A new home for our family web pages

Our family web pages, which have been inaccessible for more than a year, are now back on line, and you can see our main family history page at:


We have had some family web pages since 1996, long before we started this blog, At first they were hosted by Geocities, but then Geocities was taken over by Yahoo! and killed off. We moved the pages to Bravenet, but that died about a year ago, and when it was clear that there was no hope of it’s being  rescuscitated, we’ve moved the pages to this site.

So if you had links to any of our pages are one of the old sites, please move them to this one!

It will take some time before we get everything working again, and some links are still broken, but the main family history page seems to be working OK for now.


A sense of place: Kilner Park

One of the things that I’ve noticed in researching family history is that we often have very little sense of where family members lived. We’ve sometimes visited the towns or houses where they lived, but things have often changed a lot since they were there, and it is often difficult to picture what it was like in their time.

It therefore seemed to be a good idea to record where we live now, our neighbourhood, before it changes and becomes unrecognisable.

Corner of Owen Avenue and Slater Street, Kilner Park

Corner of Owen Avenue and Slater Street, Kilner Park

This is where we live, at the corner of Owen Avenue and Slater Street, Kilner Park, looking south down Owen Avenue. We’ve lived here for over 25 years, so the trees have grown quite a bit since we first came. The green fence is our third fence. The first one was a low diamond-mesh one, and after 13 break-ins we replaced it with a higher one in 1991. The thorn tree in the corner of our garden was the envy of our previous neighbour, who said he wished he could include it in his garden before we moved in. It’s now about twice as big as it was then. The photos were taken on 5 September 2013, early spring. Most trees are still winter-bare. Others are just beginning to show  new leaves.

Corner of Owen Avenue and Matterson Street, Kilner Park

Corner of Owen Avenue and Matterson Street, Kilner Park

The picture above is from the other end of Owen Avenue, on the corner of Matterson Street, looking north. The open ground on the right is a servitude for the electricity pylons that go right around eastern Pretoria.

Matterson Street, Kilner Park

Matterson Street, Kilner Park

Looking west down Matterson Street. This is the way in and out of our bit of Kilner Park, the only way in and out by car. At the end can be seen the N1 freeway bridge. On the left is the railway line. Not much use to us, as we are almost exactly halfway between stations.

A memorial near the corner of Owen Avenue and Matterson Street, to N.A.R. Coetzee, known as "Kat". Persumably he died in a road accident nearby, though that seems a bit strange in our quiet little cul-de-sac, which gets very little traffic.

A memorial near the corner of Owen Avenue and Matterson Street, to N.A.R. Coetzee, known as “Kat”. Born 6 Oct 1959, died 25 Dec 2010

N.A.R. Coetzee was presumably he killed in a road accident nearby, though that seems a bit strange in our quiet little cul-de-sac, which gets very little traffic. Who he was, or how he died, we don’t know, but obviously someone still misses him.

Hartbees Spruit, looking North

Hartbees Spruit, looking North

After a dry winter there isn’t much water in Hartbees Spruit, seen from the bridge in Matterson Street, and the reeds are still winter-brown. But you can see, if you look carefully, a couple of weavers building a nest in the tree on the right. There are two nests, but I’ve heard that if the female weaver is not satisfied with the nest, she demands that the male build her another, so there may just be one pair of birds.

Queens Corner shopping centre, built on one of the sports fields of Clapham High School

Queens Corner shopping centre, built on one of the sports fields of Clapham High School

My destination, about 2,5 km from our house, was Queens Corner in Queenswood, the shopping centre, where I had to pick up some medicines at the chemist, a 50 minute walk. It was built on one of the sports fields of Clapham High School, and opened in about September 2000, so it’s been there for 13 years,and sometimes it feels as though it has been there for ever. The chemist is part of a chain called Pharmavalu, and when it opened we continued going to the one in the other shopping centre across the road, and wondered if there would be enough business to support two of them. The result was that the original one was forced to close down. It was originally called Queenswood Pharmacy, and later became part of a chain called Hyperpharm, but even then it couldn’t survive.

Old shopping centre in Queenswood, to the east. Soutpansberg Road on the right.

Old shopping centre in Queenswood, to the east. Soutpansberg Road on the right.

