Fascinating factual tales and stories on South Africa history by Rose Willis. Read all about her here and subscribe to her newsletter Rose’s Round-Up for a small fee.
Rose’s ROUND-UP – A privately-published monthly newsletter mainly covering snippets of Karoo history * Copyright: Rose Willis * Cellphone: 082-926-0474
email: email@example.com. P O Box 28636, Danhof, 9310
KAROO PLANS OFF-ROAD RACE The first off-road race in the Great Karoo is being planned for later this year. “Interest in the proposed event is high, and it could eventually attract about 250 competitors”, says Pete van der Walt, a director of Motor Sport SA. The course will be laid out in the Merweville area and tested later this year. Pete evaluated the proposed 50km route recently when he visited the area with Kallie le Roux of Springbok Lodge. “The course will cross a wide variety of rugged and challenging terrains”, said Pete. “From the village it snakes out [...]
Rose’s Round-Up February 2001 No 86 TOURISM IS THE KEY Carefully planned development would create a better quality of life throughout the Karoo, according to Doreen “Thiwe” Hugo, the first mayor of the Central Karoo District Municipality. “Every effort is being made to promote tourism to so capture a larger slice of both the domestic and international market sectors. Tourism will assist us to develop the area, build the infrastructures of our small towns and villages and strengthen the region’s economy. We aim to bring tourism closer to our previously disadvantaged communities so that they may share its benefits [...]
Rose's Round-Up January 2001 No 85 MURRAYSBURG ON EUROPEAN TV The search for an isolated South African village with tourist appeal finally took German TV producer Mark Kaczmarczyk to Murraysburg in the Great Karoo. He loved it all - the town, its people and the area. It reminded him of Arizona in the US. So, with a cameraman Robert Leithner and sound engineer Alexander Seidel, from Tango Films in Germany, Mark spent two days capturing the spirit of Murraysburg for VOX Television Network in Cologne, Germany. The edited footage will form part of an hour-long documentary for their highly-rated, [...]
Rose's Round-Up November-December 2000 No 84 THE HELL LOOKS UP Cape Nature Conservation is upgrading, refurbishing and stabilising most of the historic buildings in Gamkaskloof, The Hell. R1,1m has been obtained for this important project. Work has already progressed in some areas, while tenders are awaited in others. The restoration of Oukloof, the oldest raw brick and clay farmhouse, has been completed. This house, home of Zanie and Anita van der Walt, Nature Conservation officers and full-time residents of the valley, revealed many of its secrets during restoration. “The house was stripped back to basics and this gave us [...]
TEMPLE OF THE DEAD DISCOVERED Quena shrines, a temple of the dead and a sophisticated astronomical observatory have been discovered near Murraysburg. The man behind these archaeological finds is Dr Cyril Hromnik, who recently visited the Karoo to discuss them. “Much needs to be done to reverse the academic neglect of the Great Karoo in recent decades,” says Dr Hromnik. “Hottentots in the history of the Karoo are all too often ignored, simply as if they did not matter. Yet the Otentottu or Quena people were culturally, religiously, economically and technologically more advanced than the Stone Age Kung or [...]
FOOTPRINTS IN CYBERSPACE An illiterate who uses a sophisticated scientific system as an everyday tool has presented the Great Karoo to Dutch TV viewers. A TV crew from the Netherlands recently visited the Karoo National Park to film the ultra-modern CyberTracker wildlife management system for the popular Jules Unlimited series broadcast by VARA. “Each 25-minute broadcast, designed to keep viewers abreast of the latest scientific developments, has well over a million viewers” , says researcher Julia Greiner. “The programme relies on active hosts and good camera angles to make viewers feel part of what they see”. The man who [...]
FARMERS LINK UP TO SAVE RIVERINE RABBIT Three farmers in the Krom River area near Beaufort West have established a conservancy for the riverine rabbit, one of South Africa’s the most endangered species. “A recent three-day seminar in Stellenbosch, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Zoo and other USA organisations, prompted this action by Monty Truter, David Jack and ourselves,” said Hillary Steven-Jennings, of Hillandale. “Research by Cape Nature Conservation has revealed many potential habitats for these nocturnal creatures on Booyskraal, Bokpoort and Hillandale.” Riverine rabbits are only found in the Beaufort West and Victoria West areas of the Great Karoo. They [...]
NEW MINISTER HAS DEEP ROOTS IN TOURISM Mr Leon Markovitz has taken over responsibility for tourism in the Government of the Western Cape Province. He replaces Mr Hennie Bester, who has taken over the portfolio of Community Safety. In a recent cabinet reshuffle, Mr Markovitz was appointed Minister of Finance, Business Promotion and Tourism. He is also Minister in the Office of the Premier, and his responsibilities include the Gambling Act. Mr Markovitz’s is a director and shareholder in hotel, restaurant and tourism related companies and has a keen interest in tourism in both the private and public sectors. He [...]
