Aliwal North, Eastern CapeFounded: 1849
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Founded in 1849 and named after the military victory of Sir Harry Smith at Aliwal, India in 1846. North was added to distinguish it from Aliwal South, which is Mossel Bay today.
When the first Trekboers crossed the Stormberg Spruit in 1823 to settle in the vicinity of the Buffelsvlei (later Aliwal North) the country was still desolate and barren. The North Eastern Cape was a true no man's land because of its inhospitality and cold winters. Tribal wars caused the southward migration of ethnic groups and the North Eastern Cape was soon penetrated by the Tembus from the south and the Mfengus from the north.
Mr. J.C. Chase, Civil Commissioner at Burgersdorp, strongly advised the British Government to establish a town at the junction of the Orange and Kraai Rivers to bring order into this outlying border area. After urgent requests by the Trekboers, the eastern border was expanded by the Government in 1848 to include the area across the Stormberg Spruit.
The location of Aliwal North is due to the drift through the Orange River just below the confluence of the Orange and Kraai Rivers. This drift was first mentioned in 1809 in Andries Stockenstrom's travel journal after he and Col. Collins visited this area and named the river the Stockenstrom River. The Bushmen (San), the Trekboers and later the Voortrekkers regularly used the drift on their journeys and they called the drift Boesmans Drift, Piet-se-drif, Somerset Ford and Voortrekker Drift. In 1938 a monument was erected at the drift to commemorate the crossings of Louis Trichardt and Piet Retief. Adv. E.G. Jansen, then Governor General of South Africa, unveiled the monument during the centenary festivities to commemorate the Ossewa Trek. In 1988 the Volkswag erected a second monument at the same spot during the hundred and fifty years commemoration of the Great Trek.
[de Wet, May & Joubert, Madeleine, 2007. Aliwal North - Discover Aliwal's yesterdays. Aliwal North: Aliwal Museum. p, 3-4.]
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