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Jamesonii – Barberton Daisy

The Gerbera jamesonii was discovered by Anton Rehmann in 1875 – 1880, but named in honour of Robert Jameson, who travelled in the Lowveld about 1885. He collected the plant at Moodies Estate, near Barberton. The epithet was proposed by Harry Bolus the curator of the botanical garden in Cape Town, but first published by Adlam 1888 and should be ascribed to him.

First Illustrations of the Barberton Daisy were published in the Gardener`s Chronicle in England in 1889.

The plant is described as follows: The roots are fascicled, whipcord-like, 1 –2,5 mm wide, the central part often reported as taproot-like. The crown is felted or villose. Several long-stalked spreading leaves, 15 to 42 cm long, in some cases up to 68 cm long and 4 to 14 cm wide.
The upper surface is dark green, the lower one waxy green, the leaves have very distinct ragged edges. The flowers grow on long single stems. and can reach a diameter of up to 75 mm in some cases even more. The colours vary from white to dark red with all variations in-between. The most prominent colour is orange-red. The pappus is creamy white to dirty white.

The plant is endemic to Mpumalanga and the Northern Province. Abundant in the Soutpansberg, on the slopes of the Makonjwa Mountains around Barberton, but also common in the districts of Witbank and Middleburg.

The Gerbera jamesonii grows from 500 to 1670 m above sea level in bushveld, on steep rocks with grass, on, dolomite soil, dolerite boulders and soil, stony clays, but also on burnt ground and other dry habitats, usually in some shade or under bushes and trees.

Flowering time is mainly from September to December, but it can be found flowering in any month of the year.

The common name is Barberton Daisy.

The Gerbera jamesinoii is easily recognised by the large, elegant capitula, the extremely large rays, and the large, pinnated, very longed stalked leaves. The species is the ancestor of all cultivated forms of Gerbera, or they originate from the cross Gerbera jamesonii/ Gerbera veridifolia, originally made by Irwin Lynch in Great Britain about 1890. The cross introduced a great variation-pattern, and already Dümmer (1914) could state a long list of cultivated hybrids. The rich colour-spectrum of the rays also in nature is indeed remarkable.

Gerbera jamensonii - First published drawing in the Gardener’s Cronicle in 1889

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Barberton Today

The southernmost town of the Lowveld in Mpumalanga, South Africa, is a tranquil, picturesque town nestled in the foothills of the Drakensberg range, the Makwonja Mountains.

This extremely panoramic area is fast becoming a favoured destination for adventure tourism, although history and nature lovers are adequately catered for. The tourism industry is underpinned by a wide variety of excellent and reasonably priced accommodation establishments and restaurants.

Barberton today is your destination for:

  • Historical houses
  • Museums
  • Heritage Walk
  • Gold panning
  • Goldmine
  • Underground tours
  • Monuments
  • Botanical variety
  • Scenic Drives
  • 3.5 billion year old geology
  • Umjindi jewellery project

Sports:

  • Horse riding
  • Paragliding
  • Quadbiking
  • 4×4 trails
  • Microlighting
  • Bird watching
  • Hiking trails
  • Sports facilities
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Swimming and many more

Annual Sport Events:

  • Jock Marathon
  • Jock Cycle Race
  • Mountain Bike Rally
  • Staffie Rally
  • Paragliding Championships
  • Daisy Golf Tournament

And of all, it is the home of the Barberton Daisy!

Barberton is a very pleasant residential town, offers very reasonably priced houses (which makes it a preferred area to settle in especially for people employed in Nelspruit), set amongst lush tropical gardens.

The town offers residents:

  • Both a provincial and private hospital, doctors, dentists, optometrists and para-medical services, vet clinics, public libraries
  • Magistrate’s Court and legal practitioners
  • Home Affairs office
  • High schools, primary- and nursery schools
  • Churches (over 50 denominations)
  • Sports facilities (including a 9-hole golf course)
  • A variety of clubs and organisations
  • A satisfying shopping variety including 3 major grocery stores
  • A cinema (100 seats)
  • Services sector banks, post office agency, professional services e.g. architects, brokers, etc. harbour department, veterinary services, security companies, petrol stations, etc.

