52 Week Challenge nr 3: Kameel Veld plants

On Heritage Day we spend the day in the veld looking for something different than the usual. Decided to put on our camera strap and walking boots and get going.
After six months of living in the North West Province of South Africa, we thought that it is time to learn more about the heritage plants in the Kameel area.

There is grass and what we know as Vaalbosch but as you will notice the red sand is always visible.

We need to get a guide to learn us more.

Our area is very dry with red sand and the summer temperature rises to 45 degrees Celsius. This year the summer rainfall was less than 100 millimeter. The grasslands are very dry and the wildflowers are far and in between. There are no big fields of flowers but when you find one it is almost an ecstatic experience.

It was a special experience to just wander and experience beauty.

A walk in our back yard park. 
The plants are all part of nature and everyone grows on its own time and energy.
This was one of the strangest plants we came across. It grows not higher than 35cm but has this almost to big for its size seed pods.

If you can identify any of our plants we will appreciate it.

Till next time

Sandra

52 Week Challenge nr 2: Kameel 250 Rally

A wonderful festive atmosphere was the spirit of the day. Everyone was talking and walking around the sport field of Kameel Laerskool. The mothers were feeding the crowds. People were meeting old friends from far away at the annual Kameel 250 Rally.

You would ask Kameel. Yes, Kameel and our village has nothing to do with camels.

The Kameel 250 Rally brought participants from all over South Africa to be part of this festive day. A record of 46 entries were part of the Kalahari race.

Our village is known for the railway line that was built in 1894 as part of the Cape to Cairo project. The railway line was built on my Great Grand-father, Alfred Ernest Fincham’s farm – Kameelbult.

A little more about Alfred Ernest. He was born in the year 1869 at The Grange in the Hopetown District and is a son of the late John Thornton Fincham, farmer and general merchant of the district.  In 1870 he gave up the business in those parts and proceeding northwards to Vryburg.  Bechuanaland where he assisted in establishing the firm of Fincham and Sons. He sold out his interest to take up farming in the Mafeking District, by purchasing a block of farms of 9000 morgens at Ramathlabama.  Alfred was one of the defenders in the siege of Mafeking, belonging to the Town Guard, manning De Kock’s Corner Fort through the Siege of Mafeking.  When it was raised he returned to farm life, giving attention to raising both large an small stock.  He married the Elizabeth Ellen West and they had four children. Louisa Elizabeth, Mary Amelia, Ada Ethel and Victor Baden (my Grandfather)

The foot-and-mouth disease took its toll amongst the cattle and the family then moved to the farm in the Stella district. When they arrived at the farm Louise commented that there was a Lonely Hill. The house and piece of land is still known as Lonely Hill.

This piece of land is right next to the Stella Salt Pans and over the years David Livingston and Robert Moffat visited the area. H Anderson Bryden wrote in his book Gun and Camera in South Africa about his visits to the Finchams

The road between lies across a dead flat, unbroken tree or bush, and is inexpressibly wearisome. The telegraph posts, which follow the road between Vryburg and Setlagoli, rather add to than detract from the monotony. This fifty mile stretch to Setlagoli, dull, fiat, and uninteresting as it is, especially if you follow the post road and do not call at Fincham’s, is to my mind one of the most trying in British Bechuanaland . I have ridden it several times alone, and I have noticed at such times, that the utter lack of relief over this deadly bit of veldt seemed to impress itself even upon one’s horse.

Salt was mined and transported via donkey wagons to Kameel railway line. Later on, a wooden building was erected and the everyday running of Kameel Railway Station came into being.

Victor married to Hester Cecilia Guache  and they raised three children namely Alfred Ernest, Gerald Cecil (my father) and Jean Dolores.


Victor was born on 6 June 1900 in a tunnel underneath the town during the “Seige of Mafeking. 

The newly weds moved to Devondale where they made a living running a small shop. They would drive to Kameel to visit family in friends on a motorcycle with a sidecar.
https://deoudehuizeyard.com/2018/05/05/stoepstorie-10-devondale-tot-kameel/

My Great-grandfather passed away on 15 Jul 1937 and was buried in the Mafeking cemetery. Victor and Hester then moved the Kameelbult.

