Kameel Stoepstorie: Vryburg Museum

People without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. Marcus Garvey

A short, but long overdue, visit the Vryburg Museum. It is situated on the N14 to Kuruman. The original wall of the goal that was built in 1887 is incorporated in the building and the masoned stones from the old demolished Town Hall were used to build the rest of the building which is the entrance to the Leon Taljaard Game Reserve. This building houses a museum and a Bio-museum.

Vryburg, or “Fort of Freedom”, was established in 1882 as the capital of a short-lived independent republic called Stellaland, established by Boers escaping the clutches of the British in the Cape Colony. Just two years later the Stellaland become part of the Cape Colony. It’s loctated on the banks of the Huhudi River. The plaque commemorates the Stellaland era. The original flag of the Stellaland Republic is not on display. Van Niekerk’s house was situated on the piece of land where the Pick and Pay parking are are now.

I remember preparing food for the thousands of Angolan Portuguese refugees passing through Vryburg in 1974. They were frightened & exhausted. They weren’t walking though, but drove trucks carrying their families and possessions from Angola. A transit camp was set up in the veld at the old goal wall. There, the refugees could wash and rest for a while or sleep over. They were given water, food & essentials. Remember that there was a Red Cross tent treating minor injuries and ailments & tending to exhausted mothers with hungry & over-tired babies & toddlers. I remember clearly the pain of exhaustion & anguish and the loss of self-respect in their eyes.

Today there is a small mention of this happening. The memorial seems to be incomplete.
Reg van Toegang
Direito de AdmissiaoVryburg

Vryburg was once used as a concentration camp by the British during the Boer War. The gatehouse was built on the former Boer War prison and where prisoners captured by the British forces were incarcerated. The plaque that commemorates the prisoners that were executed here should be at the museum but we could not find it due to the long grass that is growing around the building.

Copyright Johan Viktor via eGGSA
Google Earth Project Information:-
GPSID: 4413
GPS: Not available

We were met by Jennifer Lecholo. An energetic young lady who was giving her best to help us during our visit. There are two exhibit areas a Bio-museum where you will find a lot of stuffed animals that were not up to our alley and the museum. We love the rock engravings from Kinderdam the farm where we spend lots of fond memories visiting Uncle Alfie & Aunt Nellie Fincham. There is a small display with no information on the Koi-san.

The museum is small but we were charmed by the displays. Unfortunately, there is no information available and our guide is still new on the premises. It sheds some light on the town’s economic and social history.

The Townhall now demolished

The old Gentleman’s Club that was later utilized as police quarters.

The Stellaland Flag should be on display in the Townhall is the original flag of the short-lived Stellaland Republic. Its history includes having been presented to Queen Victoria as a gift and hanging in Windsor Castle until 1934 when King George V returned it to Vryburg. The museum curator could not help with the location of the flag.

Till next time


Kameel Stoepstorie: A dove breeder changed into a crockery cupboard.

Things are never just straight forward in our home. There is always room for a twist or two.

On our arrival at KameelZA, we store some of our stuff in a shed, on my brother’s farm. Once a week we would dash over to collect some of our stuff. During one of this visit, I spotted an old dove breeder standing in the shed. This was fascinating. The little doors and little bars made it even more unusual.

My brother was kind enough to pass it on to us. We left it outside for a day or two before the big clean began. Except for being out of use for quite some time, it was also a bit flimsy, but it will be ideal for a crockery cupboard.

The restoration process took Hennie some time. He used my dad little workplace as a workshop. He took the breeder apart and copy some of the doors and beams. The sanding and fitting took some time. Every time he fixed something a new challenge popped up. Some of the planks were bent and had to be flattened.

Hennie had to search for the right size bars to replaced the missing once. Parts of the back were damaged and needed replacement. As we have moved with old tin ceilings, we decided that it will be ideal for the back and it will add some texture to the, now, crockery cupboard.

One morning he announced that he needs the paint for it. I have looked at pictures of paint colours on the internet and was still dreaming which colour would it be. We decided on a steel grey colour with the name Dust to Day.

On a clear day, the compressor started and it took two days to spray paint the cupboard in every crack and nook. Once this was completed, to Hennie’s satisfaction, it was time to select the tin ceilings and installing it as the backing.

With a lot of excitement, it was carried into our cottage. I could start with the unpacking of the crockery. The way to go was to create little displays in every box.

Hope you like the final result.

Till next time

Kameel Stoepstorie: Farm gates in and around Kameel, RouteR377, North West

A farm gate is the gateway to a farm, but as you all know there is not only one gate on a farm. The gates give access to different areas on a farm. Each gate tells it own story,

Farm gates come in different sizes and styles. The farmers adapt the gates to fit into a specific opening.

