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The Welgevonden Venters of Groot Spelonken 1880-1980

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This project aims to highlight a large, interrelated family who lived in a relatively remote area of the Transvaal, South Africa, before, during and after the Anglo-Boer War.

Pieter Johannes Lodewyk Venter (1851-1941) {..f3g6} and Jacoba Marthina Botha (1849-1919) are the progenitors of this family in the Groot Spelonken (Zoekmekaar) area of South Africa. They lived on the farm Welgevonden north of Zoekmekaar from about 1882. The Venters were well-represented in the Zoekmekaar area. On neighbouring farms were Pieter's elder brothers Gerhardus (Zevenfontein) and Jan Hendrik Louis (Middagzon) with two of their cousins, Stephanus Martinus and Pieter Johannes Lodewyk, on 'Oog van Driefontein'. Immediately to the north, on 'Wakkerstroom', was Andries Hendrik Potgieter (the grandson and namesake of the Voortrekker leader) who was married to Pieter's sister, Aletta Sophia. (Three pairs of the children - who were cousins - of the Wakkerstroom Potgieters and the Welgevonden Venters were to marry later.) In addition, Jacoba Botha's sister, Catharina Elizabeth, was married to Pieter's brother JHL (already mentioned above) who farmed on Middagzon.

Pieter and Jacoba Venter's descendants continued to farm in the area for nearly a century from 1882 until 1978, when the last Venter farms near Bandelierkop were sold to a cousin in the Janse van Rensburg family line of their son PJL (h4 below) (see related project of the Klipput Venters of Bandelierkop 1910-1980 - still to be created).

  • A second cousin of the h4 (Venter) family line, Frits Eloff, is the current custodian of the family farms near Bandelierkop, now collectively called Soetveld Boerdery.

This project aims to collect information about PJL Venter and JM Botha's immediate ancestors and all their descendants and related family in South Africa. It also aims to "keep the family together" by providing visibility of the different branches of the family, and by providing interesting information related to Pieter (PJL) Venter and Jacoba (JM) Botha and their children. They lived in pioneering times in the then Northern Transvaal, experienced the Anglo Boer War, POW and concentration camps and associated deaths. Through marriages of their children, they linked strongly to other well-known families in the area (e.g. Potgieter (3x), Janse van Rensburg, Bronkhorst, Grobbelaar, Haasbroek, Colyn, Seegers and Venter), broadening out to even further families in the area in later years.

Credit is hereby given for the great research document "A Venter Family History" by Darrell Hall, 1992. Although it focuses on the family of Gerhardus (..g2), our Pieter (..g6)'s older brother, it contained many clues and information that assisted in compiling the history of the Welgevonden Venters.

Note:

  • All the blue sections / words represent click-able links to more information about the individual, location or topic.
  • If you can and want to contribute to this project, please add yourself as a collaborator and feel free to start adding and improving, as appropriate. Alternatively email information to johann.ahlers@gmail.com

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Descendants

Pieter {..f3g6} and Jacoba Venter of Welgevonden had nine children:

They had 65+ grandchildren (cousins) of whom 4, of the 7 living at the time, died in the Pietersburg Concentration camp (1900-1902):

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Pieter Johannes Lodewyk Venter (1851-1941) and his parents

Pieter's parents were Jacobus Daniël Venter (1814-1892) and Martha Maria Magdalena Robbertse (c.1821-1883). His parents were both young unmarried adults during the Great Trek.

Pieter's father, JD Venter (jr):

JD Venter was born at the hot water springs 'Toverwater' on new year's day 1814. This is about 25km due north of the present day Uniondale in the Swartberg mountains. The farm Toverwater used to belong to the uncle of JD's father - the famous frontier farmer and field commandant Tjaart van der Walt, who was killed in a skirmish in the Kouga mountains on 8 Aug 1802.

JD grew up on the farm 'Zoetendalsvally' (due north of present day Uniondale and due west of present day Willowmore), on the Karoo-side of the Zwartberg mountains. It is on this farm that JD's mother died in about 1833 - and she was probably also buried here.

What the exact reasons were that precipitated the family's participation in the Great Trek will probably never be known. What we have good reason to suspect, though, is that it was from Zoetendalsvally that JD's widower father (JD sr) and his children departed on the Great Trek. JD (jr) had two elder brothers with young families, and at 24 years of age, he was the oldest of the six remaining unmarried children.

According to Voortrekkerstamouers (the second edition of the publication by JC Visagie) they probably were members of the PD Jacobs party ('trekgeselskap') that departed in April or May 1838 from the Beaufort (West) district. The Jacobs party originally trekked to Natal, but did not stay for long. PD Jacobs owned a farm at Potchefstroom by June 1839, but settled near Heidelberg (Tvl) in 1840. It is suspected that the Venters in his party may have followed suit.

Pieter's mother, MMM Robbertse:

MMM Robbertse was baptised in June 1821. Her parents lived in the Swagershoek area of Somerset East. From December 1835, they were members of the early AH Potgieter Trek. As such, they would have been at Vegkop in 1836, and later also in Natal during the eventful 1838. After the Great Trek, her father had the farm 'Jonkmansdrift' near the Kosterrivier registered on his name in December 1839.

In 1840 she married the 26yr old bachelor JD Venter (jr) at Potchefstroom.

