"Just thought I would
type this while I was waiting
for clients it may interest some grandchild."
BULAWAYO, 18 NOVEMBER
MALCOLM D MacDONALD
Educated at the Grey Institute in PE, I went through
the school between 1879 and 1885. I do not remember much of life in
England beyond going to school, colds and measles, but I do remember
well the voyaqe out in the old Edinburgh Castle with Captain Duncan in
charge, I have the haziest recollection of my father and the Arsenal at.
I was a long time at the Grey Institute, In the
"Elementary" class with Wilson, 2nd "Public" with Casse, 1st. "Public"
with Woodford, then on to the "2nd College" under Vipan which was as far
as I got. The 1st College under Vipan and Ritchie I never attained
-there were only half a dozen young men there. In those days there were
only five or six school standards and then the "elementary" exam. I did
not pass the 4th Standard until late in school in fact stuck in 3rd for
years and then leaped into the 5th in the last year. Passed the
"Elementary" by about 50 points in the first class - something like 550
out of 1000. Under 500 WAS a second class. The only prize I ever took
was a small book of Anecdotes of Napoleon for STEADY PROGRESS!!!!!!
I did not have a happy school tide until possibly
under Thurlow, Ritchie, Vipan and Woodford, Casse and Wilson were
nothing less than Brutes. My deafness was a source of great trouble and
responsible for a lot of unhappy times. I was a nervous kid and I am
afraid a miserable sort of sneaky boy. Anyhow, later on I could whack
others at boxing, single stick and clubswinging,, Duncan was with me at
school, away up in the 1st College. 1 realise how much I owe to him. A
fine scholar and gymnast and one of the very best of brothers. He never
interfered if I was being ragged but taught me to defend myself so that
latterly I was able to keep my end of it, I was very thankful when the
time came to leave the wretched place. I did not know anything except
the very elementary matters, no doubt my own fault, but anything I now
know was learnt in the stress of life and sometimes very hardly learnt.
My first essay at accounting work was confined to
that of cashier with Griffiths & Co, an old fashioned firm who believed
in beautifully written books, were shocked at a blot, kept no official
receipt books and had not heard of a decent imprest system. The
typewriter was a new invention and looked upon with suspicion. When
introduced to the office, one of the most, highly paid men was put on it
instead of a junior or young girl. After banking, the balance of cash
in the box was the balance as per cash book - at least it should have
been, but with mistakes and omissions the balance was often out. A
record of all differences was kept which, after a time, was written off
I kept a rough cash book. At the end of the month
the bookkeeper took it and re-wrote it into a beautiful book in copper
plate. I did the same with the journal which was written up under his
supervision. The ledger was balanced once in three months. That was a
job and a half. Rarely did it take less than a week to do. On one
occasion the books were 5/6 out. Sometimes when a customer settled his
account a small deduction for a mistake was treated in the cash book as
discount instead of the clerk doing as we ought to have done, adjusting
by journal entry. On one occasion, this happened with an account of
16/-. He was allowed 6/~ and paid 10/- in settlement. The 6/~ was shown
in the discount column and when it came to be posted any bookkeeper
would understand how easy it was to post 10/6 to the account instead of
16/~. Anyhow that was what Masters did and we looked for that 5/6 for a
week, night and day. Everything was tried and every time both of us
overlooked the item. Eventually he told me to take the cash book home
with me one evening and he would take the journal and we were to read
the entries through for the three months and think over each one,, Half
an hour after I sat down to it that evening I spotted it. I at once
dropped my pencil and ran to the bookkeepers house to tell him. Nothing
would satisfy him but to come to my house and see for himself and even
then I had to go down town to the office with him and confirm it by
looking at the entry in the ledqer.
Balancing time and stocktaking were nightmares, but
on the whole, I had a fairly easy time. I started as a junior at
£2.10.6 per month doing work which we now get our natives to do. I was
on that salary for 3 years and then my mother said that if I did not ask
for a rise she would go down and see the boss herself,, That fixed me
and as a result I got £4,1(),,0 per month and a bonus of £5. After 13
years I worked up to £16.13.4 per month with a nice bonus at Xnias time
of anything up to £25.
