Project photo with thanks to eGGSA at the following link:
People in this camp
People who died in this camp
Although it is not clear exactly when Springfontein camp was formed, in January 1901 the District Commissioner for Bloemfontein reported that he had visited the village because he had heard that the Dewetsdorp people were being sent to a refugee camp there. According to Dr Kendal Franks the camp was started on 22 February 1901 and shortly after William Gostling, who had been the Philippolis magistrate, was appointed superintendent. By the end of February 1901 Springfontein camp was fully established although it was tiny, with a total of 409 inmates including two blacks.1
When Emily Hobhouse visited Springfontein in early March 1901, she found a ‘queer little spot’, ringed by stony koppies in the treeless grasslands of the southern Free State. Gostling, whom Hobhouse described as ‘a really kind man’, had created an orderly place and the camp usually made a favourable impression on visitors. A ‘colonial lady’ who saw the camp in February 1902 commented that:
‘The even streets, the clean tents, the whitewashed stones placed to mark different squares and streets, made the impression on the stranger of order and prosperity. Now I can understand how a stranger coming for a peep at the camps can leave well satisfied with all that is done in such a place for its inmates. He naturally does not see behind the scenes, the heartache, the oppression, the indignities often heaped upon these patient, silent Boers’.2
However humane Gostling may have been, he was a stern disciplinarian and a vigorous supporter of the British cause. He protested against the transfer of Boers to their own districts.
‘Several families from Philippolis under my charge, I know to be particularly ill conditioned who, while being apparently loyal in the highest degree, are to my certain knowledge, absolutely disloyal and are only waiting for an opportunity to communicate with their friends our enemies, either directly or through the medium of the natives’.3
Gostling was also unwilling to allow people to join their relatives in the Cape Colony and had vetoed a number of applications. ‘There is sedition enough already’, he told the Ladies Committee, ‘in many parts of the Cape Colony, and to add more would increase the risk of a rising’. Later he asked the Deputy Administrator if he might write to the London Standard on the camps. The administration of the camps was grossly misrepresented, he believed and he felt that, with his knowledge of the Boers, he could offer a very different interpretation. But the authorities turned down this suggestion. ‘Obstreperous’ and dirty people were imprisoned in a separate enclosure. ‘If women cannot govern their tongues they are put in there’, the Ladies Committee explained.4
Gostling needed to keep his head, for the early months of Springfontein camp were difficult. As Hobhouse noted, the majority of the inmates were bywoners, many of them desperately impoverished. Early arrivals had little clothing. Some women had to make petticoats out of army blankets, one was sporting a man’s trousers while the girls often had nothing but the frocks they were wearing, with no underclothes. Many went barefoot. Emily Hobhouse helped where she could
Blue names Geni Profiles
Black names Not on Geni Yet
They died in Camp
- Jacobus Johannes Botha (68) March 25, 1833 - July 25, 1901
- From Farm Groenvley dist Heilbron
- Married to Gesina Cornelia Dorothea Erasmus & Catharina Getruida Van Tonder & Anna Cornelia Van Tonder
- Further info see DN @ Photos & Documents
- Pieter Stefanus Du Toit Brits (13 months) 30 Jul 1901
- From Farm Rooikraal dist. Bloemfontein
- Father Barend Johannes Marthinus Brits POW in Indie.
- Cause of Death: Measles
How to Participate
If you have an ancestor who was in the ABW Springfontein Concentration Camp:
- Get yourself added as a collaborator
- Navigate to your ancestor's profile
- Under the "More Actions" link choose "Add to Project"
- Select the ABO ===Springfontein===" project
How to add a link is explained in the attached document - Adding links to Geni profiles to projects.
- Include in the "About Me" section of each person a brief biographical sketch of their lives. Also include their Settler party and ship name and arrival date if known
- Include a photograph/painting of your ancestor if one exists.
- Your ancestor's profiles should be marked as "public" and not "private".
- All included profiles should include full identifying information including birth and death dates as well as birth and death locations. It would also be very helpful if the immediate family of your pioneer ancestor, (their parents, siblings and children) profiles were public profiles also.
- Do not make public any profiles of living people.
NOTE: All POW included on this project will have their profiles editable by other geni.com collaborators of this project. The object of reproducing the list here is to see if these people can be located on Geni and perhaps develop trees from them. To take part in any project - you do need to first be a collaborator - so join the project. See the discussion Project Help: How to add Text to a Project - Starter Kit to get you going! How to Participate • Please add only the profiles of people that are linked to this project. This is easily done from the profile page using the Add to project link. • If you have any queries related to these ABW people, please start a discussion linked to this project. (See the menu top right). • Please add related projects to the menu on the right. • If you have links to related web pages that would be of interest to others please add them in the relevant section at the bottom of the page. In order to do this use the drop down menu at the top left of the screen and Join the Project. If this option is not available to you then contact a collaborator and ask to be added to the project. As a collaborator you will be able to edit this page. • Add any documents of interest using the menu at the top right of the page, and then add a link to the document in the text under the heading below. If you do not know how to do this please contact one of the other collaborators to assist you. How to add a link is explained in the attached document - Adding links to Geni profiles to projects.