Northern Transvaal Survey      Data Capture/Research  Notes    Work in progress

In 1871 a German surveyor H.J. Grobler laid out a grid of farms in the Limpopo River valley on behalf of the Zuid-Afrikansche Republiek. (Peter Lindenmann: "Two Lives - The Political Destiny of a National Park".  http://pages.unibas.ch/afrika/limpopo_pdf/limpopo_lindenmann.pdf )  This is said to account for the German names of some of the farms -  Schroda, Breslau, Greefswald etc.  According to this article the farm Schroda, District of Zoutpansberg, Ward Mara,  for instance, was originally surveyed in April 1871, and was granted to a G.C. van Dam and resurveyed in September 1905. The survey was gazetted on 23 November 1906 and confirmed on 26 February 1907.

According to Pat's letter Tokwe Drift 10th December '04 "we have been going on now for five months fixing beacons", implying since early July '04.  "We would have finished all the work DuPreez and Grobbler handed over and next week go on with beacon finding by ourselves"

"We have written to DuPreez & Grobbler calling on them to point out more beacons - they will be in a rage as they intended returning in April - however I dont expect they will come out, although they are liable to be fined for not doing so: we are not anxious to have them as they delay us a lot not only that they eat us up as they are generally in our camp and never have a great variety of food in their own: they fully expected the beacons we took over would take us up to April to survey." 

From the letter it would seem from "the work....... handed over",  and "the beacons we took over"  that Fletcher and Espin had taken over and completed work already in progress. The phrasing  "calling on them to point out more beacons"  and "they will be in a rage as they intended returning in April"  also has a competitive ring to it. But his letters to SG refers to them as inspectors DuPreez and Grobler. In March 06 he refers to them   "Since the third of May (05) they have pointed out 390 beacons."

It is possible Grobler would not have liked returning to the area diring the rains/hot weather/mosquito season.? If this is the same Grobler who did the original survey in 1871,  thirty three years previously,  when he was say at least 25 years old, then Grobler must have been at least 59 years old in 1904. Perhaps the person sitting with walking stick in the photos.

But who is the guy in the white helmet.? He appears with the family in a lot of the photos. Espin with a beard and different hat??. Maybe he is Grobler?

In the letter to Edwards (Fletcher & Espin  surveyor in Bulawayo)  Pat in connection with a beacon survey problem says "as it has to be placed by our neighbours" - implying neighbouring surveyors?  In the same letter he says "My working plan is in Bulawayo but from a plan of river plotted in the field ...". How did his working plan get to Byo? It might have been taken there by Pat during his 1905 autumn break?. But it might have been taken by Ida after her winter visit?  It also might have been sent. Also there is a problem with the date on the Edwards letter.

In the letter Dear Mac Tokwe Drift he says re social plans for Xmas day:

                                              They had received an invitation from the manager of Grenfell Mine, about forty miles, distant.

                                               They had also received invitation from Potts[?} and Dickson, about forty miles to the West.   Were Potts[?] & Dickson neighbouring surveyors? 

Register of attendance. Red is absent.  (But Pat in Feb-May could have been in Transvaal with Ida {the Mara photos}  or back in Rhodesia???)        

            May04    Jun    Jul    Aug    Sept    Oct    Nov    Dec    Jan05    Feb    Mar    Apr    May    Jun    Jul    Aug    Sept    Oct    Nov    Dec    Jan06   Feb    Mar    Apr    May    Jun

Espin    E             E        E    E        E        E        E        E        E            E        E           E        E        E        E        E        E      E     E        E        E        E       

Pat        P             P       P     P        P        P       P        P         P            P        P           P        P        P        P        P        P        P      P    P        P        P        P        P              

Grobler                                                                                                                                    G        G        G        G        G      G    G

[DuPreez                                                                                                                                  D        D        D        D         D     D     D

Asst1

Asst2

Coetzee                                                                          C

 

  Potts{?} & Dickson - in the area Dec 1904

[Last edited: 20.1.2007]                        Tokwe Drift  [*1]

                                                10th Dec. 04 

 

Dearest Mac. 

