William (Billy) Strachan

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William (Billy) Strachan's Geni Profile

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About William (Billy) Strachan

On our arrival at Umtata we lived in a cottage built of sod walls with a thatched roof on Uncle Willie Strachan’s farm down near the river and not far from the “stepping stones”. There was also a ferry there operated by my Uncle Will for his own personal convenience, or rather I should say for the convenience of his farm boys and his own children. The road to the town by way of the bridge – a steel bridge, now not so much in use as there is a concrete bridge for motor traffic – was a long one. As there was only one boat, it often happened that it was on the wrong side of the river.

I must say, however, that a farm boy was appointed by my Uncle as ferryman and it was his duty to return the boat to the farm side of the river where it was moored. When anyone wished to return to the farm from town it was necessary to “co-ee” and the ferryman would come running down in response, although I must say it was often a very tardy response and one had to continue with the “co-ee” and exercise patience. Of course there were always the “stepping-stones” by which to cross but they were not readily accessible from the ferry, and so one had to decide before hand which means to use. In any case, the stepping-stones could not be used if the river was in flood.

                         EXTRACT FROM: Memoirs of Kenneth Harvey Owen dated 1965 - Muldersdrift (original in my possession - N J Owen)

Your grandfather Kenneth Owen explains in his memoirs how his sister Rita was born in Umtata and then, later, married a trader called Clarence Hawkes, who lived and carried on business at a place called Qolora. He also explains how Clarence Hawkes moved his business to a place called Hluleka when Rita subsequently died. I thought you might like to know that my great-grandfather William Strachan had 11 other children in addition to Maud and Eric of whom you already know and that one of these was called Alice, that she married a man called Larter and had two daughters with him, and that one of these daughters Marion Larter married Clarence Hawkes after your grandfather's sister Rita died and Clarence had moved to Hluleka. Hluleka was actually situated on a strip of the Wild Coast seven miles long by 1 to 1 1/2 miles deep called Strachan's Grant that was given to William Strachan (known as The Peacemaker) by Chief Gwadiso of the Kojwayos in gratitude for his having helped avert a war between the Konjwayos and their neighbours! Furthermore, the Trollips from whom your great-grandfather once worked in Umtata were clearly part of the family of Trollips from who my grandfather Vincent Leppan was descended - he was actually descended from two lines of Trollip 1820 Settlers, William and Benjamin, both sons of the original Trollip patriarch, Joseph Trollip (spelled like this).

All the best

Rodney Blair


The history of the Hluleka Nature Reserve is of some interest. A settler, William Strachan was closely associated with the Pondo people of the Hluleka area during the period 1860-1919 and often acted as mediator between the Pondos and colonial government officials.

Two of his major achievements were: 1) To persuade the warring chiefs of the to resolve their differences by negotiation and thus end a conflict. 2) To mediate between the local Chief Gwadiso and the British Government, in order to prevent military retaliation by the government forces against the Pondos, over the Pondo refusal to hand over an escaped prisoner. In appreciation for these and many other services Chief Gwadiso gave to William Strachan a block of land that included the coastal strip from the Mtakatyi River in the south to the Mnenu River in the north, to a distance of 2-3 km inland. This was known as Strachan’s Grant and was shown as such on all maps. The size of the grant was eventually reduced by the authorities of the time and eventually measured about 640 ha. The site was used by Strachan and his relatives as a holiday venue. After the death of Strachan (1919), the property was sold in 1927 to a Johannesburg stockbroker, Mr L.G. Heard, who with his wife Mona set about building a holiday home.

Peacemaker (http://www.ecparks.co.za/downloads/Hluleka%20SMP.pdf)

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William (Billy) Strachan's Timeline

November 25, 1849
Cape, South Africa
July 9, 1874
Age 24
Mthatha, Transkei District, Eastern Cape, South Africa
May 13, 1876
Age 26
Age 28
September 24, 1879
Age 29
June 6, 1881
Age 31
October 30, 1883
Age 33
July 24, 1885
Age 35
January 11, 1898
Age 48
Umtata, Eastern Cape, South Africa