Aldin Grout was born on 2 September 1803 in Pelham, Massachusetts in the United States. In 1830 Grout graduated from Amherst College and continued to study in theology at the Andover Theological Seminary. Upon completing his studies, Grout was appointed one of six missionaries to South Africa by the American Board for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in January 1934. He married Hannah Davis in November 1834 and one month later they sailed from Boston to South Africa in the company of the other missionaries and their wives, arriving in Cape Town on 5 February 1835.
On 20 December 1835 Revs. Grout, Newton Adams and George Champion arrived in Port Natal (present-day Durban) from Cape Town on “The Dove” and proceeded to the capital of Dingane at Mgungundhlovu to obtain the Zulu King’s permission to work among his subjects. Despite Dingane’s indunas voicing some objections to their presence in Zululand, the King in August 1936 allowed Champion and Grout to open a mission station, on a site chosen by Dingane himself, on the Umsunduzi River. The station was subsequently named “Ginani” (I am with thee).
On 24 February 1836 Hannah Grout passed away in Bethelsdorp and in December 1837 Grout set sail again to take his little girl, Oriana, back to America. While in the United States, he married Charlotte Bailey and the couple returned to South Africa in June 1840.
In his absence, Grout’s mission station at Ginani was destroyed in the fighting between the Zulus and the Boers, who arrived in Natal following the Great Trek. Following Dingane’s death in 1840, Grout set out to obtain permission from Mpanda (Dingane’s successor as Zulu King) to establish a new mission station in Mpanda’s area. In April 1841 Grout and his wife moved across the Tugela to build a mission station named Inkanyezi (The Star) near Empangeni and opened a school with a congregation of 300 Zulus. In February 1844 Grout had to return to Cape Town after the ABCFM decided to halt its activities in Natal because of an acute financial situation, as well as some conflict with the British authorities – who gained control over most of Natal in 1843. A few months later however, in June 1844, Grout returned to Natal as a Government Missionary with a salary of £150 a year.
In 1845 he resumed his ties with the ABCFM and selected a new site for his work on the Umvoti River. Grout established three schools at the Umvoti Mission Station in 1846 and commenced with the building of a church in 1851 that was eventually completed in 1863. The mission station and surrounding area received a significant economic boost in 1856 when Sir George Grey - Governor of the Cape Colony and the Queen’s High Commissioner – visited Umvoti as part of his visit to Natal and ordered a sugar mill to be erected there at a cost of £9 000. In 1878, the Umvoti Mission Station was officially renamed to the Groutville Mission Station as attribute to its founder.
In February 1890, after 35 years of faithful and successful labour in Natal, Grout sailed from Natal on his final return journey home due to failing health and feeble conditions. He died in Springfield in the United States on 12 February 1894 at the age of 90 years.
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