Matthys Jacobus, the first son of Daniel Jan Andries*1790, is born at Winterhoek on 21 June 1821. Winterhoek is a rather special place. This is where the Gamtoos River, known here as the Great River, passes through the rugged Winterhoek Mountain range. The area inside this mountain is a nature reserve in the 21st century and is the scene of people repeatedly being cut off in floods. Winterhoek itself is a knot of farms imediately west of the river. These farms, one of which is Doornrivier, lie in a sheltered spot behind what is known today as Cockscomb, the highest mountain in the Southeast Cape. Cockscomb may be seen quite clearly from both Port ELizabeth and Graaff-Reinet, and is a landmark for travellers. Winterhoek is bounded on the south by the mountain known as Mac in the 21st century, but which was known as Rondeberg in the late 1700s. At the time, Doornrivier was the next stop to the east from Schilpadbeen on the trail fro Cape Town to the Eastern Frontier.
Twenty-two years before the birth of Matthys Jacobus, a terrible massacre was perpetrated at Doornrivier by the Khoekhoe (Hottentot) leader Stuurman, a man who some in the 21st century are attempting to get declared as a national hero. The Delport, Strydom, and Scheepers families were attacked and murdered on that farm. This included Sara Delport, by then long retired. She is an ancestor of the author via his Booyens family line.
This massacre constituted the first word the new British Governor at the Cape, Francis Dundas, received in July 1799 to indicate that his frontier policy had comprehensively collapsed and that he was at war with forces unknown. He had ignorantly assumed the Afrikaner frontier farmers to be his enemy and had disarmed them. In reality they constituted the defences of his colony. The AmaGqunukhwebe Xhosa of the Alexandria Bush and the Stuurman Hottentots on the Zondaghs River wasted no time in attacking the strategically defenceless farmers. The details of the events and the story of the disastrous First British Ocupation of the Cape may be found in AmaBhulu - The Birth and Death of the Second America (Chapters 5 & 6).
By the time of his birth on 14 June 1821, the Dutch Reformed Church parish of Beaufort (later Beaufort West) has been in existence for only two years (formed 1819). His death notice will one day erroneously record that he is born in what will later become the Prins Albert district. This is situated behind and in the northern foothills of the Great Swartberg. His father, Daniel Jan Andries, only appears in the muster rolls of the corresponding Traka Wyk of the Beaufort Muster Roll from 1824 onward and is listed in that year with two sons.
In fact, Matthys Jacobus is baptised at home at Winterhoek on 10 September 1821 by a minister from the Beaufort parish. The attending witnesses include the proud father's oldest sibling Elizabeth Catharina and her husband David Frederik Senekal, his older brother Matthys Stephanus and his wife Helena Aletta du Plessis, and his second youngest sister Anna and her husband Ockert Brits.
Matthys grows up in the South Karoo. His father baptises further children in various parishes and under differing church denominations between 1821 and 1840. During the 1830s there is stability in those baptisms and they all occur in Beaufort up to 1839. However, the baptism of Matthys' youngest sibling in 1842 places the family in the Tarka east of Cradock. This is the region most extensively denuded of famers by the Great trek of the previous few years.
On 1 February 1841, at approximately the age of 20, Matthys marries Anna Maria Elisabeth van der Walt, daughter of Tjaart Johannes van der Walt and Hester Jacoba van der Walt, in Colesberg in the Cape Colony.
Matthys Jacobus is representative of the migration of the family Booyens. From 1842 to 1849 he baptizes his first five children in Colesberg. In 1852, at the time of the Sandrivier Convention granting independence to the Boer Republics, we find his next child, Tjaart Johannes, baptised in Bloemfontein in the Free State.
When his eldest child, Hester Jacoba, is confirmed in the Gereformeerde ("Dopper") Kerk in Potchefstroom on 19 March 1859, he is listed as becoming a member of that particular Church on the very same date. The entry lists him as coming from the Hervormde Church. From his 8th child onward, he then baptizes in the Gereformeerde Kerk, first in Rustenburg and then in Potchefstroom. In this way, he changes from being a Karoo sheep farmer to being a classic Western Transvaal maize farmer & cattle rancher.
His progeny will have Potchefstroom and the farms Elandskuil and Klipplaatsdrift as their demographic focus. As a result, they will end up fighting under General Cronje in the Great Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902. They will be present at the Battle of Paardeberg and will end up on British colonial islands as prisoners of war. Their families will be put in British Concentration Camps.