Street names reflect history 2

by | Jan 29, 2021 | People, Street names | 0 comments

The first person to wear the mayor’s robe and the saviour of an ox-wagon has lent their names to street names starting with a “B”.

The wealth of Potchefstroom’s history, being the oldest town north of the Vaal River, is reflected in its street names. Many streets are named after national heroes, birds, composers and trees, amongst others. Street names discussed here will be only ones of which the origin has a bearing on the history of the town itself.

The principle source of these articles is a series of thirteen columns written by “Senex” for the Potchefstroom Herald published from 17 December 1974 to 24 June 1975. Senex was the pseudonym of Mr Jurgens Smith, a long-time history teacher at the Potchefstroom High School for Boys.

Additional information on these notables were found in the archives of the Potchefstroom Museum.

First wearer of mayoral robe

Barnard Street (Central) was named after Mr William Barret Barnard, mayor in 1932/33 and 1935/36. He is described as a well-known and public-spirited citizen.  Barnard passed away on 29 May 1968.

This photo shows a young William Barret Barnard at the turn of the 20th century. Photo: PM*

His obituary made front page news on the Herald of 31 May 1968, where Barnard is described as “a remarkable example of what South Africa owes to its immigrants.”

Mr Barnard came to South Africa in 1901 and settled in Vredefort. His first visit to Potchefstroom was as a member of a cricket team in 1904. The team all either cycled, or rode on horseback or came by Cape cart.

Vredefort hardly provided scope for a young ambitious man in those days. So he next went gold prospecting in Rhodesia where he spent some hard years under primitive conditions of that time and place.

In 1911 he came to Potchefstroom and took over the Royal Hotel and settled down with Mrs Barnard bringing up their family in this town. Those were the days when Potchefstroom was a garrison town and the present Witrand Institution the military cantonments.

William Barnard took over the Royal Hotel in 1911. It stood on the south-eastern corner of Church and Lombard Streets (Walter Sisulu and James Moroka). This is the second building housing the Royal Hotel and was built less than a decade before Barnard became the owner. Photo: Auguste D’Ange D’Astre

This advertisement for the Royal Hotel, showing W Barnard as proprietor, was published in 1913 in a promotional booklet for Potchefstroom, titled “Beautiful Potchefstroom”.

It did not take many years before Mr Barnard began to interest himself in civic affairs and in 1923 was actually elected as mayor of Potchefstroom by a public referendum of all voters – an interesting feature which has only happened twice in the history of the Transvaal Province. It was a close finish with only a majority of 38 votes.

Since then Mr Barnard was mayor of this town for five subsequent years. He was on the Municipal Council of Potchefstroom for 20 years.

During his years’ service on this Council many of the steps then taken have enabled the present developments of Potchefstroom. For example it was only his casting vote as mayor that gave the town its water system and similarly its swimming bath. It was largely due to his drive and foresight that the Municipality eventually tackled and installed sewerage. (This was a water borne sewerage system).

It was he and Mr Tom who drafted and started the Municipal Pension Scheme. He was the first mayor to wear the mayoral robes which was presented by Mr CA Geen of Geen & Velleman. He had the first public telephone installed at the Royal Hotel.

Not only in his civic but also in the sporting life of this town Mr Barnard played a great part both as a player and then chairman at various times of the soccer, cricket and boxing clubs and has been patron of the Western Transvaal Rugby Union since its inception, not to mention other activities such as the SPCA.

He also served as a member of the Provincial Council where he represented Potchefstroom for 18 years, 12 of them as a member of the Executive Committee.

When he received the local Rotary Club’s First Wheel of Service, the Herald reported on 26 May 1967:

It was during this time that Potchefstroom made such great strides as an educational centre. Mr Barnard will modestly inform you that he merely helped a natural evolution, but we all realise the many provincial developments and buildings in this town are permanent monuments to the work for Potchefstroom and his children.

