener. He had a passion for horses and after the war he went into horse-breeding. He established Dwarsvlei, near Middelburg and with 600 broodmares. It was the largest farm of its kind in the world. Henry was reputed to be one of the best judges of thoroughbred horses. He was a keen racing follower, and, as an executive member of the jockey club, did much to improve the standard of horse-racing in South Africa.. He married Jacoba Petronella Preller, daughter of Advocate J C Preller, first Mayor of Pretoria. There were no children of the marriage. He died on October 6, 1942.


Eric Bertram Foxcroft was born on the farm “Stockdale” in the Oatlands area near Graaff Reinet in about 1884. His father, Jeremiah Foxcroft a first-generation descendant of an 1820 Settler met and married his mother, Elizabeth Kelbrick on August 25, 1864.The Foxcrofts had eleven children and Eric was the youngest. During the Anglo Boer War he enrolled, on January 28, 1901 with “B” Squadron of Gorringe’s Flying Column, a regiment raised by Lieutenant-Colonel G F Gorringe He thoroughly enjoyed his time with this unit. In time two of his brothers also joined the unit which saw much action against various Commandos in the Cape. On February 19,1901 the GFC, or Gorringe’s Light Oxen as they were also known because of the rapidity of their movements, were in the Bethesda Road area hot on the heels of the Commandant Gideon Scheepers, who had split off from Kritzinger in an attempt to evade capture. Kritzinger was also involved in an engagement with the GFC north of Cradock at the Fish River Station on February 23 and 24, but gave the British the slip and on March 3, 1901, surrounded the village of Pearston. On June 17, 1901, Eric took his discharge and returned home. He did not remain idle for long and soon joined up with the Bluecliff and Glenconnor Town Guard, where he saw service from January 27, 1902, until April 30,1902, when the Town Guard was disbanded. When the war over Eric became embroiled, in several count cases. In one he was fined £1.for operating as a commercial traveller without a licence.


The newspapers of 1861 termed James Craig’s death a “melancholy suicide”. And, looking back across the years, it would appear they were right. Craig who was awarded the Victoria Cross during the Crimean War was on his way to Grahamstown with his wife one day when near a Creek, in a fit of temporary insanity, he suddenly started from the wagon, plunged into the water, and attempted to put an end to his life by cutting his throat. He fell forward into the water and drowned. The shocking circumstances cast a general gloom over the town. James was born on September 10, 1824, at Balbeggie, in Scotland. The son of James Craig and Ann (nèe Guthrie), he was baptised two days after his birth by Reverend Rogers in the church of Collace. His childhood was uneventful and just before his 19th birthday, he enlisted, on August 25, 1843, with a Scots Fusilier Regiment of Foot Guards, states Richard Tomlinson in an article on Craig’s life in the Military History Journal of December, 2009. Given a clean bill of health by a London surgeon, he was listed as a labourer who had a “fresh complexion, blue eyes, fair hair and no distinctive marks”. He stood 5 feet 8.25 inches (1 ,73 metres) tall, Craig received a bounty of £2.1 0.0d for enlisting and an additional 15 shillings when he signed the Oath of Allegiance to the Queen – a quite considerable sum in those days. He was handed a copy of Articles of War which clearly spelled out the penalties for mutiny, sedition or desertion.


Craig moved through the ranks from private, to corporal to sergeant and later colour sergeant. He was a good and well-behaved soldier. He married Elizabeth Ann Scruze at St Dunstan’s Church, in Stepney, London, on March 17, 1849. Their daughter, Annie was born on May 13, 1850. Richard was not able to find any further details of Craig and his family. He served abroad and was part of the Crimean Campaign (1854 – 56). This was the first European campaign in which Britain was involved since the Napoleonic wars and it underlined the fact that the British Army had not progressed nor modernised in 40 years. James fought in several major battles and was shot through both legs, but within ten months he was fit enough to return to service He was awarded the VC for having volunteered to go out on September 6, 1855 “under a heavy fire of grape and small arms”, and personally collect a wounded man at Redan. He went to look for Captain Buckley, but found him dead, yet with the assistance of a drummer was able to bring back his body. During this action he was wounded. The award was, however, only presented in November, 1857. It was sold at Christie’s in London on January, 25, 1956, for £480.


Still suffering from the after-effects of wounds and trauma James transferred to the Land Transport Corps on January 26, 1856, He left the Crimea in July that year. He later moved to the 10th Regiment of Foot, which was serving in India. James sailed to Cape Town from East London on the coaster Sir George Grey to marry his sweetheart, Harriet Mary Rowley, the eldest daughter of the late Captain Rowley, of the Royal Navy. He was listed as a widower. Craig arrived in Table Bay on January,16, and they were married at the Presbyterian Church of St Andrew, which was close to the docks, on February 18. The couple sailed back to Algoa Bay on March 8 and, ten days later, on March 19, he was dead. His state of mind, probably resulting from his military experiences, was clearly taken into account in allowing him to be buried in consecrated ground, Mrs Liz Eshmade, an acknowledged expert, says that he would have been interred in silence, ie without the burial rites being read at the grave.


