The Clopton Chronicles
A Project of the Clopton Family Genealogical Society
WORK WHILE THOU HAST LIFE FOR CHRIST
Mary Jane Smithey & Her Daughter
Martha Smithey Wilson
By Alexander Erwin Wilson
Little Martha Smithey Wilson was not yet one year old when her mother died in 1836. Alexander Erwin Wilson and his young bride, Mary Jane Smithey, were Presbyterian missionaries in Africa. Mrs. Wilson was the first white woman to serve as a missionary in South Africa, and she would be the first to die for her faith. In that country. A moving letter Dr. Wilson wrote to his “beloved little Martha” has survived. The letter, included in his diary was found in the attic of the home of Pleasant Alexander Stovall, his grandson.
The original diary was given to the Georgia Historical Society along with a large round gold medal which had been presented to Mr. Stovall by the Belgian government for services and special courtesies rendered while he was United States Minister to Switzerland.
who preserved you through so many vicissitudes
by land and sea, war and peace,
at home and abroad, in the desert, in the mountains.
Having parted with you and never expecting to see your face again in this world, I thought it would be interesting to you to have a short sketch of that part of your childhood which was played in Africa. It is true that the time you remained there was short, only about 18 months, yet was full of interesting incident.
Your parents embarked at Boston in the Bark Burlington in company with six brethren and their wives bound to So. Africa. The names of the brethren were the Rev. Messrs. Grout, Lindley, Champion, Venable & Dr. Adams. Our object was to make known the gospel of Jesus Christ to the heathen nations of S. A. Christians at home had sent us to teach them the ways of life through a crucified Savior. After a pleasant and speedy passage of 62 days we landed at Cape Town. This town is a place of some importance, containing about 20,000 inhabitants, one third of whom may be English and Dutch, the remainder a motley group of negroes, Hottentots and Malays.
Cape Town is valuable to England, principally as a stopping place for the East India vessels, where they can put in and obtain water and refreshments.
I stated above that it was for the purpose of making known the salvation of our blessed Savior that your parents left their friends and goodly native land. Permit your dear father, who loves you with the tenderest affection, of recommending to you that Savior who died that you might live. If you, my dear child, neglect and refits to love him, the poor ignorant natives of Africa will rise up in judgment and condemn you. Oh! then love that Savior who took little children in his arms and blessed them and said "of such is the kingdom of God" let me intreat you to go to him and commit into his hands the salvation of your soul. He will not cast you off. He ever lives in Heaven to make intercession for all who come unto God by him. Heb. 70-25. Your dear mother, Now in Heaven I trust, for the sake of Christ left all that was dear to her and met an early death far in the interior of So. Africa, remote from the abode of Christian or civilized man. During her life it was the united prayer of us both that you might become a follower of Christ, and that your heart might be renewed in your childhood to love the lord your God. For this end we dedicated you to God in Baptism. Oh! my dear child remember that thus you are the Lord's. Draw not back from him, but say: "here Lord I give myself to thee Oh seal me thine. I am thine by creation, by baptism I am thine, oh make me thine by regeneration and adoption" How lovely to give the youthful and best affection of the heart to the Lord.
After staying a few weeks at Cape Town, we set out for the country of Moselekatse, king of the Zulu nation, in company with brethren Lindley and Venable and their wives. We were also favored with the company of the Rev. Mr. Wright and his wife, a missionary of the London Missionary Soc., whose station lay on our route to the Zulu country. Our destined field of labor was distant, more than a thousand miles from Cape Town in the interior of So. Africa. The other brethren were appointed to go to Dingoan, the King of the Zulu nation which was situated on the Sea Coast, about 1,000 miles to the eastward of the Cape of Good Hope.
