Memoirs of Cobi Allison-van Musschenbroek
(written in the mid fifties)

Memoirs of Cobi Allison-van Musschenbroek
Having been asked by several friends to jot down various little incidents about things I experienced, many years ago when I first came to sunny South Africa in 1882. My little grandchildren often ask me about those experiences.

The years in Holland
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I was born in Deventer and still remember various little incidents that happened while there. I was three years old when we left there to go to Klein Hoenloo, a lovely home near Olst, quite near my Grandfather's place, Groot Hoenloo.

When I was 3 or 4 years old we had a very quaint old French governess who taught my sister who was eight years old when I arrived on this lovely old world of ours. She was rather strange looking and I was always rather afraid of her. One night my parents were going out for the evening and my cot was put in the governess room for the night. I was sent to bed early could not go to sleep as it all seemed s strange in the different room. It was a beautiful summer evening and broad daylight. Then Mademoiselle came to bed. I was still wide awake but she did not notice me. First she took out one glass eye and put it in a tumbler with water, then her teeth were taken out, after that her chignon was taken down and hung up. She was very bald and I was very interested in the magic performance and was sitting up in happy anticipation of arms. legs getting unhooked. some of my dolls arms and leggs were detachable! But!----Oh!---horror suddenly she looked around and saw me looking at her and got very angry indeed and told me in French that I was a very bad naughty girl. I wept copiously at the injustice of it all as I did not think I had been naughty. I was really a very timid girl and was more than happy when my brother knocked at the door and took me to his room. I told my brother mademoiselle was coming to pieces. This seemed to amuse him greatly.

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When we landed at Durban there were no facilities at all. We were carried from a small boat by natives. My governess hadn't seen natives before and was afraid of them, and kicked and screamed when a native was carrying her.
He suddenly dropped her in the water. Fortunately the water was not very cold or deep and there were tears of mirth from all who saw it! Captain and Mrs Gilbert had an hotel where the marine parade is now, sea sand right up to the building. We stayed there for some days till we could get on with our journey up country. The railway only went a short way in those days. We had a wagonette and wagon with our luggage. We put a big tent every night to sleep in and struck some very bad weather at Rarkloof and Curries' post. My dad managed to buy a leg of mutton and we boiled it in a big iron pot with rice in our tent I really think it's the nicest meal I ever had. We were cold and very hungry and oh how good it was! In those days it as easy to obtain mutton and rice and what a problem it is in 1951.

We came out on the Kinfauns castle, the last trip before she was sold to Russia. In the Bay of Biscay we had very rough weather. The cabin steps with copper hooks on the top end fell over and struck my sister 's head and she had a nasty cut which had to be stitched up. We were all worried that we would have to leave the ship but luckily the storm calmed down and all was well. We were not allowed to go ashore at Cape Town as they had small pox there. We saw a stream of funerals going along and counted 17 oil one day.
On the strength of this we were not allowed to land in Durban for some time, but the passengers did not seem to mind, as it was all like a big. happy family. As I had a very charming sister of 16. I was made quite a pet of by all the officers and others and had quite a nice time. We had been transferred to the McCrose at Cape Town

On our way up we outspanned at Howick Falls. My governess and I walked down to the river. I was greatly interested in watching a tall Zulu man wearing very little beside a felt, lappie hat, a pair of spectacles (only the rims).
He was doing a lovely sort of war dance on the rocks in the river, singing and dancing. Suddenly my governess let out a little shriek, she had only just spotted the native and hold me not to look that way and marched me away. Quite disappointing it was to me as it was really quite interesting to me watching him cutting capers and he was really quite respectfully clad
In later years we often went to see natives dancing in their head clothes and specially at the chiefs kraal it was a most imposing sight. all divided up into different classes, the old men's headgear made with Sagabula (widow birds) feathers, other with monkey skin strips and angora skill loin dress and lots of assegais and shrieks in evidence. They have a great sense of rhythm and when their feet all stamped to time it was fairly shaking the earth or felt like it.