They saw the need for education for their own children and for the children of the farming community. The Kameel Laerskool opened its doors in 1934 in a room in my grandparents house. My granny – Hester was very involved with the day to day issues of the school. My parents and we all attended the farm school. All the kids of family and friends also attended the farm school. Growth was evident and my grandfather built a stone school which was later demolished. He then built a two-class room school building and till today it is fondly remembered as the Witskool due to the fact that since I can remember it was painted white. https://deoudehuizeyard.com/2018/01/17/a-farm-school-in-kameel

The Witskool

Later years the school building was renewed and the school that hosted the Kameel 250 Rally was built. The sport fields are changed into the starting point and pit-stops for the competitors.

My dad, Gerald was a keen spectator of all kinds of sport. When my two younger brothers, Cecil and Mike was old enough they all got into the Off-road racing. An old farm bakkie was transformed into a racing machine. ith now sponsorship and no fancy engines they competed in every race. Dad and Pajapan would be the backup crew and my Mon would follow in a car. This was the beginning of holidays next to off-road tracks for the two. Mom would fondly remember all the funny incidents.

Kameel has also delivered some NR and National Champions over the years in the form of Hein Moolman, Cecil Fincham, Wikus van Deventer and most recently, Victor Fincham. Victor is my cousin.

In the words of Victor : Well to be honest it started while I was still wearing nappies. I basically grew up next to the track. My uncle, Cecil Fincham Snr, (is a NRCCC Champion ) started racing the the late 80’s, and him and my Grandfather use to take me to all the races and that is where I fell in love with racing and the mystique and adventure surrounding it. I had done thousands of races in my head and with my bicycle in the back yard growing up and finally got my chance in 2013 and the rest as they say is history…..

Till next time

Sandra


Stoepstorie 16: Die Lighuis

Dis warm en droog in die Noord-Wes Provinsie van Suid-Afrika. Ons het nog nie ‘n dag beleef onder 30oC nie. Daar is sulke warm Weste winde wat waai en alles verdor. Die boere se vee moet voer kry en elkeen maak ‘n plan en kyk na die wolke en buig laag en pleit by die Groot Genade vir reën op die regte tyd.

So in die week sit ons op die stoep en warm kry. Ons bekyk die voëls in die tuin. Die Indian Myna paradeer ook op en af en intimideer die ander geveerde gaste. Dit is toe dat ons opmerk dat die Myna kort-kort hoog, na die ou Spoorweë Werfligte, toe vlieg. Jou werklik daar is ‘n gat in die lig en die paartjie is besig om huis op te sit binne in die lig. Die ligte staan so ongeveer 10 meter hoog.

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Ons hou hulle dop en besluit dat die ligte seker ‘n tipe broeikas vir Myna’s moet wees. Dis ‘n heen en weer gevlieg en alles waarop hulle beslag kan lê word ingesleep in die nes. Net so skielik as wat die gewoel begin het, kom dit tot ‘n end. Dan word kossies aangedra, wat weer bydra tot ‘n ander bedrywigheid.

Vroeg oggend is daar egter ‘n lawaai van ‘n ander aard. Die lighuis is in rep-en-roer. Ons opmerking is dat daar huismoeles is. Moeksie is nie tevrede met die omstandighede en vereis ‘n lugversorger. ‘n Geskree en gegil wat baie benoud klink.

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Jou werklik daar hang groot vere by die gat uit. Die een Myna is binne-in die lig en die ander buite. Altwee gaan te kere soos besetenes. Die vraag by ons ontstaan sou dit nou deel van die landsbesetting-sonder-vergoeding, wat op almal se lippe is, wees?

Die Myna’s gaan nie net sommer oorgee nie. Beide veg vir hul toekoms. Die aanval duur ongeveer 4 ure in ‘n temperatuur van 35oC. In hul lighuis was dit verseker baie warmer. Dan teen middag-ete kom daar ‘n wending. Die nes is nou weer toeganglik vir beide die Myna’s. Kossies word aangedra en die heen en weer gevlieg neem toe. Die vrede daal weer op Mnr en Mev Myna se Lighuis.