Our mode of traveling was in strong wagons, very like the wagons that bring flour and tobacco to Richmond. Our wagons were our houses during our long and tedious journey. We slept in them at night and they were so fixed that we had quite comfortable repose. 400 or 500 miles of our journey lay through the colony where we met with Dutch farmers who were scattered over the country at intervals of 8 or 10 miles, from whom we obtained such things as we needed. Other parts of our journey went through deserts inhabited only by the ostrich, the hyena, lion and also by a great variety of antelopes, some of which were very handsome.
It added much interest to our journey to look out of our wagons as we traveled the woodless plains and view there the ostrich, the largest of birds, sometimes stalking in solitude, sometimes in companies of 3 or 4 others, again large droves of springboks, the most beautiful of the antelope species, then again herds of guaggos, a species of wild horse that abound in Africa, grazing and sporting in their native pastures. Then when the earth was wrapped in the mantle of night the more ferocious beasts of prey would sally forth from their covents and roaring ask their meat of God.
Africa is more abundant in animals than any other part of the world. My space will not allow me, else I would give you some account of the numerous wild animals which we met with on our long journey. I will barely add a list of some of them. There was first the lion (one came at night into our cattle fold when we lived at Dingoan country and killed a cow and four calves,) the spotted tiger (not the Bengal tiger), the leopard, hyena, jackall - very numerous and a good deal like the American fox - the elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, giraffe, camel, leopard (a splendid animal), a great variety of antelope too numerous to mention, the quagga and zebra.
After traveling two months we came to Griqua Town, a station of the London Missionary Soc. In consequence of the worn down state of our oxen we were compelled to remain at this place for some time. Here we saw much to encourage us in the flourishing native church and schools. It was here that your first little African playmate and companion was born, i.e. little Mary Lindley.
After having experienced much kindness from our missionary friends at Griqua Town, we took leave and went to Kuruman, another station of the London Missionary Society. Here it was decided I should remain with the wives while the brethren Lindley and Venable should proceed on to visit Moselekatse and make known to him the object of our visiting his country and to obtain his assistance to our settling in his country and teach his people the way of salvation through Jesus Christ. Another great object they had in view was to put up a house for the reception of our families.
On the 15th of Jan. 1836 you were born at Kuruman. This station is indeed a green spot in the wilderness. A few miles from the station there breaks out a spring from which issues a stream of water sufficient to turn a small mill. This stream has been turned out of its natural channel through the enterprise of the missionaries and is conducted by means of a small canal and used for irrigating the gardens of the missionaries and natives of the station.
The country all around is desert, for the most part destitute of water. Indeed this is true of a great part of Africa. It is indeed a dry and thirsty land. It is not like our own happy land, a land of rivers and brooks and springs of water. Yet here and there, there are fountains, even in the desert, where the wild beast quench their thirst. In the colony at each farmer's house you will find a fountain which not only furnishes water for the family and flock but is used also for irrigating the garden. The water is led out in little channels over the ground. The land when irrigated is very fruitful, yielding fine wheat, kitchen vegetables, and in some places grapes, figs, peaches, pears and apricots. But little rain falls in So. Africa. In consequence of which the pastures frequently fail, the grass being consumed by drought. During such seasons the farmers leave their homes and seek, with their flocks, some more favored region until the showers of heaven shall fall and cause the grass to spring up on their deserted farms. Some of the farmers have immense flocks of sheep and goats, amounting in some cases to 8 or 10 thousand.
But to return to Kuruman: the most lovely feature connected with it is that it is a place of moral verdure, while all around is darkness. Then on the Sabbath the gospel is preached, songs of praises are sung to Jehovah. The Sabbath school is collected, the children instructed in the truths of the Bible. There is also a flourishing day school and native church. The brethren have also a printing press to print the bible, tracts and school books. The name of the people at the station are the Bechnanas. There are here three missionaries.