Living in the cave
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 I came out with my parents from Holland when I was eight years old. My father bought a farm at Groot Geluk, Oliviershoek, Upper Tugela, not very far from the beautiful Tugela falls. We lived there till I was 20. There was no house of any kind so we decided to live in a huge beautiful cave till such time that a house could he built. I was really one of nature's beauty spots. a lovely waterfall 30 feet high at one end and wild trees and ferns and wild begonia everywhere. It also seemed to be the happy home of many snakes, scorpions, and other enormous spiders etc., but we really loved this cave. It was so very different to the lovely homes in Holland and quite a novelty of course.
We spoke only in High Dutch and French at home and it was rather difficult to have regular lessons with my dear old governess we had brought out from England as she only spoke English and a little French.The distractions were numerous as natives picked on me to help my dad understand them, and I very soon became more interested in learning Zulu than arithmetic.

We were ever so happy! I broke my own horses and where ever my father went I went with him as I did the Zulu interpreting for him. Luckily. I had been able to pick it up very quickly as none of the natives spoke any language I happened to know such as French, and High Dutch. I was very keen on hearing fairy tales in Zulu and it certainly proved very useful to me then and ever since, certainly more so than French.

One evening when we first lived in the cave, a terrible storm raged, and the waterfall got wider every minute and the entrance to the cave was a roaring stream in a very short while. Things began to float on the rising water. Our kettle, frying pan etc. were quickly gathered and put higher up, but my parents began to be rather troubled as to how we were all to spend the night. I was very proud and pleased that day to show them a goats' path to get out at one end and up to the top of the hill and round about to a hut that had been built as a make shift for some of us to sleep in. How marvelous for me a little very shy girl from Holland to find myself taking part in what to me at the time seemed quite an exciting adventure! It was certainly a very rough and rocky path we had to clamber up, steep rocks hut --! We got out

Our old cave is right out of the beaten track and rather out of sight till you get quite near as it is hidden by the natural bend of the mountain and very few people have ever seen or heard of it.
How all children love any adventure! On the 8th May 1880. I had asked leave of my parents to go and gather lilies of the valley as it was my brother's birthday. Off I went very early. On the way I saw that a farm house was un in flames, the poor peasants frantically trying to take everything they possibly could. The horses were making a dreadful noise. pigs squealing and running back to their pens. I ran home to call my father and brother to come and help and begged to be allowed to go with them. It was all very exciting and fortunately no lives were lost.

One day I was climbing about in the rocks above our old cave gathering wild red begonia stalks as I wanted to try and make jam with it. The soil gave way on the narrow ledge under my feet and the shrub I grabbed hold of felt as if it was also coming away. I managed to claw on somehow and realise how fortunate I was not to fall about 30 feet down. I made a little jam. It was very nice. but I had enough sense never to be so adventure some again. I've never seen begonia grow like that at any other spot. It seems a great pity that now only natives live on our beautiful farm as it is all native territory now.

One day when Miss Graham took me for our usual constitutional, walking on behind the others along a narrow footpath made by natives, it was a most beautiful bright hot day, but as usual Miss Graham took her brown silk umbrella fearing a sudden shower or something. Anyway it was a most useful weapon as I spotted a puff-adder in the path basking in the sun and I borrowed the lovely umbrella to kill the snake. When I had finished whacking the snake this poor umbrella looked a pathetic relic of what Whitebys in London had produced. I carted the snake home in triumph to show my parents as my first trophy in that line. From that day I was most popular when a snake had to be killed, as my sister could not face them and I was not a bit afraid. Luckily, as there were a great many about in those days, as that particular spot had been uninhabited for years. in fact no one had ever lived there before although it was used by natives to put their cattle in during the Langabalela war. We were told it could take four hundred at a time.

