Hidden Family Heirlooms

Heirlooms in your family's possession are items or artefacts that are sometimes never spoken about or even viewed, but either hidden from prying eyes or discreetly placed in the home so as not to be seen as too conspicuous to non-family members. These items can sometimes be found listed in wills or they are simply passed down through the generations with admiration and a huge amount of trust ensuring that they do not end up on an auction or in the hands of the wrong person.

The King and I

King Sweyn II of Denmark A number of years ago I was lucky enough to be given a free DNA test. When I had my Mitochondrial DNA test done I discovered that I [...]

Did your Ancestors qualify to vote in South Africa

When the Cape Colony achieved representative government in 1853, all male persons complying with the following qualifications could be registered as voters: those who had occupied, for a period of twelve months, building which alone or with the ground on which it stood was worth at least £25; those who had, for a period of twelve months, earned a salary or wages amounting to at least £50 per annum.

Church Cemeteries Cape Town

For most genealogists, trying to find out when a certain church or cemetery opened is important for tracing your relatives. I am trying to find dates of these places to make it easier for you to find those missing records. If you can add or help with any additional information kindly contact Heather.

What is a Veldkornet

The field cornet was the most many-sided military, administrative and judicial officer in South Africa in the 19th century. The word `kornet' is derived from Spanish corneta (Latin corms, horn), which meant a cavalry flag and was later extended to mean the officer who carried this. Denoting a particular rank in the army it came from the Netherlands to South Africa.

Marriages and Divorces in South Africa

Pre 1972 Since the days of Roman law marriage in the Western world has been defined as the legally recognised union of one man and one woman, to the exclusion, while the marriage lasts, of all others. Polygamous unions, being fundamentally opposed to our conception of matrimony, are not recognised as valid marriages. Thus, Bantu customary unions, though by no means without legal effect (see Bantu law), are not marriages in the eyes of South African law.

Prison Records Pre-apartheid era

Participation in a historical research project about South Africa’s ex-political prisoners involved the retrieval of Apartheid era archive records of the Department of Correctional Services (called DCS hereafter) during which the following observations were made. [...]

Starting your Family Tree

Very few individuals can walk into a library and trace their family line without some knowledge of their ancestors. Even extensive knowledge of your ancestry does not guarantee that you will find your pedigree [...]

Shipping and Passenger Records in South Africa

Cape Town has generally been considered as the initial major port of entry for South Africa. Years later Durban, Port Nolloth, Port Elizabeth and East London became more popular. Tracing the departure of passengers from England can be found in various repositories such as the Cape Government Gazette papers (1805 to 1900) in the Cape Town and Natal Archives. Government Gazette papers are also held at the National Library in Cape Town.

Folk Medicine of South Africa

Various definitions and concepts of folk medicine have been put forward. It will be sufficient here to mention a concept of Afrikaans folk medicine and folk remedies given by Schulz and based on his research into the background of this subject: `Folk medicine includes any medium, treatment or ritualistic act which is applied or carried out to cure or avert illness; and is administered only as a direct consequence of the traditions and lore of a particular country.

Fire Wardens at the Cape

In time of fire, the Firewardens controlled the working of the manual fire engines by the slaves. The many thatched houses and the frequent south-east wind in the summer were dangers on the outbreak of a fire. On the alarm being sounded, those responsible for the engines hurried to the station which was next to the Burgher Watch House and ordered the slaves to bring them to the burning building. The Firewardens, who were specially chosen from amongst the prominent citizens of the town, were required to keep the crowd in order, to see that nothing was pilfered and generally to direct operations. As a sign of their authority they carried a staff with the Company's monogram engraved thereon.

Early Taverns and Hotels at the Cape

To Jan van Riebeeck goes the credit for having made the first attempt to provide services for the traveling public in South Africa. Barely two years after the establishment of the settlement at Table Bay, in 1654, he submitted for the consideration of Geraert Hulst, Director-General of the Dutch East India Company, whose ship Parel was lying in the bay, a request that he (Van Riebeeck) provide, for those visitors for whom facilities could not be furnished at the Fort, 'a boardinghouse (ordinaris), the keeper to be supplied from the Company's stores and gardens . . .'

Cape Criminal Procedures

During the 17th and 18th centuries criminal cases were tried before the Court of Justice which sat at Cape Town. This Court, the highest in the Colony, was composed of eleven members in 1686, and a hundred years later of twelve. In 1797 the number was reduced to seven, when the members received salaries for the first time. The President received £400 per annum. Up to 1734 the Governor occupied this position, but after this the Vice-Governor did so. The members acted as judge and jury combined.

