DISCOVER THE KAROO
Live The Journey, a company that claims to be fuelled by curiosity, inquisitiveness, wondering and wandering is offering three seven-day exploration tours through the Karoo. These guided, self-drive trips are scheduled to take place on April 20 to 26, October 5 to 11 and October 12 to 18. They will start at Ceres and move through Sutherland, Merweville and into the Beaufort West district to meet actress, singer, author and traditional herbalist, Antoinette Pienaar, on the farm at Theefontein. After a two-day visit, during which Antoinette will share her knowledge of the medicinal value of Karoo plants, the group will drive via back roads to Prince Albert, then across the magnificent Swartberg Pass and on into the Klein Karoo to visit Calitzdorp, the Rooiberg Pass and Van Wyksdorp. The tour is full of interesting experiences including farm visits, stargazing, a stop at a very special succulent nursery, and a braai in an ancient, dry riverbed. During this time the tourists will enjoy the vastness of the Karoo and its hospitable people. For full details visit https://bit.ly/3WLNuo5
BRING BACK THE RHINOS
The Karoo farmer who brought hippos back to the Zeekoei River, near Hanover, in 2006, almost 230 years after the last one was shot there in 1775, now has some other special conservation projects in mind. He is PC Ferreira, owner of the Karoo Gariep Conservancy between Colesberg and Hanover. It was an emotional day for him on December 13, 2005, when a truck pulled onto his farm after a 14-hour journey from Mpumalanga and opened its doors to reveal black snouts and squinty eyes. Then, a hippopotamus bull, cow and calf, nonchalantly emerged and ambled towards the river. Several conservation ideas grew out of this initiative. Among them were the Hanover Aardvark Nature Reserve and Zeekoei River Nature Reserve, which covers 450,000-ha through 75 title deeds belonging to 50 landowners along this 300-km river that rises near Nieu Bethesda and runs into the Orange River at the Vanderkloof Dam. “It took almost 30 years but now the hippos are well and truly back,” he said. PC, who also brought buffalo back to this area. A herd of about 27 now graze and in the area and he now aims to re-establish rhinos here. Once they have settled, he will offer tourist packages costing R2 500 each to spend a day with the rhinos. A percentage of this will be paid back to farm workers and the local community.
MORE GREAT IDEAS
PC, who helped establish three non-profit organisations, now has many more ideas. He working on creating a safe house for troubled “fallen stars”, a place of safety and skills training facility, a heritage hub for descendants of the San and beehives, bees and honey operations to help keep the little towns clean and children off the streets. “We need to be responsible, to initiate and to educate, to effect change and save lives,” he said, in an interview with BizNews “Social grants only work at a certain level, below that there’s no self-esteem, self-respect and no heritage.”
AIMED TO OPEN A PATH
Kuruman was David Livingstone’s base for his long exploratory walks into Central Africa and exploration of the Great Lakes. One of Britain’s most iconic pathfinders he was the first white man to see the magnificent Zambezi River falls, which he named for Queen Victoria. In a famous lecture at Cambridge University’s Senate House in 1857 he stated that commerce and Christianity should be inseparable instruments of ‘civilisation’, rather than colonisation. He believed that the commercial development of Africa could coincide with its religious conversion. His personal aim was “to open the path”.
Though I am always in haste, I am never in a hurry – Augustus Ceasar
SA’S FIRST CAR
South Africa’s first car, a Benz Voiturette, was imported from Germany at the end of 1896, by a Pretoria businessman, John Percy Hess. He placed the order after spending a month at the Benz Company in Manheim. The car was shipped to Port Elizabeth and then railed to Pretoria. It did not run under its own power until January 4, 1897, because there was a delay in the arrival of the benzene fuel for the engine, states Hennie Heymans in Nongqai (the SA Police History magazine). Hess exhibited the car at Pretoria’s Berea Park in Pretoria, selling tickets at 2/6d each. A huge crowd, including top government officials gathered to view the vehicle. “Oom Paul”, President Paul Kruger, the guest of honour, declined a ride joking saying that dogs might bark and the car would bolt, states Professor Alex Duffey, in issuu.com, so Willem Leyds, was the first passenger. Hess received a commemorative medallion from the President. Hess became the first Benz agent in SA. Nine days later the car railed to Johannesburg and displayed at Wanderer’s Sports Club on January17. It was then sold to Johannesburg coffee merchant, A J Jacobs. Wanted to use it for advertising purposes. Each customer, who bought a pound of tea or coffee, received a card entitling him to view the car for free. This car was totally destroyed by fire late in 1897. The “motor shows” aroused so much interest that in February, 1897, three more Daimlers were ordered, one was a 15 hp1896, Phaeton imported by Koenig and Company. Then, Garlick’s Cycle Supply imported a Royal Enfield Quad in October 1898 and sold it to Sir Alfred Hennessy. SA’s first Ford, a 1903 Model A, was the first Ford to be sold outside North America.
