Thursday, December 16, 2010
A Pioneer of South Africa
Eli married Susannah Bentley
Eli is Merthan Glenn Ellis’ great great grandfatherChildren:
John W. married Margaret Buckley
Jemima married George Ellis
Jeremiah F. married Priscilla J. Talbot
Sarah Ann Susannah married Charles Staples
Margaret Alice married Thomas B. Talbot
Rosannah M. married Charles S. Talbot
Frances A. married William Lowe
Joseph Elijah Talbot married Mary Whitesides
Eli Wiggill History Chapter I Leaving England
I was born in Gloucestershire, England, in the year of our Lord, 1810, the 5th day of November, being the eldest son of Isaac and Elizabeth Wiggill. My mother's maiden name was Grimes, of whom I know but little, nor do I know but little of my father's family. He was a Millwright and Carpenter by trade, and in those days he was considered a first-class workman.
I remember very little of England beyond going to school and learning the first rudiments of education, until I was about eight years of age. At that time, on the 12th day of July, 1819, being the last day of the session of Parliament, Mr. Van Sittart, leading cause of the embarkation for Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, of more than four thousand souls.
Mr. Van Sittart is reported to have said among other things, "The Cape is suited to most of the productions of temperate climates; of the olive, mulberry and vine; and other fruits; and persons emigrating to these settlements would soon find themselves very comfortable."
Long before this emigration was talked about, my Father had thought of going to America, but did not quite make up his mind to leave England until the scheme was proposed. Accordingly, he settles his business, and prepared to leave the dear homeland. His family then consisting of his wife and four children, namely: Eli (myself), George, Joseph, and Elizabeth.
Good-byes were said, farewell tears were shed, and they embarked on the "Kennerseley Castle", which sailed from Bristol in December, 1819, arriving at Cape Town in March of 1820, and in April anchored in Algoa Bay, and disembarked on the following morning at the town which was only a fishing village.
Upon landing, the settlers were disappointed to find their destination fully one hundred miles from the coast. They had left England with very little knowledge of this new home, but they were full of courage, these hardy pioneers, full of hope for the future. Times were hard in England, and visions of a new land, of a freer life, cheered them; but their hearts sank as they sat on the baggage, among the sandhills, awaiting the conveyances which were to take them to their new homes.
The large wagons, in due time made their appearance, drawn by spans of fourteen or sixteen oxen. A novel sight, indeed, to the settlers. These wagons were provided by the Government, at the cost to the emigrants, a debt which was afterwards most considerable, as were the charge of rations for several months. In fact, the British Government of that day behaved with the greatest liberality to the young plantation.
On the 18th of April, the first, or "Chapman’s" party, commenced their inland journey in ninety-six wagons, from Algoa Bay, afterwards known as Port Elizabeth, then a small village numbering thirty-five souls. The head of the company to which my father belongs was Mr. Samuel Bradshaw. In this company were the following men, their wives and families; Richard
Bradshaw, Isaac Wiggill, S. Burt, Thomas Brant, William Nuth, Joseph King, Henry King, Phillip King, Samuel Bennett, Thomas Baker, Joshua Davis, and John Gibbons.
They were located in a place called "Lemon Valley". The settlers called it "New Gloucester", after the city my father came from and a lovely spot it was. We felt forlorn as the wagons moved off and left us and our luggage on the grass under the open sky. Our roughly kind Dutch carriers wished us goodbye, and maybe they wondered what became of us.
When we had watched them out of sight, we looked around us; no shelter of any kind; grass, trees and flowers. We must take root and grow, or die where we stood; but we were standing on our own ground, and it was the first time many could say so. But night was coming on, and we must prepare; so tents were pitched, fires kindled, bedding unrolled, supper cooked; and then to retire, and thus, the life of the settler began.
Many wild animals swarmed through the forests, such as elephants, wolves, jackals, hyenas. Game of various kinds was also abundant. Many kinds of antelope bounded over the plains. Ostriches ruffled their pretty plumes, birds of brilliant hue sang among the trees. The children were happy, the new sights and surroundings interested them. The cares and fears of our parents did not trouble us. We picked flowers, searched for wild fruits, and the boys many times ran headlong into dangers unknown to ourselves and our elders.
We found wild grapes, the vines up and over trees fifty and a hundred feet high; the wild fig; the myrtle apple; wild plums; the Cape gooseberry, a berry in a pod or a sheath. The Mimosa trees exude a sweet gum, which we boys used to eat. The trees are full of thorns, and are used to make corrals with, the thorny branches put close together, they make a good fence.
Chapter II - Making New Homes
I will now try to describe the valley. It was called "Lemon's Valley", because in it were found some lemon trees. Also grape vines, being remains of a Dutch homestead. We traced a water ditch. Also the ruins of a house which had been built of mud and destroyed by fire. The natives had evidently driven the inhabitants away. A threshing floor was also discovered.
Young as I was, I thought this valley the prettiest place I had ever seen. Rising hills and mountains all around, covered with trees and wild flowers. A serpentine river flows through the center of the valley, on its banks grew the wild date, fig, and other trees, mostly the Mimosa, the flowers of which scent the air for miles around.
When a few weeks had elapsed, the settlers began to think of building houses. They divided the valley into lots, and each man took a lot which pleased him, until all were satisfied. They built houses of rushes, weeds and wattle, and daub, none of which was wind or rainproof.
My father built his house upon a high ridge, of a strong material. He cut stout, posts in the forest, carried them on his shoulders from two to four miles away. He planted the posts firmly, filled in between them with wattles, which I helped to carry. The roof was covered with sawed timber, sawed in an old-fashioned sawpit. When the house was finished, it looked very neat. It was two
stories high. In this house my brother Elijah was born. When the house was built, attention was turned to breaking the ground up which commenced in good earnest. Many plowing by moonlight. Gardens were soon made, fields were plowed, and wheat sown, but alas! The wheat got the rust, and was no use for flour. They then grew barley and other grain, which was used for bread. Vegetables of all kinds grew well, such as pumpkins, corn, beans and peas. The Government still supplied food rations to the settlers, without which we would have suffered.
It was during this time a painful accident occurred to me. My father borrowed a sled to do work with. A sled and six oxen. My brother George and myself were sent to return them. George was leading the oxen and I was driving and flourishing the whip. Then I thought I would lead, and let my brother ride, but before I could get to the head of the oxen, they became frightened and started to run; they ran over me; the sled cut my leg, laying the bone bare. It was done so quickly, I did not know I was hurt until I found my shoe full of blood. The wound was three inches in length. I could not walk, so George put me on the sled, and we turned back home again. It was several weeks before I could be out again and to an active boy of ten years, this was a great trial. I wanted to be out, for we boys were always busy. We used to hunt for wild bees' nests, the honey was very good to eat with our bread.
Chapter III - The New Settlement
The time soon came when three Commissioners arrived in our colony to appoint the settlers' homesteads. Thus they spread out, four, five, and six miles apart; built better homes, and were more comfortable. They still had to go eighteen or twenty miles for rations, which was quite a labour until they got some cattle, which they did by saving an ox-occasionally from those given to them for beef. By so doing, every man soon had two yoke of oxen. They first used sleds, and the block-wheeled wagons. They finally thought of buying wagons from Dutch settlers who had been in the colony for years.
They then began to make roads from one settlement to another, which was easily done, the country being level. The principal road was one to Bathurst where the rations were given out; this consisted of flour, rice, live sheep and oxen, and rum. When it was brought to the settlement and divided, it was quite a sight. Many were eager for the rum, which caused many a drunken spree. I do not know why the Government thought rum a necessity.
At the mouth of the River Kowie, was quite a town. Bathurst was appointed by the British Government to be the seat of government for Albamy settlers. Large houses were built for the Magistrate, which was called "The Drostdy". At the Kowie, a large Custom House was built, also Government offices. All this gave work to the tradesmen and mechanics among the settlers. Under the direction of Sir Rufane Shaw Donkin, all these works were done. He was Acting Governor in absence of Lord Charles Somerset. On his return, he upset all that Sir Rufane had done, to the great dissatisfaction of the people.
He moved the Government to Grahamstown, and the seaport to Algoa Bay. Vessels occasionally came to the Kowie to unload their cargo, and a little business was still transacted, but they finally abandoned the Port and went to Algoa Bay, which became a flourishing place. The town was named Port Elizabeth by Sir Rufane Shaw Donkin, in memory of his young wife, who died just
before he came to the Cape. He built an obelisk of brown stone to her memory, which still stands on a square overlooking the bay, called "The Donkin Reserve". The country around Bathurst and the Kowie is of a park-like aspect, and very beautiful.
Chapter IV - Struggles of the New Settlers
By the year 1823, the settlers had got plenty of cattle through exchanging with the Dutch people, who were glad to get clothing and other articles in return for oxen and wagons. Many settlers turned their attention to trading, taking loads of merchandise inland among the Dutch, and trips sometimes lasting six months. Before this was done, the Dutch wore clothing made of skins. When they saw the pretty dress goods, they were willing to pay almost any price for them, which enriched the traders. They often paid in homemade soap, and ostrich feathers.
Great Fish River was the boundary line between the settlers and the Kaffirs. The country being well wooded, the Kaffirs used to hide in the dense bush and pounce out on the settlers cattle, and many suffered from their robbery. They often killed the herders and drove off the cattle. Often the farmers found their cattle corrals empty in the morning, and the iron dragged off the plows, with which the Kaffirs made spears, called "Assegias". At last a treaty was made that they would not cross the river, but the Kaffirs often broke the promise, and did much stealing.
The settlers were earnest and energetic in their first attempts to make Albany an agricultural district. Just as they had got their lands in good order, their garden planted, then came the great flood of 1823, which swept through all the settlements, sweeping all that came in their way, even washing the plowed ground away as deep as the plow went. Many houses were washed away. One man made a hole in the wall of his house to let the water out, and only let the river in.
The early struggles and privations of the settlers appealed to the hearts of British humanity, who were never appealed to in vain. Contributions, numerous and hearty, came from East and West. India joined in aiding the Mother Country. The amount reaching several thousand pounds. Boards of relief were formed, and many cases of painful distress came before them. They were thus helped to start afresh, although some got more than their share.
Chapter V - My Travels with Edward King
In the year 1823, a young man by the name of Edward King came to stay in my father's house. He had come from England in our party. He had just returned from a trading expedition among the Dutch farmers, and when he was ready to be off again, he induced my father to let him take me along with him, to help with the wagon and oxen. My father gave his consent and we started. In Grahamstown we stayed a few weeks, working at hauling firewood. Then we started for Fort Wilshire, carrying government supplies for that place, which was about fifty miles from Grahamstown, in the heart of Kaffir-land.
We left Grahamstown, crossing Bothas’ Hill, which was very steep and rocky. Our road lay for miles through thick bush, the trees covered with runners and vines. A peculiar tree grows here in abundance, called "Speck-boon" by the Dutch, known in England as "Elephant's Food." The
leaves are small, thick and juicy and very sour. The wood of this tree is spongy and porous, of no use as timber or fuel. The elephants are fond of it as food.
The Government had this road made. The first place we reached was a farm called "Herman's Kraal", on it was a military fort. Oh, how tired I was with that day's travel. My limbs ached. I could not sleep. I was up early the next morning taking the oxen out to graze. I saw for the first time a new fruit which grew on a kind of cactus, called the "Prickly Pear". With this fruit I had a painful experience. Each leaf is covered with small thorns which rub off as soon as touched. This I did not know. Childlike, I pulled the fruit and began to eat but soon was in great pain, the thorns sticking in my hands and mouth. The fruit has a thick skin. When that is peeled off, the flesh is firm, full of seeds and of delicious flavor. When I learned how to handle them, I enjoyed many a feast. They are hard to eradicate. Every leaf, when touches the earth, puts out rootlets, and thus starts a new plant covering acres of land. The more they are cultivated, the less thorny they are.
Fort Wilshire is on the bank of the Great Fish River. There are two rivers of that name, one being the Little Fish River, finally merges into one. We traveled through dense Fish River bush, from Herman's Kraal to the river. In the bush we saw many wild elephants, but they did not molest us. We crossed Fish River at Double Drift, so called because an island divides the Drift, or Ford, in two. Here, at night we watched the elephants come down to drink. We left the river and ascended a very steep hill, from the top of which we had a fine view of the country for miles around. On both sides of this hill winds the river. The country is park-like in scenery, open spaces and clumps of trees. A twenty-mile travel from here and we reached Fort Wilshire, named in honor of Colonel Wilshire, of a British regiment who helped drive the Kaffirs out of these regions in 1819. Rev. Henry Dugmore, in his Reminiscence, gives a graphic description of this place. I have been much interested in reading it, as I visited it as a child.
When the Government heard of the commercial talents of the settlers, they consented to foster it by a Periodical Fair, to be held at Fort Wilshire, where the traders and Kaffirs could meet to exchange wares. That was indeed a time of excitement for both parties. The parties had beads, buttons, and brass wire. The Kaffirs were there in thousands from mountain and glen, bringing with them their articles of exchange, being ox-hides, ferns and gum from Mimosa trees, and sometimes elephant's tusks. Here were seen long lines of women with bundles on their heads, babies on their backs, until a crowd was assembled under the trees which surrounded the fort, and bartering began. A tremendous lot of talk took place and many could not understand each other. Strange language was spoken, and sadly perplexed were the traders at times, before all were satisfied. If a photographer had been there, a curious picture would have been taken of that motley throng. Fashions among the Kaffirs change from time to time, and this caused a loss to the traders. The women are as particular about their head turbans and skin mantles, their bead and button trimmings as the Europeans. This fair was good for Grahamstown merchants and the settlers, but did not aid in the civilization of the Kaffirs, for greed and unprincipled men smuggled guns and ammunition in with the merchandise, and with these weapons the Kaffirs fought against the settlers in the terrible ruinous wars which soon followed.
Chapter VI - My Travels with Edward King
When we left Fort Wilshire, we took the road to Fort Beaufort, a town about twenty-five miles from there. It is on the Kat River, a large stream flowing between banks fringed with willows and other large trees. From Fort Beaufort, we returned to Grahamstown, crossed the Fish River at Fee Kraal Ford. Here were prickly pears in abundance, but I did not touch them. We passed Herman's Kraal again, and finally reached Grahamstown safe and sound. Here we stayed at a blacksmith's named William Bear. Edward King left me here and went to see my father, and on his return told me he had permission of my father to take me with him on another expedition. I afterward learned this was false.
While in Grahamstown, I had an experience I never shall forget, which I will relate here. I was herding the oxen in Captain Somerset's Kloof (Canyon), when a most terrific thunderstorm came on. The thunder rolled, the lightening played around my feet. I took shelter under a large tree, not knowing then that it was the worst thing I could have done. Rain fell in torrents, flooded the ground, filled the streams and rivulets. It was with great difficulty that I got the oxen and myself home. Such violent thunderstorms are frequent in South Africa, lightening often setting fire to houses or barns and killing men and animals.
Well, in due time we were off again on our journey, taking with us three passengers, Mr. and Mrs. Mitten and Mr. Dale, who were on their way to Cape Town. The first time we camped was on the farm of a Mr. Nel. It must have been a very old place; the manure in the sheep corral was about 8 feet deep. The Dutch seldom clean out their corrals. In consequence, it collects and gets higher and higher. They keep brushing it up with mimosa tree branches, until the sheep or cattle stand on a mound 8 or 10 feet above the ground. Sometimes these corrals take fire, and burn or smolder six or seven years.
Our next stopping place was another farm owned by Joseph Van Dyk, where we saw similar corrals. Mr. King did trading at nearly every place we stayed at. On one farm we found a small village, as the Dutchman’s children often marry and live on the same farm, building their houses near the old homestead. This farm was owned by one Gert Fichter. Here we loaded up some good he had left there on a former visit. I remember being much interested in one thing, it being a hand organ with dolls in it, which danced when the organ was played.
We were now in Somerset District. The road at times was dangerous. I well remember one very ugly place. The road was excavated on the side of a mountain and on one side was a deep defile several hundred feet deep. The road being very narrow, a slight deviation would have caused the wagon and all to have gone over the side and been dashed to pieces. The farmers in this district were rich in horses, cattle and sheep, lived in ease and luxury. At this time all the Dutch were slave owners.
We passed many fine homesteads, gardens, and orchards of luscious fruits of all kinds. Grapes in abundance, from which they made large quantities of brandy and wine, also raisins. The houses had large cellars in which were stored barrels of wine and brandy. When we reached the Fall River we stayed a few days with a farmer named Peter Dutois. Here Mr. King made a change in wagons, receiving six oxen as well. While on the farm I had an experience not to be forgotten. As usual, one day, I took the oxen out to graze, crossing a small dry creek, only full of water when it rained. This day I stayed out a little later, darkness came on suddenly and I could not find the crossing. Wolves and jackals began prowling and barking all around me. I was fearful they would eat me up. I kept my courage up as well as I could, knowing the wagon road was below me. I kept on down until a cow that was left out that evening going home, happen to be on our road. She took the lead, my oxen followed her. I followed them, until we reached the house. I was truly thankful to the cow and to my Heavenly Father's protecting care.
From here on we traveled over extensive plains, known as the "Karoo", covered with a small shrub bearing yellow or pink flowers, and no grass. Cattle and sheep live on this shrub. There is very little water. We would go about thirty miles without seeing a drop. Hundreds of ostriches, guinea fowls, wild turkeys and other game birds live on those plains. Antelopes called Hortebeasts, and springbok by the thousands. Lions were also plentiful, and it is on these antelopes they lived. At last, these plains came to an end and we halted at a creek, a tributary to the Sundays River. A desolate wild with no habitation in sight. Willows and Karroo wood grew on its banks. This tract of country belongs to the District of Graaf-Rienet. Graaf Rienet was a Dutch town one hundred and fifty miles from Grahamstown. This district contains the highest mountains in Southern Africa, called the "Compassberg"; its altitude being 10,250 feet above the level of the sea.
We left the Sunday River, travelling through a pretty country, stopping at many farm houses to do a little trading. This country also abounded in game of all kinds. We finally came to a rugged chain of mountains called the "Quart Bergen" or the "Black Mountains". They extended through the whole colony from Cape District to Grahamstown. We halted at a farmhouse built near an opening in the mountains, as I always wanted to see all there was to be seen. It was hard work climbing up, but harder work descending. So precipitous was its side that one misstep and I would have fallen headlong and been dashed to pieces.
The road from this place went through the Fort. A river also runs through which drains the country for many miles. It is a curious stream. At some places it disappears under a bed of sand to reappear further on as a swift stream. As we passed through this Port or Pass, I saw hundreds of large baboons leaping over the huge rocks, looking down on us and barking. Thousands of Conies, or jackrabbits were sitting on the rocks sunning themselves. Other wild animals of this region are wolves, tigers, porcupines, wildcats, and antbears.
We next came to a farm owned by a man named Knott. We stayed one day there and were treated very kindly. After we left this place we traveled for days through these mountains, following the river, which threaded its way winding this way and that way, those rugged rocks frowning down on us. At one place the rocks were overhanging and we traveled under them with the baboons and rabbits close company. The riverbanks were fringed with trees of various kinds. The country inhabited by Dutch farmers, not the wealthiest.
One night we camped with no house in sight. In the night there came a heavy snowstorm. Snow was six inches deep. Our cattle were turned out, so we could not move for two days. Then Mr. King went on foot in search of help, and found a farmhouse quite near the wagon. He got oxen and drew the wagon to the house and engaged a Hottentot to hunt our oxen. He soon found them and we continued on our journey another day. We now found the winter coming so severe, the oxen being poor and weak, we decided to stay here awhile. The Dutchman kindly let us live in a part of his house. We boarded ourselves and were very comfortable. Mr. Mitten being a carpenter and Mr. Dale a shoemaker. They both worked for the Dutchman. We stayed here two months, riding around and visiting with the neighbors, sometimes trading with them.
Chapter VII - My Travels with Edward King
A short sketch of this district may be of interest to some readers. The division was formed in 1786 and named after the then Governor of the Cape, Van De Graaf, and his wife, Rienet. Before this time, however, it had been traversed by the colonists in search of water and pasturage, and some had established themselves there. They found it inhabited by straggling tribes of a diminutive people called bushmen, who existed on small game, killed with poisoned arrows, also eating ants and locusts and honey. They possessed neither flocks nor herds, never cultivated the soil, and never built houses. Their habitations being clefts of rocks. The pioneers of civilization found these people very troublesome, stealing sheep and killing the herdsmen, often murdering whole families.
In spite of the degraded conditions of the bushmen, they possessed a talent unknown to other tribes. They very skillfully made pictures on walls of the caves. Many of their drawings are still to be seen on smooth faces of the cliffs, representing wild animals in various attitudes. The colors never fade. They were true artists. They are now an extinct race. The Dutch waged war on them and the few that remained merged into the Hottentot race.
The Division of Graaf-Rienet, when originally formed, was computed to contain 50,000 square miles, but it was greatly reduced by other districts being formed which took in parts of it. Colesburg, Beaufort, Cradock, Somerset, and part of Uitenhage, being thus formed. Its entire area is now estimated at 8,000 sq. miles, with a population of 9,000 souls.
Chapter VIII - Lost Cattle
After staying about two months at this place, Mr King and myself started off on foot in search of our oxen, which had strayed away. We traveled for miles, and met no one. At night we reached a farmhouse. I was indeed glad, for I was so tired and hungry. The houses are far apart in this part of the country, on account of scarcity of water. These people treated us kindly, gave us good supper and a good bed. The Dutch people are very hospitable. They will take in any stranger for weeks and never charge for their board.
We left those kind friends the next morning, continuing our weary search for the oxen, but our search was in vain. Night came on, and no house in sight, so we lay down hungry and tired, but not to sleep much. Wolves barked and howled around us. Mr. King had an English fowling piece with him, but did not use it.In the morning we started off again, wishing we had some food with us. I found some marrow bones on the roadside. We broke them open, but there was no marrow in them. We were glad to find water to quench our thirst. Wild melons grew here, but too bitter to eat. We continued our journey, footsore and tired, and to our joy, at length reached a farm house in an isolated spot up in the mountains, where one would think it impossible for any one to live. We found a place of refuge for the next twenty-four hours, which we much enjoyed. We went back to the wagon by a different road, passing farmhouses all the way, having no suffering. No trace of the Oxen could be found. Then Mr. King sold his wagon to Mr. Mitten and Mr. Dale, also a few Oxen. The lost animals were never found by us. I do not remember what he got for his wagon. I only remember two or three watches.
While we were staying here I saw a sight I never shall forget. This Dutchman had a slave boy about fourteen years of age. He had a sister on a neighboring farm and he would run away to her. One day they brought him home, and to punish him he was tied to a wagon wheel. The wagon turned on its side so that the wheel would turn. Every time the wheel turned the boy came round, a man with a large strap in his hand with a buckle on one end would give him a cut. The blood would run at every stroke, so that the wheel was covered with blood. They then took him off, rubbed salt into his wounds and set him to leading the oxen, which were plowing. They tied his hands fast to the plow so that he could not run away.
After this painful scene, Mr. King and I started off on foot, travelling three days, passing homesteads with their orchards of oranges, lemons, figs and other fruits. At night we were kindly received by the people of these farms. The third day we reached a farm where lived a widow and from her Mr. King bought a wagon and fifteen oxen, and one horse, some cows and one bull. He started off with the wagon drawn by eight oxen, leaving the loose stock for me to drive while riding the horse. The horse was so lazy I could not get him along, so I dismounted to get a switch to help him along. While doing so he started off at full gallop with me running after him for a mile. He finally outran me and I never saw him again. I retraced my steps to where I had left the cattle. They were nowhere to be seen. While I hunted for them Mr. King was going on and on until out of sight. I found the cattle over a rise, got them back to the road, and followed the tracks made by Mr. King's wagon wheels. His tires were full of large nails. When I came up with him he was in a fix. In coming to a small river, the oxen, having no leader, had made a wrong turn and brought the wagon on a narrow bank between the river and the mountain. It was impossible to get the wagon out without unyoking the oxen and backing the wagon out, which we did. We were within a mile of a farmhouse. When we reached it, we halted for the night. During the night the bull ran away and the dogs stole the meat. The next day Mr. King went on with the wagon leaving me to walk and drive the loose stock.
I followed the track of his wagon. Among the many tracks I knew his by it’s having great nails on the tires. I once picked up the tar bucket which he had dropped, carried a little distance, found it too heavy so I hid it under a bush and left it. Two days travel brought us to G. Knott's again to my surprise, for I had understood King to say he was taking me home. We were traveling for days in Swellendam District. We stayed at Knott's for some time and made arrangements to leave the loose cattle there in his care. Then Mr. King and I started with the wagon with brandy and dried fruit to take back to Grahamstown. We often suffered for want of water. One day we camped at a deserted house. The people had gone and left many things in it. Among them was a small barrel of vinegar. While Mr. King was off in search of water I enjoyed the vinegar, drawing it out of the barrel with a reed. After leaving this place we traveled on for several days passing a farmhouse now and then. At one of these farms a man who was there took pity on me, as I was barefoot. He ordered me a pair of shoes made, for which I was very thankful. One day the wagon struck a large tree which tore off the cover and bows with such force it scared Mr. King so much he threw his hat off one side, while he jumped off the other. Then he blamed me for it. We were now among rich farmers who had plenty of everything, extensive vineyards and orchards. I saw pear trees fully fifty feet high. Wheat grew well. Farmers had their own gristmills.
Instead of King's buying brandy as he intended here, he sold his wagon and oxen and bought horses. He mounted me on one, himself on another and we started off to different farmhouses. I had never ridden before so got very tired and sore. I finally told him I could sit no longer and I would not go any further. He then told me to go to a Dutch farm we had passed about forty miles from there. I walked back fifteen miles and stopped to rest and told the people where I was going all alone and on foot. They would not let me go, saying it was not safe for me, as there were lots of lions in that part. The lady made me tidy and when I was washed and clean I felt better. She gave me a comb to dress my head with. I felt more at home than I had for a long time. I helped the boys do their work such as herding stock or making gardens. It was winter when I got there and I stayed with these kind people until spring. In all those months I never heard anything of Mr. King until one day a messenger came saying I must go to a neighboring farm where he would meet me. He had deceived me so many times I would not go to him the first time. He then sent again, with such fair promises to take me home to my parents that I went back with the Hottentot man he had sent for me. We walked fifteen miles. The people at the farm were very sorry to part with me. They gave me plenty of food, enough to last several days. Their name was Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Strydom, Quartbergen District.
Chapter IX - Home Again
When I saw Mr. King, I hardly knew him. He had been very sick. He had been in a section of the country where the people were very poor. He had had to live on white ants and game. These ants are about half an inch long. Their nests are under ground, about the size of a bushel basket. This nest is full of eggs which the natives eat like rice; they call them "Race Mera" (Rice Ant). It is a destructive insect, eating vegetables, also cotton and leather goods. A man may be rich today and poor tomorrow through the ravages of these voracious ants.
I found Mr. King and another man prepared for a long journey with horses and provisions. He said he was going direct to Grahamstown, so that my hopes of getting home were once more raised.
We started in the direction of Grahamstown, travelling for two weeks, then turned off in another direction, crossing immense plains of Karroo bush. Ostriches roam over these flats. We rode from house to house buying ostrich feathers. At the first opportunity Mr. King would sell them either for money or goods, then we would go on and buy more. Thus we traveled for months. I cannot remember when the other man left us. These people of whom we bought the feathers
were very rich farmers. One day Mr. King heard of a trader being in the neighborhood named William Kittson, of Willson's party of settlers. We were anxious to meet him. He was glad to see me, for my father had told him if he should happen to find me in any of his travels to bring me home. I was overjoyed to see one who had so recently seen my father, from whom I had been parted so long. I was willing to go home with him, but Mr. King was not so willing to part with me. He tried to keep me out of the man's way, once by taking me with him to swim, and various other dodges, but it was of no avail. Mr. Kittson was determined to have me and hardly let me out of his sight until ready to start for home. Mr. King had to let me go. I have never seen Mr. King since. I heard of him many years later. He was then making large broad-brimmed hats for the Dutch people in the district of Swellendam.
I started for home with Mr. Kittson from the great Quartberg Port, before described, being two or three hundred miles from Grahamstown. We had to call on many Dutch farmers on our way to gather up stock that he had bought on his way up, consisting of sheep, cattle and goats, also Dutch soap, tallow and hides. While on my way home my eyes became sore and I was blind for a week.
How glad I was to once more behold Grahamstown. My dear mother came to meet me with my little sister in her arms. I had been separated from them for over a year and had much to tell them of my adventures and hardships. During my absence my father had moved into Grahamstown, had built a windmill, and was living in the lower story. I soon began helping my father with his work, going to the forest to cut timber. He was then making plows.
While in the forest one day, a young man came up on the hill and called to my father and told him the mill was on fire. My mother had gone to Grahamstown on business. We hastened home to find the mill a mass of ruins. It was built on an eminence overlooking the town, about a mile distant. It was a windy day. It was supposed to have taken fire from coals left, and shavings from father's workshop blowing onto them. By this fire my father lost all he was worth, his tools, furniture, and all he had. After years of labor and toil he had to begin afresh.
My father moved his family into Grahamstown, where kind friends gave him a house to live in, rent free, until he could help himself again. The house was an old artillery barrack, built before the town was laid out. It stood in the middle of a street. My father had to work a year before he got things comfortable around him again. He then got a piece of land granted to him with a water right on this land. He built a gristmill. The water proved too weak to work the mill without depriving other people of water for home use, so he built another windmill in the same Kloof, and between the two he did good business. He also worked at his trade, making wagons and plows and other work. I had a narrow escape from death at this mill. While working at the wheel, the props gave way, and began to swing around. To save myself, I tried to stop the paddles. I held on as long as I could, then fell unhurt. I was then sixteen years of age. Just as we were again in comfortable circumstances, my mother took ill and died, in the year 1827. She left eight children, five sons and three daughters, I being the eldest.
Sometime after the death of my mother, I left home for the purpose of learning the wagon-making trade. I heard of a good tradesman living in Long Kloof, or Georgetown. I started for that place, which was eighty miles from home. I had traveled thirty miles when I met a man named
John Rogers. He persuaded me to stay with him. He lived in a forest. He induced me to stay with him by offering big wages, to help him saw timber. Wages were to be thirty-five shillings per month. I worked for him for six months then I left him and worked for a Dutchman at same work for same pay. I worked for these two men for a year, and never received one-month's pay, or its value. This forest was called Peiter Retief’s Bush, on the Zuurbergen Mountains. At the end of the year I returned home with three tanned sheepskins and black silk handkerchief. Very little for a whole year's work.
