|Place of Burial:||Grahamstown, Western District, Eastern Cape, South Africa|
|Birthplace:||West Ham, London, Greater London, England|
|Death:||Died in Grahamstown, Western District, Eastern Cape, South Africa|
|Occupation:||Joiner cabinet maker later Clerk of St George's Church - Grahamstown (1829 -1837)|
|Managed by:||Meryl Marjorie Smith|
John Henry's Top Matches
About John Henry Dixon, SV/PROG
1820 British Settler
John Henry Dixon 32, joiner and cabinetmaker, was Leader of his Party of 48 Settlers on the Settler Ship Ocean, together with his wife Margaret Waldon 36, and their 4 children.
Party originated from London.
Departed London, 13 December 1819. Arrived Table Bay, Cape Town - 9 March 1820. Final Port - Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth - 15 April 1920
Area Allocated to the Party : Waaiplaats on the kaffir Kraal River.
- Mary Dixon 9
- Emma Dixon 6
- Eliza Dixon 4
- Sarah Dixon 2
JOHN HENRY DIXON 1786 - 1874 1820 Settler To South Africa - by Clarence Dixon Taylor
John Henry Dixon was born May 28, 1786 at West Ham, Essex County, near London, England. He was the son of Thomas Dixon and Sarah (Elizabeth) Dixon.
The period in which John Henry was born seemed symbolic of his later course in life. It was a period of revolution and change. At this time Britain officially recognized the complete independence of the United States at the signing of the Peace Treaty in Paris in 1783. And in the year 1787 the Constitution of the United States was inspired and framed in its broad form. In England, the industrial revolution was just commencing; for in Nottingham in 1785 a cotton mill had just installed the first steam engine to drive its machinery. In July of 1789 the French Revolution began by the storming of the Bastille in Paris.
John Henry Dixon married Margaret Waldon, who gave birth to the following girls while still living in England: Mary born in 1811, Emma born in 1814 and married Charles Pinchin Webber, Eliza born in 1816 and married Sargent, Sarah born in 1818 and married Atkins. Their only son, William Henry Dixon, was born November 24, 1821 in South Africa, and was later married to Emily Emberton Anderson.
Early in the 19th century, Great Britain was experiencing an adjustment period, both socially and economically, with a shift of the industrial population from their work in the cottage industries to the large factories located in the towns and villages. This fast and uncontrolled growth of the towns resulted in inadequate, filthy and sub-standard living conditions for the workers, which in turn caused much dissatisfaction amongst the workers and their families.
The return of 300,000 soldiers from the victorious Napoleonic War in 1815, all seeking their former positions, and the termination of all war contracts and subsidies, which resulted in further unemployment; as well as the crop failures on the farms - all contributed to the general prospects of a major depression.
With such a dismal economic picture, it is understandable that many persons, including John Henry Dixon, began to think and investigate the possibilities of emigrating to a new land. For several years, America had been a land of opportunity and a great many people all over Europe had gone to the United States Colonies to make their living as well as a home for their families.
With the loss of the United States Colonies in 1783, the British Government was against opening up new colonies and encouraged expansion of the existing colonies in Canada, Australia, India, or the newly acquired Cape of Good Hope.
Up to 1819 the British Government looked upon emigration as a drain on its manpower and wealth, rather than a cure for its domestic problems. Inquiries received for information on emigration were never answered. Curt, discouraging or even disrespectful answers were given in reply. Requests for Government aid in settling newly acquired territory was bluntly refused.
Grahamstown (birthplace of Henry Aldous Dixon) in the year 1819 was the chief military centre of the Cape frontier in South Africa. In April 1819, 10,000 Kaffirs in broad daylight, made an attack on Grahamstown. With a garrison of only 400 British Soldiers, they were very fortunate in driving the native invaders out of the Cape Colony back to Kaffirland. Just how long the British Soldiers were going to be able to hold the natives in the irrestrictive area was a most vexing and doubtful problem. To maintain more troops and strengthen military posts was going to be a very costly operation for the British Government.
The Cape of Good Hope was very important to the British Government as a "half way house" between England and India. All vessels going to the Far East or around the Cape stopped long enough to replenish their supplies and fill their tanks with fresh water. Here a naval base was maintained for the protection of Britain's vast fleet of merchant and naval vessels.
In order to further protect the Cape of Good Hope from the native invaders and to retain it for its geographic location, a less costly plan than garrisoning a large troop of soldiers here was presented by the Governor of the Cape, Lord Charles Somerset. He recommended to the British Parliament that they appropriate 50,000 pounds ($250, 000) for the colonization of the unoccupied Zuurveld with 4,000 British Subjects. Although the Settlers were unaware of it, the real "purpose of this plan for a new settlement, was to establish a sturdy and reliable human buffer between the war-like Kaffir tribes on the east, and the European Colony on the Western perimeter of the area".
The people of Great Britain took to this colonization plan with great enthusiasm. Literature and public meetings were presented in all parts of the Country.
John Henry Dixon in the year 1819, was a very industrious and enterprising man of 32 years. He was following his chosen profession of a joiner (specialized carpenter). At this time he was living at No. 8 Mutton Road Lane, Mile End Road, London, England, with his wife Margaret and four young daughters. After having obtained some of these Government pamphlets publicizing the free land in South Africa, he attended one of the meetings being held near his home. Thus the spirit of his day - - -for freedom - - -for wealth - - - to contribute to the growth of a new country - - - and a change to a better way of life, presented itself in these Government announcements of free land, it offered a future life of wealth and ease at the Cape of Good Hope.
Not having received sufficient details of the plan at the meeting, John Henry requested additional detailed information regarding emigration to the Cape of Good Hope when he applied to the Colonial Office at Downing Street, London. The following circular was sent to him:
Downing Street, London, 1819
" I have to acquaint you in reply to your letter that the following are the conditions under which it is proposed to give encouragement to emigration to the Cape of Good Hope. "
"The sufferings to which many individuals have been exposed who have emigrated to His Majesty's Foreign Possessions, unconnected and unprovided with any capital, or even the means of support, having been very afflicting to themselves, and equally burdensome to the Colonies to which they have proceeded, the Government has determined to confine the applications of the money most recently voted by Address in the House of Commons, to those persons who possessing the means, will engage to carry out at least ten able-bodied individuals above eighteen years of age, with or without families, the Government always reserving to itself the right of selecting from the several offers made to them those who may prove, upon examination, to be most eligible. "
"In order to give some security to the Government that the person undertaking to make these establishments, have the means of doing so, every person engaging to take out the above mentioned number of persons or families, shall deposit at the rate of ten pounds (To be repaid as here-in-after mentioned) for every family so taken out, provided the family does not consist of more than one man, one woman and two children under fourteen years of age. All children above the number of two will have to be paid for, in addition to the deposits above mentioned, in the proportion of Five Pounds for every two children under fourteen years of age, and Five Pounds for every person between the ages of fourteen and eighteen.”
“In consideration of this deposit a passage shall be provided at the expense of Government for the Settlers, who shall also be victualIed from the time of their Embarkation until the time of their landing in the Colony.”
“A grant of land under the conditions hereafter specified, shall be made to him at the rate of One Hundred Acres for every such Person or Family whom he so takes out; one third of the sum advanced to Governments on the outset, shall be repaid on landing, when the victualling at the expense of Government shall cease. A further proportion of one third shall be repaid as soon as it shall be certified to the Governor of the Colony that the Settlers, under the direction of the Person taking them out, are actually located upon the Land assigned to them, and the remainder at the expiration of three months from the date of their location.”
“If any Parishes in which there may be redundancy of population shall unite in the selection of an intelligent individual to proceed to the Cape, with Settlers under his direction, not less in number and of the description above mentioned, and shall advance money in the proportion above mentioned, the Government will grant land to such an individual at the rate of One hundred Acres for every head of a Family, leaving the Parish at liberty to make such conditions with the Individual, or the Settler, as may be calculated to prevent the Parish becoming again chargeable with the maintenance of such Settlers, in the event of their returning to this Country.”
“But no offers of this kind will be accepted, unless it shall be clear that the Persons proposing to become Settlers have distinctly given their consent, and the head of each Family is not infirm or incapable of work.”
