Jacobus Hendrik Louw Nell, SV1b8c1d3e3f1g1h2

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About Jacobus Hendrik Louw Nell, SV1b8c1d3e3f1g1h2


Source: Lee Cahill, 13 September 2012 (Last updated 27 March 2014)

Collaborators: If you'd like to add to these notes, please do so in a separate section below as I'd like to preserve the integrity of my original notes. Thanks.

  • Jacobus Hendrik Louw Nell (JHLN), my great-grandfather, was born on 21 November 1865 in what was then the Cape Colony, and which is today the Northern Cape province of South Africa.
  • He was a smallholder in the Kakamas district as a young man, and a photograph I have of him and his 'volk' slaughtering a pig (see Media above) dates from this time (1880s/1890s).
  • JHLN experienced a number of severe setback during this time, losing most of his livestock in the rinderpest epidemic of the 1890s. The epidemic killed between 80% and 90% of all cattle in southern Africa. Shortly after that, when the Anglo-Boer War (aka Tweede Vreiheidsoorlog or South African War) broke out, he went off 'on commando'.
  • He would have been married to his first wife at that time, and they had seven children together. Little is known of his first wife but, according to family tradition, she and several of her children died in a concentration camp during the Anglo-Boer War. I've been unable to verify this.
  • In April 1901, JHLN married his second wife, Martha Jacoba Deetlefs (my great-grandmother), apparently coming into town (Kakamas?) at great risk to do so.
  • The events of the following years are unclear. According to family tradition, everyone left on the farm after JHLN went back 'on commando' was later interred in a concentration camp, and everything - including buildings, livestock, equipment, crops and stores - was burnt by British forces as part of Kitchener's 'scorched earth policy'.
  • According to both my aunt Hilda Wallace Keyte and my aunt Olive Wallace McGregor, my great-grandmother nearly died in a camp, but I've been unable to trace any information to confirm this.
  • What I have been able to confirm is that Martha Jacoba's father, his second wife, all of the children from that marriage, an older child from his first marriage, and everyone else living on the farm Ver Van Hier (vervanhier) at the time, were interred in the Kimberley concentration camp in 1901 (http://www2.lib.uct.ac.za/mss/bccd/Farm/23238/Ver_van_Hier/). Further Information on the Anglo-Boer War is available online at: http://www.angloboerwar.com/.
  • At some point after the Boer War, JHLN and his wife moved to Sydney-on-Vaal, a newly-established village in the remote northern Cape Colony, where he procured a claim and became a diamond digger. According to one of his grandsons, Anton Nell (youngest son of Joseph Nell), JHNL swopped his farm for a wagon and a case of brandy before going off to become a diamond digger.
  • My grandmother, Maria Petronella Nell (later Wallace), the first daughter after two older sons, was born in Sydney-on-Vaal.
  • In addition to the seven children from his first marriage, JHLN had fourteen children with Martha Jacoba, so he had twenty-one children in total. Of the fourteen children born to JHNL and Martha Jacoba, a pair of twins and another child died in infancy. Eleven children survived into adulthood.
  • At some time between 1904 and the late 1920s, JHLN and his family moved to a claim that was dubbed 'Louw's Koppie'. This was situated about fifteen miles from Syndey-on-Vaal, beyond Droogveld. According to my aunt, Hilda Wallace Keyte, the nearest neighbours were about three miles away.
  • My mother and her sisters visited 'Oupa' and 'Ouma' there often, frequently taking lunch for 'Oupa' from the house to the claim. At the time, only their youngest child, Elia (Elie) Nell was still living at home.
  • When JHLN became ill with cancer, he and his wife moved to Johannesburg to live with one of their children in Fairlands.
  • JHLN died at the Kensington Sanitorium and is buried at the Fairlands Cemetery.

Research Notes

  • There is some controversy about the spelling of the Nel/Nell family surname. According to my grandmother, the spelling used by her line of the family was 'Nell', and this is the spelling that appears on my great-grandfather's headstone. However, the two spellings appear to be used somewhat interchangeably in official records.
  • Apparently the youngest of JHLN's children, Elie, caused an uproar in the family by using the spelling 'Nel' on his mother's headstone (this according to Anton Nell). Elie himself also used the spelling 'Nel' in later life and all of his children use this spelling.

From the Upington Doopregister, supplied by Jan Jacob de Klerk, 1 April 2013: Jacobus Hendrik Louw NELL »» Kinders (1): 4982 x Martha Jacoba DEEDLIFS 4982 b1 Abraham Gert NELL (4981/x), ∗ 01.08.1911, ≈ NG Kerk, Upington 14.01.1912 »≈ gedoop deur: doop getuies en nota’s: Abraham Gert Willem NELL Christina Jacoba KOTZE »α Ouers se name en spelling volgens oorspronklike doopregister: Vader: Jacobus Hendrik Louw NELL Moeder: Martha Jacoba DEEDLIFS

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Jacobus Hendrik Louw Nell, SV1b8c1d3e3f1g1h2's Timeline

November 21, 1865
Cape Colony (South Africa)
Age 19
April 1901
Age 35
Age 36
Age 37
September 30, 1904
Age 38
Sydney-on-Vaal, South Africa
Age 40
Age 42
Age 42
August 1, 1911
Age 45
Upington, Cape Colony, Union of South Africa