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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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