I walked back down Soutpansberg Road. Both Queenswood and Kilner Park were built on land that used to belong to the Methodist Church, and apparently one of the conditions was that no bottle stores or pubs should be built there. But some one must have gone to some trouble to remove the restrictions in the title deeds, because there are now several bottle stores in the area — they don’t seem to suffer from competition as the pharmacies do. Kilner Park was named after the Secretary of the Methodist Missionary Society, John Kilner. It was the site of a Methodist educational centre, called the Kilnerton Institute, but, like the theological seminaries of several other denominations, John Wesley Seminary (part of Kilnerton) was forced to close and moved to Alice in the Eastern Cape in 1963. It reopened on its old site briefly after the end of apartheid in 1994, but moved to Pietermaritzburg a few years later.

Old shopping centre in Queenswood, lokking west, towards Queens Corner

Old shopping centre in Queenswood, looking west, towards Queens Corner. The tree on the left is a jacaranda, having just lost its leaves. In another 6 weeks it will be all over blue flowers

The jacarandas that line Soutpansberg Road are bare now. They are always the last to lose their leaves in winter, and the last to bloom in spring, towards the end of October. I crossed C.R.Swart Drive. It used to be called Kilnerton Road, but was renamed by the old Pretoria City Council just before the end of apartheid, after the former National Party Minister of Justice who enforced so many of the apartheid laws, including the closing of the Kilnerton Institute. When Pretoria was incorporated into the new megacity of Tshwane the new council renamed several roads, but not this one, which remains as an insult to black people and a monument to the destruction of black education in South Africa.

The Kilner Park shopping centre is much smaller than the Queenswood ones. When we first moved here in 1984 it had a tea room (convenience store) on the right, called Tony’s, where our son Simon used to go to play arcade games like Ghosts ‘n Goblins. It was later taken over by someone else, and eventually incorporated into the Casbah Roadhouse, which opened some time in the late 1990s. We wondered if it would survive long, being off the beaten track, but it produced good food and cheap with generous servings. Their hamburgers had real meat, and one could get a large curry and rice for R18.00, Now the large curry and rice costs R120.00 and the hamburger patties are mass-produced, over-salted and tasteless, and probably consist of beef nostril and imported kangaroo offal.

Kilner Park shops, with the Casbah Roadhouse and Jock of the Bushveld Restaurant, and the Neon Cafe on the left

Kilner Park shops, with the Casbah Roadhouse and Jock of the Bushveld Restaurant, and the Neon Cafe on the left

There have been several restaurants there.

When we moved here in 1984 it was called the Count du Barry, and had a picture of a bloke riding on a shrimp. We never went there then. But it was taken over by a Yugoslav called Misha, who painted Yugoslav scenes on the wall, of Dubrovnik harbour and shepherds in the hills. He produced good pizzas, and flying saucers (pizza bases with no cheese), and a Yugoslav dish for carnivores, which consisted of 12-13 sausages with onions. Delicious stuff, but exceedingly filling. He also continued some desserts from the previous owners, notably the “Count’s Coupe” -made with ice cream and cherries.

Then Misha l;eft, and the name changed to “Peasant’s” (they kept the pictures of Yugoslav rural scenes). It was replaced by McLaren’s, which replaced the picture of Dubrovnik with a large and badly-painted Scottish flag, which seemed unnecessary vandalism. We went there for Christmas lunch once, after church, and when they served tinned fruit salad for an exorbitant price, decided never again. They did, however, give each of us a cheap wallet as a gift, and I still use mine, thought much of the imitation leather covering has worn off.

The restaurant later became a Blue Bulls fan venue (the local rugby side), and is now the Jock of the Bushveld. They advertise cheap lunches on Thursdays, and I’ve been meaning to try them some time, but have yet to get round to it.

North Shore flats, on the south side of Matterson Road

North Shore flats, on the south side of Matterson Road

On the south side of Matterson Road, beside the Hartbees Spruit, is North Shore flats, which, if I recall correctly, were built about the time we moved to Kilner Park at the end of 1984. And so back across the Hartbees Spruit, and home.

