Historical Background

Barberton, the 'Daisy Town', was named after Henry Barber on 24th of July 1884 by the Gold Commissioner David Walson, after Barber and his cousin Fred discovered gold in the Area. The mining of gold in South Africa began in Barberton, where Tom McLachlan found the first traces of alluvial gold in 1874. Since then, gold fields flourished as fortune seekers flocked to the Area in search of gold. Today, the Town has four gold mines that are more than 100 years and still in use. These mines are;

  • The Agnes Gold Mine, was named after Jessie Agnes the wife of Jack Greaves. Jack Greaves discovered gold in this area in 1888. After some time he sold the mine to AJ Knuckly for about 1000 pounds. This mine is the main producer of gold and silver.
  • The Fairview Gold Mine, Discovered in 1887 and owned by Kidson Reef Gold Mining Company LTD since then, Fairview is the only South African plant that has a biox plant to extract gold. Previously owned by Gold Fields was sold to Avgold in 1998 at an estimated price of R95 Million Rands.
  • New Consort Gold Mine, was established in 1885, it is currently owned by Metorex LTD, MCI Resources LTD and Crew Gold Crop.
  • Sheba Gold Mine, is owned and controlled by the Barberton Area Gold Deposit. This was the first mining area, which was discovered by Edward Bray.-

Sheba Mine (Avoca) historical cemetery, Barberton-Post by Riana le Roux

What is locally referred to as the Sheba cemetery, is a very old historical cemetery near the entrance to the historic (but still operative) Sheba gold mine on the outskirts of Barberton.

Many of the graves don't have headstones, but there are some very well preserved ones as well.  

There is also a mausoleum, dated 1895, with the graves of the HILL children, as well as a grave for Frank HAMMOND and a commemoration stone for his wife Margaret HAMMOND. Margaret drowned by the foundering of the Drummond Castle off Ushanti 1896. Frank was the Battery Manager at Sheba Mine and died in 1894.

The names below are of the graves with headstones.

  • Bornman, M J

Born: 13 Oct 1882

Died: 17 Feb 1909

  •  Ernst, Otto
  • Died: 29 Sep 1904
  • Hallowell, William

Died: 20 June 1896

  • Hammond, Frank Joseph

Died: 24 Aug 1894

  • Hammond, Margaret Maud

Born: 23 Mar 1866

Died: 16 June 1896

Note: Margaret Maud Hammond. Native of Lochee; Scotland. Wife of FJ Hammond. Drowned by the foundering of the Drummond Castle off Ushant. 

  • Harris, John James

Born: 19 Oct 1839

Died: 19 Dec 1911

Note: John James Harris Of Leicestershire; England. 

  • Hawthorn, Hannah Amy Beatrice  

Born: 6 Dec 1898

Died: 21 Mar 1900

Note: Hannah Amy Beatrice Hawthorn Child of Robert and Amy Beatrice Hawthorn.

  • Hawthorn, Hubert 

Born: 14 Nov 1897

 Died: 17 Dec 1898

  • Hill, Constance Isabel

Born: 6 Nov 1903

Died: 28 Dec 1905

Note: Constance Isabel Hill Child of Agnes and Howard Hill of Sheba.

  • Hill, Howard

Born: 15 Feb 1894

Died: 26 Feb 1895

Note: Howard Hill Child of Agnes and Howard Hill of Sheba.

  • Hill, Mary Catherine

Born: 14 Aug 1902

Died: 30 Dec 1905

Note: Child of Agnes and Howard Hill of Sheba.

  • Holden, James

Died: 21 Aug 1904

Note: Killed in an accident on the Sheba Tramway; aged 26 years.

  • James, William John

Died: 10 Jan 1917

Note:Died at Sheba aged 38 years. 

  • Jarman, Muriel Anne

Died aged 4 months.

  • Johnston, George

Died: 27 Nov 1917

  • Low, Clementina

Died: 28 Dec 1916

Note: Clementina Low Married name: Wohlgemuth Died at Sheba aged 59 years. Headstone erected by her son Clement Wohlgemuth and adopted son Wm C (G?) Jackson.

  • McIntyre, No Name
  • McKinnon, Margaret

Born: 22 Mar 1866

Died: 24 Aug 1896

  • Metcalf, Alfred Thomas

Died: 29 Oct 1910

  • Milligan, Mary

Died: 16 Nov 1918

Died aged 26 years and 10 months.

