Thirstland Trek and Van Rensburg Family

Author: A.M. van Rensburg (b4 c2 d1 e6 f5 g5 h3 i2)
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One of the most tragic treks that took place, is know as the Dorsland Trek/ Thirstland Trek.  This trek consisted of a number of Treks.  The people who went on this trek have been given a number of motives for treking:  Wanderlust, search for an earthly Canaan, discontentment with  the election of President Burgers as president.  Some considered this previous liberal religious minister as antichrist.  All of them were hoping to trek to an earthly Paradise. The people who trekked came mainly from Rustenburg, Pretoria and Heidelberg areas. They trekked north along the Crocodile/ Limpopo River and then across Botswana south of Makarikari pans to N'Gami lake, an then north east of the Okovango delta, the trekked went across Namibia and into Angola. Most of the wandering was by the second trek in the vicinity of far north western Botswana, far north eastern Namibia and the western Caprivi strip. See Map of Trek (62k). The trek consisted of three groups.  Doppers, Jerusalemgangers, and other trekkers (JP Claasen, Die Jerusalemgangers).

1875 Trek led by Alberts
The wanderlust drove Gert Andries Jacobus Alberts to look for better land in 1875, he crossed the arid Kalahari Desert. When traveling to Meer the cattle were so thirsty that when the cattle smelt water they rushed into the mud and many cattle perished. This trek had some encounters with chief Moremi. From there they went to Ghansi where a van Zyl had already claimed the land. This trek went and stayed at Rietfontein for some time from early 1876 to 1878.. 

1877 Trek of Du Plessis and Greyling
As early as April 1875 some folks started to head towards the Crocodile River. For nearly two year the numbers started to build up. Many folks were caught up with the urge to trek and there followed a second Trek under the leadership of Lourens Marthinus du Plessis, born 1837, married Gertruida Steenkamp.  As more and more people joined this trek it grew to 480 people with 128 wagons and 1,958 trek oxen (total of 7,536 oxen), 483 horses, 1,034 sheep and goats, 32 donkeys, 213 dogs, 486 fowls, ducks and geese.  They came mainly from Pretoria, Heidelberg and Rustenburg districts.  Just after they crossed the river at Notowanie and Krokodilrivier in the middle of 1776, seven men returned from a trip to trade for food, amongst them were Hendrik and Robert van Rensburg (Du Plessis se vertellings). Jan Christoffel Greyling was chosen to be the leader since he had been to the Kalahari before, he had bad relationship with the native chief Khama. Khama gave permission for the trek to go through his land but on hearing that Greyling was chosen to be the leader he refused permission.   It was then at the Crocodile River before departing that Lourens M du Plessis were chosen as the main leader and Gert Meier, Lukas van Rensburg and Diederik Prinsloo were chosen as Landdrost and Weesheer. With the intervention of Rev DJ Hepburn from the Ngami Mission they obtained permission to trek through the northern part of Khama land.

This trek reached the Krokodil River round about April 1877.  About 75 died from fever here. The trek should have taken place in small groups as du Plessis suggested, but instead a mass migration took place which was devastating. Jan Christoffel Greyling (married to Susanna Catherina Magdalena Dreyer) trekked with his group of 45 wagons first and the next day followed the rest under du Plessis. On the way they encountered severe droughts, malaria and cattle sickness, tsetse fly.   As a result of the fever many had their noses "rotted away, and the mouth down to the throat" Moody p 340. To make things worse the sick got worms in their wounds, Moody p 343.

Trek to Inkuane/Enkawaan

The trek route which they followed, was from Rustenburg to the Limpopo, and from there they headed west along the Malapsie river and then across the Kalahari desert, via Klouki, Inkuane, Hakdoornvlei, Tlakane (south of Makgadigadi) and on to lake Ngami. 

At Inkuane/ Inkavan/Enkawaan there was very little water. The cattle had already been without water for three days. The cattle went mad running into the fire and licking the flames, or they would lick the metal of the wagon wheels which was hot and shinning, thinking it was water. They  squeezed the mud through towels to try and obtain some water. The du Plessis group had a worse experience since their animals had far less feed, on the trip they discarded furniture and provisions to lighten the load of their wagons.

Trek to Tlakane/Klackani

As they traveled further things got so bad due to lack of water, that they resorted to killing their animals and  then they  resorted to squeezin out the juices from the animals stomach to obtain some mosture.  In utter desperation they even resorted to killing animals and drinking the blood of these animals.  The majority had to walk on foot to Tlakane and then filling their utensils with water, they returned to the women and children back at the wagons. With great perseverance they got the rest to Tlakane. The heat, thirst and sand was so bad that nine wagons out of twelve was left behind at Klackani/Tlakane. They requested assistance from Alberts who was already at Rietfontein. The du Plessis trek suffered a far greater setback on this leg.

