THEY ARE NOW ALL THERE

At last a full set of Rose’s Round up is now available on the Ancestors website. The gaps are gone and the 30 missing issues have been uploaded thanks to Manny Pereira, of A-One Computer Solutions in Bloubergstrand, Cape Town. The early copies that were poorly printed on an old dot-matrix machine and consequently copied very badly. I started trying to retype them, but then Manny offered to convert them into Word. He steadily worked his way through a higgledy-piggledy array of scans, returned the pages for proofing and slowly the gap was closed. The missing issues joined the rest. See them all at https://www.ancestors.co.za/karoo-rose/ Manny has proved himself to be A-one at finding solutions.

A WORLD FIRST

Darryl David, the “Boek Bedonnerd” man who put Richmond in the Karoo on the map by making it South Africas’s first Book Town, has done it again. He is now organising the world’s first and largest online literary festival. The line-up, he says, is virtually finished (not really intending a pun) and so far 100 writers have confirmed their participation. There will be about 35 sessions by overseas authors and another 10 by South Africans living abroad. Currently waiting for about 20 more writers to say yay or nay, Darryl says: “This promises to be an unbelievable event with a line-up which will have something for every book lover.”

ONE MISS – ONE AWARD

Henry Cecil Dudgeon D’Arcy, who was born in Wanganui, New Zealand, was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery during the Anglo Zulu War. He was the son of Major Oliver Barker D’Arcy an Anglo-Irishman and member of the 65th Regiment in the British garrison, who in 1860, was transferred to the Cape Mounted Rifles and settled in the Eastern Cape. At the time of receiving the VC Henry was 28 years old and a captain of the Frontier Light Horse mounted unit of 200 volunteers. He was actually nominated twice for bravery. First, at the Battle of Hlobane on March 28, 1879, by Sir Evelyn Wood, for going back to save the lives of wounded men in the descent of Devil’s Pass. The award was not approved on the grounds that Henry was a volunteer and not a member of the Imperial Forces. Three months later, on July 3, 1879, Sir Redvers Buller nominated Henry again for bravery. He was part of a reconnaissance unit that was ambushed and he went back, risking his own life, to aid a man who had fallen from his horse. This awarded was approved and presented in December, 1879, by Sir Garnet Wolseley. Henry came to the attention of the world again in 2008 when David Randall in The Independent claimed that that Henry had faked his death. Randall claimed that after winning the VC Henry turned to drink. Later, a body wearing his clothes was found in a cave. Decades later was it said that Henry had found a dead man, changed clothes with him, and lived the rest of his life under an assumed name. it was said he was once recognised in 1925, but swore his discoverer to the secret.. Other sources, however, say that when the Frontier Light Horse was disbanded Henry joined his father’s regiment and served in the Basuto Gun War of 1880. He then resigned his commission in April 1881 because of ill health and went to live with Reverend Charles Taberer in Keiskammahoek. During the night of August 6,1881, he allegedly wandered off into the night never to be seen again. His body was found for several months later and he was buried on January 3, 1882 in King Williams Town, next to his parents.

ALL OFF UNTIL NEXT YEAR

The Friends of the War museum has announced that all events planned for 2020 have been postponed until 2021 but that they now hope to organise some visual events.

SELF-TAUGHT ENGINEER OF NOTE

Ill health brought James Maden, a self-taught British engineer, to South Africa. Fortunately the dry air of the Karoo cured him and he went on to work on several major engineering projects across the then Cape Colony. James was born in Stonefold, Haslingden, a town in Rossendale, Lancashire, England, on July 11, 1842 to George and Dinah Maden. His first marriage on November 19, 1864, was to Sarah the orphaned daughter of William and Alice Owen She was brought up by the Sellars family in England and was also known as Sarah Sellars. She and James had 8 children – 3 sons and 5 daughters – who all attended Willow Street School in Accrington a town in Hyndburn Lancashire, and famous for manufacturing the hardest and densest bricks in the world. The children were George Thomas, who married Harriet Broughton, but died in 1889 after being thrown by a horse; John (Jack); James jnr, who followed in his father’s footsteps and became an accomplished engineer (he later married Lilian Harrington-Bier, a widow); Alice, who married Thomas Howarth; Margaret, who married James Sharples; Mary (better known as Pollie) who married Matthew Wilkinson in 1885and twins – Sarah and Ruth, born on June 11, 1901. Ruth sadly died at birth. Sarah, who in time married Herbert Cleaver. stayed on in May Villa, Beaufort West, with her sister Pollie after James moved to East London.

