Beaufort West

Merinos Make Their Mark

By 1830 experts considered the teething stages of the Cape Merino industry to be over. F W Reitz, the man destined to become president of the Free State, believed that 1830 was the turning point for the South African wool industry. He was proved right, states Edmund H Burrows in Overberg Outspan.  In 1830 the […]

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Nathan Finkelstein and Eugene Weinberg: leading medical specialists

Yet another Beaufort Wester who has made a name for himself in medicine was Nathan Finkelstein, known throughout South Africa as Mr Pharmacy. Natie’s lifelong friend, Beaufort Wester Eugene Weinberg, went on to become one of South Africa’s leading paediatric allergists and head of the Department of Paediatrics at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in […]

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Railways In The Karoo: John Paterson and William Brounger

It was the son of a Scottish stone carter who devised a way to link Graaff-Reinet to the coast by rail. But John Paterson initially came to South Africa to teach English. He was recruited by James Rose Innes, and he arrived in this country filled with enthusiasm.  By 1841 he had established The Government […]

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Rev Colin Fraser’s marriage

When Beaufort West’s Dutch Reformed Church minister Colin Fraser heard of Anna Amalia Muller’s conversion, during a service conducted by Ds Abraham Faure in Graaff Reinet, he was immensely impressed. He instantly wrote her a letter proposing marriage. She replied: “Unknown is unloved. It is impossible for me to consider a marriage proposal from someone […]

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Rev Colin Fraser’s rural ministry

Colin Fraser, a Scot, came to serve the Dutch Reformed congregation in Beaufort West as a minister in 1825. He had some incredible experiences in the Karoo and many of these are written up in a biography, Episodes in my Life, written by his son John. When he arrived in Beaufort West, no real house, […]

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Rev Colin Fraser’s spirited leadership in Beaufort West

The early churches in South Africa were not free to appoint their ministers. These men were appointed by the State. There was also no free election of church councillors – names of men willing to serve had to be submitted to the magistrates of the little villages at the end of each year and these […]

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Robert Grey’s arduous travels in the Karoo: 1848

In 1848, Robert Grey, the first Bishop of Cape Town almost frightened his wife, Sophy, to death with tales of his travels “through the waterless Karoo.” In one of his letters he wrote: “there was in fact no “road”, not even a tract through the arid wilderness and, to save the exhausted horses we many […]

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Small-scale tilling, Beaufort West 1895

When Robert Wallace visited Beaufort West in 1895, he found it an interesting area from an agricultural point of view. In Farming Industries of the Cape Colony, he writes: “The plains below the mountain have aromatic Karoo bushes suitable for grazing by sheep and goats, while on the top of the mountains, actually a new […]

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The Ghost Wagon Of The Great Karoo: 1887

Several old South African maps show the region between Ceres and Beaufort West as the “spokeveld” (ghost region). It was said to be one of the most heavily haunted areas of South Africa. In 1887, Major Alfred Ellis of the West India Regiment documented a tale in South African Sketches which, he said, had been […]

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The TB sanatorium at Nelspoort

John Garlick’s dream sanatorium at Nelspoort, north of Beaufort West, did not materialize as rapidly as expected.  Many people had hoped that the steady flow of chest sufferers from Europe to the Karoo in search of a cure, would filter to this central point, but as a Mr Duminy pointed out at a conference on […]

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