Story of a Free State Farm School

“History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illuminates reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life and bring us tidings of antiquity”  Cicero.

Evidence of history is all around us; the farms schools we attend and the stories told by the children’s family.

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We attended farm schools as children. Hennie attended the Kruispad school close to Reitz in the Free State and I attended Kameel school in the North West. When we learned about an old Farm School in our area it was time to pay a visit.

We arrived at the address and realized that we have taken many pictures over the last couple of years of this building, not knowing that we will one day learn more about it.

 

 

Situated on a farm  on the banks of the Meul River it sure brings back a lot of memories. The need to start a school was realized in the late 1800’s and early years of the 1900’s. Originally the school was in an old building close to the farm house. The farm owner showed us around and first school was in a packed stone building. No motart between die stones. The walls was not built up and on the one side was a shed with fodder for the animals that brought the children to school.

 

For many years the Farm School and the teachers would educate the kids of the surrounding farms. The school and the children  and the farms were integrated and they would walk or ride with a horse cart to school.

The teacher had living quarters attached to the school . The stove chimney is still visible and look at the wallpaper. Remember not everyone had to privilege of a any sort of vehicle – not even a teacher way back then. Normally teachers would stay in the house of the family on which farm the school is situated.

The teacher’s quarters attached to the school and a door that leads into the classrooms.

 

The children sitting in this school has long gone passed on but their descendants still live in the area and the education that their ancestors received in this little school still remains after they have forgotten what was learned in the school. The knowledge was passed on from generation to generation.

DSC_0095The entrance to the school. Thinking of all the little feet that step up the steps to attend school.

The Burgher Monument, Harrismith

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The Chevy pays a visit to the Burgher Monument 

The Burgher monument was inaugurated on 8 November 1938.

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On Friday morning 1 March 1940, six months after the beginning of the Second World War, Harrismith awoke with the upsetting news that the Burgher Monument had been  damaged: pieces of the kneeling burgher’s hat and rifle had been broken off.  Angry people were already gathered around the Monument, more followed out of curiosity, wild threats were made and more than one fiery fist fight had to be stopped.

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Protesters on horseback

Although it could never be proved, persistent rumours had it that it was one of the two MacFadyen brothers who had got to the Monument with a piece of water pipe.   They had been socialising in the Central Hotel on that Thursday  evening before they were to depart to the front in North Africa the following morning. In die city hall, across the street from the hotel, a function was in full swing. Late that night they departed from the hotel, tipsy and upset with the Afrikaners’  apparent disapproval of the war in which they, as allies, were to place their lives at risk.  Lively dance music from the city hall lured them to see what was going on. When they reached the Burgher Monument in front of the city hall, one brother froze, refusing to walk under the Boers’ granite arch. In the heat of the moment  he grabbed a nearby piece of water pipe, and with his brother’s help, climbed onto the top of the arch. He aimed a massive blow at the burgher’s head, which he missed, but smashed off a piece of the wide-rimmed hat as well as the  barrel of the mauser.

The leadership of the English-speaking community of Harrismith was most upset and immediately began collecting funds to repair the damage. Crankshaw Brothers, the original constructor of the Monument, repaired the barrel free of charge.

One would have thought that this would be the end of the matter. Not so! There was great disagreement about the fortune of the Monument between the followers of the two political parties of that time: The South African Party (SAP), the ruling party of  General Jan Smuts, and the National Party (NP).  While the SAP was quite satisfied that the Monument be repaired, the NP totally disagreed.

The neatly-repaired barrel was broken off again and hidden by members of the Ossewa Brandwag (OB), an organisation working in close co-operation with the NP. It was decided to make a political martyr of the statue: if would be left incomplete as a remembrance of injustice.  The broken-off pieces of the statue  were hidden, in great secrecy, in a loose sandstone brick in a wall on a farm in the district.

