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Sep 17, 2017

Willowmore began on the farm, The Willows, as a trading center in 1864 and was first named Willow-Moore. William Joseph Moore's father William Senior was born in Buckinghamshire (UK) and married Ann Dove in 1792. In 1819 they emigrated to the Cape of Good Hope as members of the British Settler program.

They came with their two adult children William junior and Eleanor both born in the UK.

William junior's first wife, Margaret Williamson, whom he married in 1817 in London, died soon after arrival. He then married a "local" girl, Petronella Catharina Terblanche. They had a daughter, also Petronella Catharina, who in 1846 married Frederick Daniel Christian Lehmkuhl.

The town of Willow-Moore (Willowmore) was founded in 1864 when Frederick and William Joseph Moore, his brother-in-law and business partner donated land to the Dutch Reformed Church.

In 1874 a magistracy was established and it became a municipality in 1884. In 2000 Willowmore became part of the Baviaans Municipality which covers an area of more than 7700 square kilometers, incorporates the the towns of Willowmore and Steytlerville as well as the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area. The administrative center of the Baviaans Municipality is in Willowmore.

Today, Willowmore forms the gateway to the Baviaanskloof, a World Heritage site. Stock farming (mainly Angora goats, Merino sheep and Boer goats) makes up most of the area's economy with game farming and tourism following close by.


Nearby Towns

  • Steytlerville via cement road 90km
  • Rietbron 70 km
  • Uniondale 60km
  • Aberdeen 110km

Things to do and see in the Willowmore Area

Even though Willowmore is considered as the Western Gateway to the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area, a World Heritage Site, Willowmore is a worthwhile destination in it's own right.

It offers visitors numerous experiences such as hiking, mountain biking, 4x4 trails. It is also a popular plains and small game (such as wild pig, kudu, springbuck) hunting destination.

In town and the surrounding area guests will find lots of things to do and exceptionally friendly people. You will find a number  of restaurants coffee shops, 4x4/4x2 tracks, hiking trails, mountain biking routes, bird watching as well as historic sites. Read more below.

Willowmore and the Anglo Boer War

During the Anglo-Boer War Willowmore was in British territory, but several Afrikaans speaking men from the Cape Colony joined the Boer "army" in the north. The Colonial rebels from the Cape Colony were regarded as traitors and rebels by the British authorities, and many were executed after the war.

A few skirmishes took place around Willowmore and the Boer "army" even invaded the town, but the term "army" is a bit of a misnomer for the Boer forces as it consisted of citizens of the Boer republics (Orange Free State and Transvaal) who willfully enlisted in an untrained "army". Their style of warfare was more guerilla like than the conventional style of the British forces.

Boer commandoes remained active in the Willowmore-Aberdeen area for more than a year.

On 15 December 1900 a few Boer Commandants from the north crossed the Orange River with approximately 700 men and entered the Cape Colony. On 11 January they had a skirmish with Lt Col J H G Byng near Murrays burg. One of the commandos under Commandant Gideon Scheepers then moved away and on 15 January they invaded Aberdeen (about 125Km from Willowmore).

On 18 January the Scheepers commando reached Willowmore and occupied the town. This lasted for just over a month until 27 February when Colonel L W Parsons' troops chased them out of the Willowmore district. The Boers then tried to capture Aberdeen, but the town guard's defenses were too good, so they retreated into the mountains near Aberdeen.

Scheepers and his men were active until he became too sick to fight and surrendered to Captain Shearmann of the Hussars on 11 October 1901.

Scheepers was a member of the Free State Artillery and not a Colonial Rebel. It was thus very controversial that he was trialed and executed as such. He was executed 18 January 1902 by firing squad in Graaff-Reinet.

It has been argued that it was because of his successful raids over such a long period that the British wanted to get rid of him in this manner. It is also puzzling why his grave has never been found. Seven others who were also executed were later reburied in Graaff-Reinet on 1 December 1908, but it was claimed that Scheepers' grave could not be found.

Article source: Poortjie Private Game Reserve Willowmore

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