Nou wonder ons wat was die bohaai dan oor. Die antwoord kom sommer skielik wanneer twee voëls uit die lig aarde toe kom. Dit het my aan ‘n ou oorlog-fliek laat dink wanneer die Fokkers so op hul vyande afgeduik het. Die grootste van die twee land met ‘n plof onder die lig. Dis ‘n heelwat groter voël. Dit is ‘n Koekoek.

Die Afrikaanse koekoek is ‘n somertrekvoël. Dit is tussen 30 – 32cm lank en 95 – 112g groot. (African Cuckoo). Die voël is ‘n broeiparasiet en gebruik ander voëls as broeigasheer.

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Tot volgende keer

Sandra

Stoepstorie 14: Kalkoene en Arende

Ma Floss het ons geleer van kalkoene. Die kalkoene sou die inkomste aanvul wanneer die reën wegbly. Klein kalkoentjies is groot gemaak en saans moes die kalkoene in die hok gejaag word.

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Nou ‘n kalkoen is ‘n groot voël. Die mannetjies het ‘n uitgroeisel of lel wat van die bokant van die snawel hang. Die mannetjies is groter en kleurryker dan die wyfies. Die mannetjie pronk en sleep vlerk. Die geluid wat hulle maak is koel-koel.

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Saans wanneer die son sak was dit ons kinders se werk om die kalkoentrop hok toe te jaag en seker te maak dat almal agter die hek vir die nag is. Jakkalse wat baie lief vir Ma se kalkoene en ‘n kalkoenwyfies sou sommer so van die nes gevreet word. Ons moes seker maak dat die kalkoene hoek toe kom laat middag. Dit was makliker gesê as gedaan. Elkeen sou in ‘n ander rigting hardloop. Dit is toe dat ons uitgevind het dat as jy ‘n sirkel met jou voet op die grond trek sit die kalkoen doodstil in die sirkel. Te bang om te roer. Dit het dinge aansienlik makliker gemaak. Ons het ook geleer dat jy ‘n kalkoen kan koggel deur koel-koel te roep en die mannetjies sou saam sing en pronk. Hulle wag vir hulle kos in die hok. Gelukkig kan kalkoene nie vllieg nie. Hulle skrop in die grond. Wanneer ‘n storm kom hardloop kalkoene hokke toe. Hulle kruip weg. Alhoewel kalkoene op baie tafels beland eet ons nie kalkoen nie.

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Arende daar in teen is anders. Dis die vinnigste voël in vlug. Hy kan ver en wyd sien. Hy vreet nie aan aas nie. Hy styg op sonder ’n aanloop. Arende vlieg die hoogste van alle ­voëls. Hulle styg bo storms uit.

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Dankie aan The Falks vir die foto

Die arend is die enigste voël wat direk in die son kan kyk. Arende word taamlik oud. Hulle vlieg na die hemele toe wat anders is as enige ander voël. Jy sien die arend lig sy oë op na bo. Hy lig sy oë op na die hemele. Die arend vlieg die son in ….. !!

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Dankie aan Arend van der Walt vir die pragtige foto

Die vraag is wat doen ek en jy?

Is ons n kalkoen of n arend?

Kalkoene hardloop en gaan kruip weg maar arende vlieg hoër as die probleem … afgesonderd ……. op na die hemel toe.

Kalkoene hardloop rond as daar probleme is.

Arende spreek lewe en sien ‘n storm as ‘n geleentheid. Hulle rig hulle fokus na bo en vlieg nader na hulle Beskermer toe.

Jy sien wanneer ‘n arend opmerk ‘n storm is oppad maak hy sy vlerke wyd oop en hy daag die storm uit

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Dankie Totemdieren vir die foto

Ons is nie kalkoene wat die hele wêreld rondharloop op soek na ons eie nessies nie… nee ons is arende wat ons vlerke oopsprei en “Catch the wind!