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The new marble plaque

A new marble plaque was made with an inscription in Afrikaans, stating that the Burgher Monument had been violated on the morning of 1 March 1940 by the enemies of the Boer nation. Its inauguration was  accompanied by great ceremony and political fanfare. The guest speaker was Mr. JC van Rooy,  chairman of the  Afrikaner Broederbond. Advocate Blackie Swart, a future state president, was also a speaker at the ceremony.

As a compromise between the two  Afrikaner camps, it was decided to place the Monument in the hands of the Voortrekker Commando of Harrismith.  A document was compiled, signed and  the necessary stamps applied in order to make it official.

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The broken-off pieces of the statue  were put into safekeeping  by the firm Cloete and Neveling Attorneys, where it remains to this day.

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The broken of barrel

I think we have the most interesting monument in the country! By far!

Thanks to  Leon Strachan and Jeannie Wasserman Cook for the information.

For more information we suggest that you read Leon Strachan’s book

Krygers en Skietpiete 

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra

 

Grandfather of Aviation and a caravan

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John Weston was a South African aeronautical engineer, pioneer aviator, farmer and soldier. He travelled in a motor caravan that he designed and built himself with the help of his family.

Weston was born on 17 June 1873, in an ox wagon at Fort Marshall, South of Vryheid, Kwa-ZuluNatal.  He was married to Elizabeth Maria Jacoba Weston (nee Roux) a direct descendent of Adam Tas. The couple had three children, Anna, Kathleen and Max.

Known as the THE “GRANDFATHER OF AVIATION IN SOUTH AFRICA

John Weston, a civil engineer, began the construction of his own aeroplane in 1907 at Brandfort, in the Free State. This was the first South African built aeroplane. He lacked an engine with enough power so he dismantled the aircraft and shipped it to France. In France he fitted a Gnome rotary engine (50hp) and flew it successfully (in France) in 1910. On 16 June 1911 John made the first flight in Kimberley establishing a South African non-stop flight record of eight-and-a-half minutes in his Weston-Farman biplane.

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On his return to South Africa in 1933, Weston bought a farm in the Bergville district, near the Sterkfontein dam.

At the outbreak of World War I (1914-1918) Weston was appointed ground officer in charge of landing grounds in South West Africa and prepared an airfield with hangars and workshops at Walvisbay. For services rendered to the Greek Ministry of Marine he was made an honorary vice-admiral in the Royal Hellenic Navy.

In 1918, John Weston who is often glorified by the title of admiral, took his family on an amazing adventure in this motorhome. From about 1920 for 12 years, he and his family travelled with a motor caravan.

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 It doesn’t look like much, from the outside. And, if the truth be told, the interior is enough to give anyone claustrophobia. Yet, remarkably, this ingenious camper van once travelled the world − the ‘seven-by-fourteen-foot mansion’ ferrying the pioneering Weston family on the kinds of far-flung adventures many of us can only dream about. Even the girls are handy mechanics. The result has been a neat and compact arrangement of luggage, folding bed, ext, all of which can be removed from the chassis proper with the minimum trouble in 10 minutes.

The ‘Weston caravan’, as it’s called, is an extraordinary example of our forefathers’ tenacity and ingenuity, and can be found in the museum of the picturesque little town of Winterton, KwaZulu-Natal.

The ‘motorised caravan’ took him and his family on various journeys, including a 15-month Trans-African trip: an odyssey fraught with challenges and tribulations. They had run-ins with elephants, occasionally had to float their vehicle across rivers on logs, and on several occasions, ‘entire villages of more than a hundred natives’ had to dig them out of mud and thick sand, and pull them up river banks. And, in those days, there were no fuel stations dotted along the route; and there was no easy access to water or spares shops.

After fifteen months spent in caravanning from Cape Town to Londen. During the caravanning trip they had suffered misfortunes in the Southern Sudan when the rains broke later than usual. Weston broke a bone in his foot and the two daughters were laid up with injuries.

