Wednesday, 29 July 2009


Margaret Humphries (left), who has been a member of the West Gauteng branch of the GSSA for many years, started her family history research in 1996. She is busy researching the following surnames:

On her father's side: Freshwater, Haddrel and Harcombe;
On her mother's side: Bennett, Currin, Quirk, Freemantle and Pacston and
On her husband's side: Humphries, van der Nest, Marais and Maré.

Johan Lourens (right) , also a member of our West Gauteng group has been involved with family history research since 1998. Most of his work has been on his Lourens and Scholtz family, and to a lesser extent the Engelbrecht and Turner family. -- Penny Evans, branch member.

Thursday, 16 July 2009



A bit of a tongue in cheek greeting based on what I have distilled from talking to those who attend the meetings and other functions.

There are those of us who ardently seek our roots (the searchers) and then there are those of us who do it all over again - for others (the researchers) - because they enjoy it so much!

Whichever category you fall into, take the time to drop me (or any committee member) a line to let us know what it is you want to learn/hear about, in the pursuit of your search. Ask the questions -- anonomously if you must and we will try our best to assist. This will assist us greatly in preparing next year's programme. Our telephone numebers appear on the left or just click below any coommittee member's name and send an e-mail.

Taking the time to drop a line to offer any constructive criticism would be equally appreciated.

  • Die komitee goedgekeur dat John Stephens ons begraafplaaskoördineerder sal wees. Sy eerste taak sal wees om te reël dat ons tak op 17 Oktober 2009 die familiebegrafplasies in sy omgewing sal opneem.
  • Voorsitter Lucas Rinken het sy antwoord aan Isabel Groesbeek gestuur ná 'n versoek om kommentaar oor die jaar se Erfinisfees by die Voortrekkermonumentfeesterrein. Die geleentheid was 'n groot sukses en lede word gevra om volgende jaar se fees (in hul eie belang) te ondersteun. Daar is gemeld dat boeke ten bedrae van R 885 by die fees gekoop is vir ons takbiblioteek uit winste met die verkoop van e-SAGI.
  • Dankie aan Lucas en sy span wat getrou e-SAGI uitbrei tot voordeel van ons tak se finansies.
  • Dit was aangekondig dat 'n opleidingskursus op 15 Augustus sal plaasvind mits die Kerkperseel. Die kursusfooi beloop R100. Dit sal deur Lucas Rinken, Dennis Pretorius en Richard Ford aangebied word.
  • 'n Versoek van blogredakteur Japie Bosch vir kort belangwekkende stories vir die blog is genoteer en lede word weer eens gevra om ook hul bydraes te oorweegvir plasing. Al dink jy dalk dat jou berig nie geskik is nie, stuur dit nietemin asseblief.

The June meeting was addressed primarily by Bob Saunders on his recent trip to the UK which was a combined family duty/personal research trip.

The gist of the address was that it really is not necessary to go to London to the National Archives to do your research. Their systems are very sophisticated and accessible via the net at (for instance) for births, marriages and deaths between the years 1837 to 1929.

You will also find other links there to pursue including which is the link to be able to place orders for documents as these are NOT available from the National Archives.

The other point he wanted to stress was that should you spoil yourself by taking such an excursion (and Bob still recommends it), be very certain about what it is you want to research, and focus on only that. There is so much one can access at the archives that you end up like a kid at a sweet factory trying absolutely everything in an absolute frenzy of time-robbing exploration, running around in circles instead of plodding steadfastly towards your goal.

DON'T WASTE YOUR PRECIOUS TIME whilst you are there. Oh, and don't forget to visit the 1911 Census. Bob found his maternal grandmothers family there. One of those liberating moments in his search.

Bob has prepared a whole series of powerpoint modules should anyone be remotely interested in his trip which he will gladly forward for your perusal. Just be warned that the files are rather large in some cases. But he will gladly share these if you drop him a line.

The meeting was augmented by a short presentation by Gerard Marloth on work he has been doing to assist Lucas with the filtering of data received for inclusion in e-SAGI. Lucas is over the moon as what Gerard has done, has dramatically reduced Lucas' workload. The programme is still under development and debugging and refinemet.

By way of an example, a file containing 20 000 names was scanned (live) before our eyes in no more tha 3 seconds flat, with very impressive results. No wonder Lucas is so impressed.

Congratulations and thank you Gerard.


Ons volgende takvergadering sal op Saterdag 18 Julie 2009 by die NG Kerk Ontdekkerskruin, Phillipslaan, Discovery, Roodepoort, plaasvind om 14h00. Ons gasspreker is Kriek FourieHy sal praat oor van sy ondervindige in die Lankloof toe hy na grafte gaan soek het.
Kommiteelede word herriner dat die maandelikse komiteevergadering om 12uur dieselfde dag plaasvind.

Onthou asseblief ook om jou R5 vir verversingssaam te bring. Nêrens sal u 'n groter verskeidenheid verversings vir diémgeld in hierdie land kry nie. Margaret en haar span word hartelik bedank vir hul bydrae tot die smuletes, koek, tee, koffie en vrugtesap wat gereeld aangebied word. Die kuier na die vergadering om hulp te vra en te gesels met ander lede is baie aangenaam en bevredigend.


