This section has been included at the request of hundreds of visitors to this website. Since it was set up we have had over three million people visit - and we hope that many more will enjoy the fruits of hours and hours of research by Scott Balson and his research team.


More comments - 2005 to 2009 at this link
More comments - 2005 and before at this link

July 2011

Early Annals of Kokstad - William Dower

Dear Sir

I have recently been doing some family history research and the name of Rev William Dower has come to light as a member of my family. William Dower was married to a Jessie Edward who was the sister of my Great Grandmother an Isabella Edward. I have recently purchased a copy of the Rev William Dowers book Early Annals of Kokstad (1978 edition) which contains a photo of Rev William Dower and his wife. The book also mentions Margaret Edward who was Jessie and Isabellaís sister. I have in my possession a photo taken as far as I am aware sometime in the early 1900ís which I think may be of Rev Dower and his wife on a visit to Blackpool England which I understand they made. Some notes we have in the family show that an aunt of mine actually met them when they came to Blackpool and in fact related the story of the birth of the first white child in Kokstad from the book. The aunt died in 2003.

The only other picture I have of Rev Dower and his wife is the one in his book which shows a remarkable similarity to the photo I have myself. I was wondering if you have or have access to any other pictures of Rev Dower and his wife so we could compare them. I do in fact have two photos, one of just Rev Dower and his wife and also one of them with my Great Grandparents Isabella Edward and John Ingram Smith I also have the plate glass negatives for both photos.

No doubt you will advise in due course if you are able to help in any way.

Yours sincerely

Stuart Smith

August 2010

Early Annals of Kokstad - William Dower

Hi Scott

I and my wife have recently come across your web pages about South Africa and the Qriquas.

My wife is a direct descendant of Rev William Dower and we have just started top look at our family history.

We have a slightly damaged copy of an original 1902 print of The Early Annals of Kokstad by William Dower. (It is missing the covers and the last page we have is page 124 which finishes mid sentence so we are missing the final 3 or 4 pages at the back. However we do have the pictures at the front of Kokstad and Mount Currie 1901 and Kaptijn Adam Kok (the next page.) The Een Pound Sterling note is still intact stapled into the book.

As evidence of all this I have attached some scans I have made of some pages of the book.

We are not interested in selling this book at the present time, but thought you might be interested to know of the existence of this copy.

Regards

Peter Martin

PS Our son, Christopher still has the name Dower as his middle name and my wife's father too was a Dower though surnamed Selkirk. While this bit of the family tree may not be of relevance to you, we are proud of the direct link to the Dowers and the work they did in Africa.


March 2010

St Faiths 6d

Hi

I found the original article by Scott Balson about the above mentioned tokens and was inspired into an attempt to find St. Faiths. I took a trip to Umtentwini in December 2009 and I went on a very long and eventful trip into the interior armed with two metal detectors!

I found what I believe to be the site of the original store but it was apparently broken down and a new store erected on the site a number of years back.

The images below were taken on St Faiths Road by Paul Baxter in December 2009 (More at this link)

The foundations under the tree
are all that remain of the old store
The scenic road to St FaithsThe Maristella Church
on St Faiths Road

I should add here that part of the eventful trip happened on the way up the mountain toward the store, as I past a car with 3 black gents all in a panic. It turned out that an elderly gent who was a passenger was having a heart attack or seizure of some sort. I stopped and was greeted by the sight of one of the younger chaps trying to pour water into the seizure victimís throat. Now its not that I am a doctor or anything, but I know that it is not advisable to try and drown a seizure victim especially when he is in the throws of an attack. Realising that none of us could help this poor gent, I told them to make their way to the St Faiths clinic as quickly as possible.

I continued on the hazardous dirt road up the mountain following them into the "town" of St. Faiths.

Oh I should also mention that prior to this I did find a church but it was not the church mentioned by Scott in his article. However I swept the grounds (with permission from the minister) and found a stunning old coin! A 2002 20c hahahaha! And a wonderful, large, old dirt encrusted padlock. Made in China!

Anyhow, back to St. Faiths. As stated I found what I believe to be the old store and with permission from the new owner of the store, I swept the entire area around the store. I also swept the entire back garden and the road side of the store! I did not find any tokens at all, however I did locate hundreds of beer bottle caps and soft drink can rings! And managed to be harassed by a highly intoxicated gent and his 2 pals who didn't like the sight of a white gent around their drinking venue! Fortunately at 6 foot 5 inches I am not scared of very easily.