"It is further proposed that in any case in which One Hundred Families proceed and apply for leave to carry out with them a Minister of their own persuasion, Government will, upon their being actually located, assign a salary to the Minister whom they may have selected to accompany them, if he shall be approved by the Secretary of State.”
“The lands will be granted at a quit rent to be fixed, which rent, however, will be remitted for the first Ten Years; and at the expiration of Three Years (during which the party and a number of families, in the proportion of one for every Hundred Acres, must have resided on the estate), the land shall be measured at the expense of Government, and the holder shall obtain, without fee, his title thereto, on a perpetual quit rent, not exceeding in any case Two Pounds Sterling for every One Hundred Acres; subject, however, to this clause beyond the usual reservations, that the land shall become forfeited to Government, in the case the Party shall abandon the estate, or not bring it into cultivation within a given number of years."
" P.S. In order to ensure the arrival of the Settlers at the Cape at the beginning of the planting season, the Transports will not leave this Country until the month of November.”
" The usual reservations are the right of the Crown to Mines of Precious Stones, of Gold and Silver, and to make such roads as May be necessary for the convenience of the Colony."
Other details subsequently furnished but not mentioned in the original (first) Government Circular were as follows:
" Agricultural implements, seed and other essential requirements were to be supplied at prime cost when the Settlers landed, and rations (also at prime cost) were to be issued until the first harvest had been reaped. The total assistance from the Government, therefore, consisted of a free passage, a grant of land, a remission of the quit rent thereon for the first ten years; otherwise the Settlers were expected to fend for themselves from the moment they landed, except that tents were to be loaned to the Settlers until such time as they were able to build themselves more permanent homes.
Most specific instructions were issued that no Settler should be allowed to own slaves or even hire native labor, and that all work on the lands allotted was to be performed by free white labor, any contravention of these stipulations rendering the lands liable to instant forfeiture.
"If more than one-fifth of the Settlers in a party abandoned their location, the Government reserved the right to resume possession of the land. "
Although the Government reserved the right to make the final selection of the Settlers, the "Heads of the Parties" were allowed to make what arrangements they pleased with the persons they desired to accompany them which fell into one of the following classifications:
1. The Independent Settlers. These persons banded together in a Party, with one of their member appointed as Party Head. They paid their own deposit money and were to receive their One Hundred Acres of land.
2. The Sole Proprietor. The Party Head, a man of considerable wealth, assumed all financial responsibilities of his members. Having paid their deposit money, the members indentured themselves to him as a servant for a specified number of years, and generally waived all rights to the One Hundred Acres of land, in favor of the Party Head.
3. The individuals who emigrated at their own expense, belonging to no particular group, paying their own expenses and receiving nothing more from the Government than the One Hundred Acres of land.
Not belonging to the wealthy class, John Henry Dixon sought out eleven of his friends and their families and volunteered to act as their Party Head in making arrangements with the Government. Each contributed their own deposit money and each received their own One Hundred Acres of land in the Cape of Good Hope Settlement.
Those subscribing to the Dixon Party were: James Carney age 28, Elizabeth age 29, child- Elizabeth age 3 months; Joseph Daniel age 36, Elizabeth age 35, child- Richard- 7; John Henry Dixon age 32, Margaret age 36, children Mary-9, Emma-6, Eliza-4, Sarah-2; Henry Fuller age 25, Susannah age 23, children George- 4, Charles- 1½; Robert Herman age 34, Mary Ann age 36, children Mary Ann- 7, Eliza- 2; George Marsden age 40, Elizabeth age 34, child Elizabeth age 8; Jesse Paxton age 39, Sarah age 39, children Eliza- 4, David- 2, George-7, Henry- 5, William- 13, Charles- 11; James Vice age 24, Sophia age 30, children John- 8, James- 3; John Vice age 30, Elizabeth age 28, children Elizabeth- 2, Ann- 3 months; Richard Webb age 29, Elizabeth age 22, children Edward- 2, Richard- 3 months; John Wyatt age 31, Jane age 34, children Jane- 7, Ann Mary- 3, Amelia- 4, John- 2.
John Henry, having raised the 130 pounds sterling as the deposit required, immediately made application to the Colonial Office for permission to proceed as a Settler to the Cape of Good Hope. His application was accepted and he was notified to have his Party on board the sailing vessel, “Ocean”, anchored at Depthford, London, the latter part of November. The following letter was sent from London, England to Lord Charles Somerset, who was the Government Agent and representative of the Crown, in the new Colony:
Downing Street, London
9 November 1819
I am directed by Earl Bathurst to transmit herewith to your Lordship a return of persons proceeding to the Cape of Good Hope under the direction of Mr. J. H. Dixon to settle in the Colony under the regulations which have been promulgated by His Majesty's Government, and I am directed to desire that your Lordship will cause a portion of land to be allotted to Mr. Dixon in conformity to these regulations.
Mr. Dixon has deposited the sum of 130 pounds as specified in the Return; and I have to request that your Lordship will issue your warrant to the office of the Commissariat Dept. at the Cape for the repayment to Mr. Dixon, of the amount of his deposit money in pro¬portions, and in the periods state d in the regulations.
I have the honor to be My Lord
your Lordships most obedient humble servant HENRY GORDSTRUM
General Honorable The Right The Lord Charles Somerset
Return of Settlers proceeding to the Cape of Good Hope, under the direction of John Henry Dixon, 8 Mutton Road Lane, Mile End Road, London, England. Total No. of Men 11 Total No. of Women 11 Children under 14 Yr. 27 Whole Party totals 49
John Henry Dixon age 32,Profession-Joiner; Party Leader, Party- Dixon, Ship- Ocean, List- 47 Margaret Waldon age 36, Mary age 9, Emma age 6, Eliza age 4, Sarah age 2
(Copied from 1820 Settlers manuscript C. O. 1878), Archives Capetown, Union of South Africa By Clarence D. Taylor, Jan. 23,1933)
The winter of 1819 had been the most severe weather around London, in forty years. The thermometer had continually registered several degrees below freezing temperature. This freezing te¬mperature mixed with piercing artic winds and heavy snowstorms had delayed the departure schedule of the Settler's ships. The freezing ice on the Thames River had imprisoned the eight, three-masted, 400-500 ton sailing vessels, which were all loaded with passengers, baggage and supplies, ready to depart for the Cape of Good Hope January 6, 1820, the ship, Ocean, with Capt. Davis at the helm; the Settler Parties under the direction of J. H. Dixon, composed of 48 persons from London; E. Damant, numbering 57 persons from Norfolk; W. Howard, numbering 60 persons from Buckinghamshire; and Dr. N. Morgan, with 41 persons from London; a total of 206 - Settlers, plus the crew, was able to free itself from the ice choked mooring at Depthford and proceed as far as Portsmouth. Here it encountered one of those treacherous "January Gales", which tore the ship "Ocean” from its moorings and caused it to collide with the Settler Ship "Northampton" which was taking on passengers at Portsmouth. Both ships were somewhat damaged, but not sufficient to further delay their departure from Portsmouth.
Whole tiers of vessels had been driven by this gale, from their moorings, and were drifting in the darkness down the Thames River. Several ships along the South Coast had to put in for shelter and food at the nearby ports, in consequence of this big "blow". The Settler Ship "Sir George Osborn" was grounded by this gale, near and opposite the Greenwich Hospital, and was refloated with difficulty. The "Nautilus" was blown onto the dangerous Goodwin Sands and grounded for some time. It was finally re-floated into deeper water and was able to continue its course.
Finally, the Ship "Ocean" was able to reach open water where the sea was running high and there was plenty of room to maneuver and proceed southward. In the shallow Bay of Biscay the weather was tempestuous, but after that milder weather conditions prevailed. With the warm, sunny weather and a calm sea, the Settlers on the “Ocean" took on a new life and began to talk, think and make plans for their new home and new way of life in the Cape of Good Hope.
