Martha Cornelia, better known as Nelie, was the beautiful blond, blue eyed daughter of Rev. David Ross of the DR Church. After her mother’s death in 1890 she took care of her father’s household.
Carlie and Nelie fell in love and Rev. Ross heavily opposed the relationship. In the end he gave in and allowed them to marry in 1902.
This was a good year for Carlie as he also added a large stable, forage and harness room, cart shed and a four room cottage to the Hotel. Today (2017) this is the laundry, workshop, garages and storage rooms at the back of the hotel.
On 2 April 1903 they were blessed with the birth of a son, Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Rose, and again on 10 July 1905 another son, David Duncan Ross Rose. Everything was just perfect.
Disaster struck on 27 December 1905. Carlie and Nelie decided to spend the Christmas week, until New Year, camping. Carlie and Tom, Nelie’s brother, found a lovely spot at Aprilskloof, on the farm Bamboeshoek. Nelie’s brothers, Tom and Henry, took the large ox wagon with Nelie, Carlie, the two children, two teenage daughters of a friend and the nanny. Jessie, Aggie and Charlotte, daughters of Rev. David Ross decided to take turns with one at home to take care of Rev. Ross and the other two at the camp site. On the first night Aggie stayed with her father and Jessie and Charlotte at the camp. They had great fun and enjoyed it tremendously. The next day Charlotte went home and John (her brother) walked with her.
The same afternoon, when Aggie and John wanted to return to the camp site, they stood at the kitchen door of the “Pastorie” from where they had a good view of the mountain. Suddenly they noticed a black cloud in the shape of a funnel coming down on the mountain. They thought of rain and sent dry blankets ahead with the garden boy.
At that time there was a cricket match in town and Carlie went to play. Aggie accompanied Charlotte and John on their walk to the end of town. There they found a man on a horse calling out to them that a terrible thing has happened and he rode on to get a doctor. Charlotte thought of her father alone at home and turned around with the intention of going home while Aggie and John ran ahead. Charlotte had a great fright and was still standing there when the doctor came past on his horse drawn cart. He called to her saying: “Lottie, don’t stand there, go home to your father”. A kind woman came out of her house and took her home.
Charlotte found her father in the garden and told him the news. He mounted his horse and went to the camp site and had to face seven bodies washed out on the plain. He returned, riding behind an ox cart with seven bodies on it!
It all happened within 20 minutes. On the camp site, the men pitched a tent for them and the women slept in the wagon tent with the children. When Tom saw the rain (they did not know of the cloud-burst higher up in the mountain) he dug a furrow around the tent to keep all inside dry. He was wearing a heavy sealskin raincoat. Henry was busy hanging something on the tent pole. When Tom noticed the danger, he went to the wagon tent (tightly fastened with a tarp over it), to get the children out.
First Jessie came out and stood on the bank of the trench to take the children from Tom. Nelie gave the baby to Tom, but just when he walked to Jessie, a wall of muddy water hit him and covered the wagon and washed it all away.
Henry, 17 years old, clung to the tent pole which washed up against two rocks from where a black man rescued him. Poor Jessie had to watch all this happen and froze from shock. When Henry got to Jessie, she wanted to jump in to rescue the others but he held her back saying: “Nee Jessie, jy kan nie – dink aan pappa.”
When Carlie returned from the cricket match, he found his wife and children dead. He was inconsolable.
Five Ministers from congregations in the area came for the funeral which was the largest funeral in the history of Lady Grey. It was a great tragedy but God provided strength and calmness.
Since then, the camping site has been name “Verongeluksloot.”
A beautiful headstone in the shape of a large angel, carved from Carrara Marble, indicates the place in the middle of the Old Cemetery where Nelie and the children are buried (block G, grave 40) – with the Rose family. Tom is buried with the with the Ross family on the one side of the old Cemetery (block K, grave 32).
After the disaster, Carlie started drinking and visited the house of his father-in-law every evening, arguing that there is no “God of love” as a “God of love” would not allow such a disaster to happen.