Pella is a little town, or is it a village? Centered around a catholic mission station, about 25km from Pofadder. Geographic position: 29.032°S, 19.1538°E and 463m altitude.
A good write up about the history of Pella I found at Wikipedia. This place, actually all the places in the Northern Cape, is so different to what I am used to. For the locations I normally visit history starts with the Voortrekkers and the 2nd Anglo Boer War. Here I find a reference going back to 1776. It was mentioned that a farmer by the name of Coenraad Feijt settled here when the place was referred to as Cammas Fonteyn.
It was as early as 1814 that the first missionary from the London Missionary Society, Christian Albrecht, settled here at the fountain and erected a mission station. Tenure of the mission station was intermittent due to the harsh living conditions and at one time the murder of the missionary and family. By 1872 the station was abandoned again but taken over by a Catholic missionary in 1878, it remained catholic since then.
But also for the Catholics it was not easy going, father Gordell had to give up and was followed by Father JM Simon in 1882, he was later joined by Brother Leo Wolf. After some years of building up the station and ensuring proper food supply from the garden they decided its time to build a proper church.
None of them had much experience in building churches, but they got their head down and started building. They had no plan, just building according to a picture they had in one of their books. When a plum line was sent from overseas they had no idea of what to do with it. But they build a big church, still standing today.
The building was completed and the church consecrated in 1898. Father Simon and Brother Wolf still served the community for many years, later Father Simon was elevated to the position of bishop,. And that is it why it is a cathedral now. Both these men were honored by being buried inside their church, see the picture of Bishop Simon's grave.
The house once used by Bishop Simon has been converted into a museum. On display are a number of robes worn by the priests and some artifacts of early life at the mission station and some history. A lot of what I know about Pella comes from there.
Pella was not involved in any of the local wars, but was affected by the 2nd Anglo Boer War and strangely the Herero war (1904-1908) in South West Africa. During the Boer war the problem was that Boer Commandos would visit the station demanding food when they had hardly anything themselves.
The other episode was when a company from the Schutztruppe needed help with medical attention and food. They had been fighting in the Herero War and were stranded at the Oranje River just opposite from Pella. Personnel from the mission station helped them to cross the river and set up a provisional hospital ward in a school room. They fairly quickly recovered, with one exception. One of the members of the Schutztruppe had such a bad wound that he died a few days later. There is a picture of the grave, but I cannot find it again. It means I have to get back to Pella.
Four weeks they stayed at Pella and were then evacuated back to South West. The station set aside three wagons to take them to O'okiep.
Ref 1.: Standard Encyclopedia of Southern Africa, Nasou Limited, 1974
Ref 2.: Borderline, a thesis submitted by William Dicey for the degree of Master of Arts in Creative Writing University of Cape Town 2004