Where it all started...
Johan Georg Meyer joined the Potgieter trek in 1936. He hailed from Prince Albert and desired to trek away from British rule due to the exorbitant taxes the Boers had to pay. On 16 October, 1836, he formed part of the Vegkop battle , near the present day town of Heilbron. They were only 35 able bodied men against 5000 Matabele impis. Also in the laager, was a young nine year old boy called Paul Kruger who would later be President of the Transvaal. The Boers defeated the Matabeles and Org Meyer decided to make his own way north. His son, J P Meyer, used Org Meyer’s Vegkop rifle after him. We had it restored to its original glory last year. The British removed all the moving parts after the second Anglo Boer war so that only the stock was left. Today we can again proudly display this rifle that originated in Germany (called a Botha rifle), in all its glory and rich history.
The Klipriviersberg koppies were the first “mountains” Org Meyer encountered after the Orange Free State. Due to this, he decided to ride out his farm here at Klipriviersberg. In order to ride out and mark your farm, you would start at first light on horseback riding south. When darkness came, one would mark your beacon with a heap of stones and tomorrow do the same thing going west. After four days, you should be back at your original beacon. The farm was then registered in Kimberley on his way back to Prince Albert. He returned here in 1840 after marrying Hannie ( Hester Catharina Elizabeth Mulder) with whom he had two sons. On travelling back from Prince Albert where he tried to sell his farm there, he died in Colesberg in 1855 of what was described as “vuur in die maag” (ruptured appendix) and was buried in Colesberg. Tant Hannie wanted to return to Prince Albert, but her sons wanted to settle at Klipriviersberg. That was the start of Alberton in 1844. Tant Hannie brought the first “Acacia Karoo” from Prince Albert because no wood could be found here. It was planted at the second sharp turn of our current tarred farm road. The reason for the turn was because my father-in-law did not want to build the road over Ouma Hannie’s first thorn tree.
Johannes Petrus Meyer, the second born son, carried on with the farming. His eldest brother and a friend died in a snow storm while looking for wood in the current Pretoria area. They were buried in the small circular cemetery at the intersection of Ninth Avenue and Hendrik Potgieter Street. Currently there is a traffic circle incorporating the cemetery – the only one in the world to be used as such.
In order to buy their one farm back from a widow Smith, J P Meyer started a transport business at the tender age of fourteen. Jan Meyer farmed with oranges and wheat. He had the first shop in Transvaal with a corrugated zinc roof. He would journey for trade to Pietermaritzburg and to Kimberley where the diamond mines were in full swing. He would receive one Pound for 100 oranges and ten Pounds for a bag of mealiemeal. Doing this, he mastered the English language. For this reason Paul Kruger used him in negotiations with the British. His mom was remarried to a Mr Viljoen , leaving JP Meyer with the farms. JP Meyer had four daughters with his first wife Christina Salmina Meyer, who passed away after the birth of their fourth daughter ( called Johannes Petrus Meyer due to the couple realising there would probably not be a son to carry on the family name). The little girl passed away at a tender age though. Her dad said it was because of a broken heart due to the death of her mom. JP Meyer married the widow Stefina Petronella Botha in 1872 who bore him two sons. Johan Georg Meyer stayed on the Klipriviersberg farm and his brother had the property where Fick Avenue is today. His house is now owned by the Roman Catholic Church and the family cemetery is located directly opposite the church. His daughter, Johanna Shuda (lovingly known as “Tannie Sus”) still had the rights to grazing at the Germiston Lake when she passed.
During the first Anglo-Boer war, Jan Meyer was part of the commando keeping the British contained to towns under British rule. He was appointed as field cornet in 1881 for the Kliprivier area. After the war, he was appointed as mining commissioner. One of his tasks was to measure up all the registered properties. The pieces of property not belonging to anyone, would then be state owned. Because they could not pay him a proper salary for this job, the state gave him a piece of property close to the current Kazerne. It was on this piece of land that he started mining for gold with great success. Jan Meyer had to appoint a mining engineer for this operation. So the Meyer & Charlton mine had its origin. Charlton went bankrupt and Meyer bought him out. After that, Jan Meyer appointed George Albu ( later Sir George Albu, the well known mining magnate) who helped him to list his mining company on the London Stock Exchange. In 1889 the Meyer & Charlton mine’s gold ore won the prize for being the richest ore in the world in Paris, France.
J P Meyer and his family never participated in the second Anglo Boer War due to Klipriviersberg being situated to the north of the block houses built to protect the area already under British rule which included Johannesburg and surroundings. Paul Kruger was hidden in the house built in 1891 until the Boers could get him through the enemy lines to Lorenzo Marques from where he went to the Netherlands by boat. A story I always enjoyed was about how Nig Stefina asked him about fashion in the U K after his return from visiting the queen. The President apparently replied that he could not see what they wore underneath the table, but above the table the ladies did not wear much. His poor heart!
Fortunately for the Meyer descendants, JP Meyer’s house that he built in 1891 was not burnt down during the Anglo Boer war. We uncovered some of Turffontein’s concentration camp graves in 2019 that were hidden in the grass. Apparently most were buried in Mulbarton where their families could walk to. Some, that did not have family in the concentration camp, were buried here on the farm. We have tidied the graves and put fencing up. The least we could do to honour their last remains…and the Anglo Boer War. When aunty Bettie Meyer married an Englishman in later years, she said it was like the Boer war all over in this house. Fortunately they soon recognised Uncle John for the sound man he was and he became part of the family with his wealth of knowledge. Both of them are buried on the farm in the family cemetery and they are still dearly loved and remembered by us.
Johan Georg Meyer took over the farming after his dad passed in 1919. After him, my dad-in-law (Pieter Lange Meyer) farmed here until he passed in 1987. Pa Piet’s elder brother, Johannes Petrus Meyer, was killed in a plane crash during the Second World war. My late husband, Johan George Meyer, stayed here until he passed on 20 April, 2010. All of them are buried in the cemetery on the farm and sorely missed. Oom Jannie is buried in the Heldeakker in Cape Town.
We are still farming on Klipriviersberg today. Probably nothing like in the early years where you had to duck lions. Now we are ducking other culprits. We started with a stable yard for nineteen livery horses after most of our grazing was lost to development. It soon expanded though. Horses were the best option as they can be more easily kept off the N12! Our eldest daughter, Anya, handles that part of the business and our second daughter, Liezl, took on the sheep part. I wish them all the best with their endeavours to carve out a living for themselves and keep the farm in the Meyer family. For myself, I shall do my best to do this rich history proud and maintain the heritage… and tell and re-tell all the stories that were shared with me by Pa Piet and Aunty Bettie. May their souls rest in peace.