Collection Index: COWEN, Charles 1851-1896
Collection Name: Charles COWEN Papers on the Tyumie Valley massacre. 1851-1896

A182 Charles Cowen Papers   
 Copyright 2006, The Library, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa   
 The Cowen Papers consist of correspondence, sketches, notes, photographs and printed items and comprise 47 items covering the years 1851-1896. They were collected together during the years 1894-1896 by Cowen, who was anxious to discover the true history of the massacre of the Tyumie (sometimes written Chumie) Valley military settlers during the 8th Kaffir War of 1850-1852. The Gaikas were enraged against the military settlers because they were occupying their favourite land and this ill-feeling increased when the military settlers seized Gaika cattle trespassing on their land and when the Gaikas thought that Chief Tyali's grave had been desecrated. On Christmas Day 1850 the Gaikas under Chief Sandile (1823-1878) attacked the military settlers, wiping out all at Woburn, killing all the men at Auckland but allowing the women to escape and burning Juanasberg, from which the settlers had escaped. Cowen had written to missionaries, government servants and military men who had been present during the massacre in an attempt to find the true facts.    
 The papers reveal a surprising divergence in the stories of certain individuals. In particular the account of Captain J.M. Stevenson, formerly superintendent of Juanasberg, differed substantially from the stories of the missionaries. As part of his enquiry Cowen published in 1896 a pamphlet by J.M. Stevenson, with a preface written by himself, entitled Tyumie Valley Massacres. This pamphlet had wide margins to allow for comments by the readers. Other correspondents included Captain G. Armytage, 1st Superintendent at Woburn, A.W. Baker, Civil Commissioner, Alice, W.B. Chalmers, Civil Commissioner, King Williams Town, The Rev.J.F. Cumming, missionary at Gwali, W. Dewey, editor of the Alice Times and J.B. Liefeldt, Inspector of Natives, Victoria East.   
 The papers contain interesting accounts by missionaries and soldiers who survived the massacre and there are photographs of contemporary sketches of various localities in the Tyumie Valley. Their provenance is not known, other than that they were part of the original Gubbins collection of Africana. Another Cowen item, a copybook, was destroyed by fire at the University of the Witwatersrand in Dec.1931.   
 Abbreviations used:   
 ALS Autograph letter signed: the letter is both written and signed by the sender.   
 CHARLES COWEN 1828-1914   
 He was born in England but emigrated to the Cape in 1853 and soon became active in journalism, using the pseudonym "Caractacus". He was one of the first to visit the Diamond Fields and to publish something on them. In 1875 he moved to Port Elizabeth where he edited local newspapers and wrote on commercial subjects. In 1887 he went to Johannesburg and was again active in journalism. He was interested in native affairs and was an important figure in free-masonry. Amongst his published works were the South African Exhibition, Port Elizabeth 1885 published in 1886, Johannesburg: Golden centre of South Africa, 1889 and Memoir of W.H. Schröder, artist, 1894.   
Notes and Sketches   
Press Clippings   
Printed Items   
CORRESPONDENCE 20 items 1894-1896   
Al 1894 G. Armytage Pontefract   
 Jul.19 To "My Dear Sir" (probably C. Cowen)   
 Reminiscences of the old military fort at Woburn.   
 ALS. 4p.   
A2 1894 W. Dewey Alice   
 Aug.14 To C. Cowen   
 Encloses information about Woburn settlement, originally printed in his paper. ALS. 1p.   
A3 1896 Jessie E. Brown Auckland   
 Mar.27 To C. Cowen   
 Promises to find out all she can about the burning of Auckland. ALS. 3p.   
A4 1896 J.M. Stevenson King Williams Town   
 Apr.23 To A.W. Baker   
 Gives his reminiscences of the massacre of the military settlers in the Tyumie Valley on Christmas Day, 1850.   
 ALS. 38p.   
A5 1896 J.B. Liehfeldt Victoria East   
 Apr.28 To C. Cowen   
 Acknowledges letters. ALS. 2p.   
A6 1896 W.E. Hunter Alice   
 May 5 To C. Cowen   
 The stripping of the females during Tyumie massacre was done by the Kaffir women. ALS. 2p.   