When the Potchefstroom College of Education was able to build its second hostel in 1949, it was named after Mr William Barnard, because he “so diligently exerted himself to make the building of the hostel possible”. Mr Barnard was also a member of the Council of the Potchefstroom University College in 1921 and from 1937 to 1942.

He was married to Catherine Emma Barnard, néé Francis, in Durban in 1912. She passed away a few months after her husband on 11 November 1968. They had four children of which one died in infancy.

When the second hostel of the Potchefstroom College of Education was built in 1949, it was named after William Barnard. In 1992 the Potchefstroom University acquired all the property of the College. For two years afterwards this building was leased to the South African Police. Since 1994 the men’s hostel Hombré occupies the building.

Much-loved spiritual leader

Barrish Avenue (Central) was named after the popular Reverend HRC Barrish, who had served the Mooirivier Dutch Reformed congregation from 1928 to 1956.

Hendrik Rudolph Christaan Barrish was 71 years old when he passed away in November 1957. His daughter Joan Ingram, later a lecturer at the Potchefstroom University, wrote a tribute which has been preserved in the archives of the Potchefstroom Museum.

Rev HRC Barrish. Photo: NG Potchefstroom Mooirivier

Joan Ingram wrote:

My father, Rev HRC Barrish, came to the Mooirivier congregation in 1928 from the Cachet congregation on the Rand. He originally was a missionary in the Cape and later on the Rand, where he ministered to the spiritual needs of unmarried mineworkers. In this capacity he was connected to the congregations Braamfontein, later Turffontein.

After his marriage in 1909 to Wilhelmina Slabber and the birth of their first son, he went back to Stellenbosch where he further studied to become a minister. In his first year at the theological school, he was appointed as temporary minister at the congregation of Wynberg, where General Smuts and his wife were members.

Later he was minister in Kalkbaai where General JBM Hertzog and his wife were members of his congregation.

My parents spent, with three children, three eventful years as missionaries at Mochudie in the former Bechuanaland. In 1918 the whole family, as well as other missionary ladies at the mission station contracted the Spanish flu. One missionary lady died and a call for assistance was sent to Cape Town. There they also had to brave malaria and the uprising of the Bachatla tribe in 1920. There their young son of seven months died after contracting whooping cough. From 1921 to 1926 they were in Bulawayo before they went to the Cachet congregation and from there to the Mooirivier Congregation.

The church building of the Dutch Reformed Potchefstroom Mooirivier congregation, where Rev Barrish served for three decades was designed by architect Wynand Louw of the Paarl. His brother, Henri, was the architect who designed the Main Building of the NWU. The local architect, who oversaw the construction, was John William Gaisford. The foundation stone was laid on 6 July 1918 by General Louis Botha, prime minister of the Union of South Africa and the building was officially opened on 18 April 1919. Building costs amounted to £18 000.

At his arrival here, the congregation was without designated borders. The outskirts stretched from Fochville to Bank station between Carletonville and Randfontein and from Scandinaviadrift to Hogekraal, from the Gatsrand (Carletonville area) to the current Agricultural College. The ministers of the four Afrikaans congregations every year drew up a schedule for conducting services in the outlying areas. They also assisted each other with funerals, weddings and illnesses. (They were the ministers of the Dutch Reformed Potchefstroom, Reformed Church Potchefstroom, Dutch Reformed Mooirivier and the Hervormde Kerk.)

After Rev Barrish had passed away in 1957, EH Jenkins wrote in a tribute to him:

I first remember his coming into prominence when he championed the cause of the hundreds of country girls who were attracted in the clothing factory which then operated in Potchefstroom. The Dominee worked hard for their welfare, especially in regard to their living accommodation as well as their recreation – an indication of his solicitude for all sections.

He was a part-time army chaplain and was sent to Egypt during the Second World War to accompany a group of wounded South African soldiers travelling back to South Africa by ship.

I once attended a sermon he conducted in the black township. He said a sentence in English, then the same sentence in Afrikaans and again the same sentence in Sesotho, all in one breath.


