Pony-trekking in the Maluti mountains, 1958

In April 1958 a group of pupils from our School, St Stithians College, went on a camp to Caledonspoort in the Eastern Free State. We were under the supervision of some of the teachers, Steyn Krige, Derick Hudson-Reed and David (Daffy) Dent, and also the headmaster’s nephew, Louis Kernick.

We had been there the previous year, and had stayed at Wyndford Guest Farm, on the banks of the Caledon River. On the other side of the river was Lesotho, then more commonly known to outsiders as Basutoland. In those days one did not need a passport to cross the border, and there was a single gate in charge of a single customs official on the Lesotho side, and nothing on the South African side.

In 1958, however, some of us were going on a pony trek up the Maluti Mountains to see the Ox Bow Lake on the Malibamatso River — that was the educational part of the trip, as we learned about ox-bow lakes in geography lessons.

As it was 60 years since it happened, I wrote to remind the only classmate of that time I am still in touch with, Mike Nayler, of our journey, and he sent me some of his recollections of it. So I decided to compile some extracts from my diary to send to him with some of my photos, and my wife Val suggested that I would put them into a blog post, in case anyone else might be interested. And for what it’s worth, we’re planning a reunion of the Class of 58, so if anyone who was in that class sees this, please get in touch.

Diary Extracts

The summaries in italics are mostly taken from what I wrote in an appointment diary on the trip. The longer bits I wrote in a bigger book after getting home.

14-Apr-1958, Monday

Left on the train for school camp at Wyndford guest farm

In the evening we went to the school camp at Wyndford again. David Curtis and I went in the same compartment, with Nayler and Lundie.

15-Apr-1958, Tuesday

Arrive at Wyndford, climb the mountain behind it, sleep under the stars.

We travelled through the night, stopping at every milk can, [1] and changed trains at Bethlehem in the morning, and arrived at Wyndford guest farm just before lunch, travelling the last six miles fron Fouriesburg station in the back of a lorry.[2]

After lunch David Curtis and I climbed the mountain behind the hotel, and took photographs there. There was no room in the inn for those of us who were going up the mountains, so we had to sleep under the stars, which we studied through David’s telescope, while lying in bed. Great balls of fire! [3]

16-Apr-1958, Wednesday

Choose horses for our ride into the mountains

In the morning we crossed over the Caledon Bridge with several others, and went up into the village, and for some time watched a guy chopping up stone to build a wall with.

Watching a stone mason at work. Derick Hudson-Reed on the left

Then a guy called Lif brought a horse for Mark Rushton, and he got on to ride it. Derick Hudson-Reed took Mark’s camera, and took a photo of him on the horse, the first time he had ever ridden one. He rode off, and I also took a photo of him as he went down the way we had come, with a little black foal trotting along behind.

Mark Rushton’s first ride on a horse

Then the rest of us went down the side of the hill, and across a stream running through a donga, where some women were washing clothes.

Old man drinking beer

On the other hill, near the school, we talked to an old man who was sitting outside his house drinking beer, but he didn’t know much English and we knew even less SeSotho, so it was rather corny conversation. In the afternoon the horses arrived for our ride into the mountains. I chose a little black stallion who looked a bit like Tom. I had fourth choice and everyone thought I was nuts for choosing such a little pony. I didn’t know his name, so I called him “Pony”. In the afternoon I rode him and led him around so I could get to know him. Most of the others chose big horses.

17-Apr-1958, Thursday

Set out on our mountain ride, from Caledonspoort to Butha Buthe, and then north through the foothills of the Malutis. Camp at a crossroads.

Amid frantic preparations for our ride we eventually managed to get everything packed and set out, but had scarcely gone a mile when Terry Ryan’s saddlebags came adrift.

We took about two-and-a-half hours to cover the six miles to Butha Buthe, and had lunch at the district commissioner’s house. The lunch consisted of cannonballs made from “weeds” — a Basotho dish. Derick Hudson-Reed and a few others were crazy enough to try swiming in the swiming bath there. They stripped naked and jumped in, and then yelled as they froze.

Leaving Butha Buthe. Derick Hudson-Reed on right, in Mosotho hat. Steve Hayes in centre, looking back.

After lunch we rode through Butha Buthe, and turned north-east along a winding dusty road, which reminded me of Ingogo a bit. On our right was the Maluti range towering above us, and we rode along the foothills till we should come to the pass which would take us over the Maluti to the Ox-Bow Lake, where we were to stay as guests of Mr Read, who was doing a hydrological survey there.

