IMG 0873The Eastern Cape Branch of the Genealogical Society of South Africa officially joined the fold during 1982.  The first general meeting of the Branch at which minutes were taken was on 13 January 1982.  The East Cape Branch of the GSSA is located in Port Elizabeth. The branch serves the Eastern Cape and surrounding areas.
Port Elizabeth has a history going back many years before the arrival of the 1820 British Settlers.
In 1799 a fort was built by the British and soldiers garrisoned there for the protection of Algoa Bay from attack from the sea.  Even before that Frederick Korsten lived on his beautiful manorial estate which was a haven to all weary travellers. The committee for 2014 was elected during the March 2014 meeting and can be seen here.
An interesting development in the Eastern Cape is the number of separate groups which have sprung up in a number of small towns around the Eastern Cape, which are not affiliated with GSSA.  A regular monthly meeting is being held with a group of researchers from Grahamstown, not all of whom are members of GSSA.  Visits are also planned for Port Alfred and Uitenhage and any other town that contacts us. An English group specialising in the United Kingdom, for which the the contact person is Liz Eshmade, who may be contacted by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Our meetings are open to the public and are conducted every third Monday of the month in the Lolly Shtein Hall at the Laubscher Park West Retirement Complex in Villiers Road, Greenshields Park. Meetings start at 19h30.  A variety of speakers address the meetings on a wide range of the aspects of life surrounding our families and the era in which they lived and also on specific surnames. 
East Cape Branch publishes a quarterly journal called "Chronicles."  Should one wish to contact the Branch per snail mail, the postal address of the branch is P.O.Box 1183, Port Elizabeth 6000.

The German Interest Group

Translated from Afrikaans to English by Carol Beneke

On 18 June 2009 a small group, seven to be precise, decided to form the German Interest Group. Since then we meet once a month at the house of one or other of the members of the group. On average we are 14 members per evening, but in the past we have been between 20 and 25 friends that have visited together. Our meetings are friendly and informal. We do not have a committee, do not ask membership fees and do not make long speeches. A guest speaker is normally invited for the evening. After the talk we adjourn and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and some eats which are donated by the hostess. The discussions thereafter sometimes become so interesting and the members become so enthusiastic about the topic, and the speaker is peppered with so many questions that it becomes difficult to go home. They are wonderful friendly constructive and instructive evenings. Sometimes we have a members evening which is particularly popular. Anyone who has anything to show which he inherited, or has something to tell of his German ancestors gets an opportunity to do so. In this manner we have heard and seen many interesting things. We all have an interest in our “Heimatland”, as each of us has one or more German ancestors. Our ancestors originate mainly from the groups of Germans who founded themselves during 1857 to 1859 in the Eastern Cape. Sadly there are few members that still speak German. Our language choice is English or Afrikaans, according to personal preference. Once a year we attend a service at the Lutheran Church. Rev. Felix Meylahn leads the services. The services are held in English, with two additional German services a month.
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The Lutheran Church community holds their Christmas fair during November, where authentic German food, cake and handiwork are offered for sale. If I may highlight particular high points, at least for me personally, I would mention when I took the group for a weekend trip to the King Williams Town area. In order not to be repetitive, I will combine highlights from a number of tours. We left Port Elizabeth early on Saturday morning for Kidds Beach, where we overnighted.

Read more: The German Interest Group

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The Eastern Cape Cemetery Project

