Port Elizabeth of Yore: Fort Frederick

It is fair to say that the origin of Fort Frederick was more a response to political tensions in Europe rather to local enmity between the Dutch frontiersmen and the Xhosa tribesmen. While the latter upheavals arose as the vanguard of the Dutch boeren [Afrikaans boere] approached the advancing Xhosa tribesmen, the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 had plunged the western world into a protracted period of war. 

This blog traces the fascinating history of Fort Frederick from its inception until the present time. 

Main picture: Fort Frederick dated 12 March 1905

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Algoa Bay before the Settlers: Sojourn by Henry Lichtenstein in the Early 1800s

Most of what is nowadays known as the Eastern Province was devoid of whites prior to the arrival of the 1820 Settlers. Notwithstanding that fact, a sprinkling of intrepid Dutch farmers did farm in the area between the Gamtoos River and the Great Fish River. By all accounts, it was a precarious existence at best. Not only were they at the mercy of marauding bands of black tribesmen but they were also in danger from large predatory animals.

In spite of all these clear and present dangers, numerous indomitable adventurers also traversed this treacherous landscape. One such person was Henry Lichtenstein, a German medical doctor and a professor of natural history at the University of Berlin.

This is his story as recorded in his book entitled Travels in Southern Africa in the years 1803, 1804, 1805 & 1806.

Main picture: Henry Lichtenstein  Continue reading

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Captain Jacob Glen Cuyler

Spare a thought for explorers, adventurers and soldiers of the nineteenth century. Nothing today comes close to their sense of isolation from their family and friends as these intrepid souls departed from their hometowns. It is reasonable to assume that the departing spouse was non-contactable the moment that they were out of view. 

One such character was Jacob Glen Cuyler who would arrive in South Africa via an extremely circuitous route & who would become an important character and played a prominent role in the settlement of the British Settlers in the Eastern Cape. 

His assistance to the arriving settlers is commemorated in a street adjacent to Fort  Frederick, known as Cuyler Crescent.  

Main picture: Captain Jacob Glen Cuyler

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