A FLETCHER COLLECTION            Web page under construction.  Discussion is invited, - attention is called especially to questions in the

                                                                      O.F.S. material. 

The Photo Album

 Page                       No of photos                Subject

 1                                1 (+ 1 missing)          Pat Fletcher & Clem White, + two piccanins,  outside hut ("First Office" Bulawayo. 1893 (?)

2                                 0 (several missing)

3                                  1 (1? missing)         Agency Chambers, "Third Office of Fletcher & Espin", (dated  (Peter?) 1905.  Missing photo dated 1900

4                                    2                            Suburbs.  The two PF ? houses

5                                   2                             The disputed "Umvutcha house."  The little house with prickly pear, gaku, windmill. - ( Rinderpest house?)

6                                    3                            Main St looking North (composite) from top Agency Chambers.    Byo hospital.

7                                    3                            Main St looking South.     Simms, Bob McD. Byo laager.   Khami Ruins

8                                    4                            The Laager,  Market Square.   Eland,     Giraffe with halters.   Gambo's kraal

9                                    4                            Arrived in Byo 1894.    Gwelo Troop 1896.  Khami RuinsKaffir Kraal

10                                   3                            The Laager, Market Sq., distance view.       Bob McD. on horse.      Mangwe Pass

11                                   3                            Coach Leaving Geelong 226.   Kaffirs in Thatched Lookout.   Rhode's Grave.  Shangani Memorial

12                                    6                           Pat to Boer War. First Train in Byo. Pat to BW.  Pat to BW.  Bob McD on horse, dog on rock.  Pat to BW

13                                   4                            Shifting Camp Crocodile Pools.  Pat to BW.  BW troops.  Pat to BW.    [BW Pat Composites]

14                                    4                            Kopjes.  Building Fort at Crocodile Pools Sation.  Kopjes.   Kopjes

 15                                    1                           Rhodes and Cronies. 1896 - "Et In Arcadia Ego"

16                                    2                            Fort Figtree, 1896.     Grand Hotel, Byo

 17-43 inclusive.        101                            The Northern Transvaal Survey.        Details below. 

  44                              1                            ? (in pencil 1893)

  45-49 inclusive          17                          The Orange Free State photos.     

50-57(?)                        44                        Domestic & Family,  Suburbs,  Umvutcha?, picnics.  pp            Some are linked on the Opening Page

58-59                            8                            First(?) aeroplane in SA circa 1909. (where?).   East London  docks   and Beach scenes  



    Ida developed and contact printed her own photographs. It is almost certain she took the photos with a Kodak box Brownie, a type of camera Kodak

brought out about 1901 and sold for fifty years or more. Her prints are often disinguished from those of others by their colour. Ida's, like her dress, are whiter.

This is because she washed them better  The others are more yellow.

     The photos from the OFS predate the Box Brownie. But the Northern Transvaal photos, and the Bulawayo family snaps were probably made with it.

 Kenneth  also probably had one at that time:           Sold photos.            Printing photos.  

    Looking back, this is the camera that lay around at Zimbile for donkeys' years. She later had a  VPK (= Vest Pocket Kodak) that came out 1912??. It was

stolen from  the car in East London in 1949.




   Pages 45 to 49 inclusive. There are 17 photographs.. On  pp. 49 there is a somewhat formal group photo which includes RA & Pat with a number of men, on

a verandah. As though marking some occasion or association. This photo does not seem part of the OFS ones.

    Peter always referred to these as his mother's pictures.  In retrospect it seems likely he did not know much about them. In fact he used only to point out the

group of six men  and the one with "Virginia" written on a hillside, and tell the improbable tale given below. That the McDonalds come into the picture I have only

 recently discovered for myself.  The photos of  bridge building he simply referred to as bridge building in the OFS,  and the ones of dead buck he simply passed

over with silent disapproval.

    The subject matter

                                  a) Photos of bridge building over a river. Piers under construction  A steam locomotive on a low level bridge. A high bridge with slender

                                     outline.  It is probable these photos were commercial prints. One photo bears the probable date of  Nov. 1891  (A slight uncertainty.