Chapter X - My Marriage
I remained home with my father for some time after this, occupying my time in sawing timber in forest, by cutting tall trees down to make a sawpit, and sawing them into lengths. We would stay in the forest sometimes for weeks. The timber trees are black ironwood, white ironwood, white pear, black pear, assegia wood, sneeze wood, chestnut, Myrtle wood, Stinkwood, Olive wood, red and white milkwood, yellow wood of two kinds, and many other trees. Sneeze-wood has a peculiar pungent odor when it is being worked. It makes one sneeze. It has enduring properties, much used for posts, lasting for years. When burning, a kind of oil runs out. Stinkwood is a kind of mahogany used for making furniture. It is very durable and pretty grained. It is taken to England in large quantities and used there in making gun stocks. It takes a fine polish.
About this time my Father married his second wife, her name was Mary Sayers. She had recently come from England with her sister. She had four children, and at the time of writing, three of her sons are living, are married and in good circumstances. Names are Moses, Aaron and James.
I continued to work with my Father until I was twenty-two years of age and had mastered my trade. I then married a young lady of name of Susannah Bentley, daughter of Francis Parrot Bentley, one of the 1820 settlers. They came from Yorkshire, England. She was the eldest daughter. Reverend William Shaw married us. William Shaw was a Methodist minister who came as Chaplain with the Salem Party. All of my Father's family were members of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. After my marriage in 1831, I started in business for myself in Grahamstown; had two apprentices. We had all the work we could do in making new wagons. Food was cheap, beef was one penny per pound and all other eatables cheap accordingly.
On the 7th day of December 1832 our first child was born. We named him John. He was baptized by Rev. William Shaw. Our second child was born on October 14th, 1834. We named her Sarah Ann. She died in November 1835, in the Winterberg.
Chapter XI - The Kaffir War Breaks Out
Everything went well with the Settlers until 1835. The peace was suddenly broken by a Kaffir Rebellion. The aspect of the British Settlement just one week before the war began was pleasing indeed. It had recovered from its early difficulties. Humble but comfortable dwellings were to be seen. On the green grass, happy children played, innocent of impending danger. Cattle and sheep grazed on the hillsides, or along the streams in the valleys. In the fields were seen men and oxen plowing. Axe and hammer resounded from fires and forge. All were busily engaged. Prosperity had crowned their labors. They had no regrets for leaving their homeland and scant earnings.
Many who had arrived in poor health had become strong and well. Pure fresh air and out-of-doors toil had given them a new lease on life.
But alas! This peaceful scene was rudely disturbed, and in fourteen days the work of fourteen years was annihilated. Forty-four persons were at once murdered, 369 dwellings destroyed; 261 robbed; 172,000 cattle carried off. These natives had no cause for a quarrel. The Governor had commenced negotiations with the various tribes. All Chiefs had expressed satisfaction with the new law, except Tyali. The enemy gathered a large force of 10,000 men and entered the Settlement in the night of 21st of December, when the happy Settlers were preparing for their Christmas feast. The Kaffirs rose along the line of thirty miles of frontier without attracting the notice of the Missionaries who labored among them. No warning whatever of their intentions reached the Settlers, and they actually boasted they would drive the white men into the Sea, and build their huts at Algoa Bay. By the 26th of December they were already in the vicinity of Uitenhage.
So sudden was the invasion, many hairbreadth escapes took place. One lady was preparing Christmas pudding when her husband rushed in, caught her in his arms and ran for dear life, to her surprise. He thrust her on a horse and galloped off. His houses were handsome and costly. His homesteads on three farms were burned. All his cattle swept away. He was thus bereft of his riches in one night, without warning, even a change of wearing apparel for himself or family. Many others were in the same condition. Of all the Settlements only three remained, in these the farmers had taken shelter. In eight days a large body of these Natives returned to Kaffir land with their booty. On 1st of January, a meeting was held at Chunue Mission Station. The Missionaries, in fear, failed to be present. The Chiefs dictated a letter which Rev. Weir penned, with "overtures for peace", proposing to abstain from hostilities until they could get an answer to a demand for a compensation for wounding a man named "Klo Klo", charged against Colonel Somerset, and other grievances, all without foundation. This insolent document was dispatched within ten days after the rebellion began, after they had laid waste to a thriving and prosperous community.
The news of this invasion reached Capetown by express, and was a surprise to the Authorities and public there, and energetic measures were at once taken. Colonel Smith was dispatched, reaching Grahamstown in six days. Martial law was proclaimed over two border districts. Fort Wilshire and Kaffir's Drift Post, on Fish River, were evacuated. These places were burned. Seven thousand people left destitute. Lamentations of the widow and fatherless filled the land.
"The ear-cry echoing wild and loud, The war-cry of the Savage fierce and proud, Had burst like the Storm, the thundercloud O’er Africa's Southern Wilds."
Chapter XII - The Kaffir War
Rev. H.H. Dugmore in his reminiscences gives a graphic description of this time. He was in Kaffirland on a mission Station and had heard no rumor of the war. The people on the Station were afraid to move from the place, as they knew the natives were plundering the Trader's Stores. Night after night they saw the burning homesteads of Lower Albany lighting up the
horizon. They could only imagine what was going on down there. Week after week passed with no news from the Colony. The old Chief who was protecting them, at last said, "Ahuscha Mlunga! Inhomandi Ingavelengi, Capabile bonki" . In English,— "There are no white men left. No Commando makes its appearance. They must be all finished up".
At last the silence was broken. Troops of Natives were seen hurrying in one direction. The upper basin seemed alive with cattle. A panic had seized the tribes occupying the country between them and the Great Place of that notorious old Chief, Eno. He escaped disguised in the robe of one of his wives. Had this attack been followed up, it would have confirmed peace and shortened the war.
During the war, my wife's brother, John Bentley was killed. A young man by the name of Thomas Shone had left Grahamstown with Government stores for Bathurst, when the war broke out, he had not returned. His parents became alarmed, thinking he had gone to their farm ten miles from Bathurst, when the war broke out, and would be there alone and likely killed. They prevailed on my brother-in-law and a man by the name of Chippenfield to go in search of him. So they started with a cart and six oxen belonging to Shone's father. On the way they left the cart and drove the oxen as they knew Shone had a wagon. The young man, Shone, was safe in Bathurst, so they started back to Grahamstown which they never reached. When several days had elapsed, and they did not return, a party went out in search of them. About twenty men went. About fifteen miles from Grahamstown, in a settlement called Waay Plaats, here they found the yokes and straps. Searching farther they found John's body pierced with Assegia wounds, his whip lay by his side. He had crawled into a bush to die. (Assegia ——A slender Javelin or spear of the Bantu of Southern Africa.) Chippenfield's body was never found. Coffins had been taken along so they put his remains (badly decomposed) into a coffin and buried him there, taking his hat home to his poor Mother. It was full of holes. It will never be known how they met their deaths.
A peculiar incident happened in connection with poor John's death. One night his Mother heard his voice saying, "My mother, oh, my mother!" It may have been the very moment he was killed.
I stayed at Grahamstown until peace was proclaimed, doing military duty and working at my trade. When the war was over, I went to Bathurst to live on my property there, where I remained two years. In 1837, I left Bathurst to go with my father to fulfill a contract he had made with the Government to get five hundred sneeze-wood poles. They had to be twelve feet long, and eight inches square. Also some timber for barricading one side of Fort Beaufort. We had a great time getting this timber, searching the forests far and near to get the trees required. Before we had finished the contract, the order was countermanded, the work on Fort Beaufort being abandoned. The poles were used then in building Military outposts. While I was thus engaged, my little daughter, Sarah Ann, died. I then left Bathurst and went to the Winterberg and joined my brother George. He had married and settled there and had a thriving Blacksmithing business. I worked at wagon making in his shop for about a year.
Chapter XIII - I Go as a Missionary to Bechuanoland
Some time before I left Bathurst, I had an engagement to go to the Bechuana Country, beyond the Orange River, as Assistant Preacher with Rev. John Edwards of the Methodist Church. I gave up my business and made preparations to go. I made a Wagon for the purpose, which the Society engaged to pay for. When I was ready to start, the whole affair was countermanded by the Society, so I sold the wagon and started to work again, but I was disappointed. I had long wanted to go on such a mission to preach to the heathen. I could not settle to work properly.
One day there came to my brother's farm, a Mr. Rev. Green, stationed at Fort Beaufort. He said he had a letter from Mr. Edwards asking him to see me and ask me if I still desired to preach to the Bechuanas. I said I would think about it. Soon after this, George and myself went to Grahamstown with a load of produce on two wagons. The roads through the mountains were very rough and steep. One hill called the Blinkwater Pass was very dangerous. I have known wagons to stick on this hill for days. Here one of our wagons upset and broke the tent all to pieces. We had to stop and repair it. I met Rev. Edwards in Grahamstown, and agreed to go with him to the Bechuana Country. He paid me one year's salary. My brother George and myself made a flying visit to Bathurst, and from there to the Kowie, where my brother's father-in-law lived. Mr. Joseph King. We returned to Grahamstown, got our wagons loaded with new goods, and started for home. A Mr. Philip King went with us. We went a different route to avoid that fearful hill.
At a place called Bushneck, we sent a boy to a wayside house to buy some wine. A little further on we camped about sunset. While resting on our bed, some money rolled from my pocket, and as I picked it up, I thought of my pocket-book, which I had put in the wagon chest, as I thought, but it was not there. We searched the wagon all over, but in vain. We made torches and looked along the road. It was not to be seen. Just before I missed the book, two persons had passed us. Mr. King said, "They may have picked it up, let us go and see". So we went to the Hotel. I did not want to go, thinking it a forlorn hope, but he insisted, and we went. The proprietor said he had seen no one there with a pocket book. I asked him if a man and woman had been there. He said, "Yes, they are in that room, and we found them both drunk." Mr. King felt like searching them, but Mr. Wilkie said he could not do so without a warrant. But Mr. King rolled the man over like a log, and found in his pocket, my pocket-book. It had my name in it, a gold ring, and several bank notes. "Here it is, I'll be bound," said Mr. King. They had spent about thirty shillings in liquor and groceries, also wearing apparel. The shopkeeper gave the latter to me and we resumed our journey home.
I began to prepare for my journey to the Bechuana Country. In one sense of the work, it was the worst move I ever made. My brother George stayed there and got rich with selling wagons to the Dutch who were now moving away from the Colony toward Natal. They had become dissatisfied because the Government freed their slaves. They moved in hundreds, and wagons they would have at any price. Abolition of Slavery was proclaimed in 1834, from which period the slaves were indentured for four years.
This act of humanity was a credit to England, but the injury inflicted on the slave-owners of the Cape, was great, by the manner in which it was effected. The sum of twenty million sterling was
granted. A fair appraisement was made of the 35,745 slaves, the average valuation of eighty-five pounds. To add to the injustice of the act, the money was made payable in London, by which a further reduction was made, through the necessity of employing agents. Many families were ruined and sold their claims in the Colony at a loss. Some rejected the paltry sum awarded them. This wrong, with the insane policy introduced to supercede that of Governor D. Urban, drove its victims to seek pastures now beyond the Gariep and to Natal.
Chapter XIV - We Journey to Our New Home
Having settled my business in Winterberg, I started for my new sphere of Labour, I had a wagon and eight oxen. My wife and children, John and Jemima accompanied me. Our first stage was to Fort Beaufort, to collect things for the journey. My brother Joseph went with me thus far. When I left Fort Beaufort, I traveled through the Kroomie Bush on the Cradock road. We halted the first day on Kaga River, the property of Sir Andreas Stockenstroom, who was then Lieut. Governor of the Frontier. A Trader camped with me that night, and nothing would do but I must let him have my wagon, and wouldn’t take no for an answer. I thought perhaps I wouldn't need it when the Journey was over, and as I had sold my oxen in this way to my brother Joseph. I finally consented, promising to send them back by first chance. This trader's name was Mr. Bell. He paid me in merchandise from his wagon. We journeyed together until I we reached the Beavian's River, and camped at a farmhouse. From here we traveled over Daggaboars Nek, a rough, rocky hill. We crossed the Tarka River, where lived a Dutch farmer named Lombards. All this district was inhabited by rich Dutch farmers. We crossed the Stormberg Spruit, and traveled on until we reached the Orange River, across a flat country, mostly Karoo. The river is beautiful and wide, water as clear as crystal, three hundred feet wide; its bank fringed with trees, mostly willows. We crossed the ford called the Sand Drift. Another day's journey brought us to the Caledon River. This river is not so wide, but deep and dangerous. Many accidents have occurred through its sandy bed and banks. It is treacherous when in flood, and sand shifts, leaves holes unknown to travelers. In later years, a floating bridge, or pontoon, carried wagons over.
This country was uninhabited by man, much game abounded. Also the Lordy Lion. We passed Mission Station, which belongs to the French. The Missionary's name was Mr. Rowland. Large rocks abound here. We camped alongside one of enormous size. They appear to have rolled off the Mountain. That night our dog began to bark. I looked out of the wagon and in the moonlight, I saw a Lion, about fifty yards away. The native boy awakened, cracked his whip, the lion just walked leisurely away, and we went to bed.
The country was now very pretty, many riverlets and streams, and clusters of trees. Lots of antelopes and ostriches range these parts. We met some men who told me we could reach Thaba Nuha Station that night if I drove hard. One of the men took the whip, and from that moment, the whip and his tongue were never still one minute. On the sides of the road for miles were kaffir gardens and fields. It was moonlight. At midnight, we arrived at the Station where the Rev. Mr. Giddy was stationed with a tribe of Baralongs, or Bechaunas.
In the morning Mr. Giddy welcomed us to the house. As it was Sunday, I saw for the first time, a Congregation of natives. Mr. Giddy preached to them in their own language. I then saw what
was before me. The Thaba Nuha Mission takes its name from the mountain of that name, near which the village stands. Moirosi was the Chief.
They build substantial houses or huts with verandas and porches all around them, under which they stow their grain in earthen jars, holding four or five bushels. They also make baskets of grass. Around the verandas hangs a screen made of reeds. Their dress and ornaments are similar to the Natives in the Colony. I stayed with Mr. Giddy for a few days and then started for my station. Two days of travelling brought me to Mr. Edwards's Station, through country bounding in game. A large party of Native hunters passed us, each one carried an umbrella made of Ostrich feathers. Large packs of dogs were with them, greyhounds, to assist in the hunt.
We halted at noon, near a river into which an Antelope, called a Weldebeeste, plunged, he was full of spears. As we returned from the river, on nearing the wagon, we saw my little girl, Jemima, with a bone in her hand which she was still picking from her dinner. We were startled to see a large eagle dart down and grab the bone from her hand and fly away. It frightened the children so she screamed. We next camped near a gigantic rock, as big as a house. It had rolled down from the mountain. The scenery was grand; plenty of grass and water. Lions were plentiful. We passed a mission called Griqua Station, Lishuani, or Green Cliffs, presided over by Rev. E.H. Garner. At last we reached our destination, and very thankful we were, but to our disappointment, found Mr. and Mrs. Edwards away on a visit. We were shown the house I was to occupy. We lost no time in unloading the wagon and taking possession, and as we thought, comfortable for the night. But alas! There was no rest for us. It was an old house thatched with reeds. We put the children to bed. They soon awoke, screaming. Their mother went to see what was the matter and to her horror, discovered hundreds of hungry bugs devouring the poor little things. I never saw bed-bugs so numerous in all my life.
This station is high in the Mountains, giving an extensive view of the country for miles around. A mountain stream ran past the dwelling house. Mr. Edwards' house was very large. Chapel and house under one roof, roofed with reeds. The house was whitewashed and could be seen from a great distance.
By the next Sunday Mr. Edwards had returned, and in the evening he said to me, "Who do you think is the best man tonight, you or I?" He persuaded me to preach, being my first attempt in the Dutch language, and was quite an effort, as I had never before spoken on Spiritual things in public. I did fairly well. The people understood me better than did Mr. Edwards when he first came among them. I took for my text, 11th and 12th verses of First Chapter of St. John's Gospel, which reads thus: "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not, but as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the Sons of God, even to all them that believe on His name."
Now began a busy life for me. I taught school every day. We opened the school with singing and prayer. When not in school, I was busy making doors and window frames, mantel places, and garden gates for the Mission buildings. Every other Sunday I had to preach at the Korrana Station, twenty-five miles distant, a long lonely ride. The interpreter's name was John Pinner, a Griqua, had been in employ of the Society for years as a school Master. He could read Dutch fluently. It was from this man I learned to speak and read Dutch better. He was very fond of me,
would watch for my coming, and have the kettle boiling. I carried tea with me. He liked to help me drink it. He would crack his long whip which would echo for miles. The Natives, hearing this, would come from all directions to meeting. I would stand under a large olive tree, and they would sit on the rocks around. I preached in Dutch and John would interpret it into their language. When I was not there, he preached himself. After meeting, I met the Church members in class, and then started for home. It was generally dark when I got there. When on the road once, I had a terrible fear of meeting a lion. I felt one was very near. People said there was surely one near for me to feel that way.
At the end of six months, I felt I needed a change and told Mr. Edwards so. He said if I liked I could move to the Korrana Station, which plan suited me. At the next District meeting, I was appointed to preside there.
Chapter XV - My Wife Visits the Colony
About this time my wife left home to pay a visit to the Colony (in the year 1829). She traveled in company with Mr. H. Garnier, and a French Missionary, named Lemua, who were going to the Colony. She took the two children with her. I accompanied her a few miles beyond Thaba Nuha. I hated to part with my family, but my wife expecting to be soon confined, was filled with a nervous fear to be ill among the natives, so planned this long journey of six hundred miles to Bathurst. She arrived there safely, and on the 12th on May, my second son was born. She had him christened, "Jeremiah Francis." She was weak and poorly for a long time, and while there, measles broke out and the two wagon boys took it, and on the road home, the two children got it, and a weary time she had. The farmers on the roadside were afraid of infection, and shunned the wagon. By the favor of the Lord, they arrived home safe, after an absence of five months.
But I must return to where I parted with her. I then went to my new station, but I first had a journey to take to the sand River, to see if the Emigrant Dutch who had taken this place from the Korranas, would give it up. But they were settled, and would not give it up on any terms whatever. The Sand River District was of Park like appearance. Mimosa and other trees dotted its surface. It had once been occupied by a tribe of Mantatees, but a warlike tribe called Zulus, had massacred many of them and driven the rest far back. I saw their bones bleaching in the sun as I traveled along.
I now moved to the new station, Mirametsue, and commenced to build the house. I planned four rooms and furnished two before my family returned. I was living in these two rooms when I had some visitors, a French Missionary, Mr. Dumas brought two gentlemen to see me. These men were members of the Society of Friends, called "Quakers", whose names were Walker and Backhouse. They were traveling as far over the world as they could, visiting missionary stations, and preaching their doctrines; also writing and sketching scenes of their travels, and distributing tracts. It was the first time I had ever met Quakers, and their quaint talk interested me. So strange to hear the "Thee and Thou". Mr. Dumas had brought some food as he knew my wife was away. We had dinner and I found them intelligent, well-informed men.
John Pinnar cracked his long whip, which brought the Natives to hear them preach under the olive tree. They spoke in English, I in Dutch, and the interpreter in Koranna. Thus they were
understood. They both preached. They also preached at Mr. Edward's Station,. He was away, but his helper, Mr. Bingham, entertained them. Mr. Walker said in the course of his remarks, "Your teachers can tell you how to walk, but they cannot walk in the path themselves," on which Mr. Backhouse said, "You mean they cannot 'walk' in the path for you." We slept that night at Mr. Edward's Station. I had ridden over with them. We made a good fire and chatted late into the night. In the dining room there were two lounges, they were to occupy, and upon retiring, Mr. Backhouse being the shortest man, got possession of the longest sofa, and would not give it up. So Mr. Walker who was tall, had to be content with the short lounge. This caused us some merriment. Next morning they left and I went home. I never saw them again. Their visit was a pleasant break in the monotonous life among the Natives. They sent me from England, a copy of their book, a history of their travels to all the missionaries, but I never got one.
Soon after this I had the joy of welcoming my wife to her home. I was away at Lishuani Station when a man came to tell me she had come. I did not expect her so soon. However I returned to find it was true, and very glad I was to meet my dear wife and the children, and to see the new baby, after so long a separation.
I now went to work and finished my house, with the needed material my wife had brought up. It was a snug home, containing a dining room, bedroom, a kitchen and small study. Roofed with course grass, bound with strips of rawhide. An old man who had been my servant in Bathurst came back with my wife, and I found him of great help. He was very faithful.
This Station was surrounded by picturesque scenery. On one side a huge mountain rises; its sides were covered with large rocks, which rolled from its summit from time to time. One rock was thirty feet in height. We could get out wagons in between these rocks when we went for timber which grows on the mountain. Natives also built their huts among the rocks. Korranas build huts of bamboo, which grows here from ten to fifteen feet high. They plant them in the ground, bend tops over, and cover with mats made of rushes. They can pull these huts up, roll them up, and place them on pack-oxen in their frequent moves from one locality to another.
They are rich in cattle and horses and live on milk and meat. They never cultivate the soil. When I was there, they lived in a neighboring Kloof, a different tribe of mixed Natives, who raised a little produce. The Korranas around my Station had lost some cattle and accused these people of stealing them, and unknown to me, they attacked them one night, plundered and killed many. They fled for shelter into the Mountains. One day a man came to my house and begged me to go with him to a cave in the Kloof, which I did. I rode my horse as far as I could, and then walked. The rocks were full of bullet marks. I finally reached the cave and found it full of wounded men. I washed and dressed their wounds, prayed with them and returned home. My wife was relieved to see me again. She had been anxious during my absence.
I had got home comfortable and was happy in my work when the next District meeting was called. At this meeting was Rev. Mr. Shaw, who was General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Mission in South Africa. The meeting had decided to have a Gristmill erected at the Plaatberg Station, being the center of a wheat-growing district. As there was plenty of water there, it had to be a water mill. Mr. Shaw asked me if I would build it, as they had already decided it was not for me to say "no". I hated to leave my home where the people had become attached to me, but I
consented. Mr. Shaw promised me a yearly remuneration over and above my salary. I was succeeded by a Mr. J. Hartley, a man I had known well in Grahamstown. I waited until he arrived to take charge, stayed with him a week, introducing him to the methods of work there.
Before leaving the station, I wish to say a few words about the Korannas. When I arrived there, Isaac Faibosh was the Chief. He died of consumption. He was succeeded by his brother, Gert Faibosh. Before this their Uncle John was chief. He went on a great hunt for wild game. One night they saw a huge lion near their camp. John said, "I must either kill the lion or move camp." They saddled their horses and gave chase. When they came nearer the lion, they fired, and wounded him. John rode up to the lion who instantly turned and chased him, sprang on the horse and lacerated him with claws and teeth. Also wounding the brave John, from which he never recovered, dying a few days afterwards. His followers say they never had another Chief like him for bravery.
I left Mirametsu, and went to view the Mill-site at Plaatberg. Rev. James Cameron, Chairman of the district, resided here. After a few weeks at Plaatberg, it was decided I should go to Grahamstown to fetch materials to build the mill with.
Chapter XVI - I Am Removed From "Mirametsu" Station
I now began to prepare for my journey to Grahamstown. I first went to Thaba-Nuha, to get a span of oxen from Mr. Giddy, so I left Plaatberg on horseback alone, although it is customary in the Cape to have a young boy to ride with a traveler. The Dutch call him an "After Rider". It was a distance of thirty miles over a plain, I halted at a river called "Leum", or Lion River. After a rest, I went to catch my horse, but he, being a spirited animal, would not stand still for me to put on the saddle. I tried in vain for more than half an hour, finally gave up, and shouldering my saddle, drove the horse before me; at intervals trying to throw the saddle on his back. I walked along in darkness, until I overtook a wagon. One wheel had broken and the man was trying to mend it. I was tired and hungry, so stayed with him until morning. He had no bedclothes, but lent me an old wagon sail, black with age and full of holes. It was winter, and frost severe, and I had hard work to keep from freezing. Morning was welcomed by me. I soon caught my horse and covered the six miles to Mr. Giddy's where a good breakfast refreshed me.
I arranged about the oxen and returned to Plaatberg. In due time he sent the oxen and we were soon ready for our long journey. We traveled a road through a country new to me, on the banks of the Caledon River, through clusters of mimosa and olive trees, until we reached the Orange River. At the ford called the Buffel's Vla Drift, the river was in flood, too high for us to cross, so we went down the stream about four miles to a Dutchman's place. He took our wagon to pieces and took it over a piece at a time, landing it on a big flat rock in the riverbed below the bank, where we put it together again. Before we had got It completed, there came a fearful thunder storm. The Dutchman left me to my fate, and I had a big time. I had to get the wagon up the steep sandy bank. The rain had soaked the sand which gave me no foothold to the poor oxen. I had to dig a trench eighteen inches deep on the upper side to keep the wagon from upsetting, and I held to a rope. We finally struggled up on the bank. I had an experienced driver with me. This Ford is where the Crow River empties into the Orange River. 21
On we rolled until we reached Buffalo Valley, and Hot Spring. The springs were strongly impregnated with sulfur and near boiling hot. This place was the first discovered in the year 1805. It was then used as a hunting ground and pasturage in dry seasons. It was inhabited by Bushman, Buffalo and Lions.
In 1819, we have the first written account of this territory from the pen of the amiable Colonel Collins, who was ordered to visit and report on the country beyond the northern boundary of the Colony. It was then circumscribed on the northeast by the Zuurberg River. This Officer was accompanied by Sir Andreas Stockenstrom. On the third of February they discovered a stream coming from the north, to which they gave the name of "Caledon", in honor of the Governor of the Colony. They also discovered another stream and as there were no inhabitants to tell them what it's name was, they named it in honor of Sister H.G. Grey, “Grey's River”, it became corrupted by the Dutch into Kraai, or Crow River.
The Pioneer colonist who first dared to settle in this wild country was one G.F. Beguidenbout, who made his home at a place he called Groen, or Green Valley, in 1823. Other parties soon followed. Petrus De Vet, who planted his household first in Buffalo Valley, I became acquainted with, and he told me it was at that time a swamp a mile in length, full of tall reeds. He found in that swamp, a conical shaped mound, which he opened and made the water flow freely. He made a ditch and used it to irrigate his lands, and for household purposes. The stream was strong enough to turn a small water wheel. When I saw it, it was a bed of turf, spongy to tread on. The water had drained out, and cattle ate the reeds off.
The Valley contained about fourteen thousand acres of fertile soil. The springs issue from two eyes or fountains, 78 feet in diameter and 22 feet in depth. Mr DeVet's place is two miles from the Orange River, so named in honor of "William, Prince of Orange". On it's banks now stand a thriving town called Aliwal North. The springs supply water to baths and sanitarium, so it has become a great health resort.
But I must proceed on my journey. Five miles from here we halted. While camped, two Dutchmen rode up and asked where I was from and where I was going. I told them my purpose was to take a certain road to Grahamstown, one I had never traveled, as I wished to see the country. They said it was not safe for me to go on that road, as it was infested with lions. I took their advice and took another road, leading over the Stromberg mountains, a rough, rugged country, but rich in orchards and cornfields, and sheep, owned by Dutch farmers. We camped in this district, on the farm of a very obliging Scotsman, named John Kargon. On we went until we reached a steep stony hill, called Donker-hoek Pass, meaning Dark Valley. Over this we passed in safety, travelling over a flat country dotted with mimosa thorns, until we reached Klas Smits River. After crossing this River we stayed at Haslope Hills, where resided Rev. John Ayliff. Here we stayed over Sunday. We never traveled on Sundays. Two days more brought us to Winterberg, where we visited with my wife's parents, and my brother George, for a week. We hired a wagon to take us to Grahamstown. My brother-in-law, Tom Bentley, going with us. We went by way of Fort Beaufort and Fort Brown.
Chapter XVII - The Journey Home From Grahamstown
On my arrival in Grahamstown, I found the order for the mill had been countermanded. All I had to do was to gather up the goods for the Station, and my own supplies, which took me two weeks. My brother-in-law went to Algoa Bay for a load of goods, and my old servant man went with him to see the Sea, as he had never seen it. On their return I was ready for the journey home. When we got to Blinkwater Hill, I had to send for my brother Joseph to help with his oxen. I found wagons there ready to start for Plaatberg. One was Rev. J. Bingham's on which I loaded some timber, a new plow, and a wheelbarrow my father had made for me.
In a week I was off, my father going with me, also my brother-in-law, George and a young lady named Harriet Pote, who went as companion to my wife. I left my son John with my brother George to attend school and to my great regret he did not get much schooling, as he was kept herding sheep, and helping about the house.
From the top of the first hill we ascended after leaving my brothers, we got a good view of his farm and surrounding country. His farm and one joining it was called Kaal Hoek, owned then by my father and named by him, "Pinkest Valley" after a place he lived at in England. The tops of the great Winterberg mountains are seen from a great distance in clear weather, from ninety to one hundred miles, very often white with snow. Four Rivers take their rise in these mountains. The Koonap, The Kat, the Swart Kei, and the Taarka. These mountains are covered with forest, many timber trees. A tree worthy of notice is called the “Kaffir Boom" or Boral tree. In early spring these immense trees are thickly covered with clusters of large red leaves of a leguminous nature. They bear pods two inches in length, containing small beans of a scarlet color. These trees are numerous in Kaffir Aria, and admidst the green foliage of other trees, present a gay appearance.
Rain is frequent among these mountains. A misty rain continuing for weeks, when in the Valley below the sun is shining. Flowers, ferns, and creeping vines abound, grass is coarse and rank. The road to the Valley is very steep and rugged. Long grassy Valleys descend to Tarka River, which river we cross half-a-dozen times before we lose sight of it. English and Dutch farmers reside in this District. There are few trees, and sheep dung, cut in blocks from the corrals, or Graals, (as Natives call them,) is used as fuel, and a fierce heat it makes. Wheat growing and sheep and cattle raising are the occupations.