Trek to Meer / Botletle river

They had enough cattle for two spans who went on to Meer (Also known as Botletle river) and returned with water to help the rest. It took them two and a half months to get everyone to this place. While there the missionary Hebbes heard of their plight and send two wagons with supplies of water to assist them

In August they decided to leave Meer. The first group went to Kurrigas Draai withou any mishap. They also sent cattle back to help the rest. From here they proceeded to Sibbitons drift, taking a census they discovered that 37 had died from fever and thirst. Alberts sent cattle to help the trek to Lake Ngami. Once there the cattle returned to Rietfontein at this time ten families decided to go ahead to join the Alberts group at Rietfontein, they arrived at Rietfontein on the 4 October 1877.

From Lake Ngami the trek went to Sibbeton's drift, here they requested aid from Alberts at Rietfontein. He assisted them with 183 head of cattle.

Encounter with chief Moreymi and du Plessis trek to Rietfontein.
Then they went  in a northerly direction following the Okovango river. They trekked and arrived at an Ovambo, chief' Maketto's, kraal, this are was infested with tsetse fly. Chief Moreymi came and visited the laager. The chief asked the commandant to give him one of the farmers daughters as a wife, which was denied. Some wanted to turn South towards the desert since Alberts was at Rietfontein.  Du Plessis then left with 13 wagons for Rietfontein which he reached 11 days later. They were fortunate since they received rainwater in the salt pans and within fourteen days reached Rietfontein. The rest of the people with Greyling continued to go north, following the river. 

On occasions they just had brandy and vinegar to drink.  Alberts advised them to come to Rietfontein and not to go in a northerly direction but only ten families followed his advice. Another group went down to Debra Put, these folks cattle died in heaps since they ate poisonous plants and the people also suffered from fever. At the same time Alberts group moved up to Debra Put early in 1878.

Greyling and the rest Trek North along river
The others under Greyling felt that their only hope of survival was to follow the river.  The fever was real bad and their stock was being decimated by tstetse fly.

This group that went north to Muispan experience the symptoms of the fever and several died. They then received a letter in return from Moreymi regarding a demand by them for cattle lost in traps while traveling through his country. Moreymi sent them a white ox, they fortunately did not eat it, it was poisoned and the cow died the next day. Here 5 more died. From there they trekked to a pan with plenty of water but it was only rainwater and only lasted days. They then traveled towards the river but then on reports of rain they returned to the pan which they just came from and stayed there 8 days.

Trek Splits in two: Desert - thirst, and River - fever

The trek now split into two: one group went along the river, the other headed for the desert, the later relying on rainwater. The party that went to the desert traveled to Hakdoorn and then traveled three days to Grootvleij. Here Hans Harvertier died from eating poisoned apples. At this place the desert party rejoined them.

Soon the group split in two again, 30 families in 10 wagons followed the river. The rest traveled three days until they reached New Year's Vleij. From here they traveled another three days until they came to Kalkpan, which had plenty of water. From there they traveled five days and got to Rooiboklaagte which had water. All along they suffered from hunger and fever, since the men could not hunt, they had to survive on roots and herbs. After fifteen days here another 14 families then split of and headed for the river. Whereas the main desert party went on too Buffelsfontein, From Buffelsfontein they went to look how the party of 30 families were coping along the river. They discovered them experiencing great hardship, having lost all their cattle to the tsetse fly. 20 families decided to join the main group, whereas 10 families remained at the river. On the 10 Feb the big group at Buffelsfontein trekked and after five days they reached Vogel pan. They then went to Cream of Tartar Pan. From there they sent out an exploration party which discovered Debra Puts where Alberts group was now camped. On this news the main party trekked three days to reach Sandfontein. They remained at Sandfontein for eighteen days, during which time 5 of the party died of fever and many cattle from tsetse fly. They then trekked three days and reached Debra where they joined the Alberts trek. These two treks now united. While there 19 more people died of fever.

The 14 wagons in the meantime arrived at Grootfontein, Wm Prins was murdered by Bushman and this group joined up with the main group at Debra.

The Fate of Labuschagne /Greyling / van Rensburg Trek

This group we will refer to as Labuschagne/Greyling/Van Rensburg Trek. Right from the word go, Greyling who was a strong headed man had friction with du Plessis. And the trek was split into two loyalties. Most probably Labuschagne and the van Rensburg's must have sided with Greyling earlier.

