Griquatown, hometown of the remarkable Griqua leaders Adam Kok and Andries Waterboer, is situated 150 km from Kimberley, has the unique distinction of being the first town to be established north of the Orange River.
At the request of the Griquas, the London Missionary Society missionaries Cornelius Kramer and William Anderson established themselves in 1804 as missionaries at Griquatown. Kramer’s wife was the first white woman to be buried north of the Orange River, the grave still standing intact today.
The old mission house, build roundabout 1828, today houses the Mary Moffat Museum. When Griquatown was laid out as a town in 1879, the survey commenced from the mission house, the parallels being taken from the front walls of the building. In 1904 this house was sold to Barclays Bank, who purchased the property directly from the London Missionary Society, and up to 1956 used it as a bank. When Barclays Bank completed their new building next door, the building was converted into a museum. Dr Al Geyer, a director of Barclays Bank, officially handed over the old house to Mr Willy van Zyl, the Mayor.
Dr Robert Moffat and his wife Mary, waiting to depart to Kuruman, resided at Griquatown when their daughter, Mary, later Mrs. David Livingstone, was born at Griquatown in 1821. Later the Moffats and Livingstone often visited the missionaries here.
The so-called Moffat pulpit can be seen in the museum. A declared National Monument, it was probably made by Robert Hamilton, a co-operator of Moffat. The old ship’s bell was the church bell, and was reputedly brought from Cape Town on the back of an ox. It announced the sermons preached by the missionaries Livingstone, Moffat and Waterboer.
The Griqua state had their own coinage and flag, and produced their own gun powder. Waterboer’s “Palace” (known as “the yellow yard” too), was a house with six rooms. A high wall surrounded the house, equipped as a cattle kraal and had shooting holes in case of a siege. The famous “execution tree”, where Waterboer hanged stock thieves and murderers, can still be seen. On special occasions the Griquas gathered under this tree. Waterboer’s organ is housed in the museum too. It was purchased at Van Druten’s shop, and cost 400 pounds. Two little 2
cannons, originally know as “old Niklaas and old Grietjie” (names after Nicolaas Waterboer and his wife) were given to the Griquas by the British Government. They were put up at the “Palace”, and were later taken to Kimberley but eventually returned to Griquatown again. At present they dorn Waterboer’s monument near the hospital.