The primary aim of the fence is to make access difficult for animals and keep the animals in place as decided by the farmer. It gives the farmer protection to the cultivated crops. They keep the livestock in and the unwanted out. They allow the farmer to maintain control of the animals while maneuvering large working vehicles on and off the property. Farmers know their gates and what they need. Gates are used for main or rear entrances, pastures, pens, or orchards, gates are a staple of life and they need to be sturdy to do the job effectively.

Farm gates go through a lot of abuse and they need to hold up to the rigorous of the elements, the livestock and heavy-duty use. Farm gates are important and they need to be made from the right materials to suit your day to day operation. Farm gates are made from wood or metal.

The best gates is metal. Gates need to be sturdy and strong livestock is more apt to break through wooden gates than metal. Gates need to be heavy, and long lasting all of which are perfectly suited for metal.

Till next time


Kameel Stoepstorie: Stations and whistle-stop around Kameel

When the train leaves Vryburg station toward Mahikeng (Mafeking) there is a couple of stations and whistle stops en-route. Today there is not much going on, on this route as the trains that use this line is transporting loads to neighbouring countries of South Africa. We have travelled on the old service road between Paradise and Madibogo to have a look at the marker boards.

First stop is Paradise. There was not a station but the farmers would leave a parcel at the rail side for transportation to the next place. The marker telling us that Paradise is 781 miles from Cape Town and the 4013ft above sea level.

The next station is Devondale. There used to be water tanks for the steam locomotives. There used to be a little shop built of stone and we would travel on the passenger train from Kameel to Devondale for an outing. The Devondale marker reads 790 miles from Cape Town and 4129ft above sea level.

Next up is Mnyani only 5 miles from Devondale. This stop was used for passengers to get a way of transportation. It was also a popular stop for parcels. The maker reads 795 miles from Cape Town and the altitude is 4207ft. As you will notice there is a climb in the altitude of 194ft over 14 miles.

Curnow used to be a whistle-stop like Mnyani. It was a popular place for passengers to make use of the train to travel to Mahikeng on the passenger train. As children, we would call this the milk stop. Farmers would load the milk on the train to be transported to Vryburg to the diary. 797 miles from Cape Town 4267ft above sea level.

The next station is Kameel and it is the station we call home. Kameel used to be a busy station with lots of rail traffic. Today the old rail lines tell the stories of better times. It was the station where the grain from the silos was loaded for the next destination. It was extended with more rail tracks round 1980. The station was also equipped with yard lights. Unfortunately, like so many railway stations, the station building and other buildings were demolished. We still have some fun when the weekly train passes by and you feel the rumble of the train under your feet. It will never be the same again but we are trying our best to uplift the station houses and the community. Kameel is 805 miles from Cape Town 4449ft above sea level.

Still, en-route to Mahikeng is Doornbult. Doornbult is a crossing and between Kameel and Doornbult was the old trolley stop. When a train approached the trolley will have a place to park next to the main line. During the Anglo-Boer War, there was also a corrugated iron blockhouse from where the British troops would protect the railway line. Doornbult is 809 miles from Cape Town and the altitude is 4470ft. This is the highest point on the railway line.

Wirsing is a railroad siding and is located in Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality, North-West, South Africa. The estimate terrain elevation above sea level is 1377 metres.

Next up is Rabatho. Rabatho is 819miles from Cape Town and the altitude 4325ft

At the end of our road is Madibogo. Like Kameel Madibogo was a busy station. 821 miles from Cape Town 4038ft above sea level. The water tank is still standing the station buildings has been utilized and forms part of the community.

Thank you to everyone whom made their photo’s available.

Till next time


Kameel Stoepstorie: Kameeldoringbome

Soos julle weet het ‘n Kameeldoringboom yslike dorings. Vir ‘n klein dogtertjie is dit sommer allermintige dorings. Onthou tot vandag dat ‘n doring in die sagte deel van my voetsool gesteek het.  Dit het gereën en ons het in die water geloop. Die nagevolg was pynlik. Ma Floss het alles probeer maar die doring het vasgesuig vir dae. Vandag nog is die letsel onder my voet die bewys van die pyn en lyding.

n Kameeldoringboom of dan Vachellia Erioloba se dorings van naderby. 

In Suid-Afrika is die Kameeldoringboom is ‘n beskermde boom. Dit lewe vir baie jare. Van die bome op die plaas was daar toe ons as klein kinders daar kom woon het. Niks krap hulle omstandighede om nie. Nie droogte of baie reën nie. Die penwortel roei baie diep en die maksimum van so ‘n penwortel is 68m.

