Home Remedies of the Cape

A study of the inventories of the people at the Cape, from 1673 to 1826, tells us of their lifestyles and efforts to maintain good health. When we look into their home medicine chests and pharmacy shops, we realise how they relied on prescriptions from the West, spices from the East and indigenous plants, to remedy their illnesses.

Simonstown History

The town was named after Simon van der Stel. Simon's Bay was made the official winter anchorage for the Dutch East India Company's ships in 1743. Baron G. W. van Imhoff, Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies, who touched at the Cape in the same year, chose a site for a magazine, hospital and barracks at Simonstown. A small garrison was stationed there, and when a stone pier was constructed in 1768, a bakery, a slaughter-house, a carpenter's shop and a smithy were erected, as well as a residence for the Governor (who always spent a few days there when the fleet arrived).

  • st marys cathedral

History of St. Mary’s Cathedral

St. Mary's Cathedral, a Roman Catholic Church had its first site purchased as early as 1822 and a small church was built in Harrington Street, Cape Town. In 1837 this building was almost completely destroyed [...]

History of Cycling in South Africa

Bicycle races were held in South Africa some years before Dunlop invented the pneumatic tyre (patented 1888). The first cycling club in Southern Africa the Port Elizabeth Bicycle Club was founded in Oct. 1881, while the [...]

Indentured Sailors of Simonstown

Indentured Sailors of Simontown play an immense role in the history of this Naval village. The relationship of the West African Krooman with the Royal Navy lasted about a hundred years from the early part [...]

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.

Rose’s Round-up November 2008 No 178

KAROO FARMER SCOOPS TOP INTERNATIONAL PRIZE The prestigious Ermenegildo Zegna Mohair trophy, for the best bale of summer kids’ mohair in the world, was recently presented to a Willowmore farmer. And, this is the second time that veteran Angora goat farmer, Billy Colborne, has won this coveted award. According to Farmer’s Weekly of October 17, 2008, Billy the also received the top award in 2005. The announcement was made at an awards ceremony in Port Elizabeth. The prize, which always includes a length of suiting material containing some of the winner’s own mohair, will be presented in Zegna, in the [...]

Rose’s Round-up October 2008 No 177

CONSERVE EVERYTHING FROM AARDVARKS TO ZEBRAS The Nama Karoo Foundation (NKF) has launched a booklet that stresses the need for conservation. Karoo Landowners Conservation Guidelines covers a wide range of issues related to the preservation of the country’s natural heritage and is available free as a PDF download, or as a hard copy costing R20. In addition to advising farmers on how to ensure that veld creatures, such as tortoises, can access water on their farms, the guide includes valuable information on how to handle the conservation of a wide range of fauna and flora. The NKF says “many of [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 2008 No 176

INTERESTED IN WEATHER FOLKLORE? If you have any weather-related folklore or other stories to share Dr Peter Alcock, who lives in Pietermaritzburg, would like to hear from you. He is in the final stages of compiling a book on myths, legends and stories relating to climate and weather patterns in South Africa. He has a mass of material rooted in San, Khoi-Khoi and African culture, plus interesting facts relating to place names, plants, the rainbow, rain, hail, snow, etc. He has also collected stories on specific and peculiar behaviours of birds, insects and animals, as well as tales on [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 2008 No 175

GET A TASTE OF THE KAROO IN OCTOBER A new cookbook will be on the shelves in October. It is the result of a move to the Karoo in 1990 which made it possible for Rose Willis to indulge her two great loves – historic research and cooking. “Friends scoffed when, after a particularly busy time in Johannesburg’s world of public relations, we announced we were going to drive down the road, find a house we liked and move to there,” she said, “But, we did just that and so I found myself in the Karoo. Never having been out [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 2008 No 174

ALL YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW AND MUCH, MUCH MORE Struik has just launched a magnificent new book on the Great Karoo. Written by tour guide Leon Nell, a Zambian by birth, and entitled The Great Karoo, it covers the geology, palaeontology, fauna, flora and cultural heritage of this vast arid zone, which the author has divided into 11 sub-regions or mini-karoos. The 256-page book, lavishly illustrated in full colour, but with black-and-white photographs to enhance the history sections, contains everything that anyone would ever want to know about the Karoo and much, much more. It discusses land evolution, the [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 2008 No 173

