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Edward C Tabler Books

Edward C Tabler (1916 - 1977) was a well-known American historian and author who primarily researched and published writings on the early history of South Africa and Rhodesia. He was also interested in collecting Africana, antiquarian and big game hunting books. He corresponded with descendants of early explorers and settlers in order to trace family correspondence, diaries and accounts of southern Africa, a number of which he subsequently edited for publication.

Zambezia And Matabeleland In The Seventies

Zambezia And Matabeleland In The Seventies: The Narrative Of Frederick Hugh Barber (1875 & 1877-8) And The Journal Of Richard Frewen (1877-8) by Frederick Hugh Barber, Richard Frewen, edited by Edward C Tabler (1960) describes Frederick Barber's 1875 trip towards the Zambesi River when he hunted elephant, buffalo, rhino, giraffe and numerous antelope. In 1877 he travelled into Matabeleland after more elephant and met King Lobengula. Richard Frewen is described as the man who annoyed Lobengula and so caused the consequent deaths of the Colonial government emissaries on their way to the Victoria Falls.

Frederick "Freddy" Hugh Barber (1847 - 1919) was a big game hunter, trader and artist. He spent years in an ox-wagon, hunting, travelling and prospecting in nearly every country south of the Zambezi. He became a great friend of Chief Khama III of the Bamangwato people of Botswana and spent three months on a friendly visit to Lobengula, King of the Ndebele in 1877-1878. Read more about Frederick Hugh Barber

Richard Frewen (1852 - 1896) was an aristocratic English traveller and adventurer who stirred up much trouble in Matabeleland and was responsible for worsening British-Matabele relations. Read more about Richard Frewen

To The Victoria Falls Via Matebeleland

To The Victoria Falls Via Matebeleland: The Diary Of Major Henry Stabb 1875 edited by E C Tabler (1967) is a detailed account of Major Henry Stabb's arduous hunting and exploratory expedition taken from his diaries. It includes much hunting and tales of the various traders and other characters, such as Lobengula, the the second king of Matabeleland, that he met along the way.

Major Henry Sparke Stabb (1835-1888) served as a commissioned ensign in the 32nd Foot (Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry) and rising through the ranks, saw action during the Indian Mutiny and the Zulu Wars in South Africa. He was promoted to Major during his journey Matabeleland and the Zambesi Valley. After his return from Africa, Stabb was further promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel commanding the 2nd Division, 32nd (Duke of Cornwall’s) Light Infantry in June 1881 and then to Colonel in June 1885.

Major Henry Sparke Stabb
Major Henry Sparke Stabb

He kept a meticulous diary covering his time in Zululand including a detailed account of the battle of Ulundi. His diary also included the events of a hunting and exploring trip he took to Matabeleland and the Victoria Falls. He was the first European to take the far interior route from Gubulawayo to the Falls via the Umguza, Insuza, Bembesi river valleys to the Gwayi river.

He travelled with a fellow officer, Captain James Jocelyn Glascott in March 1875 in an ox-wagon drawn by twelve oxen, a wagon driver and voorloper (the person who walks with the lead oxen to guide them) and two soldier-servants of the 32nd (Duke of Cornwall’s) Light Infantry. Read an interesting article about Stabb and his journey.

Sport And Service In South Africa: The Diary Of Lieutenant Robert Arkwright 1843-1846

Sport And Service In South Africa: The Diary Of Lieutenant Robert Arkwright 1843-1846 edited by Edward Tabler (1971) contains descriptions of a time when "elephants and game were thick on the ground". The book describes Arkwright's fox hunting with hounds sent from England and private hunting expeditions into the interior of South Africa during his leave from the army. He did a second more extensive elephant hunting expedition beyond the Vaal River during which he met David Livingstone.

Robert Wigram Arkwright (1822 - 1888) served as an officer in the 7th Dragoon Guards doing four years of campaigning in South Africa from 1843 to 1847. His diary includes almost no personal information, but he described fellow-hunter Cumming as "an old Eton acquaintance of mine".