Die Doringboom verskaf kos, skuiling, plek vir die vee en voels. Dit het ook medisinale voordele vir die mens. Pierneef het graag die bome geskilder.

Groot erkenning word aan die webtuiste gegee vir die skildery naamlik die Dyman Gallery

Jare gelede wou Pa Gerald ‘n boom uithaal wat in die pad was van ‘n ontwikkelling. Die trekker – nogal met so ‘n dakkie – en kettings is ingespan. Die trekker het gekreun en gesteun, maar toe die ketting breek en amper vir Ouboet teen die kop tref  Pa oorgegee. Die boom staan nog vandag heel gemaklik op sy plek.

Die kameeldoringboom wat die stryd teen ‘n trekker en ‘n ketting gewen het.

Die boom dra die mooiste grys peule. As jy desperaat genoeg is kan jy die peul oopbreek en die swart sade uithaal en fyn maal en gebruik as ‘n plaasvervanger vir koffie. Die fyn gemaalde saadpoeier is ook glo goed vir oorinfeksie. Gebrande as van die bas van die boom is goed om ‘n hoofpyn te genees. Die sade word ook gebruik as ‘n voer vir die vee. Die gesegde lei dat ‘n Kameeldoringboom nie sal groei voordat dit deur die maag van ‘n bees gegaan het.

Die peule met hul sagte grys kleur.

Die bygelowe het ook nie die Kameeldoringboom verby gegaan nie. Daar word geglo dat weerlig eers ‘n doringboom sal slaan voordat dit anderbome sou raak slaan. Die storie glo ek swaar. In ons jong dae het die weer 14 van Ma Floss se beeste onder die Kareebome dood geslaan. Die Kameeldoringboom was ongeskonde.

Die Versamelvoëls maak maak masiewe neste in die Kameeldoringbome. Die nes lyk soos ‘n groot hoop gras wat in die boom sit.  Wanneer jy onder die “hooimied” staan sien jy die ingange na die verskillende kamers. Dit lyk nogal soos ‘n heuningkorf. Honderde families woon in so ‘n nes en dit is ‘n gesig om van nader te beskou. Hierdie neste word vir generasies van voëls bewoon.

Ons huis is natuurlik in die skadu van ‘n Kameeldoringboom gebou.

Tot volgende keer


Kameel Stoepstorie: Devondale tot Kameel

Al ooit gehoor van Devondale?

Die stasie is 25km vanaf Kameel. Vandag is daar min oor van die eens tuiste en besigheid van my Oupa Victor en Ouma Hester. Na hulle huwelik het hulle Devondale Store besit en in die huis langs die winkel gewoon. In die goeie dae van Devondale was daar die watertenks waar die stoomtreine water gevat het. Ek onthou nog die ou Convent wat een van die groot geboue in die omgewing was.


Wanneer daar by die familie op Kameel gaan kuier is, het oupa en ouma met die motorfiets en side-car gery.

Oupa Victor op die motorfiets reg om die pad te vat Kameel toe, maardaar was darem tyd vir ‘n foto sessie.

Dan was dit Ouma Hester se beurt in die syspan. Sou wat wou gee om daardie hoed van nader te kon besigtig.

Motorfiets 1
Ouma op die motorfiets. Kyk die leer kamaste. In my opinie sien ons altyd ons oumas en oupas as baie streng maar as ek so na die foto’s kyk haal ek my hoed vir hulle af. Niks kon hulle onderkry nie.

Ek is seker hulle het by al die bekendes van die omgewing gekuier. Aunt Ethel (oupa se suster) en Uncle Rex Collins het, net oorkant die spoor op Devondale, gewoon. Ek is seker dat daar ook gekuier is by Uncle Alfi and Ant Nellie Fincham, wat op Kinderdam gewoon het. Ook onthou ek die Starkes van Curnow. Daar was die Barlow’s (my ouma en ouma aan moederskant) van Langverwag.

Pa Gerald het altyd vertel van die spook op Devondale – ouma en oupa het na die 4 uur tee gaan stap. Toe hulle terug kom was die tafeldoek onder die koppies en teepot uitgetrek en bo-oor alles gegooi, sonder dat iets uit sy plek was. Daar was natuurlik die fosfor-ligte op die drade waarvan Ma Floss vertel het.

Victor en Hester September 1940
Groot-Oupa Alfred Ernest is in 1937 oorlede en Oupa en Ouma Fincham het toe Kameelbult toe getrek.

Die dae op die plaas was gevul met daaglikse plaas aktiwiteite. Die eerste trekker was ‘n groot aanwins.

