Smallpox at the Cape

Smallpox, introduced from the Orient, first made its appearance as an epidemic on Friday 13th 1713 when a crew member aboard a ship was infected with the disease. His clothes were taken out to be washed in the river near the castle which in turn contaminated the local drinking water. Another outbreak occurred later in 1755 and hit the Cape Settlement very hard. It ravaged all the Hottenot tribes, this together with the pressure of the fast expanding settlement, largely destroyed the tribal life of the Hottentots of the 18th Century. Many tribes were wiped out. Their numbers were reduced so much that their tribal organisation disintegrated and they were gradually taken into service as labourers, especially herdsmen by the local farmers.

  • Somerset Road Cemetery Lost Inscriptions

Maitland Cemetery Headstones Index

Over 10 000 names indexed to graves transcribed by Volunteers on Findagrave.com - please use the corresponding images references with a hash tag # in front of the number. Some graves are from Somerset Road Cemetery and date back to 1844.

Index to Birth Registers in the Cape Town Archives

Please note that although these registers are housed in the Cape Town Archives they are the property of the Home Affairs Western Cape. There is a 100 year embargo on access to these files by the public. To find out more on how these registers work, please consult the article on Birth Records in South Africa.

  • birth-records-in-south-africa

Birth Records in South Africa

The Department of Home Affairs, in Pretoria, holds the most comprehensive compilation of personal resources for all South Africans. Access to the registers of births is closed for a period of a 100 years, to protect individuals, as stipulated by the office of origin. The general public may only view these records prior to 1908, and these are housed in the various archival repositories.

Can you marry your cousin?

Ascendants and descendants in the direct line - father and daughter, grandfather and granddaughter, and so forth - may not marry each other. Collaterals are prohibited from intermarrying if either of them is related to their common ancestor in the first degree of descent.

Historical Graves in South Africa

In the early days of the settlement at the Cape people of note were buried inside church buildings. Provision for a place of worship was at once made inside the Castle. Consequently the Rev. Joan (Johannes) van Arckel was laid to rest at that particular spot in the unfinished Castle in Jan. 1666. Only a fortnight earlier he himself had officiated at the laying of one of the four foundation stones of the new defence structure. A few months later the wife of Commander Zacharias Wagenaer was buried in the same ground; likewise Commander Pieter Hackius, who died on 30th November 1671.

Hidden Treasures in South Africa

Many romantic tales are current of treasures lost and found in Southern Africa during the past five centuries. Some are based on fact and others on less reliable information. It is certain that notorious 16th- and 17th-century pirates careened their ships on islands off the coasts of East Africa and Madagascar, and stories about pirate hoards hidden by these desperadoes still circulate. Many ships carrying valuable cargoes, including treasure, have been wrecked off the coast of Southern and East Africa. Records reveal that from the middle of the 16th to the middle of the 17th century the Portuguese alone lost about 130 ships on the route to India, most of them on the treacherous African coast. High losses were also sustained by other maritime nations.

The Scots in South Africa

Authors John M. MacKenzie and Nigel R. Dalziel epitomises their version of the Rainbow Nation with the vast array of Scots men and women who made South Africa their home. Their bright and cheerful clan tartans are a clear and defined representation of one of the original colours of our Rainbow Nation.

Rose’s Round-up September 2011 No 212

FIRST SERIOUS LOOK KAROO’S ‘COLOURED’ MUSIC A new book, written by Marie Jorritsma, a senior lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand, takes a closer look at so-called “coloured music”. This pioneering work, the first to make a serious attempt to place the music of the Coloured Community into the wider acoustical landscape of South Africa, studies the three church congregations in Graaff-Reinet. It covers the challenges of inscribing Coloured voices, examines hymns and how they affect history, the inter-relationships between “mission music” and its counterpart in the independent African church, as well as singing in the “the Queen’s English”, [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 2011 No 211

ALL REBELS CAPTURED IN NEW BOOK Taffy and David Shearing have just completed another valuable work on the Anglo-Boer War. Entitled The Rebel Record, this 983-page, three volume series contains the names of 15,433 Cape colonists who joined the Transvaal and Orange Free State forces as rebels during the war. Ideal for military historians, genealogists and family historians it forms the database of Taffy’s 2004 University of Stellenbosch doctoral dissertation The Cape Rebel of the South African War. In the foreword Prof Albert Grundlingh of Stellenbosch University says, “Taffy and David have been exceptional in mining the rich history of [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 2011 No 210

FORGOTTEN SURGEON REMEMBERED A new book on Dr Reginald Koettlitz, who travelled with Scott’s first expedition to Antarctica and is buried in Cradock, will soon be available. Entitled Scott’s Forgotten Surgeon and written by Aubrey A (Gus) Jones, this well-researched book, contains previously unseen photographs and archive material, such as correspondence with Nansen. Koettlitz, the son of a Reformed Lutheran Church minister and an English woman, completed his schooling at Dover College and studied medicine at Guy's Hospital in London. On qualifying he worked as a general practitioner in a country village for eight years. Then, in 1894, he [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 2011 No 209

