His Uncle Hec’s Funeral

Des is a mensch. He’s a gentleman and he has good intentions. He’s in a serious marriage and under strict starter’s orders. The thing is Des has a bit of a dodgy handbrake. Even when pulled up tight it can occasionally slip and he can lurch forward a few steps and then all hell canContinue reading “His Uncle Hec’s Funeral”

Loopspruit Army Basics

– – – draft – work in progress – So there we were ensconced on a farm outside Potchefstroom among raw rockspider seventeen year-olds, fresh out of high school from all over South Africa. We heard it had been a reform school for delinquents before we got there and turned it into a military camp.Continue reading “Loopspruit Army Basics”

Old Apache Selfies

Found some old pics from Apache Oklahoma back in 1973. Dragging Main in a Ford Mustang with my Olympus camera – and taking original 1973 selfies! Next, a self portrait at the Swandas home – my last hosts in Oklahoma. Their farm outside Apache was called ‘The Swandarosa’ – kidding!! Not really – that wasContinue reading “Old Apache Selfies”

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 III. Frank (JFA III) Bland married Annie Watson Bain, daughter of Stewart Bain, mayor of Harrismith. So much of mayors, yourContinue reading “Granny Bland”

Harrismith Author Leon Strachan

Harrismith History – Free State Fables – Rural Legends . . well told. Harrismith has had a few published authors over the 171 years of the town’s existence. One day I’ll make a list. The best by far is Leon Strachan – imho of course! I have four of his books and am searching locallyContinue reading “Harrismith Author Leon Strachan”

Caveman Spies in Engels

Four Spies brothers lived in the Harrismith and Kestell district. These broers had very different personalities; it was said Andries fought for the Spies clan, Hans cursed for them, Frikkie drank for them and Martiens prayed for them all. Harrismith’s historian Leon Strachan has kept this lovely tale of an amazing Eastern Free State characterContinue reading “Caveman Spies in Engels”

Caveman Spies – by Leon Strachan

Harrismith has always had Spies families. The ones I remember were horsemen; or at least, the times I saw them they were usually riding horses at our agricultural shows, playing polo or competing at gymkhanas. Leon Strachan, Harrismith’s historian, tells of one family of four brothers who all had different characters or traits – andContinue reading “Caveman Spies – by Leon Strachan”

Polo in Harrismith

The first recorded polo game in South Africa took place in October 1874 at the King Williams Town Parade Ground between the Gordon Highlanders and the Cape Mounted Rifles. The Military Ninth Division played during the 1880s at Harrismith, Orange Free State. Polo was played in Cape Town in 1885 at a club formed byContinue reading “Polo in Harrismith”

A Slice of Vrystaat

I was born in Harrismith in 1955, as was Mom Mary in 1928, and her Mom Annie in 1893. Annie thought “the queen” of that little island left of France was also the queen of South Africa (and for much of her life she was right!). To balance that, there’s this side of the family.Continue reading “A Slice of Vrystaat”