Barberton’s Economy:

  • Gold mining with its supporting industries;
  • Services sector, e.g. a very large Correctional Services with both a Prison Farm and town prison (which featured in Bryce Courtney’s book “The Power of One”);
  • Commercial sector;
  • Forestry and woodworking (Sappi / Lomati woodworking plant is one of the largest in South Africa);
  • Training and upliftment: a lot of emphasis is placed on skills and vocational training of the local population to equip them for both the formal employment sector as well as the development of small, medium and micro enterprises, e.g. Umjindi Jewellery Project.

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Local Characters

A whole book might be written on the local characters of Barberton, who became well-known, some of them being regarded to-day as famous and even notorious. Men who achieved fame in other spheres, like Abe Bailey, Alfred Beit and Percy Fitzpatrick, began their professional life in early Barberton. Nearly every well-known name associated with South Africa’s early mining history had Barberton as their postal address at some time or another. Of these many famous human characters, only a few can be mentioned in this short survey.

One noted figure was Henry Culverwell, chairman of the Digger’s Committee at Moodies, who according to Sir Henry Graumann, was very fond of hearing his own voice. He owned a mule, which became as famous as its master. It attended all diggers’ meetings, knew all prospecting paths and the bars of the town, and was said to be invulnerable to sickness.. Finally, however, it did become sick, and young Grauman offered Culverwell a fiver for its chances. This was accepted, and to everyone’s surprise the animal recovered, and the speculator became famous as the owner of the coveted mule and the envy of all his friends.

One of the most voluble speakers at Moodies was the well-known character Ikey Sonnenberg, whose name was a household word throughout the Transvaal. He did not mind what he said, how he said it or to whom. On one occasion he told the diggers that he was quite prepared to support both sides in the dispute, because not knowing the minds of the judges he could not guess which side was going to win. He was an inveterate gambler, and the tale is told of how he once settled down to a quite game of cards with a congenial spirit, the stake being a row of cottages. Ikey won.

Percy Fitzpatrick, already mentioned, had a remarkable career. He was the son of Judge Fitzpatrick of Cape Town’s supreme court, and according to some was more Irish than South African. Before coming to Barberton he had been transport riding for some time at Lydenburg. Later he struggled against a period of ill-luck culminating in the loss of all his oxen, and he found himself stuck with his wagons in the Queen’s River, nine miles from Barberton. E was given a job in a Barberton broker’s office at15 a month and a little later was given charge of Lord Randolph Churchill’s transport on the expedition to Mashonaland. Subsequently he obtained a billet in Alfred Beit’s firm in Johannesburg. During the time of his employment in Barberton he wrote a clever and amusing column, “”Chat of the Camp””, in the local “”Barberton Herald””. It was at this time that he began to display the literary talent that was so fully developed in later years in his “”Jock of the Bushveld””


Percy Fitzpatrick

Sir Abe Bailey, one of South Africa’s leading financiers, started as a broker in Barberton. He soon proved himself a very clever business man, with a happy knack of smelling out the “”goods””. He became one of the town’s leading sportsmen. Later he was one of the first to realise that Barberton was on the down-grade, and was smart enough to clear off to the Witwatersrand whilst the going was good. He soon became famous as a financial expert and politician.


Stafford Parker

Another spectacular figure of early Barberton was Stafford Parker, whose name is well-known in the Transvaal. He had a flamboyant career, and in the very early days of the diamond fields occupied the position of president. At Barberton, where he was market master for a time, he enjoyed making speeches when not engaged in selling vegetables or superintending the accommodation of poultry, but it is said that his cabbages were undoubtedly superior to his speeches.

