Northern Transvaal Branch - Monthly Presentations 2020

One of the benefits of GSSA membership is the opportunity to attend a monthly talk by a knowledgeable speaker. The Northern Transvaal branch is renowned for the quality, professionalism, and relevance of its presentations on a myriad of genealogy related topics. Navigate to the presentation video, text or slide set. Each presentation is in the language of the topic. For a summary of each presentation, see below. 
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2020-10-17 Yolanda Chong Digitale Drome & Familiebome - my verlede tot op hede
2020-09-12 Alta Jamison The four Jamison brothers in World War 2
2020-08-15 Dr Elmien Wood Uit die voorraadskuur van die geskiedenis: epidemies
2020-07-18 Matt Bode Sources and searches on FamilySearch
2020-06-20 Matthew Marwick Redharvest: A salute to South Africa's 'munition factories' of WWI
2020-05-16 Dr Wilhelm Bernhardt 
Net 'n doodgewone man: Die lewensverhaal van James Herman, 1820 Setlaar 
Prof André Buys
Ons voorouers in Mauritius
2020-03-14 Prof Grietjie Verhoef Carnegie, Armoede en Triomf
Charlie Els
Die Verstotelinge

2023  Gauteng North Branch - Monthly Presentations
2022  Northern Transvaal Branch - Monthly Presentations 
2021  Northern Transvaal Branch - Monthly Presentations     

Digital Dreams & Family Trees - my past to present

CHONG Yolanda foto 2020 10 17Yolanda Chong:  17 October 2020
The GGSA Ntvl Branch was extremely privileged to watch and listen to a talk by a newcomer genealogist, Yolanda Chong (nee Van der Mescht). Yolanda "Zoom" with us, all the way from Hong Kong in China, where she has been living, with her husband (a South African by birth) and daughter, for 14 years now.
Her talk was entitled "Digital Dreams & Family Trees - My Past to the Present" and stemmed from research she started doing for her daughter's school assignment. Yolanda obviously did not have access to any local South African archives or library facilities and therefore had to do all her research with the help of internet resources. She further mentions that her research has received a good boost in the past year due to the time she was able to spend on it, mainly because she had to stay at home due to the Covid-19 restriction measures.
Yolanda's talk is highly recommended as a basic guideline for any novice genealogist who wants to set up a basic family tree. Her experiences confirm that today, due to the internet, it is possible to compile an impressive and accurate South African family tree from an apartment in Hong Kong. Of course, setting up a family tree is only the first step on the genealogical journey of discovery. The next step is to build a full family history. However, Yolanda’s infectious enthusiasm and internet ingenuity will no doubt soon enable her to master this exciting dimension of genealogy as well. The NTvl branch wishes her all the best on her further voyages of discovery!

The four Jamison brothers in World War 2

Alta JamisonAlta Jamison:  12 September 2020
With her subject focused on the experiences of four Jamison brothers in World War II, Alta started her presentation by showing a short video about the course of the conflict. The story of the Jamison family in which she married begins with the pater familias Reginald (1878-1942) who was part of the British Northern Russian Expeditionary Force during the First World War. He was married to Eanswythe Elstrith Heyworth (1877-1925), of Welsh descent. From their marriage, four sons were born, one of whom later became the grandfather of Alta's husband.
She discussed the life of each in a particularly interesting way, with photos and video clips. Also interesting was the fact that the eldest, Peter Lawrence (1909-1962), had to change his surname to Mortimer to meet the requirements of a legacy. Two of the brothers served in the British forces, although all grew up in South Africa. The youngest brother, Reginald Ivor, was in the South African Artillery Corps. The third son, Robin Ralph (1912-1991), could not serve in the armed forces due to medical reasons, but as an engineer at Rolls-Royce in Britain he was closely involved in the development of the Merlin engine for Spitfire and Hurricane fighter aircraft and maritime patrol boats. From his descendants, Alta's husband was born.
Alta received well-deserved praise for her presentation.