Die dorsmasjien

Kameel het ‘n winkel gekry – Mr McKay se winkel. Mr McKay was natuurlik Tannie Glen se pa. Hy het vir jare die winkel besit, maar die beste was die stories oor die mak kraanvoël, Jock, wat almal gejaag het.

Oom Ernest en Tannie Glen op hul troudag. Tannie Glen was ‘n legende in die plaaslike poskantoor waar sy vir jare gewerk het.

Die winkel is later jare deur Oom Daan en tant Lizzi bedryf. Nadat hulle vertrek het, het oom Russel en tannie Corrie Olewage die winkel bedryf. Later jare sou my ouers die winkel bedryf. Nadat hulle genoeg gehad het, het Patrick, my broer die winkel bedryf en later jare het hy dit verhuur. Toe die laaste huurders van die winkel hom, na vele kere gesoebat het om die winkel terug te neem, het hy die bul by die horings gepak en die deure van Wilrick Kontrei winkel geopen.

Kameel se “Mall” ‘n kontrei-winkel, posagentskap, ATM en die bottelstoor

Daar was ook die Italiaanse kryggevangenes wat op die plaas kom uithelp het na die Tweede Wêreld Oorlog. Pa Gerald het hulle by Zonderwater gevangenes gaan haal en weer teruggevat. Renato het vir baie jare kontak met die familie gehou.


My Pa, Gerald staan links

Pa Gerald, Oupa Victor, Ouma Hester, Jean voor en die Italiaaners.

Oupa Victor is in 1954 oorlede en ouma het die Cafee langs die treinspoor begin.

Kameel is een van die dae ek en Hennie se nuwe tuiste ons hoop om in die voetspore van ons ouers, groot-ouers en geliefdes te kan stap.

Tot ‘n volgende keer

Sandra en Hennie


Kameel Stoepstorie: Kameel Huise tussen treine en tussen spore

Liewe Ma – Florence of soos ons haar geken het as Floss het 5 huise langs die spoorlyn op Kameel besit. My Pa – Gerald het die huise op 9 Maart 1999 gekoop van die destydse Suid-Afrikaanse Spoorweë en Hawens.


Die spoorlyn tussen Vryburg en Mafeking is eers in 1894 gebou, ná Stellaland en Goosen nie meer bestaan het nie, Cecil John Rhodes, het toentertyd reeds ‘n droom gehad om ’n spoorlyn van die Kaap na Cairo te bou, en hy wou hê dat dit deur die area moes loop want hy het die De Beers Diamantmynmaatskappy gestig en wou ‘n treinroete na die noorde laat loop sonder om deur die ZAR se grondgebied te gaan.

Kameelstasie was dus deel van die Kaap na Cairo projek en is in 1894 op my groot-ouers se plaas Kameelbult gebou. In 1999 is my Pa genader om die huise terug te koop en die titelakte nr T796/1999 is geregistreer op Florence se naam.

Kameel is een van daardie klein dorpies op die R377. Dit was eens ‘n besige spoorlyn wat graan en reisigers vervoer het. Daar is ‘n laerskool en twee kooperasies waar jy saam met die boere van die omgewing kan koffie drink en die weer bespreek. Kameel Rust en Vrede gaste akkommodasie is naby die ou Kameel treinstasie geleë. Ongelukkig is die ou stasie gebou gesloop. Tot jou verbasing sal jy Wilrick Kontrei winkel met ‘n bottelstoor ook hier kry. Hier kan jy die nodige proviant kry. Met sekerheid kan ons hul vetkoek aanbeveel en saam met ‘n koue Lager uit die bottelstoor is dit ‘n wenner.

‘n Stukkie geskiedenis van Kameelstasie wat ek by Jean, my Pa se suster, gekry het. Sy het by die stasie gewerk vanaf 1953.

Die ou Stasiegebou was vol verrassings. Kan dink aan al die papiere wat onder in die kelder gestoor was. Dis ‘n deel van die geskiedenis wat summier verbrand is toe die stasiegebou moedswillig gesloop is. Die ou koper traliewerk en daardie tipiese wagkamer. Treine is daardie dae per morsekode gereguleer. Daar was die pragtige drie-hoekige keramiek waterhouer. Kaartjies is in ‘n kas gehou en die datumstempel van yster moes daagliks op gedateer word. Die Ploegbaas het in die eerste huis gewoon, die ene waarvoor die naam van die stasie staan. Langs die huis was sink kwartiere wat soos ‘n “hostel” was waar die ongetroudes gewoon het. Die Ploegbaas het met ‘n Pomptrollie die spoorlyn ondersoek en herstel.