Among many mining notabilities were French Bob, a fine prospector and honest as the day, whose name was given to a mining locality in the de Kaap district; the celebrated “”Charlie the Reefer””; J.C. Rimer, after whom Rimer’s Creek is named; Aubrey Wools-Sampson the mining engineer, and many others. Sammy Marks, Jim Taylor, Mark Lowinsky and Alfred Beit were early citizens of the mushroom town. Everyone had a nickname, and among the better known were “”Harry the Sailor””, “”Rocky Mountain Thompson””, Charlie the Tinker””, “”Californian Wilson””, “”Yankee Dan””, and hundreds of others.

The Barber brothers have already been mentioned in connection with the founding and naming of Barberton, but the following tribute from I. Mitford Barberton’s “”Barber of the Peak”” deserves a place in this record:

“These hardy pioneers blazed many trails into the wilds. They were brave hunters and friends of all men. They founded Barberton in 1884 and were leading pioneers in Kimberley and Johannesburg. England were not England were her sons other than these…. They were well-liked and held in high esteem by all….Liberal with their money and advice, they were always helping the less fortunate and their characters were not impaired with the taint of gold. They lived for one another, which endured to the end, kept their destinies closely associated, and even in death they were not divided. They were interred in the Eldoret Cemetery in Kenya Colony.”


Cockney Liz

The place of David Wilson in the history of Barberton has already been indicated, and mention has been made of his successor as gold commissioner, the Dutch Reformed parson Johannes van der Merve. The names of other outstanding figures of the early days are perpetuated in local nomenclature, and we have Bray’s Golden Quarry Mine, Jamestown(after Ingram James), and numerous streets in Barberton named after well-known characters.

This chapter would not be complete without mention of those notorious females who came to Barberton in the eighties as barmaids in the local canteens. Trixie the Golden Dane, Florrie, and Cockney Liz were all bright specimen of their type, and were given fabulous presents by diggers to whom they offered their favours. One of the most popular entertainments was the nightly auctioning of Trixie and Liz by the market master, who had no option in this matter, for it was as much as his life was worth to refuse.

Many other well-known characters had a share in the history and development of Barberton. Apart from these, however, thousands of ordinary people, whose names are forgotten save by a few, played their part in the progress of the de Kaap Goldfields. To those members of the rank and file, among whom must be included the native labourers without whose exertion in a humble capacity the development of mining would not have gone on, we pay sincere tribute as we look back over the history of the town and district. Each in his own way has helped to place a brick in the building we see today as modern Barberton.

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The Swazi

Barberton

Before the white settlers came, the De Kaap valley was virtually uninhabited in the summer months due to various diseases, such as malaria. The Swazi, part of the Nguni group and consists of three groups: viz the beSuthu sibbes, which is called emsKhandzambili and the Mdzabuko (original group), lived on the surrounding mountains.

The first Paramount Chief was Matalatala Dlamini. He was succeeded by Sobhuza 1 and Mswati or Mswazi, from whom the name Swazi was dirived. The majority live in the Republic of South Africa and here mainly in the districts of Barberton, Piet Retief, Ermelo, Carolina and Nelspruit.

They are governed by their paramount chief, Ngwenyama, which means- Lion – and his mother, iNdlovukati, which means – Elephant cow – in cooperation with the licoco – the wise man – of the tribe. The liblandla ( gerneral assembly), consisting of the minor chiefs and men of the tribe rule on the advice of the licoco.

The village (kraal) is governed by the umnumzane (village chief) who is the head of the family.

A traditional village takes the form of a horse shoe with the cattle kraal at the ends of the horse shoe. The wife has her living quarters (indlu-nkhulu) directly behind the cattle kraal. There is an open space between the chiefs headquarters and the back of the cattle kraal known as libala (yard). The other women and other members of the tribe build their huts around the chiefs wife’s hut.

A hut unit consists of a large hut (beehive type) and two smaller huts, (emadladla) with a reed shelter (liguma) around the huts.

There are laws governing marriage and the polygamous system (more than one wife) is custom.

The festival of the first fruits, (inkcala) plays an important part in the economy of the Swazi. They are agriculturists and cattle farmers. The women cultivate the fields while the men tend to the cattle.

