Tesselaarsdal: A bend in the road, will be available at R200 per copy until 7 Dec 2019. After that the retail price goes up to R280 per copy. Postage to anywhere in South Africa by registered post, is another R50.
The book comprises 202 pages with 158 photographs. And I have unearthed a wealth of previously unknown historical information, but the real highlight is the interviews with locals, with people telling their own stories. Make sure you get your copy. Only 500 copies printed. Inbox me or email: email@example.com
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.
September 24 was Heritage Day here in South Africa. It is also known as National Braai Day, Chisa Nyama and Ukosa to name a few. It is a public holiday that our government has set aside “for all South Africans to celebrate our rich heritage across race, language, region and religion. And although the ingredients may differ, the one thing that never changes is that when we have something to celebrate we light fires, and prepare great feasts.”
Here in Stanford, apart from the many braais, a few of us had a picnic on the village green, where we played a friendly game of boule. Mercia Booysens was the boule-queen of the day!
Earlier in the morning we had the Nose to Tail Trails to raise funds for our local Animal Welfare. At least 150 dogs on leashes were walked by their owners along a designated route through the village. Our dogs, Anna the great Dane and Kerneels, our “very handsome dog”, as a friend described him, had to stay at home as their human mom was taking photos of the event. While taking pictures of some of the dogs cooling off in the river, this human slipped and fell flat on her back in the mud on the river bank. It was a very wet, muddy affair indeed! Then afterwards, still in my mud-soiled clothes, on my way home, I quickly stopped at our supermarket. And, while chatting to someone, I accidentally locked the car with the keys still in the ignition! I started walking the few kilometres home to fetch the spare keys, but fortunately, with still quite a way to go, one of our local “skateboarding squad” came to the rescue and fetched the keys from my husband at home.
“What have you been up to?” facebook asks. Kuiering. Now I know there is no such word in either English or Afrikaans, but the Afrikaans word “kuier” does not translate easily. The dictionary says, “visit” or “stroll”. But it is so much more than either visiting or strolling… Let me explain. In the village I met Jake Heese who said to me, “I want to show you something. This is Stanford… I left my house more than 2 hours ago, and all I have bought so far is this… And I haven’t even had my breakfast yet!” With that he opened his shopping bag and took out a bag of fresh baby spinach. Jake lives in the village, two blocks from the shops. “When I left my driveway, I first had a half hour’s chat with my neighbour Jenny ‘Metal’, then another hour’s chat to my other neighbours, Cath and Simon, then I met… and then… and now you.” And as we were talking Glenn and Willa from Cape Town walked past and I introduced them to Jake. They own a house almost “in the river” as Glenn said, on the floodplain or what used to be the vleilande (wetlands). Their status will shortly be changed from weekend visitors to fulltime residents. We talked about the weather, the rain patterns and the floods and the otters in the river, and the fish people used to catch in the river. One of my most memorable meals was a fish braai at Eric and Marlene Swart’s house in 1997. Eric braaied springer (also known as skipjack or tenpounder elsewhere) caught upstream near the lagoon! Oh, man, never had fish tasted so good! My mouth still waters… But sadly springers have grown quite scarce these days.
I then quickly rushed to the market where Calli was waiting with our bread, and there I met Jan and Sue from Baardskeerdersbos, an even smaller village ± 45 km from Stanford, and Peter Thomas of Stanford.
As I crossed the street to where my car was parked, I was stopped by Henriette Derby, another friend from Kleinmond, visiting friends in Stanford for the weekend. She introduced me to her friends, Charmaine Lacock’s mother, Nelly van de Poll, and Christine Schwarz also from Kleinmond. Charmaine and her mom, Nelly, recently moved to Stanford and from what I have heard they make the best coffee south of the “equator”. Christine bought one of my books and we had photos taken and what then transpired was so awesome we all ended up having to wipe away some tears! (I lifted these photos of them from their own facebook timelines!)
After big, warm hugs we each went our own way – I to have coffee with Lin Morris, Sarah and Matt at Graze Slow Food Café. More magic and awesomeness! An outing to the village sums up life in Stanford – it’s a life made up of “magic moments” which in the end makes the hard times so much more bearable. A place where you won’t survive by keeping up appearances and pretence. In the words of author Emma Kriel, “What I have come to know and appreciate about Stanford is that here you absolutely have to be yourself.” And as Matt said, just this morning, “That’s what I’m really good at – just being me.”
I also had to stop to take a photo of Ivan May, Jessica Phillips and friends on their way to the shops with babies in strollers and Ivan carrying a rather large cool box.
Only on my way home, two and a half hours since I left it, did I realize what I had written in Nelly’s book. In and between all the hugs and emotion, I wrote: “May you be blessed out of your feet”, in stead of socks! But maybe it’s not such a bad idea after all. May we all live a “winged life” here soaring high on the wings of Love and Life, Forgiveness and Kindness! And may there be many more kuiers for all of us here in this little place under the sun!