The desert country around Kuruman and Griqua Town and to a considerable distance to the eastward and westward is uninhabited excepting by wandering Bushmen, so called because they live among the bushes and rocks. These are the poorest and crudest people that we met with in So. Africa. They have no houses, no flocks, do not cultivate the ground, but depend upon roots, game and locusts for food. They also eat the larvae of young ants before they are born, or young ants which abound in that country. The Bushmen belong to the Hottentot race. Their language is quite peculiar, being composed in a great measure of clicky sounds entirely different from any sound in our own language. But little has been done toward teaching them in the ways of salvation.
Among them, as also among the Bechnanas, there is a good deal of suffering for want of food. I have seen children lean and emaciated because they had not a sufficient supply of food. They usually go naked. How thankful you should be, my dear Martha, that you have kind friends who provide you with good food and clothing. I have seen the African children embracing their naked bodies with their arms to impart a little heat arid sheltering themselves from the chilly wind by getting behind a bush. Although the climate of So. Africa is generally warm, yet there is a good deal of weather in the winter that is uncomfortably cold.
After an absence of three months the Brethren Lindley and Venable returned from Moselekatse's country, having been successful in the objects of their journey. They found Moselekatse to be a most tyrannical despot, ruling his people with a rod of iron, of a most proud and hearty disposition esteeming himself the greatest king in the world. In these notions he was fully confirmed by the most extravagant flattery of his people. His courtiers that surround him lavished upon him from morning till night the most extravagant praises, calling him by every great title.
However he received the brethren kindly. They took particular pains to make him acquainted with the true nature of our mission. They told him they had not come to his country to get rich, nor had they come to get a good country, that we had left a goodly land and our kindred and that the good people over the waters, meaning American Christians, had sent us to teach his people the way of salvation. And for this sole purpose we wished to settle in his country and build a house in which to live. He was informed that it was our wish not only to preach the word of God, but also to establish schools for the purpose of teaching the people to read and write and thus to become acquainted with the wisdom of the white people. The king expressed himself as being well pleased that we had come to live in his land, promised that we should have access to his people according to our request.
As soon as we could make ready, after the return of the brethren, Mr. Venable and I, accompanied by Mrs. Venable, your dear mother, and of course with you also, set off for our destined field of labor, fully expecting there to end our days in the Lord's service.
You were, at this time, about 3 months old, not very healthy and greatly beloved of your affectionate mother and father. We, as also our friends, had some fears that the exposure of the journey might set hard with you, but we had much reason to be thankful that instead of injury you were much benefited by the journey. About 40 miles from Kuruman we passed the missionary station of a good French brother whose name was Lemue. We were much pleased with him and his interesting lady. Here also was another bright spot in the moral wilderness. Here was a Bethel, a house of God. Here the Lord had commanded his blessing on a few even as we hope, life forevermore. Brother Lemue’s station is called Uotito. From this place our journey lay through a wilderness uninhabited for the most part, except for a few scattering Bechnana Bushmen.
The country consisted mostly of extensive plains, with here and there an isolated mountain rising up with a flat top, and over these plains numerous flocks of wild animals were met with wherever the pasture was good. We were sometimes almost transported with the animating sight of troops of antelopes of various kinds, as the springbok, the gnu, the harte beast, the eland, and also herds of quaggas, a kind of wild horse of a dark color, beautifully striped. The plains are for the most part woodless, excepting here and there a clump of bushes or a few scattering of mimosa trees (a kind of thorn)
Upon one of these mimosa trees we found quite a curiosity, we might very properly call it a bird town. Looking up in the boughs you would see something like a small haystack, but not much larger than a tobacco hogshead, tapering upward to a point. Underneath it was pierced by hundreds of holes, these led to the houses of the winged inhabitants. These did not appear to be used solely for the purpose, if at all, of laying eggs and rearing their young, but principally as habitations.
After leaving Motito we crossed no running water until we came to the Molapo, a fine little creek near our place of settlement. We obtained between these places water at the pools which are filled from time to time by showers of rain, and also in the beds of dry rivers. We found water in deep places after great rains which are seldom. Water runs in the river channels which are however usually dry.
