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Helena Aletta du Plessis


Born 24 February 1793, Graaff-Reinet
Baptised 25 February 1794, Graaff-Reinet
Died 30 August 1857, Bloemfontein


Married 3 November 1810 at Swellendam 1

Matthys Stephanus Booyens Died 1871
Cattle Rancher, Klipfontein farm, Bloemfontein district, Free State Republic 2


Matthys Andries
1813 -
1902
Children

Pieter Adriaan
1815 -
1888
Children

Susanna Johanna Aletta
1817 -
1876

Anna Helena Elizabeth Maria
1823 -
1901

Helena Aletta Martha Cornelia
1824 -
1904

Isabella Maria
1827 -
1854
Children

Elisabeth Maria
1830 -
1878

Children of Helena Aletta du Plessis and Matthys Stephanus Booyens

Matthys Andries Booyens 1813-1902
Born 24 January 1813, Keurfontein, District George, Cape Colony
Baptised 13 February 1814, George, Cape of Good Hope
Died 13 September 1902, Darling 67, Standerton

 x Married 20 September 1847 Colesberg
Maria Elizabeth Griesel 1829-1909


Pieter Adriaan Booyens 1815-1888
Born 20 July 1815, Olifantsrivier, District George
Baptised 20 October 1815, George
Died possibly After 1 July 1888

 x Married 18 August 1845 Colesberg
Isabella Duvenhage 1829-1901


Susanna Johanna Aletta Booyens 1817-1876
Born 10 March 1817 3
Baptised 9 November 1817, Graaff-Reinet 4
Died 18 December 1876, Taaiboschfontein, Cape Colony 5

Notes: We know little about Susanna beyond her marriage to Johannes Petrus van der Walt and a series of baptisms in the Dutch Reformed Parish of Colesberg through the 1840s and 1850s. However, the one thing we do know is that the couple never trekked to the Free State or Transvaal Republics. The couple is associated with the Middelveld Wyk of the massive Colesberg District. In the 1850s, the names of the couple are associated specifcally with a string of farms near Colesberg. These include Geelbeksfontein in the Nuwe Hantam wyk; Elandsrivier, Nooitgedag, Onverwag(1), and Samekoms; and finally Taaiboschfontein, at the southern end ofthe Onder-Seekoeiroiver wyk [#1]. The farm is located almost exactly in the centre of the triangle formed by Colesberg, Philipstown to the northwest on the Hondeblaf River, and Hanover to the west-southwest. Hanover is the geographic centre of South Africa, situated on a very powerful spring "in the middle of nowhere."


On 31 August 1856 the couple is in Bloemfontein for the baptism of Susanna Johanna Ackerman, daughter of Susanna's sister, Anna Booyens, married to Willem Hendrik Ackerman. [#2]


Susanna's death notice is filed at Colesberg on 11 January 1877 and gives Taaiboschfontein as her place of death on the 18th of December the previous year, indicating that she has lived her last years on that particular farm.

#1. Bewaarders van ons Erfenis - Deel 17 : Distrik Colesberg, JG le Roux, JJ Niemandt and Mariana Olivier
#2. Baptism Book of the Dutch reformed Parish of Bloemfontein: LINK



 x Married 1833  6
Johannes Petrus van der Walt 1804-1874
Born 1804 7
Died 1874 8


Anna Helena Elizabeth Maria Booyens 1823-1901
Born 1 January 1823, Graaff-Reinet District 9
Baptised 19 June 1823, Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa 10
Died 12 October 1901, Bloemfontein 11

Notes: The first time we meet with the adult Anna, is at a baptism on 21 December 1845 in Winburg [#1] in the Free State. This appears to be the baptism of her first child with Willem Hendrik Ackerman, the widower of Aletta Havenga. We believe her marriage to be in early/mid 1843, likely in either Cradock or Colesberg. Willem is 20 years her senior. The child is baptised by none other than the famous missionary Daniel Lindley, who left Mzilikatse's capital of Mosega in the company of Voortrekker leader Hendrik Potgieter, eight years before [#2]. Potgieter had attacked the settlement and had driven out Mzilikhatse, following the massacres perpetrated by the Matabele king and the attack on Potgieter's camp at Vegkop. Lindley had realised that his life would be forfeit if the despotic Mzilikahtse were to return to find him and his fellow white American Missionaries among the ruins. He subsequently formulated the foundation of the Dutch Reformed Church in Natal, and the Winburg (Free State) Parish of the church reports to Pietermaritzburg in Natal at this time. The very American Lindley is generally seen as the founder of this very Afrikaans Church outside the Cape Colony. His missionary colleagues fled Natal after the Massacre at Umgungundhlovu [#3]. Hence the great respect for this singular man among Afrikaners. At this time, Lindley is doing massive numbers of baptisms on a tiny handful of days a year in Winburg. The widely scattered Free State Afrikaner farmers ("Boere") are flocking there in droves to have their children baptised. On this particular single day Lindley does no fewer than one hundred-and-fifty baptisms! Anna, with her father as witness, is among this throng of folks.