Two glaring mistakes on my part are impressed on my
mind. I once omitted to enter in the bill book a bill drawn on us by
the Johannesburg Branch for £1500, Later on Jo'burg wrote a private
note to the bookkeeper asking why they were not charged with it. This
was within two days of it falling due. We did not see it in the bill
book so I was sent to the Bank to see if they had it. Sure enough they
had and expected £1500 from us in two days. Consternation was exhibited
by poor Masters but I did not see anything to be alarmed at, I walked
into the boss's office as bold as brass and said, I forgot to enter a
bill in the bill book for £1500 and it is due for payment the day after
tomorrow" "Heeeeeeellllllluuuuuuuppppppp! ! ! ! Mawcom" , he shouted,
"If you do such a thing again you won't be an hour in the office." The
trouble was that he had just remitted all surplus funds to London. I'll
never forget that scene. I do not know what they did to get out of the
financial trouble but I know when ever I heard the old man coming for a
month after I dodged behind my desk. After that I was taken off the
books and put to the Stock Book. The insurance people heard that no
stock book was kept and started a row. So it had to be done and they
gave me the job. Well it went on quietly for six or eight months, a
nice quiet cushy job with no one to worry me. Then once more the band
One month after the day book was closed, the salesman
made a special entry of a sale of a complete shipment of deals to a
local firm. It was put in the middle of a page by itself. It was
journalised alright but when 1 came to write off the? sales from the
stocks for some infernal reason I did not write off those deals and took
no notice of the entry. Well my monthly return to the chief showed him
that he had so many deals in stock and everything seemed to be OK. Then
things began to look queer. At the stock yard the storeman began to say
he had no 12 ft deals and so on and yet the stock book said that there
were heaps. It got so strange that stock was actually taken by three
different men and all got the same result which showed a serious
shortage as compared with the books. Besides that, orders were accepted
on the strength of the books and the storentan could not execute them.
Eventually one of the partners himself rewrote the stock book up on
sheets of paper to check me and for another infernal reason he also
overlooked that blessed entry and his stock at the end agreed with
mine. Well there was a deadlock until one day a smart clerk who was
idly turning over the leaves of the day book noticed the entry and saw
that it had no tick against it to show that 1 had dealt with it. Then
it all came out and the unfortunate McDonald got it once more hot and
strong in the neck. However, once the reason was found out there was
not much harm done.
Just about that time, the young clerk who had taken
my place at the cash book left and the guest ion of his successor
cropped up. I made a mess of it before and now had shown what a fool I
was at stock-keeping so I did not think 1 had a ghost of a hope,, By
good fortune, the bookkeeper however was a good friend of mine and
insisted that notwithstanding my lapses I was the boy for it. With
awful warnings and lectures they put me back on the job and then to the
cash desk. I stopped there till I left giving full satisfaction. I had
learnt my lesson and at last got it into my head that I was no longer a
school boy but a man with certain responsibilities and by dint of close
attention, asking questions by the score and with the help of my old pal
Masters, I found how simple bookkeeping really was and what a wonderful
science it was if carried out correctly.
I got to be the "whiteheaded" boy and when the new
partner came in about then and I wanted to leave there was strong
pressure put on me to stop. The new man was a splendid organiser, a
company man with all the latest methods and short cuts at his fingers
ends but I couldn't stick it and found the new broom anything but
pleasant, although now I see that he was perfectly right and I believe
he got everything into absolute order and trim after I left. When
Weil's offer came I jumped at it and althouqh the new man did not want
to let me off without long notice, the old members of the Firm agreed to
Well I've been a Rhodesian ever since and do not
think I was wrong to come here. There are drawbacks of course, the
distance from the coast, expensive living to a certain extend but on the
whole, I've had a ripping time in Rhodesia and nine tenths of it is due
to the happiness of my married life.
In 1897 I was employed at Griffiths & Co in Port
Elizabeth as assistant accountant. Ronald was accountant at Julius
Weil's in Bulawayo - who were in a wood and iron building in Fife
Street, opposite the Police Station and where H B Ellenbogen now
stands. He was very friendly with E C Baxter, who with his partner
Bloomfield, was Secretary to the Railway Festivities Committee on the
occasion of the opening of the railway to Bulawayo. My brother
interested himself in getting me an invitation out of the old Gentleman
and in due course I received an official one from the Department with a
free pass to Bulawayo. There were several from PE - Wynne the Mayor and
old Gloag the father of Kenneth at Bulawayo, being among them. We left
on a Sunday evening and half the town was on the platform to see us off.
In the Press a list of invitees had been published, such as "His Worship
the Mayor", "Andrew Gloag Esq" and so on, while I came in at the end as
"and McDonald" ! By the time the special train reached Kimberley we
were two hours ahead of scheduled time and one hour ahead at Mafekinq -
there were four Traffic Managers on board! From Kimberley onwards the
scenery was new to most of us and our time was spent on the little
platforms. Everything was first class and free except the food. At
Gaberones or Mochudi or somewhere down that way a terrible affair
happened. The train was lit by electricity generated by petrol engines
on a truck next to the tender. Two young fellows were in charge and
about sundown while in the station something went wrong and one of them
flew out of the truck with his clothing ablaze. His mate ran after him
and pushed him down and extinguished the flames. There were several
doctors on the train and immediate attention was available but although
I did not hear definitely, I think the poor chap died.
We all thought that was something with Guy Fawkes day
at first and the happening threw a gloom over the lot of us. The truck
had, of course, to be uncoupled and abandoned and that niqht the
lighting arrangements were very poor.