After a journey of about 2 weeks we arrive safely, in the good providence of God, at our station. We were truly glad at length to reach our home and have the prospect of settling down in our own house and raising the standard of the Gospel in the remote interior of So. Africa. The natives seemed pleased that we had come among them. Kalipe, the great warrior of Moselekatse, visited us and made us presents of beer made from the native corn. This Kalipe was a very interesting man. We were in the habit of saying that he was as much of a gentleman as a savage could be. Our wives were objects of curiosity to the natives. They being the first white females that had ever been in their country. I would state that Mrs., Archbele had, in company with her husband, visited Moselekatse some years before, when he and his people occupied a country considerably to the eastward of the country they then inhabited. You also were quite a curiosity to the natives. They appeared quite fond of you. There was a great warrior by the name of Unkotise who used to make a great deal of you.
Upon our arrival we found the floors of our house, which were made of clay, entirely too wet to be occupied. In the meantime we occupied a tent during the day and slept in our wagons at night. The district of the country in which we settled was much better than any we had seen before in So. Africa. It was well watered and fertile and quite thickly settled. If it had pleased God to have opened a way for us to have practiced the gospel, to educate the people, the prospect of usefulness was very flattering.
The people were quite interesting, very warlike and brave. War was the great business of Moselekatse. For 18 years he had led a most bloody course, hunting down and robbing the natives around him. By this means he had accumulated an immense number of cattle. All the cattle taken in war were his, no one had any claim on the booty, excepting bestowal by his pleasure.
However I find that I shall not have time to enlarge on these things, indeed I can only give you an outline which if filled up might fill a volume.
Brother and Sister Lindley and little Mary, your African friend, soon joined us. We sowed some wheat, made a garden, sowed vegetables and planted some fig trees and other fruit trees that we had brought with us from Kuruman. We had a pretty stream of water which ran in an artificial canal within 20 yards of our door. This served for water and also for irrigating our gardens. Indeed we were fixing ourselves to live very comfortably. But here it pleased God to permit a train of adverse occurrences to commence which terminated in the breakup of the mission and the disappointment of all our hopes of Christianizing these people.
Soon after our arrival we heard that Moselekatse was sending out his army. The whole matter was kept secret from us. We were for a time entirely ignorant against whom he was sending out his army. We had learned that the Dutch farmers, or Boers as they are generally called, being dissatisfied with the English Government were emigrating in large numbers from the colony far into the interior of So. Africa in search of a better country. After about ten days we heard that the army was returning with wagons and two white boys as captives. Then we were certain that the object was the Dutch farmers. After the return of the army everything was still for a while.
In the meantime it pleased the Lord to visit us with sickness. Brother Lindley was the first taken. Soon after Bro. Venable and then sister Venable, and at the same time your dear mother was also taken ill. For the first few days she did not seem to be threatening and I confidently hoped that with the blessing of God and the medicine used that her disease would give way in a few days, but our hopes were in this respect disappointed. She grew worse and worse, became overwhelmed with stupor, during the last two days of her life, and on Sabbath morning just as the dawn of day appeared, she ascended on high, as I trust, to spend an eternal Sabbath in Heaven.
At this time our station presented a spectacle of distress. Sister Lindley was the only one of the mission family who, with the exception of myself, was able to go about. Bro. Venable was dangerously ill. Just before sundown on the evening of the fifth day, assisted by the people who came with us from Kuruman, as also by a faithful Hottentot man who came with us from Cape Town, I buried my beloved wife not far from our house.
Sister Venable very soon after this was taken ill. It pleased the Lord to spare my own health. When you lost your mother you were only 8 months old. She had been to you a most tender and devoted mother. You seemed to be quite sensible of the great loss you had sustained, refusing to be comforted because she was not. Assisted by a little native girl named Amas I took as good care of you as my time, which was very much occupied with the sick, would permit. It was a matter of thankfulness that we could obtain plenty of milk. This was your food. Your faithful little attendant, Amas, would sit by you and rock you in your little cradle, which I had made for you in your dear mother's lifetime. She proved to be very faithful and valuable little girl to you and myself. I shall always remember Amas with gratitude.