A CLOSER LOOK AT INDIGENOUS PLANTS The Indigenous Plant Use Forum (IPUF) will hold its 2008 conference at the Volkskool, in Graaff Reinet, from July 7 to10. The main theme of this conference, the 11th of its kind, will be “Value Adding.” In addition to enhancing knowledge of indigenous plants, their conservation and cultivation, the seminar will cover the use of indigenous plants in ethno-veterinary medicine, Sutherlandia as a multi-purpose tonic, and aloes for health and beauty. Several other medicinal plants and their uses will be discussed on a field trip to a nearby farm led by three local experts. [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 2008 No 172

WELL-DRESSED PORCUPINES Two porcupines in the Nieuwoudtsville area are now wearing collars. These are the first of 16 state-of-the-art GPS collars sponsored by Boekenhoutskloof, makers of Porcupine Ridge Wine, for a project being run by researcher Christy Bragg. Hotgroup, South African manufacturers of collars with global position system (GPS) technology, worked long and hard with Christy to develop a collar that would not cause discomfort. Several prototypes were tested before they agreed on a product light enough not to chafe or irritate the animals in any way. Christy felt so strongly about this that she had the final product riveted [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 2008 No 171

NEW GUIDE TO TREASURES OF THE ARID ZONE The latest “Getaway Guide,” launched by Sunbird Publishers, has been compiled by well known Karoo photo-journalists Brent Naude-Moseley and Steve Moseley, long time residents of Loxton. The Getaway Guide to Karoo, Kalahari and Namaqualand, sub-titled Out and About in the Northern Cape, takes readers into one of the most remote, rugged and rustic areas of the sub-continent, covering all major game parks, nature reserves, major tourist attractions, stop-overs, B&Bs, campsites, farm stays and 4 x 4 trails. Packed with information, it superbly captures the stark beauty and hidden treasures of this vast [...]

Rose’s Round-up March 2008 No 170

PLANS TO REPAIR DAMAGE, CREATE JOBS AND HELP THE BUNNIES An indigenous nursery has been established at Loxton by The Endangered Wildlife Trust's Riverine Rabbit Working Group (EWT-RRWG). The objective is to propagate plants to rehabilitate the riparian vegetation of the Great and Upper Karoo where floods, overgrazing and failed agricultural projects have caused damage that cannot be naturally reversed. This has resulted in a loss of biodiversity and habitat for the critically endangered riverine rabbit (Bunolagus monticularis) that relies on such vegetation for survival. A ground-breaking project, the first of its kind in the Karoo to offer members of [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 2008 No 169

NOW THERE’S AN ART GALLERY ON A KAROO STATION Jean Veasey, a keen artist specialising in portraits and wild life studies, is opening an art gallery on the platform at Matjiesfontein Railway Station. The Station Gallery, next door to the Marie Rawdon Museum, will include a workshop area for outreach art projects. The first of these, held in December last year, was led by Anita Glenister, who will show some of her own work at the inaugural exhibition. Clay animals, made by local school children and other youngsters in the area who attended her classes, will also be on [...]

Rose’s Round-up January 2008 No 168

DISCOVER THE QUIETER SIDE OF LIFE Fancy a “relaxed, but gently stimulating excursion” into the Karoo? Register now for John Almond of Naturaviva’s trip to the Worcester Robertson area. The first outing (March 7 to 9) was over-subscribed, so he proposes taking a second tour from March 14 to 16. The trip starts near Rawsonville and follows a route as far east as Cogman's Kloof along quiet, scenic back roads where John shares information on the area’s natural history, ecology, geological highlights and landscape evolution. “Participants must be fit enough to survive several hours on foot in rocky terrain so [...]

Rose’s Round-up December 2007 No 167

NEW BOOK CAPTURES SPIRIT OF THE KAROO Jonathan Deale’s just-published book, Timeless Karoo, captures the magic of the Great Karoo. Magnificent photographs make it much more than a travel guide. This 180-page full colour book is a fascinating compendium of fact, folklore and natural history. Maps guide visitors to secret valleys, hidden plains and intriguing tiny towns. Timeless Karoo takes readers on a journey through the Karoo of yesteryear, the present-day region and hints at its future. Those who love the area will appreciate this book and it will be invaluable to those bent on exploring. It will help them [...]

Rose’s Round-up November 2007 No 166

WHEN IS LAMB KAROO LAMB? Should Karoo lamb be branded? Should it have a stamp of origin, a guarantee of quality? Johan Kirsten of the University of Port Elizabeth thinks so. In a study presented earlier this year he proposed farmers and stakeholders should investigate the need to promote Karoo lamb as a product of excellence. “The Karoo itself has become synonymous with quality, tradition and wholesomeness,” he says. “The mutton of the region has been part of South Africa’s cultural heritage and Cape cuisine for over a hundred years. In recent times this product’s reputation for quality has allowed [...]