We traveled this valley for fifteen miles, turning to the right, crossing Tarka River, and ascending Tafelberg Nek, a rugged and difficult road of eight miles. In the vicinity there is a school for Native people, called Haslope Hills, founded by the Wesleyan Society. In the center of this valley stand two remarkable hills called Table Mountains with precipitous sides and flattened tops. Only one is accessible at one point. The granite rocks stand out on their sides in huge masses. To look at them from a distance, they appear detached from the mountain chain. They are devoid of trees, and look barren and desolate. I visited Mr. Ayliff and then camped on a level plain. While here rain began to fall heavily, which made my father impatient, and wish he had not started for we could not move for two days. He was alright when the rain had ceased, sun shone out, and we were on our way again. We passed many pretty farmhouses, and reached Perm Hoek, which is a steep, romantic pass. When over this Pass, we entered the country about which I was warned by the Dutchmen. As we were a larger party, I ventured and saw no lions, but found it a fine well-watered country. Our wagon once got into a swamp, and in extricating it, broke the tongue. We soon replaced it by a new one and proceeded on our journey, after being nearly devoured by the mosquitoes.
When we reached Buffalo Valley, we found the Orange River in flood, no bridge, no pontoon, no means by which to cross. So we turned down the river for ten miles, where Messrs Holden and Golden had a pontoon, but found it out of order. The current was so strong it had broken the rope which drew the pontoon across. Timbers washing down the stream had come in contact with these ropes. Various means were used to try to get those huge cables across but in vain. A large boat lay there, which we decided to repair and use, but when it was ready, the water had subsided, the ropes were got over, and we crossed in safety after a detention of four weeks. Wagons frequently lay at these rivers for many weeks.
I left my father here. He had seen the famous Orange River, and wished to return home. Three weeks after I left my father and Mr. Holden were nearly drowned. The river was running strong. They had taken a wagon across and was returning when a fresh current reversed the pontoon, throwing father and Mr. Holden under the pontoon in the water. They still clung to the cable, and hand over hand, they reached the shore. It was a miracle they were not drowned. When I reached the Caledon it was also in flood. We were here detained a week. My money gave out, and as I stood meditating on the situation, at my feet I saw a shilling. I picked it up, and scratching around in the ground, found six more, in silver, with which I bought the food we were in need of.
A Dutchman had a boat. He took our wagons over, piece by piece, which was a dangerous undertaking in such deep water. Willows which were thirty feet high had only their tops visible. We landed all safely, and got them on an eminence as we thought, out of danger. It took us three days to get all over. Just as we had got all over the river rose several feet higher, and if we had not moved off the bank in a hurry, the water would have washed us all away.
We went on our way, heavy rains continuing day after day until the road was all mud. The wagons at times were a mile off the road to escape the mud. Many a time we had to dig out the wheels, which would be sunk up to the hubs in mud. This continued until we were within a day and a half from Thaba Nuha. We were weary with the hard work of pulling three wagons out of the mud and mire every few miles. When we reached a small ravine at sunset, we wished to cross it to a rise on the other side, before dark, but I saw a storm gathering. The clouds seemed to rest upon the earth. Two of the wagons had crossed when it became dark and rain fell in torrents. So I told the driver of the third wagon not to attempt to cross that night. Contrary to my orders and unknown to me, he made the attempt, and got the wagon into the middle of the stream, which now filled the ravine. The wagon was left there. It rained all night and the next morning it had disappeared. During the night the water had taken the wagon and all its contents down stream. Our servant girl had wanted to sleep in the wagon that night, but my wife would not let her. The noise of rushing water would not let us sleep.
In the morning the storm had abated and the stream had lowered so we all went to seek the missing wagon. A quarter of a mile down, we found the running gear caught by a chain to a rock.
A little farther on, we found the plow sunk in a hole in the bed of the river. I returned to my wife and left George to search for the other parts. He searched for two days, and gathered all, which was strewn a distance of eight miles down the river. A month afterwards, a Dutchman found the wheelbarrow.
I had to dig my wagon out several times before I reached Thaba Nuha. I shall never forget that experience, or how I sat under an umbrella, lit a fire on a flat rock, and boiled water for a cup of tea that terrible night. This was in the summer of 1841.
When I reached Thaba Nuha, I found arrangements had been made that I should stay there and help Mr Giddy. I first went to Plaatberg to get our furniture and effects. The first thing I was required to do at Thaba Nuha was to convert into a dwelling house, a large building erected by a Mr. Archbell, he being the first to organize this station. I had to go to the forest at the Korrana Station to get timber to do this work with. It was forty miles away. I went on horseback, leaving George to come on with the wagons. For four days I was in the mountains cutting timber. On Sunday, Aug. 14th I preached to the natives, and on Monday rode to Mr. W. Shepstone's Station, "Unpuhuani". It had just been attacked by a Mantata Chief, called "Secuchanagali". He made the attack at break of day, surprising the station people, who successfully repulsed them. Two men were killed. I left here on Tuesday, visiting "Lishuani" on my way to Mr. Hartley's Station, which I reached on the 18th of August. Mr. Hartley was proud to show me a field of wheat he had planted in a Kloof. I arrived home on the 20th of August, in time to take the Services the following Sunday. Was busy all this week writing letters for "Nueracho", Chief of the Baralongs in connection with the recent Nautati invasion.
On Sep 17th, my brother-in-law started for Winterberg in company with Mr. Bingham, to get a load of timber. During this time, natives around Plaatberg were in an unsettled state. On the 13 of October, 1841, my daughter, Sarah Ann was born. Was baptized by Rev. R.Giddy. The nurse, Mrs. Dennison came fifty miles to care for my wife. She stayed with us more than a month.
On the 26th I preached in the Bechuana town, to about sixty souls, from the Gospel of St. Mark, and in the afternoon, to a goodly number of Bastards. I hope not in vain. On Monday we committed to the grave, the body of Peter Links, a Grique. During this month my two children took ill with a fever, which kept them in its grip five weeks. I stayed on this Station from the 3rd of September, 1841 until October 1842.
Chapter XVIII - I Say Goodbye to Bechuanaland
The following letter was received by me in May 1842 from Rev. J.Cameron.
May 1st, 1842
I have placed you at the disposal of Rev. W. Shaw, General Superintendent of Wesleyan Mission in South Africa, but should he decline employing you in the Albany District, I now write with
the concurrence of my brother, to inform you that your engagement with the Bechuana District, will terminate at the end of the present year. I remain, dear brother,
Yours truly, J. Cameron
Mr. Eli Wiggill, "Thaba Nuha" Station.
This letter was a surprise to me. I worked until the end of the year. I then bought a span of pretty blue oxen, from a Mr. Pretorious, who lived at the Nudder River, paying for them 27 pounds. With these oxen and a wagon, I and my family left "Thaba Nuha" and my mission among these Natives ended. I had performed my duties while there faithfully, preached the word of the Lord as I then understood it, and left with regret.
I camped the first day on my friend Mr. Pretorious farm at the Nudder River. I helped to mend a wagon for him then on we went, passing many Dutch and English farms, over a flat, treeless country, abounding in game. We touched at Phillipois, at London Mission Station, situated in the midst of a splendid farming country. This station was named after the renowned Rev. Dr. Phillip, Superintendent of London Mission Station in South Africa. He was always in hot water with the colonists, through depreciating the white people, and praising the Hottentots and Kaffirs. He was eventually drowned at a Mission Station called Hankey, near Port Elizabeth. He and his son-in-law were in a tunnel he had made to take water to the village of Hankey, and while in there, the water rushed in and drowned him. He spent over forty years in the South African Mission.
In fording the Orange River, we came in contact with a large boulder in the middle of the river, but a good driver took us through in safety. Here we found a company of soldiers on their way to the Free State. The next day we reached the village of Colesberg, where we stayed over Sunday, and attended Service in the Dutch Reformed Church. On Monday we started, and met another company of soldiers. We camped with them and while there, a heavy thunder storm broke over us. The wind blew half the tents down. The Camp was one sheet of water. Colesburg is on the Karroo Country, nearly on a level plain, covered with small shrubs.
Soon after leaving Colesburg, we reached the farm of an Irish man named Montgomery. My wife was very sick, so I stayed there several days. Mrs. Montgomery was a Dutchwoman, clever with medicine. She doctored my wife and she was soon well. We then continued our journey through Dutch and English farms. When two days' journey from the Winterberg, I heard my father was in the vicinity repairing a water wheel for a Mr. Wright. I called to see him, but was informed he had finished his work and gone home. We were glad to reach the end of our long journey at last, and meet our relatives in the Winterberg.
Chapter XIX - I Settle in Winterberg
I found my father in the Winterberg. He had rented his farm to a man named Bloake Bear, but he prevailed on the man to give up the farm to me, provided I would divide the growing crops with him, which I agreed to do. I took it for a year. I finished the house my father had partly built. There was also a windmill and a water mill. I built a work shop and went into business, wagon-making and blacksmithing. This was in 1843. I lived here two years, very happy and
comfortable. I still belonged to the Wesleyan Church, and often preached in the neighborhood, often at Fort Beaufort and Kat River.
Here an accident happened to my son John, which I now record. One day, I sent my wagon with the boys for some timber. I went on horseback to see them safe over Blinkwater Hill. As I stood watching them coming up the hill, my son John was walking behind the wagon. He turned to look at me, and while doing so a log rolled off the wagon, which struck him on the back and bend of the leg. It tore the flesh off, leaving the bone bare. This was on the 5th of December, 1843. I put him on my horse after binding my handkerchief around his leg. We were five miles from home. Good care and attention soon cured his leg.
We had some enjoyable picnics in the forest when I would cut wood for use in my workshop. One day I was working at the bed-planks of a wagon; had turned it on its edge, to take off a little to make it fit. Just as I had got off the wagon a gale of wind sprang up, and blew the wagon bottom over. It hit me over the left eye, and knocked me senseless to the ground. A neighbor, a Mr. William Bear, bled me as quick as possible, carried me to the house. In a few days I was around again, but I feel the effects of it to this day. This accident happened on July 2nd, 1844. My daughter, Margaret Alice, was born here, on Oct 11 and was baptized by Rev. C. Holden.
Things went well with me through the years 1844 and 1845. I had plenty of work and I was comfortable and happy. In Jan 1846 rumours of war began to spread through the frontier settlements, making the farmers very uneasy. At last orders came from the Magistrate of Fort Beaufort, for the farmers to go into forts and camps for protection. I moved my family into a Fort called Post Relief. Here we were put under Martial Law; didsoldier's duty, receiving rations from the Government. The war did not affect us much, but was more severe in the lower Albany Districts, where some fierce battles were fought, and many people were killed. At Burns Hill Station, a battle took place on the 15th of April, 1846. The Savages succeeded in capturing and destroying 63 wagons out of 123, with which the force was encumbered. This was the beginning of a long series of attacks upon different places. All communications with the Colony was cut off. Hundreds of homes burned, and thousands of cattle and sheep driven off, and many lives lost. This war of 1846 is known as the War of the Axe, from this incident. A Kaffir stole an axe or hatchet, he was sent to Grahamstown, handcuffed to a Hottentot for security. The Natives were so enraged at this they rose in rebellion. Some followed the Kaffir and Hottentot, caught them near Fort Beaufort. They found it difficult to liberate their countryman, so they cut his hands off at the wrists and pierced him to death.
While detained at Post Relief, my daughter Rosanna Marie was born on Aug 31, 1846 and baptized by Rev. G. Smith. I was in Post Relief a whole year working at my trade and attending to Military duties. My brother George had formed a camp eight miles from Post Relief. In this camp were forty men; among them, my father. His home was in Bathurst, but he was in Winterberg on business at the time the war broke out, so he was kept from his family for eight months. He acted, while there, as miller for my brother George, who had a wind-mill. The Kaffirs did not rise in any force in Winterberg, but it was not considered safe for any to return to the farms until peace was proclaimed in 1847. I then returned to my farm in Kaal Hoek, where I stayed a year. I then thought I would like a place of my own. I was tired of paying rent. So I went to the Stormberg and bought a place from a Dutchman near Feodore's ranch. My father rented the farm I was on to a Mr. John Austin, who built an accommodation house on it.
I moved my family and effects to Feodore's Ranch, but not one of the Dutchman came to take up their farms. We felt entirely alone in a wilderness. To make it appear worse, the grass for miles around had been burned off, and as far as the eye could reach was nothing but this black country. I stayed just three weeks, long enough to open a fountain and partly build a reed house. Strong winds blew all the time I was there. Game was plentiful. My brother-in-law, Francis Bentley accompanied me, also a blacksmith, for I intended to open a wagon-making business. I found myself alone, no neighbors nearer than twenty miles, so I concluded to leave the desolate place.
My brother Joseph was living in the Stromberg Mountains, and to his farm I went. While there, snow fell to the depth of a foot all over the country. I sold the right to my farm to Francis Bentley, and left him there. As soon as the roads were fit to travel, I started for Winterberg. Roads were steep and rocky. At Winterberg I stayed three weeks and then went on to Bathurst, where we had left my little daughter, Jemima with my father. He would have rented his farm there to me. I did not like the looks of the place, so I went on to Fort Beaufort, and hired a house from an old lady named Mrs. Salt, about whom this story is told:
"She was at the Battle of Waterloo, and used to search the bodies of the dead soldiers for valuables. When I came to occupy the house, I found she had let it to some one else. I then rented another, made it cozy and comfortable, lived in it three weeks and then left because we never felt happy in it. I was troubled by something, or somebody, we didn't know what.
My father-in-law, Mr Francis Bentley, had a piece of land in Kaal Hoek, so I went to Winterberg to see him about buying it. I walked, as my horses were there, some twenty miles. On my return to Fort Beaufort, I gave up the house, giving in all I had done to it, thankful to get rid of it. With my own wagon and team, I moved to Winterberg, taking my quarters on my new land.
It was a pretty, park-like country. I lived in my wagon until I built a "hartebeeste" hut, a square house, made of poles, bending tops over in bow shape, and covered with grass from the ground to the top. In this house I lived until I erected a large house, containing four large rooms, and a small bedroom for my father, when he visited me. I also built a shop which was attached to the house. The whole building forming the shape of the letter “L”. Also many outbuildings. A good man by the name of Duff, helping me. I spent two happy years in this peaceful home.
In this peaceful home, another daughter came to gladden us, born on the 6th of May 1849, christened Frances Amelia, by Rev J. Ayliff. During this time I made several wagons to order. I had from eight to ten cows in milk, my own wagon and oxen, also riding horses, and many a pleasant visit we made to our neighbors. I was thus fixed when rumours of war again unsettled us. This was in December, 1850. I was then making a wagon for a Mr. Stanton. He took it away unfinished. I sent some wagon wood and unfinished wagons to Fort Beaufort to a friends care. Rumours of war reached us from time to time until Christmas time, when we had orders to get into camp, as there was no time to lose. Wagons were hastily packed with all we could load on them, leaving much furniture in the house. With sad hearts we bade good-bye to our pretty home, never to see it again. We went as far as my father-in-law's place, and found them preparing to move next morning. A large crowd had collected there to all start together, so I stayed with them.
As there was a fiddler among them, they decided to have a good time, so they danced and made merry, but I was too sad to join them. My heart was full of anxiety. One of the wagons belonged to a Bastard named DuPrez, he lived on a farm of mine, working it on the half. This man and his son drove a wagon into camp. We made a start in the morning. On the way we met hundreds of Fingoes, fleeing from the Kaffirs. The Kaffirs and Hottentots thought to drive the English and Fingoes out. Fingoes were a tribe of Natives despised and oppressed by the Kaffirs. We were glad to reach Post Relief, to which people were flocking from all directions for protection.
Chapter XX - The War of the Axe
Jacob DuPrez helped unload my wagon, then went back to his farm and brought my share of the potatoes he had planted. He appeared loyal when he left me, but instead of going to his farm, he joined the Hottentot rebels at Kat River.
On Christmas day, 1850, commenced the work of bloodshed and death. The Hottentots joined the Kaffirs. Small camps did not feel safe. The Kaffirs were in overwhelming numbers. Mr. Bear did not feel safe in his small camp and sent to the Post for an escort to guard them to the Post. Twenty men set out on this expedition, among them my son John, who was but a boy, but ever ready on such occasions. They got there safe and on their return journey a wagon wheel broke, which caused a delay, which delay probably saved their lives, as they heard afterwards. The enemy were in ambush in a pass on their road, ready to pounce on them. When they did not appear that night, the enemy abandoned the plan. The first attack on the Post Relief was made on Jan 1st 1851, in the night between twelve and one o'clock. That night thousands of sheep were run off, which were outside the walls. A wagon was returning from Fort Beaufort in charge of four men, John Edwards, James Holt, John Austin and George Gibbons. On the Lower Blinkwater, this wagon was attacked and plundered. John Austin and George Gibbons were killed. James Holt was wounded, but managed to make his escape to Fort Beaufort. John Edwards escaped unhurt, and reached his home in Post Relief. The wagon and its load of ammunition were left in possession of the enemy. On the 7th of January, the Kaffir Chief, Hermanes, made an unusually bold attempt to surprise the strong Military Post of Fort Beaufort. After a short and sharp struggle, they were defeated with heavy loss. The Arch-traitor, Hermanes was killed.
During a lull in the war, some of our men went out to their farms. No sooner had they gone out than the Kaffirs appeared in hundreds, and began to drive off the cattle which were out grazing. A company of our men went out to try to prevent them, and a skirmish took place. In the formost of this was my son John. The Kaffirs drove off the cattle. Not one of our side was wounded or killed. Francis Bentley had all he could do to keep John from rushing into death in the scrimmage. I lost ten cows and a span of oxen.
A settler named Joseph Albison, nearly lost his life on his way to the Post from his farm. One night six men came into camp over the rugged mountains on foot. One of them being Cloake Beare, then eighty years old. He lived to be a hundred years old. The enemy now took thought of another plan, which was to turn off our water supply. Then to place an old cannon on the hill above us. The only damage it did was to wound some cattle. Oh, how the bullets flew over the Fort, bounding onto the zinc roofs. While one party was firing on the Fort, another lot would be threshing the farmers wheat out with sticks, women and children helping. We could see them carrying it away in sacks on wagons. Farm after farm they plundered, what they could not carry off, they burned.
Fruit was ripe in immense quantities. Many feast they had in our orchards while we were longing for some in the Fort. While our water was turned off, a heavy thunder storm came, during which we caught lots of rain-water off the roofs, so the enemy's idea of starving us out failed. These scrimmages between them and our people kept up until the 8th of Feb 1851, when thousands of the enemy were seen on the mountains around us. Rumors reached us of their attack on a Farmer's Camp, called Smith's Camp. They drove every animal from this place, so they could get no word to us how they had fared. We sent seven men to find out, among them was my brother-in-law Francis Bentley, and my son John, who was always among the first to volunteer in such expeditions, although so young.
Five days elapsed, and no tidings of our boys made us very anxious, especially as we had seen the enemy returning to Smith's Camp.
One day our anxious eyes perceived a large body of men coming over the mountain towards the Post. To our surprise they sent a man to us bearing a white flag. Mr. James Sweetman, our Magistrate, also bearing a flag of truce, started to meet him. He told him they had four white men prisoners, and while they were parlaying about the affair, a large company of men were seen coming from another direction. We feared they were foes, but to our relief, found they were friends, under Captain Pringle. Having heard we were hemmed in, they had come to our assistance.
After this company had arrived, my wife and my sister Elizabeth, and a servant man, went up to where the two men were talking, so anxious was the mother to hear news of her boy. When the Hottentots saw her coming, some of them knew her, and called to her to come on, they would not hurt her. She was a very brave woman, and got them to take her to where the prisoners were. Oh, how bad she felt when she saw John, stripped of nearly all his clothing. He was surprised to see his mother. He had been a prisoner two days in constant fear of death. She begged them to let her have him, and after a lot of parleying, they consented to let the prisoners free, if the English would give up some Hottentots they had captured, in exchange.
While they thus parleyed, a troop of white men were seen approaching, so they were afraid of an attack and told them to go. It was explained to my wife that he was not held as a prisoner, had been given his liberty,and if he would promise not to take up arms against them again.
This he refused to do, and so was held until his mother came. He had ridden his mother's riding horse, a fine mare, which she asked to be given up to her. "No, No, Missus", said they, "You
have your boy, be satisfied." She begged them to be kind to her horse, as she said goodbye to her faithful animal.
My son told of their capture and treatment. On their way back from Smith's Camp, they saw a man in a hollow, and he called to them, saying he wished to talk to them. Four of the seven went up to see what he had to say and while they chatted, he appeared friendly. Suddenly a whole swarm of Hottentots surrounded them, unarmed and dismounted them, and took them prisoners, with the intention of killing them, but because some of the Hottentots knew my son and they prevented the Kaffirs from doing so, by surrounding them so thickly the Kaffirs could not get at them. They threatened to tell their chief, but the Hottentots said, "We do not care, he is not our chief," The Kaffirs would grin at their prisoners over their shoulders and call them, "Satans."
Chief among those who protected them was a Hottentot man named "Dudriech", who at one time was in the employ of my wife's parents. Finally the Hottentots took them to an empty Dutch house and kept the Kaffirs out. Dudriech especially guarding John, saying, "We know his father. He has often preached to us. He is a good man. He has never done us any harm. We will not kill him, as we want him to make wagons for us."
All this time a party of them was trying to take Smith's Camp. They succeeded in capturing their sheep. John said they brought the sheep to the house and would kill them in a cruel manner, falling onto them like a pack of wolves, and throw their assegias into their bodies to see them run about in pain.
Grapes were ripe, so they fed him mutton and grapes. They tried to set fire to Smith's Camp, but failed. John felt safer in the Dutch house than in the Camp. He hoped his mother did not know of his capture. He knew how she would feel. Dudriech gave him a leg of mutton to take to his grandmother when he was released. How thankful I was to see them home safe and sound. The next day Smith's Camp joined ours for protection.
Chapter XXI - The War of the Axe
While we were hemmed in at Post Relief, my brother George was having his troubles, which now I will relate. He lived near the Koonap Heights, on a stream called, "Braambush Spruit". Here he had built extensive workshops and distilleries. He had vineyards and orchards of orange and lemon trees and other fruits. He had a large dwelling house, also grist mills and cellars full of brandy and wine. He had built a large three-story building, intended for a mill. When he heard rumors of coming war, he made it into a fortress. The two lower stories were made of rock. He loop holed a wall around the roof. It stood about forty yards from his dwelling house. He also built two block-houses, and was prepared for an attack. He had just got in a year's supply of groceries. All his tenants and neighbors came into camp with him.
It was not a good place for a camp as the enemy could come within a hundred yards before they could be seen. This place was surrounded one Saturday night by thousands of Hottentots and Kaffirs who slept that night in George's vineyards. At break of day, Sunday morning, they attacked the camp. The people ran from the dwelling house to the mill in their nightclothes. All
my brother saved from his home was a box containing money and papers. His wife's mother was lying ill in the house and was carried to the mill.
The enemy took possession of the block-houses. The Hottentots servants joined the rebels and helped plunder the house. Took all they wanted and then set fire to the building. People tried to drive them off by shooting from the tower, but they were too secure. Two men were wounded, William Whittle in the neck, and Charles Roper in the leg. The heat and smoke of the burning house nearly suffocated the inmates of the mill.
The next morning the enemy had decamped. There was no tea or coffee in the mill, so George went down to the burnt house, and hunted among the rubbish. He found a little coffee, which was very acceptable. The heat and smoke of the burning house made the cattle frantic and they broke out from where they were corralled. The enemy drove them all away. A party from Post Relief, on hearing the shooting, went out to reconnoitre, and they saw the Kaffirs loaded with plunder. It made us feel uneasy about my brother until we received word of their safety, from those sent to their relief from our Post.
A few days after this, a rescue party with wagons came from the Tarka District, which conveyed most of those who had taken refuge in the mill to that district. My brother went with them and upon his return to his farm found the enemy had robbed it of nearly everything. New wagons had been exchanged for old. New wheels had been taken from the shop and old ones left in their place. Barrels of liquor were taken. Water mills fired. The body of Mr. Curtis was found in the ruins. My brother then formed a camp and held his ground until the war was over, occasionally losing cattle.
Fort Armstrong, a government village, was occupied by the traitors, and here they carried all their plunder that they took through the months of January and February, up to February 22 on which day the big battle was fought. Major General Somerset had sent word for the Burgher forces of Winterberg to meet him and his men enroute to these people. The Burgher forces assembled at Post Relief, several hundred strong, and at day break on the 22nd of February, they started to meet the General. On the way, near a place called Balfour, they were attacked by an overwhelming force of the enemy. In this scrimmage they lost several men and horses, and while thus engaged they heard of the report of cannon and knew the General had reached Fort Armstrong. Our men rushed through and joined him there.
This Fort was a naturally fortified place, surrounded with precipitous rocks in the shape of a horseshoe on an elevated eminence on the river. It was quite a village, containing several trading stores, as well as a Government Fort and a large tower and a Battery, built star-shaped, with the angles loop-holed. The enemy occupied this fort as well as the Tower and Battery. The General first demolished the buildings by shell and shot, and set fire to it. At last they surrendered, hundreds escaped, men women and children. The prisoners were marched to Fort Hare, and from there to Capetown to work on Public works.
My son John was with the Post Relief part, not with-standing his recent adventure he returned unharmed and told us all about this siege. How the soldiers looked through the loads of plunder and found many articles of value. He brought home some goods, mostly Bibles and religious
books. John found his Uncle George's spy-glass and razor. He also brought home some silverware. The Settler's most valued and precious articles were thus scattered. He also found his Mother's mare, but it was in poor condition. When all was over, the soldiers had a feast on the good things they found. Dead men lay all around for wild beasts to devour. Wagons were all taken to Fort Hare, where their owners claimed them.
We then had a great time for six weeks, and many of us ventured out to our farms. The fields were full of pumpkins. I went one day and gathered a wagon load. I found my farmhouse unmolested, and found a bee's nest full of honey in my garden. I and my two sons went one day to cut a load of firewood. Before we had time to put one stick on the wagons, Kaffirs drove off the oxen, and we all ran home as hard as we could, for about two miles, thinking we would all be killed. That was the first and last time I ever ran away from Kaffirs or Hottentots. The next day I borrowed some oxen and fetched in my wagon. The reason we escaped so easily was that a party of men were after the Kaffirs.
I now finished some wagons and sold one to get a span of oxen. A company of Highlanders in charge of Captain Bruce, took charge of Post Relief. They were the 74th Regiment. To give room to the soldiers many farmers moved back to their farms, but I still remained at the Post, making wagons, and cutting firewood for the troops. They usually sent an escort with me. Bruce put things in order according to his notions. He built a Look-out on a hill called by some, "Bruce’s Folly".
I lived in a house that had been partly burned, which I repaired and roofed. In this house my son, Joseph Elijah was born, on the 3rd day of November 1852, baptized by Rev. Shepstone, at Kamastown, Queenstown District. Soon after this the war ended. All the farmers were notified to make out lists of their losses and as compensation, we were given farms. These farms were in the country from which the Ametembu had been driven, Mapassa, being the Chief. This was at the suggestion of Mr. Thomas Holden Bowker. It was situated on the Komani River, a fertile and well watered tract.
A town was laid out by Sir George Cathcart, and named Queenstown. This land was parceled out and granted free to numerous applicants. No farm exceeded three thousand acres. The Grantees promising to ever be ready to defend their county.
Chapter XXII - Move to Queenstown District
Having no land of my own, I decided to apply for a farm in this new Territory. Accordingly, I and my family started for this place in January 1858. I had my own wagon and oxen. We called at Kamastown and visited a friend of mine named Stephen Trollipe. Here I met Mr. Warner, who had long been a missionary among the Ametemba or Tambookies. He and his family had taken refuge at Kamastown, and were now returning to the new town, so we traveled on together.
Arriving at the town-site, we found a party of men put there to patrol the country. Among these men there already were May Newton, John Staples, several of his sons, a Mr. Eve and his sons, Mr. Ridgeway and Mr. James Jennings. We were there several weeks waiting for the township to be surveyed. 33
The town was laid out on a farm once owned by Mr. Warner and his sons. Their farmhouse was burned in the war. Mr. Robinson was the surveyor. I had the honor of turning one of the first sods. It was laid out in Hexagon shape, being thus better defended. It was then a frontier town. I was there long enough to have my choice of a farm. I chose a farm at the head of the Komani River, in what is called the Bongoli Basin. In this basin were eight good farms. My farm had been a mission Station, the house had been burned, but the walls still stood firm, so I rebuilt it. The place was well supplied with wood and water.
Near the homestead was a Kloof, in which grew many lovely trees. The mountain was almost covered with forest. I chose a farm adjoining mine for my brother Elijah, with which he was well pleased. I bought a town lot in Queenstown, for which I paid five pounds. It was on a corner. I built a house on my lot and helped many others to do the same. Stores were soon built and the town grew quickly for people flocked to it from all over. Business men and farmers came. Some came to it from Whittlesea. Churches were soon seen rearing their spires heavenward. My sons, John and Jeremiah, were working the farm.
The first night they spent there, a heavy snowstorm came, and they were nearly frozen. It was the heaviest ever known in the district. It lay from twelve to eighteen inches deep. It melted quickly and caused a flood which did considerable damage.
The next spring I moved onto my farm. We raised good crops, enough for our use and to sell. I made the house comfortable. A strong stream of water flowed past the house. On this stream I built a small grist mill. My brother called his farm, "Aloe Grove". These mountains grow tall aloes, which bear spikes of red flowers about two feet in length. From their leaves come the "Bitter aloes" of commerce.
My farm I named "Rockwood". I had plenty of work making wagons, as I was well known as a good workman. The boys worked the farm. I let a part of my farm to a man named William Davis, on which he grew a splendid crop of oat hay. This he stacked on my farm. One night a grass fire which was raging on the next farm, spread on to mine, set his stack on fire and burned it all up.
When we first moved to this farm, we found many human bones in the Kloof, as a fierce battle had been fought there.
My brother-in-law, Francis P. Bentley, had bought a portion of my farm in exchange for his house and lot in the town. Into this house I now moved. Queenstown was now a town of about one hundred houses, its residents prosperous and happy. In it I lived two years. Then word came that we were to move to our farms, which I did.
While I lived in town my daughter Jemima was married to a carpenter by the name of George Ellis. I finished my house of four good rooms and a storeroom. My brother-in-law, having been granted a farm of his own, John and I bought his portion back, and soon after John married and lived in the house built by his uncle.
On the 24th of May (the Queen's birthday) of each year, we all had to muster in the town and be inspected by a Resident Magistrate. The owner of every farm had to pay a moderate quit-rent yearly. We did not get title-deeds until we had lived on our farms three years. If we left them before that time we forfeited all rights of them.