We will call them the 10 wagon group in this later stage. There are some vivid accounts of what these folks had to endure. The main group at Debra heard of their plight and went to their assistance "they were found in a most deplorable condition, as such as no pen can describe. One and all of them were reduced by fever ... these poor people were reduced to a state of starvation, many entire families tasting food only once every third day, and then getting roots brought to them by natives, which had to be eaten raw, an no one had strength to kindle a fire. From the different wagons, the moanings and cries of men, women and children could be heard calling out for assistance, which no one was able to render. Then again were heard the shouts and ravings of unfortunate men or women, who in their delirium had got out of their wagons and had strayed into the woods, there to die, as no one was able to assist them to get back. At another spot were men and women, who, for the time, had got slightly better of the fever, and who were trying to cut pieces of flesh from the carcasses of oxen that had died, and were endeavouring to cook the flesh ... trying to satisfy the cravings of hunger for a short time before being released by death," Moodie p 321, 322.  

This group followed the river to Andara/Endara where the chief helped them with food.

CJH and LM du PLessis supplies the details of those who died who formed part of the 10 families:
CE Labuschagne and his wife S Labuschagne (born du Preez) and two children
J Labuschagne and his wife Maria (born van Vuuren) and two children
L van Rensburg and his wife A van Rensburg (born Labuschagne) and one child
P de Bruin and his wife Ph de Bruin (born Henningse) and two children
G Koekemoer and three children
A Knoetze and two children
G du Preez and his wife E du Preez (maiden name not known) and one child
P du Preez and his wife Martha du Preez (born van Vuuren) and two children
SP van Vuuren and one child
J van Vuuren and his wife H van Vuuren (born du Preez) with two children

The chief also gave them guides to direct them to Oliphants pan. They stayed there some time suffering greatly from fever, some 43 people died (Mood: ie p 322) The natives buried them in their clothes, since the surviving 21 were to weak . We are told that all died except for three women and 15 children, these two numbers need further clarification. The following dead are as given by (Moody, p 322) and bracketed information from J Albert Coetzee, p 190 ff.

C(Christiaan E) Labuschagne, wife (Susara du Preez) and four children;
J(Jan) Labuschagne, wife (Mita van Rensburg) and two children;
Gert du Prins, wife and one child;
P de Prins, wife and three children;
P de Bruin, wife and three children;
J von Voere (Johannes van Vuuren), and two children; (was married to Hester du Preez)
L Knotze, and three children
PJ van Resenberg (van Rensburg), wife and three children
G(Gert) Koekemoer and four children (was married to Hendrina van Vuuren)
P von Voere and two children (was married to Elizabeth Henning)

The Journal of the Trek Boers to Mossamedes (Compiled by W.W. Jordan) reprinted in History of the Battles and Adventures of the British the Boers and the Zulus &c, in Southern Africa by DCF Moody states the following regarding the Thirstland trekkers: "Two of the natives then left in search of some hunters, who might perchance be in the vicinity, and fortunately met Mr Lourens and his son, who immediately went to their assistance. On their way they met Mr Harry Boyn, who joined them in their good work, the latter particularly supplying many articles to the sick that they were greatly in need of. Mr Lourens then sent out people in search of the main laager, to inform them of what had happened. They met Adrian Kruger, one of the hunters of the laager, whom they informed of the calamities that had taken place" Moody p322 This was I believe early in 1878. Earlier he wrote about this group of Dorsland trekkers who followed the river past Anadara and on to Oliphantspan: " It was at this Pan that Messrs. van Zyl, jun., P.J. Botha, and Lourens, killed 103 elephants in one day." Moody p 322 Moody gives the following Note on Elephant's Pan: "This is a large pan which is filled with water during the rainy season; it is situated in the centre of the hunting ground. In 1877, a party of hunters, consisting of Messrs P van Zyl and sons, Lourens and son, P.J. Botha, and a few other others, while hunting in that vicinity discovered this pan almost dry, and reduced to thick mud, into which they succeeded in driving a large troop of elephants, where they stuck fast, and the entire lot were killed, numbering 103. Such a wholesale slaughter was never before witnessed by and African hunter." Moody, p 329.

A big game hunter by the name of Hendrik Matthys van Zyl was based and lived at Rietfontein and also at Ghanzi, for more information on him refer to article in DSAB Vol IV. One wonder whether this is the one and same van Zyl?

