operations ceased altogether because of a lack of labour, supplies and transport. The company's farming activities were also severely curtailed because of the hostilities.
As a personal friend of President Paul Kruger, Sammy Marks helped to set up the meeting near Maccauvlei at which the historic peace treaty between Britain and the Boer Republics was agreed upon in 1902. The event provided a news scoop or the writer Edgar Wallace, then still a resourceful young reporter with the London Daily Mail. He had a friend, who was employed as a guard at the peace talks marquee. Wallace arranged for the man to signal to him with a handkerchief while he waited at the Vereeniging station several kilometres away. On receiving the signal he boarded the train to Johannesburg and cabled through the news, which his paper published some 24 hours before the official announcement.
When Lord Milner left South Africa in 1905, the Earl of Selborne was appointed High Commissioner in his place. Selborne and Marks got on very well and spent a week-end together at Maccauvlei. Marks helped to engineer a meeting between Selborne and General de la Rey to improve relations between the British Administration and the Boers. Selborne in turn helped Marks to organise a shooting party at Maccauvlei for the visiting Crown Prince of Portugal. A member of that particular shooting party was General Jan Smuts, later to become Prime Minister of South Africa.
However, the coal mining and farming ventures ran into problems. Mining became difficult, as water had to be pumped out of the workings continuously. The farming ventures were extended and Brandmuller became the first person to grow asparagus commercially in South Africa. Ostriches were introduced, sweet potatoes sown and tobacco planted - not for the production of cigarettes (at least not officially) but for the making of sheep dip. But a series of disappointments from crops and setbacks with other agricultural activities prompted the Vereeniging Estates to discontinue farming operations altogether in 1923. When agricultural activities were abandoned, the company's farmlands were divided into smaller properties on which houses were built and then leased to farmers. Nevertheless, the Maccauvlei forest was retained and maintained.
When Sammy Marks died in Johannesburg on 18 February 1920, Isaac Lewis, who at that stage lived in England, continued as the head of the Lewis and Mark empire for another seven years before he too died. The affairs of the company in South Africa, however, were controlled by Marks's eldest son, Louis Marks, who was 34 when his father died. Louis, who had been educated in England, also brought his brothers Joe and Ted into the business which they ran together with Roy Lewis, Isaac's son.
In October 1945, the Anglo American Corporation took over the Lewis and Mark group of companies and with them the Vereeniging Estates Limited, but prior to that, the Marks familv had one more important contribution to make to Maccauvlei.
After the war both coal mining and farming activities resumed and by the time of the first World War the company's farming operations at Maccauvlei had developed into the largest undertaking of the kind in South Africa.