Monday, April 25, 2011

A little bit of South African and family history

The father of my mother in law Eva Annie Saunders (Nee Gover) and mother of my husband Edward was sent from the U K to work on the mines in the Transvaal in 1895. Eva and her sister Martha remained somewhere near Bristol until they were called by Charlie Gover, their father to come to South Africa. The letter I am about to print was written by Charlie from a mine during the time of the Jameson Raid

The Jameson Raid (29 December 1895 - 2 January 1896) was a botched raid on Paul Kruger's Transvaal Republic carried out by a British colonial statesman Leander Starr Jameson and his Rhodesian and Bechuanaland policemen over the New Year weekend of 1895-96 . It was intended to trigger an uprising by the primarily British expatriate workers (known as Uitlanders) in the Transvaal but failed to do so. The workers were called the Johannesburg conspirators. They were expected to recuit an army and prepare for an insurrection. The raid was ineffective and no uprising took place, but it was an inciting factor in the Second Boer War and the Second Matabele War. (taken from Google)

The original of Charlie Gover's letter is so old and written on very thin paper that photocopying was impossible.I have typed word for word and without punctuation his letter.

Middle Vlei

Deep Level Gold Mine Co

Jan 3rd 96

My Dearest wife and children.

I must now take great pleasure in writing you a few lines trusting they will find you quite well as I am thankful to say that I am the same. We are having exciting times out here but I expect you know more about it by the papers than I can tell you as we are so far from town we cannot get any news of the operation except from the Dutchmen who are riding home from the fight and they tell us so many different tales we cannot believe what we hear. All the mines are shut down ours included but 3 of us had the offer of stopping out here to keep the water out of the mine, one engin driver, the compound manager and myself and I decided to stop because if I went to the town I should have to take up arms and fight or starve and out here we have no arms to fight with so if we go under it will be out of sheer spite as we shall not be able to defend ourselves, but I don't think it is at all likely that will happen as there are several friendly Dutchmen here. You mut not fret or pine about me as I am in Gods hands and what he wills is best so let us put our trust in Him and if you do not get another leter from me for sometime you must not give up for lost as all communication will be cut off from us. The Manager promised to come out as often as he could and bring our letters and take the same but he could not promise when he would come. Very likely the row will stop in a day or two and it might keep on for months.We cannot tell. You must see the papers and then you will be able to tell how we are getting on better than we can tell ourselves, we are right out of the way of the fighting and we shall run run rather than fight.. You must remember me to all enquiring friends and remember me to father and mother and miss Eva and Martha and tell them to be good girls and God Bless you all from your loving husband Charlie.

I think the next bit was probably a P S.

Dear Annie you must tell Dave that I wish him joy in his married life and hope that he and Amy will have many happy years together and tell him I bought a body belt from one of the boys* it is a money belt what the boys carry round their body with their money in and as soon as things get settled I will send it to him.

We have killed a sheep today to feed on and we have got 9 sacks of mealy meal that is Indian corn ground so we shall not starve.

* black mine workers.

This is a photo of Charlie Gover

1 comment:

  1. It seems surprising that an old photo can look so clear after such a long time. Charlie Gover must have survived the unrest?