Queenstown District is unsurpassed as an agricultural and stock-raising district. Good grass and water. It is now studded with good farmhouses and rich vineyards and orchards. The farmers are all prosperous. No Kaffir Wars to disturb for twenty years past. Many of the natives in the vicinity are also in good circumstances.
I may mention here an accident that happened to my little son Joseph. He was playing in the Mill and climbed up to feel the flow (as he had seen me do), when the water wheel caught and flung him under it. He was thrown into a corner, where he crouched until the wheel was stopped and he crawled out, wet and frightened.
Chapter XXIII - Famine Among the Natives
It was while we lived on "Rockwood" in the year 1852 that a famine took place among the native Tribes. A Prophet arose, who tried to agitate another war. This man's name was "Unlangini". He counseled the people to kill all their cattle, with the exception of two oxen, one white and the other black, which they tortured to death. These oxen represented the white and black people. Whichever one lived the longest would be the victorious party. This Prophet also commanded them to destroy their crops. He made them believe the cattle would rise again. They would hear their horns rattling under the ground.
His influence extended among all the tribes except the Tamboohies. They slaughtered their cattle in the thousands, ate and feasted all they could, and burned the rest. My son traveled through Kreli's country afterwards, and saw piles of bones and streams of fat.
This Prophet sent messengers from Kreli's people to the remotest parts of the country, to Moshesh and Faker. The latter did not see the wisdom of such a step.
The Governor, watching the progress of this extraordinary delusion, calmly and quietly strengthened all the Military outposts. The Kaffirs were divided into two parties; believers and unbelievers. The folowing graphic description of these events is from the pen of a Mr. A.Kennedy.
"Whether the Chiefs had communicated the secret of the intended war to their subjects, I am unable to say, but their demeanor evidently showed that they were acquainted with it. Always proud and haughty in their bearing to the white man, their pride and hatred now increased. With their skin robes, called Karosses, folded around them they stalked majestically along, scowling at any white person they chanced to meet, with malignant hatred in their eyes.
Fat and saucy from his unusual feasting, in high state of excitement with the thought of the impending struggle, and of the fine fat herds of cattle which he believed were soon to gladden his longing eyes, you might see the Kaffir at this time in his glory.
I was then living near a store at which they traded. This place was like a fair. The Kaffirs brought cattle and goats, also hides for sale. With the proceeds of these, they generally bought cotton blankets, which were gradually taking the place of their skin robes. It was amusing to watch these fine fellows trying on their purchases. Models for a Statuary, with muscles fully developed, they threw themselves unconsciously into the most graceful attitudes; holding the blankets in their extended arms by the corners, they would stand a moment, then throw it over their shoulders, wrapping it around them tightly in folds, repeating this operation several times until satisfied with the fit.
After all this excitement came the reaction. A Kaffir's food consists of Indian corn, (which they call mealies) Kaffir corn, pumpkins and sour milk, with an occasional feast of beef or goat's flesh. They had destroyed their cows, neglected to cultivate their lands, and starvation now stared them in the face. I shudder now as I recall the dreadful scenes of misery witnessed during this sad time.
They wandered over the mountains in search of edible roots. The favorite was the roots of very young mimosa and other trees. Today can be seen depressions in the earth, made when these were dug up. This kind of food rather hastened their fate, for it brought on dysentery, and they became living skeletons. Numbers of them died, and their skulls and bones were scattered over the veldt. They would doubtless all have perished, had not the Government interfered and saved a great many of them. They were told to come to the commissioners and be fed, and when strong enough, work would be provided for them. The Ciakas came to Fort Brownlee in great numbers. Many of them died on the way. I have seen them drop before my door, their journey over and food in sight. Many were too weak to partake of much nourishment, and at first were fed sparingly. As they recovered, they were sent to the Colony to work.
A Kaffir is naturally generous. Give one a piece of bread or tobacco and he will share it with his companions, but hunger makes him selfish. I have seen natives snatch bread from their starving children's hands, and I have heard it one or two instances of women devouring their own infants. The truth of the latter I cannot vouch for. But this is too horrible to dwell upon.
No less than one hundred thirty-three thousand head of cattle were destroyed by the Prophet's orders, and what was the object of this wanton destruction? It was this: The Chiefs thought by getting the people to destroy all their living, it would cause them to rise against the British colonies, drive them out, and live on their cattle and provisions. In this they were sadly disappointed. By the wisdom of Sir George Cathcart in strengthening all outposts and mission stations and trading stations with men and provisions, they were prevented from their objective, and a war was averted, and this misery and starvation followed.
Chapter XXIV - I Hear About "MORMONISM"
In the year 1857 all the newspapers of South Africa were filled with stories of a strange doctrine being preached in Capetown by men from America. It was making a stir in that City, and a few had accepted and been baptized. One story was to the effect that a man had been baptized who was so wicked his sins made the water so heavy as it flowed past a water wheel, it had broken
several of the cogs, and other absurd tales. They were called "Mormons", a name, which appeared to me a strange word.
I was still, and had been a member the Wesleyan Church for over thirty years. When I read of them I remarked to a friend, "They must have been sent of the Devil to try and deceive the very elect, if it were possible." The next thing we heard, they were in Grahamstown. Stirred up that town, speaking, preaching and people mobbing them, but making no converts. From there they went to Fort Beaufort, and baptized several families, I was acquainted with, A Mr. Clark and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd and Mr. Thomas Parker and his wife. They were met with great opposition, brickbats and rotten eggs being hurled at them. They held meetings in the home of Mr. Parker and one night a mob attacked the house, broke all the windows, and tried to break open the doors. One of the missionaries whose name was William Walker, had a carriage. This the Mob took and threw into the Kat River. I never heard that it was ever recovered. William Walker was one of three men who had come from Utah with the new religion. The other's names were Jess Haven, and Leonard J. Smith.
They traveled from place to place preaching and distributing tracts in Dutch and English language. Next thing I heard was that they had reached my brother George's place in the Winterberg; he had received them kindly, listened to their teaching, and read their tracts. My Brother was a very shrewd and steady-thinking man. He compared their teachings with the scriptures and found they corresponded well with the New Testament doctrine, so he came to the conclusion it was worth studying, one of his neighbors said to him, "I hear you have got a new religion among you." My brother replied, "I think it is the old religion that Christ and his Apostles taught revived."
One of these Mormon Preachers made his home with my brother for several weeks, preaching and explaining his doctrines to all who would listen. Such was the news brought to me by those who had come up from Winterberg.
I thought it strange for my brother had never before thought much of Religion. Soon after this I was in Queenstown. One day I met my brother and Mr. Walker. He had brought the Elder seventy miles to see me, as I had been a Preacher, he wished to hear my opinion of the Mormon Doctrine. I took them home with me, and as we rode along those eight miles, we conversed on this religion so new to me.
When we arrived home I went around to all the neighbors, inviting them to hear Mr. Walker preach. A few came from curiosity, to hear if what they had heard from the papers was true. This discourse was principally of Baptism, which much impressed me. He also talked on Divine Authority. His language was so plain any schoolboy could have understood him.
Next morning a neighbor, Mr. Staples, came to see Mr. Walker. He asked a great many questions, and then said, in regard to Baptism: "Well, it is the old controversy that has been going for years in different Churches."
Mr. Walker and my brother stayed on with me several days, the time was spent in investigating Mormonism. I asked many questions, all of which were answered satisfactorily. Mr. Walker
gave me a copy of "The Book of Mormon", a book translated from Golden Plates by their Prophet, Joseph Smith. This record was shown to him by an Angel, being an account of the ancient inhabitants of the American Continent called "Nephites". Its pages were full of interest and all its doctrines in strict accordance with Bible truths. A book called "The Voice of Warning", by Parley P. Pratt interested me greatly, nay, it astonished me. It is a warning to all people, rich and poor, high and low, Kings and Queens and Clergy.
William Walker had been a personal friend of Joseph Smith and so could tell us of his noble character, pure life and cruel murder. He said they had not come to Africa to quarrel with anyone, but they had a message to deliver to the people, and they were determined to do it well.
At last they had to leave us. Soon afterwards I rode down to see them, and again conversed on Mormonism. Mr. Walker, my brother and myself rode over to Fort Beaufort where we stayed at a Mr. Parker's house. He was in Ironmonger. There we held some good meetings, and I first heard the Mormon's hymns sung. While here my brother was so good as to pay some debts I had been owing there since 1857. Sometime before this, I had dreamed that he had done this very thing.
I bought some books and pamphlets from Mr. Walker. He wanted to baptize me while there, and said he was firmly convinced I believed, but I told him I would investigate further. On the way to my brother’s, our conversation was "Mormonism" all the way. This happy visit had to end, and I returned to Queenstown in company with my brother-in-law, Francis Bentley. My mind was full of this wonderful religion, and as I rode along, I seemed filled with a light and knowledge which illumined every page of the Bible, as text after text flashed into mind. On arriving home my wife said, "I believe you are converted to Mormonism already".
Every leisure moment I had I devoted to the books. I found that although they were written by different authors, they never contradicted each other. They bore the same testimony, that God had once more spoken from the Heavens after a long night of darkness, to the young man Joseph Smith. The truth of the "Apostasy" and consequent error of all Christian Churches, was so forcibly shown me in Mr Pratt's works. Hitherto, I had believed the Bible to be the PURE unadulterated word of God. Now I was plainly shown how it had been through so many translations that it was liable to be in error. Many parts of it are missing. The Churches of the day did not believe in any NEW revelations, and as I read in the Doctrine and Covenants, which book contains all revelations given to Joseph Smith, I felt the truth of the work.
The Roman Catholics claim that all their Popes were inspired men, and yet they only take St. Peter's writings as inspired. The more I read of these things, the more I studied, the more convinced was I of their truth of this Gospel that had not been taught on earth for some seventeen Centuries, and was now restored to earth. I was still attending Wesleyan meetings occasionally, preaching. I felt the Holy Spirit, and talked and prayed with such power that the people thought I had got the Renewal of the spirit of the early Methodists, but I advanced nothing new to them, only preaching from the same old Bible. Little did they know where I had gained such knowledge from. I could not help telling my friends and neighbors of Mormonism, and thus I gained their ill-will. My wife felt very bad to have our friends treat us coldly. So I put all the books on a high shelf and decided not to read them any more. But the thoughts they had started would not be quieted. At last I pulled the books down again, and once more began to read them. I found them more interesting than ever, and the Lord opened my eyes to see every truth they contained. Just at this time came along another Elder named John Wesley. He had been a local Methodist Preacher in Capetown, had joined the new faith and become a Missionary, and traveled with William Walker. From him I received more light, and bought some more books. Thus a whole year had passed in studying Mormonism so I did not come to a hasty conclusion. There seemed something noble about the name of Church. It was called "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
Chapter XXV - I Embrace the Everlasting Gospel
I was now settled in Queenstown, working at my trade, still investigating "Mormonism". Among my friends was a Mr. Robert Wall, and many an earnest talk we had. He had been a great Bible student but the Bible now appeared like a new book to him. He wondered why he had not seen it before in this light. All he had ever read in explanation of the Bible was put in the shade by these books. His friends called him a deluded fanatic. His brother-in-law, Mr. Henry Talbot heard the Gospel from him and accepted the truth. When Mr. Talbot's wife heard of it, she told of a dream that she had had many years before. She dreamed of a new religion not then in Africa. "But" said she, at the time, "When it does come, you will join it." which he did.
My daughter Jemima's husband worked at this time in the shop with me. Of course, I talked to him about Mormonism, and to get away from the subject, he moved to a place called Lesseyton, near Queenstown, to instruct the native boys in house carpentering. They would have employed me also, but I was in their eyes a bad man, deluded by the Mormons. My son-in-law helped to build a large house there, built on an ironstone foundation.
I was fully decided to join the Latter-day Saints, and as there were no Elders in Queenstown, in Feb 1858, I made a journey to the Winterberg with my wife and family. The headquarters of the Church was at Port Elizabeth, but there was an Elder at Kat River, named John Green. He came to my brother's home and baptized myself, my wife and daughter. So on the first day of March 1858 I became a member of the only true and living Church on the earth, knowing it was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith, never to be taken away. The little stone was to roll until it filled the whole earth. Joy filled my soul as I was confirmed a member and ordained a Priest of the Church.
After a week's glad visit we returned to Queenstown, called at Lesseyton on our way. Now we learned what it meant to be shunned by our friends. Many came to debate with me, but found I had the best of them, so they would leave me. One preacher said: "It is no use to talk with you, for you know the Bible from end to end." The Wesleyan Minister in Queenstown at this time was Rev. H .H. Dugmore.
In this year I sold my home in town and moved to the farm. My sons John and Jeremiah had kept it in a good state of cultivation. My son-in-law- was still at Lesseyton. One day my wife and I rode over the mountain to see him, and found him very unwell and dissatisfied with the work
there, so I told him if he liked, he could come and live on my farm, and find work among the neighbors. This he did. I put up a small house for him and his family.
He now began to take an interest in my religion, reading the Book of Mormon. The Book of Alma took his attention. Elder John Wesley was in Queenstown District and held services in my house every Sunday. His preaching finally convinced George Ellis of the truth. In June 1858 an order came from Utah that all Saints should be re-baptized, and as Elder John Wesley was at my house, he baptized us all in the river that runs down Rockwood Kloof. I was re-baptized and ordained an Elder. On that day were baptized my wife, Susannah Wiggill, my daughter Jemima Ellis, her husband George Ellis, my daughter Sarah Ann, Margaret Alice, Rosanna Maria, and Frances Amelia, on the first day of June 1858.
I continued working at my farm and my trade, holding meetings on Sundays. Henry Talbot and family visited us this year. In November 1858, the following persons were baptized in Bongoli by Elder Henry James Talbot Jr., Jeremiah Francis Wiggill, my son, Robert Wilson, William Ball, and William Watson. In Queenstown Branch I baptized Charles Fancott, Catherine Fancott, and Lavinia Ann Talbot.
Robert Wall was quite an elderly man. He once wrote to me in a faultfinding spirit on the Doctrines of the Church. This was before he moved into the Bongoli, onto a farm adjoining mine. I did not visit him much then, because he was being visited by a Church of England Minister. Soon after this he was taken sick, and as the doctors gave up all hope of his recovery, I went over to see him. I read a portion of Scripture to him and then prayed for his recovery. That the Lord would bless and heal him. On another occasion I asked if I should administer to him and anoint him with oil, and then lay my hands upon his head in accordance with the Apostle James injunction, that we find in his Epistle, 5th Chapter and 14th & 15th verses. He answered "Yes". So I did and he felt much better. I visited him many times after this, reading and explaining to him our doctrines, until he expressed a wish to be baptized, as he fully believed. When Rev. Green called, he told him not to call again, as his neighbors visited him regularly.
We sent for his brother-in-law Mr. Talbot, and his son who lived fifty miles away. He was carried from the house to the water, and baptized on the 6th of November 1858. After the baptism and confirmation, Mr. Wall seemed perfectly happy. He declared the olive oil he took inwardly prolonged his life, for he lived sixteen days after his baptism. He died happy and requested to be buried in the Bongoli, as he did not want anything to do with the religions in error, so I buried him on my farm. He was fifty-four years old, nearly fifty-five. He died on the 22nd day of November. He was born in England on the 1st day of Feb 1804. Rev. Mr. Green made a great fuss about my taking a sick man out of his bed to baptize him in cold water, thus causing his death. The letter written to me by Mr. Wall is as follows.
Queenstown, November 18th, 1858
Most Respected Friend:
With painful regret, I have to observe the difference of opinion on things over which sinful man has no control. You may believe me that I am struck with astonishment. If it was upon worldly
matters of business, of injuries sustained, there might be reasons. I would entreat of you to examine the case with your own conscience, and then point out to me, where, and by what, I have wounded your feelings. Men in this age of the world are noted for learning, and we are told that the day will come when they will deceive the very elect, and as we very well know, that even the angels in heaven are not to know our Maker's secret will. It behooves us therefore, to be careful and watchful, not to be led to and fro by every whirlwind. We do acknowledge our Church to be a fallen Church, full of error and traditions of men. We know we support hireling priesthood, and are far from the true and ancient Church.
But we also believe that Almighty and all Powerful God still exists, who, in His own good time will call to account all Nations of the earth, and until them we may expect to see the conning craft of men in every form. Now in reference to the sect called "Mormons", I must acknowledge that I have found great pleasure in reading their books, to my great edification. I, therefore, after a careful study of their books, pronounced them good, so far as being a true copy of the true and Ancient Church. Having read their books I have a great desire to see their works also, before coming to any conclusion, which, if not true, would be denying my Maker. - Robert Wall
“N.B. Orson Pratt says that Joseph Smith was ordained an Apostle by Peter, James and John. He testified that Peter, James and John were ministering angels.”
Chapter XXVI - Preaching the Gospel and Preparing to Emmigrate
About this time I was called upon to attend a Conference at my brother George's. Just as I was ready to start, a man came to our house. A Mr. Hayward. He had come from Orange River Colony, and was on his way to his brother-in-law, Mr. Talbot's farm, a distance of sixty miles. Our Conversation on the way was "Mormonism". He agreed with many of the principles, especially baptism for the remission of sins. We stayed two days with Mr. Talbot, and then all three started for the Winterberg. The road leading over an undulating country called "Bontebok Flats" was very beautiful and picturesque, all unoccupied government land. It is very cold in winter, but good grazing in the summer, almost destitute of wood, and plenty of water.
After riding thirty miles over the plains, we came to a mountain road, eight or nine miles long, partly through a forest, known now as the "Hogsback Road". On this read a severe thunder storm overtook us. We were in a perfect deluge. I had a good waterproof coat, but the others were as wet as if plunged in a river. At the foot of the hill we came to an accommodation house, where we were soon dry and comfortable, and we stayed all night.
Next morning we started riding through the Kat River settlements, visiting Mr. John Green finally reaching brother George's. Mr. Hayward here left us for Grahamstown. Here we found Mr. Joseph Ralph, an Elder from Grahamstown, making four Elders in the Conference. We had two days meeting and settled the business, had a good time, feeling that at all times the Lord was with us.
After conference, we started for home, calling again at Mr. John Green's where we baptized a young daughter of a Mr. George Prince. I stayed at Mr. Talbot's two days and while there I visited an old friend of mine, Mr. William Morris. I had known him years before, been a local
preacher with him. During the two last wars, he and I had been hemmed in the Military Post together.
Well, we talked many hours on "Mormonism". I asked him for a Bible, but he did not have one, all his books having been burned. I told him never mind, I could do without one. I explained Mormonism to him from memory, and I don't think I ever had such a flow of language, passages of scripture coming to my mind with such force. He asked very few questions, just sat and listened. He told me of the talk in Queenstown, about Robert Wall's baptism, saying I was liable to be arrested. I told him what I had done was at the man's urgent request and his family's desire.
I eventually arrived home safe and sound. Some time after this came a great flood. My wife and I went to Queenstown, and a thunderstorm detained us over night. It brought the river down in torrents. I watched wood and sheaves of wheat floating down the stream. I went home next day and to my surprise, found my farm nearly washed away. My stack of wheat was all gone, some of it I had seen in the river at Queenstown. My son Jeremiah was at home with the children. He told me a huge cloudburst in the mountains and water rushed down the glen at the back of the house like a tidal wave. When near the house it spread into a sheet of water about eight hundred feet wide, carrying everything in its wake. It washed my lands away, in fact, my farm was left in a pitiable condition. The children had been in a sad state of fear. The storm quite altered the aspect of the Kloof, moving large rocks and uprooting giant trees, which I suppose would be a hundred years old.
I now began to feel that I must gather with the Saints, and to reflect on pulling stakes and departing for Zion. Mr. Talbot had sold his farm, and the flood had worked havoc with mine. I began to think it was time I was selling it. I soon found a purchaser, a Dutch man, named Botha, who paid me one thousand and twenty pounds in bills, payable at so many months after date. Until I vacated the farm, Botha lived in a small house on the farm. When Mr. Talbot sold his farm he moved to Queenstown, and while there he and I arranged to divide the meetings between us. Sometimes he would come to preach in Bongoli, and I would go to Queenstown.
Once I was preaching there when Rev. R. Giddy came to hear me preach and ask questions. I referred him to many passages of scripture he knew were there, and asked if he believed them. I knew he believed what I said. Some in the room thought he was almost persuaded. At the conclusion, he asked for some books and tracts. I gave him all I could spare. He had come in to a Wesleyan conference from his station in the village of Colesburg. We had been old friends and brothers in the Wesleyan Ministry for years, and I always considered him a good honest man.
Mr. Talbot soon left Queenstown for Port Elizabeth. I and my family following him in the month of April 1860. We left George Ellis at my brother George's to do some carpentering work. Passing through Fort Beaufort and Grahamstown on our way. When in the neighborhood of Sundays River, our oxen got astray in a dense forest, were lost two days, so here we had to stay. After a great deal of searching we managed to find all of them, twenty-four in number.
We arrived in Port Elizabeth on May 14th 1860, where I was appointed President of the Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This branch contained about forty members. We held meetings in Mr. Talbot's house twice on Sundays, and once through the week. I was
well employed in acting as a teacher, visiting the sick and poor, and other Church duties. After holding our meetings in Mr. Talbot's house for awhile, we hired a place, which we fitted up as a meetinghouse. It was very comfortable and we got the people more united.
Before I came to Port Elizabeth a Mr. John Stock was President of the Branch. While he was President, he and some others bought a small vessel called the "Unity". This Brig was bought with the view of transporting the Saints to America’s shores. She took one company of Saints. On her return journey she called at England, and there a Captain Rich took command of her. He was a member of the Church. He brought the vessel safely back to Port Elizabeth, bringing with him his wife and his children. The "Unity" was them used as a Coaster between the Ports of South Africa. On one occasion she took a cargo at Table Bay, for Algoa Bay, and she was never heard of afterwards. She is supposed to have foundered and all on board were lost. It was a heavy loss to the owner, Captain Rich's widow applied for her husband's salary and money owing him, but it was in vain, which caused her to feel bitter against John Stock. He was a man of enterprise, carried on a large tanning business with a Mr. Slaughter.
When John Stock left for Utah, this affair about the Brig was not settled, which caused a lot of trouble. He was not a bad man, but had kept the Saints together a long time, and was very good to the poor. He returned to Africa afterwards and settled the business satisfactorily.
I was soon Joined by me son-in-law, George Ellis, who got work at his trade. It was on the 9th of August, 1860, that I wrote my first letter to the Liverpool Office in England, as to the state of the Branches of the Church in the Eastern Province.
When Mr. Talbot's son Thomas came down from Queenstown, he brought me the money for my farm. Unfortunately, it was all in Queenstown Bank Notes, so I could not get them discounted in Port Elizabeth. He also brought word that my son Jeremiah did not intend sailing with us for America, but would follow another time. This made his mother feel very bad. She had already bid her daughter Sarah Ann goodbye. She had married a young man by the name of Charles Staples. To our sorrow, he took no interest in Mormonism, and thus she was prevented from going to Utah. One comfort was, he was a good man, and they loved each other dearly. Our eldest son John, was also staying in Africa, so my wife felt she could not leave another child. She accordingly made up her mind to go up to Queenstown and bring Jeremiah down, and also take my notes to Queenstown to be changed.
Thomas Talbot took her up with a cart and a pair of horses which belonged to me. On the way one horse caused them a lot of trouble. My wife's friends were very glad to see her again, she being a woman greatly beloved by all who knew her, and widely respected. One dear friend of hers was a Mrs. John Weakly. This lady was much grieved when we embraced Mormonism, and she told my wife if she would not go to Utah, she would give her a life-long home. But my wife thought more of her religion than to give it up for anything, however costly.
She visited all her relatives and bid them a final good-bye, feeling sad because they would not see the truths of the religion she loved. She went to the bank with the notes, and after a lot of trouble got them changed into gold. They first demurred, as they had heard it was to take us to Utah. When she had got the money, she visited her father. He was then eighty years old. She
persuaded Jeremiah to go down with her, and they both reached Port Elizabeth in safety. She also brought with her a little girl, a relation of hers had given her to take care of.
While she was absent, I engaged our passage, paying part of the money. The vessel's name was the "Race Horse", of Boston, Mass, U.S.A. Captain John Searles. I also paid passage of my son-in-law and his family, and son Jeremiah. My son-in-law had very little money and was in very poor health.
While in Bongoli he dreamed someone had paid all their passage money, which "someone" happened to be me. Jeremiah had left all his property, consisting of wagons and oxen, unsold, in charge of his brother John in the Bongoli. My brother, Aaron Wiggill, happening to be at Port Elizabeth at this time agreed to buy the cattle, to pay in eight months, turning over his wagon to his uncle and brother to sell for him. Jeremiah sold his oxen for one hundred and fifty pounds. Uncle Aaron could not get the money in Port Elizabeth, as he was not known there. A man whom he knew, named William Swift, promised to get the money and bring it over, but not one farthing of this money did my son ever see, through this man's dishonor. If he had taken my advice, he would not have lost this money.
We were in Port Elizabeth eleven months. I worked at my trade and attended to Church duties, so the time passed pleasantly. We lived in a pretty part of the town, close to the Harbor, overlooking the Ocean, where we could see the ships passing. One Sunday there was a Southeast wind blowing which lashed the waves to fury. They were mountain high. In the bay was a ship called "The Hero". She was an American vessel, having on board a cargo of oil. This vessel was thrown about by the waves like a cockleshell, until her cables broke and she was driven on the sandy shore, where she became a total wreck. Her anchor was afterwards washed up by the waves and picked up on the beach, where it was embedded in the sand.
During our stay in Port Elizabeth, Queen Victoria's son, Alfred, visited South Africa. When his ship came into the Bay there was great excitement. The long jetty was carpeted for him and his suite to walk on. He was a fine-looking boy of sixteen years of age. The whole town was decorated. Several triumphant arches were erected for them to pass under. All the shipping in the bay was illuminated. He stayed in the town a week, looking around, accompanied by the Governor, Sir George Grey. Then he went on a trip through Grahamstown, Fort Beaufort and Queenstown, through the Free States to Port Natal. While he was on this tour, his ship, the "Eurylus", lay in the Bay and was open to inspection. Myself and part of my family went on board. It was fitted up in magnificent style. His cabin was like a splendid parlor. The band was playing and many were dancing. The Engineer took us all through the Engine rooms, and I was much interested in the machinery. The ship stayed in the Bay two weeks and then steamed away to Port Natal to receive the Prince on board. This was in July 1860.
By February 1861, we were nearly ready to leave South Africa. I had been waiting for Elders from Utah to take over the Branch, but as they were detained in England, I could wait no longer. I left the Church in charge of Elder Slaughter until they arrived. Their names were Elders Dickson, Sutherland, Fotheringham, M. Atwood, and John Stock.
Chapter XXVII - We Set Sail For America
On the twentieth day of February, 1861, we bade the Saints and friends at Port Elizabeth farewell, and boarded the Barque "Race Horse". Our company consisted of myself and wife, and three children, Mr. Henry Talbot, wife and large family, his son Henry Jr. , wife and child, making in all thirty souls.
It was late afternoon before we weighed anchor and sailed out of the Bay, (Algoa Bay). By the time the shores of Sunny South Africa had gone out of sight, the vessel began to roll, and every one of us was glad to lie down. The distress of sea-sickness kept us all down quite a while. I was sick more or less the whole voyage. Our fare was good. we ate at the same table as the Captain. He was a very good man. His son was the second Mate. The only thing I relished was raw oats which fell from the oat hay which was on board to feed the sheep. The sheep were for table use. We found we had made a mistake by not laying in a small stock of delicacies which sick people could relish. The first to recover was young Thomas Talbot, so he made himself useful in taking care of the young ladies, helping them on deck every day to get the fresh air. This caused our Captain to give him the title, "Doc Talbot". Young Robert Wall was also very kind to the ladies and children.
Mr. Talbot had brought a little Kaffir boy along with him, named "Gogo". He had rescued him from starvation during the famine. This boy caused lots of fun among the sailors. The Captain gave him the work of feeding the sheep.
When the seasickness was over, the young people began to enjoy life on board ship. The Captain's son was very sociable with them. Many a pleasant evening we spent in dancing, singing and music. The Captain and Seamen of the wrecked ship, Hero were also with us, going home. The Captain's name was Hussey. On the first of April, there was fun on board. "Whale!" was shouted, and everybody ran to the side of the vessel to see nothing. We did see Whales occasionally. Also Porpoises and flying fish.
We passed the wrecked vessel, the "Benguela", near the Bermuda Islands. The "Race Horse" was a clipper ship, and a fast sailor. We sometimes met with contrary wind, and next would come calm, when we would drift out of our course which made us feel impatient. All went well with us until within two weeks travel of Boston, when we encountered a severe storm, lasting two days and nights. The waves rolling mountain high, would break over the ship in a mass of foam, sails were reefed, and we were driven before the wind, at the rate of ten or twelve knots an hour. The ship rolled and pitched, we began to think our end had come. The Captain had two small cannons on board as ornaments. One of these broke loose and rolled about the deck, smashing everything in its way until it jammed itself in a tight corner. Then the sailors lashed it to a mast. The wind was intensely cold. We were in the Gulf Stream, in the Gulf of Mexico. The Sea there is much warmer. Oh, how glad and thankful we were when that terrific storm was over.
We were soon near our destination, where a Pilot came on board. He brought papers and news of the war in the United States between North and South. The Battle of Bull Run had already been fought. The Pilot took charge of the vessel. As we neared the Harbor, four o’clock in the morning, we came in contact with the schooner "Fenmore" . The "Race Horse" lost her bowsprit, the head of her foremast, and all above, while the "Fenmore" sustained little damage. We were then six miles outside of Boston Light, where we remained until a steam-tug arrived to tow us in to Harbor. The tug towed another barque at the same time. The Captain said this was the second accident that had happened to his vessel in Boston Harbor after the Pilot had taken charge.
We arrived in Dock on the 19th of April 1861. The Captain was kind enough to allow us to stay on board until we could find quarters, so we stayed a week. The Captain had a pig killed. That meat tasted good to me, as my appetite had just returned. We bade good-bye to our kind friends of the "Race Horse", and entered the City of Boston to find new ones, which we very soon did. When the Saints of the Boston Branch heard of our arrival, the President and others came to the ship to meet and welcome us. Some people, hearing we were from Africa, stared at us, surprised to see that we were white, like themselves, ignorant of the fact that South Africa was settled by people from England in the same way America was.
