Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Name for a little Boy and a Reverend

The 6th April 1879 was an extraordinary day. It was the day on which Johannes Christoffel Schoeman and Gezina Johanna Potgieter brought their baby boy to be baptized at the Dutch Reformed Church in Harrismith. 

The church building was completed on the 29th June 1873. It was a large building with two beautiful gables. The main entrance to the church was on the side of the Platberg
The church was completed in 1873
It was in this Dutch Reformed Church that the little boy would be baptized by the Rev Aard Antoni van der Lingen.
This child was one of 25 children brought to be baptized in the church. Eleven little boys and 14 little girls. Names of the newly baptised were recorded in a church register. The black book shows a record of names from 1877-1879.

The cover page is from the christening register from 1879 to 1880 
Most of the children had names which were fairly common at the time; “Martha Susanna, Johanna Catharina, Helena Petronella, Johnnie Willemina, Casper Jeremias, Marie Elizabeth, Maria Aleta Isabella, Dirk Bernard, Cornelis Janse, Hendrica Chatharina, Lana Engela Jacoba, Johannes Lodewyk, Elizabeth Maria, Christoffel Jacobus, Pieter Johannes ……..” 

and then there was

Wees niet bang , je worm Jakob, weinig Israël , wees niet bang , want ik mezelf zal je helpen , " spreekt de HEERE , uw Verlosser , de Heilige Israëls . 
Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob, little Israel, do not fear, for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
Isaiah 41:14
One wonders what name this child became known by……..There is a note in the register suggesting that this child be called S.V.P 

This is not the only little one with a formidable name - on 22nd October 1903 a baby was christened at the church with the formidable name of Hendrik Bastiaan Maxmiliaan Bentick Dampiere Bethune Dennre Cassilise Ailsa von Dam van Iselt. If his name sounds formidable, that of his father was even more so for the old gentleman, who lived in Harrismith district for many year and who known locally merely as "The Baron" bore the following weighty names: Maxilian Raaul Richard Bentinick Bourbon Naundorff Montpensier Orange Chalous Prise de Kennedy von Dam van Iselt

Interesting facts regarding the Church and its 
Rev A.A. van der Lingen
The Rev began his years of service in the church on the 6th May 1875 and remained there until the 12th July 1893. 
The Rev A.A. van der Lingen along with the church Elders built a second church on the site of the first church. The cornerstone of this building was laid on the 25th August 1892 and coincided with another celebration at the time. 
5 Weeks prior to the unveiling of the stone, the town had enjoyed a four-day celebration due to the completion of the railroad from Natal to Harrismith on the 14th July 1892. 
The government of the day donated £5 500 to the town to host these celebrations. 
It was during this same time that the Rev van der Linge also ran for President of the Orange Free State. 
In the hope of impressing the townsfolk and swaying their vote in his favour, the Rev built the first double-story building in Harrismith. 
Needless to say his election to this position never materialized. 
With the British occupation of Harrismith, the military authorities made the double-story building their headquarters. 
After the cessation of hostilities, Vrede House (Peace House) as it was then known, became St Andrews Collegiate School (1903-1918), then Oakland’s School and finally a boarding house in the 1930’s. 
Rev Van der Lingen's double storey house 
In 1892 a beautiful new sandstone church was built and the previous church was utilized as a church hall. 
Rev Kies laying the corner stone 
During the Anglo Boer War, the church was turned into a hospital. It was the largest building in town and had its pews removed in order to accommodate the injured. This lasted for about 6 weeks until the arrival of a prefabricated hospital. The church was then restored by the troops to its original purpose.  

In later years the sandstone was painted 
Sadly for the community of Harrismith and for future generations, the Church Council had been unable to find a way to restore and preserve this old building and early in 1966 it was totally demolished to be replaced by a newer, more modern church.
Thanks to Biebie de Vos for sharing his photo's of the church 

Thanks for sharing a little of our beautiful history 
Till next time 

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