Here are the first of our planned photographic courses. Watch this space for announcements about weekend workshops, landscape excursions and more!
What an interesting walk we had today! We took a different route through the bottom part of Die Skema, then around the Willem Appeldam, and through the village back home.
As we turned the corner, a few metres from our house, there was a lot of commotion. A burst water pipe which was being fixed.
There’s new life sprouting everywhere… bare branches are shooting new leaves, many trees and plants are flowering. The coral or flame trees, Erythrina, make a beautiful display with their flame red or bright orange flowers on bare branches against the blue skies. I am ever so thankful for every beautiful tree in the village and those that are newly planted. When the town was laid out in 1857, a hundred oak trees were planted, and some of them are still standing.
Kerneels and I are making new friends along the way. A day or so ago we met Charly and his human mom, Doris. They settled in the village almost two years ago and own a deli in Hermanus. Like Kerneels, Charly is also a rescue dog. He has a beautiful, and even bushier tail than our Kerneels.
In Die Skema, we today met little Gemia and her friend Sentino. Also Gemia’s father, Christiaan and some of his friends. It is Gemia’s birthday today and she turned four. We sang to her! What stunning little kids! (It’s also the birthday today of our own granddaughter Kara who turned fourteen! How time flies!)
I had to laugh at some of the dogs in the Skema… Many roam the streets freely, and would bark “fiercely” at passers-by, in this case, Kerneels and I, but the moment I pointed my camera at them, they made a beeline for their own homes!
On the village green the children’s soccer team were practising. After a cup of tea at Thys and Johette (my son and his wife), we headed home. As we passed one house in Church Street, I heard strange bird sounds, and tried to see where it was coming from. As I looked up into what looked like a completely bare tree, much to my surprise, there was a hadidah in her nest feeding her three little chicks!
Further down, in De Bruyn street, we walked past two joggers. One stopped and introduced himself, Richard Opperman, whom we had passed by earlier on. He has the most amazing story! A cancer survivor, he and his wife and children came to Stanford a year and a half ago, changed their whole lifestyle and after first starting to walk regularly, Richard is now running!
Again I say: how blessed are we!!!!!
I’m so amazed at all there is to see and capture in an hour’s walk through only a small part of the village! Today’s walk was a longish one, as I decided to also run by the shop. It was a beautiful sunshiny day with blue skies, albeit still a bit cold. Birds were singing and out feeding almost the whole time & the villagers were out walking their dogs. Workers after the days labour were either waiting for their lifts home, or walking home… some like my friend Nolithemba Nosihle, has quite a long walk to her home at Die Kop, the informal settlement just outside the village.
My eldest son Thys and their Bella again walked half of the way with me, much to my relieve, as he sometimes held Kerneels so that I had both hands free to hold my camera!
I feel so blessed to be able to live in this beautiful village with its many amazing people. Enjoy!
Kerneels and I were both somewhat tired today! But my intention of taking a shorter route fell by the wayside when I decided to go down the steep river bank to where there is a jetty that one could sit on and let your feet hang in the water. But alas, the jetty was partly under water and we couldn’t get on it. We then followed the path along the river bank towards the village and on our way we had to cross a wooden bridge which was a new experience for Kerneels. At first he was very reluctant. He didn’t trust the thing at all! Only when I called him did he come to me, very carefully! Then back home through a beautiful milkwood forest. Up the hill across the playground where two hadidahs were looking for something to eat and only one little boy, Tinus, the youngest son of our neighbours, Gys and Nonnie de Bondt, was on the swings. He so enjoyed being pushed on the swing that when his caretaker, Mitch (I think that’s what he said his name was) said it was time to go, young Tinus did not want to get off. He still wanted to swing! As Kerneels and I almost reached our house, I looked back and there were Tinus and Mitch also coming down the road on their way home.
Over the weekend of 16/17 June our beloved Great Dane, Anna, fell ill and died on Monday, the 18th. After Anna’s death, Kerneels, her canine mate, refused to lift his leg in our own garden, so I had to take him out on walks three, four times per day. And he’s a fast walker that one! So, each day now I have to fit in a few kilometres of “walking the dog” and decided to take my camera with on our walks and capture some of the scenes and people of our beautiful village. And just so you know… Kerneels, normally a handsome dog, with ears alert and tail curled and bushy, hates having his photo taken! Then he gets this dejected, feeling sorry for himself, look!
