A FLETCHER COLLECTION Web page under construction. Discussion is invited, - attention is called especially to questions in the
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 Ruins. Kaffir 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.
THE ORANGE FREE STATE PHOTOS
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
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
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