BREëRIVIEER OUTING AN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

 

Over the past few years DHF has systematically visited nearly all the early 18th century houses beyond Paarl.

At Saron Pastorie we saw the farm of Meiring (and widow V.B. Byl) which was our first introduction to the cupboards and door designs that our visits illustrated were common to all houses for which definite evidence exists of a pre 1750 existence. Similar fittings were seen at Lanquedoc and to an extent Amstelhof in Drakenstein.

Klipfontein whose history has for years been confused with the farm of similar name “teen die Piquetberg” but which was in the possession of the Therons (family of Lanqudoc) since well before 1750. We went looking for Brouwerstraat found the building without fittings (the joinery I am told was built at Twee Jongezellen after the earthquake).

The furthest reaches of this style we witnessed on both doors and a wall cupboard at Clovelly of A.Hill (previously known as Buffelskraal) the house built by P Hugo – son of Daniel Hugo of Bethal.

We have stood at the foot of the Oudekloof Pass where Coleman and later Theron (of Kilkfontein) repaired the wagons before the establishment of the Roodsent Pass, which we also viewed.

On this outing to the Breërivier we saw similar joinery at the Pastorie in Tulbagh where the wall cupboards were re-used from “Voëlvlei” an early farm of “de Clerquec”, visited by Gordon and later Burchell who obtained a new disselboom there.

At la Plasante we were welcomed by a row of digging stick weights (or are they worship artifacts – see article on C.Hromnik) set into the concrete stoep – but inside the house were 2 doors that fitted – but these must be treated with caution. This house has a long historical development manifest in its fittings and always has had a relationship with the now demolished nearby “Mostert’s Hoek” farm of Jacobus Hugo, Daniel’s eldest son. When you consider the unusual position of the doors plus knowledge of the Grandfather ……… building ambitions it is possible that some doors from Mostert’s Hoek demolished in 1912 found their way here. That is not to say that La Plasante does not have a pre 1750 history – but this was as an outpost for Joubert and his widow Richards where amongst other things timber was harvested.

There is however another link. The magnificent wall cupboard with it’s waboom carved center block to the gable. In both the waboom and the design and style of carving we establish a direct association with 2 excellent pieces of furniture – one the so-called “Prevat” cupboards (new in the Worcester Museum) illustrated 2 in Cape Country furniture and the other the carved cupboards illustrated by Viljoen, Rabe in their 2002 catalogue. All 3 of these pieces are of the highest quality.

What is even more interesting is the cupboards at Boesmansvallei – very similar to La Plasante, including the carving and “waboom” and is definitely from the same hand.

At Boesmansvallei we find doors similar but becoming a bit more elongate in proportion (like the panels of the “Prevat” cupboards, but the front doors open more than into the house. The method, style and design match exactly the top rail of Tulbagh chairs that I acquired from a farm 2km up the road years ago. An example is also to be found in the museum in Worcester. With every visit we all seem to learn more at our own levels. The main destination was de Eendracht, Aan die Waaihoek. The current house, although old, has been substantially altered. The front and back gables sh……… and the joinery replaced in ± 1880. An early 19th century wall cupboard remains again with strong links to the previous mentioned cupboards but now with a more regency design.

What makes the de Eendracht most interesting is it’s history and the people who were born and lived there. It was a loan farm granted to Theunis Botha who was the eldest of 8 children fathered by Fredrich. Both from Gotha, a German soldier who obtained his burger rights 5 years after arriving at the Cape and in 1786 stayed with Jan Cornelisz (Heese and Lombard point out that Both’s name quickly assumed a relationship with his home town and became Botha – he signed as Both, Boot and later Botha. Both married Maria Kickus (an orphan from the Netherlands) in 1717 after she divorced Cornelisz but mother of the children of Both is not listed in Heese? It may be for that reason that the son’s were among the earliest of the Cape Pioneers. Theunis Botha had Eendracht over the Breërivier (It is important to note this – we forget that the land of W……… was settled after 1700 and traveling along this route, we cross the Breede River before it turns down the valley. This was obviously considered something of significance they were one of, if not the first to lay claim to land over this landmark – and at the time the furthest frontier farmers. Shortly thereafter the land between the Breede and Theunis was loaned to Bothma and then Theunis’s young brother Jacobus had it on loan until they obtained title of de Eendracht in 1714. Jacobus was to become a favorite of the travelers in the 1770s when he was staying at Jan Harmsgat between Ashton and Swellendam. Thunberg (the Swedish graduate who traveled extensively in the Cape between 1772 – 1774 and published his travels which were later translated into English in 1793) was a particular friend of the Bothas and visited Jacobus,who was married to Elsie Snyman, on a number of occasions.