The first cemetery to be recorded in Port Elizabeth was St. George’s

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Park, followed by St. Mary’s and Uitenhage.  Thereafter members started work on Old South End Cemetery.  When this was almost finished North End Cemetery was started and St. Mary’s finalised.
While work on North End was underway, work began on cemeteries in Settler Country and further afield, up to 150km from Port Elizabeth.  This encompasses everything from the Fish River to Kareedouw.
The task then expanded to checking recordings of the Grahamstown Old Cemeteries done by other individuals.  Included in this was Port Alfred.  Eventually the focus became the remainder of Settler Country.  The late Mike Wakeford was of great assistance here.  
Humansdorp, Jeffrey’s Bay and Kareedouw followed. John and Lorraine Drury took on South End Extension. However, Lorraine sadly did not survive to see the final product.  John, Mary Runciman and Liz Eshmade soldiered on doing Bushmans River and a number of “Unknown” local cemeteries with graves in deep grass and thick bush. In the end, a core group of 4 volunteers persisted with the project.
Carol started recording gravestones digitally in 2010.  This involves taking photographs of the various headstones and memorials with a digital camera and namingthe photographs according to the inscriptions. Typing up of the registers also became a priority. Many other people, including Janet Melville, Emerentia Ferreira, Marielle Ford, Sunelia Heath, Walter Renze, and others to numerous to mention, have also taken the initiative and taken photographs of cemeteries far and wide.     A large cemetery such as South End, in Port Elizabeth, with over 9,000 headstones, takes approximately 6 weeks of photography, with 3 to 4 hours spent there per week. On the Eastern Cape Cemeteries CD, in excess of 1,500 cemeteries are recorded as having been completed.  New projects include the recording of cemeteries in the Gamtoos River Valley, with the help of the Jeffrey’s Bay Genealogical Group. Read more about the Project in the Menu to the right.
Symbols on Gravestones

On all my expeditions to various cemeteries around the country, I have always wondered what the different symbols meant and took it upon myself to find out. Surfing the web I came across a wonderful website that gave me all the different types of symbols and there meanings. Click here to see  Symbols on Headstones
We hereby acknowledge the copyright of Tomb with a View, ©1995-2003. In the event that the copyright extends past 2003, kindly advise, so that permission may be sought.
Pictures were not included in the original document and once again time was spent trying to find the closest pictures to the symbols I had seen. The pictures were downloaded from: • • Page
I hope that all who read this will find out as much as I did. A journey well worth taken. A supervisor at a cemetery once said to me, "Have you ever found a headstone showing that a person in the grave was not the innocent, sweet person that they make him/her out to be." This really hit home. This still concerns me today. A thought I put to all of you.

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A colourful look at our Sensitive History

Walter Renze addressed the members of the East Cape Branch of the GSSA on Monday16 July. Walter hails from the Eastern Cape. He did not know much about his family history and his immediate relatives were hesitant in discussing the family. He embarked on a journey into the family's past and soon came to know why there was a hesitancy to talk about the family's history.
A family tree that has some very colourful branches to it.  Walter: "I do not profess to know all there is to know about it. I just want to relay my personal experiences relating to this as it impacts directly on my family. When I look at my collection of family photos that I have, I notice that there hardly seem to be extended family in it, except for some of my maternal family. And it was always something I wondered about. It never bothered me too much as a child, but as I grew up, it bothered me more and more. My father used to speak to me about family, but not too much. And I always wondered why".
iconA colourful look at our Sensitive History

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Researching the Allwrights

I am pleased to make this genealogical work available to fellow descendants of Richard Walker Allwright as well as interested parties. My research is the result of many years (8 years) and hours of hard work.Download the article: Richard Walker Allwright or for more information contact me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. It will be apparent to all readers that there are a lot of omissions and errors. Despite this, I hope that family members will point out the errors to me so that I can make corrections on my computer. I would like to add all the names that I have unintentionally omitted in order to have a more complete record of the Allwright Family. As I consider female descendants no less important than male descendants, I have included the female line as well.

Several years ago I got forwarded an e-mail from my first cousin once removed, Uncle Gordon Bold in Australia who was looking for someone to collect an etching of our 1820 Settler 5th Great Grandmother, Hannah Manchester on my maternal side from the Albany Museum in Grahamstown. This was so easy and my interest in my roots started. When I was younger I can remember my Father having a file with the Allwright Family tree. After his death I discovered the research done by Dr. Winston Allwright in the 1980's and decided to take his work and do some research of my own.

Although this is a record of the descendants of Richard Walker Allwright I have been able to trace his siblings or his parents in England, after 7 years. I have however not included their descendants in this work, but they are mentioned.

My research has meant visits to Archives, Masters Offices, various churches, the Cory Library in Grahamstown and members of family. It has proved to be very interesting and entertaining and have met and now know many family members who I would never have known. I wish I could have met more specially the ones living abroad.

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