Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Gold Mining ancestors in South Africa


De Kaap Gold Mining Company: diggers at work.

The discovery of diamonds and gold stepped up the pace of immigration in the 1870s and 1880s. People from all over the world flocked to the diggings and mining towns like Barberton sprang up overnight, some to disappear almost as quickly and become ghost towns. But while it lasted, gold and diamond fever caused an electric shiver of excitement that was hard to resist. 


Barberton, Crown Street with the Royal Albert Hall in right foreground 1887

It wasn’t necessary to be a prospector in South Africa ‘pegging a claim’ to be part of the boom. British investors clamoured for shares; hundreds of mining companies – many of them entirely bogus - came into being offering share certificates and there was some heavy plunging on stock markets; fortunes were made and lost.

There was nothing in the way of health and safety regulations in the mining industry at this period, whether gold or coal. If a miner died in an accident while working there was no compensation. Hence records are scarce.  If you know the name of the mine your ancestor worked on check NAAIRS for any reference. It is likely he would have had a deceased estate lodged in the area in which the death occurred so search for a relevant estate file. 


A gold mining ancestor photographed
 at De Kaap Gold Fields, Barberton.

1 comment:

andrew van rensburg said...

Interesting as always and magnificent photos!