The Bookman Myth by Robert J Gordon (Westview Press, Boulder, 1992). On p 38 he refers to the world record of 103 elephants in one day being shot by Hendrik van Zyl, so one presumes that this was the van Zyl you mentioned with the Lourens and son at that time. On the other hand, Gordon says that most elephants were shot by van Zyl's Bushmen, of which he employed well over 100, or his "shootboys", which is probably correct. Gordon gives the date when Hendrik van Zyl of Ghanzi visited the Gautsha area as 1874, when he discovered that the area north of Gobabis to the Okavango River was "a true hunters paradise". On p 37 he mentions Hendrik van Zyl meeting up with the Dorsland trekkers, who had lost a child who had wandered off and been killed by Bushmen. He organised retribution in the form of inviting bushmen to hospitality and when they were drunk, arranging to kill the 33 Bushmen. Having invited the Dorsland trekkers to shoot his captives, they declined, and he ordered their own bushmen to kill them instead. Gordon quotes de Klerk 1977 p 67, Vedder 1938 p 432, Tabler 1973, Burger 11978 p 42, Trumpelmann 1948 p 16 and Tabler p 116 amongst others.


Die volgende inligting het ek gekry van Pieter de Jager:
Dit is ivm HENDRIK VAN ZYL wat lid van die ZAR Volksraad was met die 2 seuns Marthinus en Andrew en wat in 1880 vermoor is. HENDRIK MATTHYS VAN ZIJL was natuurlik streng gesproke ni 'n Dorslandtrekker nie. Hy sou in sy graf omdraai as iemand dit vir hom sou s. Van Zijl se doen en late word deur J von Moltke in die sy boek "Jagkonings" wat in 1943 geskryf is, redelik volledig beskryf. Sy verblyf in Transvaal voor sy trek, kon ek weer deeglik navors en het enkele artikels, oa in "Restorica" nr 20 (Oktober 1986) vir Stigting Simon van der Stel. Van Zijl het ogeveer in 1855 van Colesberg na die Wes-Transvaal verhuis en die plaas wat hy sou noem, "Gestopten Fonteyn" (die Korannas het sy waterput met klippe toegegooi) in die gebied Korannafontein (vandag Ottosdal-distrik), bekom. Dit is in 1859 aan hom getransporteer. Van Zijl het sy vrou en een dogter in Colesberg agtergelaat en hy en sy vyf kinders met hulle goewernante, Chrissie van Antwerpen, sy minnares, Transvaal toe getrek. Sy seuns was Pieter, Marthinus, Andrew en John en sy dogters Sannie en Annie (Anne). Annie is later getroud met Nicolas Gey von Pittius wat aanvanklik lid van Van Zijl se jagters was maar later sy eie koers gekry het. Hy sal onthou word as die man wat president van die republiek Stelland geword het. Hendrik van Zijl is later wel wettig getroud met Chrissie en hulle het een dogter, Blanche, gehad wat getroud was met 'n Strauss van Bloemhof. Sy is ook daar oorlede. Baie van Von Moltke se gegewens vir sy boek het hy by haar en van Van Zijl se toe nog lewende jagters gekry. Dieselfde Blanche was die direkte oorsaak van 'n dispuut en "oorlog" tussen Van Zijl en kaptein Moremi van die Ngami in Betsjoeanaland. Van Zijl wou die Ghanzigebied by Moremi koop en om die koop deur te haak, het hy op 'n stadium Blanche aan Moremi as vrou aangebied. Die koop is toe gefinaliseer, koopbriewe is geteken (geskiedenis op sy eie en hoe Rhodes die Van Zijl-familie van die Ghanzi beroof het!) maar toe Moremi later vir Blanhce kom opeis, wou Van Zijl haar nie afstaan nie en dit was die begin van aanhoudende rusie en oorlog tussen hom en Moremi wat tot gevolg gehad het dat Van Zijl Gobabis toe moes