Last week I had a phone call from someone in the USA, asking about the Boyle family of the Eastern Cape.
I said as far as I knew we had no Boyle ancestors, but we did have a relative who married a Boyle. It was so long ago that we had looked at that branch of the family tree that I had to look it up, and yes, it was Phyllis Elaine Witte who had married Denis Richmond Boyle. We had no record of Denis Boyle’s parents, so I promised our caller that I’d try to contact people on that side of the family, and let her know. Most of the addresses we had were out of date, but I searched the web, and managed to find the daughter of Denis Richmond Boyle and Phyllis Elaine Witte and sent her a message, and she told us that her mother had died the previous day. That seemed terribly sad, somehow, and yet that so often happens in family history. You try to make contact with a relative, for the first time ever, or for the first time in many years, only to find that they have died the week or even the day before.
Phyllis Elaine Boyle (nee Witte) was the daughter of Albert Witte and Amy Amelia Koch (1885-1966), and there the story gets complicated, because Justine (Jessie) Schultz and her daughter married two Koch brothers. I’ve told the story more fully on our Posterous site here, where it is possible to illustrate it by means of family group sheets.
When we started researching our family history we spoke to Val’s grandmother, Emma le Sueur (born Decker) and she told us that her mother was Jessie Falkenberg, and so was her grandmother. But her father died when she was 8 years old, and the kids were all split up, and she was brought up by her grandmother on her father’s side, Mary Nevard Decker, who ran the Waverley hotel between Queenstown and Tarkastad, so she knew little about her mother’s side of the family. She did know that her grandmother Jessie Falkenberg had remarried a Koch when her first husband died, and told us that “the Kochs got all the money”.
On a trip the the Cape in 1975 we visited archives and looked at church registers to get more details. Among other things we found that it wasn’t true that the Kochs got all the money — Charles John Koch’s will was scrupulously fair in the way he divided things between his children and stepchildren, and Val’s gran had signed for her share, which was a fifth of a sixth of a third, and was a little over £43.
On the way back from Cape Town we visited relatives we had discovered in the Eastern Cape, and during a lengthened sojourn in East London due to a car breakdown we found and chatted to Lil Falkenberg, Val’s gran’s first cousin, and the same age (born 1900). She had lived in the Eastern Cape all her life, and knew most of the family there, and told us about them all, and promised to write to those she hadn’t been in touch with for a while and get up-to-date information on all of them, which she did.
So Lil Falkenberg’s information was the basis of most of what we have in our family tree, and some of the cousins she wrote to later wrote directly to us, and so expanded the information.
But that was 35 years ago, and families don’t stand still. The older generation die. Lil Falkenberg died in 1977, two years after we met her. Val’s gran died in 1980, 30 years ago. Meanwhile the younger generation, the cute toddlers we were told about in letters from Lil Falkenberg and other cousins, have grown up and married and/or had kids of their own, and so we’re losing the older generation and losing track of the younger generations.
So we’re trying to do catch-up, and ask all descendants of Justine Wilhelmine Schultz (1849-1927) to get in touch and let us have news of their side of the family, especially since about 1975-1980. Justine Wilhelmine Schultz (alias Jessie Schultz) married first Michael John Christian Falkenberg, and then Charles John Koch, by whom she had another four children. And her daughter Emily Falkenberg married John Daniel Koch (Charles John Koch’s brother) and had nine children. There is more information about them on our Wiki pages. So it’s their descendants we are looking for to update the family tree. And to those who are keen family historians among them, we can give information on earlier generations, going back to the Huguenots. You can see what we have already on our Posterous site, where you can download the last of descendants we have. If you know of any that aren’t listed, please let us know so we can add them.