The interesting people that walked the streets of Potchefstroom never cease to amaze me. The exasperated first teacher of Potchefstroom, another historian and a once fancy hotel all lent their names to street names starting with a “K and “L”.
Kamp Street (Central) was not named after Professor Jan Kamp, who was a lecturer at the Theological School in the 1910’s. (Read how Prof Kamp’s wife saved many lives during the Spanish Flu of 1918).
One explanation is that the street was named after the “camp” of the beleaguered British garrison at the Old Fort during the Siege of Potchefstroom from December 1880 to March 1881. The Fort is at the northern end of the street, although the railway line now prevents the street from reaching the Fort. Another explanation is that it is named after the camp where the horses of the Boers were kept during this siege of fort of Potchefstroom in 1880/1.
Kings Street (Central)
The street was named after the once stately King’s Hotel right next to this street. The King’s Hotel was once widely known as one of the most elegant hotels in the country, but sadly has lost its former splendour. Read my article on The Heritage Portal on the history of the hotel here.
Kinnear Street (Central) was named after a resident because of his grant of land to the Town Council for a new road which was then named after him.
Kler(c)k Street (South) was probably named after the Reverend WJ de Klerk, who ministered for many years at the Reformed Church in Church Street (Walter Sisulu). It could also be named after an attorney and estate agent of Potchefstroom, WG Klerck, who was active in Potchefstroom shortly after the Anglo-Boer War. His son became a high ranking officer in the Union Defence Force in the First World War. Another possibility was that it was named after a magistrate, JC de Klerk. Mr TC de Klerk (no relation), who researched the origins of the street names of Potchefstroom during the 1960s, died before he could resolve this matter.
Kleyn Street (Baillie Park) was named after advocate Fred Kleyn, who lived and worked in Potchefstroom during the 1870s and 1880s. He was, however, not the first Kleyn associated with Potchefstroom. In 1863, when Fred Jeppe drew a decorated map of Potchefstroom, he included a watercolour sketch of the shop of Vergottini & Kleyn which stood on the south-western corner of Church (Walter Sisulu) and Wolmarans Streets. Later the double-storeyed house and shop of the Rocher family was built on the site.
According to a list that was compiled of the names on tombstones in the Alexandra Park cemetery, Johannes Petrus Kleyn was born on 17 February 1830 in “Noord Braband” and passed away in Potchefstroom on 24 July 1875 and was buried there. “Northern Brabant” is a southern province of the Netherlands.
In 1868 JP Kleyn was owed “a debt of gratitude” for safeguarding the municipal regulations of Potchefstroom. This is according to a report in De Argus of 11 March 1868, as quoted by WJ Badenhorst in Potchefstroom 1838-1938. This was at the time when attempts were made to institute a municipal council for Potchefstroom.
This started in 1863 when a group of 85 residents of Potchefstroom signed a petition to request the Volksraad to allow the town to have a municipality. A list of concept regulations was submitted. The “municipal regulations” safeguarded by Kleyn was in all probability the list of concept regulations. The election eventually only took place on 8 October 1868.
Klinkenberg Street (Baillie Park and Van der Hoff Park)
Mr F Klinkenberg was the second owner of the farm Vyfhoek on which the suburb of Baillie Park was laid out.
The first owner of Vyfhoek was Captain Charles Hugh Baillie (1838-1901) after whom the suburb was named. Another source name a Mr Greyling as the first owner.
Klopper Street (Central)
This street was named after Mr Christoffel Stephanus (Oom Stoffel) Klopper, city councillor for many years and mayor in 1933/34. He passed away in 1975 at the age of 86. He was an authority on the early history of Potchefstroom. He lived for many years in Molen Street on the north-western corner with Borcherds Street, but grew up in a house, just one block north, that stood on the north-western corner of Molen and Meyer Street (currently Macachet Guest House). This house had the year “1899” on its front gable and was used as the first headquarters of the British forces after they occupied Potchefstroom during the Anglo-Boer War. During the Anglo-Boer War, as a young boy, Stoffel Klopper assisted in nursing ill people at the Potchefstroom concentration camp.
Senex describes him as “a true pioneer, a raconteur possessing an almost inexhaustible fund of historical facts concerning Potchefstroom.”
First market master
Kluever Street (Dassierand)
After the first Anglo-Boer War of 1880/1 the market was presided over by Mr H Kluever.
In the early days of the town most of the commerce in Potchefstroom took place on the market square. When the town was laid out, the designated market square was east of the church square and bordered by Church Street (Walter Sisulu), Wolmarans Street, Gouws Street (Sol Plaatjie) and Potgieter Street (Nelson Mandela), where the town hall and municipal buildings stand today. However, the residents started to occupy the town from the northern end and this market square was practically still a wilderness. Subsequently plots of lands more to the north of the town were acquired and what was later known as “the old market square” was laid out there. This was to distinguish it from the “new” market square. The old market square was bordered by Church Street, Retief Street and the street that was later named Maury Lane.
In 1855 marketing activities moved from the old market square to the new one further south.
The old market square was later acquired by the Reformed Church.
When Kluever was market master, the town experienced a serious economic slump. Ernest Jenkins described it in A Century of History:
Immediately after the 1880-1881 War Potchefstroom was a dead-and-alive place. Many persons left the town and went north, south, east and west in search of pastures new, wherever the opportunity of making a decent livelihood presented itself. There was no money about.