Inhabitants of the Cape

From the 1815 a list of principal Inhabitants of the Cape were included in the African Court Calendars. As the city grew and the population increased more names were added to this list. It must be noted that generally only heads of households were listed. First names, surnames, initials, titles, occupations and address's of individuals can be found. In some instance as early as 1813 slaves and Muslims are listed including occupations such as fisherman, Malay priests and washerwomen.

Personalia of Germans in South Africa

After publishing his monumental History of the Lutheran Church at the Cape, Dr. Hoge set himself the task of searching out the references in the various archives to the Germans who settled at the Cape during the indicated period. Previously the subject has been dealt with by Schmidt and Moritz, but now for the first time exhaustively by Dr. Hoge. Besides the 4,000, whose personalia are given in alphabetical order, followed by a list of women and Swiss immigrants, Dr. Hoge has collected the names of some 10,000 Germans who, during the above mentioned period, did not leave the service of the Company; this brings us to the figure of 14,000 persons of German origin, who individually and collectively must have contributed their share in the formation and the upbuilding of the Cape Colony during the first 150 years of its existence.

Weights and Measures in South Africa

In 1681, through the 'Statuten van India', the Dutch authorities prescribed standards of measurement and their application in trade. Instruments had to be assized twice yearly and the most common goods had to be marketed in fixed quantities. Fines were imposed for non-compliance. At the beginning of British rule in 1806 the following standards were in use

Quakers in South Africa

The Quaker movement arose in Great Britain out of the religious ferment of the mid- 17th century and soon spread to North America. Probably the first members to visit South Africa were whalers from Nantucket, who often called at Table Bay around 1800. Immigrants followed later and settled in various parts of the country. As their numbers grew they gathered for worship and counsel, first in isolated groups, then on a wider basis, until eventually national gatherings became possible. In 1946 the Friends in Southern Africa were given recognition as an autonomous body within the world fellowship.

Somerset Hospital

Somerset Hospital in Beach Road, Green Point, Cape Town, the first hospital in South Africa to be used for the training of doctors. It admitted its first patient on 18 Aug. 1862. This picturesque building is the third hospital on the site to bear the name 'Somerset Hospital'. The first Somerset Hospital, named after Lord Charles Somerset when he was governor, was founded by Dr. Samuel Bailey, a naval surgeon, and was opened in 1818 somewhere below Signal Hill.

Rose’s Round-up March 2007 No 158

ABERDEEN COMES TO LIFE IN ENGLISH A farmers’ wife in Aberdeen, who couldn’t even type, has just published a book on the history of the town. And, this 168-page book, illustrated by almost 200 fascinating black and white photographs, is the first cultural history ever to be produced about Aberdeen in English. Written by Wendy van Schalkwyk, a long-time resident of the area, and published by Westyby-Nunn Publishers in Cape Town, Aberdeen of the Cape – A Retreat of the Future, contains many long-forgotten stories, anecdotes and descriptive articles. These not only cover the history but include items on the [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 2007 No 157

ESSENTIAL PIECE OF THE PUZZLE FOUND A prehistoric human skull, found in the Karoo, has proved to be a missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle relating to human evolution. The skull, found in the mid-1950s in an erosion gulley near Hofmeyr, 70km north-east of Cradock, in the Eastern Cape, has only recently been dated and the information it provided caused ripples of excitement in scientific circles. It provided a vital “missing link” in the fossil record showing modern people originally came from sub-Saharan Africa and migrated to colonise Europe and Asia 30 000 to 40 000 years ago. “This [...]

Rose’s Round-up January 2007 No 156

EXPLORE ANOTHER DRY LAND Ever wanted to find out more about Namibia? Well, here’s your chance. The Friends of the South African Museum in Cape Town are planning an eight-day natural history tour to south western Namibia from April 23 to 30. This tour, led by Dr John Almond of Natura Viva, will focus on diverse aspects of Namibian landscapes, geology, fossils and plant life. Plenty of time will be allowed for exploring the veld rather than simply sightseeing from along the roadside. “The trip starts and ends at the Namibian border and concentrates on the area between the [...]

Rose’s Round-up December 2006 No 155

NEW KAROO BOOK IN THE PIPELINE Touws River-based photographer and author, Jonathan Deale is writing a book on the Karoo. Published by Struik it will be available next year. The Karoo so captivated Jonathan when he moved to the Touws River area a few years ago, that he acquired ground, started the Gecko Nature Reserve and began to photograph and study the region in depth. “For me the lure of the Karoo lies not only in its uniqueness and the special aspects of each little town and village, but in the very challenge of determining where it actually begins and [...]