From the Stockpile of History: Epidemics

Dr Elmien WoodDr Elmien Wood:  15 August 2020
The title of her presentation ‘Uit die Voorraadskuur van die Geskiedenis: Epidemies’ comes from Jan FE Celliers who saw the past as an “inexhaustibly rich stockpile” for the artist. In light of her genealogy research (about her Spies ancestor who arrived with the ship De Ketel), she quotes author Dan Sleigh who says most ship diseases were the result of onboard epidemics and not dietary diseases.
She does discuss scurvy, which was initially considered contagious, as well as leprosy and smallpox. During the great smallpox outbreaks of 1713, 1755 and 1767, the VOC isolated the sick and quickly buried the dead.
"Pest" was a generic term for any epidemic or pandemic, but referred to "plague", a specific and highly contagious bacterium. Pest includes bubonic plague, septicemic and pulmonary plague. Among the most notorious pandemics were the Black Death of 1346 to 1353 and later outbreaks, including the Great Plague of London in 1665. Residents of the English town of Eyam actually sacrificed themselves by going into voluntary isolation.
A third plague struck large parts of the world, including Johannesburg in 1904 where Lord Alfred Milner moved black inhabitants and burned down their residential area. Elmien Wood then discussed the Great Flu of 1918, which claimed millions of lives worldwide.
Indications are that the largest number of deaths in the concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer War were due to measles and not poor sanitation as claimed. As early as 1854, John Snow realised that cholera in London was due to poor sanitation. This reaffirms the value of human behaviour, especially non-pharmacological intervention, in preventing infection, as for the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sources and searches on FamilySearch

Matt BodeMatthew Bode:  18 July 2020
In a first for Northern Transvaal branch, we arranged a virtual meeting via Zoom with the Tasmania-based speaker Matthew (Matt) Bode to address no less than 67 members from around the country. Given the time difference with Australia, the meeting started at 10:00 instead of the usual 13:30.
Matt is known for his YouTube videos on Genealogy and is also active on the South African Genealogy Facebook group.
Researchers can access data on FamilySearch (FS) in two ways, through browsing indexed records (or collections) through the South African Home Page or through the FS catalogue where most of the unindexed records are to be found. Baptism, marriage and death records of the three Afrikaner ‘sister’ church can be accessed, as well as some Anglican and Methodist records. He pointed out there is a 100-year privacy rule on the Dutch Reformed (NGK) data. No such records can be accessed for the Presbyterian, Catholic, Jewish or Muslim faiths, although civil records of these adherents are kept in terms of the law.
Illustrating his search methodology with four examples, Matt then engaged the audience in an interactive manner by researching some queries in real time.
This meeting elicited numerous very positive comments and responses.

Redharvest: A salute to South Africa's 'munition factories' of WWI

Matthew Marwick webMatthew Marwick, 20 June 2020
Under the heading ‘Redharvest: A Salute to South Africa’s “munition factories” of the Great War (1914-1918)’, Matthew Marwick outlined the contribution of young English-speaking South African men. Many who died had been pupils from private schools like Maritzburg College that Matthew attended and where he teaches History.
Matthew was inspired to undertake this research by the school’s monument for 100 old-boys and three teachers who were among the fallen. Moreover, the “father” of Maritzburg College RD Clark’s own son was one of those.
The phrase “munitions factories” is attributed to an erstwhile headmaster of St Andrews, PWH Kettlewell, who felt it was unseemly to compare such rolls of honour. Still, Matthew’s database is quite revealing: six of the most prominent schools each lost between 86 and 164 old-boys. Of a total of 8 551 South Africans who perished in the Great War, more than 1 300 were from 17 schools. Several received high honours, such as the Victoria Cross.
This talk via a Zoom meeting prompted questions from our predominantly Afrikaans-speaking audience about the role of honour and duty, specifically towards “King and Country” – which Afrikaners resisted for political reasons.