Rose’s Round-up October 2007 No 165

UCT SUMMER SCHOOL - TREAT FOR KAROO CONNOISSEURS Are you a Karoo connoisseur or would you simply like to know more about this vast, arid zone? Whichever it is, the UCT Summer School, from January 28 to February l, 2008, is the place for you. A series of special lectures on various aspects of the Karoo and some of its treasures will be delivered by natural history educator, specialist field guide and palaeontologist, Dr John Almond. “Karoo for Connoisseurs has been specifically designed to appeal to Karoo-lovers and enlighten those who have dismissed the Great Karoo as an abominable desolation [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 2007 No 164

HELENA MARINCOWITZ REMEMBERED A plaque is to be erected in Prince Albert’s Fransie Pienaar Museum in memory of Helena Marincowitz, who died a short while ago. A model of this plaque, which is being presented by Heritage South Africa to honour Helena’s great contribution to the preservation of cultural heritage in the Karoo, was unveiled at a dinner at the Swartberg Hotel recently. Former mayor, Dawid Rossouw paid tribute to Helena’s love of the Karoo and her efforts at keeping it in the public eye. “Helena loved the Karoo and above all Prince Albert. She made a highly significant contribution [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 2007 No 163

DROUGHT UNDER THE MICROSCOPE This year’s Arid Zone Ecology Forum will focus on drought. “Drought as a Driver” is the theme and, during meetings at the Dutch Reformed Church Hall in Sutherland, from September 10 to 13, many physical, ecological and socio-economic effects of drought will be examined. The programme has been divided into six sections covering climate change, hydrology, and the effects of drought on vegetation, fauna, humans and the economy. The session on climate change will review planning and management, as well as moisture sources and precipitation. One paper entitled “Is the Karoo drying up?” will evaluate [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 2007 No 162

‘MANNA’ BECOMES A TV STAR When Alfred de Jager Jackson wrote Manna in the Desert there was no TV, so he couldn’t share visual images of the world he loved with his readers. But today this is possible and those who enjoyed the reprinted version of this book, published in 2006 by his great-grandson, Craig Elstob, will soon be able to see Alfred’s beloved world on the SABC2 programme 50/50. A TV crew recently visited Nelspoort and Jonathan Rands interviewed present-day farmers Louis Reynolds (Kamferskraal), Peter Lund (Bleakhouse), Andre Lund (Elandsfontein) and Tiny Middleton (Content), to help capture the [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 2007 No 161

EXPERT TAKES ON NEW CHALLENGE The Environmental Wildlife Trust (EWT) has appointed Petro Botha, to co-ordinate a challenging project - the rehabilitation of riverine habitat areas along seasonal rivers of the Central and Upper Karoo. Degraded and eroded patches between habitats will be re-vegetated to slow erosion. Petro is passionate about conservation and excited about her new post at the EWT Regional Office in Loxton. She obtained her degree in Zoology in 1998. After completing an Honours Degree in Wildlife Management, she represented Africa in an International Programme at Walt Disney World in Orlando, in the United States. She [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 2007 No 160

LAWRENCE GREEN’S KAROO TO BE REPRINTED …Lawrence G Green’s ever popular book, Karoo, first published in 1955, is to be reprinted. In this work Green captures the essence of this vast arid land – the Great Karoo, Little Karoo, far corners of the North Western Cape and Namaqualand. He writes of inventors, indigenous people, patriarchs and other fascinating characters, who have all lived in the solitude and silence of this fascinating area. They are all as essential a part of the Karoo as the mountains, plains, dry river beds, baboons, jackals, sheep, springbok, trekbokke and the San rock engravings. Originally [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 2007 No 159

BIOLOGICAL WONDER OF THE WORLD HONOURED The Succulent Karoo is one of the biological wonders of the world. “Its biodiversity and range of endemic plants is unrivalled among the arid zones of the world.” says Jonas Nghishidi, chairman of the Namibian Succulent Karoo Ecosystems Programme. “Of course, this makes it an ideal tourist attraction for those interested in ecology, so for quite some time now we have been working hard at creating an awareness of this area and stressing the importance of its conservation to all communities.” Now, to further these objectives the SKEP Namibian team is developing a range [...]