History


Dunelm’s permanent guests / Dunelm se permanente gaste

As ’n mens ’n rustige tydjie bestee om besoek af te lê by Dunelm se permanente gaste, is die blywendste indruk dié van ons land se menslike verskeidenheid, soos dit uiting vind in vier begraafplase. Oupa Johan Scheepers is op 49 in 1920 oorlede, kort na hy die plaas gekoop het. Sy grafskrif is in ’n soort Nederlands uitgebeitel: “Kom tot my allen die vermoeid ’n belas syn ’n Ek sal u rust geven.” Ouma Christina was 63 met haar afsterwe in 1934, die jaar na die verskyning van die Bybel in Afrikaans en heel gepas lees haar boodskap in die taal van die tyd: “Elk-een wat lewe en in My glo, sal nooit sterwe tot in eeuwigheid nie.” Die boetie en sussie vertel in 1943 en 1944 groot waarhede in albei tale: “Veilig in Jesus armen” en “Laat die kindertjies na my toe kom en verhinder hulle nie.” Grootouers en kleinkinders deur die geslag in die middel ter ruste gelê. ’n Entjie verder, oor die bult, steek die verweerde gedenknaald ter gedagtenis aan sewe Britse soldate die lug in. “Killed at the battle of Surrender Hill, July 28 1900.” Die gemeenskaplike graf van korp. W O’Farrell, manskappe D Devereux, R Dervin, R Murray, J Steer, korp. W Hunt & manskap F Sheppard. Lede van die Royal Irish Regiment, Leinster Regiment, Scots Guards & Wiltshire Regiment, het hulle ’n finale afspraak met die noodlot op hierdie plek, “For King & Empire.” Teen die hang van die volgende heuwel is ’n aantal ruwe grafte van eertydse werkers. Interessant is dat die tuisgemaakte grafstene “omgedraai” is en van die kop-kant, eerder as die voetenend van die graf gelees word. Die oudste grafte dateer uit 1936 en die jongste 1996. Hier rus, vir ewig, Betty Mokoena, Serame Petrus Mabe, Manini Seshorela, Mathola Mofokeng, Petrus Thabo, Sevanja Ne Mabe en ander in ongemerkte grafte. Danie Tshepiso se mooi graf het ’n pragtige wit kruis en Manteke Mofokeng ’n granietgrafsteen. Die holkrans aan die noordelike kant van die plaas was baie lank die woonplek van San-mense, daarvan getuig die swart roet teen die wande en dak en die rotstekeninge, veral dié van die heilige elandbul. Oor hierdie mense se grafte kan net bespiegel word, want hulle het ’n stamlid wat ’n “goeie dood” gesterf het, so gou moontlik in ’n vlak graf op sy sy te ruste gelê, in die posisie waarin hy slaap, met al sy besittings by hom. Die grafte is met die grond gelyk gemaak en op geen wyse gemerk nie, nie met klippe, name of grafstene nie. Die hele Dunelm is dié mense se begraafplaas. “We respect death and long to find meaning in it,” sê Simon Sebag Montefiori in Jerusalem: The Biography. Laat ’n mens dink, né? Should one take the time to pay a visit to Dunelm’s permanent guests, our country’s human diversity will no doubt make a lasting impression, as evidenced in four graveyards. Grandpa Johan Scheepers died at 49 in 1920, shortly after he bought the farm. His epitaph was carved in a kind of Dutch: “Kom tot my allen die vermoeid ’n belas syn ’n Ek sal u rust geven.” Granny Christina was 63 when she died in 1934, a year after the Bible had been translated in Afrikaans and her message was in keeping with the language of the time: “Elk-een wat lewe en in My glo, sal nooit sterwe tot in eeuwigheid nie.” In 1943 and 1944 the brother and sister convey great truths in both languages: “Veilig in Jesus armen” and “Laat die kindertjies na my toe kom en verhinder hulle nie.” Grandparents and grandchildren laid to rest by the generation in between. A little further, over the hill, the time ravaged obelisk in memory of seven British soldiers reach for the sky. “Killed at the battle of Surrender Hill, July 28 1900.” The communal grave of corp. W O’Farrell, priv’s D Devereux, R Dervin, R Murray, J Steer, corp. W Hunt & priv. F Sheppard. Members of the Royal Irish Regiment, Leinster Regiment, Scots Guards & Wiltshire Regiment, they met their maker at this spot, “For King & Empire.” At the foothills of the next ridge are a number of rough graves of erstwhile workers. It is interesting that the homemade headstones are “reversed” and are read from behind, instead of the front. The oldest grave is dated 1936 and the latest 1996. Here lies, for ever, Betty Mokoena, Serame Petrus Mabe, Manini Seshorela, Mathola Mofokeng, Petrus Thabo, Sevanja Ne Mabe and others in unmarked graves. Danie Tshepiso’s attractive grave has a beautiful white cross and Manteke Mofokeng a granite headstone. The overhanging cliff at the northern side of the farm had been home to San people for a very long time, as evidenced by the black soot on the walls and roof and the rock paintings, especially that of the holy eland bull. One can only speculate about the graves of these people, because they buried a member of the tribe “in good standing” as soon as possible, on his side in a sleeping position, in a shallow grave, with all his possessions. The graves were filled in to ground level and not marked in any way, not with stones, names or plinths. The whole of Dunelm is the graveyard of these people. “We respect death and long to find meaning in it,” says Simon Sebag Montefiori in Jerusalem: The Biography. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

