Harrismith is one of the oldest established towns in the Free State province. It was founded in the middle of the nineteenth century because of its strategic position, by the larger than life British Governor of the Cape, Sir Harry Smith.
Many British settlers were drawn to the newly established town, which was also a major base for the British during the Anglo Boer War (1899 - 1902), and after.
The area was also important to Dutch Voortrekkers during the 1830's and 1840's en route from the Cape province, to new settlements in the hinterland.
The Basotho Batlokwa tribe lived in the area a number of centuries until they moved in the early 1820's affected by the immensely destructive civil conflict, which swept through central Southern Africa. At the outbreak of this Difaqane the Batlokwa were ruled by Queen Regent Manthatisi. She had a awesome reputation amongst other tribes which extended to her supposedly fortifying her warriors with milk from her own breasts, but she was greatly loved by the Batlokwa who called her "little woman".
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