Thursday, 30 July 2015

An old fashioned love story

Harrismith is a lovely, pleasant, peaceful town on the Drakensberg escarpment which is the boundary between the Free State and Kwazulu Natal. 

As shared by the hosts of De Oude Huize Yard

It has a fairy tale connection with the Iberian Peninsula, in particular with Spain.

During the Napoleonic Wars Lord Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington was the commander of the British army in Spain and Portugal. His tormenting of and creating unrest in order to wear down the French resistance resulted in numerous bands, both patriotic and essentially lawless, which made life very uncertain for almost all the inhabitants.
A twenty four year old officer in his army was Henry George Wakelyn Smith, better known as Harry or to his troops as Wakalong Smite.
Harry's birthplace 
He attended school at St Mary's
He was the son of a surgeon at a time when British society was rigidly divided in a class system where only those born into the higher classes were considered as "public" and the rest even professional people like surgeons were on a par with tradesmen. Harry was the son of a surgeon and his abilities can be judged by the fact that he was knighted and later became a baronet - a member of the upper echelons of society.
When Harry was seventeen years old he caught the eye of William Stewart who assisted him to join a rifle regiment where he was a second lieutenant  
In January 1807 he was sent to Spain where he learnt Spanish. During battle there the British were victorious but the troops broke into  wine cellars and became a drunken rampaging mob for two days.

It is at this stage that the little fairy of this fairy story enters the picture.
Juanita the little Spanish fairy 
Juanita Maria de los de Lores de Leon was born on the 27th March 1798 into an old Spanish noble family.At the age of fourteen years she was orphaned and her only close family then was a sister. Their home had been ransacked by the pillaging troops at the battle of Badajoz. She and her sister sought sanctuary with the British officers where a brother officer of Harry saw her and became very lyrical about her beauty.Harry, however, captured her heart. She was fourteen years old and he was twenty four years old. Kincaid the officer who was so smitten with her that he said: "being an angel more transcendentally lovely than I have ever seen........her face though not rigidly beautiful was nevertheless so remarkably handsome and so irresistibly attractive look at her was to love her, but I never told my love , and in the meantime another and more impudent fellow stepped in and won her." 

She and Harry were married a few days later, William Stewart, Harry's benefactor gave her away. 
William Stewart
Her family disowned her because she had married out of their faith She abandoned home, country, family and Faith to be with Harry.
She was literally at Harry's side and went with on the campaigns, leading the life of hardship of the army. The troops idolised her. On occasion she slept on a bed of green wheat which had been cut for her and some of the horses would eat her bed.
During battle she was told that Harry had been killed. She ran onto the battlefield looking for him and was then told that he had been wounded but not killed.
Harry and Juana. On the photo Juana was a young women aged 18 
Harry was posted to South Africa on two occasions. 
In 1829 he was Deputy Quartermaster-General at the Cape of Good Hope. 
There they had a peaceful, happy and entertaining life until 1834 when he was transferred.
Rondebosch cottage, ‘Charlie’s Hope’ where they lived in Cape Town 
They returned to the Cape in 1847 where he was the Governor and High Commissioner. This was a troubled time in the Cape Colony and in a battle against the Boers he was wounded. He was relieved in 1852 and they returned to  Britain. He was greeted with much acclaim and he was showered with honours.
Juanita, our little fairy was granted a pension of £500 per annum

Harry had several other posting later.
In spite if his rather extraordinary rise they were not wealthy and struggled to make ends meet.

Harry died on the 12th October 1860 and Juanita his little angel died twelve years later, to the day,
They are buried together at Whittlesey.
They were married for forty years - a marriage which is truly a fairy story marriage

Harrismith is named after Harry Smith and Juana Square after this little fairy tale angel.

Juana Square Harrismith 

Harry Smith 
Lots of blessings to you from Harrismith, Free State, South Africa  

Thank you for all the wonderful friends who are sharing this story!!!

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