Though historically a predominantly Afrikaner settlement, Bloemfontein was officially founded in 1846 as a fort by British army major Henry Douglas Warden as a British outpost in the Transoranje region, at that stage occupied by various groups of peoples including Cape Colony Trek Boers, Griqua and Basotho. Although modern day Bloemfontein has a reputation for its flowers in an otherwise arid region, the origin of the city's name is unclear. Popular legends include an ox named "Bloem" owned by one of the pioneer farmers that was taken by a lion near a fountain on his property, while another story names Jan Blom (1775–1858), a Korana KhoiKhoi leader who inhabited the area.Bloemfontein literally means fountain of flowers or flower spring in Dutch. (See Discussion page for more details).
With colonial policy shifts, the region changed into the Orange River Sovereignty (1848–1854) and eventually the Orange Free State Republic (1854–1902). From 1902–1910 it served as the capital of the Orange River Colony and since that time as the provincial capital of the Free State. In 1910 it became the Judicial capital of the Union of South Africa.
Founding and early days Warden originally chose the site largely because of its close proximity to the main route to Winburg, the spacious open country, and the absence of horse sickness. Bloemfontein was the original farm of Johannes Nicolaas Brits born 21 February 1790 owner and first inhabitant of Bloemfontein. Johann as he was known sold the farm to Maj Warden.