OUTWARD-BOUND FROM PRINCE ALBERT Prince Albert’s Dick Metcalf claims to have “Karoo-blood” in his veins. A keen historic researcher, photographer and explorer, with longstanding family ties to this fascinating arid area, he loves nothing more than travelling through the vast, ancient Karoo thirstland. To share his love of the area he recently devised 27 trips for fellow adventurers and published them in a small, well-illustrated, black-and- white, wire-bound booklet entitled Outward-bound from Prince Albert. It is available from the Fransie Pienaar Museum. Using the book as a guide, visitors can travel across the Swartberg Pass to the Cango Caves and [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 2011 No 208

WHERE DID YOU GET THAT HAT? Wellknown Prince Albert artist, Christine Thomas, is presenting a new exhibition. Entitled Een Mens Het Baie Name (One Person Has Many Names) it opens on April l and celebrates the words, works and world of Piet Balelie, a colourful local personality. “The exhibition is a multi-dimensional portrait of Piet, his extraordinary clothing and colourful hats,” says Christine. “Each hat in itself is a story and sums up Piet’s philosophy of life. He is illiterate, yet has an enviable ability to use words, stories, rhymes, riddles and jokes to share his world with others. His [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 2011 No 207

BECOME BETTER ACQUAINTED WITH OLIVE A new biography on Olive Schreiner is proving popular. Written by Heather Parker Lewis, it is not a political work, but concentrates rather on Olive’s day-to-day life, marriage, wardrobe and medicine chest. Olive lived simply in the “uptight” era of Victorian respectability. When no woman dared to be seen without stockings, she shunned these together with corsets and stays. Olive also skinny-dipped and sunbathed in the altogether. Sadly, in later life she was so poor that she packed the inside of her coat with newspaper to keep warm. Olive Schreiner - The Other Side of [...]

Rose’s Round-up March 2011 No 206

PAR FOR THE COURSE? Golf was first played at St Andrews in Scotland over 600 years ago, so it is little wonder that this venue is steeped in wonderful stories. According to Sporting Life’s Golf News some of the sand traps have very individualistic names relating to ginger beer, spectacles and the best spot to catch a lassie. One large bunker and two nearby smaller ones at the 10th hole have a historic link to South Africa and the Anglo-Boer War. The large one is the Kruger bunker, nearby is Mrs Kruger and Kruger’s mistress. The story goes that [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 2011 No 205

A BALLADE OF WORDS AND IMAGES A rainbow of light shimmering through a dewdrop almost 80 years ago has resulted in a book which captures the essence of the Karoo. Tom Burgers’s Karoo Pastoral encapsulates the spirit of the Karoo in extraordinarily beautiful photographs coupled to the works of some of South Africa’s finest poets. Among these are emotive works, such as Dolf van Niekerk’s Dubbel Ster and Jan F Cilliers’s Die Vlakte, which have been translated for the English version of the book by Deryck Uys. No ordinary travel book, Karoo Pastoral is a journey through the endless, limitless [...]

Rose’s Round-up January 2011 No 204

KAROO FARMING EXPERIENCE SAVES A BABY Arthur Charles Jackson converted to Christianity in a Karoo sheep pasture. He had dreamed of becoming a farmer and when in his teens went to help out on a Kuilspoort, a farm belonging to his father’s cousin, Julius Jackson. While out in the veld one day Charles had an epiphany “beside a Karoo bush” and gave himself to God A de Jager Jackson tells the story in Manna In The Desert: In 1894 our cousin, Charles, was overcome by the forlorn state of shepherds, lonely deaths, rude and summary burials and absence of aid [...]

Rose’s Round-up December 2010 No 203

AND THE DREAM REMAINS An icon of the Karoo has passed on, but his dreams will never die. David Duncan Rawdon, the man, who loved life, enjoyed Spanish champagne and a good brandy will forever be remembered at his beloved Matjiesfontein. He re-created this village 40 years ago and turned it into the tourist spot that its original owner James D Logan would have envied. David, a legend in the hotel industry, an inspiration to many, a mentor, a guru, discovered Matjiesfontein in about 1960. By then he had a long list of top class hotels to his credit – [...]

Rose’s Round-up November 2010 No 202

RETRACING THE STEPS OF AN EXPLORER A group of young adventurers recently arrived in Beaufort West seeking the place where Polish explorer Kazimierz Nowak spent a night in 1935. This was an odd request, and it so intrigued Caroline Bedeker at the Beaufort West Museum, that she went to considerable trouble trying to assist them. The group is placing plaques along Nowak’s route because he was the first man to travel alone on foot and by bicycle across Africa. His 40 000 km journey started in November 1931, and took five years to complete. Nowak cycled most of the way, but [...]

