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Martin Trek to Rhodesia - 1894

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The Martin Trek (1894)

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There is a very full account of this trip in “Many Treks Made Rhodesia” by S.P. Olivier.

Marthinus Jacobus Martin, (Member of Parliament of the FreeState), of Naudelust, Fouriesburg in the Orange Free State, South Africa lead one of the most important and one of the biggest agricultural treks into Rhodesia in 1894.

Marthinus J Martin, accompanied by Michael A Heyns, Casper Badenhorst and Cornelius J du Preez left Durban for Beira by boat on 4th August 1893 on an expedition to Gazaland to investigate the suitability of the area for settlement. They met up with Tom Moodie who was a brother-in-law of Badenhorst and a great friend of du Preez.

The party was shown the area by Dunbar Moodie as a representative of the British South African Company. After 10 days of inspecting the territory they were convinced that they had found what they were looking for. They decided to apply for permission to settle along the Chimanimani range of mountains. They travelled back to Beira via Chimoyo, and arrived back in the Free State after being away for about two months. having been told at Beira that the area was British Territory Heyns, Badenhorst and du Preez decided to wait and not take part in any trek movement. Martin however was still enthusiastic and was determined that nothing would stop him. He entered into correspondence with the Mozambique Company and the British South African Company to ascertain what the position was, and travelled to to Kimberly to meet Rhodes. Rhodes was eager for a party of Dutch families to settle in the area, and promised Martin that all the rights of the trekkers would be respected, including their language.

Martin received an official reply from the Secretary of the British South African Company saying that they could have the farms in Gazaland, inviting them to go in April 1894. Martin resigned as MP and started preparing for the Trek, working out every step in detail. It seemed that he wanted to go to Rhodesia not because his life was not going well, but because he saw it as an opportunity for his people.

The party grew to over 100 and were instructed to assemble in Fouriesburg on the 19th April 1894. They had the advantage of using new wagons which were well stocked with provisions. On that date 24 wagons and 104 members and 10 household servants left Fouriesburg with many livestock in tow.

Jan Gysbert du Preez died suddenly at Johannesburg where he and his family were going to join the Martin Trek. As all arrangements had been made his widow Petronella Susana and their eight children (the eldest was 18 years old). Another daughter, Hester, married one of Martin’s sons.

It took them about a month to travel from the Free State to Pretoria. The party was joined by various families including the English, Tilburg van Rooyen, Herrelman Scholtz and some other young men along the route and left Pretoria on 21st May.

There is a good account of the events that befell the party in “Many Treks Made Rhodesia”. They arrived at Buffelsdrift at the border of Gazaland on the 14th October nearly 7 months after setting out. They disbanded on 3rd November to take up their various farms and homes.

Members of the Martin Trek (1894)

Marthinus Jacobus Martin (1851-1903) and Rosina Elizabeth Martin born du Preez (1848-1941)

Their son

Johannes Hendrik Christoffel Kok and Rosa Huigh Rautenbach

MRS. HANS KOK, 1894. Nee Rosa Rautenbach. Came with her husband and family in the Martin Trek. P. 162, " Many Treks Made Rhodesia," by S. P. Olivier.

George Frederick Heyns (died 1918) and his wife Dirkie Elizabeth Heyns (died 1928)


Abraham Daniel Olwage and Dirkie Jacoba Olwage


Petronella Susana du Preez (widow)


Roelof Theunis Johannes (Rudolph) van Rooyen and Martha van Rooyen (the late Mrs. Hefer) and


  • Tommie van Rooyen
  • Miriam van Rooyen

MRS. RAINER, 1894, ee Miriam van Rooyen. Came up with the Martin Trek. P. 164 "Many Treks Made Rhodesia," by S. P. Olivier. On Roll of Women Pioneers.

Pieter Edmond Steyn and his wife Christina Jacomina Steyn


Jan Dirk Heyns and his wife Rosina Elizabeth Rademeyer


Jan Scholtz and Maria Nel


  • Aletta Scholtz. (Possibly Lettie Scholtz?[4])
  • Mrs Jan Scholtz, 1894, nee Maria Nel. Arrived with her daughter in the Martin Trek. Information from Mrs M. Edwards, Chipinga, 27/6/1957. Also p. 79 “Many Treks Made Rhodesia,” by S. P. Olivier.