Trade And Travel In Early Barotseland

Trade And Travel In Early Barotseland: The Diaries Of George Westbeech 1885-1888 And Captain Norman Macleod 1875-1876 edited by Edward C Tabler (1963) provides amusing accounts of the life of trader George Westbeech, who, in his diary, described the culinary delights of baked elephant foot with Lea & Perrins sauce. The diary of Norman Macleod reveals his extraordinary hunting expedition to Barotseland and the Victoria Falls.

George Cop Westbeech (1844 - 1888) and his business partner, George Arthur 'Elephant' Phillips, established a trading station at Pandamatenga, about 100 km upstream from the Victoria Falls. Their trade route soon became the main road north to the Falls and Barotseland. Having secured exclusive rights to hunt elephant and trade ivory north of the Zambezi, Westbeech enjoyed increasing influence as an unofficial adviser to the then Paramount Chief of the Barotse. Hunters, explorers and missionaries came to Westbeech for advice and assistance before continuing their journeys north.

Norman Magnus MacLeod (1839 – 1929) served with the 74th Highlanders in India before taking various political posts in Natal. In 1875 he went on an eighteen month big game hunting trip into the far interior of Africa with his friends, William Frederick Fairlie and Richard Cowley. It was an arduous hunt during which they lost many of their transport animals, accidents, starvation and all suffered severe attacks of 'fever', one of which killed Cowley. They met George Westbeech en route who supplied them with donkeys for the return journey to Maritzburg. There they sold the wagons and took a ship home from Durban to England.

The Zambezi Papers Of Richard Thornton

The Zambezi Papers Of Richard Thornton edited by Edward C Tabler (1963) Volume 1: 1858-1860, Volume 2: 1860-1863. This book recounts the story of Richard Thornton's experience as a member of Livingstone's ill-fated and farcical Zambezi expedition. As was usual with Livingstone, the 'celebrity national hero', the contributions and work of other members on his expeditions went unrecognised.

Richard Thornton (1838 - 1863) was a British geologist and naturalist who was about to accept the job as a geologist on a government survey in Australia when he received a summons from Sir Roderick Murchison, President of the Royal Geographic Society, Director General of the British Geological Survey and Director of the School of Mines. Murchison had been asked to find a geologist for Livingstone's planned expedition to introduce commerce in an area just north of the Zambezi. Livingstone needed to establish whether the Zambezi was navigatable there.

Accepting the job, Thorton embarked on the journey with other expedition members, Dr John Kirk, botanist and medical officer; Commander Norman Bedingfeld, naval officer; Charles Livingstone (David's brother), general assistant; Thomas Baines, artist and storekeeper; and George Rae, ship’s engineer. Thorton was to collect fossils, to examine any coal seams and discover the probable value of any ores of iron, copper, lead or other metals found.

After a year, Thornton was summarily dismissed from the expedition when, due to Livingstone's ineptitude at management and the fact that there was no way the Zambezi was going to be a viable 'highway' to the interior, the whole project fell apart. livingstone wrote about Thornton..."has been incorrigibly lazy, seems to have no taste for geology and works none." The Livingstone brothers also dismissed Baines in the same fashion, probably because they had formed constructive relationships with the Portuguese. Alone, Thornton eventually got to the coast and arrived in Zanzibar in 1861.

By chance he met Baron Karl von der Decken, a German who was exploring East Africa, particularly Kilimanjaro. Thorton joined von der Decken's expedition and became the first Englishman to set eyes on Kilimanjaro, and his diaries provided many fascinating descriptions of local culture, society, agricultural practices, vegetation, geography and geology.

When this expedition was over Thornton return to the Zambezi and caught up with the struggling Livingstone expedition which he rejoined under his terms in 1863. Due to drought, a shortage of supplies forced Thornton to volunteer to trek a 150 miles to buy food. After bringing back a lot of sheep and goats, Thornton fell sick and died at the age of 25.

The Far Interior

The Far Interior: Chronicles Of Pioneering In The Matabele And Mashona Countries 1847-1879 by Edward C Tabler (1955) tells the story of the pioneers of Southern Rhodesia who preceded the concession hunters, political agents and the Pioneer Column of 1890. It includes the tales of hunters such as Henry Hartley, Leask, Selous and Finaughty; the missionaries such as J S Moffatt and T M Thomas; and prospectors Eduard Mohr and Karl Mauch. Also included are the artist and explorer, Thomas Baines, the Joubert brothers and Robert Moffatt.