We arrived the next day at Bulawayo. I do not
remember the date but it is a matter of local history. The visitors all
turned out in their best, except me who stuck to my travelling kit.
There was little in the way of station accommodation then - a tin shanty
or two and the train steamed between piles of merchandise and machinery
stacked along the line for quite a mile from the platform.
My brother met me and took me to his room where I had
to doss down. I had my first meal from my old friend James Mirtle, who
had a restaurant in an old building near the Chronicle Office and up
till recently used by poor old Penny. I understand it was originally
the first Wesleyan Church and Mr Mirtle told me on one Sunday evening.
Revel Isaac Shimmin preached there and next morning had his breakfast in
the room. The food was qood. It was very hot weather and I learnt to
drink shandies at this time. There were no serviettes and the same
knife and fork etc had to do service right through the meal. If I
remember rightly, the charge was £2.10,0 a week for "skoff".
Then ensued a week of festivities. The railway was
opened and I have never seen since such a multitude of top hats. The
mornings were devoted to business but in the afternoons every office
closed. There were three banquets in the Palace Hotel for which the
charges were five guineas each or two and three guineas for the guest
night one. I attended the latter and heard Stanley, Admiral Rawson I
think it was, Shiftman and also the silver tonqued administrator Lawley,
who was in the chair.
There seemed to be plenty of money about the place -
every one was in short sleeves with belts, smasher hats and so on. I
had a glorious time but felt the heat very much. After the final
banquet the visitors from the south had to leave the same night for
their homes. That was the day of the sports meeting at the Queens
grounds. Barring the buildings there is little more in the way of
comfort there for spectators today than there was then.
In the afternoon, I had changed into travelling kit
and taken my "mpahle" to the station, after which I went to the sports.
Unfortunately, the first storm of the season broke that afternoon and
stopped the fun. In wet weather in those days one could not run - the
state of the roads was pretty bad, and by the time my brother and 1
reached his room at Weil's we were soaked to the skin. He had to fit me
out with dry clothes from what he had and as he wanted to go to the
banquet, I said I could get to the station by myself. After I had a
final meal at Mirtles, Ronald and I walked on to the Palace, said
goodbye to each other and I went on to the station as I was a little fed
up with things.
In those days there was little but bush between Main
Street and the station and very little in the way of lighting. It was
still raining and pitch dark. I missed my way three times, on each
occasion returning to Main Street and making a fresh start, always
however finding myself on the way to the Police Camp. Finally, I got
back to town and hired a rickshaw, and on getting to the station I found
the train was made up but was lying away down the line near the town. 1
floundered to it and found my compartment and clothes alright - took off
my borrowed ones and changed and then had to trudge back to the station
to leave my brother's things to be called for. By the time I got back
through the slush and mud to the carriage I was fagged out, so decided
to get to bed. I got into the top bunk and knew nothing more until I
was wakened by the sound of an altercation between old Gloag and a
stranger who had bagged his bunk. It was most amusing to listen to as
the stranger had been imbibing freely and refused to shift until someone
found his own berth. I fell asleep again in the middle of it and heard
nothing of the noise and excitement of the departure of the train and it
was not till next morning when we were away down the line that I awoke
to recollect ion again.
The return to PE was uneventful and I got back from a
most enjoyable trip, firmly resolved however not to go back to Bulawayo
anymore. The trip cost me £5 only.
The visitor's book at the Palace Hotel was a large
one and the first few pages were full of very interesting signatures. I
often wondered what became of the book but expect it has been well
I had made up my mind that I would not like to go
back to Bulawayo to live,, but there was a new broom at Griffiths £ Co,
in the shape of a new partner, who came direct from Company Management.
New methods and irksome regulations were the order of the day and I was
not happy under the new regime. So when, six months later, a letter
came from Ronald at Bulawayo offering me a job at Weils, I jumped at it,
and within a month took over duty as costing clerk at £25 per month and
quarters. I had been drawing £200 a year at PE plus a bonus every six
The clerk whose place I took at Weils was a young
fellow, Bush by name, and he, with fellow clerks - Hitchcock, Sonny,
Boarde and another were off for a trip up North, to the wilds, I never
heard the result of their trip but Bush died before they had gone
very far from neglected precautions.
I had the softest job of my life for the next few
months. There were usually only two invoices a week to cost. One from
Mafeking and one from London. Bush had left the work a bit behind but
it did not take long to get up to date. I remember one of the first
invoices from London I had to work out was for the glass ware for the
There were 500/600 police at the BSA Police Camp
under Col Bodle. A fine body of men who drilled like regulars. They
had a smart uniform especially the officers. The Band was an excellent
one. Scott was band-master and every Sunday evening after service they
played in Plain Street for an hour or so in the space to the South of
the War Memorial. The concerts were very popular and the whole town
came to hear them. Once the bandsmen went on strike after having been
ordered to carry out fatigue duty. I do not remember what the result
was but it did not last long. One year the camp was polluted and many
cases of enteric occurred with several deaths, and the Dead March was a
familiar tune for some days. Scott was a fine looking man and the
appearance of the Band on parade or marching up slain Street was very
imposing. I think a sergeant called flee took Scott's place when he
Julius Weils secured the canteen contract several
times and the mess sergeant Hansen was a familiar fiqure at the Office.