Jacob and Gertruida Herselman and


MRS. HERSELMAN, 1894: nee Gertrude Ferrier. Travelled with Martin's Trek, but she and her daughter died soon after they arrived. Her husband also died within a short time. Pp. 367 to 170 "Experiences of Rhodesia's Pioneer Women," by Jeannie M. Boggie and p. 161 "Many Treks Made Rhodesia," by S. P. Olivier.

Salomon Johannes Gerhardus Schoultz (Salmon) (1856-1904) and his wife Ann Maria Scholtz born Nel (died and buried Uitkyk Farm)

ZIM DN 2/62 Anna Maria Scholtz of Willowmore, Cape Colony died 4th November 1894 at Luseti River, Melsetter District on the way with Martin's Trek to Chimanimani - Cause of death - Childbirth.


Johan Botes Schoultz was the informant on his father's death certificate 7th June 1904 - cause of death Blackwater fever.

Petrus Stephanus Martin (1850-1954) (brother of leader Marthinus), and his wife Louisa Francina Martin (Born Hugo)(1859-1917)


Tobias and Mirian van der Riet and children: Edward and Willem.

Jan van Zyl and his Wife Johanna. [5]


  • Johannes van Zyl
  • Willem van Zyl
  • Pieter van Zyl
  • Dawid van Zyl
  • Johanna van Zyl
  • Elizabeth van Zyl
  • Adrian van Zyl

MRS. J. VAN ZYL, 1894 Nee Jacoba Margrieta Kok. With her husband and 8 children travelled up with Martin's Trek, an account of which is to be found on pp. 171-174 of Jeannie M. Boggie's " Experiences of Rhodesia's Pioneer Women."
MRS. RADEMEYER, 1894. Nee Van Zyl. Travelled up with her parents in the Martin Trek. Page 173 "Experiences of Rhodesia's Pioneer Women," by Jeannie M. Boggie, also p. 79 of "Many Treks Made Rhodesia," by S. P. Olivier.

  • James Tilbury English and Catherine Gesina van der Reit.

MRS. ENGLISH, 1894: nee Catharina Gesina van der Reit.

Came with the Martin Trek. Information from Mrs. M. Edwards, Chipinga, 27/6/1957. Also p. 161 "Many Treks Made Rhodesia," by S. P. Olivier.

Notes - inc. Mishaps and tragedies along the way.

  • On the first morning an ox was killed by a bush fire.
  • They encountered heavy rains on the third day which made moving the wagons extremely difficult.
  • Five of J H Kok's oxen died suddenly at Kranskop - presumed to be the result of eating wild tobacco. Further cattle died along the way - Texas Fever, dust fever, gall-sickness, splenic fever being some of the diseases that struck. At Soutpansberg one wagon had to be bartered for trek oxen and others bought to enable to trek to move on.
  • Cornelia[1] du Preez, youngest child of the widow Petronella du Preez, died after the trek left Kranskop. Her remains were taken to the Berlin Mission Station at Macalong where they were buried.
  • Hardy[2] got lost one day - parties were sent looking for him, fires lit, gunshots fired. He was eventually found but could not tell much except that he had slept in a tree and spent most of the day there.
  • One of the Frost [3] children went missing and was never found.
  • Beyond the Limpopo horse sickness caused many of the 53 horses to die.
  • At the Bubye River 2 women got malaria - one Lettie Scholtz [4?] became very ill and died and was buried at the Lusite River near Melsetter. The other, Mrs van Zyl [5] recovered.
  • At Victoria Petronella du Preez [6] and John Heyns [6] were married. Apparently Petronella was much sought after by the young men on the trek! [7] Louis Jacobus Schutte married Catherina Petronella Maryna Schoultz on 12 Feb 1904 Chipinga, Southern Rhodesia - see profiles for DN's.