Henry Hartley (1815 - 1876) was a famous African hunter and explorer who was believed to have been the first European to see the magnificent cataracts which later became known as the Victoria Falls. It has always been thought that Livingstone was the first to see the Falls and put them on the map and publised his discovery. This recently has been disproved with Henry Hartley's writings which indicates he saw the Falls years before Livingstone arrived there. As well as discovering gold (with Baines and geologist Karl Mauch) in Mashonaland, Hartley was one of the greatest professional hunters known in Southern Africa. During his lifetime he is credited with killing 1200 elephants. You can read more about Henry Hartley in an article 'Henry Hartley: African Hunter And Explorer' written by his grandson, Reginald Hartley Thackeray, which was published in the Journal of the Royal African Society, Vol. 37, No. 148 (July, 1938)

Thomas Leask (1839 – 1912) was one of the early hunters to go to Mashonaland with a group of other pioneers. They met up with other parties there which included Willie Hartley, the young son of Henry Hartley. Most of these pioneers died of fever, including Willie Hartley. He also met with Thomas Baines at his gold digging camp. Leask, who had buried Willie Hartley, was able to show Henry Hartley to his son’s grave accompanied by Thomas Baines and Robert Jewell.

Karl Gottlieb Mauch (1837 - 1875) was a German explorer and prospector. He was the first European to publicise (not actually discover) the gold-fields of Tati district and Hartley Hills and to describe Great Zimbabwe.

Captain Harris And His Book

Captain Harris And His Book: A Biographical And Bibliographical Essay by Edward C Tabler (1944) is an account of the life of Captain Sir William Cornwallis Harris, British soldier, sportsman, adventurer, explorer of Africa and author of 'Wild Sports of Southern Africa'.

Pioneers Of South West Africa And Ngamiland, 1738-1880

Pioneers Of South West Africa And Ngamiland, 1738-1880 by Edward C Tabler (1973) contains 333 biographies of the pioneers which includes occupations, dates of birth & death, their activites in the region and other career highlights. Renowned pioneers such as Livingstone, Baines and William Cotton Oswell are included but with short biographies which direct the reader to standard references.

Pioneers Of Rhodesia

Pioneers Of Rhodesia by Edward C Tabler (1966) is a biographical dictionary containing the names and details of over 400 people who were early settlers in Rhodesia and in South African during the period from 1836 to 1880. Currently unavailable.

Pioneers Of Natal And Southeastern Africa, 1552-1878

Pioneers Of Natal And Southeastern Africa, 1552-1878 by Edward C Tabler (1977) offers 240 biographies of people who hunted, explored, traded and travelled in Natal and the region extending to southern Mozambique, Swaziland and Transvaal lowveldt.

Baines On The Zambezi, 1858 To 1859

Baines On The Zambezi, 1858 To 1859 by Edward C Tabler, Eric Axelson & Elaine N Katz (1982) covers Thomas Baines' life from March 1858 to July 1859 as the official artist and storekeeper on David Livingstone's Zambezi expedition from the delta of the Zambezi River to the Cahora Bassa Rapids.

Livingstone dismissed Baines from the expedition unjustly accused of theft, but refused him a trial in a legal court. So Baines spent the rest of his life trying to clear his name, as unlike Livingstone, he was not known as a 'celebrity explorer' and did not have the financial resources and influential connections to vindicate himself, so the stigma remained.

Travels In The Interior Of South Africa

Travels In The Interior Of South Africa: Hunting And Trading Journeys, From Natal To Walvis Bay & Visits To Lake Ngami & Victoria Falls by James Chapman & edited by Edward C Tabler (1971) Volume II. The text was taken from explorer James Chapman's original manuscript, and includes material which was left out of the 1868 book and previously unpublished. Volume I of the two volume set is currently unavailable.

Recollections Of William Finaughty, 1864-1875

Finaughty: Recollections Of An Elephant Hunter edited by Edward C Tabler (1957) is essentially a reprint of the William Finaughty book published in 1916, but with an additional sketch map, illustrations and new foreword and notes.

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