Our distant cousin Hugh Bland has been doing some wonderful work sniffing out the Bland family history.
Today he found the grave of Josiah Benjamin Adam Bland – he was born 1799 in the UK and arrived at the Cape in 1825. He settled in Mossel Bay, where he became mayor and the main street is still called Bland Street. He died in 1861. The grave is hidden in thick bush on a farm in the Wydersrivier district near Riversdal.
The farmer very kindly took Hugh to the gravesite where Hugh says you can still read the inscription on the grave stone – it’s indistinct, but there’s no doubt that it’s JBA’s grave. He says it was “quite a moment” for him – JBA was buried there 156 yrs ago and Hugh wondered when a Bland last stood at that grave.
Hugh put two proteas on the grave and then laid his shadow next to his (and our) great-great-great grandfather:
Harrismith Branch – After Josiah Benjamin Adam Bland came John Francis Adam Bland (born 1836) who trekked inland to Harrismith in the Orange River Colony with a small baby – John Francis Adam the second. This started “our branch” of the Blands. JFA II later married Mary Caskie (who became the beloved Granny Bland of Harrismith). They had five sons of whom our grandfather Frank (JFA III) and Bunty were the oldest.
Hugh found out that JFA the first died on 10 September 1891 aged 55, and is buried in Senekal.
In Harrismith Granny Bland buried her husband and four of her five boys – what a tragic life. She did live long enough to know us, her great grandkids before she died ca 1960. We knew Bunty, the one son who outlived her, very well. He died in 1974 and joined his mother and father JFA II and four brothers in the family grave in Harrismith.
JFA III (Frank) married Annie Watson Bain – our granny Annie Bland. She died aged 90 ca 1981. Her eldest daughter Pat (Cowie), our mother Mary’s sister, died before her in 1974. Mom Mary is still alive and turned 89 in 2017.
I’m hoping sister Sheila will fact-check me here!