Categories
1_Harrismith 2_Free State / Vrystaat 8_Nostalgia Family

Many Marys

Sheila gave us the breakdown:

Mary Craig married Alex Caskie; they had a daughter

Mary Caskie, who married John Francis Adam Bland; their eldest son was

Frank, who married Annie Watson Bain; their second daughter was

Mary Frances, who married PG Swanepoel; their eldest daughter was

Barbara Mary, who married Jeff Tarr; their eldest daughter was

Linda Mary, who married Dawie Pieterse; their eldest daughter was

Mary-Kate, boss of the house, turning six this year!

– Sheila has this old daguerrotype of Great-Great Gran Mary Craig and Great Gran Mary Caskie and a suspicious chap –

In this day of easy instant photography I find it fascinating to read how this image was made:

To make the image, a daguerrotypist would – 1. polish a sheet of silver-plated copper to a mirror finish; 2. treat it with fumes that made its surface light sensitive; 3. expose it in a camera for as long as was judged to be necessary, which could be as little as a few seconds for brightly sunlit subjects or much longer with less intense lighting; 4. make the resulting latent image on it visible by fuming it with mercury vapor; 5. remove its sensitivity to light by liquid chemical treatment, 6. rinse and dry it; 7. seal the easily marred result behind glass in a protective enclosure.

The image is on a mirror-like silver surface, normally kept under glass, and will appear either positive or negative, depending on the angle at which it is viewed, how it is lit and whether a light or dark background is being reflected in the metal. The darkest areas of the image are simply bare silver; lighter areas have a microscopically fine light-scattering texture. The surface is very delicate, and even the lightest wiping can permanently scuff it. Some tarnish around the edges is normal. (thanks wikipedia)

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Nowadays a few quick sweeps of Faststone and I can hide most of the cracks of the broken glass:

Categories
2_Free State / Vrystaat 8_Nostalgia sport

Bain of Harrismith

My granny Annie had an older brother Ginger. He was the oldest of the seven ‘Royal Bains’ and a great sportsman. They owned the Royal Hotel and they were ‘Royal’ so as not to be confused with the ‘Central Bains’, who owned the Central Hotel! As fishermen from the tiny hamlet of Wick on the more freezing end of Scotland, they couldn’t really claim the traditional ‘Balmoral Castle’ kind of royalty.

Playing rugby for Hilton, ‘Bain of Harrismith’ became the bane of Michaelhouse in the first rugby game between these two toffee-nosed schools, where vaguely bored and lazy shouts of ‘a bit more pressure from the rear!’ are heard through the gin fumes surrounding the rugby fields.

This report on the 1904 derby was reprinted in the 1997 Hilton vs Michaelhouse sports day brochure: 

Hilton Ginger Bain_2

Drop goals were four points and tries were three in those distant days. I like that the one side was “smarter with their feet” . . and that being smarter with your feet was better than “pretty passing”.

A century later these rugby genes would shine again as Bain’s great-great-grandson – grandnephew actually – also whipped Michaelhouse.

I’ve included a lovely picture of the Michaelhouse scrum on top.

~~~oo0o~~~

Rugby in Harrismith was full of Bains and Blands:

1921 Rugby Team Bains Blands

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Handwritten on the edge of one of these is “He wasn’t ill at all. (illegible) just found him (illegible) “

~~~oo0oo~~~

Categories
1_Harrismith 2_Free State / Vrystaat 8_Nostalgia Family

The Bain Family’s Scottish Roots

Katrina (nee Miller) Duncan, from near Oban in Scotland, stumbled across my other blog here and made contact with us. She sounds delightful, but so she would – she’s family!

She has been researching the Bain family tree and she and my sister Sheila have worked out that we share a Great-Great-Great Grandfather, one Donald Bain, born in Wick on the 14th of April 1777. He married Katherine Bremner and they lived in Sarclet, just south of Wick way up in north-east Scotland. And then I spose they had children and then those had children, and – you know how it goes.

sarclet, scotland.jpg
– Sarclet coast –
sarclet, scotland_2
– Sarclet village –

I reckon if you dipped your toe in that Wick water you’d know why some Bains moved to Africa! Also, they may have been dodging giving the castle a much-needed revamp . . .

wick castle scotland
– Wick Castle –

Stewart Bain was born in 1819 in Caithness, to Donald (42) and Katherine (41). On the 7th of February 1845 Stewart married Christina Watson in his hometown. They had four children during their marriage.

In 1853 Donald’s sons George and Stewart were out fishing when their boat was swamped and Stewart drowned in the freezing winter sea. He died as a young father aged 34 on 19 February 1853, and was buried in Thrumster, Caithness.

Katrina found an 1853 newspaper article about the tragedy.

Stewart Bain drowning 1853.jpg

It seems Stewart’s father Donald also died that year. The next year, 1854, his brother George and wife Annie (nee Watson) had a son. They named him Stewart.