BOER WAR GRAVES RESTORED The graves of British soldiers buried in Beaufort West in the Great Karoo during the Anglo-Boer War have been restored by the local Rapportryers organisation. The work was undertaken by Goodall and Williams, and cleaning and washing of gravel chips provided short-term employment for the jobless. Goodall and Williams personnel repaired and rebuilt all curbings and recemented all surrounds. Marble crosses and memorials were all thoroughly washed and cleaned, and metal Guild Crosses were repainted. Then markers, with details of the soldier's name, rank and number were fixed to each cross to ensure that the graves [...]
KAROO DUCHESS GETS A FACELIFT Matiesfontein, that grand old duchess of the Great Karoo, has been given a facelift. Four self-catering cottages, each with accommodation for six, and nine extra rooms, at the Garden Mews, formerly the Boarding House, have been brought into the tourism mix. A station has been added next to the old train at the cricket field, and a motor museum is to be created on this site. To enhance the village’s aura of history and romance, a brandy and cigar room, plus a library, is being created on the second floor of the old station building. [...]
AUSTRIA HONOURS BARNARD A son of the Great Karoo, Professor Chris Barnard, is to be honoured by the Austrian Government this month. In an international poll, the world heart-transplant pioneer emerged as the most popular of seven international leaders in their fields. He will receive the first My Way award. "Polling was conducted by Internet to gain as wide an international response base as possible," said Eric Bruckberger, a director of the Tatum Media Group, organisers of the gala function in Vienna at which the award will be presented. The media group, which has negotiated the loan of a large [...]
PARKING NOW SAFE AT HISTORIC SITE The historic Monument Cemetery, 10km south of Matjiesfontein, now has a safe parking area. It was recently constructed by the Central Karoo District Council with assistance from Western Cape Tourism Board. “Our aim was to provide visitors to the cemetery with safe parking away from the busy N1 highway,” said district council chief executive John van der Merwe. “Formerly, tourists had to park at the gate, climb over a stile and walk almost 1km to the graves. Most visitors were concerned about leaving their vehicles unattended so far away. Also, there was room only [...]
KAROO PARK GETS THE KEY The ever-popular Karoo National Park, outside Beaufort West, will be 21 years old in September. Special plans are being made to celebrate the big day. The park, little more than a dream in 1950 when local farmer William Quinton started his campaign for a conservation area in the vicinity of Beaufort West, plays a vital role in the tourism mix of the Central Karoo. Since its official opening on September 7, 1979, it has served the local and international tourism markets, as well as the local community. “Our aim is to encourage visitors to [...]
MERWEVILLE HOPS INTO THE FROG ATLAS Besides being welcome in the Karoo to rejuvenate life, good rains during the festive season brought Merweville a strange fame. The steady downpours encouraged herpetologist Atherton de Villiers to visit and search for frogs. His research into reptiles and amphibians has led to him becoming the regional co-ordinator for the South African Frog Atlas project in the Western Cape. He was accompanied by wife Rikki, a chief nature conservator at Jonkershoek, in Stellenbosch. ‘We chose the Koup as no previous records existed for the area,’ said Atherton. “As we drove into the tiny town [...]
STUDENT FINDS RARE FOSSIL A rare and well-preserved fossil of a Gorgonopsian was found on Leeukloof recently when Friends of the South African Museum in Cape Town visited the Beaufort West area. “What made this find exciting,” said Dr Roger Smith, head of the museum’s palaeontology department, “is that it was a good example of this ancient carnivore and included a radius, elna and fingers. Also, it was found by a student, Jennifer Botha.” The 45 enthusiastic fossil hunters spent three days in the area searching for fossils under the guidance of the Museum’s Karoo-Paleo Team which includes Paul October, [...]
BOER AND BRIT MEET AT BLOCKHOUSE BRAAI A century after the air was filled with gun smoke, “Boer” and “Brit” horsemen rode as comrades through Beaufort West in the Great Karoo recently to take the salute at the old blockhouse which still guards the railway line. Crowds lined the route to cheer them on their way. The British brigade, under “General” David Pickard-Cambridge, carried Union Jacks and “regimental colours”, while flags of the old Boer Republics marked the passage of the Boer Commando under “General” Piet Ellis. Tantalising smells of braaivleis wafted about and a small crowd waited in the [...]
BOER WAR PROMISE HONOURED An Australian serving with the British army towards the end of the Anglo-Boer War committed suicide on the outskirts of Merweville. So distressed were these Karoo townsfolk when they heard of Lieutenant Walter Oliphant Arnot's death by his own hand on April 16, 1902, that they promised "to tend his grave forever." During almost a century they never forgot. So after all this time, locals were devastated when Lt Arnot's grave was vandalised a while ago and its marble cross destroyed. While discussing repairs, the problem touched the heart of Dominee Kallie le Roux, of Wesselsbron [...]