Movements of Pieter's parents (after 1840)

After the turmoil of the Great Trek, in 1840, JD (jr) and his father, JD (sr), were both married in the laager of Andries Potgieter at Potchefstroom. By March 1842 Pieter's parents (JD and MMM) were still in the vicinity of Potchefstroom, but on 4 Aug 1845 the farm Kalkbank - between the Steelpoort- and Spekboom rivers, Ohrigstad - were registered in JD jr's name. At this stage they seem to have been exploring where they would want to build a future. The exact movements of the young Venter couple (JD and MMM) between 1844 and 1868 (the boyhood years of Pieter - PJL) is unfortunately not known to us. At times, they had children baptised in Potchefstroom and in Winburg (Free State) by the visiting Rev. Lindley and Rev. Andrew Murray.

Pieter (PJL) Venter was born on 1 December 1851 and baptised either at Rustenburg or further north towards the later Pietersburg. He was baptised on 10 April 1851 and this was recorded as entry #3 in the 'Doopboek van die NHK van Zoutpansberg' - which was at first kept in the custody of the northernmost church at Rustenburg.

On 3 March 1869, the 2nd portion of Bosmansfontein, a farm in the Standerton district, was transferred to Pieter's father JD jr. JD and MMM were to settle here for at least the next 14 years.

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Jacoba Marthina Botha (1849-1919) and her parents

Jacoba's parents were Jacobus Marthinus Botha (1801-1882) and Stephina Anna Cathrina Bekker (1820-1886). They did not participate in the major Great Trek movement (some of his brothers and cousins did), but followed shortly in 1842.

Jacoba's father, JM Botha:

JM Botha was born in the Swellendam district of the Cape as the third of nine children. He married his first wife, Margaretha Dorothea Carelse (the daughter of his stepmother), at Graaff-Reinet in 1824. They had one son in 1825, and it is assumed that MD Carelse died at about this time, as they had no further children and JM re-married again later.

In 1837 the 36year old widower JM Botha married the 16year old SAC Bekker.

Jacoba's mother, SAC Bekker:

SAC Bekker was born on 9 July 1820 in Uitenhage as the youngest of twelve children. She was nearly seventeen when she married the widower JM Botha in UItenhage on the 2nd of March 1837.

Movements of Jacoba's parents after 1837

JM Botha and SAC Bekker at first settled in the Uitenhage district, but decided to follow in the tracks of the Voortrekkers (and some of JM's brothers) to the north. By Feb 1842 they were in Winburg, and by the end of 1842 in Pietermaritzburg. They stayed there for a while, but we find them in the Marico district (Zwartruggens / Zeerust) of the Transvaal when Jacoba Marthina was born in 1849.

Jacoba's uncle, David A.M. Botha (her father JM's brother), settled on the farm Hartebeestpoort (near the later Pretoria). His pioneer home - built in 1848 - can still be seen at its original site - now the Pioneer's Museum in Silverton, Pretoria. He sold the farm in 1853 to a Vermeulen and moved further to the east, to Kleinfontein, where he lived until his death in 1879. In 1858 D.A.M. Botha was elected at Rustenburg as the Chairman of the ZAR Volksraad. He seems to have held this position into 1861 - until shortly after the start of the unfortunate Civil War (1861-1864).

The exact movements of the Botha couple (JM and SAC) between 1849 and 1869 (the childhood and teenage years of JM) are unfortunately not known to us. By 1869, however, they seem to have settled on Rustfontein in the district of Heidelberg.

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The Greylingstad connection

As mentioned before, portion 2 of the farm Bosmansfontein was tranferred to PJL Venter's father on 3 March 1869. This farm is about 22 km northeast of present day Greylingstad, east of Heidelberg, Gauteng. The western edge of the farm was the dividing line between the districts of Heidelberg and Standerton.

At this time, JM Botha's parents lived just northwest of the future Greylingstad, on the farm Rustfontein.

It is probably in the general vicinity of Greylingstad - or at the church in Heidelberg - that Pieter (PJL) Venter and Jacoba (JM) Botha met and had their courtship. They were married at Heidelberg in 1870. (The Heidelberg church was founded in 1865.)

An elder brother of Pieter, Jan Hendrik Louis, married a younger sister of Jacoba, Catharina Elizabeth, cementing a strong relationship between the Botha and Venter families of Greylingstad. These two married couples - together with some of Pieter's brothers and cousins - would later relocate to the Zoekmekaar area, where they would set root and settle until deep into the 20th century.

-- to be completed --

the connection between the Venters and Bothas; the movements of the children to the north; further division of Bosmansfontein and heirs; death of MMM at Bosmansfontein in August 1883.

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Zoekmekaar before the Anglo-Boer war

Groot Spelonken farms, including Welgevonden Farms of the brothers Neighbouring farmers Death of JD Venter at Welgevonden

-- to be completed --

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The Anglo-Boer War: Bermuda and the Pietersburg Concentration Camp

The 27 Venters taken prisoner in May 1901; the Potgieters

The Pietersburg Concentration Camp - deaths and JJ's escape

-- to be completed --

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Zoekmekaar and Bandelierkop after the Anglo-Boer war

Bandelierkop farms, including Bellevue (and Droogekraal and Klipput)

Pieter and Jacoba probably buried on Bellevue (gravestones no longer readable...)

-- to be completed --

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Zoekmekaar and Bandelierkop in the 21st Century

Recent / existing family links to the area; Wakkerstroom and Welgevonden in the hands of Westfalia; The Bandelierkop farms (Bellevue, Klipput, Groenepunt and Doornveld consolidated into Soetveld)