Neem asseblief nou reeds kennis dat die Augustus-vergadering verskuif is na Saterdag 22 Augustus 2009 weens 'n NUK-vergadering waartydens ons tak as gasheer optree. die spreker sal die GGSA se President, Hendrik Louw, wees. Hy sal ons nlig oor sy siening van die toekoms van die Genootskap.


e-SAGI has broken the half million barrier -- yes, in excess of 500 000 names! Lucas has done a sterling job with his handful of trusty helpers, to filter through all the data that has been collected prior to merging this into the database. However, there are still many duplicates that need to be weeded out.

The request therefore is for members to come forward and offer some time to assist Lucas to make this database the most comprehensive and reliable source of electronic data for all researchers. Since there is NEVER a free lunch ... the pay-off for your valuable time would be a free copy of e-SAGI. Yes, your own personal copy, free and for gratis, if you will undertake to, say, go through your entire family name extracting any names you identify as duplicates and forward these to Lucas for processing. It really is that simple.

The catch of course is that you filter through the entire family name (not just your little family). Whilst this may be quite a task for a surname like Smith or Jones (in the UK), it is not nearly that onerous in the local context so PLEASE do consider taking part in this exercise.

Just remember that none of the data you are able to access on the net (or elsewhere) just appeared there one day, someone had to do the work so that your task was made easier, and this database is no different. Be part of the action and give back a little time (as an investment in the future).


This is a new slot where you get the opportunity to tell us of a special find or coincidence in your search for a missing link. This month I (Bob Saunders) relate (yes, pun intended) to you an anecdote from my talk last month.

I had gone to the National Archives, to search for my maternal line as I knew nothing more than my grandmother's name and approximate death as well as my paternal line as all I had was my great grandfathers name and supposed birthdate.

In searching for my mom's line I was getting nowhere fast, but there was one clue out of a bunch of similar names, but the birth was registered in an unfamiliar (and supposedly) unlikely place called Wantage. So I threw in the towel and pursued the paternal line with equally spectacular results after a very circuituous search.

On returning to South Africa, I was surfing the net and came across the 1911 census and decided to take a gander. It wasn't long before I found my grandmother in the right part of London - aged one and a half years complete with parents and grandparents, uncle and aunts, and yes birth registered in Wantage. So I had had the right Queenie all along.

My great grandfather turns out to be an American of British parentage (according to the enumerators notes), so I now have another investigation to follow ... my American connection.

I wish I could say that excites me half as much as my British connections - but who knows?


Ons het 'n groeiende takbiblioteek onder die toesig van Graham Southey. Maak asseblief gebruik van hierdie fasiliteit wat gratis is aan ons lede. Dit bestaan uit allerei boeke, tydskrifte en joernale van verskeie genealogiese vereenigings, familiegeskiednisgenootskappe, asook die SAG-bundels.

Soos vroeër genoem, het die biblioteek 'n paar boeke ryker geword tydens die tak se besoek by die Erfenisfees op 30 Mei 2009 by die feesterrein by die Voortrekkermonument. Die boeke wat aangeskaf is, handel grootliks oor die famieliegeskiedenis van die familiesAucamp, Van der Walt, Neethling, Raubenheimer, Orlandini, Kotzee en Louw.

Ons spreek ons dank uit aan Graham wat ook 'n boek oor die Retif-familie aan die biblioteek geskenk het.

  • The Northern Transvaal branch has a Symposium in September titled "The Synergy Between Genealogy, History and Cultural History" which may interest some members. I will make contact with either Ferdi or Rentia to establish whether we could also attend and what the cost might be. Should anyone be interested, please let a committee member know.
  • Please also take note that the Archive Tour 2009 that was being undertaken by the Northern Transvaal Branch has had to be cancelled due to to few subscriptions. Should they reconsider such a tour in 2010, perhaps a few of our members would be interested in joing them. We will keep you informed.
That about takes care of all the business for this month (prior to the committee and branch meetings). Your committee looks forward to welcoming you and any visitors to our meetings.

Your participation in these monthly meets is key to the sustainability of the branch and hopefully also your continued interest in your own research. Please remember to ask the questions to expand your own and your fellow investigators knowledge. If the person you have asked is unsure of the answer you seek it will be referred to our more experienced branch members and further if needs be.

Please also remember to share your successes with us and contribute to the newsletter as well as our blog.

Wednesday, 08 July 2009


How will genealogist record "burials" in a few decades?

How about:
Freezed in Roodepoort or
Exposed to the Elements in the Kruger Game Reserve or
Orbiting Earth or
Converted into a Diamond.

These are just a few possibilities mentioned in an article published on 8 July 2009 on Health24

A shortened version of the article follows below.

