Hesekiah Sephton and his party of 344 settlers founded the village of Salem in 1820.

It is a well-preserved village of the period. The houses were stoutly constructed and double storied for security and for economy of roofing material.

The church served as a central fort and place of worship.

The name Salem, taken from Psalm 76, means 'peace', and the inhabitants were people who feared only God. During one Xhosa raid on the village the church was packed with refugees.  One of the men, Richard Gush, was a man of peace and heartily tired of his farmlands being ruined and his stock rustled.  Of his own accord, he put his gun aside and walked out to confront the warriors.  They were nonplussed at his boldness. Their commander knew Gush. The chief strode forward, bristling with skins and feathers, spears and clubs. The two men greeted each other. The chief explained that his warriors were hungry.

Gush watched his livestock being rounded up by the warriors. He returned to the church and despite the protests of his comrades took back to the warriors 15 huge loaves, an armful of tobacco rolls and a dozen pocket knives. He handed over these presents to the chief, then protested about Xhosa thefts of the settlers' cattle. The warriors looked at him in wonder and patiently listened to a sermon about the wrath of God. Then, one by one they shook hands with Gush, took up his presents and went back into the wilderness, leaving the cattle to run loose in the bush.

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