I had brought up my bicycle from PE - one I had bought second hand from
my pal Todd of Griffiths for £12. Hansen saw me ride into Weils yard
one clay and pulled out £10 in notes and offered to buy it. I took the
money and went along to Cowley's and bought a new one for £25. Actually
I only paid £22.10.0 for it as Jack Watson, Cowley s bookkeeper, got
mixed up with my installments and before the matter was settled, Cowley
& Co went insolvent and Cowley left the country.
The streets of Bulawayo, in those days, were not made
up and the dust in the dry season and mud in the wet were things to
remember. Every door in town had a notice on it -"Closed on account of
dust". Often I looked out of my window at Weils and could not see the
B'fA at the opposite diagonal corner, for dust which was flying past in
clouds. Every now and then on a quiet day, a dust devil would arise and
sometimes these were of huge size. There were no pavements, the
sidewalks being separated from the street by a gutter, in rainy weather,
it was impossible to cross the streets except at the corners and the
condition of some of the streets was appalling in the wet season.
At about this time the Presbyterian Church got out
their first Minister, Fir Jones, one of the best friends I ever had,,
He was inducted by the Rev. James Grey in the Wesleyan Church. Services
were held in the Stock Exchange Hall for months and the pulpit was Mr
Sanderson's rostrum. R M Nairn, who was manager of the ABC Corporate
Bank and whose old offices are still standing in Fife Street, was the
first Session Clerk and had associated lAiith him such names as those of
Dawson. Boggie, Manson. Smith,, Ferguson, Bothwell, Huddon, Tredgold,
Wightman and Andrew Reid - most of whom are dead or have left the
country. A bazaar was held in 1899 which realised £724.16.8 net,, It
was held for two days in the Market Hall.
Life was very monotonous in those days - there was
plenty of sport of all kinds but for those otherwise inclined, there was
little else beyond the Library, the Pub or the lonely room. The Empire
Theatre was a small place in those days too and the entertainment poor,
but the place was always crowded. The "Gods" had a kind of flower stand
at the back and no one was exempt from their remarks.
The amateur musicians of the town were then, as now,
very active. Such names as Desmoul in, Gart.hwa.ite, Biden, Quid,
Lowenstark, Craik and a fine violinist who was secretary of Rhodesia
Ltd, and Ballantine by name, all bring back pleasant memories, I
remember "Trial by jury" being performed in the Empire with Fowys-Jones
as Usher and Lowinger as Judge. Ready Money Rodney too was well known
as an entertainer. I can rememuer v'ernon "Reid also attempting 'to
open with Opera in the newly finished Market Hall but being deterred
through heavy insurance charges. He and Lowinger sang one night the
About this time the Railway prosecuted several people
for theft. Hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of goods were jumped
while construction was going on. But I think they only secured one
conviction. I was mixed up in one case.
Before I left PE, I sent a case of books forward by
goods train. They were packed in an old beer case. It did not arrive
so I reported it's loss and some time after was asked to DO across the
Police Station to identify some books found in the house of one of the
railway contractors. They were mine alright. At the trial,, however, I
made a ghastly mess of my evidence. Judge Vincent was on the Bench with
assessors, one of whom was my "Boss",, Dr Hans Sauer. Willy Russell was
defending and I think "Bosky Wright" was prosecuting. I got on well
with the latter but Russell caught me out alright. iv!y books had been
placed in a small box in court and a book which did not belong to me was
slipped in with them.
Russell:: "Do you swear all those books are
"Are you certain?"
"I think so."
"Well have a look at them."
I did so, nervously, and eventually said, "Yes they
are all mine."
Russell turned to the Usher of the Court, old "Mobbs",
and whispered something to him and the latter stooped down and routed
among the books, eventually handing one to Russell. It was one of Marie
Correlli's,, which I never had.
Then. ....Russell! "Is this your book'"" Poor
" T A B L E A U !!!!"
As a climax, some months afterwards, I was at the
Globe and Phoenix Mine on business for the GOM. Sitting in the office
one day a transport rider turned up and who should it be but McCarthy,
one of the accused in my case. He greeted me jovially and held out his
hand which I naturally took and we exchanged the Masonic grip! After
that he was more jovial than ever,, We got talking about the affair and
he told me that he was present when the case was pinched. They all
thought it was BEER and as there were several Masonic books amongst them
he "thought it was up to him to take care of them for the owner". He
promised to return others which he still had in town on his return and
sure enough when I came back to Bulawayo he turned up one day with a
number of them.