The President of the East Boston Branch telegraphed to New York of our arrival. M.V. Jones sent back a message that we were to stay in Boston and make ourselves comfortable until an Emigrant Ship, which was expected from England had arrived. So I hired a large house in East Boston, which sheltered our whole party. We bought stoves, and as water was laid on in pipes, in every room, and good water it was. Provisions were cheap. We stayed in Boston nearly five weeks.
When we first landed the whole city was in excitement enlisting soldiers for the war, recruiting parties in all directions, flags flying, bands of music, more especially the fife and drum. The weather was fine, and we made jaunts every day to see the places of interest in and around Boston. The first place my wife wanted to see was Bunker Hill, she being much interested in History. Many things were seen by us for the first time, such as Railway trains, machine shops, Dock-yards. I had been a great reader, so knew of them from books. At the time we left Africa, there were but two short lines of rail in South Africa, one at Capetown, and the other in Natal.
We enjoyed our stay in Boston, often meeting with the good Saints on Sundays, hearing the Gospel and singing the lovely hymns. One I loved much was called "O, My Father" telling of our belief in a pre-existent state. I here transcribe it. It was written by Eliza R. Snow, a gifted poetess, who was a wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith. She was a highly educated and gentle lady, beautiful in face form and manners. The author of many lovely hymns and poems.
O MY FATHER
O, my father, thou that dwellest In the high and glorious place! When shall I regain Thy presence, And again behold Thy face? In Thy holy habitation Did my spirit once reside; In my first primeval childhood Was I nurtured near Thy side? 46
For a wise and glorious purpose Thou hast placed me here on earth, And withheld the recollection Of my former friends, and birth; Yet oftimes, a secret something Whispers, "You're a stranger here," And I felt that I had wandered From a more exalted sphere.
I had learned to call Thee "Father Through Thy spirit from on high; But until the key of knowledge Was restored, I knew not why. In the heavens are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare. Truth is reason, truth eternal Tells me I've a Mother there.
When I leave this frail existence, When I lay this mortal by, Father, Mother, may I meet you In your royal courts on High? Then, at length when I've completed All you sent me here to do, With your mutual approbation Let me come and dwell with you.
When we arrived in New York, we found the Company had already started for Florence, so we took a house in Jersey City and waited a week for another company. People were very kind to us. We had a look around New York, through the assistance of M.V. Jones, we got our English money changed into American money. The end of the week saw us again on the cars, on another stage of our journey for Zion.
We passed through Chicago and Hanniball. Now began the trouble with our having a black boy with us. Some colored men, seeing him, accused us of having a slave. They tried to get him away. We then dressed him in girl's clothes, putting on him a huge sunbonnet to hide his black face. At the Chicago Railway station, some men were determined to have him. This caused quite a disturbance. One lady of the company hid him beneath her crinoline, until the men had searched all the cars, and we had no more trouble, and finally reached St. Joes. In a few hours we were on board the Steamboat "Omaha", steaming up the River Missouri. There were about eight or nine hundred souls on board. Too many to be quite comfortable. I engaged cabin passage for my wife, as she was not very well, getting very weary with her long journey. She could not stand the confusion on the deck. I took care of my daughters in a cozy corner on the deck. We were nearly three days on the river, detained several times on sandbars. The Mate on the boat was the biggest swearer I had ever heard. His wicked words fairly made me tremble. The scenery along the banks of the River was very pretty. We were glad to reach Florence. It had been raining heavily. There was not a dry spot on which to place our boxes. The girls went on board again and were nearly taken off. The signal was given for the boat to start, and they had to run to reach shore again.
Chapter XXVIII - Traveling to Utah
Wagons were at the Landing to take us to the settlement. We found it almost a deserted town. Nearly all the houses had been moved away to Omaha, as that city had just been laid out. We were taken to an old barn, where we stayed two days. I then looked about the settlement and found a small cottage, into which I moved my family, and we were more comfortable. We stayed here three weeks waiting for our wagons to be fitted up. There were stores there at which we bought goods and provisions for the journey.
Florence is a very pretty place. The country around is undulating and park-like. Good water and grass. While here, two of my children were married. My son, Jeremiah to one of Mr. Talbot's daughters Pricilla, and my daughter Margaret to Thomas Talbot.
When I got my new wagon into my hands I made it very comfortable, putting in side boxes, covered its tent with two covers and a carpet. I paid eighty dollars for the wagon. I had six oxen, two cows and one calf.
We were then organized into a company. Homer Duncan was our Captain. He and several other Elders were returning from a mission to England. In our company also traveled Elder Charles Penrose, Jacob Gates, a family named Russell, M.r James Dyer, the Luffs, the Stratfords, and very happy times we had together.
After we were organized, we started off, and camped about a mile from Florence, near a small forest. Into the forest I went, as it reminded me of a South African Bush. I cut a stout hickory stick to take on our journey in case we needed a pole. While camping here, Mr. Talbot Sr. was chosen Chaplain for the company.
1 must record a sad occurrence which took place while in Florence. A lady and two sons were in our company. Just before starting, these two boys went to the river to bathe, and both were drowned. The grief of that poor mother was terrible to behold. They were buried in one grave, where so many faithful saints have found a last resting place, as this place was the home of the saints on their way to Utah for years. Many companies having to winter there.
We left this camp on the last day of June 1861, and now commenced our long journey of a thousand miles. We traveled many days over a beautiful rolling country, good grass and water, but very little wood. Miles and miles we traveled until we reached "Wood River", where there were many trees. Between the streams of water, grass covered the plains, two feet high, waving full of seed.
A man with a handcart started with us, but he soon tired of his job, sold his cart, and traveled with one of the wagons. As we traveled along, I thought of the brave handcart companies that
had walked all those weary miles. Many meeting death on the way. Faithful and true, they sang as they traveled on, that cheering hymn, written by William Clayton, called "All Is Well"
"Come, come ye Saints, No toil nor labor fear, But with joy wend your way. Though hard to you this journey may appear Grace shall be as your day".
They were on their way to a place of rest, far away from mobs and enemies, who had so cruelly murdered their beloved Prophet Joseph Smith; where they could worship God according to the dictates of their conscience.
At Wood River a wagon broke down, belonging to a man named Charles Dean. It was an old wagon and one wheel gave out. I helped Captain Duncan repair the wheel and set the tire, and we journeyed on. I had sometimes to be out all night guarding cattle, which was very unpleasant when grass was up to our knees, and wet with dew. We passed many trading stations, at one of which I bought a Buffalo Robe.
At Loop Fork Ferry, there was a village called Columbia. Here large boats took our wagons, fifty in number, over, one at a time, which took us all day. Charles Dean’s wagon had to undergo more repair. We camped under cottonwood trees. Somewhere in this vicinity we met a train of wagons going to Florence to fetch emigrants. The Church sent wagons regularly to meet them. I have forgotten to mention that we were an independent company, that is, we all owned our own wagons. With these wagons were some missionaries on their way to Africa, among them Mr. Henry Talbot's son, John, who had come to Utah a year before. They camped with us one night, John telling his parents a great deal about Utah's manners and customs.
Next day we separated, their train going east, and ours west. On and on we traveled until we reached Platt River, Nebraska. For two weeks or more, we traveled along its banks. The road was level and smooth and not much wood for fuel. We used "Buffalo chips" or dry cattle dung. An Antelope was killed and its flesh much appreciated. Wild grapes and currants grew along the banks of the river. At a place called Ash Hollow, we were visited by a number of Indians, who came begging. The Captain collected a number of articles from the company. With these they went away satisfied.
We next came to some heavy sand ridges. The oxen could not pull the wagons through the sand without doubling the teams. The ridges extended for ten miles. It took us all one day to travel that distance. All along this sandy road lay broken wagons, loose tires, and one stove. Wagonloads of good useful material could have been gathered on the plains in those days.
We were all anxious to see "Chimney Rock", a tall, sandstone formation, which could be seen for miles around. This was a romantic part of our journey. Low cliffs or buttes along the road, and these curious shaped masses rising from them formed of loose gravel and hard grains of earth. I think this land must have been at one time covered with water, which as it dried away, after earthquakes and convulsions of nature, corroded parts of the earth's surface, and left the harder
parts standing, also washing the sands down in those heavy ridges. We could see great mountains in the distance, which appeared to have plenty of pine-trees on their sides.
Still ascending, we finally reached the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Here we passed "Independence Rock", a huge perpendicular boulder of iron-stone granite. On its sides many travelers had carved their names. We now came to a pass called Devil's Gate, through which flows a beautiful stream known as the Sweetwater River. Here we camped and I had to mend a broken axle. The Devil's Gate is a very narrow glen. Its sides rise up perpendicularly for hundreds of feet. On the margin of the stream grow trees and shrubs. Some of our party walked through this glen, meeting the wagons on the other side. We camped here one night, then journeyed on 'till we reached Green River. It is a very wide stream, its banks wooded with cottonwood and birch.
A mile from here we camped in a grove of cottonwood trees. As we had plenty of fuel we built tremendous campfires. The next place that comes to my mind is the Military Post of Fort Bridger, named after the famous old trapper, Jim Bridger. This place is well wooded and watered. We were now one hundred and fifty miles from Salt Lake Valley. As we ascended the Rocky Mountains, good water became scarce, and we would have to travel long distances between camping places.
In some places our road lay on a ridge with the valleys on each side. Sometimes we were on a level plain covered with sagebrush. I now recall Bear River, a beautiful stream, its water clear as crystal so we could see the pebbles and rocks in the bottom. Cottonwoods grew on its banks.
Our road now lay between red sand hills, descending until we reached Echo Canyon, and here I saw the most romantic and rugged scenery I ever saw in my life. On either side rise steep cliffs in most fantastic shapes imaginable, composed of rocks and pebbles, cemented together. Three of these columns close together are called "The Witches". It takes its name from sounds echoing and re-echoing among the rocks. It is twenty miles in length. Through it runs a creek of clear water, its banks lined with willow and other trees. Wild hop vines climb over the trees, as they were ready for picking, great bunches were gathered.
This canyon joins another called Weber Canyon, through which runs a rapid stream called Weber River. On the river we struck the first Mormon settlement, called Hennifer. In Weber Canyon is the curious formation of Rock called "The Devil's Slide". After leaving the settlement we turned off and traveled for six miles up the mountains of the Wasatch Range. Here we camped. Mr. Talbot and I thought we would go ahead of our wagons and so we started on horseback. We camped with another company that night between Little and Big Mountain. Next day we rode down Emigration Canyon, where thoughts of the Pioneers filled our minds. On merging from this canyon, the valley came into view.
Our hearts were full of joy to see before us the City of the Saints, and to know our toilsome journey was over. We entered the City and found an old friend from Winterberg, South Africa, Mr. Charles Roper, living in the seventh Ward. We stayed with him that night and next day met our company on Emigration Square in the Eighth Ward. Captain Duncan invited myself and
family to stay at his house until we could look around us and see what to do. He made us very comfortable for several days.
When William Walker heard I had arrived, he came to see me and spent one day showing me all around the City. We had a good journey across the plains. One death and two births were recorded, and several minor accidents. The young people had many pleasant evenings in dancing, and so was completed our journey to Zion in September 1861.
Chapter XXIX - Settling In Utah
After staying with Captain Duncan a week, I hired a house in the Seventeenth Ward, in which we lived until after the October conference, which Conference we much enjoyed. There we saw for the first time that great man, President Brigham Young, and other leading men of the Church, and we heard many inspiring sermons. Meetings were held in a building on Temple Square, as the Great Tabernacle was not then completed. The foundations of the Temple were then being laid.
After the Conference I heard of a house for sale. It was thus I heard it: Some Saints had come to the City from Fillmore, Millard Co. A friend of theirs was living on his own property in the Fifteenth Ward. His name was Paul. They were anxious to have this man return with them to Fillmore, so they prevailed on him to sell his property. Mr. Paul, hearing I was on the look-out for such a place, came to see me and we made a bargain. I paid him my new wagon and two yoke of Oxen, which enabled him to start right away with his friends.
The house consisted of four rooms, and on the lot was an apple orchard, quite near the Jordan River. He also let me have some hay, which helped feed my cow I had brought across the plains. I worked at my trade all winter, taking for pay, bacon, potatoes, flour, pumpkins, and whatever I could in the shape of provisions, for there was little money in Utah at that time.
We welcomed the spring. I planted my land with vegetables and sugar cane. My sons-in-law, George Ellis and Thomas Talbot, moved to Kaysville, twenty-five miles north of the city. I went to visit them and did not like the place at all. I returned to the city and decided to settle there.
During the summer my children gave such glowing accounts of Kaysville, saying they knew I could make a living there, that my wife thought we had better try it, as she did not like our home in the city. It was near the Jordan and very damp which did not agree with her health. I let my house to my son Jeremiah, and moved out to Kaysville. The garden stuff was a help to him.
Our neighbors were nearly all Welsh people. Next door to us lived the Ashtons, and across the street the blind musician, Thomas Giles, who used to play the harp. In this Ward lived old Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd, from South Africa. My son Jeremiah moved our furniture to Kaysville with his wagon and team, passing through the settlements of Bountiful, Centerville, and Farmington on the way, catching several glimpses of the Great Salt Lake.
I tried to hire a house but did not succeed, and finally heard of a farm for sale. I went to see it and bought it for four hundred dollars. It was a small farm of thirty acres, all fenced, with a brush fence. It had on it a small log house. It was situated near where my children lived on Holmes Creek. I took possession of the farm at once, paying a wagon and oxen as first installment, the rest to be paid in wheat, which was already in the ground, but the crop proved a failure,
I got work to do carpentering and other woodwork. The next spring I sowed wheat again but instead of reaping one hundred bushels, I reaped nearly twenty, as it was a dry season and water scarce. In the banks of the creek near the house was a beautiful spring of very good water. We had also plenty of oak-brush for fuel.
Owing to the crop failure I had no means with which to meet the debt on my farm, so I sold my house and lot in city for an old wagon and yoke of oxen. My son Jeremiah took the wagon and I worked the oxen awhile and then let them go in part payment for the farm. I borrowed a little wheat of my kind neighbors and got a little in payment for work I had done. When I had settled this payment I was left without wagon or team to work my land with.
To have to depend on neighbor for a lift to city or elsewhere became very disagreeable to myself and wife. She was determined to have a team, so I traded her cook stove to a neighbor for a pair of mules, also giving some silverware she had brought from Africa. We called the mules Dick and Pete, but they were too lazy for anything, so that before it was time to plow I had to make another change. I traded them for a yoke of oxen and a plow. I was then ready for work in the spring. I reaped this year a good crop of wheat and cane (sorghum), out of which we made molasses. We also had a good cow, keeping us in milk and butter. I got a little work to do. I now added another room to my house.
In July 1862 my daughter Rosanna was married to Mr. Charles Talbot, leaving but two children at home, Joseph and Frances. Many happy hours we spent in our humble log house. Sometimes a cottage meeting was held in our dining room, sometimes a dance, as it was the best house on the Creek. My wife was very neat and clean and always managed to make her home pretty and attractive no matter how humble they were, or how poor our circumstances.
With our molasses we bought a stove. On this farm we lived three years. In 1864 I rented my farm to my son-in-law Thomas Talbot and moved to Salt Lake City to work at my trade. In the fall I was preparing to return to my farm, but my wife did not want to go back to Kaysville, so I rented my farm to my son Jeremiah. I was fortunate to get a good job of work at carpentering for Mr. Woodmansee, who kept a store.
In the spring I went to work for the firm of Naylor Bros. Blacksmiths and Wagon makers. They paid me four dollars per day. A young man named William Lowe also worked for the same firm, and in November of the same year, 1862, he married my daughter Frances. He was an Englishman, came to Utah in 1862 from his birthplace, Isle of Wright. My wife and I were both pleased for our youngest daughter to have such a good husband as he proved to be. He was industrious, honest and upright, and a splendid Blacksmith and horseshoer. He soon bought a nice home in the eleventh ward on the end South St. Between seventh and eight East, which he improved, making it cozy and comfortable. About this time I concluded to stay in the City, and as my son Jeremiah wished to buy my farm, I agreed to let him have it, in preference to a stranger, for the same amount as I paid for it, four hundred dollars. He was to pay me in installments, just as he could make them.
Just about this time I received some money from my father's estate. He was Isaac Wiggill, and died at Uitenhage, South Africa, 1863. Some of my wife's wealthy relations in Yorkshire, England had died after we left South Africa, and left fortunes to her father's family. She was left out of the wills, because she had become a Latter Day Saint. She never complained about this, as she loved the true and everlasting Gospel better than she loved earthly riches.
With the money from Africa I bought a piece of land costing me four hundred and fifty dollars. It had no house on it, only a few fruit trees. I had at this time a light wagon and a team of horses, as I had my son Joseph haul some building materials on to my lot, such as rock, brick and clay. A Mr. Whitney engaged to build for me, but he failed to do this.
In the meantime my son Jeremiah came to the City and laid the foundation of one room, also the joists, and there it had to be left until spring, when Mr. Whitney built the house. I dug and planted the garden, but when everything was looking nice and green, grasshoppers came and devoured all. They did the same thing the following year. The third year I succeeded in raising a good crop of barley vegetables and fruit.
Chapter XXX - Life In Utah
I lived happily in this home until Aug 1869, when my wife sickened of dysentery and died, aged fifty-six years. She died in the full faith of the Gospel, after a union of forty two years. She had no desire to live longer, longed to go and be at rest. Her youngest son Joseph was not at home, he having gone on a trip to Bear Lake Valley with his brother-in-law William Lowe. My wife said, "Give him my love." She said she was going to her sister and her mother. She was surrounded by four daughters and one son, and three sons-in-law. My youngest daughter being constantly at her bedside. She loved to wait on her mother.
Never was a Mother loved more devotedly by all her children than she was. Never was there one more mourned and missed. She passed peacefully away, leaving us to morn a faithful loving wife and mother, a true friend. A brave, courageous woman. At her request, her body was taken to Kaysville by wagon, a sad journey for us of twenty-five miles. She was laid to rest by the side of her little Grandson, Nephi Talbot.
My son-in-law, William Lowe, was called in July of that year to settle in Bear Lake Valley, and he had taken my son Joseph with him. He had a good wagon and team and took all his tools with him. He bought a place for four hundred dollars with a small house on it. While he was there he partly built a shop, he then came back to fetch his family. On reaching Kaysville they heard of the death of their mother, and I have been told of the terrible grief of Joseph, he was almost heart-broken. He would not leave Kaysville, so William came on to the City alone. His wife was so full of sorrow over her mother's death (it almost killed her), she dreaded to go to that far off country, so William decided not to take her. He then went back to Bear Lake, gathered up his tools and goods, returning to the City, and went to work at his trade again, never going back to
Bear Lake. He bought the place from a man named Johnson. It was situated between Fish Haven and St. Charles. His description of the Country there was very fine.
After my wife's funeral, I lived with my daughter Frances for three months, as she was alone, her husband being at Bear Lake. I stayed on with them after his return and then made up my mind to return to my home and marry again. A lady from Africa accepted my offer so we were married, and I brought her to my home in October 1869. Her name—H. Hollis.
At this time my thoughts turned much to South Africa and my relatives there. I thought I might be able to persuade my brother George to return to Utah to gather with the Saints. Speaking of Africa to my son-in-law, he thought he would also like to see that country, his wife needed a change, she fretted so much about her mother. She longed to see her mother's sister. I was glad when he consented to go with me.
He owned a small property and a wagon and team which he sold to good advantage. They had only one child, the eldest died. I consulted my wife and she was perfectly willing I should go. She was comfortably fixed and had her own four sons with her.
My son-in-law was very fond of the ocean, and he thought a sea voyage would do us all good. My children did not like my going so far away from them, but I had made up my mind to go, so I telegraphed to my son Jeremiah to bring his team to the City and take our luggage to the Kaysville Station, as the Railway only extended thus far.
We left the City on Sunday, 12th Dec 1869, going as far as Kaysville, where we bade goodbye to other members of the family. The baby was eleven months old and she was not any trouble. At Ogden we changed cars. By the 17th of Dec. we were in Chicago, then on again, ‘till we reached Niagara Falls, where we halted for an hour. I took a walk to see the beauties of that wonderful work of nature. The foaming, restless water below the Falls made my dizzy as I walked on the suspension bridge.
Once more we took the train, crossed the Bridge onto the Canadian side of the River, and soon reached Toronto, a beautiful City. We stayed here over Sunday, found lodging with a very nice widow lady, glad to feel we had given her a little needful help. We had a look around the City. Many fine Churches and buildings. Also homes surrounded with shrubbery and lawns.
On the 20th of December we left Toronto for Ottowa, reached that City on the afternoon of the same day. Here lived Mr. James Lowe, one of Williams brothers. We soon found his house and received a hearty welcome. Mr. and Mrs. Lowe did all they could to make our visit pleasant. Mrs. Lowe being especially kind and attentive to me. They were in good circumstances and had a comfortable home. He being a Master Builder. He hired a cutter and took us all for a sleigh ride over the St Lawrence River where we saw men sawing great blocks of ice out.
The Government Buildings were handsome, standing on an eminence overlooking the City and the Ottawa River. From here we could see the country for miles around, most of it covered with forest. Sugar maples abound in Eastern Canada. Acres of land were covered with stacks of
lumber ten and twelve feet high. The weather was bitterly cold, causing tears to flow from our eyes unbidden, especially the baby's.
We spent a very happy Christmas and New Year with these kind friends. Their table was spread bounteously with many good things to eat, which we much enjoyed. They had no children and wanted Fannie's baby, but she could not be spared. James was one of the three brothers who left England for America. When Lewis and William crossed the plains to Utah, he settled in the east.
We bade goodbye to them on January 3rd, 1870 and steamed off for New York. When we reached the St. Lawrence River it was so rough and boisterous we could not cross that night. The water was raging like the ocean, the wind lashing the waves to foam. We took lodging that night at a Hotel, and next morning the River was quite calm and we crossed in safety to the Village of Ogdensburg.
The track was now through pretty park-like country, through villages and past farmhouses. A nice stream ran alongside the railroad for some miles. On its margin was piled up huge blocks of ice, which had been thrown up by the freshet.
Our road now lay along the Hudson River, a wide and deep stream containing many islands. The scenery along its banks was truly beautiful. The cliffs reaching down to the water’s edge with trees and flowers growing between the rocks. Here and there a gentleman's stately mansion; in the distance a village with a church among the trees could be seen occasionally. On the River were seen crafts of various kinds. As we neared New York, the bluffs were higher and steeper, and the road sometimes running between huge rocks and many tunnels. On the height grew trees of various kinds. Truly picturesque scenery.
Before entering the City we passed iron foundries and brickyards. Arriving in New York on the 5th of January 1870. Carriages were at the station to convey passengers to various hotels. One of these we engaged to take us to a hotel where we stayed one night. Next morning we found it too far from the docks, so William and I started to find more convenient lodgings. Finally we saw a house that had a room to let. This room we engaged for a few days and had our luggage removed to it.
In the evening we went to our room. In the front was a little Grocery store. While William and I were out that evening, my daughter was there alone. She noted several ill-looking men coming in and out and talking mysteriously to the man and woman of the house. The woman got to asking questions about where we were going, of my daughter. When William and I got back she told us about the fearful sensation these things had caused to come over her. She imagined they thought we were wealthy people, traveling about, as the man said to us, "Why don't you stay in New York and spend your money?" She felt we would all be robbed and murdered, so we had no sleep that night, and decided to leave next morning. When we told them of our intentions they became very angry and threatened to keep our boxes. We paid for night’s lodgings and hurried away. The woman gave vent to foul abusive language as she banged the door on our backs. We were relieved to be free from the place and took lodgings at the Centennial Hotel near Castle Gardens. Here we were very comfortable for a week.
In looking over the papers, William saw notice of a vessel sailing for Capetown. We went to the Agent, who took us to see the ship. We saw the Captain, William Amos, and Mate Mr. Macleod. She was "The Deodorus", a barque of Dundee. All her crew were Scotch. They agreed to fix up cabins for our accommodation, as they did not take passengers. We paid twenty-five dollars each for our passage.
We had a good look around New York, and on the 19th of January, we were towed out of the Harbor by a tug, passed Sandy Hook and the Light House, out to sea. Our cabins were comfortable and table fare was good. The cook, John Smith, said as he was fixing up the stove, "We will not need this many days, we will soon be in warmer water". And so we found it. We all got very sea-sick, but my daughter caught a severe cold which caused her to have a severe earache, and for awhile she was very ill.
A curious thing happened while we were on this ship. My daughter used to hear beautiful music and singing in female voices, and as she was the only female on board, this was a great mystery. It sounded like sweet heavenly music wafted on the breeze from a distance. Night after night she listened to this music when in mid-ocean.
When crossing the line there was great fun. A sailor impersonated Neptune and had fun with all who had not crossed the line before. The Captain shut himself up in his cabin and escaped Neptune's clutches. The heat was intense and we were unable to stay below deck long. The Captain strewed sand on the upper deck to keep our feet from sticking to the tar which boiled from between the deck boards. We were be-calmed for a week. We were very glad to sight the top of Table Mountain. We had it in view all one day before seeing the shores of South Africa, and that night we saw the Light House flash.
Instead of the Captain's waiting for a pilot to take him into Harbor, he tried to take his vessel in himself, and in the morning he found he had almost run his vessel on the rocks near Sea Point. He had to turn around quite a lot to get his vessel headed for Table Bay. When the Pilot came on board, he scolded the Captain for trying to enter the Bay. He also spoke to me, and when I told him I was a settler, he said "You are just in time for the Great Jubilee Celebration of the settlers landing."
We anchored in Table Bay on the 24th day of March, 1870. The Captain went on shore at once and we went with him to take our first look at the Historical City of Capetown, for although I had lived in South Africa for over forty years, I had never been there before. I had read much about it. We rambled about Capetown 'till we reached the Old Oak Avenue, on which is situated the Botanical Gardens, and Government Buildings. Also the Library and Museum. On this Avenue the baby took her first steps. Her mother put her on the ground and she walked alone. The motion of the vessel had prevented her from trying her feet before.
The stately old Oaks along this Avenue were planted in the early days of Capetown, and are well preserved. Seats are placed all along the Avenue. It is a pleasant place to sit and rest. In the gardens grew many kinds of trees and shrubs. A plantation of young forest trees interested me. In it I recognized many of those trees I used to work in making wagons. Some Eucalyptus trees were very large. These are commonly called in Africa, "Blue Gum".
In the Library were forty thousand volumes presented to it by Sir George Grey, Governor of the Colony in 1861. In the Library grounds stood a statue of this good Governor. We had our dinner in a restaurant, which we enjoyed. We returned to the ship in the evening, and next morning William and I started out to find some friends who lived at Morobray, a suburb of Capetown. On the way we were overtaken by a Dutch man with a wagon. We inquired of him the residence of Mr. George Rook. He said he could show us, so we got into his wagon and had a ride into the village. He stopped in front of a store.
We went into a Wheelwright's shop, and in the course of conversation with the workman, we told him we were from America. A boy, who had been listening to us ran home to his mother and told her there were men there from America and she sent him back to bring us to her home, and to our surprise, we found she was a Latter-day Saint, her name was Mrs. Penfold. She sent her boy with us to Mr. Rook's house. Our way led through Avenues of pine trees for about a mile. Mr. Rook was very glad to see us and made us welcome. We made arrangements with him to come to the jetty and take our luggage out, as we had to stay a week in Capetown to wait for a steamer to take us on to Algoa Bay.
We went to Rondesbosch by Station but missed the train and waited for the next, which threw us late in reaching the docks. As it happened, the Captain was late in leaving the city so we were in time to go out with his boat. We spent a week in Morobray. It is surrounded with forests of pines planted by early Dutch Settlers.
Table Mountain and the rugged hills joining it was a romantic scene. Many canyons or Kloofs run into its side. One day we climbed one of these, ascending to quite a height. We crossed a rocky ridge and descended the next Kloof, admiring the various trees and shrubs. Here were growing wild berries, brambles of various kinds, cape gooseberries, and wild grapes. All these reminded me of my boyhood days in the forests around Grahamstown. We waded through grass and bushes, finally coming to a fountain of clear water. In former days this water was led out for irrigation purposes. A water dyke led to a large cement dam. This we reached by following the furrow through a tangled mass of grass and weeds through the forest. The cemented bank was oval in shape, about thirty feet long and twelve feet wide, and about three feet deep. In this bank were growing trees fully thirty feet high.
A little below this we came upon the ruins of a mansion, the blue coloring of the walls still visible. It stood on a slope and around it was the remains of a once magnificent park. It had been terraced and some old trees were still standing, such as chestnuts and walnuts. This mansion was built by one of the early Dutch Governors, as a country residence. At the time of our visit it was owned by a widow lady named "Kreewogen". A carriage road led from the house to the main road, about a mile in length, through a pine tree forest.
From this we emerged onto the outskirts of Rondesbosch. We were very tired with our long walk.
On the slopes of Table Mountain grow that beautiful tree called Silver Trees. Leaves are of a silvery appearance, covered with fine hair smooth enough to write or paint on. It is a peculiar fact that in no other part of the world are those trees to be found. They will not thrive if planted in any other part of Africa. After a few year's growth, they die. Many people lose their lives in climbing up Table Mountain. A thick mist comes up which prevents them from seeing the path, and they fall over the steep precipices. Rondesbosch is one long succession of gentlemen's homes, and its beautiful scenery makes it a most desirable place to live. A railway runs through it to the town of Wynberg, about eight miles from Capetown.
On Sunday we held a meeting at Mr. Rook's place,inviting Saints and friends to meet. I took pleasure in describing Utah and her people, Salt Lake City and surroundings, as well as explaining the principles of the Gospel. We sailed from Capetown in the steamer "Prince Bismark", Captain Staats in command. We visited the "Deodorious" to get our remaining luggage and bade the Captain goodbye. We were soon on our way to Algoa Bay, calling at Mossel Bay, or Aliwal South. High Mountains obstruct the view.
We took in a cargo of brandy, as the Oudtshoorn District is famed for fruit and vineyards. We landed in Port Elizabeth the third day of April 1870. I hunted up an old acquaintance of mine by the name of Mr. Charles Grubb, a stevedore. Mr. Grubb could not accommodate us, as he had some friends in his house. He took us in his buggy to Mrs. Rich, Captain Rich's wife. She was glad to see us and directed us to the home of a Mr. Human who rented a room for us. I knew the house as it used to be Mr. Slaughter's tannery when I lived in Port Elizabeth in 1860.
Mrs. Rich lived on the road along which passed the freight wagons. We asked her to keep a lookout for the name of Wiggill on the wagons, as each one had the owner's name painted on the side. She saw the name on a wagon and told us of it. The wagons were loaded with wool, so we started to town to look for them, and after considerable walking, found the wagons being unloaded.
