Origins

Love and friendship, those soft bands woven by nature for the happiness of mankind, link all members of the same family amongst the IsiXhosa. The mutual attachment of blood relations amongst them deserves no small praise and can be held as an example to more than one European nation.
From “Relation d’un voyage en Afrique et en Amerique, par Madam”
The Diary of Augusta de Mist, 1803

According to her diary, she passed within a few metres of Park Villa, our homestead, around 12 December 1803, on the way to the Magistrate’s house, now the Drostdy Museum.

“The newly-built house in new long style, at which we halted on the day,” continues the diarist, “belonged to one of the descendants of the French refugees, who, after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, sought a shelter here. 

In the year 1802, Augusta Uitenhage de Mist, then 18 years old, accompanied her father, Jacob Uitenhage de Mist to the Cape of Good Hope. Her father had received instructions in Holland to proceed to the Cape as Commissary-General. He was to accept transfer of the Colony from the British back to the Dutch, to establish the new regime and install the Governor, General JW Janssens.

On 9 October 1803, Jacob Abraham de Mist, Commissioner-General, left Cape Town on a 167 day journey into the interior, accompanied by his daughter, Augusta, a companion named Mietjie Versveld, his son and Dr Heinrich Lichtenstein, an explorer. The travelling party first went northwards to Saldahna and St Helena Bay, and then to present-day Calvinia, Sutherland and Tulbagh. They then turned eastwards towards Swellendam and Mossel Bay, proceeding to Algoa Bay and the junction of the Great and Little Fish Rivers.

The ladies remained behind while De Mist met Gaika, a Xhosa chief. After this they travelled to Graaff-Reinet, where Augusta fell ill. She refused to be left behind, and continued the journey, with her bed in one of the wagons. They passed via Beaufort West, Prince Albert and Worcester on their way back to Cape Town, which they reached on 23 March 1804.

Augusta’s travel journal, which recorded this journey, was later published in French. The only known copy exists in the Library of Congress in Washington, as she had travelled via North America on her way home in 1805. The English title of the book is ‘Diary of a journey into the Cape of Good Hope and the interior of Africa in 1802 and 1803′.

In Swellendam, Augusta had very memorable experiences, being impressed by the level of craft and workmanship in both architecture and manufacturing.

“Some of the houses,” says the diarist, “inhabited by shop-keepers and workmen form a kind of street leading up to the Pastorie, which stands in the middle of a large garden. We were quartered here, and I shall always remember with real gratitude the kindness and thoughtfulness of the good pastor and his charming wife during our visit. We left this hospitable roof on December 1.