BEAUFORT WEST AMONG THE FIRSTS
The advert for SA’s first motor show made some amusing claims. It stated that “the ox wagon will be propelled by this machinery in time and then, farewell to the rinderpest, horse sickness, expensive forage, broken harnesses, lazy grooms and runaway horses.” It added “the uses of this new contrivance has not yet been fully grasped.” In Bloemfontein the first car was a Benz Velo, purchased in 1900 by J G Hatchard, a railway engineer; Durban’s was a 1901 De Dion Bouton, imported from Paris by A G Shimwell of Shimwell Brothers Cycle Company; during that year William Alcock of Port Elizabeth, ordered a Benz, the first car in the Eastern Cape; a Panhard et Levassor was imported for Gardiner Williams, general manager of De Beers in Kimberley; a Winton, for Frank Galpin, a Grahamstown piano merchant and a De Dion Bouton Voiturette for Mr Yates of Calvinia. In 1903 a Holsman Highwheeler was ordered by Dr Lindup one of the city’s first dentists in Pietermaritzburg; Dr G. Russel, of Oudtshoorn, imported a Panhard et Levassor and the earliest Curved Dash Oldsmobiles, to be exported from America, went to Beaufort West. During the Anglo-Boer War an isolated few American steam vehicles, such as Toledos and Locomobiles, were brought to this country, mainly through the Garlick’s Cycle Supply in Cape Town. The British Army used Fowler Steam traction engines for heavy transport. Sir Alfred Hennessey, who had owned a petrol-drive car since 1898, founded the Royal Automobile Club in South Africa and the Rudge Whitworth Company established the first motor workshop in the country.
MUD AND MANURE – MAJOR PROBLEMS
Country roads presented serious problems. Plied by ox wagons and other animal-drawn transport, they were simply too rough and rugged for the motor cars to negotiate. Animal drawn transport also presented a major problem in the towns and villages – this was dung. At the turn of the last century Johannesburg had to dispose of nearly one million tons of horse manure every year. As a result, flies became a nightmare for public health. In wet weather, ladies had to raise their long skirts above their high-buttoned boots to avoid the pools of liquid manure. In times of heavy rains vehicles were trapped by the mud. In dry times, the central interior was plagued by dust. This came not only from dust storms, but also from street dust, coupled to powdered dry horse and cow dung. This was said to be responsible for chronic eye and intestinal infections. Also, the growing horse population in the bigger cities resulted in an ever-increasing demands for fodder and stabling.
“BRAVE HEART” OF THE GOLDFIELDS
Some incredible characters found their way to South Africa in the1800s. One was Charles Grant Murray Somerset Stuart Gunn, a flambouyant, self-important, handsome 36-year-old man, who styled himself Gun of Gun, Lord Farquhar. He roamed the Kaapsehoop, Goldfields, near Barberton, claiming to be a Scottish Highland Laird. He surrounded himself in wonderful, richly romantic tales. He said he had enlisted with 13th Hussars at the age of 16, but was forced to flee to South Africa to escape the death sentence after killing a man in a duel over the love of a lady. Silver-tongued Gunn claimed to have been awarded, the Victoria Cross and the Iron Cross, for bravery and to be on first name terms with the British Aristocracy and Royalty.
LONG LINE OF LAND SURVEYORS
John Melvill, (sometimes written as Melville) was the first in a long line of land surveyors to make names for themselves in South Africa. He was born in London, June 10, 1787, to Thomas Melvill, a ship’s captain and his wife, Jennett (Janet), who arrived in South Africa in 1800. John, 25, married Anna Frederika Stadler, 17, on June 21, 1812 in Lutheran Church in Cape Town. They had six sons and seven daughters. He was an excellent mathematician, draughtsman, competent surveyor, architect and dedicated missionary. He trained under government surveyor L M Thibault and when he died John took over as government surveyor and inspector of buildings. He was a deeply religious man. He became a member of the Lutheran Church in 1812, later joined the Presbyterian Church and later still the Independent Church. He escorted missionary C I Latrobe on part of his journey to the Eastern Cape in 1816 and two of his sketches were reproduced in Latrobe’s Journal.