I asked the Native man where his Master was, so he pointed him out. I went up to him and asked him a few questions. He did not know me. He was my brother Elijah's son Henry. With him was a Mr. Abraham Wild, whose father I knew years ago. They told me that Francis Wiggill, Henry's brother was also in the Bay. We soon found him. He was expecting me, through a letter I had written to his Uncle George, and was willing to take us up to Queenstown in his wagon. He had it fitted up comfortable, not forgetting the ladder for us to climb up and down from the wagon on. We thought ourselves fortunate in finding our relatives in Port Elizabeth, which helped us on our journey.
We spent one day looking around the town. We went up on the hill along Cape road, many fine residences having been built since I left Port Elizabeth, also a fine park known as St. George's Park. The streets up to the hill are very steep. From there we have a fine view of the Bay and the shipping and the sea for miles. We saw the Hospital. There were many new cottages just erected. While in Port Elizabeth I wrote letters to Utah.
On the 9th of April we left Port Elizabeth, and went as far as the Zwart-Kops River, eight miles from the town, where we camped. This river rises in the mountains near the town, of Uitonhage, twenty miles from where we camped. The Ford is about five miles from the mouth. The tide ebbs and flows as far as the Ford. Land bars obstruct the bay at its mouth. A very long bridge crosses this river. We traveled over the same old road that the settlers of 1820 took.
Chapter XXXI - I Visit South Africa
Heavy rains detained us at this river until the 11th of April. I will now try to describe the country in this vicinity. A steep hill runs parallel with the river. On this eminence are many conical shaped mounds, covered with a close growth of brushwood of very dark green color. These mounds are called by the Dutch "Kops", or heads, and their being so dark looking give rise to the name "Zwart", meaning black, "Zwart-kops". At a distance they look black. These hills run for miles.
Among the trees grow aloes, some very tall. Also a kind of cactus, called "Milky-Euphorbia" It grows to a height of thirty feet, branching out like huge candelabra, the trunk and branches are three-square. All up the angles grow sprines and tiny flowers. Any cut on this tree causes a milky juice to exude. It thickens on exposure, very much like rubber. This cactus decays rapidly and falls down. It is of no use as fuel or timber.
We had hard work getting the wagons up to the top of this steep hill, made slippery with the rain. On the top of this hill, Mr. Wild turned off to the Salt Pans to get some salt. His wagon already had a heavy load on. We went on and camped near a farmhouse where the wind blew so strong it was with difficulty we could get a fire to burn long enough to cook any food. Mr. Wild overtook us here with his salt. Then on we went, traveling down to a lowland where the wind was not so strong, going through a dense forest, finally reaching Sunday's river, crossing on the Pontoon, or Ferry Boat. This brought us to the road leading off to Grahamstown. The Pontoon is large enough to take on board a wagon and twelve oxen.
At this place where we camped several wagons containing wild beasts on their way to Port Elizabeth to be sent to England. The animals were Zebras, lions and some other kinds. We traveled to a higher plateau now, commanding a view of the country below us. Coming to a wayside hotel, we found it kept by an old acquaintance, Charlie Fancott and his wife. They invited us to dinner. After dinner he took me in his buggy to see his father-in-law, Charles Talbot, who was much surprised to see me. Maybe he thought, like some others, that once in Utah, no one was ever allowed to leave again. He kept me 'till midnight, talking on Utah, his brother Henry being there.
We were up early next morning and joined the wagons in time for breakfast. Four day's traveling from here brought us to Grahamstown. A few miles before we reached Grahamstown we passed through Howesons Poort, named after a man I knew well as a boy. It is a long narrow gorge, between two high mountains. At the head of this gorge is a large wool washing establishment. The road was made by convict labor at Government expense. When I was a boy the distance from here to Grahamstown seems so long, now it seemed no time before we reached the town. On Main or High street I recognized many of the buildings, although great changes had taken place.
My mind was filled with thoughts of boyhood days as I traversed the streets along which my dear parents had walked. I thought of my dear mother and of how many steps I might have saved her tired feet in those better days. Boys are so often careless and thoughtless of their mother's comfort. She and my sister lay buried in Grahamstown Cemetery. I felt like a stranger and did not know any one I met. We had a letter and a parcel to deliver to Mr. Dixon from his son in Utah, the poor old man was too feeble and infirm to open the letter. After the visit William and I went to what was called Wiggill's Kloof, where my father had had his watermill. We had no time to visit the old spot. We had to hurry back to the wagons which were ready to start. We had camped on the cricket ground, near the cemetery.
We started late in the afternoon crossing the Grahamstown country, course and flat, going over Botha's Hill and along the Queen's Road, a road excavated out of the precipitous sides of the Mountain. These mountains are covered with a dense mass of brushwood. In fact it is a part of Great Fish River Jungle. Among these shrubs grow a spreading plant called in Dutch "Wacht-een-beetje", meaning in English, "Wait-a-bit", and rightly named, for it is covered with strong hooked thorns. If a dress or anything catches on them it means waiting a bit in earnest. Its roots are like cork, light and porous, about twelve inches around, and striking very deep. It bears clusters of scarlet blossoms and very large long pods, covered with short thorns, beans large as broad-beams. They grow in patches about two feet high.
The scenery along the road is romantic indeed. At the foot of a hill, two or three miles along, we crossed Brack River. We ascend this hill and come to a level plain, covered with pretty flowers and vines. Five or six miles brought us to Fort Brown, on the Fish River. Here we gathered prickly pears, a new fruit to my son-in-law. We next crossed the Koonap River and climbed the hill called Koonap Heights. We left Fort Beaufort to the right and traveled as far as Kat River. From here we soon reached the new Katberg Road, which is cut through a forest. In many places excavated out of solid rock; in others built up in mason work some hundreds of feet at the heads of canyons running down the mountain-side. We then descend a number of long bare ridges, along a cut road. Or dug way, until we reach the level. Here I found an old acquaintance named John Armstrong, who was real glad to see me. We had a long chat over old times. This farm is called Busby Park, and is now owned by a Mr. Busby James. His brother-in-law, Michael Langfield keeps a Hotel on this farm.
We next reached the village of Whittlesea in a heavy storm of rain. Stayed there half a day. When we reached the Zwart Kie River, we were detained with rain. We were afraid the Klass Smits River would be flooded, but we were able to cross it. From this place I sent a native boy to inform my son John of my arrival. The next day he came to meet us with his buggy. Just halfway between Queenstown and the river, we met, after being parted for 10 years. He took my daughter and child and myself in his buggy. We went through Queenstown to Bongoli, where we were received with great joy by my brother Elijah and family. They never expected to see me any more from the far-away land of America, among the Mormons. It was decided that we stay with my brother for the present.
Chapter XXXII - My Visit in South Africa
My brother Elijah thought I had come to stay with him for good. He never gave it a thought I would ever return to Utah. Everywhere I was greeted with the question, "You are not going back to Utah again, are you?" To which I would answer, "I am going back in two years time. I have not seen anything in Utah to hurt or frighten me. I am perfectly satisfied with my religion and with the lives the Latter-day Saints live in Utah when they live up to their religion. Our Leaders live honest, upright lives. Had it not been for that, I would never have left Africa."
The day offer we arrived, my son took me to Queenstown where I visited my sister Mrs. Jane Watson, and met many old friends. The descendants of the 1820 settlers were preparing to attend the Jubilee in Grahamstown. My old friend Rev. H.H. Dugmore was one of the principal speakers at this Jubilee held in May 1870. He had traveled extensively and being of a keen observing nature, and a splendid memory, he had many incidents and anecdotes of sons and daughters of the 1820 settlers who assembled at that Reunion. If I had been in Grahamstown I would have attended it, but I did not feel I could undertake another long journey.
After a few days rest my son-in-law and I took a trip to see my brother-in-law Francis Bentley and my brother Joseph Wiggill. They lived in the Stormberg District. A village had been recently formed near their farm named "Dordrecht". Their farm is called "Blauw Krantz". They were all well and glad to see us. This country did not look quite as desolate as it did when I was there in 1846. My sister-in-law showed me a white rose-tree that my wife had planted. This was a rose from the one we had in our garden at Kaal Hoek. She had brought the pieces to Bongoli from there. It is an uncommon variety, small blossoms in clusters, with a very sweet scent.
My brother-in-law, hearing I was anxious to visit my brother George, lent us each a horse for the journey and we started on our ninety-mile journey. At the Zwart-Kie River we visited an old friend of mine, Mr. Joseph Ralph, who was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He could hardly believe his own eyes, to see me, but was very glad to have us stay with him that night. He used to visit my house often in the Bongoli, and attend our meetings, being a faithful Saint.
The next day we came to the house of a Mr. Edward Goddard. He received us kindly. He and his good wife made us welcome, and we slept that night with them. This farm is called "Bottle-Gat", meaning a very hot fire. Leaving Mr. Goddard's we took a bridle path across the spurs of the Winterberg Mountains until we came to the Main Road, thus saving ourselves eight or nine miles. It was a well-known road to me over numerous grassy ridges until we reached a plateau overlooking the Koonap River Valley. From this height it took us an hour to ride to my brother's house. He was glad to see me after an absence of ten years, and we had many things to talk over, he being of the same faith.
After two or three days visit, William and I took a ride to Kaal-Hoek, where I once resided, to see a sister who lived there. When we returned to George's, William seemed anxious to return to his family, so he started back, arriving at Mr. Armstrong's late that night. William had heard of a Mr. Alford, a distant cousin of his, living in the neighborhood. He called on him, and he told William news of his relatives in England.
I stayed a few days longer, preached at his house on Sunday. When I was ready to leave, my brother-in-law accompanied me. His name is H. Hollis. We called on an old friend, Mr. James Sweetman. Arriving in Bongoli safely, I found William busy repairing and papering a cottage on my son John's farm for his family to live in. I turned in and helped him. I made two new doors and a dining table. Some time after this my brother Aaron Wiggill was passing through Queenstown, asked if I would not go with him to his farm in British Kaffraria, which I did, traveling through a country new to me. I was glad to see the town of King Williamstown. It is a nice town, built on rolling ridges near the head of the Buffalo River, which rises in the Amatola Mountains near the town. On these mountains is the famous Perie Bush, a thick forest. The Buffalo River empties into the sea at the Port of East London some twenty miles distant. King Williamstown is the Military Headquarters. There is a large Hospital here with well laid out grounds.
From here we traveled to the farm of Mr. Nathaniel Brown, an old friend of mine and my brother's father-in-law. I attended the Church with them on Sunday, meeting there several old friends. We finally reached my brother's farm. He showed me the remains of the house our father once lived in, also the remains of his garden. The house there now is of stone, roofed with corrugated galvanized iron, much used in South Africa. My brother and Mr. Wooley letting his son go with me to show me the way.
We rode through a pretty country for fifteen miles, reaching my daughters home late in the afternoon. She was surprised to see me, and very glad too. Soon after we left for America she was left a widow with two small children. She longed then to be with her mother, but I guess the long journey frightened her, having no one in South Africa to help her in such things. She was now married to a farmer named William James.
The country there is very pretty, almost semitropical in climate. All trees are evergreen. Many mimosa and other trees in abundance. Plenty of grass and water. There are seen the lovely Erythringia tree with its brilliant crimson flowers, also some large trees with milk-white trunks, with spreading branches on the top. The Gonubie River runs through here. William James was a sheep farmer. He was very busy while I was there. My daughter and I had a good visit, she being much interested to hear all about America, and her brother and sisters in Utah.
My brother called for me according to promise, and I bade her goodbye. We waited at the Bush Hotel for the wagons. I was very tired and unwell and glad to rest that night. In the morning we found the wagons had passed and we overtook them five miles from the Hotel. Here we met an old friend Mr. James Gibbons. We arrived in Bongoli safe and sound and found all well. This was in the month of June 1870.
Chapter XXXIII - South Africa in 1870 - Diamonds Discovered
The first news I heard on my arrival in Bongoli was the discovery of diamonds in South Africa. In 1869 the first stone was found on the banks of the Vaal River. A Dutchman's child had picked one up, among other pebbles, to play with. This stone attracted the mother's attention and she showed it to a Mr. Shalk Van Neikerk. He offered to buy it, but she laughingly gave it to him. It passed through several pairs of hands before it was finally sent to Dr. Atherstone of Grahamstown, in a common gummed envelope, unregistered. He examined it minutely and pronounced it a diamond. This is the famous stone, which was sent to the Paris Exhibition and
scientifically examined. At the close of the Exhibition it was bought by Sir Philip Wodehouse for five hundred pounds.
In 1870 an expedition was searching the Traansvaal far and wide, ascertaining facts on the new wonder. At Dutoits Pan, a Dutch farmer named Van Wych was surprised to find diamonds embedded in the walls of his farmhouse. The clay of the walls had been taken from a small pond. On examination it was found to contain others, no did they cease when they reached the bedrock.
The discovery of diamonds at the Cape did not at first escite interest in Brazil, whose diamonds had hitherto supplied the world. But when Cape diamonds began to be brought to market in such large quantities, they so fascinated the Amsterdam lapidaries that for a long time they would cut no others. Thus the Brazilian market went down. The lapidaries refused to cut the small stones of Brazil, preferring the larger ones of South Africa.
A few extracts from a letter published in the newspaper called "The Friend", shows the state of the diamond fields at the time of which I write. "The news from the diamond fields is more encouraging. Forty-six diamonds reported having been found, several being over twenty-six carats. One of twenty-six and one-fourth carats found by Mr. Richets. For which he refused 2,200 pounds. The Pneill Mission Station seems gradually falling into the hands of the diggers. The Missionaries there cannot prevent it, nor do we see that the Free State will be able to assist Mr. Valenburg, although the Station is said to be in that territory. Many diamond companies are now formed. Men are flocking in from all over South Africa. When the Martizberg Volunteer Company was called out for drill, twenty members were absent. About six hundred men are already on the fields. At Hopetown on the Orange River, the people are intensely excited. "
"A correspondent to "The Friend" writes in under date of June 7th 1870, 'There are about five-hundred men digging, some parties very successfully, among these may be mentioned, Stock and Van Rooy, Greens and Messrs. Shaw, Jolly and Dennis. On the other hand, some have been working a month and six weeks, and found nothing. Many Boers are disheartened and leaving, while others press in and take their place.”
"A Bloemfontein Newspaper says 'The diamond Mania is raging among our officials. The government secretary is gone and left an inexperienced man in his place. The Postmaster General has gone too as fast as he could, to the Eldorado. The President is very indulgent to all applicants who ask for leave to go; none are refused. There is reason to think that one of these days His Honor will be left to discharge the duties of the Government Offices himself."
These fields were on the banks of the Vaal River, which divides two Dutch republics, one called Orange River Colony, governed by President Brand, and the other The Traansvall, governed by H. Pretorious. The land was owned by a chief named "Waterboer", a Griqua Chief. At this time both Presidents claimed the fields, and Waterboer gave his rights to the British Government, which sent a man out to take charge of affairs, and the diggers had then to pay a license for each claim. This greatly annoyed Pres. Brand. The dispute was finally settled by the British Government giving to the Free State several thousand pounds. It is sometimes a cause of wonder why diamonds remained undiscovered so long after the settlement of the country, but in many parts of South Africa are found crystals, which resemble diamonds. They lie on the surface of the ground, especially near the Caledon and Orange Rivers. The people thought the diamonds were crystals.
All these reports made people in Queenstown District anxious to go to the fields. Several parties were organized, and one of these companies was joined by my son-in-law William Lowe, my brother Elijah and son Francis Wiggill. William thus abandoned the idea he had of working at his trade in Queenstown.
After seeing this party off for the Fields, going with them as far as Queenstown, I returned to Bongoli to stay with my son John. I went to work making South African wagons, such as are used for freighting. I have mentioned them many times, as I have traveled hundreds of miles in them. I will here describe them for the benefit of those readers who have never seen one. They are twenty feet in length, and about four feet in width. The axles were then being made in England from a model sent home from Capetown, and shipped to Africa in different sizes. The wheels are very heavy with wide bands of thick iron dishes to carry heavy loads over rough roads. Many have tents over the back part of the wagon for carrying passengers, about eight feet long. A swinging shelf sometimes hangs at the back under the wagon, which is used to carry cooking utensils and other articles.
The Dutch farmers traveling wagon is quite an elaborate affair. The after wheels are three feet six inches high, the fellows measure in depth four and a quarter inches, with a neat molding all around each wheel, every spoke with a neat quarter bead up the center, having a square on the spoke at the hub. The length of the wagon is fourteen feet, and the width three and a half to four feet. The sides are framed together, having thirteen flat bars, mortised, the top rail being bent about a foot, making the side three feet high at the back while the front part is twenty-two inches high. The bottom of the wagon is made of two-inch plank, firmly riveted together onto crossbars at back and front, and two in the center, projecting about a foot on which rests two boxes, one on each side, about three feet in length and a foot deep. In these side boxes are kept provisions and dishes. On the front is a deep chest, which forms a seat for the driver, there is sometimes a similar chest at the back. The tent runs the length of the wagon, at least three feet from the front, strong canvas, over the bars and bows, lined with baize, and another canvas on the outside. A board is on the sides, riveted to the top rail and the upright bars. Above this hang pockets for clothing, etc. A canvas curtain on front and back. They can be fastened down with straps and brass buttons. In this tent swings a bed, called a kartel, which makes a comfortable sleeping place. During the day the curtains are rolled up, letting in light and air. At night all are fastened down tight. The coldest wind cannot penetrate into these wagons, and they are perfectly watertight, the outside covering being at the back, and a ladder for the convenience of the ladies. Many Dutch women are very stout and heavy often weighing three hundred pounds. The Dutch also use horse wagons, which are much lighter. Horses or mules and donkeys draw these. A Dutch man is very particular when he buys a wagon. He first examines the wheel, giving it a good shake, then he knocks the fellows with his knuckles to see if they are tight. He will get under the wagon and with his knife chip off bits of wood to see the kind of timber used. Then he will ask the wagon-maker if he can warrant the wagon to be made of dry and well seasoned wood. A Dutchman has his wood drying six or seven years before using it. Very few
wheelwrights please these people. Tradesmen from England have to gain a Colonial experience before they can build a wagon to please them. They also like a wagon gaily painted and decorated with flowers and birds.
Chapter XXXIV - The South African Visit Continued
Well, my relatives and friends were all anxious for me to make them wagons. My brother Elijah still had the one I had made for him ten years before. Nothing would have induced him to part with that wagon if I had not come back to Africa to make another one for him. He said he was keeping it in remembrance of me and my work. I made him another and he sold the old one for sixty pounds. They usually cost from sixty or seventy to a hundred pounds. I then made him another one with a lot of extra work on, such as carving and fancywork. I then made one for John, and one for William Lowe, and others for James Murphy and Francis Bentley, Moses Wiggill and Francis Wiggill. They provided the timber and I received thirty pounds each for my labors. Wagons were in great demand for freighting to the Diamond Fields, and this made timber expensive. I took my time over these wagons, taking a day off occasionally to visit my friends and relatives. In September I took a trip with my son John to the Mountains in Kreli's old country to get timber from the forests on these mountains.
We crossed the Inmani River, then over a flat covered with huge mimosa. We climbed "Braan Nek," a steep hill, on the foot of a high mountain. Below the road is a very deep basin. The road winds around this, down onto the plain below, and we travel on 'till we reach the White Kie River crossing which takes us into Native territory, and we camp at an Episcopal Mission Station called St. Marks. The land around this station was given to the first missionary by the chief, who told him he could have the land as far as his eye could see. So they have an extensive territory. Rev. Cannon Waters was in charge.
On the Monday we started for the forest and arrived there at sundown, a cold drizzling rain made it very disagreeable. We stayed that night at a trading station kept by a Mr. Winters. Here we bought the timber from the sawyers who worked in the forest there. On Tuesday we loaded up the timber and started on our return journey, the wind blowing a perfect gale. We were glad to get to the foot of the hill and camp at a German family's home. They made us welcome and I had a long chat with the man about America, he having relatives in the city of Baltimore.
On the 23rd of Sept. we were back in St Mark's, and on the 24th of September we arrived home, having seen a part of the country new to me, inhabited by Natives belonging to Kreli's tribe. Here and there a farmer or a trader.
I was quite comfortable with my son, my daughter being in her home next door. John went to the Diamond Fields twice, and my daughter visited her husband, William Lowe. John's wife was very kind to me.
My brother George planned a trip to the Traansvaal, where his wife's foster-brother lived, a Mr. James Jennings. His wife had died up there, while on a visit to Mr. Jennings, and passed away a believer in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. With her last breath she sang a Mormon Hymn. I intended going up with him, and rode down to see about it. I started by way of
Hangloop Mountain, by a bridle path to Lesseyton, called at Mr. Joseph Ralph's and Mr. Westerberg's, found the latter old and feeble. I also visited a Mrs. Padden, who was a Miss Wall, her relatives had gone to Utah. Her husband was then teaching school on a Mr. Whitehead's farm. He knew me at once and was glad to see me.
When I arrived at my brother's, I found he had abandoned the journey on account of poor health. I stayed with him five weeks. The day I left for Queenstown, though fine when I started, it became dark and cloudy, and by the time I had nearly reached the first farm house on my road, the thunderstorm burst in all its fury. In five minutes I was wet through. Here I stayed until the storm was over. Then Mr. Goddard happened to drop in and took me to his home where I was made comfortable for the night. Their kindness I shall never forget. The next morning I started on again, reaching Mr. Ralph's where I began to feel ill. I had taken a severe cold through getting wet.
After I crossed the river, it came down in a flood. I hurried on to the farm of a friend, Mr. William Staples. He and his good wife were both away, but his daughter was very kind, made me a good cup of tea which refreshed me. Miss Staples begged me to stay the night, but I wanted to get home, so I started over the steep and rugged mountain to Bongoli. Dense dark clouds gathered above my head, and I had first reached brother Elijah's home when down the storm came, with thunder and lightening like the storm that drenched me.
I got back to son John's farm to find my daughter Frances had just returned from a long visit to her sister Sarah Ann. She and her husband had brought Frances back, and to my regret, had left Bongoli before I got there.
I now settled down to work. In July 1871 came a letter from Brother George to Elijah, saying how ill he was, and wishing him to go to see him as quickly as possible. So Elijah and I went down without delay and found him dangerously ill. The Doctor attending him said both lungs were almost gone, and gave us no hope of his recovery. We stayed with him a week. He wished Elijah to be Executor of his immense Estate. Elijah consented, but he would rather not have had the office. George said he knew of no other he could trust with his affairs. We had many talks on Religion, he being still a believer in the faith of the Latter-day Saints he had embraced ten years before.
Before we lef,t Elijah asked George if he would like to take a journey as far as Queens-town as there was a very clever doctor there, named Dr Krantz. Elijah also thought the journey might do him good. George said he might venture if Elijah would come and assist him on the journey, which he did in a few days, having a comfortable traveling wagon. They took the best road they could, avoiding rough and rugged places. George breathed easier when on the Katberg Mountains. He arrived in Bongolo while I was away, having gone a little distance with my son John on his way to the Fields. I went as far as Dordrecht where I met an old friend, Tim Harding, a blacksmith. On the way home I called on my brother-in-law Francis Bentley, and as I was leaving their house, I passed a Kaffir man going up, but I took no notice of him. Then I heard my sister-in-law calling me, so I turned back, and found the man had a letter conveying to us the news of the death of brother George. The Kaffir had lost his way and the letter was a day late.
I then hurried down, reflecting on the life and labors of my brother George. We had played together as children, and boys, and worked together as young men. He and I were the only ones in our family to embrace the Gospel, and I am fully convinced that he died in firm faith as a Latter-day Saint. His second wife and three daughters had come up with him from the Winterberg. To my sorrow, I arrived too late for the funeral. He was buried in Queenstown cemetery. He was fifty-eight years old, born in Gloucestershire, England in 1813. He was a clever man, of an inventive turn of mind. All the machinery in use on his farm and distilleries he made himself, without a pattern or guide. My father used to say "George, I don't know where you get all your knowledge from", as he viewed the many different things on the farm. George was ingenuous from a boy. By hard work and industry he had amassed a great deal of wealth. It took a long time to settle the Estate.
All estates were worked in those days under the regulations of what was know as "The Orphan Chamber", formed by the first Dutch settlers in Cape Colony. So many Dutch died very wealthy, and in many cases the children were defrauded of their rights by unscrupulous friends or relations. Under this rule the surviving parent has to give a strict detailed account of the property and the half of its value is sent to the Master of the Orphan Chamber for the minor heirs. The money then lies in the Orphan Chamber Bank on interest until the children are of age. According to the law the survivors cannot marry again until all is settled satisfactorily. To avoid this law many are married by Anti-nuptial contract. The 1820 settlers were exempt from this Dutch law by a proclamation issued by Sir Charles Somerset, if they were married in England before emigrating.
Chapter XXXV - More About South Africa
I was now anxious to finish the wagons I was making, feeling a desire to be back in my Utah home. When I had finished them, I made several fancy boxes for my friends and one for my own use. So, settling all my affairs and bidding my relatives farewell, including my daughter Frances whose husband whose husband had decided to remain in Africa a little longer, I started for Capetown via the Diamond Fields, a very interesting journey it proved to be. We left Bongoli with the wagons on the twelfth day of December 1871. My son John and I took the road through Dordrecht, calling at Francis Bentley's to say goodbye. At Willow Park we halted for some repairs. We were soon climbing the Stormberg Mountains, and then traveling over an elevated country, inhabited by Dutch farmers. It is very cold here in the winter.
On the 20th of December we reached Aliwal North, on the Orange River. We were detained here two days waiting our turn to be taken over on the pontoon. At the Caledon River we had to wait one day. This is a dangerous, treacherous stream. My son-in-law William Lowe and family were once almost drowned in it, attempting to cross in a Cape cart when the river was in flood. A hottentot man they had with them jumped into the water and led the horses, who were going down stream, turning them toward the bank. A narrow escape. They were all wet through as the water came into the cart above the seats. My daughter had two small children with her, who were very much frightened.
The charge made for crossing on the Pontoon is one pound for each wagon. We were now in the Orange River Free State, where once roamed droves of wild animals, such as Quaggas, zebras,
hartebeest, wildebeests and spring-bok in thousands, as well as the lordly lion. Dutch farmers now live here and a few Bushmen, those small people before mentioned by me. At times the Dutch men catch the children and make slaves of them. When Ostriches were plentiful the bushmen gathered the eggs, ate the contents and used the shells for drinking vessels. They also ate the locusts and white ants, and some times a little honey. Their paintings on the walls of the caves are still to be seen. I have seen many of these drawings, one was of a company of soldiers and of ships. I have conversed with many of these curious little people.
We now crossed grassy plains, at intervals coming to a chain of mountains, which divided one flat from another. Occasionally crossing a small river. Trees were very scarce. Now and then we saw spring-bok, blesbok, or quagga. The farms being twenty or thirty miles apart gave the animals room to range. On these flats were thousands of bones of wild animals bleaching in the sun. At the time of the year we traveled over this country, the sun was fiercely hot. So hot that we could only travel during the night. Thunderstorms were of frequent occurrence. When they are over, the sun shines out as bright as before. The atmosphere is clear and pure again, the scent of the earth and grass after such a thunderstorm is very pleasant. Everything is refreshed after the burning, scorching heat. This was in Dec., midsummer. We passed a Maravian Mission Station, called Bethany. It was like a small village, thickly planted with weeping willow trees and locust trees, and a beautiful reservoir of water. The people taught here are Hottentots, Korranas and Bushmen.
Soon after leaving this place we came to the home of a Mr. Venter, a great friend of my son John. Here John always left his tired oxen, and got fresh ones. We spent Christmas Day at the Caledon River, and New Year's at Mr. Venter's. I enjoyed the mulberries in his garden, large as pigeon's eggs, and of fine flavor. The shade of the trees was very grateful.
This family belonged to a religious sect called "doppers", a branch of the Dutch Reformed Church. The men never remove their hats in their meetings. They sing only Psalms. All Dutch people are very religious as a rule. They have Sacrament of the Lord's Supper once in six months, called "Nacht-naal". All the farmers and their families climb into their traveling wagons and off they go to the nearest church, where they often have small cottages, which they occupy only at such times. These cottages are closed all the rest of the year. The windows have shutters and the doors and windows are securely locked.
Swarms of locusts swarmed across our path, and we saw immense herds of Spring-boks as we crossed the plains after leaving Venter's. We found my brother Joseph living on a farm on the banks of the Fat River, so called from the greasy appearance of its waters after a flood. It washes down mud that looks like fat. It may be there are some oil wells in its vicinity. Joseph was there for pasturage for his oxen. In the River is good fish.
From here we passed over several heavy sand-ridges, through a country destitute of wood or water. When nearing the Diamond Fields we come to low hills, dotted here and there with camelthorn trees, with branches on top shaped like umbrellas. Their wood is very hard and durable, of a dark color, bearing large thorns. There are also a few mimosa trees.
Chapter XXXVI - The Diamond Fields in South Africa
We arrived on the diamond Fields on the 4th day of January 1872 and a wonderful scene greeted my eyes. I hardly know how to begin a description of these fields, as they appeared at that time. There were about a hundred good houses and several large stores and Overland Coach and Stage Depots. As these vehicles would come in from various towns in the Colonies, bringing in men of all nations. One of these Coach Companies was an American Firm.
The earth was excavated in all directions, and piles of debris everywhere. The way the men did at the first was to peg out a piece of ground called a claim, after they had worked it and hundreds and thousands of pounds out of it, moneyed men would come along and buy a half or a quarter claim for five hundred or a thousand pounds. There were three places then being mined, lying about two miles apart. The first one was called "The New Bush". The second one "De Beers", the third "Dutoit's Pass". A Dutchman by the name of De Beer owned a farm, and it is said he found diamonds on it and kept it secret for a long time, not wanting the hundreds of diggers who were then at the River diggings, to over-run his farm. But in spite of his endeavors the secret leaked out, and the consequence was that hundreds of diggers made one grand rush, taking it by storm, to the annoyance of the Dutchman. His wife was very angry. They had to move their stock away, so they sold their farm to a merchant of Port Elizabeth named D. Ebden. The diggers then had to pay a claim license to Mr. Ebden, a claim being about twenty feet long and six or seven feet wide.