Amid the calm sea and peaceful days came a most appalling experience to the passengers of the ship “Ocean" as the ship was lying in anchor at Porto Prayo, one of the Cape Verde Islands. "In the dead of night, her passengers were rudely awakened from their repose by the loud booming of a cannon, and by the tearing through of the rigging, by a cannon ball from one of the batteries on shore. The excitement, consequent upon this act of hostility towards the ship, lying as it was in a friendly port, was as may be imagined, very considerable but while the affrighted emigrants were conjecturing as to the cause of it, a second discharge followed, the ball this time striking the ship with such force that it was feared the masts would go by the board. The excitement and consternation were intense. But yet another ball was sent hissing towards the apparently doomed vessel, this time falling short, and diving into the sea with a noise resembling the plunge of a red-hot shot. The shot which had struck the vessel was a nine pounder, and entered the storeroom only three feet below the floor of Mr. Howard's cabin. A hostile schooner, it was afterwards explained, had visited and fired upon the Port a few weeks previously. A schooner similarly rigged had entered the harbor with the "Ocean", and sentinels at the batteries were ordered to keep close watch of her. A boat, it was thought from the schooner, was seen approaching the shore, and fearing hostile intentions, the shots which had so nearly wrecked the "Ocean" had been fired at it, with the results stated." (From T. Sheffield, Story of the Settlement) The "Ocean" passed near the island of Madera, and since the day was so clear, the Settlers could see the top of Tenerife Peak in the Canary Island Group, long before any other land became visible. The white, snow covered peaks rises 12,152 feet above the sea level.
At Jago, which is just about half the distance from London to Capetown, a stop of several days was made. Here it was possible to buy or trade old clothes for fresh fruit such as oranges, bananas, cocoanuts. One of the young men traded an old coat for 200 oranges, a fine goat and kid, and 12 cocoanuts. He bought a sheep for a dollar and a 14 pound turkey for a pair of shoes. Sheep and cattle were purchased here by the Captain of the vessel to supply a source of fresh meat for the remainder of the journey. Having no way of refrigeration for foods, the cattle, sheep and poultry were brought aboard alive and were fed and taken care of until needed for food, then they were butchered and consumed. The ship "Ocean" was very fortunate to have two medical doctors aboard. They provided the best medical care possible under the circumstances in keeping the 206 persons plus the crew in good physical condition. Doctor Nathanial Morgan was head of the Morgan Party, which consisted of 41 persons all from London. He became a very close friend of J. H. Dixon and wife. The other doctor, John Atherstone, a member of Damants' Party, later received much publicity because of his recognition of the first diamond at the fabulous Kimberly diamond mine.
April 15, 1820, after traveling between 6,000 and 7,000. miles, the vessel "Ocean" dropped anchor alongside other Settler Ships in Algoa Bay - - - the end of the long sea voyage.
Much to the disappointment of the Settlers, the ship had dropped anchor at Table Bay (Capetown). Passengers were not permitted to leave the ship. After spending about ten days replenishing provisions and fresh water, they had continued their journey around the southern tip of the African continent to their destination - Algoa Bay. Mr. Thomas Pringle, the leader of the Scottish Party who arrived at Algoa Bay aboard the ship "Brilliant", a few days later than the ship "Ocean" describes his journey along the Southern shore of Africa and the landing at Algoa Bay in his "Narrative of a Residence in South Africa" :
"We sailed out of Simon's Bay on the 10th of May with a brisk gale from the N. W., which carried us around Cape L'Aguillas, at the rate of nearly ten knots an hour. On the 12th, at daybreak, however, we found ourselves almost becalmed, opposite the entrance to the Knysna, a fine lagoon, or salt-water lake, which forms a beautiful and spacious haven, though unfortunately of rather difficult access, winding up, as we were informed by our Captain, who had twice entered it with the “Brilliant", into the very bosom of the magnificent forests which covers this part of the coast. During this and the two following days, having scarcely any wind, and the little we had being adverse, we kept tacking off and on within a few miles of the shore. This gave us an excellent opportunity of surveying the coastal scenery of Auteniqualand and Zitzikama, which is of a very striking character. The land rises abruptly from the shore in massive mountain ridges, clothed with forests of large timber, and swelling in the background into lofty serrated peaks of naked rock. As we passed headland after headland, the sylvan recesses of the bays and mountain opened successively to our gaze, like a magnificent panorama, continually unfolding new features or exhibiting new combinations of scenery, in which the soft and stupendous, the monotonous and the picturesque, were strangely blended. The aspect of the whole was impressive, but sombre; beautiful, but somewhat savage. There was the grandeur and the grace of nature, majestic and untamed; and there was likewise that air of lonesomeness and dreary wildness which a country unmarked by the traces of human industry or of human residence seldom fails to exhibit to the view of civilized man. Seated on the poop of the vessel, I gazed alternately on that solitary shore, and on the bands of emigrants who now crowded the deck or learned along the gangway; some silently musing, like myself, on the scene before us; others conversing in scattered groups, and pointing with eager gestures to the country they had come so far to inhabit. Sick of the wearisome monotony of a long sea voyage (for only a few had been permitted by the Cape authorities to land at Simon’s Bay), all were exhilarated by the prospect of speedily disembarking; but the sublimely stern aspect of the country so different from the rich tameness of ordinary English scenery seemed to strike many of the Southern with a degree of awe approaching to consternation. The Scotch, on the contrary, as the recollections of their native land were vividly called up by the rugged peaks and shaggy declivities of this wild coast, were strongly affected, like all true mountaineers on such occasions. Some were excited to extravagant spirits; others silently shed tears.
Coasting on in this manner, we at length doubled Cape Recife on the 15th, and late in the afternoon carne to an anchor in Algoa Bay, in the midst of a little fleet of vessels, which had just landed, or, were engaged in landing, their respective bands of settlers. The “Menai” sloop of war and the “Weymouth” storeship were moored beside the transports and their crews, together with a party of military on shore, were employed in assisting the debarkation.
It was an animated and interesting scene. Around us in the west corner of the spacious bay, were anchored ten or twelve large vessels, which had recently arrived with emigrants, of whom a great propor¬tion were still on board. Directly in front, on a rising ground a few hundred yards from the beach, stood the little fortified barrack, or blockhouse, called Fort Frederick, occupied by a division of the 72nd Regiment, with the tents and marquees of the officers pitched on the heights around it. At the foot of these heights, nearer the beach, stood three thatched cottages and one or two wooden houses brought from England, which now formed the offices of the commissaries and other civil functionaries appointed to transact the business of emigra¬tion, and to provide the settlers with provisions and other stores, and with carriages (ox wagons) for their conveyance up the country. Interspersed among these offices, and among the pavilions of the function¬aries and navel officers employed on shore, were scattered large depots of agricultural implements, carpenters' and blacksmiths 'tools, and ironware of all descriptions, sent out by the home Government to be furnished to the settlers at prime cost. About two furlongs to the eastward, on a level spot between the sand hills on the beach and the stony heights beyond, lay the camp of the emigrants. Nearly a thousand souls, on an average, were at present lodged there in military tents; but parties were daily moving off in long trains of bullock wagons, to proceed to their appointed places of location in the interior, while their place was immediately occupied by fresh bands, hourly disembarking from the vessels in the bay. A suitable background to this animated picture, as viewed by us from the anchorage, was supplied by the heights over the river Zwartkops, covered with a dense jungle, and by the picturesque peaks of the Winterhoek and the dark masses of the Zureberg ridge far to the northward, distinctly outlined in the clear blue sky.
The whole scene was such as could not fail to impress deeply the most unconcerned spectator. To us, who had embarked all our worldly property and earthly prospects, our own future, fortunes and the fate of our posterity, in this enterprise, it was interesting and exciting to an intense degree.