Youth in Africa
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 Eventually a lovely big house was built on a different part of the farm. Although it was nice to live in a decent house once more, I always had a regret for our lovely real wild cave and have wondered why the house was not built near that beauty spot with its lovely waterfall, wild flowers, masses of maidenhair fern, and flowering trees.

We had many little adventures as the years rolled on. Once my father , my brother-in -law~ my governess and I were returning from our nearest town and shopping center. Ladiesmith. It was 52 miles from our house. We usually rode there and back, but this time we were in an old-fashioned 4 wheeled spider, drawn by two horses.
We were in a hurry to get home as a 3 day rain had started, and there were no bridges in those happy days. So we were crossing the Panduvani spruit rather late in the day. I don't know quite what happened but the spruit was coming down in spate. We just managed to get out of the spider in time. They saved the horses hut it was the sad end of the old spider and all our suitcases. We walked a few miles feeling like the proverbial drowned rats, and surely looking like them, till we reached the farm of some people we knew. That night still remains a bad dream as they were very short of any sort of accommodation. I being a lanky girl had to go in a room with all the children of the house, numbers of them, and it was a great struggle trying to hide my arms and legs with only an angora goat skin to cover myself. I was painfully shy and would gladly have kept my wet clothes on but the wise old people did not allow that. Very wise of them too!

A few years later I had a similar experience at the same house. I had been there helping the lady of the house as it was holiday times. It started raining one night. I was feeling terribly home sick. I was sharing a room with the enormous governess teaching there. I couldn't sleep and heard the rain pattering down steadily. I had horrible visions of the Tugela river becoming impassable soon. This would mean that it would he impossible for me to return to my beloved home. as this river was between this farm and my home.
So I quickly got up, left a little note saying I'd gone home, on the pin-cushion, and ran as fast as I could on way home. It had stopped raining. There was a little moonlight. I took of my boots and hopped merrily from one rock to the next in the river, which was still quite low fortunately, but I dropped my boots in the river and couldn't get them again, and had to run over burnt grass for a long way taking a short cut home that night I assure you it was a painful procedure! But the delight of getting home made up for it. I made my dad promise never to send me to that place again. He was rather worried at my having come about 3 miles at least by myself but gave me a wonderful welcome. I think he had been missing me a lot too.

I could tell you a lot about that farm and the wonderful plucky mother of all those children. She was truly one of the heroines of the old pioneer days, putting up with much poverty and many trials, always patient, cheery. with a great sense of humor. One night I was there as the man of the house was absent from home, but he returned very much the worse for drink. We all ran out of the house and hid behind a kraal wall where a lot of datura plants crew.
It was quite an undertaking getting at least ten children out of the house quickly as the tipsy man was firing off shots at anything he fancied .At dawn we all crossed the Tugela. I returned home, the others went to relatives not intending to go back to their own homes. I never went to stay there after that last experience.

Some people about 3 miles from my home kept race horses, or rather bred them. They had a beautiful imported stallion called Curate. One night I was riding. a very restive little mare called Nellie and was returning home in the moonlight when I suddenly heard a thundering noise behind me and my horse was off like the wind. She knew this horse Curate and was terrified when she heard him. A great friend of ours was near me as he wanted to shoot a wild cat at our home that was eating our poultry. He actually wanted to shoot the stallion but his horse was old and very slow and he couldn't catch up luckily, and was also afraid of shooting me. I believe my father and a young Hollander were a good way behind and had a terrible fright not knowing what would happen. The stallion was gaining on me and was very close when he suddenly heard the other horses galloping in the distance and suddenly turned around and galloped back to his troop of mares. All the excitement was over. I looked round once and that stallion looked rather awful! For quite a long time after this I often had dreams about it all. A poor Hottentot on the other side of the berg from where we lived was rounding up some mares one day just about 2 weeks later and the stallion attacked, killed him, pulling him off his horse and trampling him to death. So we considered I had a very lucky escape. Fortunately, I was quite at home on horse hack. and could stick on as it was the fastest ride I ever had. I was fourteen years old at the time. We had been riding a long way putting our sheep over the Tugela to send them to the Free State for a few months to a different farm. This was done every year. On our way home we had stayed at the Allison's farm for supper. The stallion was their property.