After a while we straggled out in a long line, and my pony, with his short legs, was near the back of it. Some blokes would try an occasional gallop to get up to the front, and then their saddle bags would fall off and they would have to go back to retrieve their scattered belongings. The sun got lower and its rays got redder, and still we hadn’t nearly reached the place where we were supposed to spend the night. The hills became steeper and we started winding down into a valley, and then crossing rivers and then climbing out again.

At sunset we stopped at a bleak and desolate crossroads, where there was a deserted road-builders’ camp, and there we spent the night. There was a village nearby, where we could get water from the well, the local headman having given us permission. David Curtis and I slept together, and I put my own halter on Pony, and tied him to a concrete block, which we used as a windbreak. I gave Pony some mealies, and we got into our sleeping bags. Pony ate his mealies, dropping a good many over me. Then we went to sleep, and so did Pony, but not for long. At about midnight I woke up with his nose on my face, and he was snuffling around trying to reach the loose mealie pips he had dropped. I smacked his nose and went back to sleep. About an hour later I felt my saddle (Brassie’s, actually) jerking under my head. I was using it as a pillow. Pony had discovered that I had a loaf of bread under it, and grabbed it, and then trotted off to the end of his rope and began to eat it. I hauled him in on the rope, and grabbed what was left of the bread out of his mouth, and tried to get back to sleep.

18-Apr-1958, Friday

Ride up the Malutis to the Ox Bow Lake over the mule track, to stay with Dick Read of the hydrological survey

When the sun came up, David and I had a great greasy breakfast of fried eggs and bacon, while the others had bread. Some had had eggs, but they had broken on yesterday’s journey. We had taken the precaution of wrapping ours in newspapers, and so had cause to gloat, until we tried to wash our dishes.
After breakfast we continued on our way, and in the morning rode straight towards the mountains instead of along them. We rode up the Caledon River, or one of its tributaries, and it looked very different now from the dirty brown stream that formed the Free State border. It was icy cold and crystal clear. At one place we stopped to let the horses drink, and three exceedingly brave souls, Terry Ryan, Tom Sutcliffe and Peter Wood, tried to swim. Needless to say, they froze.

Brave souls swimming in the icy mountain water

We came to a notice which said “Ox Bow jeep track. Vehicles enter at their own risk” and started to climb. We crossed some hills covered with very green grass, and Mr Read met us there, riding an enormous horse. He had a big bushy beard, and out of his shorts came sunburnt legs which looked like tree trunks. He was quite a guy, and wore a slouch bush hat. A little while later a pack mule met us and took our bedding, and then we started to climb the steep pass up to the top. Now I rode with Dick Read in front of the line as we climbed the steep mule track, which was shorter than the jeep track. Pony with his short legs had better stamina for mountain climbing, and left the others far behind. The track crossed numerous streams, with bushes going up the slopes on either side, where only goats were grazing. The hills rose up and up in tumbled profusion, like an enormous green wave 5000 feet above the rest of the ocean, frozen in the moment of breaking.

The Maluti mountains looking like a breaking wave

We stopped on a flat rocky ledge near the top of the pass to let the others catch up, and there was a steady stream of sweat running off Pony’s belly.

Pony, at the top of the pass.

Most of the others were leading their horses now, and only Dick Read and I remained mounted.

Riding up the jeep track

Just before sunset we rode over the top, 9000 feet above sea level, and the scene suddenly changed. On the other side of the mountain, instead of coarse bushes, there was short springy turf, with hundreds of streams all over the hillside. There were hills, and beyond them more hills as far as we could see. Just behind the escarpment was a river, running south-west, parallel to the range, and this was called the Malibamatso.

View from the top, looking back over the way we had come

Two miles further, and we arrived at Dick Read’s house. When I got there, still ahead of the others, Pony had stopped sweating completely, and was not even damp under the saddle.

19-Apr-1958, Saturday

At the Ox Bow Lake in Basutoland, listening to Dick Read telling stories.

We slept in a half-built rondavel, which was Mr Read’s new house. His old one had one room and was too small. Early in the morning I climbed the mountain behind his house, and then after breakfast Dick Read took us to the Ox Bow Lake, and explained that a dam would be built there for hydroelectric power. He talked about the future of Basutoland while we were sitting there on the hillside. It seemed a wonderful country, and it seemed a pity if it were to become incorporated in the Union. Dick Read said its economic future wouldn’t be very bright unless it did join the Union.