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Early Growth

Outstanding in the history of Barberton was he visit of the President, Paul Kruger, to the new goldfields in 1885. Wilson, the gold commissioner, was a little nervous of the unpredictable reception awaiting “”Oom Paul”” in Barberton, and warned him of possible hostility. But after a church service on the Sunday, the day after his arrival, he received the diggers with their complaints and grievances on the Monday, and completely forestalled them. The canny President, standing on a table, waved his interpreter aside and gave one of his very few speeches in excellent English. The effect was electrifying. The diggers took him to heart, and at his request drew up a formal petition which he promised to present to the Volksraad. They then stood him to typical digger’s champagne lunch, and sent him off chuckling homewards.

Activity on the fields increased daily. Capital and manpower poured into Barberton, and no less than 2.000 different reefs were discovered, named and worked. Most of them were poor, a few were profitable, one at least was sensational, the famous Golden Quarry, discovered by Edwin Bray, one morning in May, 1885. This find, the Sheeba Reef as it was called, became the most famous gold mine in the world. “”Not gold in rocks””, the whisper went around, “”but simply rocks incased in gold!”” The discovery was at once the greatest curse and blessing of Barberton. It turned a gold frenzy into utter mania. The fact that Bray’s Golden Quarry Mine yielded 50.000 ounces of gold from the first 13.000 tons of ore sent shares in the company from 1 Pound to 105 pounds each. 

All sorts of racketeers now jumped into picture. Claims were pegged indiscriminately along supposed extensions and deep levels of the Sheba Reef in all directions. Companies were floated with lavish capital. Other minor discoveries were magnified by the general infection into sensations of the hour. New villages and towns sprang up everywhere. In the centre of the numerous companies on Sheba Hill an ex-Durban butcher named Sherwood established a butchery and later the Queen of Sheba Hotel in December 1885. This became the nucleus of Eureka City, a town which, in 1886 had a population of about 650 diggers and three stores, three hotels, a dozen canteens, a chemist’s shop a baker, a race-track, a music hall and some doctors. But it was short-lived, and in due course vanished into the limo of the forgotten. Today it is simply a ruin.


Companies like the Kimberley Sheba and the Great Sheba were floated mainly on the strength of the resemblance of their name to the Sheba Reef. Beautifully printed prospectuses were displayed by these companies, and artistic illustrations showed ocean-going ships sailing up the Kaap River to collect cargoes of gold dug out by smiling workers. The history of most of these companies is still written large in the memories of British Investors, but that is more than can be said for any dividends from them. Fortunes were won and lost – but mostly lost.

The very frenzy of Barberton, it has been said, proved its downfall. It was a town built with the bricks of hope cemented by the mortar of imported capital. When the mortar crumbled the bricks collapsed and the town was ruined. Over-speculation and over-capitalization combined to reach a climax early in 1887, when investors realized they had lost 500.000 Pounds. Another 5.000.000 Pounds was invested in shares whose face value was only 1.800.000 Pounds and whose real value was next to nothing.

There was an immediate slump. People started to pour out as quickly as they had poured in. The barmaids packed their finery and followed the money to the newly-opened Witwatersrand. The streets were emptied,the tinkling pianos silenced.

By the end of 1887 only Sheba, the Oriental and a few minor enterprises continued substantial work,and Barberton existed on their earnings.

The Barberton fields were now eclipsed through the discovery of gold and the meteoric progress of gold mining on the Witwatersrand. As the adventurers departed for pastures new, they left a ghost town, a multitude of freshly-begun workings to scar the hills, and tumble-down shacks and hovels along the creeks and streams, their shutterless windows gazing blankly upon the advancing shrubs and bush.

The state of virtual decline persisted for many years. A few companies and individuals, however, retained their faith and interest in the Barberton fields, among whom were Thomas Andrews, who never lost faith in the potentialities of gold mining in the area, and E.C. Dicey, who by private enterprise kept the Consort Mine going with credit to himself and the district. To the enterprise and courageous efforts of such men must beascribed the revitalised activity which is manifest in Barberton’s mining industry today.