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He describes Jacobus as follows:

This illustrates the frontier spirit of this family.

Theunis (who was married to Maria Magdalena Snyman) was to stay at de Eendracht until 1733 when he transferred the farm to his son Christoffel, who married Hester Potgieter (she died in 1746?) and left a detailed inventory…..Christoffel then married Blom and by the time she died in 1762 de Eendracht had been developed into a substantial farm consisting of a House with

Voorkamer furnished with…tables, coffee and tea urns, racks with porcelain, small tea ..pipe and…….

Rooms to the left. Right with cabinets, 4-poster beds (3) and (3) low beds *12 chairs and lessenaars

The kitchen had all the normal cooking utensils, tart pans and a “polfyntjie” pan and there was a pantry behind the kitchen.

There was a Mill house with woodwork and millstones.

Kelder with various wines & brandies in large quantities.

Wagon shed with 3 oxwagons and horse drawn carriage.

The Brandy-still was outside.

Boota (this is how he signed) had 1000 sheep, 32 wagon oxen and 68 cattle, he farmed with the help of 8 male and 6 female slaves.

In 1764 Botha made a further inventory and sold out. The farm was purchased by the Myburghs of Meerlust, who owned the farm when Van Plettenberg camped there in 1776. By this time Cornelius Botha had moved to Plettenberg Bay at the Keurbooms River when Van Plettenberg was to see him again.

The Botha story becomes more interesting when you consider that the Co-op, station and school just below Eendracht is called Botha but the history associated with this name and quoted in the publication of the Botha School, centenarary when you consider that the Co-op, station and school just below Eendracht is called Botha but the history associated with this name and quoted in the publication of the Botha School, centenary edition ignores these early pioneers and “stam vaders” of the Botha clan. This will be dealt wth in a special article later.

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Like all outings, one leads to another. When we go to the AGM in Swellendam we shall visit and see the house moved and rebuilt by the Museum. This is the farm Sanddrift, which according to Mary Cooke, was built by the widow Botha, but did Elsie Botha in who’s estate it is included in 1786 when she (the widow of Daniel Lombard died) died owning both Jan Harmsgat and Sanddrift – build it? Orwas Elsie Botha the widow of Jacobus? But she would have been Snyman, surely, if it was a widow Botha, it must have been Cornelia (xJan Harms Potgieter), born 1697 married 1720 and from whence comes the name Jan Harmsgat but Jacobus Botha was granted this farm on loan in 1734 for services rendered. Did he buy it for his sister (Potgieter’s widow) as he is recorded at this time to be a big game hunter (in association with his brother Theunis, who had just sold Eendracht to his son?

Mary Cooke fingers Bernard Frij as the maker of the cupboards at Sanddrift but he is at least 2 generations behind this widow Botha. Bernard Frij was married to Anne Margaret Botha, who had a sister, Elsie Botha, who was a widow of Lombard but they both lived on the Riebeek Kasteel district? Frij was a carpenter who lived at Doorkuyt and his inventory included all the necessary equipment.

In the 1770’s he accompanied Gordan for a while as a big game hunter? This tells you everything but nothing. We have amazing records in the Archives but as this illustrates it was a wild country, especially beyond the Breede River as many records as there are, there are twice as many gaps and unknown people disappear and many stories are told by the travelers. The Botha family is possibly the best example of this. Many references, many conflicting stories, some backed by researchable fact, some prove the travelers accounts to be false but are they, or do we just not have sufficient records?

List of illustrators:

Cupboards at Hill & Saron & Klipfontein
Cupboards at La Plasente, Pravot & P. Rabe
Tulbagh chair & door

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