The rural centre of Smithfield is the fourth oldest town in the Free State (after Winburg, Bloemfontein and Philippolis).

It was founded in 1848 and named after the bluff Sir Harry Smith, governor of the Cape.

Sheep and cattle are among the products of this prosperous district.

In the vicinity is a farm established in 1828 by French missionaries and named Beersheba. The Missionaries left in 1856 and since then the Swanepoel family has owned the property, living in the homestead built by the missionaries.The building has 18 rooms, passages that are 3m wide, linenfold ceilings of wood and walls nearly a metre thick.

An odd relic in the town is a former ship's gun named Ou Grietjie ('old Margaret'). The Gun has an unknown origin, but it was carried about the central plains for many years and used in various wars against the Sotho, and even as a threat against the Transvaal (when two uncuccessful attempts were made to fire the gun).

In 1860 the weapon was brought to Smithfield. Prince Albert, son of Queen Victoria, visited the town and at the official welcome the gun was loaded by two vetrans and the wick ignited, but again the gun did not fire. The expectant crowd grew restless, the two gunners peered down the barrel, and promptly blew their heads off.

The Gun was last used in 1868 to bombard Thaba-Bosiu during the final Basuto War.

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