Just after my dad was out one day burning the veld, something that was considered essential in those days to get rid of ticks on the grass etc., Well he was a good distance from home when he suddenly was attacked by a very angry ostrich cock. It nearly killed him. breaking his nose and rolling about on him. He came many hours later than we expected him, making a dreadful sight. the black grass ashes, and blood over his very pale face. He had eventually managed to get away from the ostrich. I believe it was hatching not very far away.

These ostriches had been missing for some time. Talking about ostriches has just reminded me of another little incident. I was out riding one day with my governess. She had a silver locket she was wearing and lost it, but I saw an ostrich pick it up and swallow it I told them at home and was very annoyed when my brother-in -law said I must have dreamt this, so much so that I went to the enclosure where the ostriches were shut in every night and actually found the locket having passed through the ostrich! My governess was very pleased to get it back as it was of sentimental value having been sent from India by her brother. She actually left it to me in her will and I have it here now.

In those days there was no railway beyond Ladiesmith so everything had to be transported to the Transvaal by ox wagons. one year as he was going for a transport riding trip, we persuaded my father to let us go along just for fun. We had a few tent wagons, a wagonette which was nicely fitted up for my mother to travel and sleep in. We went to Johannesburg first to off-load all the transport goods, then on for a hunting trip which was most interesting. Our experiences were numerous and varied.

To return to our bushveld trip, we went nearly as far as the Limpopo river. I really had a wonderful time. We struck some very beautiful spots with lovely trees and wild flowers near clear pools. The country up that way often made us think of a beautiful wild park, patches of large trees, shrubs, green grass in between where we often saw wild buck. guinea fowl etc. and lovely brightly colored birds, lots of monkeys, wonderful shades of color on the mountains.
We made huge bonfires at night and sat around often hearing wild animals in the distance, and many eyes of things peering out of the hushes and wild undergrowth near by. Of course we did not know to what sort of animal the eyes belonged. A man had a shot at some eyes one night thinking it was a lion, perhaps, but found he had shot a poor old donkey belonging to an oldish German woman who was trekking about with her children. Of course she was very angry and upset and made Beiset pay six pounds for the donkey which was only really worth ten shillings! The poor man was terribly teased and laughed at afterwards.

Where Jeppe high is now was all veld and we outspanned there. Just a lot of house roofs and not a single tree, at that time. We brought loads of poles from the bushveld for the Langlaagte gold mine and they warned us that eight murders had been committed in the last few months. So we
put mothers wagonette in the middle of the transport wagons, eight of them. My governess and I always shared a tent wagon and the drivers were told to keep guard all night. We lost our pet bush-baby that night and never saw it again.

We had great fun in the bushveld, catching blue monkeys alive and taming them. One night a wild monkey actually came to our camp and released a monkey that was tied up. We could see the foot prints from and to the koppie it had come from. We were very intrigued by one very sweet little monkey. It always wanted to help my mother when she played bridge or whist as we called it in those days, and would pull a card and throw it neatly on the table and then retreat under my mother's long cape.

When we visited the dear old spots of many sweet and varied memories, last Feb (1950). I found my father's grave in a mealie land, all the buildings and trees were gone but the natives living there were very friendly when I explained who I was and treated us to some of their beer. They brought it in a very clean calabash. and made such very nice speeches. My eldest daughter, Lita. and her two children were there and my son, Syd and three very dear relations from Holland out on a visit. One very old woman told us we must never think they would not respect our graves, especially now we had been there, and knelt down and prayed.

