On 1 February 1808 the territory North of the Great Berg river was annexed to the new District of Tulbagh, and declared a separate sub-drostdy with its Magisterial seat at Jan Disselsvlei. In about January 1896 its Northern Districts were separated to form the new division of Vanrhynsdorp. With the exception of the Olifant's River Valley, the division was sparsely populated, and most of its inhabitants were given over to Pastoral activities. A small measure of ostrich husbandry was also practiced. At one time the Cedarberg offered a plentiful supply of hardy indigenous timber, but during the Colonial Era this was greatly reduced by indiscriminate felling.
The following census figures are available for the district:
1865 census: 7,041 residents, of whom 1,708 were literate
1875 census: 8,785 residents, of whom 2,290 were literate
1891 census: 11,568 residents, of whom 3,720 were literate
1904 census: 9,843 residents, of whom 4,286 were litererate
As is normally the case in the older districts there is always a Dutch Reformed Church. This one was built in 1864 and is today known as the “Flower Church” as the annual Clanwilliam flower show is held at the church each year. With an english name such as Clanwilliam there had to be a church catering for English speaking residents. The Anglican Church in the town was built in 1867 and the original church bell that was imported from England is still in use today.
There are still a number of other historical buildings in the District. One of them is the old gaol which today houses the museum in the town. The building is almost 200 years old. Inside the museum you can see the history of the town laid out with displays of some of the local celebrities who lived in the town.
You might have heard of Tolla van der Merwe who was a comedian and story teller. Unfortunately he was tragically killed in a motor accident. Some of his history is portrayed in the museum, of Clanwilliam.
Today, however the Tulbagh district, is best known for its Rooibos tea industry. Rooibos is a fynbos species which is endemic to the Cederberg area. It has needle like leaves and produces a tasty, aromatic tea that has been found to enhance ones health. It was first marketed in 1904 by a Russian immigrant named Benjamin Ginsberg. The Rooibos tea (Red Bush) contains no preservatives or colourants and being caffeine free has a soothing effect on the nervous system. It is recommended for people suffering with their nerves and all the other ailments that follow from nerve problems.