  • Mills, Geoffrey David Spurrell

Died: 21 Aug 1904

Note: Mills Killed in an accident on the Sheba Tramway; aged 18 years.

  • Towle, John

Died: 30 Nov 1887

  • Wilson, Charles

Died: 26 Apr 1894

  • Young, William Adams

Died: 28 Apr 1917

Note: William Adams Young Of Geelong; Australia. Died at Sheba aged 43 years. Grave no 103.


In the absence of documented material it is difficult to establish who the first inhabitants of Barberton were, however, according to some Historical accounts; the first group of people to settle around the Area were the Swazi people, in 1864 after the defeat of Mswati forces by the Mpumalanga at Mariepskop. Rock paintings in the Mountains and the Caves of the Area provide evidence to the earlier existence of the San group. These paintings include familiar features of the San rock art paintings, which are prevalent in South African rock art.

These paintings are representative of the lives of the San hunters and gatherers, who inhabited the Area before the arrival of the Nguni people from the North of the Mpumalanga province. As part of their survival, the San mined Red Ochre in an Area known as Dumaneni. Apart from the existence of the San people, Archaeologists have also found stone terraced walls, religious icons and gravesites that are evidences of a link with Hindu culture.

Present, the Population of Barberton is made up of Africans (47 649), Indians (523), Coloureds (841) and Whites (4730). The main languages that are spoken are isiSwati- A Niger-Congo language and a Bantu member of the Benue-Congo group of languages (Nguni subgroup), spoken by some 2 million people chiefly in Swaziland where it is an official language, as well as in South Africa and Mozambique. The closest linguistic affiliation is with Zulu; also known as Swati, Swazi, Tekela, or Tekeza.

Siswati is spoken in a variety of dialects, the main ones being Baca, Hlubi, and Phuthi. It is used on radio and taught in all national schools. Like many other Bantu languages, Siswati is also a tonal language. The two main tones are high and falling. On the other hand, belonging to the Nguni subgroup, like Zulu, Xhosa and Ndebele, Siswati has the click sounds, borrowed from the neighbouring Khoisan-speaking areas. Modern Siswati, though, has lost all but one of the click sound sets.

with an estimated number of 41387 people speaking the language, followed by Afrikaans 4174, Xitsonga- Xitsonga is a language which is spoken by the Vatsonga people that inhabit the eastern littoral belt of Southern Africa, from Kosi Bay northwards to Sofala (up to the Save river) in Mozambique 2219, English 2208, and isiZulu 1245. Half of the total Population is unemployed and a quarter is not Economically active.

Political Background

Like most South African Towns, Barberton prior to the 1994 first general elections had a strong Apartheid influence. No Black people stayed in Town and children of different races attended different Schools. But what was most striking about Barberton in the Years of Apartheid was the notorious Barberton Prison. The main Prison was built in 1884, it began as a small hut and it accommodated offenders who committed common offences such as public violence, stock theft, general theft and possession of marijuana. In 1911 a Female Wing was built which housed women prisoners who committed various crimes ranging from theft to public violence. As Apartheid became more intense, women political prisoners were transferred from various parts of the Country to Barberton. Some of the women political prisoners that served long-term sentences at Barberton prison were Helen Hendricks from Cape Town, Dorothy Dlamini from Swaziland, Dorothy Kubheka from Johannesburg, Shiela Weinburg, Dorothy Nyembe and many others. This prison was closed in 1995 and female prisoners were moved to Nelspruit Female Correctional Service facility. Presently Barberton has four main Prisons, the Maximum Correctional Centre, Medium B Prison, Medium A and Town Youth Development Centre.

Tourism Attraction

Barberton has six Tourist attraction which attracts national and international visitors, namely: the Eureka City, the Gold Exchange, Gold Planning, Queen Rose Trail, and Steam Locomotive.

Eureka City

This is a Historical site of Butchery and a Hotel that was established in 1885 by J Sherwood a businessman whose vision was to create a business venture for the miners near the Sheba Mine. By 1886 Eureka City had three Shops, a Hotel, a Chemist and a Racecourse. Today the only thing that is left is the ruin of the Hotel.

31° 1' 26.4", -25° 46' 30"