Rose’s Round-up November 2006 No 154

RIVERINE RABBIT SPOTTED FAR FROM ‘HOME’ A riverine rabbit research team recently found some of these critically endangered creatures far from their normal habitat. This caused great excitement as these rabbits (Bunolagus monticularis) now seem to have a wider distribution range than scientists interested in their conservation previously believed. Fifteen riverine rabbits were spotted in total during a week-long field survey undertaken by 21 researchers from CapeNature and the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Riverine Rabbit Working Group (EWT-RRWG). The rabbits were recorded in the Ceres Karoo, as well as in the Klein Karoo’s 54 000 ha Sanbona Wildlife Reserve and on [...]

Rose’s Round-up October 2006 No 153

MEN OF THE MENDI HONOURED The almost forgotten story of the sinking of the SS Mendi is now being told en-masse in Britain by a dramatic documentary. This film, entitled Let Us Die Like Brothers, was screened for the first time at the South African High Commission in London, at the start of October to launch Black History Month at British Schools. The film, which highlights the role played by Black South Africans during WWI, is due for release in South Africa, next February, to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the sinking of the SS Mendi. When the Mendi was [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 2006 No 152

BIG PLANS FOR 100TH ANNIVERSARY Hanover’s Dutch Reformed Church celebrates its 100th anniversary in October this year. The congregation has great plans to make this a memorable event and hopes to encourage travellers of the N1 to pause and toast this occasion with them. This little town, which prides itself on being exactly half way between Johannesburg and Cape Town, was established on land bought from Farmer Gous in 1854. It was called Hanover in honour of his forebears who came from Germany. The first church, a humble little structure, was built in 1857 and Thomas François Burger, who later [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 2006 No 151

OLD AIRSTRIP BACK IN BUSINESS Matjiesfontein airstrip has been re-opened. Several private flights from around the country have already used this airstrip, which has been out of action since it was destroyed in the Laingsburg flood. Somehow its restoration never seemed to be a high priority on anyone’s agenda. Then Alan Veasey, a pilot who flew for 23 years, bought Rietfontein farm and decided to turn it into a Private Nature Reserve. A deserted airstrip on his doorstep made no sense, so he took a closer look and discovered that it could be resurrected. Alan’s enthusiasm rubbed off on David [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 2006 No 150

DISCOVER THE KAROO’S NATURAL HISTORY Discover the secrets of the Great Karoo - book now and explore the unique natural history of this fascinating arid zone at Rietfontein Private Nature Reserve, near Matjiesfontein. The first trip, from August 10 to 13, is a three-day and three-night programme of veld walks and talks, led by Dr John Almond. These cover a wide spectrum of Cape and Karoo natural history with topics ranging from rocks and fossils through soils, climate and ecology to archaeology and the glorious Karoo night skies. Veld walks each day explore the diverse natural attractions of the Rietfontein [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 2006 No 149

‘MANNA’ RE-ISSUED Manna in the Desert, Alfred de Jager Jackson’s special book on the Great Karoo, is being reprinted. The new, better illustrated, hard cover edition, which includes a dust jacket and additional background material, will be launched in Beaufort West in August. No changes have been made to the style and spelling of the original text. The man behind the project is Alfred’s great grandson, Craig Elstob. “Like him I love the Karoo,” said Craig. “I visited Bakensrug and Kamferskraal, the farm where he was born, and where he spent the first 20 years of his life and, thanks [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 2006 No 148

RARE FOSSIL EXCAVATED IN THE KAROO The fossil found on Niël Rossouw’s farm België, near Prince Albert, last July, has turned out to be a rare one. Professor Bruce Rubidge of the Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research in Johannesburg, who was invited to assess the fossil, has identified it as a Nochelosaurus. These were huge reptiles that lived on the floodplain of an ancient Mississippi-like river that once flowed across this part of the Karoo. Only three other specimens of this species have ever been found worldwide. One is in the Smithsonian Institute. It was sold to this museum [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 2006 No 147

LAINGSBURG FILM EN ROUTE TO CANNES There is an air of beauty, pathos, drama and hope in the latest film to be made in the Karoo. In many ways this short 15-minute film, Vloedlyn (Floodline) captures the dynamics of the Great Karoo. Loosely based on welknown artiste Antoinette Pienaar’s myths and legends of the Karoo, it tells the story of the Laingsburg flood at three different levels – before the flood, later in 1990s and lastly in the modern day, when two young travellers meet on a desolate road. Behind this production is highly-talented young musician and composer, Braam [...]

