Showing posts with label Anglo Boer War. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anglo Boer War. Show all posts

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Dam and Her Majesty's Apology

A page from the diary of The Dam 
The story of the character full house begins at the turn of the 19th century. Paul Michiel Bester was part of the Voortrekkers and he established the town Harrismith in the Eastern Free State in South Africa. The town was proclaimed and Paul became the first magistrate of the town. He then traded and became the owner of the farm called The Dam.

During the Anglo Boer War, Lord Roberts began a policy of farm-burning in the Orange Free State in June 1900. When Boeres were sighted within 20 miles from a Boer homestead, the occupants were given 10 minutes to evacuate their homes with a few belongings before the building were set alight by British forces. The animals destroyed and the homeowners sent to the nearest concentration camp.
Most of the burnings in the Free State were carried out by Colonel Mike Rimington's notorious Colonial Force, The Rimington Guides (Tigers).

Mary Bester (nee |Mandy) and her sister, who were English speaking, sere alone on the farm The Dam, as Mary's husband Paul Michiel, had been captured in September 1900 and were in Tin Town concentration camp in Ladysmith. When Rimington Tigers arrived Mary was asked, "Madam, have you seen any Boers around?" (which they pronounced BOARS, as in males pig). "Yes" she replied, "Down at the pig stay!"
They were give a little time to gather together a few belongs before the house was torched and Mary hid her silver teaspoons in a tin covered with rusks, as the Tigers were known to loot anything of value. As here sister was heavily pregnant Mary asked the soldiers to load a chair onto the wagon which was to take them into Harrismith, which they did. When Mike Rimington saw it, he hurled the chair off the wagon. The two sisters were allowed to travel on to friends in Natal where they spent the rest of the war. 
When the family returned to the farm after the war, the chair was still in the garden and was the only thing left of their home. 
After the war British government grudgingly voted 3 million pounds towards the restoration of the country. Most of this amount went towards toe restoration of the railways and mines. The Boers received very little of this money and there were usually string attached to their claims. 
The tongue in cheek name, Her Majesty's Apology was chosen although queen Victory had died before the war ended and scorched earth policy carried out by Kitchener and Roberts occurred during her reign. 

The Dam in days gone by. The Dam was one of the first Hotels in our area. 
Look at the beautiful broekie lace that surround the "stoep" 
The lady of the house and her girls are dressed up for the photo shoot. I wonder if they went into town. 
Mary Bester in the Dam Hotel taxi. The dominee objected to the name as he said it sounded like a swear word: "the damn hotel". 
The stable boy was pulled from the stables every so often, given a pair of white gloves and given the temporary job of watering at the tables.
Look at the hats of the little girls. Sure that they are ready to hit town in the Hotel vehicle.
In the photo is Paul Michiel Bester the first Magistrate of Harrismith 
with his wife and the youngest son. 
At the turn of the century, Paul Bester, was the original owner of the farm 
The Dam 
When you look out through the windows you can still hear the inhabitants carrying on with live on the farm Life was good at The Dam and the old photo's tell a wonderful story 

Dark days was to follow when the Second Boer War break out in 1899.
"Boer" was the common term for Afrikaans-speaking settlers in Southern Africa.
At the time Paul was interned in Ladysmith during the War.
he infamous Remington's Guides attacked his Free State Farm, turning out his family, and burning down the house.
The rocking chair standing in the corner was the only piece that survived the fire 
After the war, as an apology, the British Crown rebuilt the Homestead. 
The homestead was rebuilt as an apology from Queen Victoria 
It is this older wing of the house which has now been renovated for guests, hence the name "Her Majesty's Apology"

We visited Malcolm and Angie Bester in September 2015 on the farm. 
They are both artist and has put in a huge effort to promote the artist of the area. 
Malcolm and Angie on the 'stoep' of Her Majesty's Apology 
What can we say all beautiful 
Then there is the beautiful inside of the house.
The magnificent dining table and buffet was part of Angie's family treasures 
Lets take a stroll around the yard and what is happening out side 
The Dam now known as Her Majesty's Apology and some details 
The old vine that survived the test of time 
To soon it was time to say good bye.
Hennie and Malcolm having a last chat
Little would we know that Malcolm would pass after our visit
Rest in peace dear friend  
Till next time 

Thanks to Harrismith Chronicle for supplying some of the information 

Monday, 4 April 2016

Beauty along our roads from a distant turbulent tragic past

Cosmos beauty along our roads 
Today we are sharing our blog with Andrew Barlow.  
He was born in 1931 and he attended school Wartburg Kirchdorf School.  
He is a full-time novelist, historical and current affairs analyst with a love of coffee, horses and cats.  
He was the Head Regional Magistrate of South African Department of Justice.  Andrew and me at a gathering.  
Where does one start with a story which still raises deep seated emotions?
Please read more about this "historical" flowers here 

