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Subject: Buffalo Border Guard Anonymous Letter Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:55 am
Fred has found a very informative and interesting letter written by one of the Buffalo Border Guard. The trouble is we can’t work out who was the author. However, I think it is possible to find him with a little genealogical know-how and on-line access. So here’s your chance for fame…if you fancy having a go…
The letter is contemporary, appears totally genuine, and is written from Fort Pine 3rd March 1879 to the writer’s uncle and tells of events from the Mangeni Reconnaissance until the return into Natal. The uncle is Matthew William Harrison, wine merchant, who had his shop/home at 82 Market Street, Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire and it was Harrison’s sister who was the letter-writer’s mother (still living in 1879). In other words the letter-writer's surname was not Harrison.
Using the census return for 1881, General Registry marriage and birth records it should possible to ascertain the mother’s and therefore the letter-writer’s fore- and surnames. I reckon he was born in the 1850s.
From the letter’s contents it may be assumed that the letter-writer had worked in Burton-on-Trent for a time, had arrived in South Africa about May 1878, and that his mother (Harrison’s sister) was living in or close to Ashby de la Zouch. He was not an officer and it's unlikely he was an N.C.O.
From my own investigations I’ve narrowed down the likely letter-writer to be Troopers Archer, Dymock/Dimock, Pettigrew, Posselt; Corp. Hepburn/Hepbane; or Sergt. Money. I’m prepared to be wrong!
If you’re up for it, I’d be pleased to hear from you. We’ll share the letter with you and acknowledge your help when and if published.
Posts : 3203 Join date : 2009-03-03 Location : Devon
Subject: Re: Buffalo Border Guard Anonymous Letter Mon Jul 06, 2020 9:48 am
Hi Julian and Fred
From the 1871 Census, In Matthew's house as Niece was a Lizzie Dimmock.
From the 1861 Census, In John and Mary Dimmock's house, we find Elizabeth (Lizzie) Ann Dimmock and there is listed her brother as Arthur Dimmock born 1856.
Subject: Re: Buffalo Border Guard Anonymous Letter Mon Jul 06, 2020 10:07 am
A most exciting development! Although neither of us is in a position to join the search for the name of the letter-writer, both my younger son and I have a keen interest in it, because of our family link to the Stretch family of the Dundee district. This evolved from a family heirloom to the collecting of genealogical information, the Buffalo Border Guard, and the life and times of some of the people who inhabited the Buffalo Border in the 19th Century. We wish the searchers good luck, and we hope for a speedy solution to the mystery.
Subject: Re: Buffalo Border Guard Anonymous Letter Mon Jul 06, 2020 11:08 am
Brett Out of interest, and given your connection, do you have anything on the existence of Arthur Adams and any possible relationship with QMS William Adams? I'm also trying to discover whether Charles Adams - teenage son of William - ceased employment as a waggon driver in No. 3 Column and, later in 1879, himself joined the BBG.
Ells I presume Sole was looking for a Dymock/Dimock (he appears with both spellings) and found William J Dymock and assumed he must be one and the same man. But he was wrong. The letter Fred found was published in the British press in May but written in March to the writer's uncle. The uncle (Harrison, wine merchant of Ashby) passed it to the paper for publication and the paper cut off the writer's name from the bottom of the letter. The letter's content states that he was in the BBG and the content corroborates this. It was also clear that the writer was an OR with Chelmsford on Reconnaissance. It was also clear that his mother (Harrison's sister) was still alive and also lived in Ashby. Searching trade indexes for Ashby found just one wine merchant in the 1870s onwards viz. Matthew Wm. Harrison with an address. I then removed from the muster roll of BBG all those who were kia or survived, all those who were back in Natal or elsewhere, all those who were an officer or NCO, and all those I already knew were on the Reconnaissance and didn't fit the letter-writer's bill (so to speak). I was left with the handful of names which I placed on my post above. I knew the writer had to be one of them. Andy's excellent piece of research showed that Harrison did indeed have one nephew of the right age (with a surname from my shortlist). The actual spelling of the surname was also found (mangled surnames are frequent in clerks' hand-written rolls and paylists and the bane of historians' lives). QED. P.S. You might ask sole for his reasoning but I doubt there will be anything as solid as the above.
Julian, It looks certain that Arthur is definitely the chap based on the research, and as such helps in completing the Medal Roll in an accurate way for the Buffalo Border Guard. With this it may be able to tie down some biographical details to the man. Where Terry Sole's assumption came from one can only guess, as regrettably he was murdered in 2017. I know myself that it is easy to look at sources such as the Natal Almanac for years around the 1880's and find a name that pseudo fits who you are looking for without having any back-up data.
Ells I never publish anything as fact that I cannot find evidence for. If something's only probable, then that's how it should be stated. As you say, the temptation to 'assume' something, like Arthur Adams on another thread, 'must' be the case is not good history. Nevertheless, as human beings, we all make mistakes.