I can see that lovely forest now with light and shade and hundreds of lilies of the valley, in between lovely moss and growth. It really seemed like a fairyland to my childish imagination.

In the old farm house the peasants had a loaded shot gun hanging above the door. It was thought it would go off with a bang but someone managed to get it down before anything happened. The farmers wife had a baby of 9 days old and sent her maid into the burning house many times to rescue certain odds and ends and the poor girl nearly lost her life when a burning beam fell on her. Fortunately she was not seriously injured. I was thrilled at her courage and got a lovely bunch of flowers from our old garden to send to her during her illness, quite my heroine for a long time. She was really pretty as well as being brave!

The War
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I was married in 1896. We lived happily farming at Klipriver till the war broke out. My husband and his four brothers joined up in intelligence department, as they knew the country very well from hunting days in Natal. My husband and his brother were captured at Nickholson's neck near Ladiesmith, at the beginning of the siege and all the rest of us were in the siege until it was relieved. This was from October till February. My husband and his brother were in cell number 16 in Pretoria, first there with Winston Churchill, and after that at Waterval camp and had very bad times. My husband's one brother, married to my sister, was dangerously wounded, but thanks to Gunner Buller, was taken to the Welsh hospital in Pretoria and eventually recovered.

The youngest of the five Allison brothers was shot not far from Standerton, where he is buried. His death was a great blow to us all as he was very popular with everyone who knew him. A rather strange coincidence is that he was called Martinus Stuart, after his uncle who was killed on Majuba hill, with Major Colley, and he was with Major Colville, when killed. Gunner Buller made special mention of the Lockstrus and Allison brothers in a speech he made in Pietermaritzburg, saying they had done such wonderful work for their queen and country. Three of the Allisons volunteered to go with Major Henderson to deplete the Long Tom gun on Bulwane hill. One of the Allison's still has the rod of the Long Tom, I believe. Photos of some of the men were taken and published in some of the books at the time. Several of the Imperial guides have photos of the men.
On Christmas morning, my mother and I got a shell underneath the bay window of the room we were sleeping in. Of course, fortunately for us it did not explode. This house had been occupied by Sir George White and staff, at one time, and was not considered safe for him and was offered to us and was certainly much nicer than living in holes in river banks like we were doing.

Several of the mapping engineers under Major Grant were in one half of this house.
There was a beautiful orchard in this part of town with lovely fruit on the trees. The owner had left a very honest caretaker in charge, a clergyman, actually. We tried in vain to persuade him to either sell or give away the fruit---lovely apples, but he would not budge as he had not been told by the owner to do so. We needed any sort of food badly and one Evening one of the Allisons came and asked me to help him help ourselves to apples. He had a pair of riding trousers that had been laundered, and of course I went along to help him, and tied up the legs of the trousers and held them up for the apples to be thrown in. Never have I tasted nicer apples.

We gave all our friends a treat! Next day, as I was passing a house adjoining the orchard, an old lady volunteered that some bad soldiers had been stealing some of Mrs A's apples the night before and she said you should have heard the dreadful language they used. I humbly asked if she was quite sure they were Tommies, as if I had been stealing apples, I would have kept very quiet!

On Christmas morning I went down the street to try and get a little water to drink from the house where the war correspondents lived. I knocked at the door which was half open but didn't get any reply. Then I heard someone groaning and went in and found one of the correspondents lying in a bed literally covered in flies. He was very ill and alone, so I ran back to where we were staying and got my mosquito netting down quickly and took it over and put it up over the poor, very ill man and did all I could, which was very little, to make him comfortable. He died a few days later.

My old faithful Zulu boy, Manyegula, alias Dick, would not leave me though I told him he should go. He slept in a loft above the stables where we stayed. One night a piece of shell came through the roof amongst the sleeping natives. I asked him if no-one was hurt and if he had had a bad shock. He was quite indignant, and said, "no, I am not afraid of being killed, but, that boy, Paraffin, put my trousers on and I wanted to kill him! " This good old boy was with us for about two years and eventually was killed while away on holiday at Bambata's rebellion in Natal. Formerly he had been a Durban police boy. He simply adored our children.
I have found that natives are always nice to children, both white and black, and always seem to take an interest in their sayings and doings.