After many gopher holes were dug I eventually left empty handed.

Scott if you do perchance read this please leave some clue as to where I may find the church/mission you spoke off? I could not find any old broken bridge or gully matching your description! And yes I am not feint hearted and shall cross the bridge, if I can ever find the dam thing! lol

The next bit of excitement happened on the way back to Umtentweni. I drove down the Old St. Faiths road at the back of Umtentweni until it ends in a large mound of soil. Obviously someone blocked of the road at some stage as it continues on the other side. I proceeded on foot and to my amazement discovered many documents lying here, there and everywhere! Old Marriage certificates and Birth Certificates and check stubs amongst them. I then discovered the source! Two safes were laying broken amongst a pile of debris. It was very obvious that they were a result of a recent break in from one of the near by houses. I phoned the police who came to the scene, removed the safes, asked me numerous questions and then went of to find the owner of the documents and safes! All in all an eventful day, even if I did come home empty handed!

Score = 1 gents life saved, 1 crime hopefully solved, 224 beer bottle caps, 156 coke lids, a few tins, 1 padlock, 1 20c coin, 0 tokens and 1 sun tan!

Regards

Paul
edgeydragon (Bid or Buy)

REPLY:

Hi Paul

Loved your story.

I still remember the trip well - even though it was over 30 years ago!

I travelled down a remote badly maintained dirt track that ran through thick scrub for quite a while after asking a local store keeper near St Faiths for directions - (don't ask me to find it again!). After several kilometres of nearly turning back I was confronted by this rickety old timber bridge with two heavy logs acting as frames on the side with smaller tethered branches lying across the top. I persevered after weighing up what I had already faced. As I started going across it (it was just wider than a car) I could feel the branches moving underfoot. I freaked! Worse was to follow - after crossing the "bridge" I got out of my car to have a closer look at what I had just crossed and realised that the loose branches lying on the nearly 10m long bridge barely covered a gorge with sheer cliffs that framed a small stream about 20m below!

I drove about a kilometre down what once been a road before arriving at the old St Faiths Church which was partially obscured by large trees. It was a beautiful spot. The church was deserted and the gardens quite overgrown - I met an old nduna who was amazed to see a car this side of the bridge. Apparently no one had dared to cross the bridge for years even back then.

I nearly walked home but as my car had a sizeable loan attached I simply gritted my teeth and slowly crossed the "bridge" again.

So I would suggest the old dirt track has since grown over and the bridge has probably collapsed isolating the church. I did not find the coin there but after discovering it went to the spot to find out more about St Faiths. I was working at Barclays Bank in Ixopo at the time.

I can understand the brevity you must have showed because even then this was a very remote region covered in African villages.

This is what makes token coins and numismatics so fascinating - when could a 31 PROOF tickey provide such memorable adventures?

PS Perhaps you should take your metal detector to Riverside near Donnybrook - about 20 kilometres on the Drakensberg side on the road from Ixopo. Riverside is where James Cole once had his original store. Like the J H Cartwright tokens from the Cape, apparently the extremely rare James Cole pieces were swept away in the late 1970s when the old James Cole butchery at Riverside was flooded and swept away by the Umzimkhulu River. (I remember seeing this old building in 1976 when I worked at the Riverside bank agency). Old James Cole was rumoured to have hidden the tokens under the floor boards of the old butchery after they were withdrawn from circulation in the mid-1930s.

There are a few hurdles to deal with. First the old butchery is gone (Milner Snell checked this out years ago); second Riverside is now a large remote African location and not a good spot to be alone in; third the tokens are probably under several feel of silt in the river - although if you located the old store you could probably use your detector down stream and see if you pick them up.

If you do perhaps you will consider sending me a bucketful.. ;-)

Kind regards

Scott Balson


January 2010

My Name is Simon Royston, and I have by chance come across your website detailing some information on my great, great Grandfather, B.G J.R Royston and in particular a book written by Napier Devitt on Galloping Jack.

My cousin in California, Reverend Basil Royston, has for many years been working on the book depicting our familyís history and amongst other things, has detailed information on one of our more profound ancestors, old Galloping Jack.

I am sure that Napierís firsthand account from John Royston will provide much insight and information for Father Basil,

Do you still have an original copy of Napierís book, and if so, is it by chance for sale?

Simon Royston


Email: info@tokencoins.com