On the family’s caravan trip Weston used to fly the South African blue ensign from a long bamboo pole on the sides of his “South-Afrika” as he called the caravan conversion of his Commer truk, the following inscription was painted:

“Our mansion: seven by fourteen feet

Our field: the whole world

Our family: mankind”

 

On Friday night 21 July 1950 Weston and his wife (70) were in the dining-room of the family house of “Admiralty Estate” when they were attacked by three masked men. Mrs Weston regained unconscious three days late in the Harrismith hospital. John at the age of 78 on  24 July 1950 went on his last mission. It was his wish that his funeral should be quiet and simple. His body was cremated and no last word spoken.              Lily recovered from the attack although certain permanent injuries persisted until she passed away on 14th April 1967 at the age of  91.

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra

Book launch and a corma recipe

I’d always been a sunshine lover. Rainy weather made me unmotivated. This time of the year I find myself to love the cold and the beauty of Winter. Saturday was a special day and during the book – #Bergburgers launch we serve Corma Chicken. Corma is a fragrant Indian dish – the king of curries.

DSC_0067DSC_0058Sharing our recipe with you.
12 chicken thighs fresh and organic grown.
Salt and pepper to season the chicken pieces well.
Olive oil and butter to drown your chicken in.
Place the chicken in an oven proof dish
Use the oil and butter to fry one chopped onion, red pepper, yellow pepper and green pepper
Add the fried onion and peppers over the chicken.
Mix 8 crushed Cardamom pods, 25ml Masala, 20ml ground Cumin, 20ml Mustard seeds, 4 garlic cloves coarsely chopped, 2.5cm of fresh ginger – peeled and chopped.
50g almond flakes, 2 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon ground coriander, cayenne pepper to your taste
Place in a blender and blend.
Add to the chicken pieces
Add 250 ml Greek yoghurt to the pan and bake for 40 min in the oven.
Remove from oven and add
50g sultanas, 50g almond flakes, 250g of mushrooms and 150ml cream to the dish.
Bake another 15min.
Dish with fresh baked bread or rice.

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Enjoy your corma and let us know how you have used our recipe.

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra

Kaalvoet Vrou Monument

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DSC_0553Oliviershoek Pass

Wanneer jy voor die monument staan besef jy dat die vrou klein van postuur is. Haar skouers is smal, byna asof sy koud kry in haar gegote gewaad. Sy is geklee in haar Voortrekkerkappie en lang rok. Onder haar rok steek haar fyn kaalvoete uit.

 

Haar regtervoet trap op ‘n klip. ‘n Mens verwag amper ‘n gebalde vuis of ‘n intimiderende gesig wat luidkeels uitroep, maar alles behalwe. Haar arms hang langs haar sye, verseker nie die lyftaal van ‘n veglustige aktivis nie. Sy het ‘n tipe kyk wat met jare se ondervinding kom. Liefdevol, wys, sag, geduldig en omdat die geskiedenis dit laat deurskemer, maar met ‘n goeie skoot vasberadenheid op.

Beeldhouer was Anton van Wouw

Die kaalvoet vrou is ‘n interessante hartseer storie van Susanna Catherina Smit. Susanna was die suster van Gert Maritz en die vrou van eerwaarde Erasmus Smit wat as die Voortrekkers se predikant opgetree het.

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Die groep vroue was deel van Piet Retief se trek wat besluit het om die groen land van Natal as weivelde te kies. Volgens oorlewering het van die Voortrekker-vroue met ‘n Britse kommissaris in ‘n woordewisseling betrokke geraak. Hulle het met hom gestry omdat hulle nie onder Britse gesag wou staan nie en gesê dat vryheid vir hulle meer werd was as hulle lewens. Dit is toe dat Susanna Smit die bekende woorde uiter, “Liewer kaalvoet terug oor die Drakensberge as om onder Britse beheer te staan.” Susanna is egter in die destydse Natal dood, wat beteken dat sy nooit kaalvoet terug oor die Drakensberge geloop het nie.