It being too late to go ashore that evening, we continued gazing on this scene till long after sunset - - - till twilight had darkened into night, and the constellation of the southern hemisphere, revolving in cloudless brilliancy above, reminded us that nearly half the globe's expanse intervened between us and our native land - - - the homes of our youth and the friends we had parted from for ever; and that here, in this farthest nook of Southern Africa, we were now about to receive the portion of our inheritance ,and to draw an irrevocable lot for ourselves and for our children's children. Solemn reflections will press themselves at such a time on the most thoughtless; and this night, as we swung at anchor in Algoa Bay, so long the bourne of all our wishes, many a wakeful brain among us was doubtless expatiating, each according to the prevailing current of thought, in serious meditation on the future or the past. A long sea voyage, and, far more, one with such an object as we had before us, totally disconnecting us for a time from the bustling world behind and before, and from the great political and social interest of humanity, appears, as it were, like a pause or interlude between the acts of the busy drama of human life, and deepens the interest both of the past and the future by affording a convenient space for reflection. This quiet interval was about to close with us; and we now waited with anxiety for the curtain to draw up, and unfold in all the distinctness of reality the scenes of novelty and adventure to which we had so long looked forward.“
Today at the site of the landing of these 1820 Settlers has been erected a tall, square, redbrick Campanile; to honor and memorialize these 1820 Pioneers. Modern man has constructed a man made harbour by projecting a huge concrete block breakwater out into the bay and which now affords protection to the smaller vessels who can unload their cargoes on the jetty in comparative safety.
The ship "Ocean" and all other Settler Ships were required to anchor in the open bay and the unloading of the passengers and their belongings was entrusted to the sailors of the British Government Ship HMS “Melnai”, the soldiers of the 72nd Regiment and the 21st Light Dragoons who were then stationed at Fort Frederick, on the heights overlooking the Bay.
The day following their arrival at Algoa Bay, April 16, 1820, John Henry Dixon and family together with all of their belongings were loaded into a large flat-bottomed boat which the sailors had tied alongside the ship "Ocean". These flat-bottomed boats were then loaded and worked in towards shore with the aid of guidelines and through the surf to the sandy beaches. Here John Henry, the other able bodied men and the grown boys, waded through the surf.
The four Dixon girls and their mother were carried to dry land by the soldiers. Some of the older men hired colored servants to carry them ashore. All the cargo was carried to dry land by the soldiers and colored servants. Upon reaching shore the Dixon Family and their Party were assigned use of some of the Government tents in "Settlers' Town". They had just been vacated by other Settler families up on their departure for the Zuurveld; by Captain Frances Evatt, Government Resident at Algoa Bay and Commander of Fort Frederick. All their possessions were gathered from the beach and carried to the assigned tent which was to be their home until an available wagon and ox team was provided for the transportation of their belongings and themselves up-country to their new location.
Immediately upon getting settled in “Settlers' Town”, (the 1500 person tent town provided by the Government) John Henry applied to the Government officials for the 1/3 deposit money he and his Party had paid in London, England before sailing. This money was to buy their seed, farm implements, equipment and the necessary food until they could raise their own crops. The Government had made all of these articles available to the Settlers at cost. Upon learning from the Government officials that the Settlers were to pay their own transportation to their inland location, John Henry and eleven of the Party Leaders became quite upset.
To lighten the immediate financial burden, the 1/3 deposit money was paid and the transportation cost for the wagons and the Govern¬ment purchases were charged against the remainder of the deposit money. About 200 ox teams and wagons had been hired by the Government from the Dutch farmers in the vicinity of Graaff-Reinett area, to provide the transportation of the Settlers from "Settlers! Town" to the new location. It had by then been surveyed and staked out by the Government surveyors. For the next several months the ox teams and wagons, together with their Dutch drivers and native servants, shuttled the Settlers from Algoa Bay to the Albany District locations. At last the day arrived when a little native, colored boy led his long horned oxen and the big clumsy wagon to the Dixon tent. All the Dixon belongings, including all the baggage they had brought from England on the boat, together with picks, spades, axes, harnesses, ploughs and harrows, seed and supplies, which had been obtained from Government stores at cost, were loaded into the wagons along with the four girls and their mother and father. Then with the crack of the big bullwhips and the shouts of the Dutch drivers, the oxen slowly headed "up country" to the land of Hope (but what actually became a land of despair).
Traveling north they crossed the Zwartkops River where they made their camp that first night. What a contrast to their former way of living. They had been born and raised in the big city of London with all its comforts and conveniences and now to be cooking over a campfire with only the barest of conveniences and supplies in their possession. The campfires not only served to cook their food on but provided protection from the wild animals which were ever lurking in the shadows of the night.
The Settlers route led across the Couga and Sundays River, up the steep and terrible Addo Hill, across the Addo Bush with its ever present elephant herds and bounding springbok; passed the Quaggas Flat to Bushman's River. After fording the river at Rautenbach's Drift, the Bushman Heights were scaled and a few miles further on the banks of a large field pond known now as Settlers Vlei, was reached. At Assegai Bush some of the companies went directly east for about 25 miles to the Dixon Location, others continued northeast to Grahamstown and then east for about 12 miles to the Dixon Location.
A Government staff member had accompanied the Dixon Party for the purpose of guiding them to their proper location and to show them the surveyed plat allotments, as well as, to help them get settled the best they could.
The Dixon Location was a tract of land about two miles square in size. Located 12 miles east of Grahamstown and separated from the J. T. Erith Location to the East by a tributary of the Kowie River, which had its origin in this area. Across the river to the south was the Willson location, under the leadership of the Rev. William Boardman, whose daughter Judith became the wife of John Henry Dixon in 1826. Adjoining the Dixon Location to the West was the C. Dalgairns Location of thirty-three persons, from London.
As youngsters, the second and third generation of Dixons, have been thrilled by the story handed down about our Grandfather John Henry Dixon; discovering the rogue elephant in his corral and how he melted a pewter spoon to make a bullet in which to shoot the elephant. The Dixon and Willson Settlers had many skirmishes with the elephant for they were located in the established paths of these marauding elephant herds. At first many of the Settlers took "pot shot" at these elephant herds with only a light "fowling piece" (gun). Much to their dismay, these shots did no mortal harm to the elephants. The shots only irritated and angered the elephants to the point where they charged in all directions, laying waste to the trees, plants, crops, and all buildings that we re in their path.
After a journey of nearly 7000 miles, lasting nearly six months, the Dixon Family finally arrived at their new home. The kind hearted Dutch farmer stopped the oxen and wagon at a clearing among the trees and directed "his colored boys" to begin unloading the wagons. Having emptied his wagon, the Dutch farmer waved goodbye and headed west, leaving the Dixon Family sitting on the boxes and baggage; their only earthly possessions. It was then they began to realize they were alone in the wilderness, with no mode of transportation to leave, no nearby towns or stores in which to purchase the necessities of life, not even a shelter from the storms or blistering sun. Their survival was dependent on their own two hands and the Almighty God, the Provider of all.
When the youngest Dixon girl asked her mother where they were going to sleep that night, the realities of providing a shelter, brought John Henry to action, and he began setting up the tent the Government had loaned him as a temporary shelter. Soon the tent was pitched, and as many of the boxes and luggage as possible, were taken inside. A campfire was built and the evening meal prepared. This was the first meal and first night on their own property. This was their new home. Having been a finished carpenter by trade in native England, and having his own tools plus the tools he had purchased from the Govern¬ment at Algoa Bay, John Henry immediately set to work to find materials to build his family a permanent shelter. With limited money and no towns or stores nearby to purchase the necessary lumber, the Government had given the Settlers permission, free of charge for one year, to cut timber from the public lands for the building of their houses. In all directions could be heard the familiar sound of the axes as they cut through the trees. The men, women and children all joined in transporting the timber and thatch to the home sites. As yet there were very few oxen and wagons and no horses available for the heavy work. Being a skilled workman the Dixon home became a better built and nicer looking home than some of the neighbors who built a "wattle and daub" structure, which consisted of upright poles stuck in the ground with rafters fastened to them and a reed or rush thatch covering the rafters. The walls were plastered inside and out with water mixed clay. The floors were usually made of clay and a mat or rug was nailed up at the door and windows.
Other structures were mere dugouts with a thatched roof over the hole. With the coming of the wet, winter season, their habitations became very unsatisfactory and of short duration. With a form of shelter provided for his family, and although he knew very little about farming, it was necessary for John Henry to begin to clear the land and prepare it for planting wheat and veg-etables. If he and his family were to live, he had to provide the food for their use by raising it. There was no neighborhood grocer or baker to buy the necessary foodstuffs. The Government had allowed the Settlers to draw on their deposit money for the necessary farm implements, tools and the necessary food to carry them until they could harvest their first crop.