vlug en feitlik al sy besittings in die Ghanzi agter te laat. Op ou kaarte van Betsjoeanaland word die plek waar Van Zijl gewoon het in die Ghanzi aangedui as "Van Zyl's cutting". Van Zijl was in die eerste plek 'n olifantjagter en het vyf professionele jagters in sy diens gehad wat op 'n kommissiebasis vir hom gejag het. Sy jaggebied was die Ghanzi, Ovamboland en Angola. Hy was gewoonlik 6 maande van die jaar in die jagveld. Vanaf Gestoptefontein (toevallig vandag my buurplaas) het hy en sy jaggeselskap met hulle waens in April vertrek tot langs die Kurumanrivier. Dit was hulle basis en staan vandag nog bekend as Van Zylsrust. Hulle het gewoonlik einde September terug gekom via Van Zylsrust en vandaar na Gestoptefontein. Hier is die velle verwerk en wanneer alles gereed is, is sy transportwaens met die ivoor en velle Durban toe waar hulle verskeep is Kaapstad toe vir die veiling. Van Zijl is gewoonlik saam. Hy was 'n baie ryk man. Op Gestoptefontein het hy 'n huis gebou wat deur kundiges beskou word as die grootste huis wat ooit in Transvaal gebou was. Dit was soos 'n fort ingerig en hy en sy vyf jagters met hulle gesinne het daar gewoon. Van Zijl was een van die twee volksraadslede van die kiesafdeling van Potchefstroom (waaronder die hele Wes-Transvaal geval het) vanaf 1871 tot 1873 toe hy besluit het om te trek. Van Zijl was 'n Engelsgesinde Boer en het min simpatie gehad het met die beweegredes van ander wat die Transvaal verlaat het. So was al sy kinders byvoorbeeld in Kaapstad in skole en hy 'n persoonlik vriend van die Kaapse goewerneur, sir Bartle Frere. Die enigste rede waarom hy getrek het was om nader aan sy eintlike jagveld, die Tebra, in Ovamboland, te wees en om te verhoed dat die toenemende getal Afrikaners wat besig is om Transvaal te verlaat, daar gaan vestig en sy jaggebied bedreig. Om 'n langstorie kort te maak: Von Moltke vertel in detail van sy jagekspedisies en dat hy op een dag 103 olifante vasgekeer en geskiet het in 1877. Dit staan bekend as die berugte "Van Zijl-slag"! Die aanhoudende onmin tussen hom en die swartvolke het gelei tot sy ondergang. Hy verloor uiteindelik al sy besittings en word deur die Gobabis-Hottentotte ter doodveroordeel maar ontstap deur die toedoen van die Duitse sendeling Judt. Die Damarakaptein, Jan Afrikaner, ontferm hom oor hom en hy gaan woon in sy gebied. Voor sy vertrek op sy laaste jagtog skryf hy in Mei 1880 aan sy seun Marthinus 'n brief (wat behoue gebly het), van sy voorneme en vra hom om al die kinders namens hom te groet, want: "Ik geloof niet dat ik hun ooit wederom zal zien...Ik beveel u onder de bescherming van ons Hemelsche Vader. Zoo blyft ik u nooit vergetende vader. HM van Zijl." Hy is een nag op verraderlike wyse in Junie 1880 in Ukuambi in Ovamboland deur sy eie agterryer, Geduld, wat hy as kind grootgemaak het, wakker gemaak en net toe hy van sy ossewa afklim, doodgeskiet. Een van sy jagters, Flip Scheepers, wat saam was, het dit bevestig. Van Zijl se seun Andrew wou dit nie glo nie en het steeds Geduld in diens gehou. 'n Paar maande daarna het dieselfde Geduld ook vir Andrew op ewe verraderlike, op sy perd eers gewond, en toe hy val, op die grond doodgeskiet! Dit is in baie kort die geskiedenis van hierdie merkwaardige man wat saam met Jan Robbertse van die Marico deur Von Moltke beskryf word as:"...di twee jagkonings van die Afrikanernasie - die grootste onder die grotes!"