The ox bow — the river had originally run around the hill in the centre, but then wore a new course behind it, leaving the old course as an isolated ox bow.

Then, after messing around all day, we gathered around Dick Read at five o’clock, and talked. There seemed to be no subject on which he could not talk. He talked about the basis of astrology — mutations in the newly born caused by cosmic radiation.

Dick Read, hydrologist

He told us of a woman at university who was not easily frightened, “So,” he said, “some bloody fool from the medical school got an arm and put it in her bed one night. They waited outside about half an hour after she went in, expecting to hear screams. When nothing happened they eventually opened the door, and found her sitting in a corner gibbering and gnawing at the arm.” He talked about other things too — diamonds in the Basutoland rivers, philosophy, God, time, space, and the prophecies of Nostradamus, the formation of different races, geography and geology. We had a break for coffee at 8:00, then went on discussing, but mainly listening and questioning, until late at night.

20-Apr-1958, Sunday

At the Ox Bow lake in Basutoland, taking photos

I walked up to the pass with David Curtis, and we took photographs. In the evening Dick Read and David Scott both had colds, so they sat around drinking Drambuie and eucalyptus oil. Scott seemed to think the eucalyptus oil was terrible, but I tried it and it wasn’t too bad.

21-Apr-1958, Monday

Return to Wyndford from Ox Bow, riding through the night in the last part.

We set out on the return journey to Wyndford, and were all sorry to leave Dick Read and the mountains. We travelled the 14 miles to the bottom of the pass, and then some of us were going much slower than the others.

Going back down the mountain

About 10 of us decided that we would go to Wyndford today, while those with tired horses or stiff legs were going to camp the night on the road. So at 1:00 pm we parted from the rest, and took a short cut over the veld to above Butha Buthe, which was a long way round anyway.

When night fell we had left the road, and it was overcast and pitch dark. A couple of lightning flashes and thunder rumbles made us think it would rain. On we went, in single file, across open veld and through many fields, down dongas and up the other side, hardly able to see the guy in front, but the horses knew how to follow. Leading the column was Sello, a Mosotho guide. Once or twice he stopped, and said he had taken the wrong way, but how he knew that in the pitch dark we never knew. He would then change direction, and in the middle of that trackless wilderness assert that we were on the right track.
The 10 schoolboys following him were rather subdued, and even awed, by this night journey on horseback. Suddenly we came onto the Butha Buthe road about a mile from Wyndford, and realising that we knew where we were again, started chattering. On the open road we began to trot. Tubby Ewing, saddlesore, groaned with every step his horse took, and every ten steps would say “Fuck you man! Ow Ow! Fuck you, you lousy animal!”

The customs post was deserted at that time, but we opened the gate and went through, and cantered the last hundred yards up to the hotel singing “Come to Wyndford”, words someone had invented and put to the tune of “Clementine”. Daffy was giving a sermon to those who had remained behind, but never finished it. Everyone rushed out to greet us, and though it was 9:00 pm Mrs Boswell, the hotel keeper, got us a meal. While I ate Mark Rushton stood next to me, wearing an enormous red and black blanket that covered him completely. He said he had bought it with some money an aunt had given to him.

22-Apr-1958, Tuesday

The rest of the mob arrived back at lunch time, David Curtis among them. We agreed it was the best holiday we had ever had.

23-Apr-1958, Wednesday

Hitchhike to Butha Buthe to post letters.

David Curtis and I hitched a lift to Butha Buthe on the back of a truck. I bought some rope, and posted some letters and postcards. On the way back we got a lift with Robert Boswell, the landlord’s son. We had a braaivleis party in the evening, and Robert spat petrol out of his mouth and lit it.

24-Apr-1958, Thursday

Played netball against a local girls school

In the afternoon we had a netball match against the village school over the border. Being girls, they hammered us sadly in the first match, but we got the idea of the game then, and beat them by a narrow margin in the two following games. Then they sang songs for us, and we sang songs for them. Louis and Daffy had us laughing when they sang the duet from “Iolanthe”.

25-Apr-1958, Friday

Left Wyndford, got the 11:00 am train from Fouriesburg, which got to Bloemfontein at sunset.

