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De Beers Mining Company Outdoor Display at Chicago World’s Fair


Nothing to show today. Undoubtedly something happened in Kimberley this very day in history, but is not yet found. Research is ongoing.


Kimberley’s importance to South Africa and the world saw the city host an International Exhibition in 1892, opened on 8 September that year by the Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir Henry Loch. (Loch Road in Kimberley is named in his honour).

Although in general deemed a great success with more than 400 000 visitors according to most sources, it was a financial disaster, the deficit being made good by De Beers Consolidated Mines.

The De Beers company presumably enjoyed their coverage received at the local Exhibition as they had a display at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, the following year. Also known as the Chicago Columbian Exposition to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of Christopher Columbus arrival in the “New World”, it opened officially on 1 May 1893 and ran for some six months, closing on 30 October that year.

Some 27 million people visited the Chicago World’s Fair, a world record 751026 people visiting on the one day – 9 October 1893.

The De Beers Consolidated Mines display was split in two. The outdoor display featured miners simulating the mining and diamond recovery process, while the indoor display was based in the Mines and Mining Building. Diamonds being cut and polished were highlighted in the indoor display.

It was at this World Fair that the American George Labram met De Beers Consolidated Mines representatives and accepted employment with the company. Gardner Williams, General Manager of De Beers at the time, was also an American. Labram, together with Fred Kirsten, would go on to invent the grease table diamond recovery system.

Pictured is the outdoor display. Note that for reasons of simplicity it is entitled the De Beers Mining Company and that it is clearly marked as being in South Africa.

Nothing to show today. Undoubtedly something happened in Kimberley this very day in history, but is not yet found. Research is ongoing.


“Kimberley will always remain the centre of the diamond industry in South Africa”, Mr Harry Oppenheimer, then Chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines, said at the banquet in honour of Kimberley’s centenary in July 1971.


Harry Oppenheimer

“The whole industrial development of the country can be looked upon a as memorial to the diggers who started digging here 100 years ago.

“The mines have considerable life before them but they won’t continue forever, but Kimberley, thanks to the skills developed here and the finance centralized here will always remain the centre of the diamond industry. The early settlers in Kimberley made the mines in this city the basis of industry in South Africa.”

In comparing the diamond mining with the gold mining industry, Mr Oppenheimer (pictured) said that “the diamond mining industry depends on human vanity and the gold mining industry on human stupidity.”
A new long term mining plan was adopted by the four Kimberley mines. The plan envisaged only three out of the four working at any one time and was implemented to prolong the life of the mines and to maintain output at the lowest unit cost.

Nothing to record for this day in Kimberley’s history although assuredly something happened. Research is ongoing. Aluta continua.


Ignatius (Naas) Ferreira, one of the unsung Boer heroes of 1899-1902, was born in the Uitenhage region on 21 March 1844 and died quite tragically and accidentally at Paardeberg on 18 February 1900

Ferreira came to the Senekal region in the Free State in 1862, and fought in the Basotho wars of 1865 and 1868. In 1872 he was a Veldcornet in the Korannaberg region of Ladybrand, and in 1878 became Commandant of the Ladybrand Commando. From 1890 until the outbreak of the SA War in 1899 he was a member of the OFS Volksraad for the Korannaberg region.

His first farm was named Zonnebloem. For a short while in the 1870s he became a diamond digger in Kimberley.

On 10 December 1899 he was promoted to the rank of General of the OFS forces and led a Boer attack on Methuen’s forces at Magersfontein at midday on 11 December with great bravery.

On 8 January 1900 he was promoted to Hoof Commandant of the OFS forces besieging Kimberley and as such was not in the debacle of Cronje’s retreat from Magersfontein to Paardeberg.

Sadly for Ferreira he was accidentally shot on the night of 18 February 1900 by one of his own men while based at Koodoosrand on the Paardeberg battlefield. His grandson, Chappie Ferreira (also a Ladybrand Commandant but in the 1970-1980 period), stated in March 2001 that there are three stories associated with his death. The first two are similar in that he wakes a sleeping sentry. The sentry then shoots Ferreira as he awakes with a fright, while the sentry grabs Ferreira’s gun (which Ferreira is pointing towards himself) and pulls the trigger. The first is probably true as the second one is highly unlikely given the general’s experience in handling firearms. The third story is that he was deliberately shot by one of his own men. While acknowledging that this is a common occurrence in war, it is noted that Ferreira had six sons with him on Commando and they would have meted out instant justice had this been so. It is recorded that the man who shot Ferreira was not punished, as it had been an accident. Therefore the assassination story must be ignored.

He had six sons with him at Magersfontein in the Ladybrand Commando. They were Petrus Marthinus Ferreira(1867-1915); Nicolaas Petrus Hendrik Ferreira (1872-?); Ignatius Stephanus Ferreira (1873-?); Stephanus Cornelius Ferreira(1875-?); Cornelius Rademeyer Ferreira (1877-1932); and Gerhardus Lourens van Niekerk Ferreira (1881-1905). They were therefore aged 33, 28, 27, 25, 23 and 19 at the time of the Battle of Magersfontein. Chappie Ferreira has a group family photograph taken in September 1899, and which includes Ferreira, his sons, and grandchildren.

The Ladybrand Commando was based at Scholtz’s Nek for the Siege of Kimberley and was called to reinforce the Boers early on the morning of 11 December 1899. The Commando fought with distinction against the Highlanders who broke through the gap in the Boer lines before sunrise. Killed in the action were General CR de Wet’s eldest brother Jan, a Veldcornet aged 53, as well as Commandant Adriaan PJ Diederichs. The latters grandson became a President of South Africa.

Mostyn Cleaver, who fought with Ferreira and whose English mother was the tutor to Ferreira’s children, said that Naas Ferreira “behaved with distinguished bravery”.

“During the severest fire he galloped up across the flats, dismounted and ran forward a few hundred yards, all in the open, followed by the Ladybranders and Kroonstaders, and took up his position at the central point of the main British attack. A stranger, who has fought in three wars, told me that the Ladybranders walked into the very gates of Hades with the nerve and coolness of old soldiers.”

Ferreira was buried in Petrusburg initially but then re-interred on his farm Destatesfontein in Ladybrand on 13 January 1904. In 1958 he was again re-interred, but this time in Clocolan cemetery next to his wife.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt


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