BIG PLANS FOR KAROO NATIONAL PARK The ever-popular Karoo National Park has expanded again. It recently acquired an additional 12 000 ha, extending its total area to over 70 000 ha. The farm Paalhuis has already been transferred to the park. The latest acquisitions include Brandywynsgat, Berg en Dal, part of Boesmanskop and Onderklipplaatsfontein. Discussions are also in progress to spend about R6-m on improvements. These will include a variety of projects such as 10 new chalets and predator-proof fencing. “We plan to upgrade and expand our restaurant and create a ladies bar,” said manager Leighton Hare. “There are also [...]
GRAND DUCHESS OF KAROO GETS TOP WEBSITE Matjiesfontein, the tiny Karoo village which offers visitors a peek of Victorian England, now has one of the country’s top websites. Set up by RMC, consultants who are assisting village-owner David Rawdon with a series of upgrades, the site was hailed a winner within days of its launch. Pages were designed by Catherine Kerr-Petersen and text written by Sarah Powys, winner of this year’s Silver Loerie Award for advertising copy. RMC director Chris Yates-Smith said: “It’s more than a pretty site. It’s designed to deliver useful information to tourists and Matjiesfontein management alike.” [...]
LONG AGO, WHEN THE RIVERS FLOWED NORTH Once a swamp and now a semi-desert, the Great Karoo fascinates most who explore it. Many wish H G Wells’s time machine existed to take them back to explore the once vast Gondwana continent. One man who brings this ancient world to life is S A Museum palaeontologist Dr Roger Smith. He recently explained the transition from swamp to dryland to visitors at the Karoo National Park. Way back when the earth was young all the land was on the western side of the globe and the sea on the east. Gondwana was [...]
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.
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
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 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.
A circular raised dais near Church Square in Bureau Street Cape Town, almost next to the slave lodge, marks the spot where imported and local slaves were auctioned under a fir tree. Perhaps as many as 100,000 human beings were sold and resold from this point. Yet unless one trips over the circular concrete marker, one is quite unaware of this spot. One has to stand above the marker to read it. Much, much more should be made of this historical site. Contact me about tracing your slave ancestry. The old slave tree used to stand on this spot. [...]
Ruda Landman's birthplace in the dry and dusty town of Keimoes, in the Northern Cape, is a far cry from where her family's humble beginnings started in the lush and fertile valleys of Europe. From the Persecution of her family in France in the 1600's, her ancestry consists of a kaleidoscope of French refugees as well as Dutch and German Immigrants. When the French Huguenots arrived at the Cape in 1688 as a closely linked group, in contrast to the Germans, they all lived together in Drakenstein, although they never constituted a completely united bloc; a number of Dutch [...]
Have you ever considered that your Ancestors marriages and baptisms in Cape Town during the 2nd British Occupation were not valid?, all by one minister who faked his identity. One of the strangest characters at the Cape of Good Hope during the first decade of the nineteenth century, was the Rev. Dr. Laurence Hynes Halloran (29 December 1765 - 8 March 1831). Little is known of his early life. Born in Ireland at Ratoath, he appears as a schoolmaster in Exeter at about the time when his first two volumes of poems were published, in 1790 and 1791. Next we [...]
Among the 307 new settlers for the Cape of Good Hope, who came ashore in Algoa Bay from the British transport Belle Alliance early in 1820, was a small Jewish boy from London, and aged nearly two years old. Joshua Abraham Norton born February 4th 1819, son of John and Sarah Norton, who accompanied his family to this wild and far-off region, by a strange chance, forged a unique link between South Africa and the United States. Those 4,500 emigrants, from England, Scotland and Ireland, came to the Cape in consequence of the distress prevailing in the Old Country [...]
Sir Ranulph Fiennes has more connections with South Africa than most people are aware of. He was born posthumously after his father was killed in the 2nd World War and his mother moved to South Africa in January 1947 when he was 2 and a half, and lived there until he was 12 years old. Initially he went to Little People's Play School in Wynberg and then was educated at Western Province Preparatory School. He grew up in Constantia where his grandmother Florence Agnes Rathfelder descends from one of the wealthiest families in the Cape. Sir Ranulph Fiennes remembers attending [...]
Hugh Grant Suave and dapper film star Hugh Grant family ancestral roots did not begin in the lavish suburbs of Notting Hill, London but right here in our very own vibrant mother City of Cape Town. Stumbling across an article I found about a year ago mentioned Hugh Grants' grandfather Major Ronald Grant being born in the Cape and passing away at his home in Newlands, Cape Town tempted me with my bloodhound instincts to dig a little deeper to see what I could find. But let's go back to the beginning...... Hugh Grant's grandmother Mina Waller Stewart [...]