Nav jou navraag, antwoord ek graag na die beste van my kennis: Hendrik van Zijl se berugte (of beroemde, hang af hoe 'n mens daarna kyk) in 1877, word baie volledig in Von Moltke se boek: "Jagkonings" p55 beskryf: Van Zil en sy jagters is deur een die Boesmanspoorsnyers (Von Moltke praat van 'n "bende-Boesmanmoordenaars" wat in sy diens was), ingelig van 'n groot trop olifante wat aan die beweeg was. Dit was iewers aan die Okavangorivier. Hoewel 'n Sondag het Van Zil besluit om onmiddellik toe te slaan. Dit was ook in 'n tsetsevlieggebied en die gevaar was baie groot dat hulle hul perde kan verloor. Van Zijl het sy jagters en volk soos gewoonlik in streng militre slagorde opgestel en hulle het die niksvermoedende olifante verras en doelbewus aangejaag na wat genoem word in die boek: "...'n groot vals moddervlei, en in hulle vlug het die arme diere reg op die vlei afgestorm!" Hier is hulle ingejaag en omsingel en genadeloos afgemaai - 103 van hulle!! Ongelukkig vir Van Zijl was dit meestal jong olifante en die "ivoor-oes" maar skraal. Slegs 1500/1600 lb. Dit het 300 Ovambo's glo 8 tot 10 dae geneem om al die ivoor te oes, maar dit was nie vinnig genoeg nie en die stank agv verrotting was glo iets verskrikliks! Hoewel Von Moltke nie daarvan praat nie, het Van Zijl glo na altyd na hierdie vlei verwys as "Olifantpan". Andr ek weet nie of dit dieselfde pan is waarna jy verwys nie? In sy boek :"Ongebaande We" s CP Naud dat geen Suid-Afrikaanse jagter dieselfde getal olifante gejag het as Hendrik van Zijl nie in sy leeftyd nie. Hoe korrek die aanspraak is, weet ek ongelukkig nie. Hy meld dat Van Zijl in een jaar (blykbaar 1877) 15 000 lb (6800 kg) ivoor verskeep het. Teen 10 sjielings per pond, 'n heel aardige bedraggie in daardie jare. Na bewering het Van Zijl sy geld (goue ponde) altyd in kissies begrawe. Daar was baie stories oor die sg "Van Zijlskat" wat glo op Gestoptefontein begrawe is en vir seker meer as 50 jaar is daar gereeld gesoek na hierdie skat - wettig en onwettig. Na bewering het hy glo ook van sy goud in die Tsodilo hills in Noord-Botswana begrawe toe hy gevlug het en later gaan haal maar baie nie gevind nie. Boesmans het glo baie jare n ou Van Zijl se dood, kort-kort met goue ponde by buitewinkeltjies om die Ngami-meer opgedaag ! Van Zijl se jagters was behalwe sy skoonseun Gey van Pittius en sy seuns Marthinus, Pieter, Andrew en John, ook Jan Macdonald, Stephanus Oosthuizen, Cornelius Louwrens, Flip Scheepers, Brend Bouwer en Pieter Botha. Is dit nie dalk die jagter Lourens wat jy van praat? Bouwer en Botha is volgens Von Moltke saam met die Dorslandtrekkers na Humpata in Angola. In 1884 speel hulle 'n belangrike rol in die stigting van die nedersetting "Upingtonia" in die noorde van Suidwes. Botha is in 1885/86 terug na die ZAR waar hy "regtelijke commissaris" geword het. Bouwer het ook ongeveer 1887 terug gekom en in Transvaal gevestig. Oosthuizen en Scheepers het in Angola gebly tot hulle dood en Macdonald het 'n transportryer geword in Duitswes en is in 1904 saam met 'n klompie Duitsers in die Herero-opstand vermoor. Van Zijl se seuns Pieter en Andrew het in Duitswes bly woon en is daar oorlede. John het teruggekeer ZAR toe en was 'n luitenant in die ZAR Staatsartillerie tydens die ABO. Geen bron maak melding wat van Marthinus geword het nie ook nie van Van Zijl se tweede vrou Chrissie nie. Sy is volgens Von Moltke waarskynlik in Duitswes oorlede en daar begrawe. Blanche is getroud met 'n Strauss van Bloemhof en het in die distrik gewoon tot haar dood. Dis interessant dat niemand haar gevra het wat van haar halwe-broer Marthinus of haar ma geword het nie, of dit nie aangeteken het nie. Sy was tog later 'n belangrike bron oor Van Zijl.

