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Nieu-Bethesda is a village in the Eastern Cape at the foot of the Sneeuberge, approximately 50km from Graaff Reinet. It was founded in 1875 as a church town, like many other Karoo villages, and attained municipal status in 1886. The name is of biblical origin and means "place of flowing water".HistoryNieu Bethesda is situated on the farm, Uitkyk, which belonged to BJ Pienaar. There was a very strong water supply on the farm and BJ Pienaar changed the course of the Gats River to drain the vlei’s (marshes) and turn the area into fertile lands – where Nieu Bethesda stands today. On 15 December 1874, the farmers of this area met for the first time with a view to establishing a village and Dutch Reformed Church congregation. A town council was elected. In February 1875, a petition group of 169 men met the church council of Graaff-Reinet, headed by the Reverend Charles Murray, son of the first preacher Andrew Murray.On the same day, negotiations were concluded to buy Uitkyk from Pienaar’s sons. It was not until 1878 that Graaff-Reinet agreed to the petitions of the Nieu Bethesda people. Rev. Charles Murray named the new settlement Nieu Bethesda in reference to the strong fountain and its biblical reference. In 1880, the church struggled to run the village so, in 1866, it became a municipality, but with administrative rights only. The church retained the properties. This meant that residents had to pay two taxes, an arrangement that led to friction for many generations. The town experienced a period of growth from its establishment in 1870s to about 1930. Nieu-Bethesda was eclipsed by larger towns during the 1930s and ‘40s. The Great Depression, improved transport and the town's isolated location led to a mass exodus, leaving the town in an impoverished state.When using our South Africa trip builder, you're building your holiday based on your own interests, visitor reviews, and the informed opinions of our well-traveled writers.
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