Endeavours to further education

Ben Pienaar Street (Old Baillie Park)

The street was named after Benjamin Daniel Gerhardus Pienaar, a former member of the Senate and Provincial Council for Potchefstroom.

Benjamin Daniel Gerhardus Pienaar was a former member of the Provincial Council for Potchefstroom and the Senate. Photo: Die Veteraan

According to an obituary published in the alumni publication of the Potchefstroom University College, Die Veteraan, he passed away on 12 December 1943 at Potchefstroom and is described as one of the most respected habitants of Potchefstroom.

As a Potchefstroom boy he received his education at the Victoria College in Stellenbosch. After completing his studies, he entered into the service of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek. Amongst others he was mining commissioner at Potchefstroom and later at Klerksdorp. With the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer war, he joined the Boer forces.

During the war he served as magistrate and after the war he was appointed as a member of the Repatriation committee by Gen De la Rey.

After the war he entered into a partnership with Mr Ruben Gericke to form the well-known auction firm, Pienaar and Gericke.

In 1904 he continued his public service when he became a member of the first town council of Potchefstroom. Since then he served on the School Board, the Hospital Board and other local bodies.

In the Provincial Council, where he represented Potchefstroom, he was the leader of the SA Party and a member of the Executive Committee from 1911 to 1927. Mr Pienaar rendered outstanding service to transform Potchefstroom into an educational centre. Later he received the high distinction to be elected as a member of the Senate.

The PUC had much to thank for “Oom Bennie” as he was known with love and honour by all. Since the founding of the institution in 1921 he served for some years on the Council and again later from 1927 to 1942, when he decided to not make himself available for election.

Mr Pienaar endeavoured to further the development of the Potchefstroom College of Education which had the result that the first hall at the College was named after him.

The first permanent hall at the Potchefstroom College of Education was named after Ben Pienaar. It was built circa 1948.

Beukes Street was named after Johan C Beukes in recognition of a grant of land for a new street. Mr Beukes was for many years water bailiff at the Vyfhoek Settlement.  According to Senex he later was a familiar and popular figure at the lubrication bay at Grosvenor Motors in Lombard Street. He died in 1961.

Made his own bridge

Bezuidenhout Street (Oewersig) was named after the man who was intimately involved with one of the incidents which led to the outbreak of the First Anglo-Boer War (1880-1881). Pieter Lodewyk Bezuidenhout had a farm near Oudedorp and was known as ‘Piet Bontperde’ due to the fact that he owned piebald horses. Read more about Piet, his wagon and his refusal to pay taxes in my article on Jack Borrius.

When the ZAR government in 1882 put up a toll gate at the North Bridge, Bezuidenhout again refused to pay toll – as he refused to pay taxes some years earlier. He decided to make his own crossing over the river. Mrs Tina Jooste, a great granddaughter or President MW Pretorius, who lived in the suburb, Oewersig, said that when it was laid out, the street nearest to where Bezuidenhout’s crossing was over the river was named after him.

This clipping shows Piet Bezuidenhout on one of his famous piebald horses. According to the caption his refusal to pay taxes directly led to the outbreak of the First Anglo-Boer War. Photo: PM

Bloem Street. Oom Stoffel (CS) Klopper, who was knowledgeable about the history of Potchefstroom, said that the street ran through an area which was covered in masses of wild flowers.

Beyers Naude Avenue, formerly Kruger Street, (Central) was named after Rev Beyers Naudé (1915 – 2004) who served the Dutch Reformed Church Potchefstroom from 1954 to 1959. See my article on him.

Bodenstein Street (Baillie Park) was named after the magistrate, JC Bodenstein, one of the first magistrates of Potchefstroom during the 1860’s. Bodenstein was magistrate when the Reformed Church applied to acquire the old market square in 1863 for the building of a church. In the civil war of the early 1860s, when Stephanus Schoeman tried to usurp the presidency from MW Pretorius, Bodenstein sided with Schoeman. He was subsequently brought before the Supreme Court in Pretoria in February 1861 and was accused with four others. Bodenstein was the only one present at court. After the intervention of the later President Paul Kruger he was only fined £15, whereas the others were fined £100 each.

