ANON: "We are the chosen. My feeling is that in each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors. To put flesh on their bones and make them live again. To tell the family story and to feel that somehow those who went before know and approve. To me, doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before. We are the storytellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called as if it were in our genes. Those who have gone before cry out to us; tell our story! So, we do.
In finding them, we somehow find ourselves. How many graves have I stood before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told my ancestors, “You have a wonderful family; you would be proud of us” How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say.
I go beyond just documenting the facts. It goes to who I am, and why I do the things I do. It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference, and saying - "I can't let this happen". The bones, here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it. It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish.
How they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life to their family. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us, that we might be born who we are, that we might remember. So we do.
With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are them and they are us. I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation, to answer the call and take their place in the long line of family storytellers. That is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those, young and old to step up and put flesh on the bones."
Four years after arriving in the Cape, Hercules and Cecilia were allocated a farm in Paarl (1692). They called it De Zoete Inval. A literal translation is "a sweet falling in" but that's a bit nonsensical. "Inval" can also mean things like"thought" "incidence" "foray" all of which makes more sense considering they would be the first human beings to make a permanent home there, the first to stick a hoe into the soil. It must have been an intimidating "foray" into the unknown . I'm happy to report its still there! I plan to visit when next in the Cape.
Hercules died not long after, around 1695, leaving Cecilia to fulfill the obligations to the "Company", being the creation and maintenance of a road over the Bergriver and handing over a 10th of her crops. "Cecilias road" existed for generations. She remarried in 1700, already in her 50's.
Cecilia's and her Daughters: On arrival in 1688, Cecilia had three daughters; Elisabeth, Marie Jeanne and Jaquemine. From the Four women, three of them are "Stam moeders" or Maternal ancestors for countless hundreds of thousands of South Africans. Cecilia herself for the Des Prez /s line (Dupre, Du Preez etc) Marie Jeanne for the Theron line. Jaquemine for the Vivier line. Imagine what Cecilia would think of that!
A sad little story about Jaquemine's daughter and her daughter:
Jacquemine was only about 35 years old when she died in 1715. By that time her husband and his two unmarried brothers were already deceased. She inherited from all three of them.
Her children were cared for by her sister, Marie Jeanne. Great scandal transpired when Jacquemine’s daughter, Elisabeth, in 1717 gave birth to an illegitimate child fathered by Charl du Plessis. Charl was the husband of Cecilia van Marseveen , who happened to be Elisabeth’s cousin.
With the kind of Calvinistic “piety” of that time, Elisabeth was forced to give the name of the father while she was in labour. (She probably at first refused to say who he was and by doing so hoped to spare her cousin the embarrassment.)
"On 31 January 1717 on page 46 of the Drakenstein baptism register it was recorded in thick black ink so as to warn future sinners who might contemplate similar deeds and with the brand of Calvinism of that time: “Elisabeth, daughter of Elisabeth Vivier and Charl du Plessis, who is a married man and on account of this, a child of fornication and adultery”
The name of this unfortunate girl (the baby) brought up by the Du Plessis family, ended up on her mother’s death notice as “du Plaisir” — from pleasure — instead of Du Plessis. (Would it be possible that someone’s vindictiveness extended to punishing Elisabeth Vivier even in death?)
I'm a painter, scribbler, emerging artist, amateur photographer, searcher.