JOINED THE LMS
When John joined the London Missionary Society (LMS) he became acquainted with Robert Moffat. He visited Griquatown in 1821 and was so appalled by conditions there that he took on the post of government agent. His aim was to convert the Griquas to Christianity. Despite being viewed with suspicion, he gradually won their confidence, but it was an impossible job because the government gave him no troops, no staff, and hardly any funds. He resigned but stayed on in Griquatown working as a missionary at Klaarwater. Travellers told William Anderson at Pacaltsdorp of his bravery during a battle between a Griqua commando and marauding Sotho-speaking tribe, the Mantatee in 1823. John later served at Philippolis, Hankey, and founded a mission at Dysselsdorp (Matjies Drift) on the Olifants River near Oudtshoorn. John designed Colesburg’s first Dutch Reformed Church. By 1846 he was almost blind, yet he spent at time Wellington, before failing health forced him to move to George in 1848 where continued to preach up to the last Sunday of his life.
LOST AN ARM IN ACTION
John’s son Samuel. who was born in Philippolis on October 23, 1828, also became a land surveyor. During the 8th Frontier War of 1851, he served as captain commanding the George Native Levy. He was wounded in action in the Amatole valley on June 28 and lost an arm. He married Martha Henrietta Amelia Ahrens in George on August 18, 1852. They had 13 children, among whom were Edward Harker Vintcent Melvill, who also became a land surveyor. Despite his handicap Samuel continued working surveying farms and crown lands in Prince Albert, Aberdeen and Fraserburg. In 1873 he extended W Bailey’s triangulation in the south-east of the Colony into the division of Fraserburg, over an area of about 10 000 sq km. In July 1873 he moved to the Transvaal as surveyor-general and while stationed in Pretoria designed the botanic gardens. He returned to the Cape and on July 1, 1882 was appointed second assistant to surveyor-general A de Smidt, states Cornelis Plug.
FOLLOWED IN FATHER’S FOOTSTEPS
Edward was born in Mossel Bay on May 22, 1859, educated at the South African College and matriculated through the University of the Cape of Good Hope in 1876. He passed the land surveyors’ exam in 1879 and worked first in Oudtshoorn, then in Cape Town and later the Transvaal where he was chief surveyor at Consolidated Goldfields and managing director of the African Land and Investment Company. In 1883 he married Joanna Elizabeth Rowe (“Daisy”) Eedes, with whom he had four sons. He was a member and fellow of many scientific and professional societies, the British Institution of Civil Engineers, the Geological Society of London, Royal Geographical Society and an examiner at Cape Town University. He also served as a JP
BULLET’S LONG PATH
Samuel’s seventh child and fifth son, Leopold Francis Melvill was 16 when he joined British Intelligence as a serviceman, the with the Pretoria Carbineers during the 1st Boer War. He was taken prisoner on December 16, 1880, with Sergeant Tom Webster but they were released two days later. His horse was shot out from under him and he was shot in the foot at Red House Krall on December 29, 1880. Despite this he carried on fighting and was one of the last to leave the battlefield. For this he was mentioned in despatches by his commanding officers, Lieutenant-Colonel Gildea and Colonel Bellairs. Surgeons successfully removed the bullet and gave it to Leopold. Over a century later, in October 2009, the bullet was mounted on a silver pendant, engraved, and given as a memento to his nine-year-old great-great grandson, who was named Leo Francis Melvill, in his honour. Leopold was born on October 16, 1863, at Riverside. He married Mary Kate White from Queenstown in June, 1892 and they had four children. He left Pretoria and joined the Standard Bank in Kimberley.