 

              I am afraid this letter is all you will have of me at Xmas but it must not happen again - Bulawayo is too far from here - where the coach running it would be an easy matter: As a matter of fact you ought to be in Pietersburg where it would be easy to run down now and again: upon my word if we had a decent outfit it would pay for you to run down on the [illegible, paper fold. “mules”?] for three or four months as I dont see much chance my leaving the job, as far as I can see we must stick to it till we finish stopping for a few months is only prolonging the agony as it takes such a time to make a fresh start. We have now office work which somebody should attend to but can not be done in Bulawayo as we must be in touch with Pretoria: were you in Pietersburg I would go down there & do it. The worst of it is it would unsettle you wheras now you have a comfortable city & country residence - Well[?] I'm just longing to see you and the youngsters and would be quite happy if the date were fixed instead of going on in this uncertain way. [*2]

 

    I have not been out of the camp for the last six days - we have been going on now for five months fixing beacons not knowing whether they are in the right places or not so last week I struck and made up my mind that we must put it all on paper so I have had a week of it - office work made me miserable the first four days but I am just getting used to it; but we have to be off again tomorrow: it seems such a waste of time sitting in he veldt doing office work. Espin has been doing a lot of work the last three weeks - he has quite astonished me as I had thought it was not in him: We would have finished all the work DuPreez and Grobbler handed over and next week go on with beacon finding by ourselves and I think we will make a much better job of it. 

 

 This camp is about played out - we are being eaten up by flys so will have to shift if only to get rid of them: on the whole it has been a fairly good camp especially as we have had fish for nearly every meal this week; being out of meat the fish have come in very handy. 

 

       We are expecting a young donkey today or tomorrow - it will be a nuisance shifting camp as we will have to put it on the wagon - in January there will be half a dozen. 

 

    The stage the work has got to now necessitates an assistant and the probability is we will get one up during the week - we are both against having one but it cant be helped as there is too much to do for the two of us: it will be better also if one of us has to go away for a month or so - it is not a pleasant life to be by yourself for a month or two in this wilderness. The country west where we will work in the rains is supposed to be very healthy: Some years back a dutchman lived there with his cattle and had lived there for many years - they tell wonderfull yarns about him and his cattle - one is that when he wanted the cattle a blew a horn and they collected from all parts and came to his homestead. Once past the main road we will be nearer native kraals than from here so that we will be safe for labour. We are now sitting in sight of the Blaauberg and I often wish we were on top of them instead of in this godforsaken bush country. Unfortunately we only have a little work near them. Colenbrander has some Kaffir shops somewhere on them. 

 

 

 Wagons have passed every week on their way to Grenfell Camp so that we see a few strange faces once in a [?]. The manager of Grenfell's Mine has sent us over an invitation to Xmas dinner at which he promises to open a box of Champagne, but as it is such a distance we will not be able to go: a forty mile ride there and forty back for a dinner is hardly good enough. About thirty miles west of us Potts[?] and Dickson want us to come and spend Xmas: as they have mules and carts we tell them it would be easier for them to come to us - however I expect we will end up by having a day off and a midday dinner of the best we have in camp, which is not much. 

 

 Yesterday about fifty wildebeest came here to drink - it was a pretty sight and had I a camera would have got a very fine photograph

 

        

          We have written to DuPreez & Grobbler calling on them to point out more beacons - they will be in a rage as they intended returning in April - however I dont expect they will come out, although they are liable to be fined for not doing so: we are not anxious to have them as they delay us a lot not only that they eat us up as they are generally in our camp and never have a great variety of food in their own: they fully expected the beacons we took over would take us up to April to survey. 

          We cant stand the heat so are going to have a dip in the river - we may have more energy after a bathe.

          We are just back from our dip in the river - we have been lying in the water and sand for about an hour and feel very fit after it.

          We have just found out that we are out of tea & coffee so will have to [?] from the wine: the boy never tells us until we are out & Coetzee who is supposed to keep a stock but never knows.

 Bill [*3] is quite a stranger to me: I cant imagine him running about and trying to talk - however its a comfort to know you are all in a safe and healthy place. 

         My socks are all right - still have three pairs I have not used yet - there is always Espins big stock to fall back on he must have about twenty pairs - my only trouble is a hat of mine is worn out so I will have to send to Pietersburg for one. 

     

                                                                   P.O. Blaauwberg

                                                                   22nd September  05

The Surveyor General

          Pretoria

                             Sir

                                      I have the honour to suggest that you permit me to make use of the topographical survey of the Blaauwberg which, I understand, has been made.

If supplied with a plan of this topographical survey it can be located  in reference to farm beacons which will result in obtaining a more reliable approximation than sketching from farm beacons & stations of our own survey; the farms on the mountain being large there are very few beacons on the mountain consequently there will be few stations.

We will be surveying on the Blaauwberg before the end of the year and would be glad to be informed if the above information can be supplied.