"When pondering the fate of our mortal remains, most of us weigh up the pros and cons of the two standard methods: burial or cremation. But if either of these strike you as too dull and uncreative a way to bow out, maybe you’d like to mull over some of the more exotic choices available to the modern human corpse.

Should any of the following strike your fancy, you might need to also make arrangements to have your remains exported, because most of these procedures aren’t yet available in South Africa.

  • The deep freeze
Promessa explains that the process involves freezing the corpse and then submerging it in liquid nitrogen, making it very brittle. Ultrasound converts the body into an organic powder which is dried in a vacuum chamber. The “hygienic and odourless” final product, when placed in a coffin made of corn starch and buried in a shallow grave to speed the process, converts to compost after about 6-12 months. A favourite tree can be planted over the site, literally and symbolically continuing the ecological cycle.

  • The big chill
Cryonics is the preservation of human bodies at low temperatures for possible eventual resuscitation (perhaps 100 years from now), when a cure has been found for the original cause of death.

Once your deceased body reaches the cryonics facility, circulation and breathing are artificially restored, the body is cooled, and then the blood is replaced with preserving solutions. Oxygen is continuously circulated to (ostensibly) prevent brain damage. In an attempt to retain memory, the brain is infused with chemicals that prevent ice crystal formation during the cooling process (at -196 °C)

  • Plastination: strike a pose
Plastination is the use of plastic polymers to infiltrate and preserve tissue for educational, research or diagnostic purposes. Recently, it has also been used – with great success and not a little controversy – as a form of ‘educational entertainment’ in exhibitions.

The process involves draining all liquids from dissected parts of the body, and replacing the fluid with polymer. Unique gases and heat are then applied to the parts, hardening and ‘fixing’ the tissue.

Plastination’s proponents point out that the final product is clean, odourless and permanent. It's an excellent way to educate students, because the tissues possess interactive visibility. Many universities are opting for plastination over formaldehyde-preserved cadavers.

  • Feed the birds
Followers of the Zoroastrian faith in India and Buddhists in Tibet choose to have their remains dispatched by birds of prey. Zoroastrians' bodies are exposed to the elements – and the vultures – by being placed in a circular stone tower open to the sky. Similarly, Tibetan Buddhists observe ‘sky burials’, in which the body is first chopped up, and then left to the birds – and sometimes also wild dogs.

Environmentally, this is a clean, efficient method – or was until the vulture population in India started to decline in recent years, forcing authorities to seek additional ways to dispose of remains.

  • Go boldly
Space Services, a Houston-based aerospace company, offers ‘memorial spaceflights’, in which a portion of your cremated remains is loaded into a sealed container, attached to a satellite, and then shot into space.

On launch day “families gather at the liftoff site to share the experience of seeing the loved one's dream of space flight realized. With a roar and a fiery streak across the sky, the rocket lifts its precious load higher and higher into the peaceful solitude of space.”

This will cost you anything from a paltry $995 to have one gram of your remains sent into the earth’s orbit, to $12 500 to get as far as the moon or deep space.

  • Sleep with the fishes
Eternal Reefs, a US-based company, will mix your cremated remains into the concrete of a ‘reef unit’, or ‘reef ball’, an artificial structure designed to mimic part of a real coral reef, to which it is then added.

The idea is that marine creatures, under pressure from the destruction of coral reefs, can then use you as a new home. This concept does in fact have scientific legitimacy: similar structures are being used in an attempt to rehabilitate reefs in different parts of the world.

  • Shine on
LifeGem, yet another US-based company, converts the carbon in cremated ashes to create a “certified, high-quality diamond created … as a memorial to their unique life”, which then can be worn by a friend or family member, or kept safe in a jewellery box.

This will set you back anything from US$2 699 to US$19 999 for a loose stone. Setting is extra. The service is also available for dearly departed pets.

  • Get plastered
A few countries have built memorial parks that contain a "niche wall". This is a solid granite structure with numerous small holes or spaces, where your cremation ashes can be deposited and then sealed into the wall. A plaque marks the spot where the ashes are poured, providing identification for the deceased. Neat, space-saving and cosily communal."

(Olivia Rose-Innes, EnviroHealth Expert, and Matthew Louw, Health24, updated June 2009) Source material: Eternal Reefs: official website Gunther von Hagens Bodyworlds: official website LifeGem: official website Lonely Planet Tibet (2005); Lonely Planet Publications; 6th edition Promessa Organic AB: official website Space Services: official website

Wednesday, 01 July 2009


You've been researching your family for a while and have managed to correctly assemble many pieces of the puzzle. You've entered the names and dates found in census records, land records, military records, etc. But can you tell me exactly where you found great, great-grandma's birth date? Was it on her tombstone? In a book at the library? In the 1860 census on

When researching your family it is very important that you keep track of every piece of information. This is important both as a means of verifying or "proving" your data and also as a way for you or other researchers to go back to that source when future research leads to information which conflicts with your original assumption. In genealogy research, any statement of fact, whether it is a birth date or an ancestor's surname, must carry its own individual source.

Kimberly Powell of discusses this topic. Find the rest of her report HERE.

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