IT’S NOT WHAT YOU KNOW, IT’S WHO YOU KNOW …
In the early 1900s there was a vacancy for a district surgeon in Kimberley. One of the men interested in the post was Minton Brown, a friend, Kimberley’s Dr Evelyn Oliver Ashe, who was acknowledged as one of the foremost medical men in South Africa. Dr Ashe wrote on Brown’s behalf to A J Gregory the Cape Colonial Medical Officer of Health, saying: “A man named Minton Brown, who has been practicing at Griquatown for the last two years, is applying for the vacant district surgency there and is a bit afraid that someone may be sent up from Cape Town for the billet. I shall be very much obliged if you can put in a word for him with the proper people. He is a good chap, keen and energetic, does not do liquor and is a decent Guy’s Student (house surgeon), not a long, hungry, herring-gutted barbarian from Edinburgh. Likewise he is a pal of mine, so give him a hand if you can …” On February 21, 1905, Gregory put Brown’s name forward to the selection committee with a note stating that “any recommendation from Dr Ashe can be acted upon with complete reliance.” Gregory was an extremely competent, but very abrasive, man, states Dr Eliabeth van Heyningen. “He approved of Oliver Ashe who qualified in 1888 with LSA (Lond), MB (Lond) and MD (Lond) because, unusually for the Cape, he had no Scottish qualifications. He came to the Cape in 1892 and always practiced in Kimberley.”
BOOK COVERS THE SIEGE
Despite having an extremely busy practice Dr Ashe was a prominent author. He wrote a meaningful book entitled Besieged By The Boers covering life and events in Kimberley during the 124-day long siege in the Anglo-Boer War. This book is considered a vital resource work and is said to give an excellent perspective on the conflict “from its sharpest end”. After Dr Ashe’s death in 1925 a scholarship was issued in his name. The scholarship is open only to students associated with from Kimberley, who have excellent scholastic and sporting abilities and good moral character. The basis of selection is promise of outstanding achievement in later life, irrespective of the financial standing of the applicants. The scholarship is not limited to any particular profession, nor to any particular university states the S A Medical Journal of March 31, 1932.
NO SWEET DREAMS IN A WAGON
Sleeping in an ox wagon, on the African veld was at times a perilous experience. In A Lady Trader in the Transvaal, Sarah Heckford described her experiences in the 1880s on a night when a storm was brewing. “Before going to sleep I made sundry arrangements in anticipation of the storm. I put on my mackintosh, spread my waterproof sheet over me, placed the few articles that I prized under me, put a candle in my lantern, a box of matches in my pocket, rolled my blankets tightly around me and awaited what was to come. I was awakened by a crash of thunder. The lightening was terrific, the wind howled, battering the wagon and threatening to overturn it. Rain poured down in torrents and I could hear the river rising. I lit my lamp with difficulty and the sight was alarming. Rain was coming into the wagon like a shower bath, forming lakes and pools all around me.” The men sleeping under woke screaming with surprise, alarm and disgust. “It was a lively night. The spectacle next morning was quite comical. Garments of every size and description were hung out on the bushes to dry, but it was a showery day, so everyone looked most disconsolate. We then discovered that the bucksail had been badly fastened and had blown off during the night, so all our goods were soaked.” Sarah had no dry clothes and was obliged to sleep in wet ones and wet blankets for the next three nights.
SELF-INFLICTED MORTALLY WOUND
George Herbert Arthur Edward Hyde Villiers, Lord Hyde, 29,elder son and heir of the 6th Earl of Clarendon, was mortally wounded in a shooting accident on De Beers Estate at Rooipoort, near Kimberley on April 26, 1935. The inquest revealed that George had accidentally tripped over the butt of his rifle which he had placed on the ground to use his field glasses. He condition quickly deteriorated and he could not be moved. He died soon after. His coffin draped with the Union Jack was taken to Kimberley Station where it was placed on a special White Train. A short service was conducted by the Bishop of Kimberley and Kuruman before the train began its journey to Cape Town. George’s father, a British conservative politician, George Herbert Hyde Villiers, was Governor-General of the Union of South Africa at the time. His mother was Adeline Verena Ishbel Cocks, daughter of Herbert Haldane Somers Cocks. They were married in 1 August 5, 1905. George was born on May 6, 1906, educated at Eton and Trinity College, Oxford. He served with the Royal Horse Guards (the Blues). He was a keen cricketer and was a member of the Western Province Wednesday XI. George who was King George V’s godson, married the Honorable Marion Glyn elder daughter of Lord and Lady Wolverton in April 1932, in Westminster Abbey. It was one of the grandest social events of the year.