We left Wyndford, very sadly, and got the 11:00 am train to Bloemfontein. We played Monopoly most of the way over the flat Free State veld, and then went looking round Bloemfontein for an hour while waiting for a train to take our coaches to Johannesburg. That train had a dining saloon, so Lundie and I went and had a big grill at 10:00 pm

26-Apr-1958, Saturday

On the train from Bloemfontein to Johannesburg

I had bought a newspaper in Bloemfontein, The Friend, and read the reports of the election results, in which the Nats had won with an increased majority, and the leader of the United Party, Sir de Villiers Graaff, said it wasn’t too serious — 15 years in the life of a country was like a short burst of hysteria in an invidivual.

Notes and references

[1] The train went from Johannesburg to Bethlehem overnight, on a line that no longer exists, as on our last couple of road trips that way we had observed that the rails had all been pulled up. At Bethlehem it was joined to a train from Durban, and crawled on a steep incline out of the town. We got off at Fouriesburg, where a truck was waiting to take us the 12 miles to Wyndford, at Caledonspoort on the Basutoland border. Fouriesburg station was six miles from the town, and from there it was another six miles to Caledonspoort, with its cylindrical sandstone cliffs.

[2] The distance was actually 12 miles – six from the station to Fouriesburg, and another six miles to Wyndford, which was at Caledonspoort.

[3] The song Great balls of fire! By Jerry Lee Lewis was currently popular.

 

 

Advertisements

Clarens, and home again

Continued from Oviston to Clarens

6-7 September, 2015

We spent the last weekend of our holiday with my cousin Peter Badcock Walters and his wife Toni in Clarens in the eastern Free State. We had breakfast at the Courtyard Restaurant.

Breakfast at the Courtyard Restaurant in Clarens.

Breakfast at the Courtyard Restaurant in Clarens.

And looked at Peter’s art on display at his gallery. This one was of their granddaughter Leah, when she was about 5 years old, about 15 years ago.

Leah Reid

Leah Reid

The gallery is a new venture, and also has a restaurant attached.

Peter Badcock Walters with the exhibition of his art in the Gallery on the Square, in Clarens.

Peter Badcock Walters with the exhibition of his art in the Gallery on the Square, in Clarens.

Some of the exhibition was devoted to his earlier book, Images of War.

Images of War

Images of War

On Monday 7 September we left, and that was effectively the end of our holiday. Once one leave Clarens, the scenery is monotonous. Bethlehem is the last place where one can stock up on food and drink, as the other towns along the way, Reitz, Frankfort, Villiers and Balfour, are not geared to catering for travellers. Villiers and Balfour used to be on the main road but now it by-passes them, and their prosperity has visibly declined.

Val Hayes, Peter & Toni Badcoc Walters, Clarens, 7 September 2015

Val Hayes, Peter & Toni Badcoc Walters, Clarens, 7 September 2015

And as on our last journey this way four years ago, we were struck by the crumbling transport infrastructure — abandoned railways lead to heavy goods going by road, with a consequent deterioration of the roads.

Abandoned railway lines between Villiers and Balfour, 7 September 2015

Abandoned railway lines between Villiers and Balfour, 7 September 2015

And perhaps the picture also symbolises the end of the line for such touring holidays for us too. It’s probably the last such journey we shall ever take, unless we win the Lotto or something.

It took nearly 6 hours to travel the 374 km between Clarens and where we live in Kilner Park, Pretoria, though that was partly due to getting a bit lost in Springs in the evening rush hour, where the signposting isn’t too good.

We saw most of the things we wanted to see — the Aughrabies Falls, spring flowers in Namaqualand, and the roads that ancestors had travelled on 150 years ago. We spenmt five days in the Cape Archives doing family history ressearch, and though we didn’t quite finish looking at everything on our list, we did see most of the important stuff.

We visited all the friends and relatives we wanted to see, or at least those who wanted to see us, many of them for the last time, as we’re unlikely to be back there again. And some, like Jean and Paul Gray, we met for the first time.

At most of the places we stayed, we left our surplus books via BookCrossing, and we managed to get some of our cousins, at least, to be quite enthused by the idea of exchanging books in that way. BookCrossing doesn’t seem to have caught on much in South Africa, at least not as much as in other places, and of the 25 books that we have “released into the wild”, we’ve only had news of one being found. Still, we live in hope.

Our puppy Pimen had grown, but was pleased to see us.

Pimen welcomed us home

Pimen welcomed us home

He also delighted in barking when a group of men with orange legs went past.

Men with orange legs

Men with orange legs

 

Ghwarriespoort to the Gariep Dam

Continued from Hermanus to Keurfontein

Friday 4 September 2015

We woke up in chilly Keurfontein, at Ghwarriespoort, and continued our journey North and East along the N9. Keurfontein, the place where we stayed, was selfcatering accommodation rather than a B&B, but that was OK — it was was a fast day, so we had baked beans on toast for breakfast.