Yet few Barbertonians of today can regret the fact that Johannesburg and not Barberton became the great metropolis of the gold industry in our land. The very charm of modern Barberton, which is continually attracting people to come and settle within its narrow precincts, is its quiet beauty and its perfect combination of peace and prosperity. Spick and span and modern, it has become the centre of a prosperous farming activity, but with its pulse still set to the rhythm of the rusted mills whose clamour seems to haunt the creeks and valleys. What more could one desire?

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Founding of Barberton

Moodie, determined not to be robbed by a crowd of diggers, sent Henry Nourse, big strapping fellow, down to the goldfields from Pretoria as his agent. In spite of his physique, Nourse was not a little nervous to what the diggers might do to him, and decided to take an escort. Traveling by way of Lake Chrissie, he met a group of men hunting in the vicinity. There were two brothers, Fred and Harry Barber, their cousin, Graham Barber, and two friends, Edward White and Holden Bowker. They were much traveled hunters and adventurers, and when Nourse asked them to accompany him as a reinforcement, they responded willingly.


Graham Barber

Arriving at Moodie’s, they found the diggers tough but not unfriendly towards a mere spokesman. The Barber party, therefore, left Nourse to argue the case out, and having been infected by the gold mania themselves, wandered off into the valley prospecting. Stumbling into an isolated little creek covered by a drowsy indigenous forest in May 1884, they noticed a white thread of quartz up on the cliff side. They knew little of the appearance of gold, but scrambled up and took samples. And when the samples were crushed and panned they showed a fine result.

Excitedly they pegged their claims and moved their camp to a site at the mouth of the creek. A thousand other diggers, with their ears to the ground, heard the rumour, and a new rush began. It was the greatest of them all up to that time, and Moodie, his reefs and his extortion, were within a short time contemptuously abandoned.

David Wilson, successor to the former gold commissioner Ziervogel at Kaapsehoop, came down to collect claim fees. His own words tell of the founding of the town of Barberton.

“”With the proving of Barber’s Reef a new era may be said to have begun on the fields. I had communicated the facts of the find to the Government, who instructed me to take the necessary steps to declare the vicinity of the discovery a township. So in February, 1884, in the presence of several diggers, including Messrs. Ede, Newmarsh and Taylor, I broke a bottle of gin – champagne being unobtainable – on the rock containing the gold bearing quartz, and named the prospective township Barberton, after the discoverers of the Reef.””

The date has been challenged, and was almost certainly June 24th of the same year. But the event is well authenticated.

Within a short time the two weatherbeaten tents of the Barber party were surrounded by a thousand others. Wagons were outspanned everywhere, and men were beginning to erect shacks along haphazard streets which originated, and were influenced in their direction, by the establishment of innumerable canteens. Along these streets bustled a throng as varied in typ and mood as only that excitable company can be who pursue the will-o’-the-wisp of gold. Men of every language could be heard mixed with the broad dialects of England, the tang of America, the whine of Australia and the homely Afrikaans of South Africa.

Well-dressed speculators and representatives of wealthy syndicates jostled with stiffs and chancers who had tramped to the fields without a shilling in their pockets. Plump-looking rogues sat side by side with gaunt prospectors who each knew with certainty “”the best thing on the fields””. Everywhere was an endless excited murmur of sound underlined by the muffled echoes of dynamite explosions in the surrounding hills.

Throughout the twenty-four hours heavy transport wagons rumbled through the streets loaded with supplies and all the impedimenta of mining. Hordes of pack donkeys and mules, as varied in character as their human owners, thronged the township, each laden with the tools, the pots, the dixies and the blankets of the diggers and prospectors. Once arrived on the field the fortune-seekersscattered to their various occupations. Methods of recovering gold were both ingenious and laborious, and in the first few months clever and original operations were carried out. Crude dolleys acted as mills, and the crushings were panned in water led from distant streams in long races. The optimistic digger hoped for results as high as seventeen ounces to the ton, but the average output from a good claim was seldom more than one and a half ounces.



