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Moodie Trek to Rhodesia - 1892

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  • Frederick Edmund Markham (1859 - bef.1901)
    Markham Family Research:
  • Henry de Burgh Bancroft Espeut (1859 - 1896)
    Zimbabwe DN: Death Registers, 1892-1977; Vol 3, page 152 (image 82) - - this page of The Story of Melsetter gives his full name, confirms that he was a Moodie Trekker, and describes his death).In it st...
  • Emily Teresa Bain (1862 - 1946)
    Was the adopted daughter of Michael and Maria Bain. Updated from MyHeritage Match via sibling John Josiah Bain by SmartCopy : Sep 18 2014, 6:07:57 UTC
  • Ivy May Bain (1888 - 1976)
    - Rhodesia's Pioneer Women (1859-1896)
  • Maria Olive Bennie (1882 - 1946)
    - Rhodesia's Pioneer Women 1859-1896

Thomas Moodie Trek 1892

Rhodes believed it was essential to his plans of occupying Manicaland by establishing a European settlement. He obtained the services of George Benjamin Dunbar Moodie to recruit farmers from the Orange Free State, with the offer of a 3 000 morgen farm in Gazaland to every man and boy who could trek to the Eastern districts.

Dunbar Moodie contacted his uncle, Thomas Moodie, a maize and wheat grower in the Bethlehem district of the Free State, whose ancestors had been tenant farmers at Melsetter in the Orkneys. After some bargaining with Rhodes regarding the terms of land tenure, Thomas Moodie organised a party of 29 families consisting of 37 men and 31 women, with 17 wagons and 350 horses and cattle. They were mostly Afrikaans speaking farmers and the party set off in May 1892. The party split into two groups at Fort Victoria and the group which eventually reached the Chipinga area to stake out their farms and establish the town of Melsetter (named for the original Moodie family estate in the Orkneys) comprised 14 men, 4 women, and 3 small children in 7 wagons.

The Moodie Trek was the first trek to Rhodesia ; it showed the way and others followed.

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Leader Thomas Moodie (1839-1894)

Party Members

Thomas Moodie and his wife Cecilia Jacomina Robbertse

Mrs Thomas Moodie, nee Cecelia Jacomina Robbertse. Travelled up to Gazaland with her husband (leader of the Moodie Trek), three daughters and seven sons. An interesting account of the journey is given on pp. 152-157 of "Experiences of Rhodesia's Pioneer Women,” written by one of Mrs Moodie's daughters, Mrs Acutt. Mrs Moodie was a very brave woman. Groot Tom and Cecilia's eldest son Jan Hendrik Robbertse and his family remained in South Africa; also their second daughter Johanna Maria who married Daniel Elardus Erasmus of the farm Rietvlei (near Pretoria).

Moodie Children:

  • Sarah Maria Moodie (b. 1866), the eldest daughter of Thomas and Cecilia Moodie; she married her cousin, George Benjamin Dunbar Moodie, at the house of Rev. Sylvester, who performed the ceremony, in Fort Victoria. They spent their honeymoon at Zimbabwe Ruins (the first couple to do so), living in Cecil Rhodes' wagonette. See p. 135 "A Study in Pioneering: The Moodies of Melsetter,” by Edmund H. Burrows.
  • James Benjamin Moodie (1872-1936), second son of Thomas and Cecilia.
  • Thomas Dreyer Moodie (b. 1874); third son of Thomas and Cecilia; he returned to South Africa with his widowed mother Cecilia in circa 1896 and married Susanna Margaretha Erasmus (sister of Daniel Elardus Erasmus).
  • Elsie Elizabeth Moodie third daughter of Thomas and Cecilia. An interesting account of this Trek, written by Elsie, is to be found on pages 152 to 157 of “Experiences of Rhodesias' Pioneer Women” by Jeannie M. Boggie. Elsie's first husband was Frederick Markham, whom she married on 1st January, 1894 - this was the first marriage in Melsetter. After the death of her husband she married William Acutt in 1902. See pp. 156 and 160 of "A Study in Pioneering - The Moodies of Melsetter,” by Edmund H. Burrows. Mrs Acutt died in Bulawayo on 31st December, 1944. (Information from Mrs Czarnikov, Bulawayo).
  • Donald Charles Petrus Moodie (born 1879) twin of Malcolm Mauritz Moodie.
  • Malcolm Mauritz Moodie (born 1879) twin of Donald Charles Petrus Moodie.
  • Harriet Magdalena Moodie (born 1882) fourth daughter of Thomas and Cecilia. Later returned to the Transvaal and was joined there in 1902 by her sister Sarah. Married Walter Mears. P. 160 "A Study in Pioneering: The Moodies of Melsetter,” by Edmund H. Burrows.
  • Benjamin Moodie (1884 - 1937) sixth son of Thomas and Cecilia; married Anna Sophia Bosman; died in Umtali.
  • George Christian Stephen Moodie (b. 1886) seventh son of Thomas and Cecilia.
  • William Duncan Strickland Moodie (1888 - 1895) eighth and last son of Thomas and Cecilia. After his death his widowed mother Cecilia returned to South Africa, to the farm of her daughter Johanna Maria and son-in-law Daniel Elardus Erasmus. After her death in 1905 she was buried in the Erasmus family graveyard, near Marais Dam, on the farm Rietvlei (now a nature reserve).