 

                                      I have the honour to be

                                                Sir

                                      Your obedient servant

                                                P. Fletcher  

                                                                                                                                    7

 

                                                                                      P.O. Blaauberg

                                                                                                Dec 26 1905

 [S.G. Pretoria………..etc]                                                       

 

                   ……..honour to submit the data to our system of the Geodetic points lying in this section.

I should feel greatly obliged if you would inform me, as soon as the data is available, how this checks.What I am most anxious to acertain  is the relative consistency of the work.

We did not reduce our base to sea level

 

Pont Drift-Dojola          14329.49  Pont Drift 130deg 20min 56sec +163711 +26284.21

Dojola-Blaauberg          30613.75 Dojola          51       27        46      +173499 + 11955.05

Blaauberg-Dwarsberg 12049.56 Blaauberg    78        48       35     - 22340.92+30864.16  

Dwarsberg-Pont Drift  19357.46  Dwarsberg   99     22       43     -13200.79  +38715.91

                                     I have [………………..etc]

                                   

                                      WM Espin

 

                                                                                                          8

                                                                                        Blaauberg

                                                                                                Dec 26 1905

 [S.G. Pretoria………..etc]                          

 

                             ……..honour to forward  a tracing of the Geodetic Beacons falling in my district giving the results of Mr Espin’s triangulation; to this I have attached Mr. Espin’s letter referring to the subject.

 

                                      [………….etc]

                                                P. Fletcher

 

                                                                                                                        19

                                                                             Blaauberg

                                                                             29th March 06

 

[S.G.  Pretoria…………….etc]

 

                                      …………honour to forward you Sheet no 29 Sand River (north) Sheet 29A Rhodes Drift, Sheet Louis Trichardt, Sheet Blaauberg, and a tracing on which all the beacons in my section pointed out by inspectors J.R.H. DuPreez & H.J. Grobler are marked with letters in red which correspond with letters on my General Plans.

          Mr. DuPreez left his home on the 3rd May 1905 and returned to his home on 20th Nov. 1905.

          Mr Grobler left his home on the 3rd May 1905 & returned to his home on 2nd Nov. 1905.

During this period Mr DuPreez was absent for four days and Mr Grobler for fourteen days; but all their horses, transport & servants were in constant use by the remaining inspector.

          Since the third of May they have pointed out 390 beacons.

          The information given in Mr Espin’s letter dated 1st July 1905 is included in the above.

                                                [I have……………..etc]

                                                          P. Fletcher

                                                                                                                                    22

 

                                                                                      Blaauberg

                                                                                      4th April 06

 

[SG Pretoria…………..]

 

                                      …….forward by registered post the military sketches of Blaauberg.

 

                                                          [……….]    obedient servant

 

                                                          P. Fletcher

                                                                                                                        25

 

                                                                                      Pretoria

                                                                                      16th June 06

The  Manager

Standard Bank

          Bulawayo

 

                             Dear Sir

                                                Please pay to Fletcher & Espin credit warrant vouchers no 20314 & no 20228 the amounts being L 1136-0-0 &

L103-6-11 respectively. 

                                      Yours faithfully

                                                 P. Fletcher

                                                                                                26

 

                                                                                      Pretoria

[unaddressed]                                                                 16th June 06

 

I have forwarded two cheques {no 20314 & 20228 warrant vouchers} to be paid to F&E credit Bulawayo  Amounts being

 

Warrant voucher no 20228 Survey Northern  banks

          Crocodile River-General Plan no 2                         L103-6-11   [sic]

 

    “          “     no   20314  payment on account of

          work done today on survey Zoutpansberg

          Mining Area for Proclamation                                 L1136-0-0    [sic]

                                                                                      --------------

                                                                                      1239-6-11

 

                                                          PF

                                                                                                          27

                                                                             Pietersburg  19th June 06

 

[SG, Pretoria]

                      […………] request that cheques for amounts due to me  be made payable to the Standard Bank Bulawayo.  […………] obedient servant

                                                P. Fletcher

                                                                                                                                    4

 

It is hereby notified for general information that a commencement will be made by surveyor Fletcher on the 11th January 1905 with the survey of the undermentioned farms

 

Vergelegen

Langlaagte

Les Fontaines        1079

Springfield             1078

The Park               1077

Leipzig                  1071

Windhoek

La Rochelle           1080

Normandy             1081

Sweet Home                   1082

 

A meeting of all owners or their representatives will be held at the camp of the surveyor on the farm Leipzig on the above mentioned date for the purpose of arranging for the pointing out of beacons to the surveyor.