Four years later, on 7 May 1849, she and Willem baptise child Maria Regina in Bloemfontein [#5]. She is also witness to a baptism in Bloemfontein by the parents-in-law of brother Matthys Andries [#4]. Her own sister, Isabella Maria, baptises her second daughter in that same event. Brother Matthys Andries also baptises a daughter. Some eleven years later, on 16 December 1860, we find Anna and husband Willem Ackerman baptising children in Reddersburg, south of Bloemfontein [#6]. On 16 August 1863 the couple serves as witnesses to the baptism of a son by Anna's younger sister, Elizabeth Maria, at Aliwal-North in the Cape Colony [#7].


Willem dies on Jakkalspoort farm on 29 December 1878, leaving the 56 year old Anna with four as yet minor children. Her son, Jan Adriaan, is now head of the farming operation.


By the outbreak of the Anglo Boer War, Anna is still the owner of Jakkalspoort in the Bloemfontein district [#8]. Her son, Jan Adriaan, is married with at least 5 children. Anna's daughter, Renske Aletta Johanna, appears to be a spinster at age 42, and also lives on the farm. Jan Adriaan and his older sons go off to war, leaving the women and Jan's four-year old son Willem on the farm. In the (southern) autumn of 1901, the British Army initiates the general destruction of farms. They kill all farm animals and the burn the crops. In many cases they simply chase out the families and dynamite the farm buildings. The women, children, and elderly are unceremoniously bundled into Concentration Camps. As fate would have it, the year of 1901 is the most severe winter in decades, with snow on the ground in this African country. Many Afrikaners are sent to the Springfontein camp, but that horrendous camp soon overflows and the excess people are shoved into the Bethulie camp, where conditions are beyond the pale.


The infamously bad British Army logistics make matters worse. The first Camp Superintendent, Russell Deare, telegraphs at one point, "Please enquire where fault lies in sending me at a days notice close on 1000 refugees without any rations or tent accommodation". When a new superintendent takes over, he complains, 'I have found families in a state verging on starvation---the meat supplied is useless as human food containing little or no nutriment, being simply skin and bone. The result of this is that the majority of the people are in a weak and unhealthy condition and are quite unable to withstand the epidemic of enteric fever decimating the camp'. At one point the citizen inmates attack the doctor in frustration. Against this background, and a desperate shortage of water at the camp, disease assumes epidemic proportions. The Bethulie camp suffers a double epidemic, with measles and whooping cough in winter, and typhoid and enteric fever in summer [#9]. The children and elderly suffer most.


It is to this rampant Bethulie nightmare that the Ackerman family, including the 78 year old widow Anna, is committed on 1 May 1901 [#10]. Anna is put in tent number 34 in particular. For lack of information, we assume the rest of the family is in the same tent. After less than three months in this British-made hell, Anna's daughter-in-law, Isabella Hester, mother of all the children, dies in the measles epidemic on 26 August 1901. On the very same day, Anna's 22 year old granddaughter of the same name also dies of measles. Jan Adriaan has meanwhile surrendered at Edenburg and has signed the Oath of Neutrality at Reddersburg in March of 1900. It is unclear whether he has meanwhile been sent to an overseas prisoner-of-war camp. However, he arrives at the Concentration Camp on 6 September 1901 to find his wife and daughter dead and buried. Three days later, on 9 September, his 12-year old daughter Magdalena also dies of measles. After 5 months of privation in this disastrous camp, Anna is relieved of this Hell on Earth when she dies on 12 October 1901. Her death notice gives the cause of death as "general weakness".... [This author has run out of appropriate comment in the English Language and resigns himself to God as Judge in this matter. Regrettably, terribly few Britons even know what is done here in their name and with their tax money].


Almost the identical set of events plays out in the Springfontein Concentration camp around Anna's sister-in-law, Anna Duvenhage, widow of her brother Pieter Adriaan and also grandmother of the particular family. Her son, the Boer Commando member, is Johannes Hendrik Booyens. Again the combatant's mother, his wife, and his daughter all die in the camp. The full scope of this outrage against humanity is described in Chapter 17 of the book AmaBhulu. This Booyens family death profile in concentration camps under so-called "British Protection" has become the norm among Afrikaners. In fact, 57% of all Booyens family members entering these camps will die there.


Their family in the Cape Colony know this and refer to it as "National Murder". The Rebellion in the Cape Colony is readily understood against this background. Anna has two sisters living in the British controlled Cape Colony. In particular, they are both living in the Colesberg-Hanover District, an area that the British Army has targeted for official public intimidation via hanging and fussilation.


