The Genealogical Society of South Africa

Bible Project

Neels Coertze, Sandton, 28 Desember 2012
A few years ago, Dennis Pretorius, a member of Western Gauteng Branch of the Genealogical Society of South Africa remarked that genealogical information may lay undiscovered in Family Bibles and that it may also go hidden in museums and private collections. This urged Neels Coertse a member of the Western Gauteng Branch to start photographing Family Bibles that eventually resulted in 500 photographs from 76 Bibles being collected.
Neels and his helpers, Lucas, Rinken and Giel Nel, both members of Western Gauteng Branch embarked on this enormous task. They were the men who put on the gloves at Museum Africa ["MA"] to deal with the valuable items.  They went to Museum Africa (several visits) and also to the Johannesburg Public Library (JPL). Several private donations for the project were also received. The photos were bound in five bundles called "Pictures of Family Bibles and Genealogical / Family History contained therein".
Genealogists are always looking for stories and that tasty titbits of family history maybe even skeletons? Not always ugly stuff, but stories that make one sit upright. So they came across a family register from Adam dating to Mother Mary's time.  This can be seen in Bonham, TX Family Bible [JPL Q 220.52] [BOOK I page 7]. There are 36 beautiful pictures.
Neels's own immediate family was involved in the Anglo Boer War quite near the West Rand in the Ventersdorp district. The Coertse, Family Bible tells the story of fleeing Boers, the Tommy officer and the Bible on fire.  It was obviously an attempt by the British soldiers to get rid of the genealogical information in the Bible. The British officer returned the Bible to South Africa in 1959 and it is now available for research. RJ [MA1958-94] [BOOK I Page 93]
When one particular Bible was removed from its plastic bag, a second plastic bag fell out.  Giel was on hand and opened it. In surprise he took a step or two backwards and said: "And now Neels, what do we do now?" I told him: "We take pictures of course. We continued photographing. In the second bag there was a braid of Chatarina Mary Elizabeth BADENHORST hair cut on the day of her death. It can be viewed on the photo. [PRINSLOO, JP & BOSHOFF WH [MA6489] [BOOK IV page 384].
SNOW / BLIGNAUT MM Bible [MA1969-954] [BOOK V page 416] tells the story of Commandant Jan VILJOEN and his horse commando in 1864 interrupted the sermon of Rev Lion Cachet when they him used whips to chase him off the farm Koedoesfontein.
In the final agreement between the Western Gauteng Branch and Museum Africa the director gave permission that the photos may be published. The plan is that these photos will in the near future be published on the e-GSSA, Project Famliy Bibles Inscription Pages, to make it accessible to the public.
Thank you to Lucas Rinken and Giel Nel who helped me - although we sometimes were frightened, we mostly started laughing spontaneously out of sheer excitement.
Western Gauteng Branch would like to thank all the donors for their permission to photograph and preserve the images for posterity.
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