Presently we heard that Moselekatse was sending out his army again against the Boers, or farmers. It was his intention this time to destroy them entirely, for this purpose he sent his whole strength; but the Dutch, getting informed of their coming fortified themselves, and when attacked, although they were few in number; yet they defeated the Zulu army with dreadful slaughter. Yet all the flocks of the Dutch fell into the hands of the Zulus. The army returned, dreadfully defeated. They told us that one half was destroyed. We suppose this statement was rather exaggerated. Some came to us for medical aid, shockingly wounded. One poor fellow with his arm shot off. We were sent for to cut shot out of others. Some died of their wounds after they returned home. In the meantime Bro Lindley had recovered, the sick did not recover, although better they were subject to relapses.
We hoped that the Dutch after having lost their flocks would become discouraged and go back to their colony and that the country after a while would become still, and that we would be allowed to prosecute our labor on which our hearts were fixed. But in this we were disappointed. About three months after the great battle, the Dutch having fallen back towards the colony, were recruited by others, as also by some Hottentots and Conannas, organized an army and on the 15th of Jan. 1837 they invaded the country of Moselekatse intending to retaliate on him for the unprovoked attack he had made on them, in which he had destroyed a number of their women and children.
Their approach to his country was entirely unexpected by the Zulus. The district of his country which was attacked was that in which we lived. On the morning of the 16th Jan. I was awakened by the firing of guns. I sprang out of my bed and looked out of my window and saw the Dutch on horseback pursuing and shooting down the natives who were flying for their lives. Some of the women fled to our house for protection, one poor creature, with her arm shivered by a ball. Some fled past the house to a creek nearby where they found a hiding place.
We felt some anxiety at first for our own safety but very soon the commandant accompanied by an elderly man rode down to our house and relieved our minds by assuring us that no hostility was intended to us. The old man in a tone of earnestness demanded of us in Dutch 'Wien is mien kinders?" Where are my children? His children had been taken by the Zulus and he had some hopes that they were still alive. We told the poor old man that we knew of them, that they have not to our knowledge even been brought to this country. They inquired with a good deal of anxiety where Moselekatse's great capital was. We told them that he was distant 40 or 50 miles. After advising us to leave the country with them, adding that it would not be safe for us to remain after they should leave.
For hours we could hear the roaring of their muskets as they poured the storm of war along the valley in which we lived. At first we thought it out of the question about our leaving. Bro. Venable and Sis. Venable and Lindley were scarcely able to hobble about. However we saw that our field of labor was destroyed. The Dutch told us that it was only the beginning of the war, that they intended to return as soon as they could with a much larger force to overrun his country. In view of these circumstances we concluded to leave, and by one o'clock PM, having put a few things in our wagons, we set off with the Dutch who had captured 6 or 7000 head of cattle.
We traveled night and day for some time under a good deal of apprehension of being pursued and attacked by the Zulus. On the 4th day we reached the Vaal River which was full. The Dutch had made a small raft of logs for the purpose of carrying over their ammunition. On this they carried the ladies and you, and little Mary, the raft being supported by 5 or 6 men. After ten days more we reached Thova Uncher, a missionary station. During this journey we suffered no little from various causes. You were much in want for food. But from all these troubles the Lord our God delivered us.
From here we pursued our journey to Graham Town in the colony. We concluded that it was our duty to join our brethren in Dingoan's country. After another arduous journey of two months we arrived at Port Natal. Bro. Venable and myself settled in Dingoan's country where we commenced to preach the gospel under circumstances of encouragement. Our hearts felt encouraged in view of again laboring for the perishing heathen. Upon our arrival Bro. Grout, who had lost his wife, acquainted us with his purpose of visiting his native land with the object, in part, of taking home his little motherless daughter who was nearly your age. He kindly offered to take charge of you, if I wished to send you to America. Upon consulting my friends I concluded to send you back. You were about 18 months old when you embarked at Port Natal. The vessel in going to sea was cast on the shore. Through the goodness of God, you and all on board got back to land.