Just after the relief of Ladiesmith, I was in a riskshaw in Durban, and noticed that the young native looked a bit queer, eyes red. Well as we got near West street, I saw a horse-drawn team coming along and realised that we were bound to crash at the cross road. I shouted to the native to stop but he took no notice at all and as I feared the horses struck the rickshaw badly. The lady with me was carried to a chemist shop, almost fainting. I had jumped clear and was all right, but a policeman came up to me and tapped me on the shoulder and asked me for my name and address. As soon as I said "Mrs A.A. Allison", he beamed at me and said "Gosh, I was in jail with your husband in Pretoria. Great surprise from all the people looking on from the train. I laughed and said "were you a prisoner of war too?"

I never heard anything more about the little mishap-but the policeman informed me that my husband was a "grand chap".
I did not see my husband for more than a year. How delightful it was to him safely back at last. But not for long as the war wasn't over. Eventually dad was the superintendent of the Heidelburg concentration camp and did all he could to make the people as happy and as comfortable as possible. We had Dr R. G. Ralston there as doctor and Miss Henriette French as our relief matron, doing all in her power to help all the people in the camp, to help the poorer class women how to treat their children, not to boil tea,-now it really makes me angry when I hear untrue tales as to how the English treated them etc. No one was allowed to go into the camp with out a permit. This was to protect the women from any unpleasant callers. There was a barbed wire fence around the camp and the tents were in nice straight lines, and dustbins at regular spaces. My husband appointed two Afrikaans men as policemen to see that things were right and nice. Imagine our surprise one day, when from my husband's office, I saw the two policemen bringing one of our generals along!, as he had walked in with out a permit and said he thought General should appreciate the discipline in the camp. So the stout old chap said, 'well, Allison, don't let it happen again. I'm afraid Major Landase, my husband's assistant and I who saw all the doings from my husband's office, found it quite hard not to laugh! It was all so funny.

When a train full of women, and children passed through Heidelburg at any hour of the day or night, my husband always saw to it that they had a good meal. I myself have baked dozens of loaves of bread in my private house and stored them to keep in case of short supply from local bakers. Many a night I have helped to nurse people who were ill. In one instance, sister Gamble came to call me in the night as a patient with enteric was suddenly worse.

I discovered a thick piece of bread under her pillow. Her mother had been to see this young woman and smuggled this bread in, and it caused perforation of the bowl and she died. Until, we eventually got a house on the outskirts of town, my husband and I lived in a tent in the camp, so we knew very well what was going on. I did all I could to help the matrons and staff. When we were living in a house eventually one day, an old Afrikaans man came begging to my house telling me how badly they were treated. One shilling for a small bottle of medicine, sixpence for a tiny bit of candle etc. I got his name, Piet Botha, and then told him who I was and that I was going to report him to my husband as they got everything free of charge. This poor old thing went down on his knees to me saying, 'Genade mijn live Mev! Is het toe maar gespel!' etc. Irony of fate, he was struck dead by lightening that night. One of these stories told now in 1953, is that broken glass was found in the sealed up can of corned beef given to them. I pointed out to one lady telling me this, that surely as this meat was tinned in the Argentine, they couldn't possibly have done this, not knowing who was going to get it. It's really incredible the things people will make up and expect others to believe.

One rather interesting little thing is that during floods in Holland, my father did some very good work and was presented with a large silver medal by the king of Holland, this in the period 1870, with his name on it, J. G. P. H. von Musschenbrook. Well after my father's death, mother had this medal but lost it during the war, with everything else we had. She lived with us.