He is the Stewart Bain who came to Harrismith, Orange River Colony in South Africa with his brother James in 188_ and married Janet Burley. They had seven kids: The seven ‘Royal Bains’ of Harrismith, named after their hotel, The Royal Hotel in Station Road. This ‘title’ was to distinguish them from the ‘Central Bains’, not to claim royalty! My grandmother was the fifth of these seven ‘Royal Bains’ – Annie Watson Bain.

Stewart and Janet raised their ‘Royal Bain’ family in this cottage adjacent to their hotel in Station Road, down near the railway line:

1990 April Royal Hotel Cottage0003

James Bain, Stewart’s brother and owner of the Central Hotel, called his home ‘Caithness’. It was in Stuart Street near their hotel in the centre of town. There they raised their brood – eight ‘Central Bains.’ One of them was also Annie Watson Bain. Her story ends tragically. Thanks to Katrina we know more about it.

Caithness, Harrismith
– Caithness, Harrismith –

On Katrina’s ancestry web page “Miller Family Tree” the names Annie, Jessie, Stewart, Katherine, Donald etc have been used for generations.

  • Many thanks to katrina duncan for getting in touch!
  • The Scottish Tartan register confirms that there is no ancient Clan Bain tartan. This one – ‘The Bains of Caithness’ – was designed in 1993 for Robert Bain of Caithness.
  • There are a few coats of arms; I chose two examples.
– Not –

This is not true:

Categories
2_Free State / Vrystaat 8_Nostalgia Family

The Two Annie Watson Bains

By the time we knew her she was Annie Bland. Never ‘granny’. Only Annie. She was our dear Mom’s dear Mom.

In fact ‘Annie Watson Bain’ to me was the lady who died in World War 1 and whose name was on one of the monuments outside the Town Hall. She was our Annie’s first cousin, their Dads, brothers Stewart and James Bain, had come out from Scotland together.

We never knew our Grandad, Annie’s husband JFA ‘Frank’ Bland. They’d already lost the farms and the racehorses, and they’d moved to town. He had died aged fifty and Annie now owned the ‘Caltex Garage’, as we called it – one of the many petrol filling stations in town. At one time there were seventeen of them! Hers was on ‘Caskie Corner’, opposite our posh Town Hall which her father Stewart Bain had been instrumental in building.

At the time some called the town hall ‘Bain’s Folly’ as it was such an imposing structure for our modest dorp. I remember exploring inside it with fascination as a kid. High up in the rafters and steel gangways above the stage, with all sorts of ropes and chains hanging down and black curtains behind the red velvet main curtains; the backstage rooms, along the marble-floored passages past the toilets, the museum with the taxidermied animals – a lion, a vulture, what else? The galley above the main hall. I never did get up into the clock tower, come to think of it! Nor onto the outside balcony overlooking Warden Street. I wonder why? Locked doors?

HS Town Hall
Harrismith Town Hall Bain's Folly
Town Hall3

Annie always spoke with great admiration of her late husband Frank – the granpa we never knew – and told me proudly how she’d never seen his fingernails dirty. This as she looked mildly disapprovingly – probably more disappointedly, she never had a harsh word for me –  at mine. She called me Koosie and the way she pronounced it, it rhymed with ‘wussie’ and ‘pussy’, but don’t say that out loud.

The car she drove was like this one, except faded beige:

A Chevrolet Fleetline OHS 794, I’d guess a 1948 model. It had a cushion on the seat for her to see over the dash and under the top rim of the steering wheel.

She was born in 1893, the fifth of seven Bain kids of the ‘Royal Bains’ – meaning the Bains of the Royal Hotel. There were also ‘Central Bains’.

She went to St Andrews Collegiate School in Harrismith:

. . and then to St Anne’s in Pietermaritzburg where she played good hockey ‘if she would learn to keep her place on the field’. She’s the little one on a chair second from left:

Annie Bain, ? seated on chair 2nd from left
– Hmm, looks like St Anne’s in Pietermartizburg was a riot of fun and laughter! –

Some medals Annie won for singing in 1915 from The Natal Society for the Advancement of Music. Both say mezzo soprano and one says 1st Grade 1915.

HS Caltex

She ran the Caltex forecourt and the workshop at the back, where At Truscott fixed cars. She rented out the adjoining Flamingo Cafe and Platberg Bottle Store premises. At that time she lived in the Central Hotel a short block away across the Deborah Retief Gardens and I do believe she drove to work every day. Maybe drove back for lunch even?