A7 1896 J.E. Brown Auckland   
 May 10 To C. Cowen   
 Gives description of the Auckland massacre, obtained from natives; the women were stripped because they would not run away. ALS. 8p.   
A8 1896 G. Armytage Pontefract   
 May 21 To C. Cowen   
 Refers him to W. Dewey for information on Tyumie Valley massacres; says Theal's account of early days of war of 1850 was not quite correct; comments on Sir H. Smith's unwillingness to believe war would come. ALS. 8p.   
A9 1896 A.W. Baker Alice   
 May 29 To C. Cowen   
 Encloses memoir by the Rev. Cumming, the old missionary at Chumie and a pamphlet by Rev. R. Niven; the fight at Auckland was a very gallant one; feels monument necessary to keep alive the memory of the early colonists. ALS. 5p.   
A10 1896 G. Armytage Pontefract   
 Jul. 1 To C. Cowen   
 Details of old military establishments at Woburn, in answer to an enquiry from Cowen. ALS. 6p.   
A11 1896 A.W. Baker Alice   
 Jul.1 To C. Cowen   
 Casts doubt on the veracity of Stevenson's account of the massacre. ALS. 4p.   
A12 1896 W.B. Chalmers East London   
 Jul.8 To C. Cowen   
 Encloses notes on Stevenson's letter and marginal comments on Stevenson's pamphlet; Stevenson is glorifying himself at the expense of the missionaries. ALS. 2p.   
A13 1896 W. Dewey Alice   
 Jul.14 To C. Cowen   
 Hopes that it will be possible for Cowen to publish excerpts from Niven's book, from Rev. Cummings' and Rev. Chalmers' notes and other miscellaneous information on the Tyumie massacre. ALS. 1p.   
A14 1896 W.B Chalmers East London   
 Jul.14 To C. Cowen   
 It is right that the brave stand of the military settlers in 1850 be commemorated; recommends that Stevenson's pamphlet be withdrawn as it contains lies. ALS. 6p.   
A15 1896 A.W. Baker Alice   
 Jul.15 To C. Cowen   
 There is no official material in the files on the Tyumie massacre but feels monument should be erected. ALS. 4p.   
A16 1896 J.M. Stevenson King Williams Town   
 Jul.19 To C. Cowen   
 Refutes statements in an anonymous letter criticising his reminiscences, which he suspects was written by a son of the Rev. Cumming; tries to explain why he left his station. ALS. 6p.   
A17 1896 G. Armytage Pontefract   
 Jul.22 To C. Cowen   
 Comments on Capt. Stevenson's account of the Tyumie massacre. ALS. 7p.   
A18 1896 W.B. Chalmers East London   
 Jul.28 To C. Cowen   
 Hopes Stevenson's publication will be withdrawn as it is false; it will be difficult to get illustrations or drawings relating to the early days in Kaffirland. ALS. 3p.   
A19 1896 W.B. Chalmers East London   
 Aug.13 To C. Cowen   
 Stresses again the necessity for Stevenson's pamphlet to be withdrawn and encloses material which will show how false Stevenson's statements are. ALS. 4p.   
A20 1896 W.B. Chalmers East London   
 Nov.8 To C. Cowen   
 Encloses sketch of Chumie station and gives information about his brother the Rev. J. Chalmers. ALS. 4p.   
NOTES AND SKETCHES 9 items 1851-1896   
B1 Extract from "An account of the reception given at Grahamstown to the Rev. H. Renton, Special Commissioner of the United Presbyterian Church", taken from'the "Cape of Good Hope Observer" 1851 Apr.22, as reprinted for the "Cape Frontier Times"(See El). MS. 5p. It is attached to the Rev. J. Chalmer's letter, ALS. 9p., to the editor of the "Watchman", condemning Stevenson's reminiscences as inaccurate and giving true facts of the massacre. This material was sent by W.B. Chalmers to C. Cowen in 1896, to show how unreliable were Stevenson's reminiscences.   
B2 Autobiographical sketch by Captain Stevenson, 1894 Apr.14. MS. 4p. Attached is sketch of Kaffirland, showing military dispositions.   