A friend of ours, Major Howes was walking along a street at Germiston, some years later and saw a small Dutch child hammering on a tin with a thing he thought was a five shilling piece. He asked the youngster to let him see it and it was actually my dad's medal. Knowing my brother, as they worked in the same office, he bought it from the child and took it to my brother. I have it here now. Von Musschenbrook is an unusual name so there is no doubt about it. We are rather proud of the fact that Prof Piet von Musschenbrook of Leiden jor fame was a closely related forefather of ours. The is a slight mistake about him in Encyclopaedia Britannia as they say "presumably a monk". There have never been monks or Catholics in my family as it happens.

After the siege of Ladiesmith, we went down to Durban, very short of cash. I managed to rent a house and got a few nice people to share it to help pay expenses as I couldn't draw a penny of my husband's pay while he was away, prisoner of war etc. Well my mother, sister and two friends clubbed together and bought 5 sweep tickets in a big sweep on the English derby, £1.00 each! Quite a fortune to waste just at that time but we were determined to try our luck. One fine early morning I bought a special little newspaper and imagine my surprise and delight to find we had drawn first prize, a very large amount of money. I held all the tickets and phoned my father-in -law to come and see me as soon as possible. He came and we could hardly believe our wonderful luck. It was over £50,000 to divide between us. Well my father-in-law was told it was all a mistake as the horse had been put out on something! We didn't get a penny! I was told afterward that we had been done down, swindled out of it and that if we had offered the man a few thousand pounds he would have fixed it. The lady who had a share in it was so upset when I told her the sad news on my return, that she flung herself on the ground and screamed and kicked like a naughty child! She had a lot of red hair and a full moon face and looked so very comical, that I laughed. She glanced at me and said "girl can you laugh". It was really very disappointing. I was making little tobacco bags at one shilling sewing late in the evenings to help to make a little money. Luckily, I had managed to save my precious sewing machine, which I kept off a Christmas tree in 1895 in Holland from my brother and still have.

Experiences on our farm, Groot Geluk, Upper Tugela, Natal. Cont.
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My sister and her family stayed with my parents as her husband was away a great deal looking after transport wagons going from Natal to Transvaal, as there was no railway in those days. On my 16th birthday my dear little niece, Grace, fell off a high wall into part of an unfinished shed intended for calves, which had a huge pig and her babies in. It had been raining very heavily and there was a dreadful lot of mud in the place as there was no roof on this building yet. This little child was being looked after by a native nurse. What made this creature put this child on to the wall to look at the sow, I can't imagine. Anyway, I heard yells and shrieks and had to scramble up this wall somehow and tale a dive into the slush below to save the dear little kid from the angry pig. I can't describe what I must have looked like when I managed to get out of this filthy place. I first walked into a nearby dam, boots and all to try and get rid of the mud. Great regrets that I had a pretty new white dress on, given to me for my birthday. From that day, Grace was called Humpty Dumpty. She wasn't any the worse for the fright or nasty experience. This will amuse my little grand children.

When I was just 16 years old, I lost my Dad suddenly, a terrible blow, as we were wonderful pals and where ever he went, I went with him. Our nearest village was Ladiesmith, 59 miles from where we lived at Upper Tugela, Oliviers Hock. The years after he died, I helped my mother to run the farm, as I was the only one left at home.
Mother decided to let our farm for winter grazing to some Dutch sheep farmers. She had gone into partnership with my brother and brother-in-law ion hiring 500 acre of lovely soil at Burlaagte in the Transvaal. They planted the whole field with oats, it was said to be a marvellous crop and just ready to reap. As there was no railway up to the Transvaal at the time, any sort of feed for race horses was a fablulous price and we left with scotch wagons, reapers, binders etc, full of glee to go and reap this wonderful crop which was worth a considerable amount of money, which was badly needed.
Well, we trekked up as far as Ladiesmith and found a wire saying" 18 mile long swarm of locusts proceeding this way." A few hours later there was another wire saying" everything eaten, bare as barn floor." My brother and sister's husband were very down and dejected but mother was a splendid example to the others. She just said, "it's no use crying over spilt milk or eaten forage, lets store the machinery, reapers etc, and get loads of transport for Johannesburg." We did this, and as we couldn't return to the farm as it was let for some months, we went on to the bushveld to cut poles for the mines. We delivered there usually at the Langlaagte mine, after quite an interesting time in the bushveld. I, having my own horse was able to go out hunting with my brothers, company and there got to know my husband so very well, and eventually became engaged to be married to him.