                                     Negative printed upside down?). But these prints could have been taken/acquired at a different time to the others

                                   b) General bokskiet photos. Pat can probably be identified in two. 

                                   c) Two photos of a room with dining table, chairs, guns on the walls, a writing desk etc.  There are Martini Henrys, shotguns and Pointer

                                        dogs in the Bokskiet photos (unremarkable). There are Pointer dogs in  g) below. There is also  a  Pointer asleep under the seat of the

                                        man in the centre of d) below - probably not visible in these scans.

                                        The chairs in the Interiors are the same as the chairs in f) below.

                                        The order normally expected in a bachelors' mess has clearly been disturbed in these photos - by visiting females, I would suggest.

                                    d) A Group of  Six Men sitting outside a cottage.   "The Virgins".

                                                The story goes that the six men (Pat is on the extreme left) working on a survey job together were all bachelors - and that is how

                                                the town of Virginia got its name.

                                    e) A distant view of a small low hill with "VIRGINIA" written in white on its side.

                                    f) A group of three women and one man on a verandah. Two of the women are sitting on a hammock. The one in a white dress is almost

                                        certainly Ida McDonald. Next to her is possibly Annie?. An elderly women sits in a chair.  A man  in the background. Maybe Pat??

                                        If  Ida and possibly Annie visited a bachelor establishment in OFS circa 18?? it is unlikely they would have just chaperoned themselves.

                                        Their mother had been dead a long time, and Annie had filled her role at home. Who could the elderly woman in a chair  have been, if

                                        she was with them?  Annie and RA married June 1891. Is it possible the elderly woman is Agnes.?

                                     g) A group sitting outside a cottage. Almost certainly the same elderly woman. Almost certainly the "possible Annie." Maybe Pat??

                                        Another man from the Group of Six Men?? Did Ida take the photo? I am unable to positively say this is the same cottage as the one in

                                        the photo of the Six Men. There appear to be differences.(?)


THE NORTHERN TRANSVAAL SURVEY.               Section in preparation

    Fletcher & Espin were awarded a contract by the Pretoria Government - (this was shortly after the Boer War, but before Union) - to survey about

100 farms in the Blaauberg region of the Northern Transvaal. My understanding from Peter is that Pat sold his Pioneer claim farm, Fletcher's Farm in

Filabusi,  to finance the contract.  

    Ida, probably in the winter of 1905, took Sheila and Peter down to the Transvaal to live in the bush camps with Pat and Espin while the survey was progressing.

The section of the album dealing with the Northern Transvaal contains  photos  from the veld, but also a number taken in some outpost or small community, presumably

in the same general area. On these pages Peter used to just say "Mara", explaining everything. It is possible Ida was taken there when she had fever. (?). Some of the buildings

in these photos are are substantially made. In the photos of  reedy river banks with children and others, it is possible the people were from this outpost. It seems certain also that

some of the photos of  Ida's children were also taken here. A large hill or mountain either dominates or can be seen in the distance in many of the photos, by which they can be linked.

Pat's letter of 1904, and his correspondence with the Pretoria Government either mention the Blaauwberg, or give it as an address.

 Pat's letter to Ida,  Tokwe Drift  10th December 1904, should be read as an introduction to the photographs. 


Page                       No of photos                Subject

17                            5                                    Outspanned buckboard, Driver, Peter, Ida standing, Sheila, Maid. In the open. 

18                                                                  Cart under canvas, Sheila, Ida, Peter, Maid.  Dogs. 

19                            4                                    Tent, cart under canvas, wagon.      Wagon Repairers

20                            4                                    Dutchman & his goats

21                            4                                    Crocodile/Limpopo  riverbed camp

22                            4


24                            4                                    Sheila, Pat, Peter under shade.

25                            4 (1 missing)                   "Mother on strecher to Doctor"

30                                4                                 Ida with fever (malaria), carried to doctor. - Composites.



33                                                                   "Billy coming out of oven

38                                                                    Mara

39                                                                    Theodolites and Baobab.

40                                                                   Large Group sitting.

42                                                                   "One of the Children is Merensky".

43                                                                   Pat Fletcher & Bill Espin against baobab.     Pat,  Ida's shadow,  .303

In Peter's Album                                             Pulling oxwagon