George Benjamin Dunbar Moodie

married his cousin, Sarah Maria Moodie (Groot Tom's eldest daughter) in Fort Victoria during the course of the Moodie Trek.

Ernst du Plessis

The Moodie trek ended when they reached Waterfalls farm on 4th January 1893. Ernst du Plessis, the dependable second-in-command of the trek, chose Clearwater for his farm. Then he returned to the Free State and married his bride Lena, daughter of Gert Maritz. They both returned to Melsetter with the du Plessis Trek in 1894 (p. 152 "A Study in Pioneering, The Moodies of Melsetter," by Edmund H. Burrows.).

Henry de Burgh Bancroft Espeut

(often incorrectly spelt as Ashpute)

Richard Hulley

Fred Markham

Ernest Baden.

Jan Oberholster.

Gustave Stiebel.

? Knox.

The following members of the original party broke away in Fort Victoria and continued to Salisbury, and then on to Umtali:

John Benjamin Moodie

John (brother of Groot Tom) and his wife Margaret Agnes joined the Moodie Trek with their two children Julia Sarah Moodie and James Gray Moodie. After a difficult journey which took much longer than anticipated there were problems within the party and, at Fort Victoria, two groups formed; Dunbar and Groot Tom led one group to Gazaland (Melsetter-to-be); John Moodie and John Nesbitt (see below) led the breakaway group to Salisbury and then on to Umtali. John died in 1900 and Margaret later married a Mr van Niekerk. An article by Mrs van Niekerk is to be found on pages 38 and 40 of "Women in Central Africa," published in 1953 and compiled by the National Council of Women of S. Rhodesia. Mrs van Niekerk died at Inyanga aged 91. On Roll of Women Pioneers.

Coleman and Nesbitt families

  • Edmund Francis Coleman and his wife Margery Hester (nee Moodie), sister of Groot Tom, were in the party with their three daughters, one son, one son-in-law and three grandchildren. Mr and Mrs Coleman opened the first boarding house in Salisbury. Mrs Coleman had exciting adventures in the Mashonaland rebellion and was six weeks in the Salisbury laager. An account of her early experiences, written by herself, is to be found in "Women in Central Africa," pp. 9 to 12, Also see pages 138 to 143 of "Experiences of Rhodesia's Pioneer Women,” by Jeannie M. Boggie. Mrs Coleman died in January, 1935. Information from Mrs Stidolph, Bulawayo.
  • Lucretia Maria Coleman, neice of Thomas Moodie. She married Sydney Nathaniel Arnott in Salisbury in 1896; the couple lost everything at Gletwin Farm during the rebellion. Mrs. Arnott was in the Salisbury laager and her husband took part in the Mazoe Patrol. After this they went to the Cape for a time, but returned to Rhodesia and lived at Good Hope Farm near Salisbury, where Mrs. Arnott died in October, 1954 aged 89. Information from her sister, Mrs. Jack, of Goromonzi, in letter dated 27/7/1960 and from her son Mr. G. E. Arnott, Wankie, in letter dated 9/8/1960. Also see p. 138 " Experiences of Rhodesia's Pioneer Women," by Jeannie M. Boggie.
  • Sarah Susanna (Sallie) Coleman, niece of Thomas Moodie, travelled with her husband John Warren Nesbitt and three young children. She has written an interesting account of their early adventures which is to be found on pages 144 to 146 of Mrs. Boggie's "Experiences of Rhodesia's Pioneer Women." Mrs. Nesbitt was in the Umtali laager. She died in Salisbury in January, 1956. Information from her sister, Mrs. Jack, of Goromonzi.
  • Alex Nesbitt.
  • Josephine A. M. Nesbitt; great-niece of Thomas Moodie; was in the Salisbury laager during the rebellion. Educated overseas; she was married in Salisbury in 1910 to Reginald Neville Alan Stidolph and lived there until her death in August, 1921. (Information from her daughter-in-law, Mrs Stidolph, Bulawayo).
  • Nora Nesbitt. Travelled up with her parents in the Moodie Trek when she was only a few months old. She was in the Salisbury laager during the rebellion. Married Rupert Wellstood Jack in 1911. Information from herself in letter dated 27/7/1960 from Goromonzi. Also p. 144 "Experiences of Rhodesia's Pioneer Women,” by Jeannie M. Boggie.
  • Eveline Frances Jemina Coleman, niece of Thomas Moodie; was in the Salisbury laager during the rebellion. Married Leonard Farewell Holstock Roberts in 1897. She lived first in Salisbury and then in Melsetter and other places in Rhodesia until her death, in Salisbury, in 1951. On Roll of Women Pioneers. (Information from her son, Mr Farewell Roberts, Bulawayo).
  • Thomas Edmund Coleman, strayed from the wagons and got lost one day. Men of the party searched fruitlessly for a whole day but young Coleman managed to find his own way back at 2 o'clock the following morning (p. 36 of Many Treks made Rhodesia).