The CID man in charge of these matters was an
Inspector Bews. While things were in abeyance, evidence being collected
and so on, he suddenly disappeared with, it is said, sofne funds
belonging to the Police,, This I think had a lot to do with the failure
to get convictions. The police swore to get even with him and some
years later, they arrested him somewhere and he stood his trial, being
sentenced for his escapade.
I was engaged by Weils under a condition that if I
stayed 3 months with them I would get half and if 6 months, the whole of
my travel expenses from PE. I only got half back, as after I had been
with them 3 months, Julius and Sam came up from Mafekinq, and after a
day or so Julius told me that he wanted me to go and help Mr Smithman at
Gwelo Branch, I got a weeks delay to square up things. I did not mind
the change but my brother was dead aqainst it, so for that week he and I
ran about town trying to get another job for me. At the last moment he
thought of his old friend "Pa" Baxter, who was practising as auditor in
the present Goldfields Buildings. It was then the property of the old
Goldfields of Matebeleland Ltd. Theo Madden was manager. Southwood the
Secretary and J D Morton Accountant and among others on the staff were
Desmoulins, Mallett, Pinstone, Ayton, Roberts, Kirschbaum, Plaistowe
etc, while the Company was agent for several other companies including
the "RE & D Co Ltd" whose local manager was Dr Sauer with Ben Bradly as
his assistant and Telford Edwards his Engineer. Piper was also there as
Engineer to the G & P Co. Col Harry White was also in the office as
Manager of some little company and a Capt Whittaker while Cresscens
Robinson came in a little after I joined with Alt Brown
The GOM as it was called, was secretary to all these
concerns and it was an office where there were as many bosses as
To resume - Mr Baxter greeted me and on my saying
what I wanted, without further word he took me by the arm to Haddon in
the same building and introduced me as a first class man. After a
question or two he passed me on to Morton. I satisfied him and was
engaged, providing I could come at once. Then I ran back to Armstrong
at Weils (the chiefs had left Bulawayo) and told him I did not want to
go the Gwelo and would like to be released at once. He thought it a
good joke and made no bother of it at all and next day I shifted my
quarters having to qive up my room at Weils and started with the GOM.
This was September 1898 and I may say here, that first the 60M vanished
and the RE & D Co Ltd took most of the assets over and my services as
well and I stayed there till January 1912 when the Goldfields Co and the
RE & D Co amalgamated and I was there up to the end of July 1931, so I
was with practically the same Group for just under 33 years.
I had a very easy job with my new job at the GOM. I
remember Ayton calling me on one side one day and saying that if I
worked so quickly I would not have anything to do next week! All the
chiefs took things very easily, money was plentiful - the Companies not
having had time to spend all their capital - mining claims changed hands
frequently for share consideration without either side ever seeing the
Sauer was a fine man to work for. Whatever he was
thought of outside, he was always courteous to his staff, except to old
Bradley. After a while he made an agreement with the Company to spend
most of his time overseas. When he came out he drew £2.10.0 per day
from the day be left England to the day he got back there, for
travelling expenses plus incidentals. There was always something to pay
out on his private account while he was away and after being out here
and the day before he left again for England, he would call me into the
office with the ledger (he would not. look at a separate account) and he
would then run through the ledger account aqainst him. It was probably
a large amount but he soon had it down to nothing. He always initialled
the ledger at the last item agreed to on his previous trip,
"How much do I owe?"
"Nonsense let me have a look,"
Then he would go through the figures item by item
until he had deleted all that could be reasonably charged to the
"What is the sum now?" "So much,"
"Well credit me with so many days at 50/- per day and
also so much to this and that subsidiary company for certain expenses."
"Well what is it now?" "£600," "Oh that's too much. Debit this, that
and the other company with a hundred guineas each for special
services," "How much is left?" "£30," "Well I will initial that!"
I remember Col Harry White coming to me one day in a
towering rage. He had a cablegram in his hand from London saying they
did not need his services any longer and he wanted to know how much cash
the concern had in the Bank. There happened to be a large balance so I
was told to draw him a chegue for six months salary. "I'll make
the s pay!!" No query ever came from London about such matters.
I also remember a big row poor Morton got into one
day. Sam Lewis was contracting for sonte work on coal claims at Tali
which belonged to a small local company - Tuli Cons. Coalfields Ltd -
for which the GOM acted as secretaries. He used to draw money on
account and have a settlement when someone went down to measure up. One
day he came ;i.n to get such a settlement and Morton paid him off
without looking at the current month's cash account in which was a
chegue entered for £100 advanced during the month. It was not found out
till the end of the month when I was taking out the ledger balances and
then the band started to play! Sam was a broken reed as far as cash was
concerned and eventually the GOH had to refund the sum to the Tuli
Company. Morton got off with a row!!
