Graaff-Reinet

Cricket in Graaff-Reinet, 1854

The Graaff-Reinet Herald of Wenesday, July 19, 1854, stated:  “What with Dissolving Views, the Races and now two Cricket Clubs, we are going ahead surprisingly well.  To be sure there is very little business doing right now and this melancholy fact doubtless accounts for a loss of gaiety.  But, be that as it may, we […]

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Defending Graaff-Reinet in 1801

Graaff-Reinet’s Resident Commissioner, Honoratus Christiaan David Maynier, was extremely unpopular. Dissatisfaction with his services reached a peak during 1801 when he was accused of harbouring “a force” of between 200 and 400 vagrants at the Drostdy. To the horror of some locals, he also made loopholes in the walls of the church claiming this necessary […]

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Drought, rain and Hail in the Karoo

The Karoo is a place of fascinating contrasts. The Graaff-Reinet Herald of Thursday, March 28, 1889, reported that “a warm gentle warm rain during the past week broke a dry spell, but in the Camdeboo the mountains are thickly covered with snow. We anticipate a continuance of the delightfully bracing cold weather that set in […]

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Dynamic Jewish Brothers Helped Open The Hinterland

In the 19th century, most Jews leaving Germany in search of better lives chose to go to the United States. Before the discovery of gold and diamonds, very few came to South Africa because it was considered a wild place. Those who did come to “this wilderness” faced great difficulties. Most were forced by the […]

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Graaff-Reinet Rifle Corps

Graaff Reinet had a rifle corps, established when a Burgher Law was passed because of rumours of another war were rife.  John H Roselt placed an advertisement in the Graaff-Reinet Herald early in February 1856, stating that a meeting would be held in the Court Room at 19h30 on February 21 for the purpose of […]

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Hunting in the Sneeuberg, 1856

In mid-July 1856, Robert Bain of Quagga’s Valley (one of William Southey’s farms), and George Murray of Naudesberg (in the Sneeuberg north of Graaff-Reinet), with his youngest brother Walter, rode over the mountains to the extensive flats around Cephanjes Poort, Kolhoek and Zaayfontein, to hunt mainly  wildebeest and springbok. According to The Graaff-Reinet Herald of July […]

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Karoo Captivates The Bishop

When Robert Grey, Bishop of Cape Town, set off for the northernmost reaches of the Colony, he was captivated by the Karoo. “There was no time for reading in the wagon,” writes Thelma Gutsche in The Bishop’s Lady. “The arid desert-like Karoo with its abrupt rocky kopjes, occasional mirages and stunted bushes sparsely mixed with […]

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Local conflict in Graaff-Reinet, 1786

When Graaff-Reinet was established in the horseshoe bend of the Sundays River on July 19, 1786, that part of the Karoo was far from peaceful. Things were so bad that the first magistrate, Mauritz Otto Woeke, took to drink. His successor Magistrate Maynier was inefficient and caused great discontent throughout the district. A medical man, […]

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Locusts, drought, and devastation in the Graaff-Reinet district

The Cape passed into British hands in September, 1795, yet, by 1797 when Lord McCartney, became governor, there was still scant interest in the hinterland. Their only concern was that the Cape’s meat supply came mainly from Graaff-Reinet and some lesser interior districts. In journals reporting on his journeys to the Eastern Frontier, William Somerville […]

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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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