The planted wheat and vegetables sprouted and were growing very well until just before the December harvest when there appeared a "rust" which attacked the stalks of the wheat and killed it. The wheat crop for that year was a complete failure. There was less wheat harvested than was planted. There not being enough harvested to provide seed for the coming year, let alone the food they were depending on for their sustenance.
To John Henry Dixon and his Party, the wheat failure was a severe blow. All they had to show for the hard work of six months farming were the few vegetable they were lucky to mature. Now with the failure of the wheat crop there was no income to payoff their debt to the Government, to buy more seed, or to pay their living expenses until a new crop was raised. The first half-year of hard work and toil on the locations, had showed the settlers the limited possibilities of an agricultural settlement. Much of the ground allotted was not suitable for cultivation and the allotment of one hundred acres per family was not sufficient to provide them with an adequate living.
The uncertain and irregular rainfall could not be supplemented with the waters from the nearby rivers, because the volume of water in these rivers ran from a raging torrent when it rained and filled the narrow and deep channels, to a dwindling, useless stream, at other times. The crops were planted on the high banks of each side of the river, and without the aid of pumps there was no way to get the water from the lower river channels to the higher banks.
As oxen, cows, horses and sheep were acquired, it was found that a considerable amount of pasture land was necessary to provide the cattle with sufficient feed; much more than the one hundred acres allotted them.
What a trying time it was for John Henry Dixon. As head of the Dixon Party, it was his responsibility to see that each member of his party stayed within the confines of his location, unless they had a proper pass from him. They could not leave the District without a pass from the Deputy Land-drost at Grahamstown. The Settlers were forbidden to hire native servants. They had to do all of their own work both inside and outside the home. Under these trying and primitive living conditions, it was no wonder that many of the Settlers deserted their farms, going to the populated centers of Uitenhage, Capetown, Port Elizabeth, Graaff-Reinet, where these restrictions did not apply and where there was plenty of work for a skilled workman to be found.
How these Settlers envied their Dutch Neighbors or the other older settlers who had become established on their farms prior to the Albany Settlement. It was not unusual for one of these older farms to have 6,000 or more acres of land, with slaves and Hottentot servants to do all the work; where they and their family lived in comparative ease and comfort. They being able to come and go as they pleased with no passes or other restrictions being imposed on them.
One of the bright spots in this depressing picture of the early Settlement was the moderate and pleasant climate of the Albany District. The general health of the community was excellent, especially when considering the difficult and hardship conditions the Settler; were forced to live under.
It has been said that some of the early settler Doctors were forced to leave the District due to the lack of sufficient patronage. As long as the Settlers did not own much livestock, they were not molested by the thieving natives. It was when they acquired herds of livestock that they commenced to have troubles with the native tribes. Many times during the eighteen months that Sir Rufus Donkin was acting Governor, he called at the Dixon house and location giving advice and help in overcoming their problems and alleviating their hardships. It was through his help that the pass restrictions were relaxed, permitting many of the skilled workmen, who were starving on their farms, to go to the larger cities and town and contribute their skills. Sir Rufus Donkin was responsible for initiating the steps to make Algoa Bay a seaport, and Port Elizabeth a new town, named in honor of his deceased wife.
It was Sir Rufus Donkin who laid the plans for establishing a centrally located town in the Albany District, within easy access to all the locations and where all administrative details were to be handled. This new town was named Bathurst in honor of the Colonial Secretary. Building lots were surveyed and sold. Barracks were planned and construction started. The magistrate's residence and offices (Drostdy) were commenced. Several cottages were built before Sir Rufus was recalled to England when the centrally located District Office plan withered and died. The District Office was then permanently established at Grahamstown, where it had temporarily been located. Before leaving for England. Sir Rufus was instrumental in having the Colonial Office pay back to the Settlers the amount of money they had charged the Settlers for their transportation from Algoa Bay to their locations in the Albany District, when they first arrived in South Africa. Sir Rufus Donkin was truly a "Champion of the Settlers".
About three miles to the northeast of the Dixon Location, on the opposite side of the Kap River, was a large deposit of red clay called the "Clay Pits". For centuries this had been the native Kaffirs source of clay for making pots, dishes and various ornaments. In January 1821, it was estimated that nearly 3000 native men and women appeared at the clay pits to carry off this prized clay to their villages. Not being satisfied with the clay alone, the natives always managed to drive away cattle belonging to the Settlers on the adjoining Locations. In September of 1821, a young herder, aged 15 named Benjamin Anderson, suddenly disappeared, as well as the cattle he was herding near the Clay Pits. It was later discovered that he had been brutally murdered and the cattle driven across the 30 mile "no man's land", buffer strip, into Kaffirland by these natives.
For the next 60 years, periodically the Settlers would organize, arm themselves, and march into Kaffirland and reclaim all the stolen cattle they could find.
It was on one of these expeditions that Henry Aldous Dixon at the age of 15 ventured deep into the native territory. He helped recover over 10,000 head of cattle and his share amounted to several pounds sterling. He put it aside in a savings account and it paid part of his first trip to Utah.
Even though the natives had permission from the Government to come across the border and carry away the clay, it was unlawful for the Settlers to barter or trade or have any dealings with the Natives. Some of the Settlers felt that since the Government gave the natives permission to carry off the red clay and with it any of the Settlers' cattle they had the right to compensate for the cattle losses by illicitly bartering and trading beads and trinkets for ivory from the Kaffirs. One of the Settlers was suddenly surprised by a military patrol, while in the act of trading with a band of Kaffirs. He had his wagon and oxen taken to military headquarters, together with all the ivory be¬longing to the natives. The natives thinking this was a pre-arranged trick, set upon the Settler and stabbed him to death.
In this year of the second crop failure and amid these native depredations, John Henry Dixon's wife, Margaret, presented him with his fifth child, and her only boy, William Henry Dixon, on November 24, 1821, at Grahamstown, C. P.
In 1822, after the third successive crop failure and apparent financial ruin for John H. Dixon, his wife, Margaret set sail from Port Elizabeth to return to England for the settlement of an inheritance and other business transactions.
After the second wheat crop failure, which was caused mainly by "rust", the Government received a new "Bengel" wheat seed which was issued to the Settlers as a rust resistive seed corn. It proved to be a miserable failure in living up to its reputation and guarantee. The third crop failure of 1822 was as severe, if not more so than the 1821 crop failure. This crop failure aggravated by the continuous depredations of the natives had so undermined the economic position of the Albany Settlement that several of the leading Settlers decided to call a special public meeting to discuss their affairs, appoint a special committee to go to Capetown and meet with the Governor, and discuss their economic, social and political affairs.
Circulars were distributed designating May 24, 1822 as the day for this meeting, but the Land drost forbade the meeting. The day the meeting was to be held the Governor issued a proclamation, in the most threatening terms. He reminded the Settlers they were not allowed to hold any public meetings without his consent. If they did, severe penalties would be levied on them.
The meeting was called off and there were several months deliberations amongst the Settlers as to the next course of action they should pursue. Finally a request for permission to hold a meeting was signed by 97 influential and responsible men of the District, and was given to the Land-drost in December of 1822. The petition was forwarded to the Governor who immediately denied permission to hold the meeting on the grounds that the petition failed to state with sufficient precision the objects for which the meeting was to be called. Although, at this time, public meetings were not permitted, the obnoxious pass system was abolished. This pass system had virtually made the Settlers prisoners of their own locations by requiring them to obtain a pas s to leave the District from the Land- drost, stating where they were going, when they would return, and what purpose their business was for. To go from one location to another, they were required to get a pass from the Party Leader.
Thus with the freedom of movement granted the Settlers, those least adapted to farming, or who had lost their interest and faith in ever being able to make a living as an agriculturist, picked up what few earthly possessions they had and moved to the nearby towns and settlements. They engaged themselves at their old trades learned in England, or set themselves at a newly acquired trade or business. The demand for skilled workmen was great in these young and new centers of population. Many of the Settlers even traveled as far as Capetown to seek their fortunes.