The Survivors
The survivors were taken back to Debra.   Two of the surving children were Lukas Willem Cornelis Janse van Rensburg from Lukas van Rensburg's first marriage and Christiaan Janse van Rensburg from his second marriage (They were half brothers). 

The Maand Bode states that there were 25 people in the van Rensburg group and only these two children survived. They were taken back by R Haybittel (deputy for Palgrave) on the boat Christina to Cape Town.  From there they went by train and ox wagon to Potchefstroom.   It is thought that they may eventually have gone to Rustenburg.  They were made wards of the Gereformeerde Kerk. Look at the 'Maand Bode' of the Gereformeerde Kerk dated 1 February 1880.

Geneem uit die Maandbode Burgersdorp van 1 Februarie 1880
"Trekboeren Gevonden
De Heer Haybittel, de Commissaris der Koloniale Hulpcommissie, keerde Zondag avond per LOUIS ALFRED van Walvisbaai terug met de tyding, dat hy de Trekboeren had gevonden. Tevens bragt hy een negental hunner met zich.
Wy vernemen van den heer Haybittel dat hy, overeenkomstig het besluit, genomen aan boord van de CHRISTINA, toen de poging om te FORT ROCK of elders aan de kust te landen was mislukt, op den 4den November 1879 de landreis van Walvischbaai aanvaarde om de Trekboeren op te zoeken. Den 8sten Nov. arriveerde hy te Omaruru. Maar toen reeds had hy wegens de geduchte droogte twee zyner paarden op weg moeten achterlaten. Te Omaruru reeds vond hy eenige der Trekboeren, t.w.
Hannah van Aswegen, weduwee van Hendrik van Aswegen
JSF Debrito (schoonzoon van wed Aswegen) Hester Debrito (geboren van Aswegen), JSF Debrito, zoontjie van JF Debrito (een ouder kind is gestorven)
Hendrik van Aswegen, zoon van wed. van Aswegen
Betta van Aswegen, dochter van wed. van Aswegen
Hannah van Coppenhagen, kleindochter van wed. van Aswegen
Christiaan Janse van Rensburg
Lukas Willem Cornelis Janse van Rensburg
De beide laastgenoemden zyn jongelingen, de eenige overblevenen van een gezin, dat 25 leden had geteld. Na eene beraadslaging met hen besloot de heer Haybittel op hun verzoek het negental te zenden naar Walvischbaai, om van daar na Kaapstad enten laatste naar het Transvaalsche te worden begraght

Many died and it was one big disaster.  The P van Resenburg and his family on this trek (I would not be surprised if he was a son of the President, since the president spelt his name as such and also settled at Rustenburg).  He died with his wife and three children. Dr Kobus van Tonder says that P van Rensburg died at Olifantspan at the Koudom above Tsumke from fever (Gustaf Preller states in Voortrekkers van Suid-Wes, p 138, that 43 people died at Olifantspan from fever including PJ van Rensburg and his wife and three children). 

There was a b1c1d4e6f1g1 Lukas Willem van Rensburg, he was the child of Hendrik Nicolaas. His first marriage was to Susanna Elizabeth Dreyer.  His second marriage was to Aletta Geertruida Adriana Catharina Labuschagne = 15.6.1856,  this marriage 8 December 1873 in the Pretoria Gereformeerde Kerk accompanies him on the Dorsland Trek.   They went to kraal of the Ovambo chief Andara (It's on the western border of the Caprivi strip between Namibia and Angola). "The Friend" states that Lukas was from Pretoria, and one of his children died at the Okovanja river, it also states that Lukas and his wife and two other children died at the Okovanja drift. According to Hannes van Rensburg van Middelburg, Transvaal, Lukas Willem died 10 March 1878 in Damaraland and his will was finalised in 1897 at Standerton. Hannes also gives the following information regarding Lukas Willem's first wife which he gained from her death notice, her estate inventory was written on November 1873- Susanne Elizabeth Dreyer died in 1873 and the children is given as:
Martha Magadalena
Hendrik Nicolaas
Christiaan Lourens born 2 Sep 1860
Lucas Willem Cornelis born 13 Oct 1862
Thomas Frederik
Johannes Andries

Hannes also states that in the estate documents for Lukas Willem in 1897 the only surviving children noted are Christiaan Lourens and Lucas Willem Cornelis. It is also mentioned that GJ Engelbrecht received the news about the death, this Engelbrecht was married to a sister of Susanna Elizabeth Dreyer, there is a fair chance that they would have taken care of the two surviving children. The Hendrik which died on the trip could very likely have been their child - Hendrik Nicolaas. In the estate documents for Lukas Willem makes mention of plots of land in Standerton. Note the town of Standerton was commenced in 1876 and the first plot of land was auctioned 9 February 1876. This means that Lucas Willem Cornelis must still have been in that area by that date. His estate was completed in Standerton where his two surviving sons were living.

Dr JM van Tonder PO Box 5035, Krugersdorp West 1742 informed the author that two of Lukas van Rensburg children died from fever, where the Crocodile and Notauwa Rivers meet, this must have been soon after the commencement of this trek. Mita van Rensburg was married to Corneles Jan Labuschagne. Then Hendrik, Lucas and A van Rensburg (she was born Labuschagne) died at Olifantspan.

Lucas Janse van Rensburg was from the district of Heidelberg. After Olifantsdrift two of L van Rensburg children died. (du Plessis account)

According to Hannes he read about a Robert Wesson Janse van Rensburg who went on the Thirstland trek. Hannes obtained this man's death notice issued in 1920 and he died in poverty in Rustenburg.

