Started by Sharon Doubell on Tuesday, July 26, 2011


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7/26/2011 at 6:10 AM


Last month I went on a road-trip to visit all the original farming plots owned by my father's French Huguenot, Dutch, German & British ancestors who arrived by boat in SA from the 1600s on.
So I've been doing research tracking the plots on the faded documents showing the original farms to see what they are today (Many of them are now world famous wine farms!)

Some great people stories go with them - that also reflect on the politics of the country over the centuries, and it got me to thinking about doing a TRAVEL BLOG on the whole of our country linked to our Famous South African Project Page[] & including ordinary South Africans too. for all of our South african Cuzzins [] who share ancestors or a desire to travel this beautiful country with a mind to its history.

This is the beginnings of experimenting with using a Discussion linked to a project as a blog. PLEASE CLICK 'FOLLOW' ON THIS DISCUSSION IF YOU WANT TO BE ALERTED ABOUT BLOG UPDATES, & FEEL FREE TO ADD YOUR OWN COMENTS & BLOG CONTENT TO THIS DISCUSSION TOO.

If you're interested, take a look at the links between people and places that I’m starting to build up on the project page, and jump in with research & ideas of your own, or mail me on Geni.

7/26/2011 at 6:13 AM


I've just returned from a father's day visit to Jan Smuts' House Museum on his farm, Doornkloof, in Irene [Jan Christian Smuts, Field Marshal Jan Smuts] [}
How proud I felt to be 5th cousin of this man who Winston Churchill called "a warrior statesman and philosopher, who was probably more fitting to guide struggling and blundering humanity through it's suffering and perils towards a better day, than anyone who ever lived in any country during his epoch."

My long suffering father, whose great grandmother was a Smuts, enjoyed the lunch at the restaurant, in the hope of eating fast enough to get back home for the rugby!!
We enjoyed the museum and the hour walk up Smuts' beloved koppies, with a tap to water the dogs at the end of the trail. (Even the tea garden under the trees is dog friendly), and the Arts & Crafts market[ ] on 2 Saturdays of the month is the best one in the country!

For me, the man’s library (with books from Goethe to Walt Witman; from quantum physics to the Koran; and so many of them personalised to him by great thinkers like Einstein) speaks more volumes for his depth of personality than the historical trail of his career as frontline general in the Anglo Boer war, and in the first World War, as well as statesman in both the World War peace treaties. In this old tin house of quaker simplicity he entertained the British royal family and the Greek princess Frederica, and wrote letters to eminent female thinkers of his time, including Emily Hobhouse and Olive Schreiner.

'''“When history is administered in biographical doses, it becomes more than palatable,” Jan Smuts said. A fitting description of how much more Geni is than just genealogy, I think.'''

7/26/2011 at 6:19 AM


We have just put down a deposit on a small plot of open waterfront on the Vaal Dam] in Deneysville.[]
How exciting it is to plan a truly South African bushveld-style getaway, with tin roof and Free State stone, and long verandahs for the afternoon sun.
I have no experience with the OFS climate, so am busily researching indigenous flora of the area. Acacia trees; Fever trees; Agapanthus and Aloes, it seems. By far the most comprehensive book I have found on the subject of South African indigenous plants is Pitta Joffe's 'Creative Gardening with Indigenous Plants: A South African Guide' []

Deneysville [] itself is named after the boer commander, Deneys Reitz[Deneys Reitz], author of Commando: A Boer Journal Of The Boer War[], and son of former Orange Free State president, Francis William Reitz [Regter Francis William Reitz, President of the OFS].
Deneysville Yacht Club hosts an annual Round the Island Yacht race, which holds the Guinness World Record title for the largest inland yacht race; but this island was also apparantly used as a secret meeting place by the apartheid government. (I'd love to know more about that.) There appears too, to be some cousin connection between Deneys and the famous SA writer, Olive Schreiner [Olive Emilie Albertina Schreiner ] - most well-known for her 'The Story of an African Farm' []
Smuts was a friend of both Deneys and Olive, so perhaps there was something of an extended writing community circle in existence.
My mother's people appear to be my connection to Deneys and Olive, through the 1820 settler - Hulleys [Sarah Cawood], ironically.

Private User
7/26/2011 at 6:37 AM

I looked up Deneysville - might come for a visit to check up on your gardening

7/26/2011 at 7:00 AM

Yes, Jadra - that would be fantastic!

7/26/2011 at 8:01 AM

I would come. I've always been fascinated by South Africa!

7/26/2011 at 8:43 AM

Geni convention on the Vaal it is! (Just got to borrow the money to build now :-)

7/26/2011 at 12:03 PM

I did have someone looking at me for a real-world job in Mozambique a couple weeks ago. Haven't heard back since, so I'm thinking it's probably not happening, but had it, would have been greatly interested in checking out sites such as Deneysville in South Africa, particularly if they would have had me waiting on my visa in that country, as I suspect they would have.

Ah well, there are always first-hand reports to go on...