Haddon sent me to the Globe & Phoenix shortly after I
joined to help with the books. Allright was the Manager, Tompkins the
Secretary. There was no railway to Gwelo and I went by Zeederberg's
coach and had a wretched trip with a full coach. I think the fare was
£6. The service was splendid and Bookless was on the driver's seat.
At Gwelo I was taken in hand by Cummings of Meikles
who sent me off to the mine in a mule cart. I arrived there on 31
December. 1 was very tired and Allright put me in his house which was
his office as well as his quarters. I will never forget that night.
Hogmanay and a crowd of enthusiastic Scotties!! I was awakened at
midnight by the sound of shots and shouting and presently the door burst
open and 1 was hauled out of bed and taken into the office where 1 found
all the white men of the property gathered with Allright, who had
received the same treatment as I had, in his pyjamas.
They stayed drinking and singing till 4am. 1 did not
take whiskey and there was only sherry to take but I managed to make a
glass last a long while. The Surveyor was leaving for good the next day
and went to Gwelo in the cart which brought me out. He was the leader
of the little riot and his last official duty was to give the direction
in which to fire the revolvers at midnight. He left in his pyjamas
wrapped up in a blanket dead to the world, and 1 never heard what became
of him. the others all returned to the Manager's house on Sunday
morning at 7 o'clock and called for champagne and stout.
I was on the mine for two months and had a glorious
time. The men (about 20) were good fellows and treated me like a lord.
I was shown everything and went everywhere with them. On one occasion
being one of a party lost in the veld in the evening within a mile of
the mine for three hours.
My first duty was to take stock of the stores and see
that everything issued was properly charged out to the different
accounts. When I had done so 1 had 30 foolscap pages of shortages and
thought the world was coming to an end! The manager, however, took a
very sharp way over it. Sitting on the stoep of his house where he
could see the whole camp, he allocated over £30 000 worth of stores in
half an hour. Anyhow that was his indaba!!'
I had my first and only bathe in Rhodesian rivers in
the Sebakwe River at the Poort. We sent a dozen natives to form a half
circle to keep away the "crocs",, The country was very wild and it was
an easy matter to get lost. It was not until the "stack" was put up
that employees felt at all easy when going outside. The Gaika Mine was
only a mile away yet a stranger left it for the Globe one morning but
finished up at the Gaika again in the afternoon having got hopelessly
lost. He took the regular road after that. I think Toogood was manager
at the Gaika and the two staffs often met in the evening at Davi's Store
on the roadside halfway between the camps.
On this trip, I had to get back to Bulawayo in the
rainy season and there was no other way to do so except by walking to
Gwelo. The road in between being impossible for traffic. So one fine
day Thompkins, who was leaving the mine, and I started off with another
of the men and native carriers for Gwelo. It took us from 10 am one day
to 4 pm the next to do the distance of 45 miles. The rains had
prevented transport for some time and fresh meat was unprocurable until
one day a few goats came along. In the meantime it was a case of
ringing the changes in the shape of different ways of dishing up "bully
beef". No veqetables, except a few tins of "petit pois" etc. One day
Allright got a present sent to him from another camp of two cabbages and
the camp almost stopped work from excitement. I went to the Mine again
later on just before crushing and met old Jud Coppick who was erecting
Haddon was so pleased with the result of my first
trip that he told me to draw a cheque for an extra fiver, I thought he
said. But when a couple of months later, he noticed the increase, he
queried it. On explaining, he said he had meant a "bonus" of five
pounds!! However, he decided to let me have the increase. I always got
on well with him and when he left the company shortly after and started
as a broker, I kept his books for him and it got as far as his wanting
me to come to him for good,, But something prevented it and perhaps it
was as well as he did not last long but gave up and took on the local
oversight of the Globe & Phoenix at Que Que.
Shortly before he left the company trial-by-jury came
into force in Rhodesia. He was called for the first jury but as he had
already made arrangements to go on leave he pulled the strings and got
the Sheriff to take me in his place. Fortunately, for the cause of
justice, I was only on one case - a negative perjury one. I couldn't
hear a word in the court, whether spoken by witness, counsel or nidge
but I agreed with the verdict of "guilty"!!!!
When Haddon left I was sent to the Ayrshire Mine to
do similar work as on the Globe. This meant a coach trip to Salisbury.
It was a full coach as far as Gwelo but fortunately I was alone the rest
of the way and could make myself comfortable. We had a Salisbury
Officer then in charge of R M MacConnachie, a well known former
secretary of the Bulawayo Scottish Association. He and I went to the
mine together by mule cart. I do not know whether the road we took is
any where near the present line to Eldorado, but we were two days on
the way and went through the Umvukwe Hills, first entering them between
two bare stone kopjes named by Telford Edwards "The Breasts of Venus"!'
