Potchefstroom Herald 27 Augustus 2015
The Els progenitor in South Africa, Johann Martin Öltz/Oeltz/Eltz, known in South Africa as Johannes Martin Els(aka Jan or Marthinus) was born in Stendal, Prussia on 4.6.1724 and was baptised in the Jakobikirche (St. James Lutheran Church) in Stendal on 7.6.1724.
Els joins the service of V.O.C. as a soldier on 8.1.1749. He is recorded as Johan Martien Ulsen and arrives in False Bay on 2.6.1749 when he was 25 years old.
After serving the V.O.C. for seven years,he leaves the V.O.C. and becomes a Free Burger on 16.3.1756. He married Anna Maria Pieterse on 8.5.1763.
On 14.1.1774 the loan farm “Jagersrivier”, east of Oudtshoorn, was allotted to Els as grazing land. He had to pay leasehold of 24 Rixdollars p.a. to the magistrate in Swellendam and was also obliged to deliver free to the Castle in Cape Town 10% of his wheat-harvest and deliver the receipt for it to the magistrate. By 7.4.1787 he had abandoned the farm as he was in arrears for a period of 12 years and 3 months.
His wife, Anna Maria Pieterse,baptised Stellenbosch 17.12.1747,+before 22.5.1779, is the illegitimate daughter of Willem Hendrikse by Elsje Gerrits.
Anna carried the surname of her stepfather, Johannes (Jantje) Peters, who probably brought her up from the age of about 1 or 2 years, following his marriage to her mother Elsje.
There is strong circumstantial evidence that Elsje Gerrits is in fact the same person as Anna Elizabeth Weyers, d.o.Heinrich Weyers from Epe in the Netherlands. Like her mother, Anna Elizabeth Gerrits - who was known as Elsje Gerrits - she seems to have also been called Elsje Gerrits.
Johannes Martin Els and Anna Maria Pieterse had six children:
b1Johannes Marthinus,*20.121763, +Albany 9.9.1844 x 16.11.1783, Johanna Catharina van Tonder,baptised Olifants River 12.11.1769, +Caledon 30.5.1846.
b2 Nicolaas Jacobus, baptised Cape Town7.7.1772, + before 18.8.1830 x Swellendam1.3.1795, Hester Botha, baptised 18.2.1781,+between 1811 and 1817, xx ca 1818 Maria Albertha Joubert.
b3 Johannes Christoffel, baptised Cape Town 19.1.1775 x Graaff-Reinet 30.10.1803 Elizabeth Sophia van der Merwe, +before 6.2.1839.
b4 Christiaan (twin brother of Frederik), baptised Drakenstein 27.4.1777, +probably before 22.5.1779.
b5 Frederik Nicolaas (twin brother of Christiaan), baptised Drakenstein 27.4.1777 x 20.11.1803 Susanna Cornelia de Bruyn, baptised Cape Town 20.5.1787.
b6 Anna Maria, baptised Drakenstein 18.4.1779 x 2.8.1795 Jan Willem Minnie, baptised Tulbagh 25.12.1772.
While the birth dates of the last 5 children are spaced the usual two to three years apart, the first two children were born almost nine years apart. An explanation could be that there were additional children, who did not survive, born between the birth dates of the first two.
The majority of South Africans with the surname Els (and at least one known third generation branch who changed the surname to Else) are descendants of one of the four sons (Johannes Marthinus, Nicolaas Jacobus, Johannes Christoffel and Frederik Nicolaas), although there could be some Else’s who are descendants of the Irish progenitor Patrick Henry Ellis from Dublin Ireland who marriedMargaretha Magdalena Joubert in Drakenstein on 14.8.1803. On the baptism entries of their children in the Swellendamand George baptismal registers, they were simply entered with the Afrikaans spelling Els instead of Ellis. The children married Afrikaans spouses and many of the families probably became Afrikaans.
There is also a John Arthur Ells from Godalming, Surrey, England who married an Afrikaans woman Elsje Sophia Pansegrouw, born in Agter-Sneeuberg, Cradock 24.4.1858 in the Methodist Church, Kroonstad on 12.12.1882. Most of his children also had Afrikaans names. Whether any of his descendants adopted the surname Els is not known.