Years ago, between 1944 and 1968 the usual tranquility at Stanford was disturbed by a fight over water. The water from the Oog (the Eye) supplied one and a half thousand gallons of water per day but only a small percentage reached the village in a four inch (10 cm) pipe. The rest of the water flowed into the sea. For 24 years nothing was done to improve the situation, while the village population grew steadily and some residents liked to plant vegetables.
Suddenly water restrictions were introduced, but no one took any notice of them. As far as they were concerned, Stanford had plenty of water. Residents often opened empty taps in the home while gardens were irrigated. The municipality was inundated with complaints. A water-bailiff, (Sas Hoender) was appointed and he received R2 for each summons.
In the following two months Sas summoned eight people. Among them Nellie de Villiers (83) and Bettie Swart (81). Residents were greatly indignant. It was the largest court case in Stanford’s early history. Long before the case started the court room was so packed with people that many stood outside.
Defending advocate Olivier and the public prosecutor agreed to try a test case. Tant Nellie was chosen. Wearing a long green apron and her green Voortrekker kappie, she smiled and indicated that she was ready. The first witness was town clerk Willie du Toit who described the water history of Stanford, giving reasons for the water restrictions.
Magistrate Gildenhuys enquired whether the water needs of the village had been investigated, and Du Toit replied they it was assumed the town had sufficient water. The water bailiff was the last witness. He told the court that he caught Tant Nellie with a hose pipe in front of her house but did not notice what she was watering.
Adv Olivier: “She could have washed her feet?”
Sas Hoender: “No, she was watering things growing there.”
Adv Olivier maintained that the municipality was responsible for the lack of village water. He requested the release of his clients.
In his sentence Magistrate Gildenhuys referred to a regulation he regarded with contempt and unwillingly passed a sentence of not guilty. The other seven accused were released. The tension relaxed. People smiled – some started clapping. The court constable called for order. Hands were shaken for victory.
(I found the translation here: http://www.overberg.co.za/content/view/348/28/)
I had to deliver a dog to a neighbouring farm one day. As I was driving along the road leading up to the farmhouse, a sheep jumped out of the fynbos along the road and chased my bakkie right up to the house. As I’ve heard of this sheep behaving like the dogs with whom he was reared, I was amazed but not too surprised. He was already a familiar sight on the beaches along the Walker Bay coast. His owners loved to recount the disbelief on people’s faces when they saw this sheep running up and down the beach with their pack of five dogs. And when it was time to go home, Rambo with the same ease as the dogs, jumped onto the back of the bakkie. A real dog in sheep’s clothing.
Not for one moment did I think that he would one day be mine. But, when his owners moved away, Rambo moved onto our front deck where he would spend his days sleeping on a blanket in the shade. Whenever someone accidentally left the front door open, Rambo would tour the house and try out the beds, which got my wife in a state because he was not nearly house-trained and would sometimes leave a telling trail behind him. Oh boy, was he ingenious at finding access to the house!
One day we had a client bring in a Rottweiler to the kennels for a couple of days. As he had warned us beforehand about the aggressiveness and size of this dog, we made sure all our dogs were safely locked away. But we had completely forgotten about Rambo on the front deck. As his ears picked up the sound of the approaching bakkie, he lazily got up and walked down the steps to greet the newcomers, as he was used to. Always the perfect gentleman, I mean sheep, when it comes to guests, our Rambo.
Halfway up the garden path, Rambo, the Rottweiler and Rottweiler’s owner came eye to eye. By the look of Rottweiler’s master’s bulging muscles he must have been spending many hours pumping iron in the gym. Rottweiler, on a very short leash, took one look at this sheep striding confidently up to them, turned heel and dashed back to the bakkie. By now the garden gate was already securely shut, but that did not deter him. With the grace of a highjumper he leapt over the gate, pulling his master behind him like a plaything, straight into the gate.
The ensuing tug-of-war, with Rottweiler on the one side of the gate and his boss hanging onto the leash on the other side trying to open the gate without any success, had my wife and kids in stitches in the house from where they were watching through a window. I had great difficulty keeping a straight face. In the end Mr Muscles let go of the leash and with one jump Rottweiler was back in the bakkie refusing to budge. Only after I had locked up Rambo, and with much coaxing, could we get him out of the bakkie and into the kennels. So much for this big aggressive dog!
Another time we had an old lady bring her little miniature Maltese to us. It was the same greeting procedure all over again. Only this time the little Maltese was the one better off. When this little fellah saw Rambo, he made a dash for him, jumped up and got hold of a patch of the long wool on Rambo’s forehead. He held on to it for dear life and there was Rambo running around the garden with this little white-haired growling “monster” dangling in front of his face! He must have thought himself very lucky to have found someone willing to play with him!
After much consideration we had to put Rambo in the pen with the other sheep. But often as I watch Rambo, nine years old now, grazing with them, I wonder if he ever longs for his cosy bed on the front deck. If only everyone and especially visiting dogs could accept that he was only another dog whose baa was worse than his bite, he might have held on to his position as receptionist.
(Malcolm is the owner of Syringa Kennels just outside of Stanford)