Proper mills soon began to arrive on the field, J.T. Rimer brought up a 10-stamp battery which he erected in the Umvoti Creek (ever since called Rimer’s Creek), and with the Barbers and sincerely Newmarsh organized a syndicate to work the Barber’s Reef. Several other mills were soon established, and scores of reefs, good, bad and indifferent, were discovered by the prospectors. More and more shops were built, and canteens and bars reached the unparalleled proportion of one to every fifteen persons. Stylish liquor joints were built, and Barberton soon boasted of the Kentish Tavern, the Marble Arch and the Horse-shoe.

Boxing booths, bowling alleys, billiard saloons and music halls sprang up. On July 17th, 1887, the Royal Albert Hall was opened, providing concerts, billiards and of course a bar. Canteen men began importing barmaids, who, legend has it, were all very beautiful, and they fattened on the proverbial generosity of the excited diggers. Some of the more settled type of diggers brought their wives, and with the gradual advent of family life Barberton began to settle down in preparation for a sober maturity. But it was to have one or two final flings before it left its hectic youth behind.

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Early Beginnings

The Early Years

The story of the first attempts to mine alluvial gold in the vicinity of De Kaap is lost in the mists of antiquity. It is fairly
certain that long before the white man found his way to what became known successively as the Valley of Death and the Valley of Gold, the area had already been worked for the precious metal by various Bantu tribes. Who these people were no one knows, for the present Swasi had conquered the older Sotho Baka nGonane inhabitants, who in their turn had succeeded the Karanga people. But those in the vanguard of the first gold rush in 1882 found that the area had been well prospected for alluvial gold in the past years, and for a time all that was needed was to open up these old workings and extract what they could with more modern methods of recovery.

The first European on record to have come to the valley in search of gold was the famous prospector, Tom MacLachlan. One of the most energetic of all South African prospectors, he had roamed into the De Kaap as early as September 1874. But he did not stay at that time, moving on beyond the mountains into the wilds of Swaziland.

It was another eight years before the first rumours of a discovery of gold in the region of De Kaap began to spread abroad. A number of diggers, anxious to make their fortune quickly, soon arrived at Elands Hoek, the reported scene of the discovery, only to find that the rumours were all a swindle of some enterprising farmer trying to boost his property’s value. The disgruntled men scattered into the wilds, and one party arrived at what is now Kaapsehoop. They were more fortunate, and it was not long before the news spread that gold was being mined in payable quantities at Duivels Kantoor, as the mountain was then called.

There was an immediate rush to the spot. At the first news of alluvial goldfrenzied diggers clambered over the hills from all directions. With them came the canteen-keepers, the inevitable impedimenta of all diggers. A particularly wild crowd started to pour in from the Kimberley diamond fields. Some of the toughest characters ever to come to South Africa found their way to these alluvial diggings, and early in the rush gunplay was popular and murder not uncommon. The gold was not so plentiful as had been hoped, and in their frustration the diggers drank, quarreled and fought with each other.

The din soon penetrated to Pretoria and the government hastily sent a commission of investigation. General Joubert and Eduard Bok, The State Secretary, arrived in July 1882 with an escort of artillery. They found about fifty men, canteen-keepers, store men and what-not, living in a camp pitched among the mighty boulders which are so prominent a feature of the area, while a thousand diggers were grubbing around in the neighbourhood. They attempted to bring some order into the chaos by appointing a temporary gold commissioner, one Ziervogel, but the diggers did not take him very seriously.

By November the camp at Kaapsehoop had grown to some thirty canteens and a dozen stores. There was a tin shack housing the commissioner and a sort of goal consisting of a set of stocks chained to some rocks. But gold finds continued to be meager, and disgruntled prospectors began to quit the place in favour of the valley below. All along the edge of the Berg and across the flats they wandered, finding small strikes as they went and provoking short-lived rushes. Most of these yielded little save disappointment. Famous prospectors like Charlie the Reefer, French Bob, Ingram James and Tom MacLachlan, who had returned to the scenes of their early wanderings, went off on their own and claimed to have discovered rich strikes. But they kept them a close secret.