RAISED THE UNION JACK

While James snr was home-educated he did manage to spend two quarters at Night School before emigrating. This proved to be an advantage in South Africa coupled to the fact that before leaving England he superintended the erection of six cotton mills, a corn mill, patent coke ovens and colliery works. He also served on the Accrington town council from 1882 to 1891. James and his family arrived in South Africa on May 22, 1892. After disembarking in Cape Town he left almost immediately for the Karoo as he had been told that the clean, dry air there would cure him. He settled in Beaufort West where within short he was appointed at the water supply department and later took on a job of supervising the building of the new neo-Gothic Dutch Reformed Church, which had been designed by Charles Bissett, a Scottish architect. It was a magnificent building and he was extremely proud of it. The foundation stone was laid in 1892 and, according to a newspaper report James was asked to raise the Union Jack when the building reached roof height. He proudly did this, despite the fact that he was not a church member. The church was inaugurated in 1894. James left the Karoo in 1895 to take up a clerk of works job in East London. He held this until 1897 when he moved to Cape Town where he was appointed as municipal inspector of Claremont in 1899, The job designation was changed to town engineer in 1901 and James held this post until he retired in 1914. At the outbreak of WWI he and Sarah went back to England where they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. He never returned to South Africa. After Sarah died on March 24, 1918 in Haslingden, he married Elizabeth Holmes, a widow and grand-niece of the Scottish Bard, Robbie Burns.

IN HONOUR OF HERSCHELL

In Claremont James was responsible for building the waterworks, a storm water drainage system, roads and bridges. James was a well-liked and highly respected. According to a detailed newspaper tribute he made a huge impression on municipal authorities and on almost all with whom he came in contact. He was the only self-educated engineer in the Cape. James was a member of the temperance society, he enjoyed politics and he loved animals. While in Claremont James discovered and unearthed the exact spot where the distinguished British astronomer, mathematician, chemist and photographer Sir John Herschel, had placed his telescope to study the southern skies. A stone obelisk, erected in 1842, in the grounds of the now Grove School in Newlands, marks the spot where his 20ft reflector stood. The obelisk was also incorporated into the Claremont coat of Arms. James so enjoyed his time at the Cape that he named his home in England ”Claremont’ in honour of this happy time. He died at this house in Blackpool at the age of 89.

EYES ON THE SKIES

Sir John Frederick William Herschel arrived in South Africa on January 15, 1834, to catalogue the stars, nebulae, and other objects of the southern skies. With him he brought a large reflecting telescope ideal for observing faint nebula. It was similar to his father, William Herschell’s favourite instrument. John also brought a refracting telescope for observing double stars. He conducted his survey of the southern skies from his estate, Feldhausen, south east of Cape Town and the results of his studies were immense. John was accompanied by his wife Margaret Brodie Stewart. During their stay in South Africa they studied the Cape flora and produced about 131 illustrations. He was knighted on his return to England in 1838 and lionised by the scientific world.

IN HIS FATHER’S FOOTSTEPS

James’s son, also James, followed his father as an engineer of note. He was born on February 13, 1879, in Accrington, and from 1886 to 1893, attended the local Barnley Grammar School. He joined his father in South Africa when he was 14 years old and on arrival studied engineering at the South African College in Cape Town. He did his practical training under his father, while James snr was clerk of works in East London. He then went to King Williams Town. where he was later appointed town engineer. He had previously worked on the S.A Railways and served as an assistant engineer under John Powell. James served during the Anglo-Boer War as a member of Brabant’s Horse Regiment under Major-General Sir Edward Yewd Brabant. After the war, in 1902 he accepted a post as superintending engineer under J D Shannon, at the new works department, at Salt River works of the Cape Government Railways. Then, from 1903 he was borough and hydraulic engineer in King Williams Town at a salary of £350 a year. One of his major projects was the Pirie Water Works which was approved by King Williams Town, ratepayers and Parliament in 1906. Hardly had that been done when the high rainfall hit the region and the project was shelved. As is the pattern of the dryland, a serious drought followed and the work on the dam was only started in April 1908. It was eventually completed in 1910.