Just an ordinary man: The life of James Herman, 1820 Settler

Dr Wilhelm Bernhardt
Dr Wilhelm Bernhardt,  16 May 2020
Although the name of James Herman featured prominently in Willie Bernhardt's family register of his maternal grandmother, he knew nothing about him. As a result of the Covid-19 lockdown, he was only able to obtain information through web searches - without being able to access the archives at all.
It was indeed possible to ascertain that James (also sometimes called Jiems in Afrikaans) was born in England and worked as a carpenter, more specifically a maker of chair legs. Herman (sometimes mistakenly referred to as Hermann in the record) eventually came to South Africa as part of the Wait group of 1820 British Settlers. Here he worked in the Afrikaans community, had two marriages with Afrikaans-speaking women and also trekked with the Voortrekkers to the interior. There are indications that he settled in the Rustenburg area, but there all record of him ceased, along with those of his wife. Willie believes they had died in a malaria epidemic for which there is ample evidence.
Willie's presentation was based on facts, as well as assumptions, by which he could draw a picture of an "ordinary" person. In his closing remarks, he challenges the branch to do the same with an "unknown" in our family tree or family register.

Our ancestors in Mauritius

Our ancestors in MauritiusProf André Buys, 14 April 2020
Most South Africans associate Mauritius with an exotic tropical island vacation in the Indian Ocean or with an island known for the extinct dodos. However, it is not widely known that some of the Afrikaners' ancestors had a connection with the island of Mauritius 300 years ago.
A Dutch expedition to Indonesia arrived on the island of Do Cerne on 17 September 1598, and named it Mauritius in honour of the Mayor Prince Maurice of Nassau. The first Dutch occupation of Mauritius (1637 - 1658) had virtually no connection with our ancestors. The presence of British and French competition in the Indian Ocean prompted the Dutch East India Company (VOC) to occupy Mauritius a few years later. In 1663 Zacharias Wagenaer, the governor of the Cape, was commissioned to relocate a Dutch settlement in Mauritius. In the second occupation a number of our ancestors get connected to Mauritius. These include Pretorius, Blom, Van Eeden, Zaaijman (Zaayman / Saayman), Bruijns, De Vries, Vlok, and others.
Due to the Covid-19 lockdown, this presentation could only take place as a video event.

Carnegie, Poverty and Triumph

Prof Grietjie Verhoef
Prof Grietjie Verhoef, 14 Maart 2020
In Prof. Grietjie Verhoef of the University of Johannesburg's outline of Afrikaner poverty he addressed factors, such as civilisation waves that have social and economic impact. The Afrikaner's isolation from development elsewhere in the world (the Industrial Revolution) and then external factors such as bovine diseases, drought and the Anglo-Boer War contained the germ for impoverishment.
In addition, the urbanisation of Afrikaners who could no longer farm sustainably also deepended poverty; Afrikaners were not geared and equipped for the inevitable competition in the cities. A sense of inferiority and dependence arose. There was an overall inability of the individual to do something about his / her situation. The Carnegie Commission of Inquiry into the poor white issue in 1933 found that the circle of poverty was indeed reversible but that an economic build-up had to be nourished by a cultural and social foundation. Apart from education and training, a sense of independence and confidence had to be developed.
With the establishment of institutions such as the Reddingsdaadbond (an entity for self-rescue) and own financing houses, a reversal was brought about within one decade - 1936 to 1946. This stands in stark contrast, she noted as an aside, with the current policy of social grants. This policy is counterproductive to alleviating poverty, as dependence on handouts remains.   

The Disowned - My search for my missing step-aunt

Charlie ElsCharlie Els, 8 February 2020
Since Biblical times those suffering from leprosy were spurned and ejected from the community. The general belief was that the disease was God’s punishment for one’s sins. Consequently, among religious-minded Afrikaners leprosy in their families held a stigma that they attempted to hide as best they could. The name of a relative with leprosy was simply not mentioned.
Charlie Els in his well-researched article, “Die Verstotelinge” (The Disowned), deals with such a case in his own family. A cousin alerted him almost by chance that a daughter of his grandmother had been admitted to Pretoria’s Leprosy institute, whose existence no one in the family ever spoke about. This daughter, Dina Margaretha van der Merwe (1887-1915), had been totally rejected by the family; she was disowned and forgotten. In his research Charlie also came upon similar details of other family members no one spoke about.
Such people are not mentioned in the family registers, and where they are listed, the place of death is not indicated or on purpose incorrectly shown as the person’s usual abode. If the cause of death is shown, it is usually false.
With this article Charlie Els received GSSA’s award for Best Familia Article for 2018 (published in Familia No. 55/2) – not the first time this award comes his way.