However, the truth must out eventually, and early in 1883 Harry Culverwell found French Bob party’s working on the banks of the North Kaap. He pegged his claims, told others, and led the rush into the valley. Within a few months a fair sized town of tents and shacks had sprung up on the banks of the river. Jamestown it was called, after Ingram James, the actual discoverer of the alluvial, and it was the first European settlement in the De Kaap Valley.

About one hundred diggers flourished in Jamestown, and most of the well-known men of the De Kaap Valley stayed there for a while, it being a sort of depot for prospecting in the area. But it was a feverous little place, and some great characters prospected death there. French Bob and his partners, however, quit Jamestown as soon as it was rushed by the rabble, wandering off to fossick among the creeks and gullies of the Makwonja Range. And here, on a private farm belonging to G.P. Moodie, they found the richest strike so far discovered in the valley.

They decided to keep their find a secret, get in touch with Moodie and arrange terms with him, and raise finance for a proper company. But when they started to dig a water-race to enable them to work the alluvial at the bottom of the reef, the news of the strike became known. In an astonishingly short time the story traveled, not only throughout the valley but to the ends of the earth, attracting to South Africa the greatest flood of fortune-seeking humanity since the discovery of diamonds. Three camps were quickly established, Moodie’s Upper, Middle and Lower Camps. Then serious trouble flared up between Moodie and the diggers, which dragged on for years. And out of this long and fierce struggle Barberton was born.

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Robert Jameson

1832 – 1908

Robert Jameson

Robert Jameson was born in Scotland in 1832 at Kilmarnok. As a youth, he had to accompany his father’s regiment. He stayed for 8 years in Gibraltar and after that for 4 years in Canada. His parents had chosen a military career for him. However, he changed his mind and eventually he landed in Durban in 1856. A few years later he started his own company, manufacturing condiments, preserves etc. which employed a large amount of labour, turning out goods which were known throughout South Africa and which were even exported to Canada and Australia. Jameson’s Jam, the business was started in his private house.

In 1868, he first evinced interest in arboriculture. As a Councillor, he suggested tree planting in the streets of Durban. In addition, several parks even up until today bear testimony to his forethought and contributions. In 1877, first watering-carts were put on main streets at his suggestion, and in 1880, he was nominated for mayor, but, as he resided outside of Borough, he was ruled ineligible. As the Chairman of the sanitary Committee for more than 20 years, Robert Jameson worked most strenuously for the improvement of conditions in Durban. He has been associated with the Town Council for over 30 years, mainly as a Councillor, and as a Mayor from 1895 to 1897. Since 1895, he also served a representative from Durban Co. on the Legislative Council. For a period of 10 years, he served as an officer in the Durban Mounted Rifles and was awarded a Zulu War Medal.

First plant sent to Kew by John Medley Woods, collected by Robert JamesonFirst plant sent to Kew by John Medley Woods, collected by Robert Jameson

In 1867 he became a member of the Natal Botanical Garden Committee and contributed packets of seeds to the garden from time to time.

When news of the rich gold strike at Moodies near Barberton reached Durban in 1884, Jameson and a Mr. Penningsfield formed the Moodies Gold Mining and Exploration Company and trekked to the new goldfields. Robert Jameson evidently returned to Durban shortly afterwards, taking with him plants of a Gerberas, which grew in profusion near the diggings, as a contribution to the Botanical Garden. John Medley Wood, curator of the Garden since 1882, sent plants to Kew in 1888 and one survived to be figured in Bot.Mag.t.7087, 1 November 1889. Harry Bolus had collected the same species during a visit to Barberton in October 1886 and suggested to J.T Hooker that it should be called Gerbera jamesonii.

Also read Jameson’s “Rought Notes of a Trip to the Transvaal Goldfields” (opens in new window).

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