IMPRESSED IN INDIA

James then left for India in about 1910 where he made a name for himself . He was the divisional engineer on the great Tata Hydro-Electric Scheme, near Bombay and later as Chief Engineer for the Calcutta Improvement Trust, where he was responsible for the sewerage and water reticulation. After nearly 10 years his health failed. He allegedly contracted blackwater fever a serious form of malaria. He then returned to England where he worked for Thomas Cook and for Barclays Bank in London. After a while he came back to South Africa but did not fully regain his health. He died aged 48 on 15th March 1930, a year before his father. James Jnr. had a son, Jimmy, who was born on May 15, 1925, in England. He also became and engineer He joined up in the WWII and was sent out East, passing through Cape Town in 1941. He was killed in 1943,

HONOURED BY A DAM

Maden Dam, an idyllic spot in the Pirie Forest, and well known in fly fishing circles, was named in honour of James jnr. This dam is particularly fascinating because it remains cool enough to support a trout population despite its low altitudes. The reason for this is that the dam is fed by a cold water stream coming off the surrounding mountains. The historical dam wall and outlet tower has a curved marble plaque that includes the details of the people who officially opened the dam, as well as those responsible for laying the coping stone in 1910. The dam is small and no boats are allowed on its waters, which somewhat hinders fishing, but anglers are allowed to fish from a floating tube and, of course, from the bank. The dam has a propensity for weeds in its waters, but this has a positive side as it is a major reason why there are so many fish. The reeds provide them with food and shelter. Maden Dam is perhaps best known as the starting point of the Amatola Trail, one of the Eastern Cape’s toughest hikes through indigenous mountain forest.

GAVE HIS NAME TO A PROTECTED TREE

Caesar Carl Hans Henkel (1819 – 1913), the conservator for forests in the Cape Province and KwaZulu-Natal, and later director of forestry in Zimbabwe (see Round-up, May 2020) gave his name to one of South Africa’s most beautiful and decorative indigenous conifers, Podocarpus henkelii, commonly known as Henkel’s Yellowwood, is grown ornamentally in many gardens because of its strikingly neat, attractive form and its elegant, drooping foliage. Henkel was the first to recognise that this was a distinct species. The tree is easy to cultivate, tough once established, and incredibly long-lived. It can also be pruned if necessary, to change its shape. Although it is mildly frost and drought resistant, it is healthiest (and grows fastest) when planted in deep, moist soils. Henkel’s yellowwood is a protected tree.

WINTER TAKES ITS TOLL

Karoo winters can be very harsh and these conditions cost one volunteer soldier his life. The Graaf-Reinet Advertiser of Wednesday, July 3, 1878, reported Captain Sampson of the First City Troop, had “breathed his last” in the Albany Hospital on Monday, as a result of exposure to the elements. “We have before us a letter written last Friday by one of the troops at Thackeray’s Farm, Claypits. He states: ‘We have sent a very sick man into town.’” He added that another, Corporal Waters. was also very very bad. “He has been sleeping out nights and this has done him no good. We could not help this as the wagons did not catch up to us.”