Bain family

  • Maria Olive Bain, arrived with her parents Alexander Stuart and Emily Theresa. Born 1882, married Mr Bennie, died 1946. (Information from Mrs S. M. Duncanson in letter dated 29/6/1959).
  • Ivy May Bain, arrived with her parents Alexander Stuart and Emily Theresa. Born 1888, married firstly Carl Frederick Impey, secondly William Arthur King, died in 1976. (Letter from Mrs S. M. Duncanson, 29/6/59).

William Bucknall, husband of Harriet Susan Moodie, sister of 'Groot Tom' Moodie (probably "old man Bucknall" who was mentioned on pp. 35, 37 of Many Treks made Rhodesia - on Sundays Bucknall held a service for the party in a big tent erected for the purpose).

T Bucknall (could be Thomas Dunbar Bucknall, son of the above William and Harriet?).

Lizzie du Plessis and her parents came with the Moodie Trek; she later married a Mr Kruger and, in 1957, was living at Melsetter (Information from Mrs M. Edwards, Chipinga).

I Young.

I van Niekerk.

T van Niekerk.

G MacAlpine/McAlpine (mentioned on p. 35 of Many Treks made Rhodesia).

L Krantz.

D Beyers.

W Schoff.

C Benecke.

A Main.

Johannes W Kotze - along with John Benjamin Moodie, appointed to the committee of the 'breakaway' trek.

M J Kotze.

P N Smith.

W James.

M Attwell.

C A Woodford.

? Coetzee.

? Fotheringham.

? McAdam.

(not Moodie Trek but related - Walter Carden Bain and Alexander Stuart Bain were brothers):

Walter Carden Bain and Sarah Bain (Hulley) and their family who followed in 1894:

  • Alice Leonora Bain (later Mrs Howard). Came with her parents from Queenstown by ox wagon. She was in the laager in '96 and lived in Bulawayo until her death in 1950. Information from her daughter, Miss Howard.
  • Violet Constance Bain (later Mrs Bodle). Came up by ox wagon with her parents; was in the Bulawayo laager in '96. Later left Rhodesia and died in Port Shepstone in 1958. Information from her niece, Miss Howard, Bulawayo.
  • Florence Marion Bain (later Mrs Talbot). Arrived by ox wagon. Was in the laager in Bulawayo during the rebellion in '96 and is still living in Bulawayo (1960). Information from her niece, Miss Gladys Howard, Bulawayo. On Roll of Women Pioneers.
  • Daisy Maria Bain later (Mrs Robins). Arrived with her parents on the 12th December, 1894. Was in the Bulawayo laager during the '96 rebellion; lived in Bulawayo until her death in 1950. Information from her niece, Miss G. Howard, Bulawayo. On Roll of Women Pioneers.
  • Elizabeth Ruby Bain (laterMrs York). Came by ox wagon to Bulawayo with her parents; was in the laager during the '96 rebellion and is still living near Bulawayo (1960). Information from her niece, Miss G. Howard.
  • Ada Margaret Bain (later Mrs Attwell). Came up by ox wagon with her parents; was in the Bulawayo laager in '96 and is now living in Gatooma (1960). Information from her neice, Miss G. Howard, Bulawayo. ?possibly also 1 son Walter Herman Bain

See also

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