Beaufort West

And Now There Are Bones

The early travellers reported vast herds in the Karoo. They wrote of steenbuck, bushbuck, reedbuck, oribi, hartebeest, kudu, buffalo, lion, wildebeest, springbuck, ostrich, hippo and rhino, said Schwarz in The Kalahari or Thirstland Redemption. He dated the drying of the Karoo to the disappearance of the Kalahari lakes in 1820. He said the configuration of […]

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Cecil Alport and nephritis

Cecil Alport, the son of a Beaufort West shopkeeper’s assistant, studied at the University of Cape Town and in Europe. He also returned briefly to South Africa and in time pioneered a cure for a nephritis, a kidney complaint, which was named Alport’s Disease in his honour.  In the early 1900s he wrote an exposé […]

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Chris Barnard: Hero of heart transplants

Christiaan Neethling Barnard was the son of a Beaufort West mission preacher. He rocketed to world fame on December 3, 1967, when he transplanted the world’s first human heart. On that historic day his brother, Marius, was a member of the transplant team. Marius rose from the same humble beginnings to become a highly respected […]

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DP de Villiers, famous doctor from the Karoo

Daniel Pieter de Villiers, born in Beaufort West in 1900, and fondly known as “DP”, studied medicine at the Universities of Cape Town and Liverpool in England. At the latter, he met the great, highly respected, internationally known, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, Blair Bell, who became a lifelong friend. Blair guided DP on a […]

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Drought and floods: 1877-1879

The year 1877 was a traumatic one for the Molteno and Jackson families who farmed at Nelspoort, north of Beaufort West. In The Jacksons of Nelspoort, Dr A O Jackson records that a drought which started two years before had taken severe toll of the stock.  “He writes that two-thirds of the small stock and many […]

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Frank Connock motoring through the Karoo: 1902

In 1902, Frank Connock bought a two cylinder Gladiator from Albert Atkey, learned to drive within hours and set off for Mafeking. He completed the 320 trip in a single day – an unprecedented in those days because few were willing to risk their expensive cars on South Africa’s appalling roads. In 1907, Frank shot […]

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Henry Finch, photographer, Beaufort West

Dawn Mary Glegg (nee Finch), a proud Beaufort Wester, died on January 15 2013.  She was the daughter of photographer, Henry Finch and Irene Raath, and enjoyed a carefree childhood in Bird Street. She loved nothing more than reminiscing about the Beaufort West Primary School and later Victoria Girls’ High in Grahamstown. Throughout her life […]

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John Fraser, doctor and lawyer of the Karoo

In time the herbalist healers were joined by highly-educated, well-qualified counterparts who arrived armed with degrees from top European universities. Among them was John Fraser, the eldest son of Beaufort West’s Dutch Reformed minister Rev Colin Fraser, and his second wife, Maria Elizabeth Sieberhagen. John studied medicine at Kings College, in Aberdeen, Scotland, returned to […]

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John Molteno’s pioneering farm: 1841

John Charles Molteno was a dynamic man. He first saw the Karoo as a fatherless lad of 17. By 23 he had founded Molteno and Company, a firm dealing specifically in the sale of wine, wool, meat and aloes. When the bottom dropped out of the wine market, he sold his business and warehouses to […]

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Maria Wilman: Rock art pioneer and museum curator

A South African woman, who was to become famous in botanical circles, was born in Beaufort West on April 29, 1867.  Her name was Maria Wilman and oddly enough this arid section of the Great Karoo was to prove fundamental in shaping her future as rock-art collector as well as a researcher of San and […]

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