After the vessel was repaired you embarked again for Port Elizabeth, thence you sailed to London. Maria, a Hottentot girl, was your nurse as also that of Bro. Grout's little girl, whose name was Relief Orcana. From London you sailed in a packet for New York where you landed in April 1838. There you found friends in the Rev. Armstrong, who took charge of you and in due time had you conveyed by a Richmond packet to your dear friends in Virginia.
Thus you see, my dear child, what various scenes both by sea and land you have passed through. What cause of gratitude have you to your Heavenly Father, under Him to your earthly friends among whom I wish you to remember with particular gratitude the Rev. Mr. Grout who had charge of you from Africa to America. Above all do not forget your obligation to God who preserved you through so many vicissitudes by land and sea, war and peace, at home and abroad, in the desert, in the mountains.
I have only given a short sketch of the events connected with your childhood. If space would allow I would have given you some account of our residence in Dingoan's country, after you sailed for America, of the most treacherous conduct of that dreadful despot massacring the Dutch Governor and his party of 60 men whom he was entertaining with every manifestation of friendship, of the bloody war that ensued, of our dangers and of the merciful interposition of God in our behalf. This caused the breaking up of our mission in Dingoan country and of my return to America.
And now, my dear little Martha, forsake not the Lord who has been so good to you in your days of helplessness when you passed through the fire and were not allowed to consume you and when you passed through the waters, they were not allowed to overflow you. Oh then go to that God and give him your heart, pray him to be your almighty friend. If you “seek him he will be found; if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off.”
1. Mary Jane2 Smithey (Robert Scott1) was born October 23, 1812 in Richmond, Virginia1, and died September 18, 1836 in Kuruman, South Africa and buried at Kuruman. She married Alexander Erwin Wilson2 November 10, 1834 in Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Virginia, son of John Wilson and Mary Erwin. He was born December 11, 1803 in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, and died October 13, 1841 in Fishtown, near Cape Palmas, South Africa.
Child of Mary Smithey and Alexander Wilson is:
+ 2 i. Martha Smithey3 Wilson, born January 15, 1836 in Kuruman, South Africa; died February 1, 1906 in Athens, Georgia and buried at Oconee Cemetery, Athens.
Generation No. 2
2. Martha Smithey3 Wilson (Mary Jane2 Smithey, Robert Scott1) was born January 15, 1836 in Kuruman, South Africa, and died February 1, 1906 in Athens, Georgia and buried at Oconee Cemetery, Athens3. She married Bolling Anthony Stovall, Sr., C.S.A.4 September 19, 1856 in Washington, D.C.. He was born August 19, 1827 in Sparta, Hancock County, Georgia, and died August 24, 1887 in Athens, Georgia and buried at Oconee Cemetery, Athens5.
Children of Martha Wilson and Bolling Stovall are:
3 i. Pleasant Alexander4 Stovall, born July 10, 1857 in Augusta, Georgia; died May 14, 1935 in Savannah, Georgia. He married Mary Adams Ganahl, of Augusta, January 7, 1885.
4 ii. Jeanie Wilson Stovall, born December 16, 1858 in Augusta, Georgia; died August 17, 1946 in Athens, Georgia and buried at Oconee Cemetery, Athens. She married Robert Toombs Dubose December 15, 1880.
5 iii. Erwin Wilson Stovall, born October 6, 1860 in Augusta, Georgia; died May 16, 1861 in Augusta, Georgia.
6 iv. Elizabeth Dearing Stovall, born March 19, 1862 in Augusta, Georgia; died October 31, 1947 in Athens, Georgia and buried at Oconee Cemetery, Athens. She married Robert Lampkin June 5, 1883.