After the war we lived in the Heidelburg burgers camp for a time as my husband was superintendent there. We lived near Standerton for a while before we eventually came here. My husband was working for someone and away most of the time, just coming home weekends. We had 4 children and a dear little Irish governess, who stuck by us whatever happened. We were very badly off having lost everything we had during the war. Her father came from Ireland to spend holidays here, it was he who wanted us o call this farm "Tegwan's Nest", as I had mentioned a certain drawer in my husband's desk as our "Tegwan's nest", where all odd bits of things such as nails, buckles, straps etc. were kept. The birds, Tegwans or Hamerkop' s the Dutch call them, have a habit of collecting all sorts of odds and ends in their nests. So that is how we decided on the name. A Tegwan is a native name and they have various little superstitions about these birds. If one sits on a hut it's a warning that it might be struck by lightening, or be burnt somehow. And flying over in a certain way means an engagement soon.

When we first came to Tegwan's nest, it was just a piece of very neglected ground, not even a fence around the farm and fields for crops very rough and uncultivated, a rather miserable little house in the hollow, not a garden of any sort, a couple of willow stumps being the only attempt that had been made at tree planting. My husband got going straight away at enclosing the farm, which is 1000 acres. He also started building a dam very soon. In the meantime, we had rented this farm from a Mr van Rensburg, who poor man, broke his neck playing polo. We had an option of purchase. Imagine our delight when, after we had been here about 2 years, my eldest brother Sam bought this farm and made me a birthday present of it. But he made one stipulation, that we build a decent house on it, and he gave me £1000 towards doing this. It has been a great joy gradually improving this place, and planting many various kinds of trees here.

Unfortunately we lost many young trees by spring hare biting the bark off and later want of rain, killed many lovely trees, also fruit trees. There was only a sign-post where Teakworth station is now. We had to get our post from Greylingstad. I drove there about twice weekly to fetch it. Roads were very rough in those days. In wet weather it was quite an undertaking in the buggy with just one dear old horse. We could stop the train at Teakworth if we wanted to board it, but especially at night, it was rather awkward. There was no shelter for years and if it was raining, it wasn't very pleasant.
My Irish governess, Violet Boyd, was a great sport, and eventually married a great friend of ours, Arthur Cecil Corfe. Much to my regret, I don't know where they are now, as I would very much like to write to them. I don't suppose they have any idea we are still in the same spot, so very different now with our home on the hill-side and lovely trees and garden full of roses. Many people love this farm. We have a nice little station now and a post office and phones! The air here is really lovely, many people comment on it. It's just home sweet home of course to our six children all married and far away now but they come whenever they can and my youngest daughter, Heather and her husband live here. We're a very happy family! I have 12 charming grandchildren. My great regret is that I don't see more of them, just one darling little grandson here and he will be going to boarding school one of these days. We'll miss him dreadfully, but these things have to happen, one can't wish them otherwise.
There are still a few round peculiar little huts on the hill from Mazilikatzi's days. There is a doubt whether they were used to sleep in or just to store meat in away from wild animals, lions etc. We were told a lion was killed here not many years before we came. At one time this valley was teaming with game, elephants, etc., it's hard to believe now as where there once was a swamp with tall reeds rowing the is only ordinary grass now. Hence the name Grootvlei.
It shows how greatly the seasons and country have changed in these hundred years.