Oor die jare het die soutpanne by Stella bekende ontdekkingsreisigers en sendeling as besoekers, soos David Livingston en Robert Moffat, gehad. Groot-Oupa Alfred Ernest het op Lonely Hill gebly. Lonely Hill se huis is vandag nog daar – natuurlik erg verwaarloos so op die kant van die soutpanne. Sout is aangery, met donkie-waens na Kameel waar dit dan op die spoortrokke gelaai is. Daardie jare was dit ‘n hout-en-pale gebou Vandag is die soutpanne nie meer produktief nie.

Daar was soms tot 20 busse wat personeel en goedere vervoer het. Die busse het die roomkanne van die plase opgelaai en dit is dan na Kameel gebring waar dit, per spoor, na Vryburg Romerye vervoer is. Die “dubble loaves” was busse wat passasiers en goedere vervoer het. Daar was sitplekke aan die voorkant vir passasiers en dan agter die afskorting is goedere gelaai en na die stasie gebring. Die room en eiers is in die swartroomkamer geberg totdat die trien dit na Vryburg vervoer het. Dit was ‘n soort koelkamer.

Simon wat vir elke okkasie ‘n spesiale uniform aangetrek het. Hy was soort van die “meeter and greeter” van alles wat op- of afgelaai moes word.

Die vuuremmers het aan hake aan die stoepkant van die stasiegebou gehang. Dit was gevul was met sand.

Oom Kleintjie Kleynhans en sy vrou Tant Gertie was van die eerste stasievoorman. Hulle het in die huis waar Ma Floss gewoon het, hulle intrek geneem. Hul Boarder Kollie het oral met hul saam gegaan. Tant Gertie, of soos sy by die laerskool bekend was, tannie Klein, was een van die eerste onderwysers by die laerskool op Kameel.

Daar is tuine om die stasiegebou gemaak en elke jaar was daar kompetisies tussen die stasies om te bepaal wie se tuin die mooiste was, maar dit was nie altyd net werk nie. Almal het na die jaarlikse vuurbol gooi uitgesien. Dit was die tyd wanneer oud en jonk die vuurbolle in die lug bewonder het.

Stukkie angswekkende geskiedenis was toe die dinamiet trein ontspoor het tussen Kameel en Wirsing-halte. Dit was ‘n groot en gevaarlike gebeurtenis. Die ploegbaas moet die trein dag en nag bewaak.

Die spoorpredikant lees 805myl van Kaapstad met ‘n hoogte van 4449 voet.

In 2001 stuur Ma Floss vir ons ‘n brief en daarin skryf sy dat haar skrywe kom van die huise tussen treine en tussen spore. Ma het na haar hemelse woning verhuis op Kersdag 2017.

Ma Floss en Pa Gerald het in stasiemeesterhuis gewoon, sedert 2001. Na Pa sy aardse woning verlaat het, het Ma aangebly. Sy was sommer die Stasiemeester of is dit dalk die Burgermeester. Haar tuin was haar trots en menige dae het sy rustig in haar tuin gewoel en gewerk.

Nou is dit ons en Ma se huise en ons het dit goed gedink om die klein kompleksie na ma te vernoem op ‘n heel ander wyse.

Kameel : Huise tussen Treine en tussen Spore

Baie dae het ons die treinspore ge-ondersoek en bewonder. Onthou nog ons eerste besoek aan ons ouers toe Ma verskoning maak vir die klein veldmuisie wat in die huis is. Twee uur die oggend word ons wakker van ‘n snaakse geluid. Dit was nie die veldmuis nie maar ‘n trein wat verby gegaan het. Nodeloos om te sê die veldmuis het ons nooit gepla nie.

Ek onthou Pa Gerald se ontsteltenis toe hulle een middag van Vryburg gekom het en daar was twee trekkers met kettings aan wat die stasiegebou platgetrek het. Die kelder met al die papier van baie jare is aan die brand gesteek en dit het vir dae gebrand. Pa kon nooit ophou praat hoe onnodig dit was nie. Ja vandag lê daar nog steeds van die bourommel van die stasiegebou. Soos dit in ons tye gaan word dinge verwoes maar daar bly altyd ‘n getuienis agter.