7/26/2011 at 12:22 PM

Wow! This is amazing. I have many memories of Deneysville from way back in the early 80s. Starting more than 30 years ago when most of what you see there today wasn't there then. Its truly amazing to see how its been built up.
My parents, Shirley Maude Swemmer and <private> McConnell had a caravan and yacht there and we often spent school holidays and weekends sailing.
Oh, how I loved that place :-)

7/26/2011 at 12:24 PM

Olive Schreiner, by the way, is my fifth cousin thrice removed's husband's aunt.

Private User
7/26/2011 at 3:55 PM

Can you go for a swim there, ie no sharks?

7/27/2011 at 12:29 AM

Yes, Jadra - I spend as much time swimming next to our little boat as on it. It's an inland dam (for drinking water) - so crocodiles would be what you should worry about - but there aren't any of those either.

7/27/2011 at 12:30 AM

Brendan - come and join us for the Geni Convention on the Vaal.

7/27/2011 at 12:30 AM

Ben - come and buy a plot next to us!

7/27/2011 at 3:40 AM

Private User says she's there already.
So we can all get together there and work out how we're going to get Geni to give South Africans their own 'proper' Geni blog space.

7/27/2011 at 6:37 AM

Sharon Doubell Your Famous South Africans Project rocks!!

What about adding-:

South Africa's Most Beautiful Music

Incredibly Sexy South African Women
Candice Swanepoel
Charlize Theron
Tammin Sursok

Private User
7/27/2011 at 8:18 AM

Sharon Doubell@sha
Some references to Crooks Corner:
The are a few stories of other infamous characters as well - I'll try and look them up.

Private User
7/27/2011 at 8:22 AM

Sharon Doubell@sha
Oh, sorry, the area referred to as "Crooks Corner" is between S.A., Zimbabwe and Mozambique. But the distance to Namibia isn't that far to the tip of the Caprivi Strip.

7/27/2011 at 8:41 AM

Malka Mysels what a great idea. How do I add music to project [asks the techno twit ;-(] Can anyone help with that?

7/27/2011 at 8:42 AM

Private User that's such a great story - "Crook's Corner" is a must for a blog post. Can we track any of the people from the story onto Geni?

7/27/2011 at 9:04 AM

I love this version of Suikerbossie sung by the Flemish singer, Stef Bos:;feature=related.
And this version has pictures of the Suikerbossie protea - SA's national flower:;feature=related

8/2/2011 at 4:24 AM

While we wait for the dust to settle after the weekend’s Geni crash I’m going to keep on peddling faster in trying to figure out ways to get a Blog going for SA. I’ve had lots of inbox messaged ideas from numbers of you – like Private User (but cannot answer while Geni is still re-instating our message history) But looks like everyone is still too shy to post those ideas here.
At the moment I’m trying to make our ‘French Huguenots who came to SA project’
into the most comprehensive documented collection of searchable names available on the web. (It was suggested by Erica Isabel Howton, Volunteer Curator to link this into a World Huguenot project).
Judi Meyer (Private User) has promised to help, and I’m hoping to lure Private User and Wynand amongst others of you into helping too.
Wish me luck! - IF I GET IT RIGHT WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO CLICK ON EVERY SINGLE HUGUENOT WHO CAME ON THE BOATS & still has living descendants to see if we're related to them.
Feel free to help me hypertext those names I haven’t got to yet. All you do is go to edit and add the web address of that profile in [ ] brackets, then skip a space or two and write the name you want to show – and voila! you have created the link. Eg for the project you’d type: [ French Huguenot Settlers in the Cape] and it would show only French Huguenot Settlers in the Cape as a blue hypertext link.

Private User
8/2/2011 at 5:04 AM

Consider me "lured" - but please be patient! I have a big commitment to work through first - a book that has to be at the publishers by the end of November but being textiles loads of samples and projects to stitch!

Back to the machine!

Private User
8/2/2011 at 6:34 AM

I have seen the start and will help for sure as it is in the interest of us all. Why not ask Daan Botes as well.

8/2/2011 at 8:29 AM

Yaay Private User and
Private User!

Daniel Jacobus Botes is a great idea to call to come and play.

Private User
8/2/2011 at 9:59 AM

References for the infamous Stephanus Cecil Rutgerd Barnard "Bvekenya" of Crook's Corner fame: and a book written by T.V. Bulpin called "The Ivory Trail"
Any Barnards related to him???

Private User
8/2/2011 at 10:25 AM

The Zeederburg Coach Trail:
Many tales of the trials and tribulations of the four Zeederburg brothers who ran this operation from Pretoria to Northern Transvaal and eventually into Rhodesia as well.
(My neck of the woods!!!!)

8/3/2011 at 4:31 AM

Those are fantastic Private User - can we turn them into paragraphs to put on the project page & as a mini blog? (When you have time?)

8/3/2011 at 4:34 AM

Chris Steyn and Willem Breet are talking about DNA Genealogy for South Africa on this Discussion I wonder if there isn't a blog post in that too?

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