Keurfontein

Keurfontein

About 50 km up the road we passed the Grootrivier Dam — the road goes over the dam wall. Four years ago it had been dry, and we expected that after the rain of the last few days it might have had some water in it, but there was none, and the river was the merest trickle. A bit further on we saw puddles at the side of the road, so there had been rain, but obviously it had not affected the river. Perhaps the “Groot” name was irony.

Grootrivier Dam -- as empty as it was four years ago

Grootrivier Dam — as empty as it was four years ago

We bypassed Aberdeen, and reached Graaf Reinet at 11:43, 197 km from Keurfontein. We dropped in to visit my cousin Ailsa Grobler, and this time she was at home. Last time we had visited (in 2011) she was away visiting her son Bruce, who works as a chef in Dubai. Interestingly enough another cousin on the Hannan side of the family, Ceri Duff Henderson, lives in Dubai, where she is a diving instructor.

Steve Hayes, Ailsa Grobler, Val Hayes, Nick Grobler: Graaff Reinet, 4 September 2015

Steve Hayes, Ailsa Grobler, Val Hayes, Nick Grobler: Graaff Reinet, 4 September 2015

There was a bonus on this visit, as Ailsa’s other son Gavin, who lives in Cape Town, was there as well. We had coffee with them and chatted for a while. Nick and Ailsa run the Villa Reinet Guest House in Graaff Reinet, and we stayed there on our trip in 2011, though only Nick was at home then. We can also recommend it as a very good place to stay, and not just because it is run by our cousins.

Steve Hayes, Gavin & Ailsa Grobler. Graaff Reinet, 4 September 2015

Steve Hayes, Gavin & Ailsa Grobler. Graaff Reinet, 4 September 2015

Our Hannan great grandparents, William Hannan and Ellen McFarlane, lived in Glasgow, and four of their children emigrated to southern Africa, including Ailsa’s grandfather Stanley Livingstone Hannan and my grandmother Janet McCartney Hannan, who married George Growdon.

Graaff Reinet, Eastern Cape. 4 September 2015

Graaff Reinet, Eastern Cape. 4 September 2015

We left Graaff Reinet about 12:45, and crossed the Lootsberg Pass at 1:20 pm, 262 km from Keurfontein, and probably, at 1781 metres (5843 feet), one of the highest places on our route this day. In some places we followed the railway line, which on our previous visit had looked neglected and disused, but this time looked as if it could be in use again. The road was wide and smooth, and seemed to go almost effortlessly over the hills. Last time we had been here 4 years ago we had travelled this section in the dark. At Middelburg, which we reached at 1:48 pm, 306 km from Keurfontein, they were working on the road, and there were a couple of stop/go sections, but they did not hold us up for long. The road clearly needed working on, as it was narrow, bumpy and much patched, They had completed the sections from Noupoort to Colesberg, which were wide and smooth.

Toverberg, the Magic Mountain, also known as Cole's Berg, named after Sir Lowry Cole, sometime governor of the Cape Colony.

Toverberg, the Magic Mountain, also known as Cole’s Berg, named after Sir Lowry Cole, sometime governor of the Cape Colony.

Henry Green, the brother of Val’s great great grandfather Fred Green, was resident magistrate and civil commissioner in Colesberg in the 1860s, so we visited the town museum to see if we could find out where he had lived at that time, and it appeared that the drosdy (magistrate’s residence) was next to the Anglican Church, where most of Henry Green’s children by his second wife, Countess Ida Von Lilienstein, were baptised. The drostdy is now a restaurant, but it wasn’t open when we passed through. The Anglican church next door has services once a month, when the rector of Middelburg visits.

The old Drosdy in Colesberg, now a restaurant

The old Drosdy in Colesberg, now a restaurant. Henery Green apparently lived here when he was resident magistrate in the 1860s.

We then followed the southern shore of the Gariep Dam to Oviston. The Gariep Dam is the biggest dam in South Africa, used for water storage, power generation and irrigation. It is on the Orange (Gariep) River, which we had seen further downstream earlier in our journey when we crossed it from north to south at Kakamas, and saw it at the Aughrabies falls.

Gariep Dam, 4 September 2015

Gariep Dam, 4 September 2015

We went to Oviston, on the southern shore, where we spent the night at the Aan Die Water guest house.