The Settlers leaving their locations were fully aware they were forfeiting their rights to the free land promised them. The agreement with the Government was that they were required to live on their land for three years before receiving title to it.
The Settlers still "chaffing" from their failure to hold public meetings or to personally bring their problems before the Governor, led to the preparation of a document, dated March 10, 1823. It was signed by 171 leading men of the Settlement. It set forth in restrained but firm language the position of the Settlers. This document was addressed and sent directly to Lord Bathurst of the British Govern-ment, London, England, bypassing all local and colonial officials who had refused to help them with their problems.
“To the Right Honorable the Earl Bathurst, Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, etc. etc. etc.. ”
"The subscribing colonists in South Africa, who emigrated in the year 1819 under the patronage of their native Government, are compelled by a sense of justice to themselves, and of duty to the Government under whose auspices they embarked, to lay before your Lordship a statement of the real circumstance s which have prevented their advancement.”
"That whatever may have been the individual disappointments and failures incidental to so numerous an emigration, they do not present themselves to His Majesty's Government with any complaint of the natural disadvantages to the country to which they have been sent. And they have ever been actuated by one undivided feeling of respect and gratitude for the liberal assistance of the British Government, a feeling which future reverses can never efface. And they more gratefully re cognize an additional instance of the same favorable disposition in the late modification of the colonial law of succession, which they hail as a pledge that their interest (where not opposed to the rights of their fellow subjects) will never have lost sight of by His Majesty's Government.“ "That although the settlers must lament that in its earlier stages the prosperity of this settlement has been checked in several import¬ant instances, through the misapprehensions of the general or local authorities, yet they gratefully acknowledge the prompt and generous exertions of Government in providing the means of subsistence on the commencement of the, settlement, and in alleviating as far as possible the severe visitations of repeated and total failures of their wheat crops. And they cannot omit the expression of their particular grati¬tude to the acting Governor, Sir Rufane Donkin, who devoted to their prosperity a great share of his personal attention; to whom they owed the establishment of a town in the center of the new settlement, as the seat of its magistracy; and a system of military defense, during which they we re free from Caffre depredations; by making arrangements for a friendly intercourse with the Caffres, and by his solicitous attentions to the interest and wishes of the settlers, he inspired them with a degree of energy and hope, of which they are now left only the recollection." "That is the peculiar hardship of their situation, placed in a re¬mote corner of the British Dominions, with their whole interest and prospects committed to the unlimited control of one individual, and possessing no security that their situation is thoroughly understood or properly represented, that they have been debarred all means of expressing their collective sentiments upon matters of the utmost importance to their common interests."
"That it has long, and from the most distressing proofs, become evident to the settlers that the colonial government (situated at the opposite extremity of the colony, where every particular, whether of soil and climate, or the constitution, pursuits and interests of society is totally different) possesses no adequate means of ascertaining their actual wants. "
"That under this conviction, it was contemplated by a small num¬ber of the principal settlers to consult together upon the most advisable mode of making his Excellency the Governor acquainted with the peculiarities of their situation; but this intention was met not only by positive prevention, but by public imputations against the views and motives of the settlers in general, which they felt to be wholly unmerited. " "That being thus prevented from communication with the colonial government, they have for twelve months continued to labor under the effects of a series of measures calculated only to extinguish the small remains of enterprise and confidence that had survived the numerous disappointments they had previously encountered; and when at length their situation from the increasing and unpunished incursion of the Caffres had become really unsupportable. they were reduced to the necessity of requesting permission to meet in the manner pointed out to them as legal, for the purpose of making their situation known to His Majesty's Government. But as this also has been virtually denied to them, they are obliged to content themselves with offering to your Lordship this imperfect but faithful sketch of their situation in general, but more particularly of the uniform reversal of every measure previously resorted to for their advantage."
"That as it does not appear that any natural obstacle is opposed to their advancement, they are induced to submit a candid statement of the artificial disadvantage by which they are surrounded, in the confident hope that this settlement will not be allowed to fall a sacrifice to them. " "That upon their arrival, they found themselves placed according to the terms accepted by them in England (before they were aware of the peculiarities of this country), upon grants of 100 acres each in a country where it still appears necessary to the subsistence of the Cape Dutch farmer to grant him 4, 000 acres; that is, together with the withholding two-thirds of the deposit money, which it was stipulated should be repaid after location, had the effect of precluding the majority of the settlers from pursuing the mode of farming usual in this country, and of directing their attention exclusively to agriculture.“
"That although the disappointments hitherto suffered in this pursuit must in a great measure refer to extraordinary and unavoidable causes, yet the settlers cannot but observe that their future prospects appear totally barred by the weightiest artificial obstacles."
"That besides the injurious effects of the distinction above mentioned in drawing away a portion of the settlers to more profit able pursuits, the remaining part who may possess land of an extent worth attending to, can have no inducement to raise a surplus produce while the colonial government reserves to itself, in the entire supply of the troops, the monopoly of the only internal market, and they can never look for an external trade while the prosperity of this part of the colony continues to be subservient to the local interest of Cape Town; while no direct trade is allowed to Algoa Bay; while no exportation is permitted except through Cape Town, and dependent upon the state of that market, and the advantage of possessing a sea-port is in a great measure lost to the settlement; while every article of import brought to Algoa Bay or the Kowie is burdened with all the expense of re-shipment from Cape Town. "
"That the establishment of the town of Bathurst, as its seat of magistracy, was of the most material service to the settlement, as from its situation in the center of the smaller parties it served to sustain in its vicinity a dense r population that the circumstance s of the country could otherwise induce; that its superior advantage of soil, its vicinity to the only part of the coast found capable of com-municating with the sea, and the erection of the residence of the chief magistrate at the public expense, had induced many individuals to expend their means in establishing themselves there; that the removal of the seat of magistracy and the withdrawing the troops and government support from a town upon which they had fixed their first hopes, and upon which depended all their future prospects of a market, has been productive of the worst effects upon the interest and prospects of the settlement in general; as besides its directly ruinous consequences to individuals, it has drawn away the population from the nucleus of the settlement, and created a general distrust in the stability of the measures of the Government.”
"That the most pressing and insupportable of their grievances arise from the constant depredations of the Caffres who have within a few months committed several murders, and deprived the settle¬ment of the greater part of its cattle; that their depredations are if a great measure produced by relinquishing that line of policy which held out to those tribes a hope of procuring, by friendly barter, such commodities as their acquired wants have rendered necessary and which they are now obliged to procure by theft or force; by discountenancing and withdrawing the military force from the new settlement of Fredricksburg, and permitting the Caffres to plunder and force the settlers to retire, and ultimately to burn it to the ground; by refusing aid to the more advanced farmers, plundering parties have been encouraged to drive those in, and afterwards to extend their incursions to all parts of the settlement, and even beyond it; by exasperating that tribe which had hitherto preserved the appearances of friendship in attempting to seize their chief (Gaika) in his own village, and by with-holding from the local military authorities that discretionary power which they were formerly vested, which, by enabling them to enforce summary restitution, showed the Caffres that the offence must instantly be followed by the punishment; whereas, by waiting the decision of the Commander-in-chief, 600 miles distant, in every emergency, offences are allowed to accumulate to an alarming amount; and the slender means of defense the settlement possesses, deprived of the power of acting with promptitude, is forced to present to the Caffres at once the appearance of enmity and weakness."
"That it thus appears to the colonists, instead of the new settlement ever deriving any advantage from the civilization of these savage s, that the existing measures can only lead to a war of mutual extermination. "
"That the settlers refrain from adverting to other numerous and serious obstacles to the prosperity of this settlement, arising from the system of government and laws to which they are subjected, from the enlivening assurance that these considerations continue to occupy the attention of His Majesty's Ministers. When they contemplate the immense resources of fertile and unappropriated territory this colony possesses in their immediate vicinity, and the provident care of the British Government to preserve the future inhabitants from the contamination of slavery, they cannot but cherish the hope that their present distresses are only temporary, and that at no distant period a numerous and flourishing colony may be here governed upon British principles, and by British laws."