In the hills we passed the old store formerly known as "Deary's" which
had been destroyed by natives in the rebellion.
When we got to the mine we found Hewer Jones in
charge but he was handing over to Berring ton and going back with us to
Bulawayo as Consulting Engineer to the company in place of Edwards who
had died. The accounts were in a deplorable state, the secretary being
quite inefficient, I had a good time finishing the work and putting
things straight and was glad to leave the place. It was very wild and
there were leopards about which were so used to the camp that they, on
more than one occasion, had snapped up the dog of a workman going to his
hut in the evening up on the kopje.
Jones came back with us and, knowing the way, we got
to Salisbury in one day. One of my jobs was to bring back an inventory
of plant etc on the mine, 1 had got this done to my satisfaction,
closed off and the total cost agreed with the ledger account, and was
much mortified when the old Auditor, Watkin-Davis, pointed out to me in
Bulawayo that I had left out the five stamp mill from the schedule.
However, we fixed it up all right. Such little matters did not worry us
much in those days.
There was a surveyor on the Ayrshire, Veasey by
name. When 1 returned to Bulawayo, I wrote an account of my trip for
one of fir Jones' meetings at the Church and afterwards Katie sent the
paper to her sister in England. She in turn handed it to a man
connected with the Press in a place called Nunneaton, who printed it. I
had given rather a lurid account and unfortunately Veasey's relatives
lived in Nunneaton and the account rather upset them.
My brother had a farm near Shiloh with Drew in
charge. He tried to run it on his salary and never made anything out of
it but we had many a pleasant run to it. He eventually sold it to a
scoundrel called Crawshaw, who took advantage of what was pure
carelessness on Ronald's part in not having a proper agreement drawn up.
The war with the Boers came along and we were tied up
in this place for a while. We were never in real danger but we had to
put up with some inconvenience. There was no need to worry for men to
go and fight as there were more than enough, I cannot remember anything
very exciting. Expenses went up somewhat and we ran short of certain
luxuries. I remember, when war was declared, Ronald saying to me that
it would all be over in 3 months and that there were 12 one pound bags
of Transvaal tobacco at Weils, what about buying them. I took three and
so did he and the rest were sent out to the farm for Drew, We were
smoking all sorts of rubbish before the war was over!!
Lanning was NC at Shiloh. Cash was short but
Marshall Hole issued some "Stupas" to take the place of coins. There
were no mails from anywhere for about two months, when an accumulation
came throuqh from Beira. The railway from there was not complete and
all sorts of delays took place, I well remember the day when the
letters came through for the first time. No work was done that day,
everyone was hanging around the Post Office, I had six weeks in
hospital about this time with enteric and Doctor Head pulled me through.
There was a real lady Matron at the hospital then, a Miss Ronaldson.
After the war things were very quiet. I managed to
get a holiday and took a week to get to PE what with staying the nights
at Mafeking and De Aar and waiting for armoured trains as escort. We
got to De Aar after dark, the dining car was taken off and the place
being under martial law, all restaurants were closed and we were not
allowed to leave the platform. I dined on lime juice and ginger
I got engaged to Katie in 1901 and after two years to
the day, went back for her. Since then life has been a dream of
happiness owing to her love and loyalty. We passed through many
troubles, all of which now seem to have been of little moment due to her
loving co-operation and the happiness my wife and children have given me
has been incalculable.
On my first visit to Bulawayo, I had an opportunity
of going out to Hopefon tain with a party on push bikes. There were
three or four of us, two of whom were Wesleyan parsons. Little Rogers of
Mateking being one. We were warmly welcomed by Mr and Mrs Helm and
shortly after we got there a terrific storm broke which prevented our
return to town that night, Our hosts had to put us up but they made us
comfortable and we qot back after breakfast the next day.
The old Goldflelcls of Matebeleland Ltd gradually
disappeared, the RE & D Co Ltd taking it's place. Sauer was Manaqing
Director and he appointed Ben Douglas as Manager with a new importation
called James Brunton MacDonald as Secretary. The latter was one of the
smartest accountants I have met, but was a most objectionable sort of
character. Wine, women and horses were his trouble. He quarrelled with
everybody, especially with Ross Frames who was Sauer's legal and
confidential man. Within a few months he caused three or four law
suites to rise against the company through want of tact in dealing with
Sauer's old prospecting friends, Douglas and he were as cat and dog and
the office was a bear garden. He drew his salary for six months in
advance, he refused to sign cheques and I was at my wits end to get the
ordinary business of the company carried on. Douglas, too, used to
leave the cheques unsigned on his table for days. But one day he
evidently heard something as he asked to see the company's ledger.
"Turn up Mr MacDonald's account,"
It was in debit to the extent of over six months
"Who told you to draw those cheques?"
"Well who signed them';1"
He was not happy on hearing that! He gave
instructions that MacDonald was to draw only a quarter of his salary
until the account was squared.