#1. NG Church - Baptism book of the Parish of Winburg. Online at LINK
#2. AmaBhulu- the Birth and Death of the Second America, H.Booyens (2014), pp. 150-158; AmaBhulu
#3. AmaBhulu- the Birth and Death of the Second America, H.Booyens (2014), p. 195; AmaBhulu
#4. NG Church - Baptism Book of the Parish of Bloemfontein. Online at LINK
#5. NG Church - Baptism Book of the Parish of Bloemfontein. Online at LINK
#6. NG Church - Baptism Book of the Parish of Reddersburg. Online at LINK
#7. NG Church - Baptism Book of the Aliwal-North Parish. Microfilm 33028866 of UNISA RGN 5-220. Baptism No.65 of 1863. Gedoopt den 16 Augustus 1863 Mechiel jan.
#8. British Concentration Camps of the South African War 1900-1902: LINK
#9. British Concentration Camps of the South African War 1900-1902: Bethulie. LINK
#10. British Concentration Camps of the South African War 1900-1902: LINK (follow the links to the individuals for the incarceration date)



 x Married unknown date Unknown 12
Willem Hendrik Ackerman Died 1878
Baptised 25 February 1804 13
Died 29 December 1878, Jakkalspoort, District Bloemfontein 14

Notes: Widower of Renske Catharina Ackerman by whom he has at least four children before she dies.


Willem is roughly 40 years old when he marries Anna Booyens at a date around 1843, when she is roughly 20 years old. We are still searching for that marriage, which is likely in either the Cradock or Graaff-Reinet parish of the Dutch Reformed Church.


When Hendrik dies on 29 December 1878, he leaves Anna with at least four young children to fend for.


Helena Aletta Martha Cornelia Booyens 1824-1904
Born 7 November 1824, Farm in the Swartberg 15
Baptised 27 January 1825, Uitenhage 16
Died 1 November 1904, Trekfontein, Hanover, Cape Colony 17

Notes: Helena is accepted into the Colesberg parish on 2 July 1859 at the age of "32". In fact she is 34 years old at this point. Helena and husband Pieter Johannes du Plessis bapise children in the Colesberg parish of the Dutch Reformed Church in the 1850s. The membership book of the Colesberg Dutch Reformed Church shows a Helena Aletta Cornelia Booysen (the usual misspelling of the surname) departing for the parish of Hanover on 24 March 1866.


Helena dies on the farm Trekfontein in the Hanover district in 1904.


 x Married 9 March 1846 Colesberg 18
Petrus Johannes du Plessis Died 1880
Died 1880, Cape Colony 19


Isabella Maria Booyens 1827-1854
Born 8 January 1827, Zwartberg
Baptised 27 November 1827, George, Cape
Died 9 January 1854

 x Married unknown date Unknown place
Jan Adriaan Coetzee Died 1877


Elisabeth Maria Booyens 1830-1878
Born 21 October 1830, George District, Cape Colony 20
Died 10 October 1878, Rouxville District 21

Notes: It has thus far proved impossible to find the actual baptism of Elisabeth Maria in the George parish, where her Death Notice claims it to be. Nor can we trace her marriage to Matthys Johannes Brits. By process of elimination, we conclude that the marriage is likely before 24 May 1849 in either the Graaff-Reinet or Cradock parish.


The first time ever that we meet this enigmatic lady is on 24 May 1849 when she is a witness, along with husband Matthys Johannes Brits, at a Smithfield baptism [#1] by her cousin Magdalena Catharina Booyens, daughter of Marthinus Gerhardus, her youngest uncle. Marthinus himself also attends the event. This shows that the greater Booyens clan of her father is keeping contact across at least two generations and two countries, because her sister Anna has already baptised as far north as Winburg in the Free State in 1845, where her own father, Matthys Stephanus*1788 has atttended as witness.


At this point we lose contact with Elisabeth's personal history, during which period it is likely that at at least four children are born in the Aliwal North district.


When she resurfaces, it is on 20 June 1858 in the Dutch Reformed Parish of Aliwal North, when she and husband Matthys Johannes Brits baptise daughter Maria Hermiena [#2]. The youngest of her four Booyens aunts, Maria Hermiena (now 60 years old), attends as witness, indicating that the child is likely the latest in an already long line of daughters. Elisabeth's older brother, Pieter Adriaan, is also a witness, along with his wife Isabella Duvenhage (written in the church book as "Sebella De Winnaar"; a common mistake suffered by that family). It is to be noted that Maria Hermiena Senior is also married to a Brits; in her case Pieter Brits*1800. In fact, Pieter is Matthys Johannes' father. We have here a marriage between first cousins. The Booyens and Brits families appear to be migrating steadily northwards together.


Three years later on 16 August 1863, the couple is back in the same church, baptising son Mechiel Jan [#3]. Her sister Anna, who lives in the Bloemfotein area, attends as witness. Her husband's death notice tells us that she eventually bears Matthys Johannes four sons and three daughters.


All we know about the rest of Elisabeth's life is that she dies fifteen years later at the age of 48 years on 10 October 1878 in the Rouxville District of the far southern Free State. Her life has been concentrated around the banks of the Orange River, between Aliwal North in the Cape Colony and Rouxville in the Orange Free State Republic.


#1. NG Church - Baptism Book for the Parish of Smithfield (1848-1899). Online at LINK
#2. NG Church - Baptism Book for the Parish of Aliwal North. 20 June 1858. Not available online.
#3. NG Church - Baptism Book for the Parish of Aliwal North. 16 August 1863. Not available online.


 x Married  22
Matthys Johannes Brits Died 1901
Died 1901 23


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