Hartbees Spruit, looking south towards the Colbyn Wetlands, with a train passing through. North Shore flats on the left

Hartbees Spruit, looking south towards the Colbyn Wetlands, with a train passing through. North Shore flats on the left




Visiting cousins and old haunts

This morning I left home before 5:00 am to go to Johannesburg for the Divine Liturgy for the feast of the Transfiguration, It starts at 6:00 to give people enough time to get to work afterwards. And, as I sometimes do on such occasions, I had breakfast at the Wimpy in Killarney Mall (they do hake with chips and salad). And then I planned to go and do some family history research in the Mormon family history centre in Parktown, but when I got there it was closed.

I didn’t feel like facing the freeway at the tail-end of the rush hour, so I took a leisurely drive through some of the haunts of my youth — a block of flats we had lived at in Sandringham, and St Nicholas Anglican Church down the road, where on Thursday mornings (rather like today) I used to go to be an altar server with old Canon Sharman and millions of angels. Canon Sharman seemed very old then, though he was probably no older than I am now. But he is long gone, The church was still there, though, but it has been converted into a private residence.

St Nicholas Anglican Church, Sandringham, Johannesburg -- now converted into a private house

St Nicholas Anglican Church, Sandringham, Johannesburg — now converted into a private house

Then I thought, having been deprived of the opportunity of looking at the names of long-dead relatives in microfilm readers, why not go and see a living one. So I went to see my cousin Peter Maxwell, whom I hadn’t seen for over 50 years, and met his wife Mellony for the first time. The last time I met him, I recalled, we had spent most of the time talking about cars, and he said he is still a car nut, and in the past drove in races and rallies. Nowadays it has become specialised and professionalised, and only the very rich could do it, but back then, he said, if you went to Castol and showed them your rally registration, they would sponsor you by providing a few litres of oil.

Steve Hayes & Peter Maxwell, 6 August 2013

Steve Hayes & Peter Maxwell, 6 August 2013

It’s more fun to meet one living relative than to pore over microfilm records to find a few facts about a dozen dead ones.

Peter Maxwell is the son of my father’s sister, Doreen Wynn Maxwell, born Hayes.

Where does Francis Joseph Hayes fit in?

Yesterday I discovered a Hayes relation I had not known about before; he is Francis Joseph Hayes, born about 1882.

Discovering hitherto unknown relations is not unknown in genealogical and family history research — that’s what it’s all about. But the difficulty is finding where this one fits in.

Francis Joseph Hayes appears on the 1911 English census, aged 29, staying with the Nobbs familyat 11 Ashchurch Park Villas, Hammersmith, London. Most of the male members of the family are gun makers, and he is too. He is shown as the nephew of the head of the household, 62-year-old Barbara Nobbs, widow. From other sources I know that she was Barbara Rachel Hayes, born in Bristol, England, and baptised at St Andrew’s Church, Clifton, Bristol, on 15 July 1848.

name: Francis Joseph Hayes
event: Census
event date: 1911
gender: Male
age: 29
birthplace: Finsbury Park London N, London
record type: Household
registration district: Fulham
sub-district: North Hammersmith
parish: Hammersmith
county: London

Barbara Rachel Hayes married William Nobbs, gun maker, on 4 June 1870, and they had five children, Rosa, William, Wesley, Elijah and Chrisopher. By 1911 three of the five were dead: Rosa, William and Christopher all died in their 30s, apparently unmarried and leaving no descendants. At the 1911 census two of the five children were at home: Wesley, with his wife Florence and two children, and Elijah Thomas Nobbs, who was still single. And then the mysterious Francis Joseph Hayes, nephew.

Where did Francis Joseph come from?

Barbara Rachel Hayes was the eldest of eight children of Sander Hayes and Barbara Deake Clevely. She did have a nephew William Joseph Hayes, born in 1882, son of her brother Christopher Albert Hayes, but William Joseph Hayes died 18 months later, and his birth and death are recorded on a plaque in the Easton-in-Gordano cemetery. None of her other brothers had children born in the right time frame, and their children were all born in Bristol.

One brother, John Hayes, was in the right place at the right time. He married Maud Alice Rogers in Bristol in 1877, and they had two daughters, Maude and Adelaide, in 1878 and 1879 respectively, and they appear on the 1881 census living in London, where John was a builder. It is possible that they could have had a son in London in 1882. But in 1885 the family emigrated to the USA, where they show up in censuses for San Francisco — father, mother and two daughters — no Francis Joseph. Is it likely that they would have emigrated and left a three-year-old child behind?