7 v. Nellie Gretter Stovall, born March 9, 1864 in Augusta, Georgia; died October 9, 1949 in Athens, Georgia and buried at Oconee Cemetery, Athens5. She married Billups Phinizy6 April 21, 1886 in Athens, Georgia7,8; born February 27, 1861 in Augusta, Georgia; died October 25, 1927 in Athens, Georgia and buried at Oconee Cemetery, Athens9.
8 vi. Bolling Anthony Stovall, Jr., born September 29, 1868 in Augusta, Georgia; died July 29, 1892.
9 vii. Harvey Stovall, born August 28, 1878 in Athens, Georgia; died in Athens, Georgia and buried at Oconee Cemetery, Athens. He married Sarah Farinin Foster.
1. The Stovall Family Bible gives her birth date as November 13, 1813 as does her memorial plaque found in a Richmond church. Since her father died on April 6, 1812, this 1813 date is questionable. A Sewing Sampler from the period gives her birth date as October 23, 1812.
2. Robert Malcolm Fortson, Jr. provided this information unless otherwise noted.
3. Tombstone, loc. cit.
4. Robert Malcolm Fortson, Jr. provided this information unless otherwise noted.
5. Tombstone, loc. cit.
6. Robert Malcolm Fortson, Jr. provided this information unless otherwise noted.
7. Hull, Annuls of Athens, Georgia 1801-1901, p. 492.
8. Clarke County George Marriage Record Book H, 1881-1890.
9. Tombstone, loc. cit.
Comments? Questions? Corrections?
 Work While Thou Hast Life for Christ is an excerpt from The Clopton Chronicles, the Ancestors and Descendants of Sir Thomas Clopton, Knt., & Katherine Mylde, and is the property of the Clopton Family Genealogical Society which holds the copyright on this material. Permission is granted to quote or reprint articles for noncommercial use provided credit is given to the CFGS and to the author. Prior written permission must be obtained from the Society for commercial use.
He is the son of John McKemie Wilson, M.D. and his wife, Mary Erwin, both of Rocky River, North Carolina An abbreviated genealogy follows. For a complete genealogy of Mary Jane (Smithey) Wilson’s Clopton line, see The Descendants of William Clopton of St. Paul’s Parish & His Wife Joyce Wilkinson
The Society wishes to thank , Robert Malcolm Fortson, Jr. the great-great grandson of Mary Jane Smithey and her husband Alexander Erwin Wilson for providing a copy of the transcript. He is a Founding Member of the Clopton Family Genealogical Society, and Clopton Family Archives. The diary was transcribed by Cabell M. Stovall in 1960. Paragraphs have been added to assist the reader. Also thanks to Peter Knevitt for his assistance.
 Kuruman is approximately 500 kilometers southwest of Johannesburg, very much in the center of South Africa. It is in the middle of the dry expanse of the Kalahari basin. In its center is the famous “Eye of Kuruman,” an inexhaustible sweet was fountain, which has never dried out, even in the longest drought periods, and produced daily 20 million liters of water. The spring was discovered in 1801 when an expedition group from the Cape explored the hinterland to check out the possibilities of cattle trading with the natives. Later on a mission was opened there, which then became the center of the small town of Kuruman.
 The gravestone Dr. Wilson carved and placed over his wife’s grave was discovered face down in the earth by workmen building the railroad into the Ottoshoop district in the western Transvaal. It was found in good condition and has been placed in the Africana Museum. The inscription reads: Martha Smithey Wilson – Richmond, Va. At Sea off the West Coast of Africa Sept. 10, 1839. North lat 10o 29, South 17o 50W.
 The Vaal River, the second largest river in South Africa, rises in the northeast section of the country, near Swaziland. It flows southwest to a point in the central part of the country, where it joins the Orange, which is the largest river.