Sunset over the Gariep Dam at Oviston

Sunset over the Gariep Dam at Oviston

 

 

 

 

More cousins & friends in Cape Town

Continue from Visiting more old friends in and around Cape Town

Saturday 29 August 2015

We finally packed up and left the Sun 1 Hotel at the Cape Town Foreshore, and went to spend a night with Jean & Paul Gray, Val’s cousins whom we had not met face to face before, only on Facebook and by e-mail.

But first we went to see another old school friend of Val from Escombe, Cheryl Verrijt and her husband Theo. There wasn’t quite such a long time of not seeing them as with some of our other friends, as they had lived in Eshowe when we lived in Melmoth, and we had also seen them on a previous visit to Cape Town in 2003.

While waiting for them we observed life in and around the Victoria and Albert Waterfront, a large shopping centre built next to Cape Town docks.

Cape Town docks, 29 Aug 2015

Cape Town docks, 29 Aug 2015

It was interesting interesting to see how modern life encourages new outdoor activities.

New outdoor activities: smoking and cell phones

New outdoor activities: smoking and cell phones

And there are also more traditional outdoor activities, like this little girl and her father eating fish and chips, with the gulls waiting around in the hope of titbits, and whenever they got too close the little girl would jump up and shriek and wave her arms to chase them away.

When ze seagulls follow ze trawlair, it is because zey sink fish with be thrown into ze sea (Eric Cantona)

When ze seagulls follow ze trawlair, it is because zey sink fish with be thrown into ze sea (Eric Cantona)

There seemed to be a fair amount of activity of small craft docking and moving away, including this one

Cape Town docks

Cape Town docks

.When Theo & Cheryl Verrijt arrived from an exhibition they had been attending nearby we had lunch at the San Marco restaurant.

Cheryl Verrijt, Val Hayes, Theo Verrijt, Cape Town, 29 Aug 2013

Cheryl Verrijt, Val Hayes, Theo Verrijt, Cape Town, 29 Aug 2013

We then went back to Paul and Jean Gray and talked about the family history. Jean is a cousin on the Stewardson side of the family, and we had recently discovered several new generations of Stewardsons going back to Duffied in Derbyshire, England. It was quite a breakthrough, because we had known of Val’s great great great grandparents, Mr & Mrs Stewardson, we did not know their first names or where they had come from. There were references to them in books and journals about Namibia in the 1840s and 1850s, but they were always referred to as “Stewardson” and “Mrs Stewardson”. One frustrated author, writing a historical novel of their times, made up names for them, Ian and Norah, which got misleaqdingly incorporated into some serious historical publications, but we eventualy discovered that they were Francis Stewardson and Frances Morris, and they were married in Donisthorpe, on the border of Leicestershire and Derbyshire in England, in 1838.

The Stewardsons went to Damaraland in the 1840s, and were involved in the beef cattle trade (some members of the Morris family were butchers in Cape Town, and at one time they had a contract to supply beef to the British garrison on St Helena).

The Stewardsons’ daughter Kate married first to Fred Green, Val’s great great grandfather, and then, after Fred Green’s death, to George Robb, from whom Jean Mary Gray is descended.

Val Hayes, Jean Mary Gray, Paul Gray, 29 August 2015

Val Hayes, Jean Mary Gray, Paul Gray, 29 August 2015

Though Val and Jean are the same age, they are half second cousins once removed, since Kate Stewardson was Val’s great great grandmother, and Jeans great grandmother. Kate had 16 children, of whom only four survived to adulthood.

Continued at Cape Town to Hermanus.

In and around Cape Town, family and friends

Continued from In and around Cape Town

In Cape Town our days followed a regular pattern: breakfast at the hotel, research in the archives, and then visiting friends and family — at least those who had said they wanted to see us.

Breakfast at the Sun 1 hotel -- austere by adequate

Breakfast at the Sun 1 hotel — austere by adequate

On Wednesday 26th August we drove down to Simonstown, following the Old Cape Road.

Old Cape Road, over the cloud-covered hills

Old Cape Road, over the cloud-covered hills

Simonstown is an interesting place in that most of the buildings on the main street are rather old, and therefore more interesting than the bland modern ones found in most towns.

Simonstown main street

Simonstown main street

Simonstown looks like a very pleasant place, but has mainly been a naval base, famed for its harbour.

Simonstown Harbour

Simonstown Harbour

But places that sell take-away food, or at least the big chains like Steers, KFC, Nandos et al, like to have their own building designs, so were not visible in Simonstown. We were quite hungry, after having worked right through in the archives from breakfast, so we ended up buying chips in Fish Hoek, which has less interesting architecture.