19 July 2018: Today, Kerneels and I, again took a different route for our daily walk. Down the dirt road at the end of our street and up the hill to the village and down Caledon Street to the river and then with Vlei Street back up the hill to our street and back home. Caledon Street was once called Piet Street, because of all the people called Piet living there… there were Piet Maree the policeman, Piet Barends, Pietie Skoenmakertjie (the shoemaker), Pietie Appel, Piet Dempers, Piet Sheriff, Piet du Toit, Piet Bek, Piet Titus and his son Piet…
Although a grey cloudy kind of day, all along the streets there are definite signs and smells of spring advancing rapidly now – jasmine, arum lilies, moon flowers, blue felicia’s… Birds are changing into their breeding feathers and colours… the pin-tailed whydah’s tail feathers are growing and he’s already fighting his own reflection in the side mirrors of cars! 🙂
Villagers are out walking their dogs and children on skateboards are doing amazing stunts in the streets.
It was a long walk… and we were both quite exhausted when we finally arrived home.
On 11 March 2015 I was very fortunate to meet a great great granddaughter of both Sir Robert Stanford and the very well-known Rev Andrew Murray. Colleen Ballenden, who spent the night at The Kleine River’s Valey house, once the farmhouse of her great great grandfather, is the daughter of the late Eric Stanford, son of Harley Daly Maurice Stanford, grandson of Sir Robert Stanford. Colleen still lives on their family farm, Stanford Farm, between Haenertsburg and Magoebaskoof in Limpopo Province.
Harley was born in England on the 3rd of June 1869. He came to the Cape as a child with his parents, John Frederick and Fanny Elizabeth Stanford, but was educated at Dulwich College near London. He was a tax collector in the Pilansberg area and then Haenertsburg from 1911-1924. His nickname, Intabalen, meant “the one to be looked up to” because he was usually on horseback. He was also one of the first people to own a Buick.
The Vermeulen men of Stanford distinguished themselves as excellent builders, and many of the older houses, and especially the Victorian ones in Stanford, were built by them. There are also many buildings in Hermanus still standing as a testimony to their skill and excellence.
The progenitor of the Overberg Vermeulens was Christoffel Johannes Vermeulen, baptised 1749. He was the great-grandson of Jan Willemz Vermeulen who came to the Cape in 1680 from Utrecht in the Netherlands. In 1771 Christoffel married Cornelia Johanna van Straaten in Paarl, and they produced nine children. He obtained grazing rights for his cattle on Awila, a farm between Uylen- and Hagelkraal in the Overberg Strandveld in 1785.
Forty-six years later, in 1831, the same farm, Awila (1912 hectares) was granted to Christoffel’s youngest son, Hendrik Johannes Hermanus Vermeulen, who lived there until his death in 1881. Hendrik and his wife, Anna Susanna Matthee whom he married in 1820 when they were both just 14 or 15 years old, had 11 children. After Anna’s death in 1857, he married one Jacoba Margaretha Petronella Willemse of Boschkloof. Hendrik and Jacoba had another four children. In later years Awila was subdivided into smaller units, and one of these was called, Vermeul’s Schuur. In addition to the usual fruit trees such as quince and figs, a milkwood grew besides the original dwelling on Awila. That original milkwood is still standing and when last measured it’s trunk had a circumference of 3,83 metres!
The eighth child of Hendrik and Anna was Johannes Petrus Hendricus (known as Oupa Jan). Jan was born on Awila in 1832, and when he was 22 years old, he married Elizabeth Magdalena Franken (known as Ouma Betta) of Paapjesvlei, the daughter of Matthys Christiaan Franken and Maria Hendrina Roos. Jan and Betta Vermeulen settled on the farm Wageboomsrivier in the Napier district. Between 1855 and 1858 the couple moved to Hartebeestkloof in the Stanford district where Jan did evangelization work as what was known then as a “Boeren Sendeling”, and Betta became the district’s midwife. Betta died at the age of 87 years in 1922 in Stanford, and Jan five months later. At the time of their respective deaths, they were living with their youngest son, Elias Jacobus, and his wife, Anna Cecilia Weber, at 30 Church Street, Stanford.
Oupa Jan and Ouma Betta had nine children. Two of their daughters married grandsons of John William Moore, a ship’s carpenter who was brought to the farm De Kleine Riviers Valley by Robert Stanford to build a water mill. Their eldest son, Hendrik Johannes Hermanus (Hendrik), born January 1858, initially farmed at Springfontein farm, but later moved to the village and lived in Shortmarket Street. It was at this point that the family tradition of building was initiated, with Hendrik becoming involved in this new trade. He was married to Aletta (Let) Johanna Heyne or Heaney. Let eventually took over as midwife from her mother-in-law, Betta. Hendrik died in 1939 and let in 1953.