First curator of Museum

Boetie-Jan Street (Heilige Akker) was named after the first curator of the Potchefstroom Museum, Mr JV Coetzee, whose nickname was Boetie-Jan.

Jan Viljoen Coetzee, generally known as Boetie-Jan (1892-1976), was a teacher at the Potchefstroom Gimnasium from 1918 to 1952.

JV Coetzee was a teacher at Potchefstroom Gimnasium from 1918 until he retired in 1952, whereafter he became the first curator of the Potchefstroom Museum. At Gimnasium he taught mainly Geography and Afrikaans. Photo: Potchefstroom Gimnasium

He was born on 14 May 1892 on the farm Roosterhoek in the Venterstad district. His family relocated to Potchefstroom in 1911.

He was passionate about the preservation of historical artefacts since a very young age. When the existence of an historic ox-wagon came to his attention in 1921, he immediately organised a fundraiser to buy and save the wagon. This wagon took part in the Groot Trek and was also present at Bloedrivier during the decisive battle against the Zulus in December 1838.

Coetzee organised a “coin laying” where people were asked to bring a small coins. This was usually placed on the ground on a drawn pattern. Students of the PUC and Gimnasium participated and raised the grand sum of £2-7-6 which was enough to buy the wagon. Considering that the smallest coin at the time was a penny and 240 pennies are worth one pound, this was quite a considerable feat.

The wagon was placed in the care of the PUC, where it stayed until the beginning of the 1960s when it was donated to the fledgling Potchefstroom Museum. The wagon was taken to London in 1924 to take part in the Empire exhibition at Wembley. It was then insured for £1000!

The Potchefstroom Museum regards this ox-wagon, known as the “Bloedrivierwa” as their most well-known artefact. Through the efforts of JV Coetzee this wagon, which took part in the Great Trek, was saved in 1921. JV Coetzee later became the curator of the Potchefstroom Museum. Photo: NWU Archives and Museum

In the 1950s local attorney Gilbert Fleischack convinced a family member, Auguste D’Ange Von Landsberg D’Astre, to bequeath the paintings of his grandfather, Otto Landsberg, to the city council of Potchefstroom. D’Astre passed away on 23 August 1955. A condition of the bequest was that the 75 paintings be exhibited in a suitable museum within five years of his death.

He also bequeathed R3 000 to the city council to aid them in the opening of a museum. In 1958 the buildings of the defunct Potchefstroom Club on the corner of Potgieter and Gouws Streets (Nelson Mandela and Sol Plaatjie) was bought by the council for their new museum.

On 1 October 1960 Boetie-Jan Coetzee was appointed as the curator of the museum. Coetzee endeavoured to acquire bequests to the museum and several institutions and persons in town donated items. This include the Potchefstroom Gimnasium and the Potchefstroom University.

A brochure published at the time of the opening of the museum in 1961 stated that Mr Coetzee, “with feverish haste,” were able to acquire donations from Colonel IJ Meyer (grandson of President MW Pretorius), the artist Coert Steynberg, the descendants of the Forsmann family, Totius, the Fleischack family, Charlie Rocher and the Jooste family. (Colonel Meyer was the father of the abovementioned Mrs Tina Jooste.)

In 1961 he persuaded the widow of the Olympic marathon winner of 1912, Kenneth McArthur, to donate some of his trophies, medals, his Springbok jacket, athlete’s number, the two laurel wreaths he received at the Olympic Games and documents to the museum. These took pride of place in the entrance hall when the museum opened in December 1961.

The late Mione du Toit became curator of the museum in April 1975 after Coetzee retired. He passed away on 28 June 1976 at his house at 107 Molen Street.

Mr Boetie-Jan (JV) Coetzee was the curator of the Potchefstroom from 1960 to 1975. He was already retired as a teacher for eight years when he was appointed and filled the post until 1975. He passed away in 1976 at the age of 84 years.  