B3 Notes by C. Cowen, 1894, on the "Wizard's War" and in particular of the Woburn massacre; describes conditions under which early Cape settlers lived. MS. 15p.   
B4 Sketch by Captain Armytage of the Chumie Valley, dated 1896. 1p.   
B5 Notes by C. Cowen, 1896 Mar., on Alice, Lovedale and Woburn. MS. 52p. (in small notebook).   
B6 Notes by C. Cowen on Capt. J.M. Stevenson, giving biographical sketch and an account of Stevenson's part in the Woburn massacre. MS. lip. Attached is a page, giving extract from "Reminiscences of last Kaffir War" by James McKay, ex-serg. 74th Highlanders. FE. 1p.   
37 Private Notes by W.B. Chalmers, 1896 Jul.8 "on Mr Stevenson's letter, for Mr. Cowen's information and guidance and not for publication". MS. 7p. (+ photostat white on black.)   
B8 Account by the Rev. J.F. Cumming entitled "The massacre of the military villages at Woburn and Auckland 1850". MS. lip. (+ photostat white on black).   
B9 Sketch of Chumie Valley Mission House when occupied by Rev. W. Chalmers. (+ photostat white on black.)   
PHOTOGRAPHS 9 items (1-7 are of drawings)   
C1 Tola, the lesser chief of Kora or Gaika Kaffirs; MS note on back says Tola's followers attacked an escort at Mildenhall near Fort Beaufort and rescued the prisoner Kleintjie, after murdering the Hottentot to whom he was manacled.   
C2 MS note on back says "The fastnesses or Bush may be of the Fish River".   
C3 Plans of the actions of the 16, 17, 18 April 1846 in the Amatola Mountains.   
C4 Missionary buildings at Block Drift (+ photostat block on white and negative). MS note on back points out the position of Lovedale Institution.   
C5 Mouth of the Beka River, closed by a sandbank.   
C6 The Keiskamma, near Fort Willshire.   
C7 Sandilli, Chief of the Gaikas.   
C8 Martello Tower, Simon's Town.   
C9 Captain Armytage's house, King Williams Town, 1853.   
PRESS CLIPPINGS 5 items 1875-1695   
D1 From the "Sun and King Williams Town Gazette" 1875 Jan.18: reminiscences of the last Kafir War. Extracts from My Journal 1851 by Capt. J.M. Stevenson. 2p.   
D2-3 From "Alice Times" 1888 Jan.27 & Feb.3: history of the Woburn settlement, Chumie, Victoria East by the first superintendent Capt. G. Armytage, written in 1848-49 and 1851. In 2 parts 3,4p.   
D4 From "Alice Times" 1895 Aug.15, on military cemeteries at Fort Hare. 1p.   
D5 Undated, on Captain Armytage's reminiscences of Woburn. 1p.   
D6 The late Lt. Stacey, Grahamstown JI, 4 May 1851 2p. J.M. Stevenson   
D7 The Rev. H. Renton, Grahamstown JI, 25 Dec 1851 6p. J.M. Stevenson    
PRINTED ITEMS 4 items 1855-1896   
E1 An account of the reception given at Grahamstown to the Rev. H. Renton, Special Commissioner of the United Presbyterian Church, 1851 (from Cape of Good Hope Observer Apr.22, 1851) Cape Town, Pike, 1855. 23p. (See B1 for MS version). An account of a public meeting at which Renton was called upon to explain the conduct in the Kat River Settlement.   
E2 Perils of a missionary family in the Caffre War of 1850-52 by the Rev. Robert Niven. 2nd ed. Ptd. for private circulation Glasgow, Bell & Bain, 1860. Rev. J.F. Cumming's name is on the cover. 20p.   
E3 In memory of the Rev. John Aitken Chalmers,. died June 1st 1888 by W.B. Chalmers, Grahamstown, Grocott, 1888. 47p.   
E4 The Tyumie Valley massacres by Capt. J.M. Stevenson. Lovedale, Institution Press, 1896. Printed for private circulation. 20p. Has wide margin for annotations, with introduction by C. Cowen, 1896 May 11, requesting reader to return pamphlet with marginal comments or make separate notes. This particular one was annotated by W.B. Chalmers, who casts doubt on the veracity of Stevenson's account.   
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