Hendrik and Let’s son, Johannes Petrus Hendricus (also known as Jan), born in 1883, was Stanford’s mason. He was married to Elizabeth (Bessie) Johanna Margaretha Moore, daughter of John William McGregor Moore and great-granddaughter of John William Moore. Jan and Bessie used to live in Morton Street.
In May 1921 Jan went bush-buck hunting by ox-wagon in the dunes outside Stanford with a group of men, amongst whom was his cousin Jack Moore. During the hunt, Jack apparently stumbled, causing his shotgun to accidently discharge and as a result wounded his cousin Jan in his stomach and arm. The hunters immediately returned to Stanford with their wounded comrade, but Jan died as a result of his wounds several hours later. Bessie was left behind with seven children, ranging in age between thirteen years and seven months.
Their fourth son, John Moore Vermeulen, was born in 1913. He married Susanna Magdalena Martha Swart, a daughter of Isaac Stephanus de Villiers Swart of Modderrivier, and his wife, Anna Susanna de Villiers. John worked in Hermanus as a carpenter and later enlisted to fight in WWII. After the war he was a building contractor in Hermanus where he built amongst others the shops of the Du Toit brothers and a Mr Boucher. His last big project was the building of the Birkenhead Hotel in Voëlklip for Mrs Luyt. He then returned to Stanford and farmed on the farms Fonteinbosch, Witwater and Modderrivier. John Moore Vermeulen and Anna had seven children, of whom the two youngest were born in Stanford. This research of the Vermeulens of the Overberg was done by their two eldest sons, Johannes Petrus and Izak Stefanus.
Hendrik and Let’s fourth son, Hendrik (Henk) Johannes Hermanus, born in 1888, married Elizabeth (Bet) Gertruida Carse, the daughter of John Fairbrairn Carse and Susanna M. M. de Villiers. She was the great-granddaughter of the patriarch George Fairbairn Carse, a harness maker, who was brought to the farm De Kleine Riviers Valley by Robert Stanford.
Henk lived his whole life in Stanford. He and his family lived in Queen Victoria Street in the house built by himself. Today the building is used to house Stanford’s library. He was a building contractor like his father and many of the village’s old Victorian houses were built by him. Henk and his wife’s six children were all born in Stanford.
Their second son, George Fairbairn Carse Vermeulen, was also a builder who learnt his trade from his father. He worked for his father for three years for £2 per week. After completion of his apprenticeship, he started his own construction company. He finished his first house, built for a certain Mr Verster, a teacher in Stanford, within six weeks, working only with two helpers. This caused quite a stir amongst the people in Stanford as none had ever heard of any house being built in such a short time. George obtained his master’s diploma in building and for many years were the only master builder in Hermanus. In later years he also became involved in town-planning. He eventually bought Sea Breeze Motors, as well as all the butcheries in Hermanus, except Van Blommenstein. He had his fingers in many pies, but the one that would cause his financial downfall was the seaweed business. He obtained the concession to harvest seaweed from Pearly Beach up to Oranjemund on the West Coast. He built a pilot factory in Cape Town where Ecklo pellets were made and seaweed processed, packaged and then exported to the East. At one time he had 3000 people working in his seaweed business! He also obtained the right to build another factory in Gansbaai. George however, under the impression that he did not have to renew the tender, lost the tender as it was already given out to someone else. He fought his case in a lengthy and very costly court case but to no avail. Hermanus’ Golden Boy lost everything. All that remained are the many buildings in Hermanus and in Stanford also (e.g. the present church hall) testifying to his building skill.
The second son of Henk and Bet, Johannes Petrus (Johnie) was married to Anna Susanna Fourie and they also lived in Stanford in the house in Longmarket Street opposite the village green, originally built by his father for the parents of Jan (Blik) Swart.
The third son of Oupa Jan and Ouma Betta, Johannes Petrus Hendrikus (also known as Jan), was born in 1863. He married 18-year-old Johanna Christina Geldenhuys, also of Stanford, in 1890. Jan farmed on Bruinklip in the Stanford district and in 1904 he built the old farmhouse on the farm. He and his wife had nine children. Their eldest daughter, Matilda Maria Netta, born in 1891, married Coenraad Johannes Franken. Coenraad and Matilda had three daughters, Stanford’s very well-known and beloved “three sisters” – Joey, Sophia and Hilda.