Kameel stasie

Ek onthou ouma Hester se Café reg langs die spoorlyn. Dit was die plek waar ons menige dae na skool gaan kuier het. Ouma het so ‘n glas toonbank gehad met ons gunsteling lekkers agter die glas. Daar was appelkose, Wilson toffies en suurtjies. Elke jaar wanneer ouma op vakansie gegaan het, het Ma die Café ge’run’. Dit was vet pret vir ons Finchampies. Wanneer daar ‘n groot bederf was het ons Marie beskuitjies met kondensmelk gekry. Paul wat die kok was het ons bederf met allerhande lekker geroosterde broodjies. Ouma se stoele en tafels het nuwe tafeldoeke en kussingtjies gekry en ons kon sommer so tussen die broodjies huiswerk doen. Later van jare het die kafee toegemaak en die is ook gesloop.


Klein tyd het ons met die trein gery tot by Devondale. Vir die lekkerte het Ma vir ons padkos gepak. Dan was ons passasiers op die trein na die Landsdienskampe van daardie jare. Jy moes jou eie bedgoed saamvat. Ma het ons toegerus met sulke “fancy” kombers bande. Nogal egte leer. Die nagmerie het begin wanneer ons moes terugkom en die beddegoed kon nie weer in die bande pas nie. Dit was altyd ‘n spesiale uitstappie. Die tikketak van die treinwiele op die spoor is iets wat altyd met my sal bly.

In ons kinderdae was Oom Jan en Ta’Bettie die Stasiemeester. Die hele familie was groot vriende en kuiertye is aangedui met die rooi en wit ranggeer ligte. Wanneer die rooi lig geskyn het het hulle nie kom kuier nie, maar wanneer die wit lig geskyn het was hulle oppad.

Het jy al ooit na die detail van ‘n spoorlyn gekyk? Elke stuk yster vertel sy eie storie.

Vandag is die treine min en is daar vele stiltes tussen die kom en gaan van die treine. Die wissels en afstandborde vertel hul eie storie

Ek onthou die dag toe Ma en Tant Lena die Golf op die grondpad omgegooi het. Dit was naby Devondale. Ma het ‘n lelike sny op haar kop gehad. Tant Lena het die blikkie koeldrank op haar sakdoek gegooi en probeer om die bloeding te stop. Dit was tervergeefs. Daarna het die Oud Cologne te voorskyn gekom en dit het in ‘n mate gehelp. Tant Lena het haar sakdoek by die venster uitgewaai toe sy hoor dat daar ‘n trein aankom. Die treindrywer het op Kameel vir Pa laat weet dat daar ‘n Golf langs die pad op sy dak lê.

Tannie Glen het die poskantoor beman vir baie jare. Dit was ‘n een man poskantoor en sy het alles gedoen. Onthou die koper pype wat bo-op die toonbank was. Terwyl Tannie Glen daar gewerk het het sy gebrei. Haar dogters het die mooiste handgebreide sokkies skool toe gedra en in die winter het hulle fair isle truie gedra.

Die ou spoorkruising was omtrent daar waar die Eskom paal vandag staan. Ons het as kinders graag op die wa en trekker na die stasie gery. Op ‘n dag het ek en Ouboet die wolbale – wat oppad was na die goedereloods – vergesel. Die wolbale moes per trein na Port Elizabeth gaan waar die jaarlikse wolveiling gehou is. Die wolbale is afgelaai en ons het die pad terug plaas toe gevat. Janboel was die Fordson trekker se bestuurder. Daar was twee treine wat reeds in die stasie gestaan het. Stadig het die wa en trekker oor die spore gekruip en skielik “out of nowhere” het ‘n derde trein die stasie ingekom. Kardoef en die Fordson was in twee. Middeldeur. Gelukkig het niemand seergekry nie. Ek glo nie eers ek en ouboet het regtig geweet wat gebeur het nie.

Nou terug na die Huise tussen Treine en tussen Spore

· Ons gaan die huise geleidelik opknap en ‘n bietjie oemph in hulle sit en dan die tuine opknap. Ons glo aan leef uit die aarde en daarom sal daar vrugtebome en groente geplant word. Omdat die grys water nie onnodig in die “French drain” sisteem gelaat moet word nie, wil ons graag die water hergebruik vir die tuine.

· Die huise kry direk krag van Eskom en die nodige pre-paids is beskikbaar by Wilrick Kontrei Winkel.

· Die sonsondergange is besonders en ‘n moet vir enige fotograaf wat dit wil verewig.


· Daar is ‘n verskeidenheid van voëls wat jy sal leer ken.

· As jy die gevoel het om te skilder en alles op jou eie tyd te doen – sal die pragtige natuur met die groot doringbome met hul grys peule jou motiveer.


· Vir ‘n uitstappie is daar ‘n besoek aan die Slag van Kraaipan. Dit so ongeveer n uur se rit Kameel. Dit was die eerste geveg tydens die Tweede Boere Oorlog en die geveg het plaasgevind op 12 Oktober 1899.