The Dunelm Family Tree / Dunelm se stamboom

Nie net alle mense nie, maar ook elke plaas het ’n stamboom, wat sê waar hy vandaan kom, al is dit van geen hulp oor waarheen hy op pad is nie. Tussen die droeë feite is gewoonlik ook stories te vinde. Dunelm is geen uitsondering nie. John George Dixon kry die plaas in 1903 van die des-tydse Orange River Colony. Dié boorling van Noord-Engeland was seker in die Anglo-Boere-Oorlog betrokke en bly na die tyd aan. Hy vernoem sy nuwe plaas na sy geboortedorp Durham, oorspronklik uit Oud-Noors van “dun” vir heuwel en “holme” vir huis of ook eiland, met die Latynse variasie Dunelm. Dixon het seker baie terug verlang, want sy agter-klein-dogter sê baie van sy idees is ontleen aan geboue in sy tuisdorp. Daarvan getuig die uitleg van die ou sandsteen-herehuis en selfs die gebeitelde hoeksteen van die melkstal. Ja, die melkstal het ’n formele hoeksteen gedateer 1908! Sy droom is egter van korte duur, want in 1918 verkoop hy. Oor die volgende 90 jaar het die plaas 8 eienaars. Die De Kocks koop die plaas in 2008 en sal nooit padgee nie! Drie geslagte van die Scheepers-familie het die plaas van 1920 af vir meer as 28 jaar bewoon. Oupa Johannes sterf in die jaar wat hy die plaas koop, maar ouma Christina boer tot haar oorlye in 1934 saam met haar seun Petrus, die erfgenaam. Die grootouers en 2 van Petrus se kin-ders, wat nie lank leef nie, is ter ruste gelê in Dunelm se aarde in pragtig bewaarde grafte, maar Petrus en die res van sy gesin vertrek sonder om ’n spoor na te laat. Die ander eienaars, mnre. Van Niekerk, Marais, Du Plessis en Van Blerk het die plaas vir korter en langer tye besit, maar Anton Engelbrecht was bykans 20 jaar baas van die plaas. Oor die jare is die herehuis aangebou en verbou, buite-geboue en verbeterings is aangebring en die lewe gaan sy gang. Nou word Dixon se droomhuis tot sy eerstydse glorie herstel, die geskiedkundige melkstal word ’n kapel en die nuwe wooneenhede en kampgeriewe verrys in ’n simpatieke idioom. John Dixon sal trots wees op die nuwe Dunelm in die Brandwaterkom, in ’n vreemde land ver van die Durham af wat hy geken het.fam01 Not only all people, but every farm has a family tree explaining its ancestry, although offering no advice about what the future has in store. Hidden behind the bare facts are usually some good stories to be found. Dunelm is no exception. John George Dixon obtained the farm in 1903 from the then Orange River Colony. This native of North England probably took part in the Anglo Boer War and stayed on afterwards. He named his new farm after his home town, Durham, derived from the Old Norse “dun” for hill and “holme” for home or island, with Dunelm as a Latin variation. Dixon must have been quite homesick, as his great-granddaughter says many of his ideas hark back to buildings of his birth-place. Evidence abound in the layout of the old sandstone mansion and the engraved corner stone of the milk shed. Yes, the milk shed has a formal corner stone dated 1908! His dream was short-lived, because he sold in 1918. Over the next 90 years the farm had 8 owners. The De Kock’s bought the farm in 2008 and will never ever leave! Three generations of the family Scheepers lived on the farm for 28 years from 1920. Grandpa Johannes died in the year he acquired the farm, but grandma Christina, who lived till 1934, farmed with her son Petrus, the heir. The grandparents en 2 of Petrus’ children, who died young, were laid to rest in Dunelm’s fertile earth in beautifully preserved graves, but Petrus and the rest of his family left without leaving a trace. The other owners, Messrs. Van Niekerk, Marais, Du Plessis and Van Blerk had the farm for longer or shorter periods, but Anton Engelbrecht ruled the roost for almost twenty years. Over the years the manor house was altered and added to, out-buildings were erected and life went its course. Now Dixon’s dream house is being restored to its former glory, the historic old milk shed is turning into a chapel and the new guest cottages and camping facilities are taking shape in a complimentary style. John Dixon will be proud of the new Dunelm in the Brandwater Basin, in a strange country far away from his beloved Durham.fam02