Fish Hoek main street

Fish Hoek main street

We then went to visit my cousin Brenda Coetzee in Muizenberg. The building where she lives had an interesting feature, a storefront church. I have often read about such things, but this was my first time to actually see one.

Storefront church in Muizenberg

Storefront church in Muizenberg

Brenda is my second cousin on the Hannan side of the family, whom I knew quite well when we were younger, and she lived in Johannesburrg. She stayed with my mother when her parents were being divorced. But after that they moved to Cape Town and we lost touch until a couple of years ago, and the advent of Facebook, which makes it easier to keep in touch.

John Verster, Steve Hayes & Brenda Coetzee, Muizenberg, 26 August, 2015

John Verster, Steve Hayes & Brenda Coetzee, Muizenberg, 26 August, 2015

Brenda’s mother was Peggy Sharp who married Ted Gascoigne, and they used to live in Jan Smuts Avenue in Parktown and they had lots of apricot trees in their garden. I recall once eating so many apricots that I got sick, and thought that that was the famed apricot sickness. At the age of 8 or 9 the most impressive thing for me was that Ted Gascoigne drove a Willys Jeep station wagon, the first station wagon I had ever seen. It looked something like this:

Willys Jeep station wagon

Willys Jeep station wagon similar to the one owned by Uncle Ted

Meeting Vause cousins at Robertson

Continued from Kamieskroon to Robertson

Sunday 23 August 2015

We attended the Divine Liturgy (in Afrikaans) at Bedehuis Bethanië, and said goodbye to Fr Zacharias van Wyk and Macrina Walker.

After Divine Liturgy at Bedehuis Bethanië -- the Last Homely House

After Divine Liturgy at Bedehuis Bethanië — the Last Homely House

Then we drove in to Robertson, 6 km away, to have lunch with Sandy Struckmeyer and her parents. Wyatt and Evelyn Vause, and her daughter Kerry, and Ludwig.

Vause cousins at lunch, Robertson 23 Aug 2015: Eunive Vause, Val Hayes, Wyatt Vause, Steve Hayes, Sandy & Kerry Struckmeyer

Vause cousins at lunch, Robertson 23 Aug 2015: Eunice Vause, Val Hayes, Wyatt Vause, Steve Hayes, Sandy & Kerry Struckmeyer

We had lunch in the yard, where the weather was a bit warmer than earlier in the day. Sandy is my third cousin, and our common ancestors were our great great grandparents were Richard Vause of Hull (1822-1876) and Matilda Park of Bath (1828-1881). The Vause family came from the Isle of Axholme in north-west Lincolnshire, while Matilda Park’s family was originally from Northern Ireland. How they met and married in Bath is something of a mystery, and within a couple of weeks of their marriage in 1852 they were on their way to Natal on The Lady of the Lake.

Vause cousins Val & Steve Hayes, Sandra & Kerry Struckmeyer, Eunice & Wyatt Vause

Vause cousins Val & Steve Hayes, Sandra & Kerry Struckmeyer, Eunice & Wyatt Vause

They went to Tugela Drift, where they opened a store in partnership with J.R.M. Watson, and Richard Vause named the place Colenso after the controversial Anglican Bishop of Natal. The business failed, and Watson moved to Ladysmith, and the Vause family moved to Pietermaritzburg, and later to Durban, where Richard Vause founded the Natal Mercury newspaper in partnership with John Robinson, and was later mayor of Durban. The Watson family touched ours again later, when Frederick William Beningfield (Val’s 1st cousin 4 times removed) eloped to the Free State with J.R.M. Watson’s daughter Theresa, while another skelm relative, Alfred Dawson Francis, alias Alfred Francis Dawson, eloped with, or had an affair with Watson’s wife.

Wyatt Vause

Wyatt Vause

Richard Vause and Matilda Park had several children, and I am descended from their son Richard Wyatt Vause (also known as Wyatt Vause) while Wyatt Vause of Robertson is descended from their son Robert Vause, who was a farmer at Ixopo in the Natal Midlands.

Wyatt had five vintage cars, including a 1947 Studebaker, which I had known in my youth as the “back to front car” because you couldn’t tell whether they were coming or going. He had a Renault, which had belonged to a man who had been murdered on a farm in the district, and said he had been a Spitfire pilot during
WWII, based in Malta, and had survived all that, only to be murdered at home. He also had a Morris 1100, and I remembered when they had been one of the latest things in 1963, but they are now more than 50 years old. Wyatt told me a bit about the family too.

