A few years ago I was contacted by Tiaan Schutte, who was researching my late father's family. He is writing a book, and maintains a fascinating website.
His call triggered a memory of a file my dad once showed me......I must have been around 12 years old. He was composing a family tree for his kids.
The file had lots of loose pages in it. Some were numbered and some were pages of numbered diagrams. He explained that I could one day, when he was done, find a family member's number on the tree diagram, and go to that page number to read about the person.
It was painstaking and meticulous; I remember being very impressed. My dad died soon after. Years later, I wondered where that file was. When I 'phoned my elderly mom, she assured me that she had "thrown out all those old papers", and my heart sank. I visited her one weekend, and rummaged around.... and I found it!
What a strange feeling it gave me! To see my dad's own hand, and the way he thought, and to read stories about people linked so closely to me, but whom I had never known, or even known about.
History I had studied suddenly became peopled with real live human beings, instead of with political tactics and other dry facts. Awesome!
This page is about my ancestry, family connections - the kind of stuff that interests you once the people who could have told you all the stories are no longer there to ask. Fortunately, there are some people who do the work of recording family history -
Click to enlarge - my Ouma Schutte & her sister Heilie
This is Christiaan Ernst Gerhardus Schutte, my father's great-grandfather. He is listed in Eric Rosenthal's Book of South-African Records as having fathered the most children. He had 31 of them. He was twice a widower. On 3 March 1876, on the way to the baptism of his thirty-first child (by his third wife who was 47 years his junior) he accidentally fell off the horse cart, and died, aged 76. Of course, his is only a fatherhood record amongst white South Africans. Black kings and tribal heads have many more - but they have many wives simultaneously.
My maternal grandfather arrived in South Africa from Germany in 1899. He travelled by ox-wagon to the Western Transvaal, and saw Johannesburg when it was a shanty-town. He worked as a missionary for the Evangelical Lutheran Church for 55 years.