Sundays were special with Annie as your gran. She’d roll up at our house in the big beige Chev, we’d pile in freshly sanctified, having been to church and Sunday school, and off we’d go on a drive. The back seat was like a large lounge sofa. Sometimes she’d drive to nowhere, sometimes to the park, sometimes cruising the suburbs. OK, the one and only suburb. Usually there’d be a long boring spell parked somewhere like the top of 42nd Hill overlooking the town and watching the traffic. Annie and Glick chatting away on the front seat and us sitting on the back thinking, OK, that’s long enough now. I’m sure they told us the whole history of Harrismith and who lived where and who was who and maybe even who was doing what and with whom. But maybe not, as they were discreet gentlefolk. All of which we ignored anyway, so I can’t tell you nothing!

Later she got a green Opel and for some reason – maybe after she could no longer drive? – it was parked on our lawn for long spells. I sat in it and changed gears on its column shift about seventy thousand times. Probably why I (like most males in their own opinion) am such a good driver today. It was a Kapitan or Rekord like this, but green and white:

Annie's Opel Rekord

Annie died in Harrismith in 1983 aged 90. Looked after to the end by her loving daughter Mary. Her husband Frank and elder daughter Pat had died around 1943 and 1974 respectively.

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The pic of the Town Hall with the green Chev is thanks to De Oude Huize Yard – do go and see their blog. They’re doing great things in the old dorp, keeping us from destroying everything old and replacing it with corrugated iron and plastic.

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Also from DeOudeHuizeYard, this information about the building that housed Annie’s school:

The Dutch Reformed dominee Rev A.A. van der Lingen began his years of service in Harrismith on the 6th May 1875 and remained there until the 12th July 1893.  He and the church ouderlings built a new church on the site of the original building. The cornerstone of the new building was laid on the 25th August 1892.

Five weeks prior to the unveiling of that stone, on the 14th July 1892, the town had enjoyed a four-day celebration of the momentous arrival of the railroad from Natal. The festival was paid for by a £5 500 donation by the Free State government! Harrismith was now online!

– Is this when the first train choofed in? Who was there? –

Around then the Rev van der Lingen ran for President of the Orange Free State. In the hope of impressing the townsfolk and swaying their vote in his favour, he built an impressive house, the first double-story building in Harrismith. The townsfolk seemingly were not impressed though, and he was not elected. Later, with the British occupation of Harrismith in the Anglo-Boer War, the military authorities made the double-story building their headquarters.

After the cessation of hostilities, Vrede House (Peace House) as it was then known, became St Andrews Collegiate School (1903-1918), then Oakland’s School and finally a boarding house in the 1930’s.

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Here’s some info and pics from the Imperial War Museum (IWM) of the bombing that killed Annie’s namesake, Annie Watson Bain in World War II in France, found by Bain descendant Janis Paterson, raised in Wick, now living in England:

– hospital at Etaples after bombing 1918 –

Filmed at a stationary hospital near Etaples, probably 9 Canadian Hospital three days after a bombing raid hit the hospital on the night of 31 May 1918.

*** – see IWM movie here – ***

The wooden huts of the hospital show various bomb blasts but little fire damage. Four coffins, covered in Union Jacks, are wheeled on trollies by soldiers.

A single coffin, also covered with a Union Jack on a wheeled trolley, is followed by a funeral procession of nurses, soldiers with wreaths, and a few civilians. – ** this could have been our Annie’s ** – The procession arrives at a temporary but extensive cemetery where a burial service is held.

Stills taken off the IWM movie:

Seeing the acres of graves and knowing about the “War To End All Wars” who would think mankind would go on to fight another World war just twenty years later – and then be at war continually after that up to today 2018 with no end in sight!?

Janis Paterson, Bain descendant, distant ‘cousin’, who keeps a photo record here, visited the cemetery in France and found Harrismith’s other Annie’s grave:

Our two Annie Watson Bains, first cousins from Harrismith, born of two Scottish brothers, both hoteliers in this small African town in the Oranje Vrij Staat, at that time a free and independent Republic:

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Footnote:

Maybe this Canadian sister attended our Annie in her last hours?

Edith Campbell, RRC, MM (1871 – 1951) was a Canadian nurse, one of the first to arrive in England in World War 1 to assist in the establishment of a field hospital. She served in both England and France, earning a number of medals, and was twice mentioned in dispatches. First she received the Royal Red Cross, first class, for her actions in England and France, and again for her bravery during enemy air raids at No. 1 Canadian General Hospital in Etaples, France, during which she attended to wounded nurses. For this, she and five other nurses received the Military Medal.

Her citation read:

For gallantry and devotion to duty during an enemy air raid. Regardless of personal danger she attended to the wounded sisters and by her personal example inspired the sisters under her charge.

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Footnote 2:

Janis Paterson loves flower arranging and has won cups at local shows. In 2014, one of the floral themes was related to the beginning of WW1.

Janis’ entry was a tribute to nurses like Annie Watson Bain and won the best in show award. The book in her arrangement “The Roses of No Man’s Land” is about those brave nurses.  She thinks that people often forget what nurses like Annie had to endure. The person escorting the judge told Janis the judge was almost moved to tears.  Isn’t it stunning:

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