By 1896 Richard H. Morris had become known as a builder of distinguished quality and workmanship and the fame of R.H. Morris had spread. Herbert Baker had met Richard on several occasions and took immediately to this man who built with such fine quality and precision. It was then that R.H. Morris secured the prestige contract for the restoration of "Groote Schuur", after the building had been extensively destroyed by fire.
Are you looking for Military Records in South Africa? Contact me I can provide a service for the following records: Pre Anglo-Boer War (1853 – 1898) Various attestation forms, muster and medal rolls are accessible, as are citations relating to awards to South Africans. The Cape of Good Hope Civil Service Lists 1885 – 1898 is another useful source of information for this time period as are the relevant blue books. Anglo-Boer War This archive is substantial and although it places emphasis on the records relating to the Boers, it also includes records of those who served the British [...]
Johan Goblob Stegmann born 1787, Jacomina Sofia Hoppe Stegmann, Maria I. van Reenen Stegmann, Helen McGregor Smith Stegmann, Elizabeth M. C. Sandenberg Stegmann, Michael C. Gie died 1874 also Catharina J. Stegmann Gie died 1876, Jacomina S Gie died 1881 Tombstones can be valuable historical records. In some instances printed works give more than one date for a person's death. A more reliable original authority, better even than a burial register, is often to be found in the grave inscription. Moreover, these often supply information not readily available elsewhere. A stone at Maitland cemetery, Cape Town, for [...]
From the evidence of early Dutch and Cape paintings, it may be assumed that the first White inhabitants of the Cape were diverted by performing dogs and various animals trained to do tricks, notably monkeys (which were common household pets) and baboons. The garrisons at the Castle possibly spent part of their leisure in training such animals, and performing bears and various animals from the Orient may have been seen when in transit to Europe. In the country districts feats and tricks of horsemanship were highly esteemed, and were probably demonstrated at kermis (fair) and other occasions where the [...]
Also known as the Master of the Orphan Chamber (MOOC), The Board of Orphan Masters was established at the Cape about 1673. In the following year we read in the Government Journal of monies of the Cape Orphans being administered by the Diaconate or Poor Fund and a proposal to separate such monies and place them with the Orphan Chamber. (Journal 9/10/1674) A few months later the Journal records that "the Board of Orphan Masters, already created last year, shall be increased by a Company's servant, so that it will consist of five members, besides a burgher to be appointed [...]
Cape Town in its early days clustered snugly around the slopes of Lion's Head Mountain and Signal Hill, and only when overcrowding forced it did the White population begin to build homes on the slopes of Devil's Peak. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, visitors to the Cape would complain of the insalubrious canals, once clear water-channels to the sea, which had become rubbish-filled and sluggish eyesores. The Capel Sloot was one; it reached Keisergracht (now Darling Street) near the spot now known as Castle Bridge, where a bridge crossed the Castle moat. To get to the area [...]
Princess Catharina Maria Radziwill was born Ekaterina Adamevna, Countess Rzewuska, in St Petersburg, Russia on 30th March 1858. A journalist and only daughter of Count Adam Rzewuski, an exiled Polish noble-man living in Russia. Christened Ekaterina, she later changed her name to Catherine Maria. Whilst living in Russia and a favourite of Tsar Nicholas she married Prince Wilhelm in 1873 at the age of 15. They settled in the Radziwill family palace in Berlin and moved in the highest social circles, but because of her indiscretions - under a pseudonym she had written a series of articles in La [...]
When Robert Semple visited Cape Town in 1804 he correctly noted the significance of the naming pattern for Cape Slave owners: It ay here be observed that the whole heathen mythology is ransacked find the names which are generally bestowed in a manner not the most honourable to those deities at whose alters one half of the human race formerly bowed down. Thus Jupiter cleans the shoes, Hercules rubs down the horses, and Juno lights the fire. Yet [this] is it not done through any disrespect towards these once remarkable names, as those in Scripture are applied with as [...]
The records of Civil Deaths for Clanwilliam are presently being transcribed from 1895 onwards. These records provide full names of deceased, age, gender, race, residence, place of death, date of death, intended place of burial as well as cause of death. Should you wish to see the actual image you need to go to the year you want to look at and put in the page number corresponding to the image number as see in the record link below. Please note that every record is transcribed exactly as is. If any surnames, farm names or causes of death are wrong please feel free to contact me with corrections.
Babies and children had a tough time in the early nineteen hundreds. The boom that followed the South African War was sadly brief and within months the country was plunged into a depression. Life was hard for many people, but the children's suffering was particularly cruel. Though governments plan to invade Cape Town came to nothing and the Mother City had no direct experience of the carnage, many shattered lives had sought refuge in the alleyways and slums. Pimps, prostitutes and gamblers who'd been drawn by the glitter of the gold and diamond fields had retreated to Cape Town during [...]