REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA
AN OVERVIEW OF THE LODGE AFTER 100 YEARS
FEBRUARY 1892 to FEBRUARY 1992
BY L.B. VERSTER, P.D.S.G.W
SECRETARY OF EL DORADO LODGE NO. 2314 EC
1955 - 1984
The 19th century was a traumatic period for the whole of South Africa. The Great Trek had begun, and wars and rumours of wars were rife. Bro. Piet Retief (Bro.Retief's water bottle with masonic emblems may be seen at the Voortrekker Museum at Pietermaritzburg. Bro. Retief is depicted on one of the friezes of the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, wearing this bottle.) and his men had been viciously clubbed to death on the command of the Zulu King Dingaan. The massacres of Blaauwkrants and Weenen were fresh in the memories of men. Isandlawana, Rorke's Drift, Amajuba - all names that conjure up the picture of battle, of war and destruction - are even to this day well known and remembered, and roll easily on the South African tongue. It seems that Robert Ardrey's (Robert Ardrey - African Genesis - Fontana Books.) postulation, that man emerged from animal beginnings, because essentially he was a killer, and that civilization started when homo erectus took up the weapon, could be supported by the history of this period.
In 1895 - after the formation of the El Dorado Lodge - the notorious Jameson Raid took place, and on the morning of the 30th of December, Jameson and his raiders were at the village of Ottoshoop (Die Afrikaanse Kinderensiklopedie - 1964 ed. - vol. 8 p 259.) formerly Malmani. Malmani is a name that will recur in this history. It was from Zeerust that the Resident Magistrate advised Pretoria by telegraph of the invasion. Orders had been given for the telefraph lines to be cut between Zeerust and Rustenburg, but the men who had been ordered so to do had imbibed so well on the spirits available to them (Herman Charles Bosman - Mafeking Road. Unto Dust. The Bekkersdal Marathon.) that they mistakenly cut fencing wires. Of episodes such as this are the stories of Herman Charles Bosman made, for here, indeed, we are in the heart of the Marico District.
Malmani - now Ottoshoop - is a scant 25 kilometres from Zeerust, and it is here that one of the big gold strikes was made. Rumour has it that the highest pennyweight of gold per ton of ore mined was recovered at Malmani. It is said that Malmani at one stage had thirteen Hotels to cater for the miners, and that a start was made by surveyors to measure it out according to a plan that was subsequently applied to Johannesburg. The only tarred street in the village is Commissioner Street ! Ottoshoop today is a charming village. It has a few lovely homes and a number of trading stores. As usual there is a Police Station, a Post Office, a Bottle Store (liquor store) and, most important - a Railway Station. From here vast quantities of base minerals such as fluorspar and andalusite are railed. Ottoshoop was and is a mining village, and when the Brethren decided to obtain a charter it is small wonder that they chose the name El Dorado - the Golden One. The mysterious attraction of that name has fascinated men for many centuries.
In 1894 correspondence was sent directly to Grand Lodge in London, and numerous letters addressed to Edward Letchworth Esq., Grand Secretary, Freemason's Hall, London, W.C. are in the records.
Your circular of Oct. 16th last year, calling attention to the absence of returns of Masters and Wardens of this Lodge for the years 1890 - 1891 and further noting that the last Bro. registered dated back to 1892 came duly to hand.
On the 27th of April 1896 a letter is forwarded to a group of printers in Grahamstown. The address and name are illegible, and 500 Lodge notices ordered. The letter reads "Kindly send me 500 Lodge notices as per enclosed form, printed in blue ink and send them as soon as possible, and on receipt of above together with account I shall remit amount to you". On the 17th of July £1-10-0 sterling is forwarded and the Printers advised : "The Lodge notices have been given every satisfactory they being better done than those we have had done in this State" (sic)