Earlier censuses don’t seem to cast much light on the matter, so perhaps he was in America, and returned.

Perhaps it’s time to bite the bullet and order the birth certificate for this one:

Surname First name(s) District Vol Page
Births Jun 1881   (>99%)
HAYES  Francis  Hackney  1b 509
HAYES  Francis Joseph  Islington  1b 452
HAYES  Francis William  Upton  6c 323

But if his parents are not known members of the family, then what?

Hannan cousins in Melmoth

Here’s a photo from 30 years ago, when we were living in Melmoth, and my mother, Ella Hayes, came to visit us with her cousins Betty Stewart and Nancy Badcock.

Nancy Badcock, Bridget Hayes, Betty Stewart, Jethro Hayes, Ella Hayes. Melmoth 14 February 1982

Several members of the Hannan family came to South Africa some time in the first decade of the 20th century including David McFarlane Hannan (1884-1951), the father of Nancy and Betty, and his sister Janet McCartney Hannan (1882-1946), who married George Growdon — Ella Hayes (1910-1983) was their daughter.

David Hannan married Agnes Lindsey Irvine, and Nancy’s full name was Agnes Lindsey Irvine Hannan (1925-1984). Betty was Elizabeth Hay Irvine Hannan (1911-2002), named after her maternal grandparents, Alexander Christopher Irvine and Elizabeth Hay.

David and Agnes moved around quite a bit. After coming to South Africa they returned to Scotland, where their middle children, Tom, Alexander and Stanley, were born, and then returned to South Africa and moved to Zambia, then known as Northern Rhodesia.




Changes in Melmoth after 30 years

We lived in Melmoth, Zululand, from 1977-1982, so it is almost 30 years since we left. Earlier this week we visited it again while on holiday, and drove past some of the places we had known, to see what changes there had been. I’ve written about some of the general changes on my Khanya blog, but there are some changes that are also linked more closely to the family.

In 1979 we had a Christmas tree in our sitting room, with decorations, and we put Christmas presents under it. After Christmas we took it outside, and decided to plant it outside the study window. One reason for doing this was that in summer the afternoon sun shone into the window and made the study too hot and the light made it more difficult to work in. Of course when we first planted the tree it was too small to give much shade.

Our Christmas tree when we planted it in January 1980: Val, Simon, Bridget and Steve Hayes

We planted it on 11 January 1980, and it was only a little taller than the children.

A different view of Bridget and the tree

The tree grew quite quickly.

After a year the tree was a bit taller.

But after 30 years, it was enormous, and had two tops.

July 2012 the Christmas tree towers above the flat-crown tree, which in turn has spread to stretch over the house.

Other trees had also grown, and Hammar Street has a much better surface, and there is actually a pavement, which wasn’t there when we lived in Melmoth, so back then people tended to walk down the street.


Hammar Street, Melmoth, July 2012

On 1 January 1981 we planted three cycad seedlings in the garden. They came from Val’s mother (Dorothy Greene) who lived in Escombe, Queensburgh, and had a couple of large cycads, which produced lots of seeds, and seedlings kept growing in her garden. She gave us some, and also had to give us special certificates for the nature conservation department, as cycads are protected plants.

All Saints Rectory, Melmoth, with cycad near the chimney. 23 July 2012

I’m not sure whether that was one of the cycads we planted — I thought we had planted them in more protected places, but perhaps someone moved one, or one of them grew up and produced seeds of its own.

Ria Reddick’s 90th birthday

I nicked this photo from Fiona Carson Reddick Symth’s Facebook page, showing her mother’s 90th birthday. Her mother and my mother, Ella Hayes (born Growdon), were first cousins, and last met in Glasgow in 1967, and my mother died in 1983.

Ria Reddick’s 90th birthday party

Ria was born as Ria McFarlane Hannan on 9 November 1921, and married Hugh Cumming Reddick in 1943. They lived in Rhodesia after the Second World War, and their younger children were born their. Their eldest child, Craig, was killed in a car accident, and Hugh died in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). Ria returned to the UK in 1966 after the Rhodesian UDI, as she did not want to bring up her children in that kind of society.

Bill Hannan of Durban

Ria is also first cousin to Bill Hannan, whom we met for the first time last Sunday. There are not many of that generation still alive.


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