Eventually Sauer came out from England aqain. He
sacked them both on the spot and settled the law suites out of court in
half an hour, Geo Mitchell was brought in from the Bank as Manager and
Atterbury got the Secretaryship at £150 per month!! Sauer was a power
in the land but he was always in hot water with most people. To get his
way once, at the Chamber of Mines, he packed the meeting with his
nominees and c a. used a. regular scandal over it.
Even old Fox, the hairdresser, was a representative
of one of the companies. I think we totalled nearly 50 votes and were
all told to watch J B MacDonald and put up our hands when he did.
Old Fox was a character in those days. He had a hair
dressing salon near the Bodega Bar, I remember he sold me my first
safety razor when they first appeared for 30/-.
An extraordinary affair happened through Atterbury's
carelessness about this time, They wanted an office assistant at the
Ayrshire Mine and a young fellow replied to the advertisement.
Atterbury interviewed him and he produced excellent testimonials from
several Rand Mining Companies. He was engaged and sent to the Mine and
with in fortnight cleared out one niqht with £700 in coins - a week's
native pay. A hue and cry ensued but he was never caught and I often
wondered what became of him.
It was found out after the "steed had been stolen"
that the testimonials were all forged.
I forget the year in which the Rev Mr Jones came but
it was either just before or during the Boer War. At that time Ronald
was secretary to the Board of Management and Mr R M Nairn the session
clerk. I was only one of the congregation. Shortly after Katie and I
got back from our honeymoon at the coast, Ronald left the country for
East London and arranged with the Board to accept me as his successor.
To fix it properly it was thought that 1 should be a member of the
Board, although it was not really necessary, and they elected me as a
Trustee on the 7th July 1903 and at the same time appointed me Secretary
to the Board .
I carried on for two years in that position when
things were not too happy in the congregation owing to strenuous
troubles with finance. Many complaints were made at the continual call
for money and murmurs that the Board and Session were asking for too
much and too often were frequent. The Board decided that the best thing
to do would be for them to resign in a body and after consideration the
Session decided that in order to clear up all misunderstanding, it would
be wise for every office bearer to do the same, including the Trustees.
So it was arranged to call for nominations for all offices at the coming
annual meeting in July 1905, 50 that the congregation could have the
opportunity of electing men who had their confidence and whom would be
in sympathy with them. No less than 12 names were put in for Trustees,
over 20 for Elders and over 50 for Managers. I had voting papers
printed and at the meeting a real election by secret ballot took place.
There was a very Jarge attendance as rumours had gone around that
something out of the way was to happen. The result of the ballot turned
out to be a ridiculous one, I thought, as practically all the old
members were re-elected, the principal exception being that poor old
Nairn was out of it absolutely, while the same applied to me. We were
certainly nominated but Mr Nairn did not get a show and it was clearly
proved that nobody loved him.
I felt awfully sorry for him that evening as he was
there with his wife and friends, the only gentleman in an evening suit
and it was evident from his looks that he had received a nasty shock.
So far as I was concerned, it did not worry me as there were many men
who were far above me in position who were better fitted for the post of
Trustee and I was patting myself on being free from the job of
secretary. However, one of my Elders, Mr Boggie refused to accept his
nomination and as 1 was the next on the election list, I was persuaded
to accept it principally on account of the urgent representations of the
little Minister for whom I had a great affection. Whether I did right I
do not know although I was happy enough under Mr Jones and Mr
After the latter left the pulpit, I did my best to
get out of it but without success. In fact when Mr Jones was compelled
to resign owing to the wretched underhand working of men who should have
supported him to the utmost, I was so disgusted that I resigned also and
this caused a flutter among the Office Bearers who called a private
meeting in Mr Boggie s office and argued me into withdrawing my
They were all men of standing in Bulawayo and I am
afraid that I was too weak to withstand them. Well 1 have been an Elder
and acted as Session clerk from the date of that meeting, 9 July 1905.
I have had many unpleasant things to do but somehow have always managed
to keep on the blind side of everyone. It may look like boasting but I
must mention that when little Jones was leaving they sent round the hat
and collected I think £75 to give him as a parting gift. The question
arose who was to make the presentation. The members of the Session were
all at loggerheads with the congregation, none of the Board were
acceptable either and I was astounded when I was told that I must be the
one to do it as certain members of the Church had insisted on no-one
else. The departure of Mr Jones was the cause of a great deal of heart
burning and many of the congregation cleared out and did not come back
for a long time. The resulting vacancy was a very trying one and it was
not until Mr Greenfield came and took firm hold that matters improved.
I have served in that church as SS Teacher, SS
Superintendent, Clerk to the Board of Management and Session,
Doorkeeper, Treasurer to the Presbytery, organist and minister although
I never attempted to give a. discourse.
The only job I haven't had is the conductor of the