Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Treaty Tree

On the corner of Treaty and Spring streets in Woodstock, Cape Town stands a Milkwood that dates back to the early 1500’s when it was called the “Old Slave Tree”. 64 of d’Almeida’s Portuguese sailors were massacred there by the Hottentots in 1509.

Rachel Bester, who lived in Woodstock at the end of the last century remembered how the slave masters would gather beneath the tree to sell their human wares and many a slave was hung from the branches when Rachel was still young.

In the seventeenth century a Hollander, Pieter van Papendorp who owned all the land between the Castle and Salt River, built a thatched cottage in close proximity to the beautiful Milkwood tree (Sideroxylon inerme) which still stood there.

This thatched cottage became known as 'Treaty House' when on the 10th January 1806, following the Battle of Blaauwberg, which was the start of the second British occupation of the Cape, a treaty was signed by Lt. Col. Baron von Prophalov, the commander of local fortifications at the time, transferring the property of the Batavian Government to the commanders of the British Forces namely Major General Sir David Baird and Commodore Sir Holme Popham.

Consequently, the Milkwood alongside the cottage became known as 'The Treaty Tree'.

In 1935, to make way for a factory, 'Treaty House' was unfortunately demolished. Fortunately however, the beautiful historical monument, 'The Treaty Tree', can still be seen today, standing on a patch of ground in this bustling industrial area and is surrounded by a sturdy fence to protect it from damage.

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