Dink net – as die arend só kragtig is, hoeveel te meer is jy as mens nie?

Tot volgende keer

Sandra

Stoepstorie 13: Kameel Rust & Vrede Accommodation

This accommodation on the edge of the Kalahari is situated in a garden that reminds of an oasis in the middle of red sand and thorn trees.

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A visitor relaxing in the sun.

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This establishment caters for everyone and offers en suite rooms, caravan stays and camping facilities. This Cape Wagtail booked in as a camper and build a camp next to the door to one of the guest rooms.

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This family will enjoy the stay in one of the re-purposed camper vans. It sits comfortable between the trees.

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The previous years the swallow moved into the family room. This year the swallows booked late and on arrival they found that the house sparrow family has booked early and were sitting cozy in their accommodation.

The garden offers a lot of interesting and quirky places to visit. This is enjoyed by all the guests. You can visit their Facebook page here

There is a variety of ways to enjoy the gardens and watch the feathered guests.

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Till next time

Sandra

#Kameelhuisetussenspore

Stoepstorie 12: Ouma Barlow en die dorp Stella

Die dorp Stella het wonderlike kinderdae herinneringe vir my. In besonder Brandstraat. Dit was die straat waarin Oupa Jimmy en Ouma Sannie se huis was. Nommer 10. Vandag lyk Brandstraat heel anders as wat my kinderdae se onthou dit voorgestel het.

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Brandstraat

Oupa en Ouma se huis was wit geverf en het so ‘n wye voorstoep waarop Oupa Jimmy graag gesit het en die wêreld bespiet het. Oupa het so ‘n skaaphak kierie gehad waarmee hy jou sommer so nader gehak het. Dit is die straat wat gelei het na die ou klipsaal. Die straat het sommer net daar by die klipsaal gestop. Vandag sou ons praat van ‘n cul-de-sac, maar daardie dae was dit ‘n vreemde woord. Die saal was die middelpunt van die dorp. Dit is nou naas die kerk. Daar was konserte en vergaderings gehou en natuurlik ook het die Vroue Landbou Vereniging hul vergaderings gehou. Ouma Sannie was ‘n raakvatter tussen die vroue van die VLV.

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Die Klipsaal word vandag gebruik as ‘n stoor deur die Munisipaliteit.

Brandstraat se huise het elkeen sy eie styl gehad. Almal was wit geverf. Almal naby die straat. Sommer so naby genoeg dat jy met die uit loop slag in die straat was. Daar was die Celliers huis op die punt naaste aan die klipsaal. Die huis het ‘n stoepie tussen die twee kamers wat soos vleuels op die stoep uit geloop het. gehad. Dan was daar die huis met die geboogde sinkplate oor die stoep. So ‘n regte Karoo-styl stoep. Die stoep waarop die oompie sy pyp gesit en rook het. Die hoekhuis lyk vandag nog baie dieselfde. ‘n Lekker stoep met die lae muurtjie.

Die water in Stella is brak want die soutpan lê naby die dorp. Vir baie jare is hier sout ontgin. Ongeag die brak water was daar heel party windpompe in die dorp, want almal het groentetuine gemaak. Ouma Sannie het ‘n Lemon Verbena by die agterdeur gehad. Dit was ‘n fees om die blare tussen ons hande te vryf en dan die reuk vir die hele dag saam te dra. ‘n Lekker vrugteboord was oupa se pride and joy. Die ingelgde geelperskes met dik vla, was ons kinders se gunsteling.

Oupa en Ouma was altwee kinders van die Willowmore, Patensie en die Gamtoos, soos Oupa het altyd na die Kolonie verwys as sy grootword wêreld gepraat het. Hy en Ouma het mekaar van kindsbeen geken. Hy het die plaas Langverwagt naby Kameel gekoop. Op hul oudag het hulle op Stella afgetree.

Ouma het geduld gehad met ons. Sy het die fynste kant hekel met sulke fyn gare en ‘n blink hekelpen. Dollies was ‘n groot gunsteling. Elkeen het die mooiste glaskrale gehad. Dit het geklingel wanneer sy die koffie ingebring het en dit oor die melkbertjie daarmee toegemaak was. Sy het geduld gehad om my te leer hekel – hotklou en al.