The “King and Empire” Obelisk

history01In the veld of Dunelm stands a stirring monument in memory of a minor incident during the Anglo Boer War, as a reminder, if any is needed, of the senselessness of war in general and the sacrifices required of ordinary people in such times. By July 1900 Bloemfontein and Pretoria were already in British hands. Small wonder the British believed the war to be over, whilst the Boer forces were very demoralised and in general disarray. In the Eastern Free State a very large British force trapped the Free State’s main army against sheer cliffs in the far corner of the Brand­water Basin’s horseshoe shaped amphitheatre. Generals Prinsloo and Roux were despondent. Five of the six exits from the basin were closed, the sixth inaccessible. Resistance was futile, not so? history02General de Wet and president Steyn escaped the British stranglehold on 15 July 1900 with 1 800 men to continue the struggle elsewhere. The Free Staters surrendered on 29 July and had to lay down arms at Verliesfontein. However, on 28 July 1900, the previous day, at the very last moment, a serious skirmish took place at Surrender Hill. At least seven British soldiers died and were laid to rest in a forlorn grave in Dunelm’s veld. Their comrades and loved ones remembered them after the war and erected the sandstone obelisk at Dunelm, in memory of the men’s ultimate sacrifice for “King and Empire.” The sandstone eroded in time and in 1987 the National Monuments Commission added the granite tablet with the names of the deceased. history03Dunelm is situated in the Brandwater Basin. Surrender Hill is in the immediate vicinity. Naauwpoort, the later Clarens, and Verlies­fontein are also around here. What stories the veld can tell! More facts and fiction of the dramatic events can be found in The Boer War by Thomas Pakenham, Op soek na generaal Mannetjies Mentz by Christoffel Coetzee, even Verliesfontein by Karel Schoeman.