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The Heinrich Wurth family of South Africa

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Heinrich Wurth and Dorothea Johanne Kunze are the progenitors of this family in South Africa. In December 1982 the family celebrated having been in South Africa 100 years.

This project aims to collect information about their ancestors (in Germany) and all the 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 the progenitors Heinrich Wurth and Dorothea Kunze.

This particular family does no longer have any descendants with the surname Wurth. The eldest son, Theo, left no children, and the youngest son, Otto, died at a very young age. The family has however thrived by means of its Von Schlichting and Ahlers branches. A specific project has been created for the Ahlers branch, and can be seen here.


  • 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



Heinrich and Dorothea Wurth had four children:

  1. Theo (1886-1943) married Emilie Kahl, but had no children.
  2. Kathie (1889-1959) married JWA von Schlichting - see children listed below.
  3. Sophie (1890-1978) first married Johann Bellstedt (JWA von Schlichting's cousin) and then as a young widow married Robert Ahlers. See the RKH Ahlers family of South Africa project for further information and the children listed below.
  4. Otto (1892-1896) died at an early age.

The eleven second generation descendants (cousins) and their children, the 39 third generation descendants (second cousins), are:

Note: please help to correct nicknames and to keep information up to date...


Heinrich Wurth - his parents and years in Germany

See Heinrich's timeline as well as his 'lebenslauf' as described by him in 1877.

- to be completed -


Hermannsburg Missionary at Morgensonne near Saron (1882-1887) and Berseba (1892-1895)

Heinrich left Hamburg, Germany aboard the steam ship 'German' (sic) on 21 October 1882. He arrived in Port Natal (Durban) in December 1882.

He proceeded to the Hermannsburg Mission Station Saron (just north of Rustenburg, South Africa). See this Google map for the approximate location in Phokeng near the 2010 World Cup Soccer Stadium.

  • Aside:
    • The exact location of the 19th century Saron mission station is not yet known to us. One of the most likely locations is in this vicinity, as Mzilikazi's son and heir, Nkulumane, was buried under the tree indicated in August 1883 - see photo and article - and the current primary school to the east is called the Saron Primary School.
    • The best verbal description, from H Pape's 1986 book 'Hermannsburger Missionare in Südafrika' p.141, may indicate a different place, but in the same general vicinity (to be investigated): "Beide wurden bei ihren Eltern Penzhorn auf dem Familienfriedhof in Saron beerdigt. Dieser kleine Friedhof befindet sich mitten in dem unübersehbar grossen Stationsgemeindefriedhof, nicht weit von der Kirche un dem alten Missionarshaus."

By the time of his arrival, Heinrich (nearly 33 years old) was already appointed to head the Morgensonne Schule - a school for the children of all the Hermannsburg missionaries in the Transvaal. The school was located on the neighbouring farm, Morgenzon, and as it was sadly razed and destroyed by British forces during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), it is nearly impossible to determine exactly where it was. Again, a highly likely location is in the vicinity of the recently established elite school - the Lebone II College of the Royal Bafokeng. After the Anglo Boer War, the German community decided not to rebuild the school at Morgensonne, but to consolidate their efforts in supporting and expanding the school at Kroondal. In this way, the Kroondal School became the 'heir in spirit' of Morgensonne.

  • Aside on prominent people who attended the school:
    • Paul Kruger (President of the Transvaal/ZAR from 1880-1900) lived on a neighbouring farm, Boekenhoutfontein, to the north. He made special arrangements for his children to attend the Morgensonne Schule, and is quoted as complimenting the German Kaiser, Wilhelm I, on the quality of German education and schooling! This was during Kruger's visit to Europe in 1883 - following the success of the Boers in the first Anglo Boer War 1880-1881.
    • The well-known Afrikaans theologian and poet, Totius (JD du Toit), who was responsible for the translation of a large part of the Bible into Afrikaans - and compiling the version of the Psalms to be sung - also attended Morgensonne Schule from 1888-1890. Although this was shortly after Heinrich left the school, it is a testament to the high regard in which SJ du Toit (the Transvaal Superintendent of Schools and Totius' father) must have held the school - he did not even place his son in one of his 'own' government schools!?

Apart from schooling responsibilities, Heinrich, was responsible for agricultural / farming activities, and had religious guidance and training responsibilities. Many years later a photo (to be placed here) would be published of his first group of confirmation students - they would all later play leading roles in education and church matters in the German community in South Africa.

Although Heinrich was already engaged by the time he came to South Africa, the Hermannsburg Mission Society insisted that he worked alone for the first few years (a kind of 'bursary commitment'?). When the restrictions lapsed, Heinrich was quick to arrange for his fiancée, Dorothea Kunze, to follow him to South Africa. They were married at the Mission Station Saron - on her arrival - on 25 May 1885, a long two and a half years after he left Germany. In March 1886 their first son, Theo, was born at Morgensonne and baptised at Saron.

