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Friday
Oct112013

Kroondal and its History

Kronendal (now Kroondal) had by then been in existence since 1843. The farm was first surveyed by riding 1 hour in each direction resulting in a farm of approximately 2500 hectare.

The year 1858 the farm was allocated as a ‘pachtplaas’ to Lutheran Missionary Pastor Christian Müller. Jan Michiel van Helsdingen registered the farm to his name. Pastor Christian established the church on the farm – then known as – Kronendal. The farm Kronendal was one of 22 German Lutheran mission congregations.

Missionary Müller built himself a house where Dr. Erika Ottermann lives today and the church was built next to the cemetery approximately 300 m to the south where it can still be seen today.  The families du Plessis, Riekert and Malan who where relatives of van Helsdingen, occupied the farm until 1877 when they all moved to the Koster region where their descendants can still be found.

It was in 1889, when the missionary was suffering financially, that the local Germans bought the Kronendal farm. This is when it became, as we in Rustenburg know it today, to be Kroondal. The farm was divided into residential plots and the typical German zing Kroondal has today, came to be. 

Politics and War surrounding Kroondal

During 1878 a rift accured in the Ramakoka tribe who lived in Phalane approximately  100 km north of Kroondal and missionary Christian Müller, who was with the Ramakoka tribe, arranged that a portion of the tribe bought Kroonendal for 5000 pounds and settled there.

The Ramakoka tribe could not repay the debt or the interest and decided to sell the farm for 5100 pounds and move back to Phalane, as the inter-tribe problem had been settled.   The original signed purchase documents are still in the hand of the Kroondalers today.  .

Concerned for the local people that were being forced off their land by the Boers, Pastor Ferdinand Zimmerman tried to purchase Kroondal under the name of the missionary as to provide a safe place where the locals could stay. The idea though was not met with political agreement and the lack of funds made it difficult for the attainment of the land.

Agriculture in Kroondal:

Georg Wilhelm Otterman was one of the German immigrants that came to Kroondal and began farming with tobacco, wheat and maize. It was in 1889 that Kroondal saw a mill taking shape on Otterman’s farm. The Mill gave him a competitive edge over his competitors. The mill was the only one in the area that offered buyers and customers “sifted meal”.

The mill was relocated to Sandspruit where the Modderspruit’s water could offer more power to the wheel. During the Boer War, Georg Otterman and his family were relocated to the concentration camp of Irene.  It was during that time that the British took the bearing of the mill and by the time Otterman and his family returned to his farm in 1902, there wasn’t anything left.

Not deterred, they rebuilt and in 1903 the Mill stood proudly again. By 1960 the Otterman family – after the significant growth in agriculture –bought the Rustenburg Produce and Milling Company and along with the Kroondal Mill it was run by the Otterman family till Bernard, son of Georg, retired after 70 years in the industry. 

Today the Kroondal mill has been restored to an era before being modernized, and one can now enjoy going back in time in the Kroondal Mill as a restaurant.

Agriculture continued to be the central theme in Kroondal but many properties were consolidated or leased and today there are only 5 active farmers compared to the 15 active farmers 40 years ago.

Churches & School:

The religion was Lutheran and Sunday sermons were held in the house of G Ottermann and in 1895 the church was built with the assistance of the community. The Kroondal congregation was founded in 1896 by a small group of German missionaries and farmers. This principle of working together for a common goal has become a part of the Kroondal tradition to this day. 

The building of the church was interrupted when all the Kroondaler were summoned to the commandoes and participated in the action to stop the Jameson invasion in January 1896.
Kroondal is a rural congregation with over 400 members. Kroondal established a German school in 1892. It was in 1896 that the Lutheran Church was built by architect Karl Heine, who later also built the N.G.Moederkerk in Rustenburg. Both of which are still standing and are in use today. In 1904, the Kinderheim (Boarding school) was build to accommodate the Children coming from around the district. Schooling takes place up to grade 7 and there are 32 German and 31 Afrikaans speaking scholars (2013).  Linked to the school is the ‘Spatzennest’ crèche which has 45 children.  All children are taught in German and after a year it is decided whether the child will take the Afrikaans or German stream.
In 1972 the German school had 120 scholars and the community counted 630.

The church is situated in the centre of Kroondal. Over the years Kroondal has grown into the vibrant congregation it now is. Of the 400 congregation members about 80% use German as their home language, with the rest being mainly Afrikaans. Each Sunday at 09:30 the main church service of the week is conducted. Once every second month the service is in Afrikaans. On all other Sundays the service is conducted in German. Other church services and group activities are advertised in our newsletter and also on the notice board at the church.

Some of the groups that are active in the congregation are: Brass band, choir, women support group, bible study, Sunday school, youth group and a senior citizen group.

The Lutheran Church was restored in 1979 and 1982 and is declared a national monument. The church still is an important part in the Kroondal community and has 420 members of which about a quarter are either Afrikaans or English speaking.   The sermon is held in Afrikaans every fourth Sunday. 

Interesting fact: Both Louis Botha, South Africa’s First Prime Minister, as well as Afrikaans poet J.D. du Toit “Totius” went to school at the Kroondal German School.

Sport and recreation:  Kroondal has the church choir, a brass band, a tennis club, a library in the old church, women’s organizations that cater for the various festivities.

The Kroondalers have always seen themselves as part of the Rustenburg rural community with the South African culture and love for this country.  They are proud of their German heritage and tradition. They classify themselves as German speaking South Africans. Both annual festivals the Bazaar and the Beerfest is open to the public.

 

Information mainly from:

www.tourismnorthwest.co.za

Historians and residents in Kroondal

(Otterman family)