The merchandise we took up was unloaded at Dutoit's Pass, a regularly laid out village, containing large stores, Hotel and Restaurants, storekeepers were mostly Jews. At Dutoit's Pass is a large sheet of water called a Pass. But New Bush was the principal place at this time. The business done in this city baffles description.
About a hundred acres was covered with tents and houses and wagons. In every direction were mounds of gravel which the men had hauled to their tent doors to sieve and search for the precious stones. It is sifted and spread on a table with a ledge all around, except at one place, where it is pushed off, after being examined. Sometimes as the heap increases, the chair and table keep rising, until we saw men on top of a high hill of gravel.
I once lost my way among these gravel heaps. On the way to the claim I noticed something that looked like coal. I went to examine it and found it a black rock from a newly-dug well some forty to fifty feet deep. When I thought to return to the pathway, I found I was completely bewildered as to the direction of the tent. I had to retrace my steps a long way before I knew where I was.
On Sunday my son-in-law took me down among the claims. I went down one hundred feet deep where I had a drink of good fresh water, a scarce article in those days on the fields. A notable fact, that no work was done there on Sundays. Sabbath in universally respected all over South Africa, in town or country.
On these claims on a weekday could be seen swarms of men, like bees. Men of all nations, black and white. At first roads were left between the claims, so as to take their carts in, to haul the
gravel to the surface by means of buckets on wire ropes, worked by windlass and small pulleys. These stand on the side of each claim. These not having room to stand, they erected platforms for the men to stand on while they worked these windlasses.
All around the outside of the claims stood mountains of gravel. One mound being higher than the rest, they called it Mount Arrarat. The gravel from the pits was put into small trucks drawn by a steam engine. They were paid in money and firearms. When one set of men was paid, they would go home and another set come. When asked what they were going to do with guns, they would say, "Going to shoot the Dutch farmers with them."
The diggings at the New Bush seemed to have been a volcano at some age of the world. Far down was found a kind of lava rock, then would come layers of soft ashes and then layers of hard chalk and strata of different colors of clay. When this gravelly clay was exposed to the sun and air, it would slack like lime. Strange to say, no diamonds were ever found outside the claims first staked, although one side of the hill looked as likely as the other. After I left I heard they had gone another hundred feet, still finding diamonds, and had to pump the water out of the pits.
Viewing these claims from the top, they had the appearance of Old Ruins, everything being covered with a whitish dust, like powdered chalk, very injurious to persons inhaling it, settling on the lungs. Scores of liquor Saloons flourished on the fields. Many of them in large Marquee tents, some in rooms of houses. One run by a Mr. Parker was on an elaborate scale. He had made a lot of money with buying and selling diamonds. He went to England and brought out fittings of a first class Hotel and saloon. He also brought with him several young women to act as waitresses, but they did not stay long with him. They soon got married. They complained of long, late hours. Here liquors were dispensed to old and young. A kind of fever attacked many of the diggers. A cousin of mine had it in a severe form, but my son-in-law was never sick one day all the time he was there, being a strong robust, healthy man, able to throw off disease germs.
This fever was caused by lack of sanitary arrangements and bad water, as it is a healthy climate. Diamonds were also found on Waal River, at Klip Drift, many in small round holes, worn in the rocks forming the river-bed at the ford.
At New Rush could be seen little wooden houses with signs on them reading: "Diamonds Bought and Sold Here". In the streets and alleys would stand boys, buying all the diamonds they could off the diggers. The diggers would take diamonds to pay for their goods. There was no scarcity of money when I was there. Every steamer coming from England brought thousands of pounds with which to buy diamonds. Two lines of steamers were now plying between England and the Cape. Many of the 1820 settlers or their children now visited the dear homeland for the first time since Emigration. The diamond digging enabled many to take trips home and enjoy their visits.
While I was in the Fields, hundreds of frame houses were being erected there. They were framed and fitted together in Queenstown and taken up in sections on Wagons. They were roofed with galvanized iron sheets. Many stores and churches were built entirely of this corrugated iron. Photographers there were in abundance. In fact, the towns were left without photographers after the fields opened. Doctors and Lawyers also flocked here from all over. Jews from all parts of the world were here in business. At the time of this writing, the city now is called Kimberly, and has a good water supply. When I was there I thought it was the hottest part of the world I had ever been in. The sun beat down fiercely with nothing to break its burning rays. No trees bushes or gardens. The corrugated iron draws the heat and the white sandy roads try the eyes.
Chapter XXXVII - Beginning My Trip Back to My Utah Home
I bade my relatives goodbye and left the Diamond Fields on the 12th of January 1873. My son and son-in-law saw me comfortably seated in the big stagecoach bound for Capetown. It was drawn by eight horses. I paid twelve pounds for my passage and eight pounds for my two large chests to be taken by another coach. I occupied the back seat with a lady and a little girl, the coach being filled with passengers. It was noon when we got started and by daylight next morning we were at the Orange River where we had to wait, as the men in charge had not recovered from a drunken spree. However we were all finally safely landed by the Ferry on the other side. The River here is very wide with very steep banks. At this crossing is an English village called Hopetown. From here we traveled over grassy plains dotted with Mimosa and Calethorn, now covered with clusters of yellow flowers.
We next crossed the Karroo covered with little shrubs, passing many Dutch farmhouses. We traveled day and night. Sometimes we changed horses in the night and there would be a cup of tea or coffee ready to refresh us. The second day from the Orange River, we encountered a heavy thunderstorm. The thunder was terrific and the lightening played around the wheels of the coach. Rain came down in torrents, filling all creeks and rivers. We stood still until it was over. We were then within a mile of Beaufort West, a town of some seven thousand inhabitants. The river running through the town was flooded by the storm and was overflowing its banks.
Soon after leaving this town we came to a curious country with rivers fewer. The water tasting brackish. We often changed horses at farmhouses. At one place the new horses were so fresh and frisky and trotted along at a good speed, until we picked up two more passengers who took up as much room as two ordinary persons, for each one. Suddenly the axle broke and off came the wheel. There was an extra axle in the stage so the conductor and passengers helped put it in, and we went a mile or so when we found it did not act right. There was too much friction on one place, causing it to get hot. We had to keep on stopping to throw water over it to cool the wheel.
The mail coach finally overtook us, and consented to take some passengers to the next station, of which I was one, leaving the stage and other passengers to come along. It was seven miles to the Station and to my amazement the place was familiar to me. I recognized it to be the farm where Edward King left me, and from which Mr. Kittson took me home to Grahamstown. This was in 1823.
The conductor had now to make arrangements to get his passengers to their destinations. A Dutchman happened to be there with a light wagon, in which the conductor put our seats and he arranged to take us on our way. I was glad to get a rest before we started on again. When we reached the Zwart Berg Mountains the road winds along narrow passes between mountain ridges. We entered these mountains through a long narrow gorge. We were so crowded in our new conveyance that we were very uncomfortable. We had not room to sit, stand or lean with any comfort. The wagon had no springs. I had lost my back seat and was squeezed between two
disagreeable Irishmen. They were full of brandy, and at every place could they would get their bottles refilled, until they became very quarrelsome and abused the conductor.
We traveled on through the mountains until we reached the Hex River Pass, where there was a small village. There we halted to change horses. When I got out of the wagon I was so cramped and stiff I could hardly walk. With difficulty I got down to the River Hex, a beautiful stream of crystal water where I bathed my face and hands, ate some lunch and returned to the wagon much refreshed. I neglected to say that before we reached this village we came down along hill called Sir Lowry's Pass. Being a road excavated along the side of a steep mountain at great labor and expense. Shrubbery and flowers along this road were very pretty. Giant cactus grew here six to eight feet high, like fluted poles. After leaving this village we came to more open country. Mountains in the distance, frequently passing streams of clear water until we reached Worchester, the center of a grain-growing district containing twenty thousand square miles.
Our next station was Darling Bridge, built across a wide swamp, named in honor of Lieut. Darling. I was, by this time, completely worn out, I went to the hotel and had a little refreshment, after which I was able to take a walk. It was dark when I got back to the station. Just as the wagon was ready to start the conductor said he had fixed a place for me on the back seat, and I had better take possession. I took his advice, and to my surprise, found the two unruly passengers seated beside me, but they were handcuffed together. I learned from the conversation among the passengers that they had assaulted the lady passenger.
We were soon on our journey, but oh, what a night we passed through, traveling down the fearful road called Bain’s Pass in the Berg River Mountains, named after Andrew Geddes Bain, who superintended the making of this stupendous piece of work. I wished it had been daylight so I could see the grandeur of the scenery. It was very dark. A lamp hung under the wagon and one in the wagon, and the reflection of the two lights on the rocks gave weird and hideous shadows. I heard the sound of running waters, winding far below the level of the road, as we turned many sharp curves, huge rocks overlooking the road, and rocks were plied up on each side.
We drove very slowly as it was a dangerous road. I was in a state of mental fear and bodily pain, for I was completely pushed off my seat, so I climbed out of the wagon deciding to walk, but the conductor made me get in again, and I had to get back into "purgatory". It seemed to me an endless pass, and I was thankful to be out of it and reach a village called "Paart", so named because of the number of pure white rocks jutting out on the mountain sides, near the top, which shine in the sun like pearl.
This is a great fruit-growing district and I am told a very pretty place. Coming into the village we drove up to a Magistrate's office, but found no admittance. One of the men in irons told the driver to go to another place, which he did, where we found an officer. The whole company went into the house and left me to myself, where I had a little sleep. When daylight came I was surprised to see those two men freed from their irons, asleep in the porch of the Hotel. How the business was settled I never heard. I dare say money got them off.
I shall never forget what I endured that awful ride of six days and nights, the company of those rough men increasing the misery. The railway from Capetown had been completed as far as
Wellington, so we now boarded the train, which was the greatest relief from misery to ease I ever experienced. The scenery was beautiful, we passed miles of vineyards, orchards and gardens, going through Stellenbosch, known far and wide, laid out many years ago by the Dutch Governor, whose name was Van der Stell, and named after him.
I arrived in Capetown on the seventeenth of January 1873. I was met at the station by my friend Mr. George Rook, who took me to his home in Rondesbosch, where I stayed six weeks. I visited many places of interest in and around Capetown, where I saw the new dry dock for the repairing of ships. I am sorry I did not visit Simmon's Town, and Wynburg. Fruits of all kinds were ripe and very nice. Semi-tropical fruits grow here. Wild flowers grow in great variety on the slopes of the mountains, including the famous Orchid, a parasite plant growing on large trees, deriving its sustenance from the dew and the air. There are also freezias in many delicate things. Calla Lillies flourish in the marshy places. A large variety of heath grows on the mountain. Also Protea, or sugar bush, trees bearing large brush-shaped flowers, a sweet sticky gum covers the leaves.
In fact South Africa is famed for the beauty of its wild flowers. On the Kat Berg Mountains grow many kinds of everlastings of immortelles, white, yellow, pink and magenta. Some are large as a shilling piece, others quite small, in clusters. The petals surround a cushion of down in which is secreted the seed; the petals are of a hard shiny nature. When plucked they will keep without falling to pieces for years. Hence their name. They grow on rocky hills. In the Queenstown District grow the flowers called the hair bell, a kind of bulbous grass. Several pale pink bells, on the end of a tall hair-like stem, waving gracefully in the breeze. Here are also found brown colored lillies, called "Arend-bloom", or scent flowers, on account of their sweet scent.
In British Kaffraria the gladiolus abound. Also the Belladonna lily and the pretty blue flower called "Lobelia". Geraniums are found in all parts of Cape Colony and I must not forget the ferns, the graceful maiden-hair growing in sheltered nooks along riverbanks. In the forests we find Giant tree ferns, climbing ferns, and the pretty haresfoot fern. Several kinds of hardy rock-ferns grow in many places. In the Albany District grow wild date palms, and other kinds of palms; one kind bearing a kind of nut. A curious flower is found in all coast districts, called boat lilly. These flowers have large leaves growing in bunches from the ground. The flower stem is from two to three feet in height. On the top of this stem is a deep sheath bent over, from this green sheath bursts the flower, consisting of two wide petals of rich deep purple; from the center rises two upright petals of deep orange color, When this bloom fades, another one emerges, and they keep on until five or six flowers have burst from the same sheath, then the seed forms. This flower is called "Strititsia". Wild Honeysuckle with red blossoms, Cape Jessamine, Clematis, and many other runners grow in Albany.
Before leaving South Africa I may mention the numerous snakes found in the forests. Boa Constrictors and Puff Adders are plentiful. Also cobras and lizards. In some parts are found the chameleon, which takes the color of the thing it is on. Crabs are found in all rivers. Birds are numerous, of both fruit and grain-eating varieties. Also sweet singers, such as the Cape Canary, finches of several kinds, building nests a foot long of grass, deftly woven together, generally overhanging a river. Several kinds of owls, hawks, eagles, cranes, ducks and geese, also wild guinea fowl and partridge. Parrots and parakeets screamed through the Winterberg Forests. We
also see there the brilliant plumaged bird called the loorio. Crows too of various kinds. Many others too numerous for me to mention.
Sheep have been mentioned often in this book, but I have not said anything about the fat-tailed sheep called Cape or African Sheep. They were found among the Natives by the Dutch who first settled the Cape. Their tails are all fat and weigh about five or six pounds each. They have short wooly hair, of no use in commerce. Spanish merino sheep were found to be best for South African climate, and are the kind now all over South Africa. Wool-growing pays the farmers well. Cape cattle have very long, wide-spreading horns. Other breeds are being introduced. There are also wild hogs in South Africa, and an animal with a long snout called an "Anteater". I must not forget to mention the huge anthills found in many parts of Africa, some very large around in the shape of kaffir huts, about three feet high. In the Free State, they are of a different shape, much bigger at the top than at the foot, and fully five feet high. If a piece of the hill is broken off, the industrious little ants get to work and in a few minutes the place is repaired. The clay of these hills is very fine and is used for making floors of houses where timber is scarce. It is as smooth as a table when made properly. Floors are also made of peach stones laid in clay. Dutch people often scoop the inside of these anthills out and use them as ovens to cake bread in when traveling.
Chapter XXXVIII - I Set Sail for Boston - 12 March 1873
After being in Capetown six weeks I left for Boston on the Brig Picadilly owned by Mr. Murson, a merchant of Capetown; commander Rynon in charge. With me was Mr. Rook's son George. We sailed on the 12th of March, 1873. There were two other passengers, a Mr. Jones and a Miss Thompson who was going to St. John's, Canada, to visit her brother. A steam-tug towed us out of the Dock into the Bay, where we anchored for a few hours. Toward evening we set sail for the Sea, passing Robbin's Island very close. We had a pleasant run to the island of St. Helens, arriving there early one morning. The captain and his wife went ashore. They visited the tomb of Napoleon at Long-wood. A French guard was kept around the grave. I did not go ashore. The Island as we approached it, looked like one huge rock standing up out of the water, its sides steep and straight, with the surf dashing against them. Not a vestige of herbage to be seen. The town called Jamestown is built near the seashore in a deep ravine. I hear there is level land on the top, but all I could see from the vessel was high cliffs reaching down to the water's edge. No beach at all. Women came out to the ship in small boats with fruit, flowers and curios to sell, also penguin eggs.
While we were there a large Mail Steamer, called "The Africa", stopped a few hours, bound for Capetown from England. We left again at sunset and speeded on our way, sometimes passing ships. On reaching the Line, Old Neptune again made fun on board. We had fair weather all the way until the ninth of April when we were alongside the Island of Dernando De Formosa, belonging to Brazil. From here the weather changed, being cold and stormy. We passed a vessel called George Anderson. We heard afterward that she has not reached Boston, but was beating out to sea to escape shoals of sand.
When near Cape Cod, we were enveloped in a heavy fog. We were obliged to keep still and blow the fog-horn all the time. The sea was strewn with wreckage of a brig which must have been
laden with laths. Laths and spars were floating all round us. When the fog lifted a Pilot came on board and we were soon in Boston Harbor, the eleventh of May 1873, after a voyage of sixty days. The day we arrived, a terrific thunderstorm raged.
The sails of the Brig had been folded up on deck and got wet, and the Captain had them put into my berth, which made it uncomfortable for me, until the first Mate took me into his room, where I slept while on the boat. I stayed a few days in Boston. George Rook wished to go to Maine to see his sister, so I paid his passage and saw him off on the train.
I then made arrangements for my own passage to Utah which cost me sixty-five dollars. I went to New York, partly by train and partly by steamboat, arriving there on the 16th of May 1873. I left the same afternoon for Utah on the Panhandle Railway Line. At Pittsburgh we stayed over Sunday. On this journey some young fellows got on the train who seemed half tippsy. They were up to all kinds of fun and began to tease and torment me, which I feared would end in something more than fun. I was grateful to a young gentleman who bade them desist, scolded them for their-rough behavior toward an old man. He took care of me as long as he was on the train.
I arrived in Ogden on the 24th of May. Here I met Apostles John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff. I went on to Salt Lake, passing through Kaysville without stopping, arriving in the City on the 25th of May 1873, after an absence of nearly three years.
The changes that had taken place in that time were surprising. Many large new stores had been erected and vacant lots been built upon. There were many new houses, and business had increased wonderfully. I hardly knew my own place. A large cotton-wood tree that I had left standing on the corner had been cut down. I missed this, but soon found my cottage, dismissed the wagon that had brought my luggage, went inside and was home once more.
Chapter XXXIX - (The remainder of this book was written by Mrs. Susie M. Dodge, granddaughter of Eli Wiggill, and the baby whom he mentions as going to Africa with them in 1869-70.)
This is as far as the history of his life was written by my grandfather, Eli Wiggill. He finished it in 1883. Soon after this he was taken ill and it was never completed. I take pleasure in adding a short sketch of the remaining years of his life.
Soon after his return from Africa, his wife joined the Josephite, or Re-organized church. She neglected to make his home comfortable, and to end this unhappy state of affairs, they agreed to separate. He then made his home with his son Jeremiah in Kaysville where he was happy, as his son and daughter-in-law were very good and kind to him.
In 1874 he married a very good woman, a widow named Mrs. Ann Hammer. After living in Kaysville a few months, they decided to move to the City, onto his own property, which was on 7th East Street, between 2nd and 3rd South. There they lived in peace and happiness, he attending his garden in summer, also doing odd jobs of carpentering. In winter he would read write or study. Sometimes his grand-daughter from Kaysville would stay with them. He was
present at the dedication of the Assembly Hall. They both enjoyed the old Folk's day spent in Liberty Park.
His son Joseph was married to Miss Mary Whitesides of Kaysville in 1880. In the summer of 1881 Joseph was kicked by a horse, which knocked out his front teeth and injured him severely.
In the beginning of the year 1883, Grandfather was taken ill. He recovered somewhat from the first attack, but was never quite well again. In November 1883 his son-in-law William Lowe and family arrived in Utah from South Africa. They had encountered a violent storm on the ocean between England and New York. He was then ill in bed, but very glad to see them all. After they came he seemed to feel better.
At Christmas he was able to sit up in a chair. On the 9th of January, 1884 being my. fifteenth birthday, he gave me a blessing and presented me with a book. He felt that he would not live another year. He took to bed again in February or March. His wife gave him careful nursing. Neighbors and kind friends were very good to him, but he gradually grew weaker, and passed away on the 13th day of April 1884, aged 72 years and five months, deeply regretted by his family and friends.
He was a true and faithful Latter-day Saint, being a High Priest at the time of his death. His casket was made of Oregon Pine, according to the directions he gave a few weeks before he died. It had a piece of glass set over his face. At his request his body was brought to Kaysville and laid to rest in the cemetery beside his first wife, Susannah Bentley.
The funeral services in the Kaysville Meeting House, were largely attended. Several speakers told of his life and worthy character. Brother Henry Talbot spoke of their lasting friendship which began as boys together in far-away sunny South Africa, where they both heard and accepted the true and everlasting Gospel, and sailed from Africa, coming to Utah in the same company.
Thus ended the earthly life of a fine and worthy man. But although he is no more on earth, yet he has left a legacy of honor and integrity to his descendants, with whom his precepts and example shall remain until the latest generation, when they will all be reunited with him and all the loved ones who are gone before, to enjoy the Earth's Sabbath, and to finish the work which has been begun on earth. All honor to his memory.
Chapter XXXX - The Emigrants of 1820
Over the water wide and deep Where the storm-waves roll and the storm-winds sweep, Over the waters see them come! Breasting the billow's curling foam, Fathers for children seeking a home, In Africa's Southern Wilds.
Wilderness lands of brake and glen, The wolves' and the panther's gloomy den, Wilderness plains where the Springbok bounds, And the Lion's voice from the hill resounds, And the Vulture circles in airy rounds, Are Africa's Southern Wilds.
Hand to the labour-heart and hand Our hearts shall inherit and latered land; Harvests shall wave o'er the virgin soil, Cottages stand and gardens smile, And the songs of our Children the hours beguile, Mid Africa's Southern Wilds.
Make we the pride of the forest yield: Wrest from the Wilderness field on field: And to brighten our home and lighten our care And gain the aid of our Father there, Raise we to heaven the voice of Prayer, From Africa's Southern Wilds.
April 16, 1861 Rev. H. H. Dugmore
THE SUNNY HILLS OF AFRICA
"The Sunny Hills of Africa, how picturesque and grand, While clothed in mist the vales lie hid, like some dark spirit-land The Mountains in the distance seen, like hoary castles rise, And banks of clouds suspended hang, like icebergs in the skies.
The flowery fields of Africa, how beautiful and gay, The fairest blossoms deck the plains, and perfume fills the May. While gushing streams from every kloof, spread o'er the verdant green, And browsing game upon the lands, add beauty to the scene.
The country homes of Africa, where are their equals found? A welcome always greets the ear, and gladness reign around; And as one cozily reclines upon the snow-white fleece He feels a thrill of thankfulness, of gratitude and peace."
WHERE WOULD WE BE?
Where would we be, had the Pioneers Not started their journey west, With firm beliefs and resolute wills To seek a calm harbor of rest—
A haven of peace Where heartaches might cease- And on toward the sunset pressed ?
Had they not boldly plodded through hardships Undaunted, with purpose unbent, Feet burning, sweat pouring, brains reeling, At night singing weary and spent; Yet on, ever on, At every new dawn, Surmounting each fear as they went?
With smiles on their lips and hearts singing, With spirit of staunchness unspoiled By trials and heavy oppressions, Towards sighted goal, always they toiled; One idea in mind, A shelter to find, Where truth would be planted unspoiled.
What solid foundations they builded! Composed of Right, Faith, Bravery, With love in abundance and honor, All working in close harmony. If they had not left This heritage blest To govern us, where would we be?
Wilson and Sophronia Ellis
As a young man Wilson was very ambitious and wanted to work, but work was scarce in Salmon. He found work in Wyoming in the hay fields for Rudolph Wolfley. Here he met Sofronia. She was born September 29, 1877 to Rudolf Wolfley and Magdalina Schirm Wolfley, in Randolf, Utah. Sofronia's mother died when she was 14. She quit school to take care of the home and children. She studied a lot to help educate herself and her siblings. Sofronia was a beautiful lady with a strong body.
After a short courtship they traveled in a covered wagon to Logan, Cache, Utah, to be married in the LDS Logan Temple. They chose October 14, 1896 to be sealed for time and all eternity. They, then, returned to Wyoming and worked hard until they had a good start.
They decided to go to California. They started out with two children, Orvil and Mae, wagons, horses, and cattle. They found a good deal and decided to sell their many cattle but were gypped out of all their money. They had to go stay in Shelley and farm to get another start. Here their third child, Glenn, was born. They soon moved to Riverside, Bingham, Idaho.
She stood by her husband, helped her children through hard times, sewing their shirts and keeping them clean and neat. She made many denim quilts from the boys worn overalls. Sofronia bottled everything she could get when they were in season, made beautiful flowers from cloth and wire, and walked around the neighborhood on gravel and mud roads to go teaching.
Sofronia taught her children the value and rewards of hard work and worked with them. She took care of the chickens, gathered eggs and prepared chicken for meals. She made head cheese for the family and many neighbors. For health and medicine she gathered sage, dandelion buds, also peppermint, yarrow, and strawberry leaves. There seemed to be a tea for every ailment even, though some were bitter and nasty. They built a house from wood they chopped and sawed, which soon started to grow. The next spring they put up a "lean to" shack. This was later used for a chicken coop after Wilson and his brother, Jerry, built a beautiful nice size cement block house. They made three blocks a day gradually putting them up as they dried and cured. This was done in any spare time from farming. It almost seemed like recreation. He also helped many neighbors put up their homes. They lived on an 80 acres farm on Pioneer Road, which is now where the Blackfoot Northwest Stake Center stands. The land was all sagebrush and weeds. The government gave a homestead to those who would plant groves of trees and orchards. This changed the desert. Teams of horse drawn machinery were used. Also much hand and back labor.
Wilson raised beets, potatoes, wheat, barley, oats, and hay. The beets were planted with a four row planter. They were thinned with a short handled hoe when showing three leaves. Then hoed twice and cultivated to hold down the weeds. At harvest they were dug one row at a time. The workers would top them by hand and throw four rows into one to make room for the horse drawn wagon. When the wagon came everyone would stop topping and load the beets to be hauled to the beet dumps, as they were called, which were situated on the railroad track. From here they were taken to factories where the sugar was made. There was a sugar factory in Blackfoot, Idaho.
Potatoes were planted with a one row planter. Someone would drive the team and someone would ride the planter so there would be a set in each hole. These sets were cut by hand and made sure an eye was in each set to make sure of a sprout. They were harvested one row at a time with horse drawn machinery and picked by hand in baskets then emptied in burlap sacks. They would then be loaded on wagons and taken to cellars. They were kept there until a fair price was offered.
The grain was cut with a horse drawn binders which would cut and tie bundles. The workers would then stand several bunches together with the tops up so as to dry for threshing. Most every farmer had a granary of some sort for storing grain.
Hay was cut with horse drawn mowers. A horse drawn rake would put it in rows. The men would make this into piles with pitchforks. When dry enough it would be hauled on wagons and stacked into large stacks by a derrick.
They raised cattle, milk cows, also pigs. Chickens housed in a chicken coop furnished them eggs and meat. They raised bees and extracted honey. They owned a small dairy. They used what whole milk they wanted and separated the rest. They made their cottage cheese and brick cheese. The skim milk was fed to the pigs. The cream was sent to the Blackfoot creamery in a double seated fancy white top buggy with a fringe on top. They would load some hay on the back for the horses and stay in town all day.
The children all learned responsibility. They had strong bodies and could outwork anyone. They had contests in the field to prove this.
Wilson did a lot of veterinarian work. He would travel on horseback to the farm animals. He loved to fish and did so whenever possible. He was fond of horses and did a lot of horse trading.
Indians traveling in wagons would stop and visit on their way to Salmon. Sofronia would feed them. The always sat on the lawn. The wouldn't go in the house. The would fill their containers with fresh well water. Sometimes Wilson would do a little horse trading. When the Indians came back from Salmon they would bring smoked Salmon. This was a real delicacy.
The water was left in the ditches and canals so the cattle and horses could get water in the winter.
However it would freeze and the farmers would have to chop holes in it so the cattle could drink. One day when the Indians came by, one of them was so sick and had such a high fever they feared he would die. He jumped in the ice hole and although everyone held their breath he did live.
Bathing was in a small round tub. Water was carried in and heated then carried out. In the
summer after working hard in the fields many would head for the ditches and canals for a refreshing swim. This took a lot of sweat and dirt off, besides being social and fun.
Wilson and Sofronia lived most of their lives in Riverside on the corner of Pioneer Road and
Riverside Road. This couple had nine children, eight boys and one girl.
Orvil Wilson Ellis August 28, 1897 married Lula Grieves
Mae Elizabeth Ellis November 22, 1899 married Chester Grimmett
Glenn Ellis August 8, 1902 married Nettie Turpin
Alfred James Ellis September 6, 1904 married Survella Knight
Rowsel Ellis December 9, 1906 married Alice Bitten
William Vaughn Ellis November 30, 1908 married Evalyn Goodwin
Lawrence (Smokey) Ellis December 29, 1910 unmarried George J Ellis May 18, 1918 married Lillian Taylor
Vear R Ellis September 4, 1920 married Loraine Stander
After an epidemic of a severe kind of flu many, many people died. Wilson got it and died January 10, 1929 at the age of 57, in Riverside, Bingham, Idaho. She married Hyde Yates the 22 February 1941. They were very happy after long years of being alone. They lived in a nice home in Yost, Utah. He had a sheep camp. They would go out in the hills and take care of the sheep. She said this was one of her happiest times because it took her back to her childhood days. Sofronia died at age 65 August 14, 1942, in Blackfoot, Bingham, Idaho, of liver cancer.
At this time his posterity is spread throughout the country and even in foreign countries and much too numerous to count.
The farm was split and George took the east half with the house and buildings. We, Loraine and Vear Ellis, purchased the west half and built a small home, barn granary, chicken coop, and dug a well. We moved ditches, leveled hills and hollows, and made a more beautiful farm. We lived there until we bought a larger farm in Moreland. The house and buildings were moved away. We sold the land. Now beautiful LDS Stake Center is located where our house and yard was, on the old Ellis farm.
SONG OF THE LAZY FARMERThis weather, with it’s threat of snow and temper’tures that drop too low, may suit the kids just perfectly but it’s a real pain to me. I s’pose it’s cause I’m getting old, but I can’t stand this kind of cold, if, when it’s zero, I expose my nose and ears, they’re quickly froze. No longer can my old legs lift me through a frigid waist-deep drift, and even if they could I’d sneeze so much my ancient lungs would freeze. My sense of balance has grown dull, a hog on ice is more graceful than me, I either break my crown or crash-land right where I sit down.
When winter blizzards blanket us with snow, it’s much too dangerous for me to venture out-of-doors to help Mirandy with the chores, and though I surely wish I could, I do not dare try chopping wood for fear I’d hurt myself and she a lonesome widow then would be. It’s foolishness for me to court such danger. I can best support the efforts of my loving spouse by staying safely in the house and keep logs roaring on the fire so when Miranda starts to tire, she quickly can thaw out and then get back to work outside again.
The Autobiography of Glenn Ellis
Glenn Ellis married Nettie Mae Turpin
Glenn is Merthan Glenn Ellis’ father
Written by him a few months before he died of
Amylotropic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
Well things must have gone along pretty well till I was 3 or 4 years old. Then I was old enough to start doing a few odd jobs like helping drive the cows to the pasture an we had a lot of fun. We made one mistake when we got ready to round up the cows to take them home to be milked we forgot to shut the water off. That night that little stream keep washing bigger an bigger and the next morning it had washed the whole bank out. The men on the ditch couldn’t figure out
how that ditch washed out. I knew but they didn’t ask me. And I wasent about to tell them. But sure made me feel bad to think I caused so much damage.