In the early to mid-1800s tinsmiths made and repaired light metal objects. These men were known as tinners, tinkers, tinmen, tinplate workers or whitesmiths and they made items such as water pitchers, forks, spoons, and candle holders, The majority of their work was done in cold metal, unlike blacksmiths who worked with hot metals. Tinsmiths, only used heat to shape their raw materials. Jobst Hieronymus Paul Schramm a German tinsmith married Maria Henriette Steffen on November 23, 1833, but in 1838 he emigrated to South Africa without her and their daughter Amanda. In Cape Town he worked for the trading and shipping company N H Lütgens. After this company went bankrupt, he moved to Cradock where he met Maria Catharina Bekker with whom he had an illegitimate child. Named for her mother she was born on January 7, 1832, in George. His wife in Germany divorced him on June 6,1851. He and Maria then moved to Colesberg in 1856 and later to, Bloemfontein where he worked as a Police Sergeant, He later returned to tinsmithing. Maria died between 1866 and 1869. Hieronymus died on June 1,1874.


The story of Cupido Kakkerlak provides a window into Khoi experience and the impact of colonization at the beginning of the 19th century. For his first 40 years or so he lived on Boer farms, learned to be a sawyer, acquired a little land and raising a family. In 1800, he moved to Graaff-Reinet where, in 1801, he met some London Missionary Society (LMS) missionaries and was converted. He joined the LMS, moved to Algoa Bay and later to Bethelsdorp Mission, where he continued to practiced his trade as a sawyer and gained prominence in mission work. In 1813 he accompanied missionary John Campbell into the interior on a nine-month long trip. After this Campbell proposed that a number of new stations be established and Cupido was one of six local assistants who were appointed. In 1817, after a short sojourn among the Griqua, he undertook a mission to the still nomadic Kora near the Harts River. Six years later, when difficulties both in and outside the mission society had multiplied, his services were abruptly terminated. Nevertheless, Cupido played a leading part as a frontier missionary, states V C Malherbe in The Life and Times of Cupido Kakkerlak.


Across the South African hinterland magnificent Neo-Gothic and Gothic Revival Dutch Reformed churches celebrate the work of some gifted architects. Among them is Australian-born William Henry Ford whose church in Vosburg is considered to be the most beautiful example of his work. The first buildings attributed to him is the Hanover DRC and the mother church in Kroonstad. Born in Australia in 1868 he was the son of Frederick and Charlotte Ford. William was educated at the Scotch College and the University of Victoria. In 1898 he formed a partnership with Edwin Summerhayes, a well-known Australian architect. Together they worked on Coolgardie City Hall, some buildings for the Australian goldfields and the gigantic Coolgardie Center for The Western Australian International Mining and Industrial Exhibition. It was visited by 61 000 people. A fire engulfed the building on July 25, 1929, after it had been empty for a while and had fallen into disrepair. In the days when William lived in Coolgardie it was the third largest settlement in Western Australia. It had 60 shops, 26 hotels, four clubs, three breweries, seven newspapers, six banks, two stock exchanges, 25 stockbrokers, four schools, two theaters, numerous churches and a horse racing track. William came to South Africa during the Anglo Boer War. He focused on the design of Afrikaans-Dutch churches in the Cape, Karoo, Orange Free State and Transvaal


A man sent “up country” from Cape Town to Bloemfontein on December 6, 1889, to work on the line and bridges found his trip took ten days. Railway travel in those days was not at all luxurious. Compartments had let-down-type bunks and passengers had to provide their own bedding. There were dining cars, stewards, conductors and ticket examiners but no foot warmers. The oil lamps were “impossible.” There was always a scramble for meals at refreshment stations. Lack of exercise, “usually brought on severe indigestion”. Lavatories depended on the water supply at depot stations, and as can be imagined this was scarce. One station master almost died of horror when he discovered some passengers had used “a precious tank of rain water to remove traces of a dust storm.” Norval’s Pont was reached but there further progress was barred, because heavy rains.


The pontoon, a huge  wooden raft, was sufficiently large enough to transport a buck wagon with its attendant team of mules or oxen. At each side was a sturdy chain, connected with pillars, which were cemented into rocks on either bank. Wind lasses were used for hauling the pontoon from one side of the river to the other. When the river subsided sufficiently for to the pont to work safely, the first consignment, a buck wagon, mule team, three men and about 20 labourers, was loaded. In midstream a vicious wall of water placed too heavy a strain on one of the pillars and it ‘gave way. The other pillar – too weak to stand the impact – collapsed entirely and the pont was over-turned, throwing wagon, men and mules, into the water. Within minutes the banks of the river were crowded with hundreds of people. There was a confused mass of kicking mules and struggling men.  Swimming was out of the question. One man succeeded in gaining a hold, but the current was too strong and despite getting a rope to him he was washed away and drowned. a gloom settled over the camp.

I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters and my enemies for their good intellect – Oscar Wild