 

                                                                                                          5

 

It is hereby notified for general information that a commencement will be made by surveyor Fletcher on the 18th January 1906 [sic] with the survey of the undermentioned farms

Mont Blanc           1083

Bonna Esperanza   1088

De Villiersdale       1084

De la Roche          1087

Groene Punt          1092

Kirsten Spruit        1093

Mons                    1094

Non Parella            1086

Silver Myn             1086

Antbyl                   1689

Drie Kopjes           1690

Papegaai                1691

Krans Kop            1694                                                                                                                                                            [ A meeting…

A meeting of all owners or their representatives will be held at the camp of the surveyor on the farm MontBlanc on the above mentioned date for the purpose of arranging for the pointing out of beacons to the surveyor

                                                                                                         

 

                                                                                                          6

 

                                                                                      Blaauwberg

                                                                                      19th Dec  05

 

The Surveyor General

          Pretoria

                   Sir:

                             As requested in your wire dated 11th December 05, I have the  honour to forward copies of advertisements handed in to your office on the 4th Dec last.

          As the dates of meetings may have to be altered, I will be obliged if you can have the alterations to as early a date as possible, made for me.

                             I have the honour [ etc etc…]

                                      P. Fletcher                                                                                        

 

                                                                             Blaauberg

                                                                             24 Jan 05 [sic., error]

 

Dear Edwards

                             I am taking the liberty of writing to you privately re the last batch of omissions & errors you have forwarded us.

No. 6265  I don’t know how to describe the boundary in the footnote.

No. 6270  The line beacon of adjoining farm has to be placed by antrobus. It was an over sight on my part but I hope as it has to be placed by our neighbours it will be permissable to pass the diagrams.

No. 6275 & 6290 -  I don’t like inking in this contour as it might not seem correct – the only way I see of  relieving this contour from its present unhappy condition is to join it up as shewn in pencil on [N]oorburg no. 1453 and allowing it to escape over the eastern boundary as at present; it might then by an accident in country turn round the hill at [N]oorburg beacon  B as shewn in pencil on diagram Ryswyk no 1454.  Would not the joining up of the contour as in pencil on Noorburg be sufficient?; we only started contouring in this locality.

SG 205/H/13498 – Nos 6241, 45, 46, 47.

My working plan is in Bulawayo but from a plan of river plotted in the field (before coords were reduced) the relative position of river beacons & river boundary seems to be correct.  The river in any case should be correct as the coordinates of both river traverse & river beacons are plotted from the

4000 y axes – the only boundary line which does not depend on the 3000 y axes (viz BC  overvlakte) plots correctly. The shrinkage therefore appears to me to be between the 3000 & 4000 y axes.

If the diagrams have to be reframed I will be greatly obliged if you will hand them over to a draughtsman who can send them to me for signature.

I am wiring up to B’wayo about the careless plotting.

                                                Yours sincerely

                                                          P. Fletcher                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                    21

                                               

                                                                             Blaauberg

                                                                                      3rd April  06

The Surveyor General

          Pretoria

                  

                             Sir

                                      With reference to your letter no 3132 dated

20th March 06 I have the honour to supply the following information  as requested by you.

          Surveyor W.M. Espin was in the field on my section from

                                                                   May 1904 to Feb 1905

                                                                   April 1905 to Nov 1905

                                                                   1st Dec 1905 to Feb 15th 1906

             “          P. Fletcher was in the field from June 1904 to Jan 15th 1905

                                                                         June 1905 up to present date  

 

I employed two assistants in 1905 for about ten [?] months working directly under Mr Espin’s & my supervision.

                                                          I have the honour[……..etc]

                                                                   P. Fletcher  

                                                                                                                                    23

 

                                                                             June 13th 1906

 

The Transvaal Government

 

                                                Dr to

                                                          Fletcher & Espin

                                                                   Gov Surveyors

 

To triangulation over an area of

nine hundred square miles                                      900.  0.   0

To erection of forty six station                               184.    0   0

The survey of twelve miles of

river boundary on the Selele [?] River                     52       0    0

say 5200 roods                                                      ---------------

                                                                             1136   0     0

 

[Espin’s handwriting]

 

                                                                                                          24

 

                                                                             Pretoria [sic]

                                                                             June 13th 1906

 

The Surveyor General

          Pretoria

 

 

Sir

 

                   We have the honour to herewith enclose our account for work done up to date on the mineral area on which we are engaged.

 

                             We have the honour [………..]

 

                                      Fletcher & Espin

 

[Espin’s handwriting]