Op die nag het 800 man ondere die leierskap en Koos de la Rey die Britte oorrompel op die spoorhalte by Kraaipan. Die gepanserde trein met die naam van “Mosquito” of dan Muskiet het 2 7-pond kanonne, gewere, amunisie en rantsoene vervoer.

· So dan en wan, stop die Rovos Rail by die Huise tussen Treine en tussen Spore.


· Maak Kameel deel van jou “memories”

As jy weet van iemand of dalk self uitsien na ‘n rustige bekostigbare lewenswyse kontak ons via selfoon 0822642763 en hoor wat beskikbaar is.


Hennie & Sandra

Stoepstorie 8: Stuart Street Harrismith

Stuart Street Harrismith as Autumn sets in


We are part of the street as much as we are part of the town.

Our house address is 17A Stuart Street.

Harrismith -1
De Oude Huize Yard was built in 1860! You will find it in the little block right on the right hand side.

First Title Deed of De Oude Huize Yard

The name Stuart relates to two possibilities.
*Major Warden named all his children after the Royal house of Stuart. Rumors were that he was an unofficial grandson of Bonnie Prince Charlie.
* Stuart Jacobus, 1803 – 1878, author, diplomatic agent and advocate of emigration, took part in the Sand River Convention in 1852.

Stuart Street in 1904 with a Rickshaw left wide sidewalk right and a railway line. Horses pulled the wagons (or coco-pans “coco pans”).

After the Boer War in 1904, the British had a huge camp on Kings Hill. Here they broke many stones, cut and trimmed it to be used for building purposes. To get these stones in the town a track was laid from Kings Hill to the town. Some of these stones were used when the Town hall was built. This information probably also explains the existence of many houses and buildings in Stuart St, which were built of stone. There were also traces of the track in Vowe and Bester streets.

The first public building in Harrismith was the Court house, serving the community as a venue for the school, public meetings, bazaars and entertainments. All church services were held in the Court house until 1879 when the first church, the Dutch Reformed Church, was built on the site of the present Moederkerk. (Hawkins 1982)

Stuart street on a peaceful Sunday morning. The trafic light is situated on the corner of Stuart and Piet Retief Streets.

The early magistrates were Bester, Chauvin, Theron, D Cloete, J De Kock, Bramley, (that was accused of high treason), Canisius, J N Boshoff, J Z de Villiers, F W van der Riet, Charles Warden. (Steytler 1932)

Mr. Joseph De Kock resides at De Oude Huize Yard from 23 July 1861 till 23 April 1903 almost 42 years.

The corner of Stuart and Retief streets. The Court House on the Left. The trees planted in a square at the foot of Platberg were planted by the “konsentrasiekampkinders” and the indication where the Concentration camp was. The people of the Camp were then transferred to “Tin Town” in Ladysmith

Corner of Stuart and Piet Retief streets today. The Court House made room for the new Post Office. The trees has grown and where the Concentration Camp use to be is now the town goal.

An almost mad Kitchener was tormented by the Concentration Camp women and children when they did not show respect when the funeral procession of Dr Godfrey Reid pass them. Instead a hissing sound was made. Reid was killed during the Groenkop battle on Christmas day. The women and children were then moved to “Tin Town” close to Ladysmith. Some were transported in open train carriages and the luck ones in proper passenger car.

This picture was taken on the morning of 8 August 1900. A very interesting photo with significant history. On this morning more than 200 burgers of the Harrismith Commando came into town by horse, by “kapkar” and even Spaaiders. They were ready to hand in their weapons and take the consequences. In front of the Court House the Boer’s were ready to sign neutralizing document. The horses were tied to the railings. The name hendsoppers was given to the Commando members. Some came to town in their best Sunday outfits and hard hats while some came in worn out cloths. One of them was the Member of Parlement – Commandant Piet Maree.

The guns that was handed in was demolished and was loaded onto a “bokwa”. There it was transported to the courtyard of the Court House. Here the 5th Coy Royal Engineers destroyed the weapons with a 16 pond-hammer on a anvil and hit to pieces.

The house on the left was the home of the Sieberts-family on the corner of Stuart and Mauritz streets. The building on the right was a private school.

Further down Stuart street is the Harrismith Club. This is still standing but been looted.

Sandstone curbs in Stuart Street

Stuart street with 42nd Hill in the back

Thank you to Leon Strachan, Nico Moolman en Biebie de Vos for their contribution

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra

De Oude Huize Yard

Stoepstorie 7: Wesley Hall and Anne James alias Mrs Tom James

Our next story comes with a twist as we noticed that the cornerstone of the Wesley Hall was laid by Mrs. Tom James. It left a question mark.