Tot ‘n volgende keer

Groetnis

Hennie & Sandra

Pecans are just an excuse

DSC_0325Driving over the Van Reenens pass on the N3 to Sandspruit Farm stall. An array of nuts and dried fruit awaits you. The staff always smiling tells about what is available.

Once the shopping was done and time for a turn around we decided to do a road trip through the Zandrivier Valley. We cross the old steel bridge making a dirt road our friend.

Love to share this recipe

Chocolate Pecan Nut Pie

Crust: use 250g. rich short crust

Filling:   125ml. cocoa power, 5ml vanilla essence, 300g can evaporated milk, 375ml caramel brown sugar, 3 extra large eggs, 60g butter melted, 250ml of pecan nuts.

  1. Crust: Prepare the pastry and roll it out to a thickness of 3mm on a lightly floured surface. Line a greased 24cm diameter loose-base baking pan.
  2. Cover airtight with clingfilm and chill for 1 hour. Pick the base, line with greaseproof paper and fill with dried beans. Bake blind in a preheated oven at 190oC for 10 min. Remove paper and beans and bake for a further 5 min until the pasty is golden brown. Reduce oven temperature to 180oC.
  3. Filling: Mix all the ingredients, except the pecan nuts, and spoon into the prepared crust. Arrange the nuts.
  4. Bake for about 55 min or until the filling is cooked and set. Leave to cool and serve luke warm or cold with cream or ice-cream on top.

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A low water bridge crossing the Sand River 
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A bald ibis in the river bed 
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Piolons and fodder bales 

 

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Beautiful animals grazing 
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St Joseph church with its twin bell towers. 

 

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Around the missionary the surrounding wall is stone packed.
Always a surprise when a sparkle of red

Thank you for spending time with us on our road trip.

You can read more about a trip via the Sand River Valley to Bluebank

Till next time

Hennie and Sandra

Journey to Stardom

De Oude Huize 2000We purchase De Oude Huize Yard and our family moved to Harrismith on 15 December 2000. Our sons did a huge commitment to leave their schools, sport and friends behind and join this new venture into the Free State.  Remembering the night that we traveled to Harrismith and the uncontrolled veld-fires were lighting the skies Pedri made a comment —so beautiful but so destructive.  Our new lives away from the hustle and bustle of Pretoria and “retirement” in the town will have to make a difference.

Everything’s done on impulse.

We bought the old house to save it from the bulldozer and in the words of Adam Small:

proud ou gabou—pathetic pêllie
stil ou—djy fancy djy staan nog…
djy word gedemolish sê ek vir djou!…
Hoor djy die pêrepote vannie bulldozers?

Ever since we have spend all our time in renovating and collecting history about our house and the town.  Even thought everything that we , Pedri and Gerald-Cecil have done did not come easily we still see this as a blessing and we would like to believe that we have made a difference to De Oude Huize Yard and our neighbourhood.  De Oude Huize fotos 6 met filter

Our neighbours are the best.  On our day of arrival they welcomed us with tea, coffee, rusk and a lot of help.  Strange people opened their hearts and hands to help us to move into a very dialectic house.  They treat us with love and open their heart to all off us.

On opening the front door of our new dwelling we immediately decided to give it a name — De Oude Huize .  The state of neglect was cleary visible and we decided to keep to the original era of the house and try to safe a little history in Stuart Street.  We had little experience of such a big renovating process and as the kids at school asked Gerald-Cecil— does your parents know what they are doing—he could honestly answer I don’t know, I think they don’t know themselves.

We have read articles on renovating but nothing really helps until you start with the process.  We have asked stupid questions and really work our fingers to the bone.

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The renovation process of the original house was solely done by Hennie, Pedri and Gerald-Cecil.  They have sanded floors, scraped down old paint remove rotten novilon, wood and carpets. They have cleaned the yard from invasive kakibos.  They have leveled the garden and made new beds.     They have opened up the Attic , painted every room and  replaced old floorboards.  Ou toegeboude venster

To put the cherry on cake the new sandstone wing was added on the footprint of the old stables.

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra

De Oude Huize Yard