He said two of his elder brothers, Michael and Brian, had died, and that his eldest brother Trevor was now 90 years old. Michael had died of cancer after his son Philip had been killed in a car crash about 20 years ago. He showed us a couple of family photos inside the house, ane of which showed his uncle Frederick, who had died falling off a wagon at the age of about 3 or so.

Approaching Du Toit's Kloof Pass

Approaching Du Toit’s Kloof Pass

We left Robertson about 3 pm, and drove to Cape Town over the Du Toit’s Kloof Pass, which gives good views over the Paarl Valley. We booked in at the Sun 1 Hotel on the Foreshore, which is convenient for access to the archives, where we were planning to spend much of the coming week doing family history research.

Paarl valley from Du Toit's Kloof Pass

Paarl valley from Du Toit’s Kloof Pass

 

 

Cape Holiday 2015: a lonely Falkenberg grave

We left for our holiday in the Cape, and intended to travel down the N14 to Springbok, along almost its whole length, but a couple of months ago we had had a phone call from Ikey van Wyk, who said he had discovered the grave of Sarah Whitaker Falkenberg on his farm. We stopped for breakfast at a Wimpy in Ventersdorp, and then drove down to Klerksdorp to join the N12. The road was quite fascinating, as there were lots of unusual trees. They looked like gum trees, but of a kind we had not seen before, with small shoots sticking out in clumps at odd angles.

Tree we saw between Ventersdorp & Klerksdorp

Tree we saw between Ventersdorp & Klerksdorp

After Klerksdorp the country was completely different, mostly bushveld, the only variety being smaller and larger trees. This was Falkenberg country, at least the branch of the Falkenberg family that we were following up at this stage of our trip. The “stamvader” of the South African Falkenbergs was Christian Falkenberg, who came from Brandenberg in Prussia in 1858 with his wife Dorothea (born Lüthow) and son Friedrich, then aged about 3. Dorothea died in Stutterheim about a year after their arrival.

Bloemhof

Bloemhof

A few years later Christian Falkenberg, who was a shopkeeper at Tylden in the Eastern Cape, married Jessie Schultz, Val’s great great grandmother. Young Friedrich would then have been about 10, and he seems to have left home as a teenager and gone to try his luck on the diamond fields. He married twice — to Dorothea Louisa Ferreira and Sarah Whitaker Holt, and the family’s marriages took place in the towns we passed through down the N12 — Bloemhof and Christiana, where Friedrich was a diamond digger in the alluvial diggings in those places.

Christiana -- one of a string of diamond-digging towns along the Vaal River

Christiana — one of a string of diamond-digging towns along the Vaal River

We passed through Jan Kempdorp, and saw the Vaal-Harts Irrigation Scheme, with notices advertising its 75th anniversary. It was one of the things we remembered learning about in school geography lessons. We found Matopi Farm, about 20 km our of Jan Kempdorp on the way to Delport’s Hoop, and Ikey van Wyk kindly took us to see the grave. It was a single grave on the farm, surrounded by an iron railing, and the gravestone was in good condition and quite legible.

Ikey van Wyk showing us the grave of Sarah Whitaker Falkenberg on Matopi Farm, near Jan Kempdorp

Ikey van Wyk showing us the grave of Sarah Whitaker Falkenberg on Matopi Farm, near Jan Kempdorp

It seemed that Sarah Falkenberg had had another child we did not know about, who died in infancy.

Grave of Sarah Whitaker Falkenberg and her infant daughter

Grave of Sarah Whitaker Falkenberg and her infant daughter

I tried to take a photo of the grave on my cell phone for Billion Graves, and, as usual, the program crashed. I put my phone back in my pocket, or so I thought, and took some photos with a camera, and we went on our way, back to the N14, and on to Kuruman. But when we got there, my phone was gone. I asked Ikey if I had dropped it in his bakkie when he took us to the grave, but apparently not, so I must have dropped it by the grave somewhere. R300.00 reward for its safe return!

At Kuruman we stayed at the Azalea Guest House, and went out for supper. The only place open seemed to be the Spur, and it so happened that they were offering two hamburgers for the price of one that night, and since we had ordered two Appletizers, they gave us a free glass.

Azalea Guest House, Kuruman

Azalea Guest House, Kuruman

The story of our holiday travels is continued at Ironveld and Aughrabies, for those who may be interested.