Life and Death at the Old Drift, Victoria Falls 1898-1905

Life and Death at the Old Drift

Victoria Falls 1898-1905

The Old Drift Cemetery

An unknown number of unlucky inhabitants were interred in a small cemetery close to the Old Drift - the cemetery is now all that remains of the settlement, although the names of many of those buried there have been lost. The earliest named grave is situated away from the main cemetery, close to the river.

“Nearby, but outside the cemetery, is another grave, that of a French missionary. An inscription on a cross has a touch of pathos. ‘Born 1874. Georges Mercier. Died of Blackwater Fever 18th November, 1900. Aged 26.’ Doubtless, Georges Mercier often walked in the garden stretching along the river bank. To him the Zambezi must have seemed savage indeed compared with the gentle Seine, the friendly river of Paris, headquarters of his Mission.” (Fuller, 1954)

Within the main cemetery are recorded to be the graves of many of the Old Drifters, some unnamed and unmarked. A sign records:

“This cemetery forms the last resting place of a number of the early settlers who died at the Old Drift between the year 1898 and the time of the removal to Livingstone.

Among those known to be buried here are:-
Georges Mercier, Paris Missionary d.1900
John Neil Wilson, d. 11 Jan 1903 aged 45
Alexander W. Findlay, d. 9th January 1904 aged 35
Ernest Collins, d. 25th March 1904 aged 34
Miss E. Elliot, d. 8th August 1904
Samuel Taylor Alexander, d. 11 Sept 1904 aged 68
David Smith, d. 7th April 1905
and others whose names are not known.”

Watt in his unpublished and undated manuscript held in the Livingstone Museum recorded:

“Another name not mentioned on the memorial appears on a grave stone; ‘Percy C Wilde, died 16th July, 1904, aged 42.’ Other names are: Clifford du Bok, W Eythling (24/11/04), Guthrie, ...Mrs Jim Elliot, F Huge.” (Watt, undated)

To this list we can also add the names the unfortunate chemist Mr Southurst and two members of Bezuidenhout family.

Old Drift Cemetery

Sign at the Old Drift Cemetery

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