Boom Street (South) derived its name from a solitary Mimosa tree which stood in the area. This is according to Mr Stoffel (CS) Klopper who was knowledgeable about the earlier history of Potchefstroom.

Borcherds Street (Bult) was named after the first Town Clerk who served until 1883 when municipalities were abolished.

Borckenhagen Street (Central) was named after Mr Hans Borckenhagen, who for many years was a  staff member of the College of Agriculture. On retrenchment he was employed by a firm which was situated on the corner of Lombard and Gouws Street (James Moroka and Sol Plaatjie).

Borrius Street (Baillie Park) was named after JP Borrius, first the government printer of the ZAR. See my article on Borrius.

Early Afrikaans language expert

Boshoff Street (Central) was named after Prof SPE Boshoff who was mayor from 1924 to 1927.

Stephanus Petrus Erasmus Boshoff (1891-1973) was a professor at the Potchefstroom University College from 1917 to 1930 and Director of Education of the Transvaal from 1932 to 1934.

He studied in Bloemfontein and received the Master’s Degree in 1913. He received a doctorate degree in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1921.

Thereafter he was connected to various educational institutions in South Africa and overseas. He received numerous honorary doctorates and awards, amongst others the Stals Prize (1959, 1967) and a medal of honour from the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns (1932).

According to the “SA Biografiese Woordeboek”, published in 1987, he lived in the period of transition from Dutch to Afrikaans, when Afrikaans became a general writing and cultural language and when norms had to be set.

He was an acknowledged authority and his expert advice was called for on national, provincial and local levels. He was from 1922 onwards for fifty years a member of the Spelling Committee of the SA Akademie.

Whilst in Potchefstroom he was also the president of the Western Transvaal Rugby Union

Professor SPE Boshoff, mayor of Potchefstroom from 1924-1927. Photo: PM

Bremner Street (Baillie Park) was named after a surveyor.

Brink Street (South) was named after a long-time resident of Potchefstroom who used to live in Lombard Street (James Moroka).

Buskus Street (Baillie Park) was named after attorney G Buskus who practised in Potchefstroom at the time of the First Anglo-Boer War. His house was next to the erstwhile magistrate’s office in Greyling Street (OR Tambo), where the Landdrost-, Post- & Telegraafkantoor is today.

During the First Anglo-Boer War the Boers besieged a hastily built fort with more than 300 British soldiers and civilians Potchefstroom. (The site is a Provincial Heritage site and is situated just south of the railway bridge on the N12.)

At the time the magistrate’s office was also occupied by a few British soldiers. Buskus sided with the Boers and his wife assisted them with soaking balls of cotton in paraffin, lighting it and throwing it on the thatched roof of the magistrate’s office. Before the roof could catch fire, the British officer, Major Clarke surrendered. Attorney Buskus had a large role in the storming of the magistrate’s office. He personally removed the Union Jack from the pole in front of the office and hoisted the “Vierkleur” (name of the flag of the ZAR).

The government offices as it appeared before the First Anglo-Boer War. The house of attorney G Buskus is visible to the right of the magistrate’s office. Photo: PM

After the Siege of Potchefstroom during the First Anglo-Boer War, Mrs Susanna Palk drew a detailed map of the town with all existing buildings, the positions of both the British forces and the Boers. She also indicated, with red dots, all the buildings that were hit by rifle and canon fire. The map shows Buskus’s house (here spelled Buskes) next to the government building consisting of the magistrate’s office, the municipal office and the post office.

PHOTO: Buskus House on Church Square

*PM – Potchefstroom Museum

Sources other than those mentioned in the text:

The archival collection of the Potchefstroom Museum.

S Hoogenboezem (red), Potchefstroom Gimnasium 1907-1982, (Potchefstroom, 1982).

WJ de V Prinsloo, Potchefstroom 150 (Potchefstroom, 1988).

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