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Newspaper Cuttings from the Eastern Cape

Newspaper Cuttings from the Eastern Cape - K


EP Herald, 3 Jan 1983
Landowner who lost 12 farms to a dream
by Jill Joubert

Most men would have retired 10, 15 even 20 years ago but not Sam KNOTT. At 74 his aquiline features are slightly tanned
from three-quarters of a century of outdoor life, his cheeks a healthy pink. His brilliant blue eyes regard you kindly, if astutely. Sam is reticent about telling you how he has lost an empire to another man's dream. For Sam does not know anyone else who has owned as much land in South Africa.

It was a Verwoerdian dream which caused Sam to have to barter 12 farms in Ciskei to the South African Government. To date, he has been compensated for about 58 per cent of "the best farms I have ever owned". With the acquisition of Botha's Post on the Kat River, he now owns 15 farms in South Africa.

There is an apocryphal tale about Sam and Ciskei's President Lennox SEBE. Hearsay has it that when negotiations came to the
crunch the two sat round a table and debated the future of Sam's Ciskei farms. Never let it be said that either man haggled. Finally Sam said to the President: "What about taking over my portion?" This is an anecdote enjoyed throughout the Eastern Cape but Sam has never met President SEBE. He has, however, met Lt-Gen Charles SEBE. "We got on all right," he says laconically.

Sam is a descendant of one of the hardy Settler families which tamed the Eastern Cape. There were two branches which arrived in 1820. Sam's forebears became owners of Botha's Post in 1840. It is with some sentiment that he talks of taking over the homestead in October next year. The original house still stands. Built principally of stone, it has been enlarged and modernised.

Sam, born on Llangollen near Alice, once tipped as capital of Ciskei, was one of four boys and a girl. He was schooled on the farm until he went to Dale College, King William's Town, for two years. Dale, which in its heyday had more than 800 pupils, then the biggest boarding school in the Southern Hemisphere. At school, Sam made his mark as a rugby and tennis player but there was little time after he left Dale for anything except social tennis.

In a way he has lived under false colours. Sam's name is Maurice Timm KNOTT - TIMM from the settler family which his mother, Mary WAKEFORD stemmed. So that settler stock comes from both sides. Sam - he smiles beguilingly as he tells of brother Llewellyn Joseph nicknamed "Bull" - tells how he and "Bull" returned to Llangollen and farmed with their father, Joseph. Mainly they ran cattle, though there were a few sheep and goats. "Bull" married and went his own way. But by this time Joseph, more than two decades older than his wife Mary, had started buying up arms.

About 1922 the KNOTTs were buying in Fort Beaufort, Albany and Peddie. Joseph died in 1935. Sam maintained the home property with his mother for another 31 years. He talks of his mother with nostalgia.

Born and brought up in Bathurst, she became a governess. It was on Botha's Post that she and Joseph courted. Now comes the cherry When Joseph and Mary finally decided to marry she returned to Bathurst to prepare for the event. The date was set and Joseph was commissioned to arrive at a certain time. He set off for Bathurst, a distance incalculable by today's maps. It had to be made by horse and cart but the horses turned stubborn. Joseph arrived seven days late.

There were no hard feelings. Sam told me delightedly: "They went to the magistrate and tied the knot." It was as though nothing marred the relationship. Mary moved to Llangollen and settled to the life of a farmer's wife as if she had been born to it. There were the bottles of fruit, pickles, preserves and jams which lined the pantry shelves. At 2am she would get up to start making butter so that it went farm fresh to King William's Town and East London.

Meantime, Sam took over. He needed managers on the other farms. A Xhosa speaker all his life, he "inherited" the men, wives and families on the farms which added to the empire. From these he picked his managers. "Many of them were tops," he said,
But the take-over has grieved him. He said: "I did not like it. I had good farms which I shall never replace." At one time Sam owned as many as 12000 graded cattle. As to the extent of the land he has still not "counted it up."

It was George KNOTT, Sam's great-grandfather, who first acquired Botha's Post. His progeny then went out to acquire properties like Llangollen which Joseph developed. Sam has known bad times. Soon after he left school there was the first bad drought. He told me: "I was sent with our stock to the. Transvaal." He supervised the transport by train to Louis
Trichardt. He stayed with them there for two years until things improved down south.

Droughts, veld fires and stock thefts have always plagued the enterprise. But Sam is philosophical. He told me: "You've got to take the good with the bad. You must meet disasters as they come, possibly with contingency plans. These come from knowing the land, conditions, your stock, and your people." Sam does not know of a bigger landowner in the country. This is the man
who once bought a farm of just one morgen. Joseph had bought up most of the surrounding land. Sam told me; "There was one morgen left to consolidate the property. So I bought it."

He mourns the loss of Ciskei farms as would any man of the soil. He said: "I bought the best. I have lost the best." Sam paid a sum of seven figures for the ancestral home, Botha's Post. As to what will happen to his land in the future, he is not yet prepared to say. Details are still to be finalised.

But I am prepared to hazard a guess. Sam, a bachelor, will do his best by the land which has nurtured him and which he still cherishes.


Herald, 3 Dec 2004
by Ivor Markman
The week ending December 3, 1904.

The steamer Batavia, carrying the remains of ex-President Paul KRUGER, steamed slowly into Table Bay with her flags at half-mast, and dropped anchor almost unnoticed and unrecognised, but when the steamers in and around the docks became aware of its identity, they dipped flags. The committee was received on board about two o'clock this afternoon.

Dr LEYDS, who watched the preparations from the bridge, looked the picture of health, while Vice-Admiral McLEOD, of the Dutch Navy, personally directed all arrangements. The vessel will stay in the Bay until Thursday afternoon when she will be brought alongside the south arm and will occupy number two berth.

The special funeral train arrived in Cape Town on Monday evening with Generals BOTHA, George BRAND, A D WOLMARANS and others, and a bodyguard of eight aboard.

In Pretoria, owing to the dangerous condition of the tower of the old Dutch Reformed Church, in which Mr KRUGER's body will lie in state, the Public Works Department have ordered the immediate demolition of the spire and upper portion of the tower. Bad bricks and the rainy weather have caused rents to appear in the walls and partial sinking.

The first magistrate of the small community that settled on the banks of the Schoonspruit in 1837, Jacob de C'LERQ, gave his name to a town founded by Voortrekkers and built by gold mining. The discovery of gold in 1886 saw thousands of prospectors descending on the quiet rural aggregation of Klerksdorp.
Today, Klerksdorp is the centre for a large mining and agricultural economy and has the second largest grain co-operative in the world.

The Railway Station and Old Flag Room Opened by President Paul KRUGER when the line from Krugersdorp reached the
town in 1897, Klerksdorp's first national monument.

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