Along many of our roads all over South Africa the sides of many of our roads and often in the veld for long distances the Cosmos flowers are to be seen in Autumn. 
They are beautiful and are in several colours. 
Many motorists are so captivated by their beauty that they stop and look and and are entranced by the calm serenity and prettiness of these flowers. 
Nowadays only a very few people know where and how these flowers came into the country.
The magic of Autumn in South Africa 
During 1899 to 1902 the South African War was fought between the two Boer republics of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal on the one side and the British Empire on the other side. 
The total Afrikaner population of the two republics was about two hundred and fifty thousand people.
The British High Command believed that it would need only infantry to wage the war but soon found that against a highly mobile force of Boer Commandos mounted on their Boer Perde it needed ever increasing horse mounted soldiers. 
Apart from the horses available in the country it had to import many thousands of horses from all the colonies and from other countries such as the United States and Europe and especially from the Argentine. 
British troopers needed horses during the Boer War. 
Those horses were sent, via ship, to South Africa.
Horses bound for war, transported via double stalls on a shade-covered ship's deck.
(Horses on Board Ship: A Guide to Their Management, by Captain M. Horace Hayes) 
To feed these horses huge amounts of fodder had to be imported. 
During the course of that war far more than five hundred thousand horses were used. Of these more than three hundred thousand died.
They died from sickness, from being killed in battles and skirmishes and in the case of the Commandos from being ridden to death.
In the fodder imported from Argentine were cosmos and khaki bush.
This photo is the khaki bush in bloom 
Wherever the British horses moved across the country, all over the Free State, the Cape Colony and the Transvaal the seeds of these plants germinated and grew.

Along our roads, along many of our roads and in large parts of our veld these flowers are a beautiful reminder of a vicious war.
In Port Elizabeth there is a monument to these horses. Of a soldier holding a bucket of water for his horse. 
Whenever I have seen that monument I have had great difficulty to hide my tears. Tears of sorrow that the most noble of all animals has had to die in a senseless human war.
The Horse Memorial (Cape Road, Port Elizabeth, South Africa) bears the words: "greatness of a nation consists not so much in the number of its people or the extent of its territory as in the extent and justice of its compassion" "erected by public subscription in recognition of the services of the gallant animals which perished in the anglo boer war 1899-1902"
If you pass the Cosmos Flowers along our roads salute the horses who brought this flower to this country.

The pink and white patches on the wheat fields 
Dancing in the wind 
Thank you for taking this trip along memory lane 
Till next time greetings from South Africa 

Monday, 18 January 2016

7 ways to entertain yourself in Harrismith

The Chevy is showing you 7 ways to entertain yourself in Harrismith 

The Free State town Harrismith is quiet, and the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Gauteng or Kwa-Zulu Natal for a weekend away from it all.

The area offers a range of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts and insight into the early settlers and the Anglo-Boer war.

1. Do some fancy driving that is offered at  De Oude Huize Yard offer guests who have an interest in Free State history something a bit special... A tour of history, treasures and stories of Harrismith all in the comfort of a vintage car.
For info on this nostalgic trip you can read more on our blog post 
Thank you to Portfolio Collection for this wonderful write-up 
The Town Hall with the beautiful the stained glass windows and other details is a must see.  The official opening of the Town Hall, by Sir Hamilton Goold-Adams took place on 7 September 1908. This magnificent building was designed by Messrs. Price and Agutter of Durban. Bricks were made in Pietermaritzburg and brought to Harrismith by Ox wagon. Other materials came from 42nd Hill. 
The footprint of the town hall measures 33.6m x 58.2m and can seat 800 people with the balcony.

Ask at De Oude Huize to watch the short video on You Tube on the building process of the Town Hall. 

2. The Galaxy Roadhouse is a fresh new approach to roadside eateries. This retro inspired diner from the original age of the roadside era. 

3. The Platberg Eco Park is a must visit to all nature lovers
You can take drive with a 4 x 4 up Platberg using the Donkey Pass
There is wonderful and challenging Mountain Bike trails
The Block house was built during the Anglo Boer War
You will find wild live in the park
The cross on top of the mountain is known to many travelers.
It is also home to the Annual Berg Marathon 
4. The Chevy then drove back into town and stop at the M.O.T.H. The Memorable Order of Tin Hats. 
The Platberg Shelhole host an interesting museum in the building 
When open you can order a drink and chat to the locals.
Please read more on the activities at the Platberg Shellhole 
5. Golf is a very important part of live in Harrismith This 18 hole course was designed in 1887 and is the 3rd oldest golf course in South Africa. The Chevy could not resist 

Next to the Golf course you will find the Bowling greens The lawns has been established in 1914.

6. The next stop for the Chevy was at the Military Cemetery. A little bit of history is that between 15000 and 20000 British soldiers were stationed in Harrismith .
When you walk among the grave you notice that the men that were buried here were young and died mostly of sickness

7. Places to shop and the Chevy's favorite The Olde World Antiques

We hope to see you more often in our Countryside Town and we do believe that you have enjoyed the ride 

Till next time 
Hennie & Sandra

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

A winter stroll in a public garden

The Deborah Retief Garden is located opposite the Harrismith’s Town Hall.
You can read more about the Town Hall here 

As shared by the hosts of De Oude Huize Yard

The park is named in honour of Afrikaner leader Piet Retief’s daughter, who spent time encamped near Harrismith with other Voortrekkers while her father negotiated with the Zulu king Dingane for land in neighbouring KwaZulu-Natal.
The gazebo in front of the Town Hall 
The garden during a previous decade 

When it use to be in full bloom during Spring and filled with poppies 
You can see the Wisteria in bloom and covering the gazebo 
Details of hardscapes in the garden 

The Old Horse hooks that were in use in the early days of the town 

Details of the cast iron lamp posts in the garden 
Lampposts built using Sandstone 
Details of the water fountain 
The coach and horse tracks in the wet cement 
Then there is the Burger monument erected to commemorate those that perish during the three year Anglo Boer War 1899 - 1902 
Burger Monument 


The history of the Burger and the monument
The photo on the page shows the burger that was used as the "model" for the sculptor  

Sunset in Harrismith 

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

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