Them was lonely old days. Nothing to do only watch the old cows. One day we decided to have some milk so we got one old Jersey cow that was gentle. So we was on each side of her having some milk. It tasted pretty good. My old Dad was a pretty smart man I found out after the canal break. He keep pretty close tab on us kids. I don’t know where he come from but got right up to us and saw us kids sucking that old cow. He just pick me up an gave me a right good spanken. That night I went without my supper. Them days milk was the staff of life. Mother would make butter and cheese to sell to get a little money to buy other food we needed. Mother made most of our clothes.
We moved to a place just east of the Idaho Falls sugar factory on Willow Creeck. That was where my brother Vaughn was born. That was where I was taught to stay on a job till it was done. Dad had two or three acres of spuds to harvest. It was different than the way we harvest spuds now. Dad would plow them out–then us kids would dig the spuds out of the loose ground an put them in a basket when the basket got full we would dump them in a sack. Well it was fun for awhile. When the fun was gone I went to the house. I had enough spud digging. Dad was a man of few words. He came to the house an got me by the ear and lead me out to the spud patch. He told me I was to stay there till the days work was done. From then on I never left a job till my days work was done.
That was about the time the grass looked good in California. A man talked my father into going to California. Dad was always a pretty good trader, especially horses. He all ways had a good string of horses. We headed for California in a camp wagon and a trail wagon. It seems like every day Dad would have one or two new horses in his string. I remember crossing Snake River at Glens Ferry below Twin Falls on a ferry boat. We got as far as Nampa Idaho. That was the time the biggest earth quake that ever hit California. It was at San Francisco, 1906, where we were headed for. When Mother and Dad heard about that it scared them out. So they turned around an came back to Blackfoot. Dad rented a farm between Firth and Shelley, called Minroe. All there was there was a beet dump an spud cellar. That was about 1908. I was six years. I started to school there. We went to school at Basalt. We had a two and a half mile walk. In all kinds of weather. Some days we would have our fingers an feet frozen. But we got used to it and we keep going. We lived there three years. It was there my brother Lawrence was born. He was just learning to walk when we moved to Moreland. We move into a little log one-room house with a dirt roof. The house was built out of green cotten wood trees. The next spring there were green leaves grew out on the walls.
Dad bought the old Tom Lindsay farm one mile north of Riverside. He built a new one long room house out of lumber covered with black tarpaper on the outside and cheesecloth glued to the board wall and then paper over the cheesecloth on the inside. We lived in that house till 1917. We built a new house out of cement blocks that still stands.
That was the time of the first world war. I was fifteen years old. That was a bad year for me. I
was stricken with a bad deases we called it rheumatism them, which I have found out later that it was rheumatic fever. I was bed fast from March till July, then it took me a month to get back on my feet again. I was in the eighth grade at that time. I wasent able to graduate with my class. I quit school. I have been sorry ever since. I wasent able to work much that year.
The next spring I was feeling fine so I went out an got a job plowing with an old hand plow. We called them foot burners. I worked till we got the crop in. By that time the sugar beets were ready to thin. I an my three younger brothers would thin Dad’s beets. Then we would contract fifty or sixty acres of beets for the season. We would thin an acre apiece a day. That would buy our school clothes and keep us in spending money. I didn’t go to school so I worked all the time. I bought me my first horse for sixty-five dollars. It was a real nice saddle horse. I keep him for two years and by that time I began thinking of the girls, so I sold my saddle horse and bought me a buggy horse and a new buggy. It was a horse my brother-inlaw Chester Grimmett, had raised an broke to a buggy. This was my only sister’s husban. She was just older than I an her name is Mae. She is sure a fine sister. Since Mother died she has been the mother to all of us boys.
Getting back to this buggy hose, his name was Flint. He was black as coal with four white stocken feet. He was a high spirited horse. He was a best looking and the fastest horse on the road. In the winter when the snow came I had sleigh runners to put on my buggy and sleigh bells on my horse. You could hear me coming for a mile.
In the year 1920 I met a little girl at a Thomas dance that really took my eye. I had another girl at the dance that night but wasent long getting a date with her. Her name was Nettie Turpin. I never look at another girl from then on. We went together for about a year. Then we decided to get married in the fall. There wasent much work right then so we went up at Island Park to work in the timber to make me a wedding stake. I work real hard for two month get out cellor timber for a man by the name of Starkweather. He own the place where my brother Vear lives now. Starkweather was come home from Salt Lake in a car and he got hit by a train an got killed. So there went by wedding stake. But October the eleventh came when we planned on getting married and we left the beets the tenth and Dad took us to Logan and we were married the eleventh and back in the beet field the thirteenth and that is where we spent all our anniversarries except last year and I wasent able to work so I took Mom out to dinner.
Well getting back to our young married life. We had several disappointments. The first year I rented a place in Morland. It wasent to good a place so we didn’t make much that year. I bought a team of bay colts that were 3 year old. I broke them good an I hauled beet pulp that winter for cattle feeders. I got one dollar a ton for loading it with a scoop shovel an hauling it five miles. I made two trips a day and four tons to the trip. That was eight dollars a day for me and my team. That was pretty good money in those days. I would leave home before day light an get home after dark. So the little Kidder (that was Mom’s knick name) spent some pretty lonely days.
On December 7 we had a little girl born to us. And that happend on my father’s birthday too so he should have the honor of naming her. So he named her Ruth. She was a cute little rat. We
really injoyed having her in our home. She was lots of company for the little Kidder to play house with. I rented a place the second year close to Dad’s. It is the place where Lynn Wolfley lives. It was a nice place. We done fairly well the next two years. I was able to buy some cows to milk and figured we was sitting on the moon. The second year we were there we had a little boy born to us. We named him Merthan. That winter Ruth got the hoppen caugh. She had it very bad. And the little Kidder had to stay home all winter with two little kids down with the hoppen caugh. And me gone all day hauling pulp. By spring she had had it. She couldn’t sleep nights and worried over the children. The little Kidder’s health wasent too good after Merthan was born. She had a bad gorder on her neck. The doctor said she couldn’t stand to have any more children.
That spring it looked like we were going to have a good year. The crops looked good. We even felt like we might be able to buy a new car. Along about July or August the white fly hit our beet crop and the leaves turned black and died. I never harvested a beet after doing all that work. We felt pretty blue that fall. An then there was a guy by the name of Molen came to Riverside and wanted a bunch of farmers to move up to Montana to settle on some land that the Great Northern Railroad was developing. They were putting water on it and they wanted it settled with Morman farmers that knew how to arrigate new land good. The Railroad Co. agreed to ship us up there and loan us money to put our crops in an money to buy cows or sheep with and give us three years to pay it back in at a low rate of interest.
Well that sounded pretty good to a lot of people in Riverside. There was about ten young familys decided to go that next spring and we were one of them. That was the main talk of the town–go to Montana and get rich farming.
Well all the men went up early to get settled befor the familys came. We took our cows, chickens, and horses and furniture upon the train that was quite an experance. We were three days getting up there. Those freight trains didn’t move very fast. Well we finely arrived and the place didn’t look to good. So this man that got us to go up was a pretty nice fellow and he told us to look around an get a place we did like as long as it was where the Great Northern Railroad was. So I and a friend by the name of Wallace Hawks went looking around. We found a good place that had been farmed for years at Sims, Montana on the Sun River. We figured it would be big enough for both of us. That first year. It had a four-room house on it that we could have two rooms each to live in. We got all settled and sent for the familys. Well they came a day early so we wasent there to meet them. There they were stranded an didn’t know which way to start walking. All they new was the Tom Clark ranch. They felt pretty blue. A fellow came up to them and ask if he could help them. They told him the name of the place and he knew where it was so he brought them home. They were sure a sight for sore eyes. Each had two small babys and they had all been crying. We were just eating supper when they walked in. And this man that brought them home turned out to be one of our best friends.
Well that turned out to be a pretty nice farm. We done fairly good that year. During the summer we got pretty well acquainted with our neighbors. And they had a small branch of the church there. We all went to church every Sunday. We met at an old fort Shaw. It was called the Sun
River Branch. All the Mormons in an area of fifty miles came to this branch. We would take our lunch and have pot luck every Sunday. We drove horses on a buggy for a while. Then I bought an old Model T ford for fifty dollars. I fixed it up an put a new top on it an give it a new paint job. Then we went to church in style. We even drove it to Great Falls a few times. Great Falls was fifty miles east of where we lived. But that old ford chuckeled right along.
Well we met some friends from up at Ferfield on the bentch that came from Baysalt by the name of Earl Kelsey. They were good Mormons. He was our main preacher on Sunday. Anyway the Mormons decided to make up a carivan an go to Cardstone Canada to the Temple. And Kelsey ask us to go with them. They were pretty well to do. And they had a big Chrisler car for us to go in. By the way he was the Sunday School Superintendent an we were his counselors. So we were pretty close friends.
Well there was around fifty couples went. We left our babys with a very good neighbor across the way. She offer to tend them for us. She wasent a Mormon. But a very good neighbor. Her name was Mrs. Nocks. She took real good care of them. We were gone about ten days. While we were in the Temple the Stake Patriarch came up to mom and I an said if we would stay over till Monday he would like to give us our patriarchal blessing so the Kelseys was willing to stay and while we waited we went over an went through the Prince of Whale Hotel. It was sure a pretty hotel built on the edge of a big lake. Well we got our blessings given to us. And those blessings have been a guide for us to follow through the rest of our life. Mom was promiced her health would be better and she would live to be a rememberance to her childrens childrens children. We both had a good blessing to live for. In mine it said I would never be rich in worldly good but I nor my posterity shall never want for food.
Well the second year we rented a place upon the Farfield bench about twenty miles from Simms. It was a big level country and I rented two placed about a mile or two apart. I had a pretty crop of wheat on the one I didn’t live on. It looked like I was going to make good that year. My Dad an Mother, Vaughn and Mae came up that summer to see us. Dad just bought a new Osmobile car. It was sure a pretty car. Dad liked the country an figured I had made a good move when I went up there.
Well that fall I had made arrangements to buy a new grain binder to cut my grain with. It was only a few days after that we got the darnest hail storm you ever saw. It just ruined all my crop of grain. I never harvested a kernal of grain. I cancil out my new binder that year and went out an russeled a job to live on. We felt pretty blue. I even let Nettie and the kids come home for a visit that fall. She stayed for a month an picked up spuds for a little spending money. Dad thought a lot of her.
That winter Dad got sick and died. That was quite a shock to us. We came home to his funeral. When we left up there it was the first part of January an was still warm an nice weather. And when we got down here there was two foot of snow an colder than blazes. We stayed a week or ten days. And when we went home winter had struck Montana. Everybody was snow bound up
there. We were three days getting from Great Falls home an about froze to death. When we got home we was broke. I went out an russeled a job hauling bale hay loading it on box cars. Boy was it cold. I hauled hay at fifty degrees below zero that winter for five dollars a day for me and my team. But it keep the wolf from the door that winter. That spring I had a lot of crop to put in so I bought an International tractor so I could get my crops in good shape so I could make up what I lost the year before. We also built a new church at Simms where we lived the first year we went up there. We were quite busy that summer building the church an farming. Well it looked like we were going to do pretty good that year. But when fall came again we got another hail storm to wipe our good crops out again. We felt pretty blue, having two crops wiped out in succession. When we went up to Montana I told Nettie if she wanted to come back in three years I would bring her back and that was the third year for us. Mom never mentioned it till the next spring. Kelseys came over to visit us. And break the news to us that they were coming back to Idaho. And they wanted us to ship back with them. Mrs. Kelsey was coming in just a day or two. So we made up our minds in a hurry an Mom an the kids came with her. Earl and I stayed. We had an auction sale to sell our livestock an our machenery. That was the last of March. My brothers got busy an had me a good place to rent when I got here. It was the old Joe Williams place. It was a good place. Mom made some big promices to me if I would bring her home. She said she would have another baby. Well when we came back I brought my tractor back and one team of horses and furniture. What little we had it wasent much. And we lived with my mother that summer. I farmed her place that year. It was a tuff year. In the peak of the 1930 depression. You couldent borrow any money at the banks or anywhere else. So I got my crops in early an I got a job plowing spud ground with my tractor. I had about the first tractor in the country so I had plenty of plowing to do. I had my brother Rowsel plow through the day an I plowed all night. The only time that tractor stopped was the time it took to gas up an grease it. We keep it going 24 hours a day. Some of those nights were pretty cold for me but I kept going. We would plow close to thousand acres every year.
Well the next spring I rented the place where my brother Vaughn lives now. And then March 21 the little promist child was born.
This is an abridgement of our trip up to Montana I should have put in. We left Blackfoot the last of March. There was my brother Lawrance and my brother-in-law Chester Grimmett an Wallace Hawksan an myself. We shipped up on a freight train. We had two car loads. On our way up we left the car door open and some of our chickens got out. We had the whole train crew chasing chickens. After we got them all caught we had a big chicken dinner in the cabbuse. It was a pretty nice crew on the train. We made it up to Butte Montana the first day. Whenever we stopped in a town Lawrence an Chester would have to hide. The inspector came to check all the cars. We were only aloud one man to each car. The train crew didn’t care. We unloaded all the cows an horses at Butte for the night to feed an water them an milk the cows. We had quite a time getting the cows to stand while we milked them. We had about twenty head. We were planning on going out an having a time on the town that night. But by the time we got the cows milked our desires had all left us. So we settled down an went to bed. We pulled out quite early the next morning and made it to Great Falls that day. And we had the same thing over again only the cows didn’t give much milk. We went to Fort Shaw the next morning where we met our
destination. We was the rest of that day and the next day getting moved. Chester came back on the train and Lawrence stayed up there with me that summer. We didn’t care too much for the setup they had for us there at Sun River. So Hawks and I an Lawrence went out looking around for a better place. We went up to Simms about ten miles up the river. There we found a pretty nice place big enough for the two of us. It had a four room house on it. So we had two rooms each to live in. We were all a little crowded but we managed to get along that summer. Lawrence worked for both of us that summer. We raised sugar beets, spuds, grain, an hay. That year was our first experience with potato bugs. We would have to mix flower with paris green an put it in a thin sack and walk up an down the rows shaking it on the bugs and when they eat the spud leaves it would kill them. Lawrence stayed with us till that fall. Then Dad, Mother, Mae and Vear came up to see us and they brought Lawrence back to go to school.
On this place there were lots of chock cherrys an sarvesberrys and we had 2 or 3 jelly crabapple trees on the place. So we had plenty. Nettie mixed chockcheery and crabapples an that made the best jelly I ever tasted. People that came up to visit us tells us how they injoyed Mom’s fried spuds, jelly, an hot biscuits for breakfast. The Bowmans, Gurneys and several others came up. It was a very nice summer. But a hell of a winter. We would have 2 or 3 weeks of nice warm weather an get our blood thinned out. Then we would get a cold wind from the North an freeze the cows teats an about freeze everything to death. There was one night we had two car loads of people come in on us about frozen to death in a bad blizzard. There car got stuck in the snow. We couldent put them all to bed so we kept a hot fire an they set up all night. We gave them something to eat an by morning the storm let up so we went out an hitched the horses up an pulled there cars out of the snow an got them on there way home. This was a common accourance up there in the winter for us. Our place was the farrest place out toward the desert. So we got them all but we didn’t mind.
It was a beautiful morning, warm an nice. I hurried an took Ruth an Merthan over to mother’s place an got mother to come an stay with Nettie while I went to Moreland on a horse to call the Dr. Lindsey’s store was the closest phone. The Dr. just about came too late. Mother an I was sure worried. When the Dr. came it was soon over with. And we had a cute little girl. We named her Marilyn. The Dr. named her after a movie star that had just died.
There was six years between Merthan an Marilyn an she should of been the most spoiled child. But she wasent. She was always cheerful an had a smile for everybody.
We lived on that place till 1935. Then we bought the place where we live now. That fall we had more trouble. I had a bad atact of pendisides. I didn’t go to the hospital in time an they broke an scatered all through my body. When they operated on me the Drs. said I never had a chance to live. Dr. Call said well I will swab him out an give him all the chance I can. Well it was four days befor I new anything. Then I began to come out of it. I was in the hospital twenty-one days. The Dr. said the only reason I made it was that I had lived a clean life an I was tall an thin on surplus fat.
Well we had just bought this place and a big Dr. bill facing us that fall. But luck was with us. That fall I had 20 acres of red clove seed that turned out real good and I got a good price out of it. That paid my place payment an my beets an grain paid all my expences so we felt pretty good. We even had a little money left so I decided I would remodel the old house that winter. We put water in the house and a bath room in. Also a floor furness in the front room. We also plastered the whole house. That spring we slept in the damp house after plastering it. An Mom had a face parralices. One side of her face was terrible. Marilyn was just small an she said Mama you look like popeye the sailor. That really got us all. I took Mom to Dr. Call, my Dr. in Pocatello, an he said she needed a female operation. So she was operated on an it took 2 or 3 months for her face to clear up. But she came out of it okay. Things turned out pretty good for us after that. In 1937 we bought the place out where Merthan lives and we bought us a new buick car. Merthan had grown up to a big boy by then an he helped me do the farm work. We put many long days on the farm. We built ditches on fills on the place out there and got 80 acres under cultivation an water out of the 160 acres. That was good. It was a good place. Then the war II broke out an Merthan had to go in the service at 18 years of age. He was in his senior year of high school. He joined up in January. He had enough credits to be able to graduate. So in the spring I had to go stand in his place to get his deploma. He went in the navy air corp. He went to Farrigut Idaho for boot training. After boot camp we had him home for about a week. And then he went to Mimphis, Tennessee to school. He went from there to Hiwaia and we never seen him again for 2 ½ years. He spent all his time in Pacific ocean, mostly in Guam. He was a supply man. I think he flew supplys all over the Pacific.
We couldent hire a man anywhere to work on the farm. So all the help was my girls. Ruth was married so all I had was Marilyn. She was a good little worker. She done a lot of the tractor work. She was only 14 or 15 years old. Ruth came an help me a lot to. Between the three of us we got it done. Mom and all of us worked in the beets thinning, hoeing, and then in the fall Mom and Ruth pulled the beets and I hauled them. I was able to get help to top them. Then I quit raising beets. And went to raising spuds. They were easier to raise. Marilyn was my main help. She would lead the crew picking spuds or anything she done. We had Thelma’s boy Jay with us for a year or so. He was Marilyn’s age. He help me too. Jay got some boxing gloves for Christmas. So him and the neighbor boy wanted me to put the gloves on an fight the two of them. I told them okay. We went outside Christmas day. It was a nice day. There was a little skift of snow on the ground an while we were boxing I happened to step back an stepped in a little hole an broke my leg. I went down an two kids right on top of me. They were giving me blazes. I finally got them to realize I couldn’t get up so quit beating me and help me in the house. It sure hurt. I went into the doctor an he put a cast on my foot an ankle an leg up to my knee. And told me to stay off from it. And there I was with fifteen cows to milk. My first thoughts was Merthan. How I wish he was home. We went into the Red Cross to see if they could do anything to get him home. They said they would do all they could. Boy they done plenty. Merthan was stationed at Guam an he was on a plane over at Japan delivering supplys. When he got back at base his officer told him to pack his bag. He was headed for home in 30 minutes. He was home befor we new it. He got a 30 day leave, and he spent the rest of his time in San Teago. He was out for good in May. It sure seemed good to have Merthan back home. I am getting ahead of myself again. I forgot when Gerry came in the home. In the spring of 1940 our three children was getting pretty well grown. Marilyn was in school and Mom had a lot of free time on her hands. So she said she was going out to look for a job. Well I didest like the idea to well. So I got my old head to thinking. Mom was in good health by that time. And I came up with an idea that I thought was better than hers. So I went to work on my idea and about 9 months later we had a little boy come into our home. Mom didn’t like it much at the time. She figured we were too old to have any more family. But when he came that all left. He was sure a cute little baby. Black hair an eyes. We were sure proud of him. Ruth was married at the time. And she was pregnant with Jeannie. I think Ruth was just a little bit envious of Gerry. She spent most of her time home here with us tending Gerry. But it wasent long till Gloria Jean came and she was as blond as Gerry was dark and just as cute. Gerry and Jeannie were more like brother an sister than Uncle an Niece. Gerry was always quite an independent little guy and as smart as a whip. He weaned himself at a year old. And he made Merthan take over taking care of him at the table an he just dogged Merthan’s footsteps till Merthan went into the service. And Mom never mentioned to go get her a job anymore.
Along about a year after Merthan got out of the service he got to think a lot of a cute little girl named Vonnie Elison, one of LaMar’s cousins. They desited to get married and Merthan was always good to stay home an help me farm so I sold him the farm on the desert. And we worked together as long as I was able to farm.
Along about 1948 we decided to go on a trip with the Loffgreens down in Old Mexico. We left Gerry with Ruth and LaMar. He had started to school so we couldent take him with us. While we were gone Ruth an Vonnie wanted to change our house around a little so they moved the furniture around. And Gerry dident like it when he came home from school. So he told them to put it back the way mom had it. They could see he ment businesss. So they told him they would take him to the show, thinking he might forget about the house by morning. So they went to the show and when they come home he said alright let’s get this house back they way Mom had it. And he wouldent go to bed till they put they house back in order. He thought what was good enough for Mom was good enough for him. His mom done most of the raising of him. I was farming so much ground I didn’t get to be home with Gerry too much of the time. I have wished since I had spent more time with him. Gerry was always a very studious kid. Whatever he done he done well. He never cared for farming but when I put him on a job I new it would be done good, whether he liked it or not.
Along about 1950 we started to build our new house. I done it myself. I started in the spring an finished it up by Christmas. That was quite a busy year. I really worked hard. I run the farm an worked on the house whenever I had time. I done a lot of the house at night. I remodeled the old one and then added on several places. I made some mistakes but it turned out pretty good. And has been a good warm home with all of us living in it.
Well next will be about Marilyn. She an Darwin met and started to going together quite steady. I got acquainted with Darwin when he worked in a grocery store while he was in high school. It seemed like I was one of his special customers. And I took a liking to him and when they started going together I thought that was just all right. He was in the navy at the time and he was stationed at Treasure Island at San Francisco. We made a trip out to see him an of course took Marilyn an Gerry along. It was a nice trip and we injoyed it very much. Darwin showed us a good time. Well it wasent long till he got a furrlow and came home and they were married in the Idaho Falls temple. He had a year or so left in the navy. They lived there till he finished his time in the service. They had a little girl they named Tammie by that time. We made one or two trips to see them while they were there.
Well our family got down to one little boy of our own. Nettie’s sister Thelma took sick an so we took her two children to live with us for about a year. That was Deanna and Bobie Berndgen. Bobie was the same age as Gerry and Deanna was 2 years older. They were very nice kids to have in the home. We got along very well with them. They even seemed like our own.
Darwin decided to be a dentist. So he went back to school. He went to Pocatello, Logan, and finished up in Portland Oregon. We made several trips to Portland to see them. And we injoyed every one of them. After Darwin got out of school they settled in Grants Pass, Oregon, where they still live. They had five children when Darwin got out of school (Now there are six.)
When Gerry got out of high school and in collage we started taking the winters off. We went to Mesa, Arizona for three years. Then LaMar got sick and had to leave this cold country so they sold out and moved to Hemet, California. That was such a nice place to winter in. We have been going down there for the winters. We had Blake, Ruth’s oldest boy live with us through the summers to help me on the farm.
Gerry went to collage one year at Logan, Utah. And then he was called on a mission for his church over in Ireland for two years. And when he got home Blake worked for Merthan one year and Gerry helped me on the farm. That next winter Gerry met a little girl in collage by the name of Kathy Simmonds. She was a very nice girl. We grew to love her and her folks they lived in Lewiston, Utah. Well that spring Gerry and Kathy got married in the Logan Temple and they worked up at Jackson Hole that summer. And Blake helped me on the farm. We had some good times together for 2 more years. Blake went to collage 1 year. Then that spring he went on a mission for the church. His mission was in the Great Lakes Mission. He labored there for 2 years. He came home the last of March. I was sick so I couldent farm so I called Blake and he didn’t loose any time getting here. He really worked hard getting the crops in and the manure spread. He fixed up all my correls and pasture fences. That was a big load off my mind. All that time the Dr. dident know what was the matter. My speech was going and so was my legs.
I went into the hospital and they took xrays of me and found I had a large tumor under my collar bone. I went back into the hospital the first of June and was operated on for this tumor. I felt a lot better. But the Dr. said that wasent all my trouble. They figured I had Mythan Gravas, a bad disease that they haven't found any cure for yet. This winter I heard they had a drug that would put it in a dormant stage so it wouldn’t get any worse. Well the Drs. in California tried this drug on me an it didn't work on me.
Well the Drs. down there wanted me to go through the clinic at Loma Linda hospital an see what was wrong with me. I went through the hospital and they found out I had Amylotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, which was a rare disease they have no cure for. It is a diesease of the nerves. It isn’t so bad to live with any more than my speech is gone an I am very weak and my legs are gone. I can hardly walk. I have a magic slate I do all my talking on. Brent, my grandson a brother to Blake, will be with us this summer to do our farming. Next year we will probly rent the farm. I have all my business taken care of. So I have no worries. We went to Gerry and Kathy while I was in California in Feb. and we lived with Ruth & LaMar this winter. Ruth an Marilyn are here with us now. And Darwin is bringing there family this weekend to see us. So I will be able to see all of my family within the last month or so. Merthan and his family are dropping in on us every day or so. It has been a good winter for us. I see my brothers an sisters quite often too. All Mom and I do is feel thankful we have such a nice family. They are all so thoughtful and considerate of us. Mom is the greatest little woman. She waits on me hand and foot. Ruth an Marilyn are painting and house cleaning this week. It sure looks nice. It has been a wonderful week. We sure have injoyed it. And little Tina has showed Grandpa how to play checkers an cards a new way. She has a way of her own and she makes all the rules her way. We have a lot of fun.
This is another abridgment to put in how LaMar came into the family. He came home off his mission. And he was called to speak in conference one Sunday. And we heard him. He gave a very fine talk. And Ruth was having trouble with her boyfriends. First one and then another and I didn’t care to much for any of them. After hearing LaMar speak I told her if she had a guy like LaMar Elison I would say she had something. Not thinking it would ever happen. But one night she happened to meet him. And she came home and she said she had a date with that Lamar Elison. Well she got along pretty good with him that time and she had another date and so on. It wasent long until she came home one night with a ring on her finger. We figured that was just one of her jokes she was pulling on us. She was always pulling some prank on us. So we didn’t pay any attention to her that night. But the next morning we looked a little closer an found out she wasent kidding. And Ruth was just in her senior year in high school. We sure dident like that too well. But she wasent long to tell me what I had told her not long before. So I shut up. If she would wait till she finished high school. She told us she would finish her high school. But she dident know how fast a talker LaMar was and neither did we. Well it wasent long till she came home and wanted to know what we would say if she got married in Sept. 5th, 1941. She had just got started in her senior year. Mom was sure sick. She tried to talk them out of it. But LaMar was still a pretty good talker. We couldent talk them out of it. I still thought LaMar was a pretty nice boy so I dident say too much. They got married in the Salt Lake Temple. We went to the Temple with them. LaMar’s folks went with him. After they were married they left on there honeymoon in the Elison car. So LaMar’s folks rode home with us. Stan and Mom quarreled all the way home. Mom was pretty bitter about Ruth not finishing her senior year in high school. But LaMar was a nice boy and we thought a lot of him. And we have never been sorry. They have raised a nice family. So what more could we ask for.
History of Lawrence D. Ellis
told by Vear R. Ellis, brother
Lawrence is an Uncle to Merthan Glenn EllisLawrence went to Moreland High School. In his junior year he contracted spinal meningitis. He got very sick and was in a lot of pain. Mother would try to comfort him on one side of the bed and dad on the other side. It seemed to me like this sickness was most of the winter. Lawrence's fever was so high he lost his hearing. The next summer our folks sent him to Gooding, Idaho to a deaf school to learn lip reading. He learned so fast and good that often strangers couldn't tell he was deaf until they turned their head or didn't look at him.
Lawrence D. Ellis was born December 29, 1910 in Basalt, Bingham, Idaho, a small town next to Firth. He was the seventh child in the Wilson and Sofronia Ellis family. To many of his family and friends he was known as "Smokey". Lawrence was 10 years older than I (Vear), and I remember in the winter we would all ride to school in a small sleigh pulled by one horse. Lawrence would always see that our brother, George, and I were snuggled down in the deep straw with a quilt over us to keep us warm.
Lawrence D. Ellis was born December 29, 1910 in Basalt, Bingham, Idaho, a small town next to Firth. He was the seventh child in the Wilson and Sofronia Ellis family. To many of his family and friends he was known as "Smokey". Lawrence was 10 years older than I (Vear), and I remember in the winter we would all ride to school in a small sleigh pulled by one horse. Lawrence would always see that our brother, George, and I were snuggled down in the deep straw with a quilt over us to keep us warm.
Lawrence would go visit George and Lillian. He would have Lillian cut his hair.
Lawrence farmed 30 acres that the Blackfoot Northwest Stake Center now sits on. He was fussy with his crops and always raised the best sugar beets, potatoes and grain. Lawrence also worked for other farmers. He always had a job because he was so strong and such a good worker. In the winter he worked in the potato cellars and was known all over the community because he was so strong. He could stack 100 pounds of potatoes higher than anyone else. The last 9 years of his life he lived in a trailer house on my (Vear Ellis) farm. He worked for me when I needed help and also for other neighbors.
He raised a big garden next to his trailer house and he enjoyed filling his car with vegetables and giving them to the widow ladies and friends. Little children watched for him with excited anticipation because he usually had candy for them. Lynne Ellis mentioned that the first box of candy she received for her birthday was one given to her by "Smokey".
Lawrence was a good looking man. He had lots of girl friends, but wouldn't let anyone tie him down to marriage. The last days of his life he developed a terminal illness. He worried about being a burden to his family. He died July 5, 1978. The chapel was filled with friends, neighbors, and relatives who came from far and wide. Nieces, nephews, and neighbors presented loving tributes at a beautiful funeral and we were all reminded of his love for family and friends.
He was baptized December 29, 1910. His temple work was complete on January 27, 1981 in the Idaho Falls Temple, by his brother, Vear Ellis.