Honouring the women of Baardskeerdersbos, who work tirelessly alongside the men on all levels to build the economy and community.
The phenomena Baardskeerdersbos
baartscheerders bosch, a place between the Kauwde en Bosjemans rivier, Baardscheerders Bosch, Baardscheerdersbosch, Baardskeerdersbos - not a town, simply a place that happened.
There is a theory, that if you distribute resources evenly over a flat surface, towns will develop in a hexagon pattern and, given the period before the combustible engine, the distance between towns will be about 60km. In those days here in South Africa, a group of farmers would have gotten together and contemplated the distance to church, decided to build their own church. One of them will then, willingly or under pressure, donate a piece of land, usually somewhere in the middle. Milktarts and koeksisters will raise funds and one fine day, the church arises. Soon a shop, a post office and a few houses appear and before you know it, a town is proclaimed with a town council and a mayor. Today, if you travel the highways and byways of our country, check on the distances between towns and remnants of once thriving trading posts and you’ll notice, low and behold, 30 and 60 km intervals. Of course, this is distorted by rivers, mountains etc.
The area between the Kauwde and Bosjemansriver was already part of the territory of the Chainouqua when Van Riebeeck arrived at the Cape. In 1660 he sent an expedition towards the east which first reported on the valley. Olof Bergh,( till today a favourite in the 3 pubs in B’bos!), travelled through the area one his way to salvage the shipwreck Joanna in 1682 and also reported on the valley.
It is suspected that a well-known farmer, H. Hattingh, used the area for either grazing or hunting, as on 2 March 1730 the first formal contract for a loan farm is granted to Susanna (born Visser), the widow of Hans Hendrik Hatting. She remarried and moved away. The farm remained a loan farm with various tenants amongst them Harmen Combrinck, Pieter Lindequast, Michiel Hen, Jacobus Conterman and eventually on 30 September 1778 ‘die plaats gent. De Baartscheerders Bosch gel. tusschen de Koude en Bosjesmans rivier” (1) is singed to Philip Fourie.
Considering living on a farm in such a remote location with no entertainment, it comes as no surprise that Philip and Petronella (Swart) had 15 children. Eventually, the loan farms could be claimed under the erfpag (2) system and in the survey of 1831 he is indicated as the owner of the farm. Most of his children settled elsewhere in the Strandveld. His third son, Johannes, married Catharina Johanna Groenewald, sister of Wessel Groenewald who was first married to Philip and Petronella’s oldest daughter, Elsabè and then later mention is made that he married the 8th child, also Elsabè (Johanna)! Well, this was not uncommon at the time and in a remote area such as Baardscheerders Bosch, as the opportunities for marriage were limited. Here the families really become intertwined as other sons of Philip married sisters of Wessel. What is important, is that Johannes and Catharina Fourie; and Wessel and Elsabe Groenwald settled on the farm. On 16 June 1831, the first Title Deed is issued to Johannes Fourie and Wessel Groenewald in equal shares. They are now deemed as the first official owners of the farm Farm 213.
As the families grew and settled, each was simply allocated a piece of land. Each new family simply claimed their plot and when a dispute arose it was settled with some witblits, and so the custom continued. In 1921 a church is built but still, land ownership is simply by a note on a plan. In 1920 the primary school opened and functioned till sometime in the 1960’s. At one stage there were 120 children. Yet no town had been proclaimed. Ownership only vested on a map. Other amenities such a shop, blacksmith and post office operated. In all aspects, you could call it a town, but it had no status. No council and no mayor. The families were all somehow connected and disputes settled in their own manner. Deeds were transferred but the properties not surveyed. This continued until 1965 when Eerk van Dyk wanted to confirm his ownership with a survey and subdivision. The matter ends up in court and on 25 February 1966, the court instructed that no further dealings with property be allowed unless it is surveyed. The result is that no further subdivisions were done until the year 2000. By now the place called Baardskeerdersbos was a populated village with the basic amenities and yet it was still a farm with no town status.
Today, all properties have been surveyed and can be subdivided, yet it remains agriculture zone. A town was never proclaimed nor zonings awarded similar to other towns.
Till today, Baardskeerdersbos is a place where things just happen in its unique Bbos way.
(1) Eng: the farm named De Baartscheerders Bosch located between the kuode and Bosjesmans rivers
(2) 99 year lease
Benade, E.T. 2006. Baardscheerders Bosch Pieke en Kronieke 1652 – 2004. J. Taylor. Paarl
Schoeman, C. 2017: Historical Overberg. Zebra Press. Cape town