Jan and Johanna’s son Petrus Arnoldus (Pietie) was born in 1896, and married Elsabé Anna Johanna (Alica) Swart. They settled in Napier where Jan was ordained as the first minister of the Dutch Reformed Mission Church. Not only was he the first minister, but he remained minister from 1928 until his retirement. During this period he built churches on the farms Doornkraal, Matjieskloof and Bruinklip. The Bruinklip church building was demolished in 1952 and Pietie then used all salvageable material to build the Dutch Reformed Mission Church in Stanford, today the Uniting Reformed Church in School Street. Pietie was also the architect, carpenter and mason of the parsonage in Napier which was built for £1 025.
Zacharias Johannes Wessel Vermeulen (Sas), Jan and Johanna’s fifth son, was born in 1899. He became the owner of Bruinklip after his father. He also owned the house in Stanford known as “Klein River Lodge” in King Street, today Galashiels. He was married twice, first to Elizabeth Swart and then to Zacharia Johanna Maria Fourie. He had no children.
Oupa Jan and Ouma Betta’s youngest son was Elias Jacobus Vermeulen. Elias was married to Anna Cecilia Weber and they had ten children. They lived at 30 Church Street. Their eldest daughter, Susara Johanna, was known as Auntie Sek, and she and her husband, Jacobus Johannes de Kock, lived next to the Primary School where she was a teacher. One of her brothers was John Henry Ludwich (Lood) who was born in 1910. Lood Vermeulen was married to Johanna Margaretha Boucher. Lood was well-known in Stanford as he was the owner of various businesses – the butchery, a shop and a transport business. Another brother, Hendrik (Hennie), owned several butcheries in Hermanus.
The Vermeulens indeed played a vital role in the life of Stanford.
(We would appreciate more information regarding the Vermeulens of Stanford and the houses they built and lived in, should you have any.)
More Stanford houses built by the Vermeulens:
With great thanks to Izak and Johan Vermeulen for making their research and photos available to us.
One can browse for hours in the shops along Stanford’s main street and some others, too. There are a few junk shops which offers everything from rare Africana, valuable antiques, collectables, jewellery and furniture to old trunks, books, clothing, enamel mugs and other bric-a-brac. Their owners are equally interesting and very knowledgeable. One of these is Lionel Foxcroft’s garage and yard shop. It is not only colourful, but also charming and beautiful. Lionel’s business card says he is a “licensed buyer & seller of anything old & interesting”. And if you have or know of someone who has an old car rusting away somewhere under a tree or in a yard, Lionel would love to hear from you. He may be contacted on cell: 079 982 6992.
In May of 1984 Mr Willem Appel, then still principal of Die Bron School in Stanford, and his fisherman-friends were fishing at Die Plaat in the Walker Bay Conservancy. They were stunned to see a school of cod nearing the beach almost as if drifting on the water. They realised something was wrong with the fish as he and his friends walked waist-deep into the water and dragged the fish out by hand. He reckons they brought about fifty fish, weighing between 20 and 30 kilogrammes each, out that day.
Mr Appel reckons the cod must have been chasing a school of anchovies. Most probably the anchovies swam to the shallower water near the beach and that must have been where the cod got sand in their gills, because when they took them out of the water they could see that the fish were busy suffocating.
Mr Appel himself took fifteen of these fish home on his bakkie and he says there was absolutely nothing wrong with their taste!
Yes, you have read correctly. Never despise the day you meet a chicken. And more so when the chicken you meet is an avid tourist. This one actually lived in Carnarvon in the Karoo, but I photographed him waiting for his human mom in his favourite vehicle outside Overberg Agri at Stanford on his way to his human parents’ holiday home at Uilenkraalsmond. Pikkeling (loosely translated as “Pecking thing”) was hatched by a pigeon and brought into the house by Stephen Hoffman. Initially, in winter, Stephen had to get up at three to replace the fledgling’s hotwater bottle.
“He brought him into the house, so he had to get up,” said Stephen’s wife Lizette, who clearly adored the feathery cockerel. Pikkeling had even visited Cape Town, and had no problem travelling 220 kilometres in his little box at the feet of his “parents”. At night he slept on the couple’s bedside table, after a snack of crisps.
Then, wait for it, this little rooster from Carnarvon made it into a book! When children’s author Marianna Brandt started working on a book about Veronica, a real-life performing chicken, she happened upon our story about Pikkeling in Village Life magazine and promptly made him a character in her tale. Diva Veronica (161 pages) was published by Human & Rousseau.