VIBRANT ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONIST

The widely-known South African artist, teacher and activist, William “Bill” Ainslie had links with the dryland. He was born on April 10, 1934, in Bedford, in the Eastern Cape, where his family had a small farm, called Spring Grove. They later moved into the Karoo, but a drought forced them to relocate to Johannesburg. Bill’s father died when he was eight years old. He then decided to become a priest, however, while studying at the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg he became interested in art. After completing his honours degree in Fine Art he taught at Michael House and King Edward schools and later at the Cyrene Mission in Zimbabwe. In 1960, Bill married Sophia Jansen-Schottell (known as Fieka). He died in a car accident in August, 1989, on the way back from an international workshop at Cyrene. Bill began by painting African mothers and children as well as farm labourers. He later moved into abstract expressionism and became widely known for his use of striking, vibrant colours. He was responsible for training several well-known African artists. At his funeral, Pat Williams, paid tribute saying: “People who could meet no other way came from far and wide to his funeral; all colours, races, religions and conflicting political beliefs from the wealthy to the desperately poor, the influential to the dispossessed. They came together in warmth and love – that was Bill’s dream for South Africa.”

BRIGHT TO THE END

George Stillwell, 83, a widely known engineer and contractor, died in Queenstown on July 17, 1878. While he was not an 1820 settlers, he arrived in that year, stated The Free Press and quickly his work ethic became legend. “He was first employed as a contractor and builder of the ‘Scotch Church’ in Cape Town, He later became engineering foreman on several projects and during Lord Charles Somerset’s governorship was deputy sheriff of Cape Town. He then moved to the frontier, where he encountered many ups, downs and vicissitudes of frontier life. Despite his advanced age, he was as bright as a button to the very last,” said the newspaper.

DEATH OF A FIRST-CLASS CRICKETER

In his book, Final Wicket: Test and First-Class Cricketers Killed in the Great War, Nigel McCrery mentions Lieutenant Norman Seraphio Hobson, who served with the Graaff-Reinet Commando. He was killed at Rooidam in East Africa the age of 29 on November 25, 1914. In an item entitled First generation to fall for his country, Nigel states that Norman’s family settled in South Africa in 1829 and introduced cricket to local farmers. They were also founder members of Harefield County Cricket Club in Port Elizabeth in 188l. In 1905 while playing for Harfield Cricket Club Norman scored 241 against Cradock. “This score remains a Club record to this day,” wrote Nigel. Norman played one first class game on February 20, 1906, for Eastern Province against the MCC at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth and scored 6 and 5.The MCC won by 10 wickets. At the time of his death his next of kin was given as J E Hobson of Shirlands, Kendrew, Graaff-Reinet. Norman was born in Graaff-Reinet on May 7, 1885. He was educated at St Andrews Collage in Grahamstown. He was buried in the Ebenhezer farm cemetery at Pearston.

A PEEK INTO MILITARY HISTORY

The Graaff-Reinet Military History Museum, which was established in 2005, gives a rich and varied overview of military activities and regiments in the area dating as far back as the late 1700s. Exhibits cover major milestones from the times of the commandos through, the Anglo-Boer War to both World Wars. The history of Graaff Reinet provides some of the earliest examples of civil defence in South Africa. Tt was from there that the early settlers established the commando system. These efforts can be traced back to the Frontier Wars. Between 1793 and 1824, over 24 commandos were launched from this village in an effort to keep peace on the frontier. The area saw a great deal of action during the Anglo-Boer War and many sons of the Karoo from this region served in regiments that saw action in both World Wars. The Graaff-Reinet Commando, a light infantry regiment, formed part of the S A Territorial Reserve in WWI and the Middellandse Regiment, later Regiment Gideon Scheepers and later still Regiment Groot Karoo saw action during WWII. This regiment was established in 1934 as Citizen Force unit in the Union Defence Force. It was initially garrisoned in Cradock, but there were sections in Graaff Reinet, Steynsburg, Burgersdorp, Middelburg, Umtata and Aliwal North. The Regiment was originally trained in East London in 1835 mainly in the use of the Vickers machine gun. By 1839 its headquarters were moved to Graaff Reinet. It was mobilised on September 6, 1940, assigned to the 9th Infantry Brigade and later the 2nd South African Division and sent to Egypt during WWII where it was placed under the command of the 8th Army. It saw quite some action, much later also served in the Border War.


Be like a postage stamp – stick to a thing until you get there – Josh Billings