Die kombuis het ‘n houttafel gehad. So wit geskrop naby die koolstoof. In die eetkamer was ‘n bal-en-klou tafel wat ‘n verlengstuk gehad het. Op Sondae was die tafel gedek met ‘n gehekelde tafeldoek en haar beenhef eetgerei. Sy sou op ‘n oggend bel en sommer so terloops sê dat sy my pa se gunsteling skaapboud gaar gemaak het en ons moes oorkom vir ete. Sy kon selfs haar skoonseun onder ‘n wip vang met haar kos wat altyd vol verrassings was. Wanneer dit vetkoekdag was, was dit wonderlik om die vormpies van die vetkoeke in die olie te probeer assosieer met ‘n diertjie. Eendjies en hasies was altyd ‘n reg raai.

Ouma het lang hare gehad. Sy het dit in ‘n lang vlegsel aan die eenkant van haar kop gevleg en dan om haar kop gedraai. Na Oupa oorlede is en Ouma by haarself gewoon het, het die dogters op ‘n dag besluit – Ouma se hare moes kort geknip word. Wat ‘n tragedie was dit. Ouma kon nooit met die kort hare vrede maak nie. Ek het baie dae my tas gepak om by ouma te gaan bly maar het maar elke keer weer terug gekom huis toe.

Ouma Sannie het ook die swaar van die lewe geken. Haar een dogtertjie is oorlede en twee van Ouma se seuns is tydens WWII oorlede. Ek het altyd gewonder hoe sy dit oorleef het want daar was altyd ‘n glimlag op haar gesit.

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Oupa en Ouma met hul kinders op hul 50ste huweliksherdenking

Ouma het nog in die tyd van briewe skryf gelewe. Onlangs het ek hierdie stukkie kosbaarheid van ‘n niggie ontvang. Die brief is gerig aan haar suster, Tant Pollie, wat in Uitenhage gewoon het. Die inhoud is kosbaar!

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Tot volgende keer

Sandra

Stoepstorie 11: Naamborde en Padpredikante wat elk sy eie storie vertel

Die lewe in die stad is altyd so vining. Jy moet jou haas van die een uiterste na die ander kant. Op die Platteland is dit heel ‘n ander storie. Hier is ‘n ander rustigheid wat ‘n invloed op almal het. Jy kom waar jy wil wees op jou eie pas. Jy maak gebruik van wat beskikbaar is. Die afgelope twee weke het ons ook hierdie spesiale bederf beleef. Die man wat vriendelik wuif maar sy fiets penorent hou. Ons het op stofpaaie gery, dan weer op ‘n heel oordentlike grondpad met kareebome langs die kant. Die Karee’s laat jou so half-en-half beskut voel teen die elemente daarbuite. Ons het op ‘n twee-spoor pad gery. Hier het almal tyd om te groet, beleefheid en oordentlikheid is aan die orde van die dag. Daar was natuurlik ook ‘n hoofweg en ‘n hobbelrige teerpad. Dan is daar natuurlik Randall wat sy vervoermiddel op die spore hou.

Ooral langs die paaie kom ons padpredikante teë. Elkeen dui ‘n rigting aan maar so ook vertel elkeen dat die pad na êrens lei. Die name laat ons glimlag want daar sal verseker nuwe stories wees om te vertel. Nuwe geleenthede en nuwe wind rigtings om in te slaan. Ons gaan nog baie rondrits dit is verseker.

Wanneer die son water trek is dit vir eers tyd om na Kameel terug te keer. Terug na die Huise tussen Treine en tussen Spore.

Tot volgende keer

Hennie en Sandra

Stoepstorie 10: 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.

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

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

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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My Pa, Gerald staan links

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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

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Stoepstorie 8: Stuart Street Harrismith

Stuart Street Harrismith as Autumn sets in

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

Our house address is 17A Stuart Street.

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

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Sandstone curbs in Stuart Street

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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