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Who was Mrs. Tom James?

The Chevy is doing a trip and parked in front of the Wesley Hall next to the Methodist Church.

The Wesley Hall was built in 1906 and the cornerstone was laid by Mrs. Tom James on 17 January 1906. She was the eldest daughter of James Putterill. Her husband was a true supporter of the church and was for many years the Sheriff and Mayor of the town.

Wesley Hall 2

The old Methodist Church was demolished in 1967 – 1968 and the Record Stone of the previous stone was laid by James Putterill on 14 June 1882.

From the time Harrismith was established most of its inhabitants were English-speaking. The British settlers who emigrated to Natal during 1849-50 found the country in the Byrne Valley not suitable for traditional farming practices. Many went to settle in urban areas, while some returned to Britain. Encouraged by Mr Warden, about 1 500 settlers came to Harrismith.

Wesley Hall

The story of Anne as shared by Leon Strachan.

Mrs Tom James was Anne Putterill and has a truly sad but remarkable story.
Her father James Putterill was a Byrne settler with a big personality who owned land in Verulam before moving his family up to Harrismith in 1863. His eldest daughter, a tiny but stubborn 25-year-old woman refused bluntly to get married, even though women were in great demand in the Free State (in 1863 the Free State Republic had been in existence for only 9 years and was extremely sparsely populated).
Unfortunately her disinterest did not prevent a man to fall in love with her. Anne didn’t want to have anything to do with him. When Anne’s strong-willed father (a grandchild referred to him as domineering) got wind of this he stepped in to salvage the situation. He instructed the man, a Welshman called Thomas James, to build a suitable house and furnish it. He, on the other hand, bought trousseau and a wedding dress for Anne, and fixed a wedding date.
When Tom James completed his ‘solid cut stone house,’ James Putterill instructed his daughter to prepare for her wedding. Anne refused, she said she didn’t love Mr. James and that was that.
The Putterill’s were a prominent family thanks to the very forceful James Putterill, who was an excellent business man and played a leading role in the Wesleyan (Methodist) church, as he did in town affairs. Whilst guests filled the church in Warden street on Anne’s wedding day, he instructed his womenfolk to dress up the unwilling bride. He then continued to drive her to the chapel in his carriage, where he walked a very unhappy daughter up the isle. He maneuvered the obstructive girl into position next to the groom, while he flanked her on the other side ‒ urging a flabbergasted minister to get started.Don’t think James Putterill had won the battle of wills yet. Anne was unfazed, she declined bluntly to take the marriage vows in front of all the astonished wedding guests. She stood her ground, not unnerved at all. Putterill didn’t despair either, neither did he give up. It would be a battle of wills to the inevitable end.
Every time it was expected of the bride to answer the parson, James pushed his silent daughter’s head slightly down as if she nodded whilst signalling impatiently to an ever more uncomfortable parson to get on with it. The ceremony was thus unceremoniously consummated, and the unlikely couple settled shakily into the solid stone house.
They were childless (3 stillborn). Tom James turned out to be a stalwart who became sheriff and mayor of Harrismith. Both he and his wife loved fishing, they were often seen fishing together whenever an opportunity occurred. The 66-year old Tom died in 1894, after which Anne took in a Miss Dixon to keep her company. According to Beryl Osborn (Anne’s niece who penned the family history) they lived happily together until the British garrison arrived on Kings Hill in 1903, when disaster struck.
A striking and very charming young soldier, conveniently named private James, befriended the two elderly ladies. Young James told them he was an orphan with no home and no family, all alone in the world.
Besotted with him, Anne bought him out of the army and formally adopted him. The young man then gratefully proceeded to squander his adopted mother’s savings. Even when Anne had lost everything she owned, never an unkind word was uttered or anything damaging believed of the young man. He bolted unceremoniously out of the country when there was nothing left to spend.
The Putterill family had to club together to provide the necessary means for Anne and Miss Dixon, and their parrot, to live on. Anne rewarded them by living into her nineties.

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra

Stoepstorie 3: Scotty the English teacher


Stuart Street – this quaint and superbly kept cottage once belonged to Miss Helen Scott “Scotty”. Miss Scotty was the English teacher to many scholars. She was a wonderful teacher and friend to so many people in Harrismith who all loved her



The letter dated 13/10/1958 which Josie Cronje received from Miss Helen M. Scott her English teacher in 1958 when she was in Std 8. This little part of our history is priceles.

She also wrote a testomonial for Mary Bland, in 1945, when Mary was finishing off Matric.

Scottie testomonial to Mary Bland in 1945

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra

De Oude Huize Yard