Granny Bland

The baby in the feature picture is Mary Caskie, daughter of Alexander Caskie and Mary Craig.

Her father Alexander Caskie became mayor of Harrismith. She married JFA Bland II and gave birth to JFA Bland III.

JFA Bland II

JFA III Bland, called Frank, married Annie Watson Bain, daughter of Stewart Bain, mayor of Harrismith. So much of mayors, your worships!

Part of the stone wall which surrounded Granny Bland’s home in Stuart Street, Harrismith; and the oak tree her grand-daughter Pat Bland Cowie planted.

– Granny Bland’s garden wall in 2017 –
– Pat Bland planted this oak in her Granny Bland’s garden – 13 Stuart Street Harrismith –

Bain Sisters Annie Bland and Jessie Bell lived with Granny Mary Bland after their husbands died. Annie’s daughter Mary and granddaughter Barbara Mary also lived there for a while. Barbara now has a daughter Linda Mary, who has a daughter Mary-Kate – So much of Marys !

– Annie Bain Bland, Granny Bland, Jessie Bain Bell –

The old home now has an artist family living in it and has been beautifully restored.

Apparently this was Granny Bland’s – we grew up with it in our display cabinet

– Bacchus – the God of Wine, Music and Dance – and 95 Stuart Street –

Granny Bland had a husband and five sons. She buried her husband and three of her sons in the same grave – later she was buried there. Her only surviving son Bunty later joined them all.

Mum says Barnie Neveling had a rather caustic tongue at times – it was he who told Mum that Frank Bland’s brother – either Bobby or Bertie – had “taken his own life” – he was a pharmacist and couldn’t live with his asthma any longer. Granny Bland spoke of it as an accidental overdose. Mum didn’t think it was necessary for Barnie to tell her that.

One of Granny Bland’s other sons, Alex, who was the Royal Hotel barman, played the piano. He cut his finger and it couldn’t straighten properly, so a friend offered to pay for the op to straighten it. Dr Reitz did the op and Alex died on the operating table. One of his favourite pieces was Rachmaninoff’s Prelude – Mum couldn’t remember the key – she sang a bit of it to me – looked it up and I think it was G Minor. Mum says that whenever it was played on the radio, they had to switch the radio off because it made Granny Bland too sad.

– not sure, but we think from Granny Bland’s home –
– Granny Bland’s hot water jug – then Mary Bland Swanepoel’s –
– ‘Ceylon 1902’ – we think this is from a Bland POW – Anglo-Boer War –
– Granny Bland’s silver serviette ring – which her granddaughter Mary used for years –


For those interested, here you can see the original broken daguerreotype Sheila had, and how I digitally ‘stitched’ or ‘healed’ it with FastStone Image Viewer (lovely program):


Update from Sheila on Granny Bland’s five sons:

John Francis Adam Bland III (aka Frank) our grandfather – married Annie Bain – two daughters, Pat – born 1925 died 1974 (married Bill Cowie – two daughters, Frankie and Jema) and Mary born 1928  (married Pieter Swanepoel and had 3 kids, Barbara, Koos – me – and Sheila)

Bunty Bland – married Eve Richter – one son, John (not the golfer) – he married Ethel, and they had a son James and a daughter Janine. John & Ethel divorced.  John married a girl about 40 years his junior – I bumped into them in Durban once. Ethel, James and Janine all live in NZ. Janine has two kids, James has never married and has no kids – so out of Granny Bland’s five sons, there is no Bland to carry on the name. Granny Bland buried her husband and four of her five sons – only Bunty outlived her.  They are all buried in the same grave in HS.

Albert (Bertie ) Bland never married, pharmacist, committed suicide

Robert Bobbie) Bland never married

Alec Bland - he had a crooked little finger, which he couldn't straighten - he played the piano and this finger bugged him, so Dr Frank Reitz offered to fix it for him - a friend sponsored the op (Mum knows who it was - I've just forgotten his name) and Alec died on the operating table.


13 thoughts on “Granny Bland

        • Magic. We then had Dirk the auctioneer and Theo the engineer in town – relatives, I suppose? They’d be around 80-90+ now.
          Theo and Annemarie lived just off Stuart street in Boys street. Their kids Karen, Theo and Karl would be 64 to 70 yrs old about.


          • Yes they were grand children, of my fathers generation. We lived in Durban. Both of them gone now sadly. There were two sets of chidren as Theodore (I) married twice. His first wife (van Reenen) died in the Spanish Flu. Second wife was a Wepener. All 3 buried in the little cemetry by the spruit on Platberg South farm. I have many happy memories of holidays on farms Alsace and Siloe in my youth.

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          • Happy, carefree days! Behind the mountain we knew the Gobles, Pattersons, Sharratts. I was born in 1955 in HS. My folks left in about 2000 – to PMB. We had the Platberg bottle store in town and Annemarie worked for us for years. Of her kids I believe Karen and Theo are still alive. My gran Annie Bland had the Caltex garage opposite the town hall.
            Did you ever climb the mountain from the back? I never did. Always up the rocky passes in front.


          • I am 1958 vintage and always lived in Durban, now Australia since 1982, Theo still going strong in Bryanston. I did go up from the back once with my father and not yet up the front! I still own Maedersdeel, on the corner of the Collingspass Road, turning off from Verkykerskop. Come out every year and make a trip to Morija in Lesotho, where our first Maeder ancestor Francois came out as a missionary from Germany in mid 1830s.

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          • Amazing! You still own a farm there! Have you written the family story? It would be fascinating, I’m sure.
            Which Theo is in Bryanston? The one born ca.1953 who went to school in Harrismith and joined the Army?
            Out Verkykers way and towards the pass we knew of farmers Wessels, Glutz, Jelliman.


          • There’s a story about Morija? I remember a snippet somewhere in the back of my memory – A death at the mission? A mystery? Do you know anything about the mission story? Is there anything on the ‘net about it?


          • It was in the later 1800s, the Jacotett family. Tim Couszins wrote an historical novel about it, Murder at Morija, a good read. The history is well preserved there via Morija Museum and Archives. The original church built there by my g-g-grandfather in 1840s still stands.

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  1. Loved reading this post, after your “Can’t have that” post today. Interested in how you got all the pictures of family heirlooms. Amazing how the serviette rings often make it through the years. Try explaining them to a Gen Z.

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