To those Settlers who had "weathered" the famine and were still on their locations, a new tragedy to test their courage and endurance was thrust upon them the latter part of the year 1823, when excessive rain began to fall. Ever since the Settlers had arrived in the Zuurveld,
The rainfall had been very scarce and there had been a drought. Now with the rain beginning in October, which was a most welcome sight; it continued unceasingly for more than a week, accompanied by terrific windstorms.
The damage to the crops, the orchards and gardens, the livestock, the buildings and dams and other improvements, was the most devastating natural phenomena sustained by the Settlement in its entire history. It was such a great loss that it thereafter became known and referred to as "The Flood".
The few patches of wheat which survived "The Flood" were attacked for the 4th successive year by "rust", and swarms of locust and caterpillars added to the destruction of the remaining crops.
This was the low ebb for the Albany Settlement. The test had been made. Only the time tested farmers now remained on the land. The next two years witnessed the beginning of prosperity, which eventually came to the Settlement.
From about the middle of the year of 1824, many changes and numerous innovations we re introduce d by the Government for the benefit of the Settlers. In July of 1824 licenses were issued by the Land drost to European traders, giving them permission to gather at Fort Wilshire, in the neutral zone between the black and whites territory, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. There was to be no traffic in ammunition, firearms, or liquor. Here the natives brought their ivory, hides, gum, basket ware and reed mats; which were then exchanged for beads, tools, cotton goods, colored blankets, metal implements, wire and trinkets. After the 3 days at the fair, the European traders were required to go back to the Colony across the Fish River. The natives were required to return to Kaffirland, across the Keiskama River. These Native Fairs and the trading with the Kaffirs was the beginning point for prosperity in the Eastern Province. Grahamstown quickly became the wholesale distributive center for these Settler traders. Port Elizabeth and Port Kowie developed into very important ports for the exporting of the native products as well as the importing of the articles traded to the natives.
The reason for this change of attitude by the Governor towards the Settlers was never fully explained. Some felt he had been ordered by the British Government to change his ruinous methods. Others felt that the investigations and the Commissions of Inquiry had opened his eyes to the adverse effects his policies were exerting on the Settlers. In February of 1825, Governor Charles Somerset, made his first an only visit to the Settlement. Here he personally became aware of their insecurity and immediate needs.
To make amends for his action in checking the establishment of the Town of Bathurst as the District Seat in 1822, the Governor now volunteered free land to person who would build houses, of approved design and value, in Bathurst.
The uncompleted Drotsdy was converted into a Grammar School by the Rev. William Boardman. He became the first teacher there but not for long, for he died in September of 1827. This old building is still standing and is one of the most imposing private residence in the Albany District at Bathurst.
Many of the Settlers who had managed to stay on their farms by the year 1825, and because of adverse financial setbacks had been unable to pay back their Government loans, made for the purchase of implements, seed and rations during their first three years of residency, were relieved of this obligation by the Governor in his recommendation to the Colonial Secretary, after his tour of inspection. In this same year the Settlers were granted permission to hire Kaffir and Hottentot farm laborers, which was a welcome measure.
The most important and beneficial reform as a result of the Governors personal visit to the Settlements, was the adequate extension of land grants where by a Settler was able to obtain sufficient land acreage to justify his raising cattle and sheep. This action be¬came the mainstay and lifesaver of those Settlers remaining on the land.
Margaret Walden Dixon, wife of John Henry Dixon, died June 21, 1824 and was buried at Grahamstown. Rev. William Geary conducted the funeral service. She was survived by her husband and 5 children. As conditions became more settled and prosperous, John Henry Dixon of Waaplaats married Judith Boardman at Grahamstown by the Rev. Thomas Ireland on January 12, 1826. The ceremony was witnessed by Robert Godlonton and Henry and Alice Lloyd, friends of family. Judith Boardman was the second eldest daughter of the Reverend William Boardman and Margaret Hayes. She was born at Newberry, Lancaster, England on December 16, 1796. She had one older sister, three younger sisters and four younger brothers. Her father, Rev. William Boardman was acting leader of the Willson Party, one of the First Colonial Ministers of the Settlement, Master of the Grammar School at Bathurst. He died in September of 1827.
When Judith left England with her parents and family as one of the 1820 Settlers to the Cape of Good Hope, she was twenty-three years of age and was entitled to a land grant.
Being the second eldest in this large family of boys and girls, she had been accustomed to household work and sharing the responsibilities of caring for her family. Now with her recent marriage to John Henry Dixon, she assumed the full household responsibilities of being mother to his five motherless children: Mary, age 15; Emma, age 12; Eliza, age 10; Sarah, age 8; and William Henry, age 5.
In the year 1827, Judith Boardman Dixon gave birth to a daughter who was christened Anne Judith Dixon. Whether Anne was born at the Dixon location, Waaplaats, or in the Town of Grahamstown is yet to be verified.
With the first personal appearance of Governor Somerset to the Albany Settlement in February 1825, the small village at the mouth of the Kowie River (Port Kowie) received the new name of Port Frances. The enlarged harbor facilities and allied buildings and warehouses; the forming of the Albany Shipping Co. to provide for coastal trade, all receiving official government favor; encouraged many of the Settlers to invest in building sites and erect homes at Port Frances. In July 1825, John Henry Dixon bought lots 21 and 43 at Port Frances, the Settlement Port. Title to these two lots were issued to him on December 1, 1825.
In December of 1831, a son was born to Judith Boardman Dixon. On January 8, 1832 he was given the name of John and baptized at Grahamstown by the Rev. William Carlisle. He only lived four months and was buried at Grahamstown on May 9, 1832 by the Rev. Carlisle.
With the private native trading licenses having been issued to numerous persons of good character for use beyond the colonial boundaries, native trade soon became a very profitable business. The trade in ivory, hides, and gum for this period was estimated at about $200,000 annually, and increased each succeeding year. All traffic in arms, ammunition and liquor was prohibited and strictly enforced. It was in this period that some of the most adventurous Settlers awoke to the realization the big game hunting for elephants, lion, buffalo, hippopotamus, and rhinoceros could become a very profitable business. In the past the traders had relied on the natives to bring in the game.
In A. J. Chaplin's Biography of Henry Hartley, and who is accredited with a record of 1200 elephants killed in one year, the following incident is related:
"While he and his sons were way-laying some elephants at a drift, a lion was prowling about and become troublesome. His sons suggested the happy dispatch but he would not permit the shooting as the report of the rifles would have dispersed the elephants. The lion was walking in the direction of a low bush, and Mr. Hartley managed to crawl, unperceived by the beast, behind the bush. When the great brute was quite near, Hartley suddenly popped his head over the bush and shook his massive beard, making at the same time a loud roaring noise. This apparition was too much for his majesty the King of the forest, as the royal beast incontinently fled, leaving the Hartleys convulsed with laughter, but absolute masters of the situation.”
With the granting of an extension in land grant acreage, some of the Settlers moved to larger farms in the grazing area of Somerset East, and Graaff-Reinett Districts, but the majority of Settlers stuck to their farming on their increased acreage in the Albany District. Through the lessons of bitter experience in the first six years, they learned to adapt themselves to the local conditions. The farming of wheat was confined to only the most favorable ground and the raising of barley, rye, Indian corn and maize was restricted to those areas where climate and soil were favorable. The raising of cattle and sheep soon became the mainstay of those remaining on the land.
Before 1826 the majority of the sheep raised was for mutton, but in the year 1826 several of the large sheep men imported the “Merino” and other wool-producing breeds of sheep. Ten years later the value of exported wool from Port Elizabeth amounted to $130,000.00. Five years after, it amounted to $180,000.00. By 1957 the wool production in South Africa exceeded 300 million pounds in weight and valued at $300 million annually. Truly the wool industry founded by these early Settlers became the most important of all South Africa's farming activities. On the land unsuited for sheep raising, horned cattle were introduced. On the most choice land and near the water, all types of fruit and vegetable were raised in abundance and of excellent quality.
From 1829 to the middle of 1834, there was continuous trouble with the Kaffirs. From three to five thousand head of the Settlers' cattle and sheep and horses were stolen annually and driven off to Kaffirland. There were no large raids, but hundreds of small ones which were impossible to control. In these raids some of the Settlers became victims of the Kaffir assegais.
