The Texas of South Africa
Vryburg is renowned for it's cattle ranching, often gets referred to as the "Texas of South Africa" and has a long and rich history dating back to 1882.
In the wars between the Tlapin tribe and the Korana Hottentots, a large number of European adventurers served as mercenaries with the two sides. At the end of the fighting, in July 1882, 416 of the mercenaries who had fought for the Hottentots received payment in the form of farms.
These mercenaries then proclaimed their block of ranch land a republic and named it Stellaland because of a comet which had been visible while the fighting was in progress.
Vryburg, the 'town of freedom', was laid out as a capital for the roughneck republic. A flag was designed, postage stamps issued (great collectors' pieces), a goal built and the state was launched. Its life was short. The then Transvaal Republic and the British government in the Cape refused to tolerate continuous frontier disturbances. An expeditionary force under Sir Charles Warren was sent up from the Cape with orders to 'remove filibusters from Bechuanaland and restore order in the country'.
Stellaland was occupied in 1885 and the flag was sent to Queen Victoria and hung in Windsor Castle until 1934 when King George V returned it to Vryburg. It remains in the town hall. King George was the proud possessor of a full set of Stellaland stamps.
In its heyday the area was a roaming ground for rustlers and horse thieves, including the renowned Scotty Smith and the gaol housed some tough customers.
Vryburg is today the centre for ranching on a vast scale. In the stockyards many thousands of head of cattle are auctioned each week and transported for slaughter all over South Africa.
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