Rose’s Round-up March 2006 No 146

PLANS FOR ANOTHER WINNING OLIVE FESTIVAL Prince Albert’s ever-popular Olive Festival will keep the village buzzing from May 5 to 7 this year. As always it promises to be a winner with many interesting stalls offering intriguing and unique items. Among them will be stalls with home-made preserves and fresh produce. Food stalls, as ever, will hold a special appeal for “city folks” and there will be a range of cultural and traditional taste treats to explore. Of course, the restaurants, bistros and coffee shops in the village will not be outdone. They are already planning some different dishes and [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 2006 No 145

KAROO VELD REPUBLISHED A second edition of Karoo Veld Ecology and Management is being published. This well-illustrated, 224 page, full-colour book, edited by Karen Esler, Sue Milton and Richard Dean, is available in English or Afrikaans, from Briza Publications. It costs R169-95. Karoo Veld outlines veld management and assessment approaches for a wide geographical area of arid South Africa, ranging from the vygie veld of Namaqualand, through the Great Karoo to the grassier parts of the eastern Karoo. The book is designed to assist practical and ambitious land users to apply ecologically friendly veld management techniques and to evaluate the effects of [...]

Rose’s Round-up January 2006 No 144

HIPPOS RETURN TO KAROO AFTER 230 YEARS It is claimed that the last hippopotamus in the Great Karoo was shot on the banks of the Zeekoei River, near Hanover, in 1775. Now, after 230 years, three hippos have been given a new home on New Holme Guest Farm, 8km north of Hanover. December 13 was an emotional day for farmer PC Ferreira when a truck pulled onto his farm after a 14-hour journey from Mpumalanga. The doors opened, black snouts appeared, and one sniff of Karoo air was enough. With eyes squinting in the sunlight, a hippopotamus bull, cow [...]

Rose’s Round-up December 2005 No 143

NEW BOOK CAPTURES SPIRIT OF PRINCE ALBERT The spirit of Prince Albert is captured in a book launched by the village’s own Writers’ Guild. Some time ago the many writers who live in Prince Albert formed this Guild. In time the beauty of the village, its location and the magnificence of its surroundings inspired ten members, all experts in their own fields, to write this book that captures the flavour of the town. Prince Albert – Kweekvallei covers the rock art, early indigenous inhabitants, fresh mountain water in irrigation furrows, the town’s unique architecture and its exceptional and eccentric people. [...]

Rose’s Round-up November 2005 No 142

RABBIT RESEARCHERS REPORT EXCITING FINDS A highly successful search for riverine rabbits has delivered exciting news. Some of these creatures seem to have settled down and started breeding in the wild. A team of 25 researchers recently scoured a huge area of the Central and Klein Karoo between Touws River and Montagu, as well as part of the Ceres Karoo to discover the status of this critically endangered species. They reported rabbits near Touws River and Ceres. During a two-day search on Slangkrantzrivier/Keurfontein farms near Touws River seven riverine rabbits were sighted. This is the furthest south that these animals [...]

Rose’s Round-up October 2005 No 141

GREAT KAROO REVEALS ANOTHER SECRET The Karoo has shared yet another secret. “An extremely rare fossil, a magnificent specimen of a Conulariid, was recently found on Vyevlei, about five kilometres from town,” says Prince Albert palaeontologist Judy Maguire. “Oddly enough local Ds Eddie Scheffler also recently acquired two similar specimens, but is unsure of their provenance. The Conulariid is a totally extinct group of organisms. They left no living descendants. Way back when they were alive, the whole African continent lay much further south (the South Pole was close to present-day Bloemfontein). Strange life forms evolved in the cold climate [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 2005 No 140

NEW ROCK ART BOOK REUNITES PEOPLE AND PLACES A new book on rock engravings has just been launched. Entitled "My Heart Stands in the Hill," this beautifully illustrated, full colour coffee table book, written by well-known archaeologists Janette Deacon and Craig Foster. All engravings in this book were all done by the /Xam San people who lived in the Kenhardt, Brandvlei and Van Wyksvlei districts of the Upper Karoo. “The book draws on the myths, legends and folklore of the /Xam people written down in the 1870s by Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd,” says Janette. “To express the strength of [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 2005 No 139

PART OF THE ANCIENT WORLD REDISCOVERED AT LEEU GAMKA The fossilised remains of a complete dinocephalian, with an unusually long tail, have been found in the Central Karoo. It was discovered on a Leeu Gamka farm by labourer, Hendrik Mans. Its discovery sent ripples of excitement travelling through the palaeontological world and scientists are scheduled to visit the site shortly to evaluate it. There was a time, way back when the earth was young and the Great Karoo a primeval swamp, that these giant creatures trampled unconcernedly about in this area. They splashed in the waters at the edge of [...]