By July 1834 the natives had become so bold that they attacked the store of a Settler, William Purcel. He was murdered for refusing to trade on the Sabbath. For the next several months everything was calm and comparatively peaceful, and then on December 21,1834, twenty thousand Kaffir natives poured into the Settlements, stealing, setting fire to the buildings and killing the Settlers.
This 6th Kaffir War between the “whites and blacks" became the most serious and tragic war to-date. In ten short days the natives destroyed all that the Settlers had so painstakingly and laboriously built up in the past fifteen years. They burned 456 farmhouses, pillaged 300 others, destroyed 60 laden wagons, drove off 5, 700 horses, 12, 000 cattle and 162, 000 sheep and goats; the total cost estimated at over $1,000,000. The Districts of Albany, Somerset East and as far as Uitenhage District were run-over by these marauding Kaffir hoards.
Most of the Settlers and their families were able to escape from their farms just in time and fled to the villages and nearby town leaving behind all of their worldly possessions. They now had less material possessions than when they landed at Algoa Bay 15 years earlier. John Henry Dixon, upon hearing the news of the on-coming native warriors, quickly loaded his wife Judith, daughters Mary, Emma, Eliza, Sarah, Anne and son William Henry into their covered wagon and with other members of his location, dashed at breakneck speed for Grahamstown and protection. If John Henry had decided to seek protection at Bathurst rather than Grahamstown, they would have had to make a second break on Christmas Day. This was the day the natives made their attack against Bathurst. After a grim struggle the defenders of Bathurst were able to withstand the savage attack and to drive the native s back. But a few days later the Settlers realized the odds were against them in holding out for any length of time, so they decided they should make a dash for Grahamstown and better protection. They accomplished this difficult and amazing task without a single casualty; although they had several skirmishes on their way to safety.
No doubt, John Henry upon arriving at Grahamstown and seeing that his wife and children were safely arranged for, volunteered to go out into the Settlements of the surrounding country and help bring in those families who were in immediate danger. The Grahamstown Volunteers were organized for this very purpose.
Up to this point the natives had only attacked Bathurst and had threatened the village of Salem. All their other attacks were confined to the small isolated farms and areas.
A Quaker by the name of Richard Gush, through his courageous conduct, single handed averted possible annihilation to the inhabitants of Salem. Against the advice of the majority of the people seeking protection in the village of Salem, and turning a deaf ear to the pleas of his family, he rode out unarmed to meet the hundreds of Kaffirs who had surrounded the Town and were all ready to make their attack. His son-in-law and two other young men, unarmed followed him at a distance. Dismounting in front of the astonished enemy, he removed his coat to show he was unarmed, and boldly called upon their leader to step forward. So astonished and impressed by his courage, that they refrained from falling upon him and killing him, and immediately called for their leader. After a lengthy council they agreed not to attack the village if Gush would ride back, collect certain gifts, and return with them to the meeting place, still alone and unarmed. These demands Gush coolly carried out in detail, whereupon the Kaffirs filled with wonder and amazement at his courage and faith in them withdrew without further trouble and Salem was saved.
Just two and one-half months later, towards the close of this period of fright, turmoil, uncertainty and death; Judith Boardman Dixon gave birth to her youngest son, Henry Aldous Dixon, on March 14, 1835, at Grahamstown, Cape Province, South Africa. It was in St. George's Church, Grahamstown, that he was christened. The same Church building had only recently been used as a place of refuge for several thousand of the Settlers who had come to Grahamstown for protection. Not only had it been a refuge for the women and children, but also served as a powder magazine for their ammunition.
By the latter part of March 1835, the natives had been pushed out of the Colony and out behind the neutral territory, and by May 10th a new Eastern Boundary had been established. It was not until September 1835, that a peace treaty was signed and the 6th Kaffir War became history.
For the majority of the Settlers, the next few years were devoted to the task of restoring their shattered fortunes.
In re-building their burnt-out homesteads, many of the farmers constructed their new farm buildings along the lines of a miniature fortress, with watch towers, guard houses, loopholes, embrasures an high surrounding stone walls. These farmhouse fortresses later played a most important part of preserving life and property in subsequent wars and raids.
In a surprising short time, houses, barns and outbuildings were rebuilt, fences repaired, plowing resumed and livestock replenished. The visible ravages of war were concealed, but many more years of hard toil was required to pay for the heavy financial losses suffered by the Settlers.
Unlike the Mormon Pioneers “trek” of 1847 when the Latter-Day Saints were driven from the edge of civilization to the wilderness: the Dutch Farmer, living in the Districts of the Eastern Colony, became disgusted with the British Governments frontier policy and the emancipation of their slaves in 1834. They started, by their own free will, to leave the Colony and seek new homes in the new areas to the North and Northwest. By the end of 1837, a total of 2,000 persons had left the Colony and crossed the Orange River. It has been called "The Great Trek of South Africa", and its participants "The Voortrekkers". The majority of the Settlers regretted to see their Dutch neighbor leaving, for since their arrival on the locations, they had respected and developed strong bonds of friendship, trust and mutual interests. Their assistance in defending the frontier lines was of inestimable value and worth.
By 1850, John Henry Dixon had worked hard and long and had accumulated sufficient wise investments to retire. In his 64th year, he bought a house in Uitenhage where some of his friends were living in retirement.
A short time before his retirement decision was made, his youngest daughter Anne, married John Godlieb Hartman at Grahamstown. John Henry rented his house at Grahamstown and took his wife, Judith and youngest son Henry Aldous, who had just returned from a native expedition into Kerlies Country, with all their belongings and moved to their new home at Uitenhage, approximately 100 miles south of Grahamstown.
It was here in Uitenhage in about 1854 that Henry A. Dixon; a young man of nineteen years became acquainted with Elder Leonard I. Smith from Salt Lake City, Utah, and was taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was here in Uitenhage that after being baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that John Henry Dixon told young Henry, "that inasmuch as you have gone in direct opposition to my wishes you must try the world on your own".
John Henry Dixon and his wife Judith were still living at Uitenhage in January 18, 1862 when their L. D. S. missionary son, Henry A. returned to the land of his birth. At this time John Henry Dixon offered to set his son up in business and to see that he was comfortably provided for the remainder of his life, if he would marry and remain in the land of his birth, South Africa.
It was here in Uitenhage in April of 1864 that Henry A. Dixon said his last good bye to his Mother. She died here in Uitenhage on September 23, 1865. His father returned to Grahamstown to live with his widowed daughter Anne.
On April 1, 1874, at the age of 88 years, John Henry Dixon died at Grahamstown, C. P., South Africa, where he was buried.
With reference to the death of his Father, Henry A. Dixon wrote the following in a letter to his sister Anne:
Provo City 13 July 1874 Mrs. Anne Hartman Dundas Street, Grahamstown Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
Dear Sister, Received yours of the 4th April announcing the death of our dear Father. The first intimation I received was from a newspaper I received, presume from you. The blow was not as severe as might have been, had he been a younger man.
His advanced age of 88 and from the tenor of your letters, general debility, caused me to expect it. He has fulfilled the measure of his creation, honorably and faithfully, and has gone to reap the reward of his labors. I feel proud of my Parentage, and hope I may never bring discredit on the family - - - - - -
HENRY A. DIXON
So closed the life’s work of the Leader of the Dixon Party. He was a member of that band of valiant and courageous 1820 Settlers who left his native land, London, England, for the unknown land of South Africa. As a fighting Pioneer, he helped conquer the soil, the natives, and the elements. He lived to enjoy the fruits of his labors and to witness the gradual development of his adopted Country to a thriving and prosperous nation.
John Henry Dixon's Timeline
May 28, 1786
London, Greater London, England
December 26, 1806
Shoreditch, London, England, United Kingdom
February 1, 1807
September 3, 1813
July 14, 1815
July 4, 1817
November 24, 1821
Grahamstown, Western District, Eastern Cape, South Africa
June 21, 1824
Grahamstown, Western District, Eastern Cape, South Africa
January 12, 1826