Church History

Settlers from Northern Germany came into Natal in two main groups. The first to arrive was a group contracted to the Natal Cotton Company. This was a company established by Jonas Bergtheil, who had come from Germany in 1843 scouting for business opportunities in the region. He found one when he noticed cotton being grown.

Situated in the Kayser’s Beach Area, Eastern Cape, South Africa the church was built in 1862 to serve the needs of the settlers who made this part of the country their home.
 
The church was built by the farmers of the area between the Keiskamma River in the west and the Buffalo River in the east. Frederick R Goddard, donated ten acres of his land for the church. Church records of 1862 describe the event as follows:

In the piece below, Miss E Dankwerts provides a short description St Michael and All Angels in Queenstown. The details appeared in the 1978 edition of Restorica, the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa). Thank you to the University of Pretoria (copyright holders) for giving us permission to publish.

German missionaries and colonists left their mark in the form of churches along the northern border of KwaZulu-Natal. These were mainly the missionaries sent out by the Hermannsburg Mission Society (HMS), who entered Natal from the 1850s onward. Missionary work amongst the Zulus was their predominant aim. Later they spread out to the Transvaal.

Out in the middle of the Northern Free State farm land is a little church. Not a very special building, not very large, not very beautiful but it has history and this is the reason I have decided to write about it.

In this article, I'd like to cover a bit more than just the Klipkerk (translated stone church) and delve into some pre-history and related history. Two related church communities appear in this history. There is the Nederduits Hervormde Kerk and the Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk, both translated to English as Dutch Reformed Church. Throughout the article I will use the abbreviations NH and NG respectively.

Bothaville is a small town in the North-West Free State. It is known as the maize capital because it is surrounded by endless maize fields. The skyline is dominated by numerous silos feeding the maize processing industry as well as the tower of the main church, the Dutch Reformed Church or in short NG church (from the Afrikaans name Nederduits Gereformeerte Kerk).

With a melodic sounding name the Riemland is largely an area of wide flat horizons interspersed with not much else. It is however home to some very interesting heritage hotspots in the country. The Riemland covers most of the north and north-eastern Free State, including the towns of Sasolburg, Heilbron, Petrus Steyn, Lindley, Arlington and Senekal.

We spotted this wonderful story in Heritage Potchefstroom's fourth quarter newsletter. It tells the story of the establishment and growth of the first English church in the Transvaal. Thank you to Heritage Potchefstroom for giving us permission to publish.

About two decades after the first Voortrekkers came to the Mooi River valley, they were followed by itinerant traders, some of whom were English speaking. The Voortrekkers were mostly farmers and in need of the wares that the traders were selling.

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