Rose’s Round-up October 2010 No 201

KAROO ASH HEAP REVEALS LINKS TO THREE WARS Two well known researchers recently made an interesting find in the Karoo. Dr Johan Loock and Cobus Dreyer, from the University of the Free State, were conducting studies to evaluate the impact of a proposed extension electric power line on artefacts and the ecology in the area of farms such as Leeukloof, Bultfontein and Gansfontein, northwest of Beaufort West. Archaeologist Cobus Dreyer says many cultural and historic finds were made along the route. “We found were substantial surface scatters of Later Stone Age flakes and pottery, lower and upper grinding stones and [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 2010 No 200

POP THE CORKS - THIS IS NUMBER 200 This is the 200th issue of Rose’s Round-up, so it’s time to once again pop the corks and let the bubbly flow. Round-up has come a long way since it started in January 1993. Initially only ten copies were printed to keep six town clerks abreast of the tourism plans of the then Regional Services Council. However, within only a few hours that changed because councillors also asked for copies. Within a year Rose’s Round-up was carrying news of the Karoo across the world. While residing in the Karoo I produced 116 [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 2010 No 199

FORGOTTEN LINE BACK IN THE LIMELIGHT The long forgotten Klipplaat railway line is back in the news. Cape Town’s Ray Hattingh discovered more about this isolated line and the Klipplaat station in Boon Boonzaaier's book, Tracks across the Veld. “According to Boonzaaier the Klipplaat to Oudtshoorn section of this rail route was opened in stages from 1902. The entire line was opened for traffic on March 1, 1904. This line through the arid Klein Karoo and Camdeboo areas needed engines with large water tanks and the problem was solved by the introduction of the Vanderbilt-tendered Class 19D's during 1948 and [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 2010 No 198

TOP CANADIAN AND HIS COWBOYS DESTINED FOR BOOK TOWN The words ‘cowboys” and “Canada” coupled to “The Great Karoo” recently caught Darryl David’s eye as he surfed the ‘net. They grabbed his attention because his e.mail address is “cowboys” and Peter Baker, the co-organiser of Richmond’s Book Town Festival is Canadian. Both are always interested in anything that mentions Karoo. The site promoted a novel, The Great Karoo, written by Fred Stenson, one of Canada’s top authors. Highly acclaimed by the international press it was praised by Canadian critics for ‘illuminating a lost chapter of the country’s history.” The book [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 2010 No 197

FESTIVAL TO SALUTE OLIVE Olive Schreiner will be saluted in Cradock from July 2 to 4. The man behind this idea is Darryl David, co- founder of Richmond’s Book Town Festival and a lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg. Sandra Antrobus, owner of Die Tuishuise, in Cradock, helped him plan this Spirit of Schreiner Festival. “While working one day we said wouldn’t it be fun if Olive Schreiner could come down from Buffelskop and tell us what she’d like for this inaugural festival. The idea took hold and we chatted about how chuffed she would be to join [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 2010 No 196

RARE FIND AMAZES SCIENTISTS Researchers at the Nama Karoo Foundation recently found a new mammal species in their area. It was an African Weasel and, at almost the same size as a matchbox, it is the smallest carnivore on the Continent. But that is not its sole claim to fame, states the NKF newsletter Karoo News. Professor Graham Kerley of Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, who identified the specimen for the Foundation, said this animal had the longest copulation period – over one hour – and the shortest gestation period among mammal species. He added that the find [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 2010 No 195

STRUCK BY DISASTER – PLEASE HELP IF YOU CAN A bolt of lightning struck my computer and wiped out a great deal of information. Among this was the Round-up mailing list. This is a total disaster. I feel as if both hands have been cut off as I now have no computer, no e.mail addresses and no mailing list. I have borrowed a PC and am working from an old back-up list and I am appealing to all readers who get this issue to help if they can. If you know of anyone who should have received a copy of [...]

Rose’s Round-up March 2010 No 194

ATTENTION BOOK LOVERS Planning for this year’s Richmond Book Fair is well underway. Key promoter, Peter Baker, confirms dates are set for October 22 to 24, and that response from writers has been phenomenal. He promises an impressive forum of speakers. “Almost all have confirmed for 2010 and the list for 2011 is steadily filling,” he says. “The World Cup will no doubt dominate the first half of the year, but after that we expect the focus to be on the commemoration of 150 years of Indian settlement in South Africa. So, with this in mind, and as another [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 2010 No 193

STAKEHOLDERS AIM TO SCORE DURING WORLD CUP The Steering Committee of the Karoo Development Foundation got off to a good start planning the way ahead for the region for 2010 – set to be an action-packed year. During 2009 two conferences were held to discuss development of the Karoo and both were highly acclaimed. This inspired stakeholders to plan meetings for early in the New Year. The first is scheduled for January 22. The aim is to follow-up on the achievements of 2009 and structure plans for this year, arguably one of the most exciting in South Africa’s history. The [...]