Soon Heinrich started planning for his parents-in-law (Heinrich Kunze and Dorothea Huch) and his remaining unmarried sister-in-law, Sophie, to join them at Morgensonne. He apparently intended that they would assist with the farming activities at the Morgensonne Schule. The Kunzes left Hamburg on 30 April 1886 on the steam ship 'Roman' heading for Cape Town via Southampton, and must have arrived during the winter of 1886.

By this time, however, Heinrich's relationship with the Hermannsburg Mission Society was already no longer what it was supposed to be (more about this to be added later). In 1887 he resigned from all his roles at Morgensonne and Saron, broke with the Hermannsburg Mission Society and moved to an apparent communal German farming community at Kafferskraal, Hexrivier, Rustenburg (current best assumed location).

It is at Kafferskraal, as a private farmer with his in-laws, that the remaining children Kathie (1889), Sophie (1890) and Otto (1892) were born. It is also here that Heinrich's in-laws sadly passed away - one day apart - in May 1891 (barely five years after emigrating to South Africa).

Some reconciliatory discussions had been ongoing, and during 1892 Heinrich re-entered the service of the Hermannsburg Mission Society with a posting to the Mission Station Berseba nearby. (Precise location of the 1890's station is not known. The Berseba community has been bisected since the 1980's by the 'highway to Sun City'...) It is probably at Berseba that Kathie and Sophie formed their first conscious childhood memories.

By 1895, Heinrich's relationship with the Hermannsburg Mission Society finally soured and he left for the second and final time. The family probably moved to Vastfontein next to their beloved Apies River, as it is there that we find them during the Anglo Boer War (1899-1902).


The Vastfontein years

It is not clear how and why the Wurth family ended up on Vastfontein in the late 1890s.

  • Aside: Vastfontein is just north of the current Rooiwal Power Station (commissioned in 1963 - many years after our family left the area). Hein Ahlers remembers the farm where the power station is located to have had the 'most beautiful and best grapes he ever tasted'.

We have evidence that Heinrich was supplying vegetables from Vastfontein to the nearby Waterval Prisoner of War camp during the Anglo Boer War (1899-1902). The Waterval POW camp was where the initially victorious Boers held the British POWs up to the fall of Pretoria in June 1900. (The assumed location has been advised by dr Paul Greyling of the Pretoria Historical Society. The site is just north of the current Pretoria abbatoir.)

-- to be completed --

The Wurth parents and families of their married daughters - Von Schlichting and Bellstedt (Ahlers after 1925) - all stayed on the farm Vastfontein north of Pretoria.

- to be completed -


The Wurths and Bellstedts

There must have been a special relationships between the Bellstedts (a very succesful international trading family from Bremen, headquartered in Port Elizabeth at the time) as the two Wurth daughters married two Bellstedt-cousins. Kathie married Johann WA von Schlichting (whose mother was Meta Bellstedt) in 1909 and Sophie married Johann W Bellstedt in 1912. Johann Bellstedt was buried on Vastfontein in 1919, after which the young widow, Sophie, married Robert Ahlers in 1925.

- to be completed -


Kunze ancestors in Berssel near Wernigerode, Harz

The Kunze family (in-laws of H Wurth) hailed from Berssel, near Wernigerode in the Harz mountain region of the Sachsen-Anhalt province of Germany. (Berssel and Wernigerode was in East Germany after World War II.) Two research documents commissioned by Johann Ahlers are attached to this project - they detail the Kuntze family ancestry from the Ortsfamilienbücher of the area.

It is on a weekend escape to the Harz mountains from his theology studies in Hermannsburg in the late 1870s that one of the daughters of the Kunze family caught the eye of Heinrich Wurth. Love at first sight - for him, at least.

- to be completed -


Royal ancestry via Wurth ancestors in Feldkirchen, München and earlier in the Ortenau, Baden-Württemberg

Heinrich was born in Feldkirchen, München in 1850. His grandparents were founding members of the Evangelical Lutheran (protestant) community towards the beginning of the 1800's, having 'fled' from Altenheim in the Baden-Württemberg area on the German side of the Rhine river near Strassbourg. (More about this to be added later.) The Feldkirchen evangelical church was built in 1837 and celebrated its 175 years of existence in 2012 with a Festschrift (a copy gifted to our family is in the possession of Johann Ahlers, following a visit in 2009).

In the Ortenau region our Wurth family descends, amongst others, from the Roeder von Diersburgs - a branch still owns and operates the Roeder von Diersburg Weingut in Diersburg - their wine is highly recommended. Through this linkage this family is (doubly - more about this later) descendant from Gräfin Eleonore Maria Juliana Luisa zu Leiningen-Westerburg-Rixingen-Oberbronn (1627-1670) who lived in Oberbronn, Alsace, France and is the family's gateway to the Hoch Adel of Europe. Through her the Wurth family is direct descendants from, amongst others, the following:

- to be completed -