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Petrus Steyn

Petrus Steyns grave signpostWell, the town has just been renamed by the ANC (December 2012), it is now Mamafubedu, but I will ignore this. For me it stays Petrus Steyn. Its geographic position: 27.6411°S, 28.1318°E and 1717 m altitude.


History

Petrus Steyn was founded in 1912 on the farm owned by the widow of Petrus Steyn. She sold it on condition that the town be named after him. Here the picture of his grave. This is all explained on the board placed at the graves, I'll translate for those that can't read Afrikaans:

Grave of Petrus Steyn

The owner of the farm on which the village was established

The new village was supposed to be called Concordia. The widow of Mr Steyn was prepared to reduce the price by seven shilling and 5 pence per morgen provided that the town will be named after her late husband.

Petrus Steyns graveThe farm Sterkfontein was thus purchased from the estate of the late Petrus Paulus Steyn for £4.50 per morgen. Thus on the 11 October 1912 Petrus Steyn was laid out.

The late Mr and Mrs Steyn were born on the 23 June 1842 and 31 October 1842 respectively and died on the 7 November 1897 and 9 June 1928. The late Mr Steyn grave is in the family grave yard under this oak tree. The late Mrs Steyn was buried in Bothaville.


Old cemetery

Petrus Steyn old cemetery Yes, there is an old and a new cemetery, The new one is on the east side of the R57 as one passes the town. It didn't hold much interest for us. The old one is near the silos and is certainly worth a visit, if you are that way inclined.


Railway station

Petrus Steyn railway stationThe railway came to town in 1925, this was through a rail link to Heilbron. Later in the 1930s the line was extented further to Lindley and to a connection with the main line at Arlington. At present the rail is not in use, although there is talk of a revival. In the meantime all the station building along the line are derelict, just like the one in Petrus Steyn.
Petrus Steyn railway station inaugurationThe first picture shows the station when it was officially opened in 1925, the second picture what it looked like during our first visit in 2010.

Elandskop

Petrus Steyn viewElandskop 1763m is the hill behind the town. From there one gets a good view over the town.

Voortrekker Spa

Petrus Steyn Bornmans badThe name above is just to draw attention, it was known as Bornman's Bad and is on the farm by the same name. 30km by road from Petrus Steyn, 20km west of Petrus Steyn and 22 km north of Lindley as the crow flies. During an inspection visit in Feb 2018 it turned out to have been a fairly extensive operation. What is still visible are the foundations of a number of buildings, the bath tubs and a hand pump. The pump, I think, was a later addition, installed when the fountain didn't provide enough water.
Petrus Steyn Bornmans badThe water was reputed to cure all sorts of ailments. When I checked the water coming from the pump it had a taste of rusty pipes, indicating a high iron content, and a whiff of rotten eggs, that would be Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S). One has to presume it is ground water passing through a coal bed.
A bit of an Internet search showed that Sulfur in the water helps with the treatment of Rheumatism and Arthritis and iron deals with iron deficiency. Thus there could well have been a benefit to partaking in the bath.
We don't know much about the history of the place. There is a sentence in the reference: 'A spa has recently been discovered a few miles to the north of Lindley, and this has made the place very popular as a health resort'. The book was put together in 1912, thus we can put the 'discovery' at 1905-1910. The reason we were told why it came to an end was because the farmer was concerned about lack of grazing for the oxen of the visitors. These were the days when the normal mode of transport was still the ox-wagon, and it also served as a shelter for the night.


Reference: 'The Orange Free State - its pastoral, agricultural and industrial resources', compiled by Somerset Playne, printed by the foreign and colonial, compiling and publishing company, 1912





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