The Dorslandtrek would go down as one big tragedy.  (Rev Hepburn in Twenty Year in Khama's Country gives an insight into how disasterous this drought was for the native Bechuana.) Since so many died from 'dors en koors', thirst and fever.  They trekked without a specific destination, ultimately they trekked into Southern Angola.  It should be kept in mind that, this trek covered twice the distance of the Great Trek. In September 1880 when they were being assisted by R Haybittle with help from the Cape, the trek consisted of 270 people, 50 servants who accompanied them from the Transvaal, 61 wagons, 840 oxen, 2160 cattle, 120 horses, 3,000 sheep and goats, with this they proceeded to Angola.

There followed an 1893 Trek
Then there was the 1893 Trek, which trekked more south west heading via Rietfontein.  Widower Frederick Rudolphus Janse van Rensburg (de Villiers and Pama b1c1d6e7) aged 82 went on this Trek.  He married twice.  His first marriage was to a De Jager and his second wife was a Du Plessis.  The latter was a sister to Lourens Marthinus du Plessis.  There were several groups that trekked circa 1893 under leaders such as Prinsloo and Lombard.  The Van Rensburg's went with Pieter Johannes Jacobus Stephanus Potgieter mainly because Frederick's wife's sister was married to a Potgieter.  Frederick committed suicide (6 days from Humpata) before reaching Angola but some of his children went on. Hannes van Rensburg's father and uncle Jan also told him about this Frederik van Rensburg who was known as Kalwerneus who committed suicide. Frederik lived in 1888 in the district of Olifantsrivier between Middelburg and Bethal. Hannes writes:
"Hier in 1892/93 was daar weer n algemene trekkery in die Transvaal aan die gang. In Maart 1892 het n groep onder leiding van n Lombard die Transvaal verlaat en deur die Dorsland tot in Grootfontein getrek, waar hulle nie baie goed deur die Duitsers ontvang is nie. Sommiges het weer agv die koors en ander probleme in ongeveer 1895 na die Transvaal teruggekeer. In 1893 het Willem Prinsloo - wat van Angola af teruggetrek het om sy pa toe te laat om naby Witbank aan kanker te sterf - weer na Angola getrek en verskeie families met hom saamgeneem. By een van die groepe van 1893 was, volgens Lawrence Green, n ou oom Frederick van Rensburg, 84, met bynaam "Oom Kalwerneus" (my pa , asook oom Jan van Rensburg van Hendrina, die kleinseun van LW van Graspan, het ook van die Kalwerneuse vertel). Langs die pad het hy verskeie kere gepraat van te perd terugkeer na die Transvaal. Kort voor hulle Humpata in Angola bereik het, het hy n lang riem gevat en homself opgehang (ek het ook di fragment by my pa gehoor, skynbaar was die ou man kwaad omdat die ander nie vir hom wou luister nie). Dit lyk vir my volgens die jaar en sy ouderdom asof dit b1c1d6e7, gebore 1808.09.04, kon gewees het, dws n neef van LW b1c1d4e6, die oupa van LW b1c1d4e6f1g1 wat op die Tweede Trek gegaan het".

If we take into account that when they started the trek there were 480 people, then close to two hundred people had died. This does not include the numbers in the Alberts trek.

"The Friend", 27 February 1878 supplies a list of names of Boers that died up and until the beginning of 1879. 122 died from fever, 3 died from poison plants and 1 murdered by natives

"The Friend", 25 September 1879.  Gives the figures for those who survived 70 men and 300 women and children.


DSAB Vol IV "Jan Christoffel Greyling"
Die Dorslandtrek soos vertel deur die Trekkers CJH en LM du Plessis. Hand written document at Ferdinand Postma Library, Potchefstroom University for CHO
Gustaf Preller: Voortrekkers van Suidwes

GPJ Trumpelmann: "Die Boer van Suidwes-Afrika" Archives Year Book of South Africa 1948, Vol II
Dr Burger's `Die Dorsland Trek' PhD thesis Bloemfontein
J Albert Coetzee: Groot Avontuur: Sketse uit die Dorsland
JP Claasen:  Die Jerusalemgangers
DCF Moodie The History and the Battles of the British, the Boers and Zulu's, etc in South Africa Vol II. This book also contains WW Jordan's Journal of the Trek Boers to Mossamedes
De Maandbode 1 Februari 1880 Gereformeerde Kerk
M Russel: Afrikaners of the Kalahari
CJS Strydom: Afrikaners in die Vreemde

Personal correspondence with Mrs JR Labuschagne
Personal correspondence with Hans van Rensburg
Personal correpsondence with Dr JM van Tonder
Personal correspondence with Dr Roy Lourens (Perth, Australia)

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