Marketing consisted in the sale of wagon-loads of forage, wood, skins and grain and also roll and leaf tobacco. There were few, if any, vegetables and in fruit none of the semi-tropical growths that can be obtained today.
Kluever was succeeded by P Borcherds who was market master for many years.
Kock Street (Central)
According to Senex the street was named after General JHL Kock, one of the signatories to the terms of capitulation which ended the Siege of the Fort in 1881. It appeared that Johannes Hendrikus Lambertus Kock (1813-1889) was never a general, but only rose to the rank of Commandant.
He was born in the district of Graaff-Reinet and joined the Groot Trek. He settled on a farm in the Potchefstroom district and a guest, who visited him on his farm in 1854, described him as having a lively nature and quite clever. He was one of the leaders at the Battle of Boomplaats on 29 August 1848.
JHL Kock was a good friend of Rev Dirk van der Hoff and a strong supporter of the Hervormde Church. He passed away on 15 October 1889 at Klerksdorp.
However, JHL Kock was the father of the Boer general, Johannes Hermanus Michiel Kock (1834-1899). He was magistrate of Potchefstroom before and during the First Anglo-Boer War (1877-1881), until the 1890s when he became a member of the Volksraad. For many years he was also an elder in the Hervormde Church.
He was one of the generals who went to Natal and on 21 October 1899 was wounded at the battle of Elandslaagte where he was the leader of a group of 800 Boers who clashed with 5 000 to 6 000 soldiers of the Imperial Light Horse. He was heavily wounded and passed away later that day at Ladysmith.
Kolbe Street (Central) was named after the surveyor, WE Kolbe, who surveyed the North and South Burger rights erven. In 1891 the Volksraad decided that in various towns erven should be surveyed and given to “burgers als compensatie voor zijn burgerrecht”. This was given mostly to members of the commandos who served in wars. The size was to be 2,95 hectares, which means it had a 26 m street front and was 52 m deep. The southern burger rights were first surveyed. These were situated between Louw and Kruis Streets. Later burgher right erven were surveyed in the Auret and Kolbe Streets area. The northern burgher rights are situated on both sides of the railway line in the Bult area with Molen Street as the eastern boundary, the Wasgoedspruit as the southern one and Meyer Street on the north side. On the western side of the railway line the area south of Von Wielligh Street (now Albert Luthuli) were burgher rights as well as the erven between Silwer Street and the railway line. Altogether 277 erven were given out.
Kruis Street (Central)
The explanation of the name Kruis Street, is an interesting one. It was so named because it crossed parallel streets, whereas Dwars Street led from one street to another.
Landdros Steyn Street (Potchindustria) was named after the magistrate, JC Steyn, who was a local magistrate and also the administrator of the town from the late 1850s.
Landsberg Street (Old Baillie Park)
When the first municipal council was elected in the late 1860s, C Landsberg was appointed as the first chairman of the municipal council, making him, in 1869, the first ever mayor of Potchefstroom. See “Kleyn Street” above for more information on how this first municipal status of Potchefstroom came about.
There are, however, two other famous Landsbergs associated with Potchefstroom.
Alderman Chris Landsberg was mayor of Potchefstroom from 1989-1993. He is a direct descendant of the eldest son of the first Landsberg that came to South Africa. This first Landsberg in South Africa was Carl Wilhelm Cornelius von Landsberg, who was born in Germany about 1790 and died at Rustenburg in 1875. His second wife, Catharina Maria Louisa Muller (1802-1872), passed away at Potchefstroom.
Famous for snuff and paintings
The third Landsberg never lived in Potchefstroom, but due to his legacy, Potchefstroom came to have a museum. His grandson, August D’Ange D’Astre, was in possession of a large number of his paintings and bequeathed those to the city council on condition that a museum be established to display the paintings. An article on the museum and how it came about is included in my book Stories of Potchefstroom.
Lanyon Street (Baillie Park) was named after Sir Owen Lanyon (1842-1887) who was the British colonial administrator of the Transvaal from 1879 to 1881.
Le Roux Street (Central) was named after JH le Roux who was the headmaster of the President Pretorius Primary School for many years. He was the acting headmaster of the school during the time of the First World War, when headmaster GJA Beard was away for military service for almost five years. At this time the school was known as the North School. When Beard passed away in 1922, Le Roux was appointed in his post and remained until 1938.
During his tenure the name of the school was changed to its current name. The name change was proposed by Mr SG Yssel, who joined the staff of the school when the Primary School Gimnasium amalgamated with the North School in January 1927.
On 28 October 1928 the school committee gave their consent to the name change. It was then confirmed by the Transvaal Education Department.
The next milestone in the time of Mr Le Roux, was when the first yearbook was published in 1936.
The amalgamation with the Primary School Gimnasium was dissolved in 1937, when this school became Mooirivier Primary School.
Teacher exasperated at stupidity of parents
Linden Street (Baillie Park)
Potchefstroom’s first teacher was Hendrik van der Linden.
The educational history of Potchefstroom started with the arrival of Van der Linden from the Netherlands. He landed on 29 July 1851 in Delagoa Bay (Maputo), travelled through Lydenburg and Suikerboschrand (Heidelberg) to arrive in Rustenburg, where he was appointed by the Volksraad as teacher on 17 March 1852.
Only eleven months after setting foot on African soil, he reached Potchefstroom on 1 July 1852 to start his school, but was unable to do so since the tables and chairs were not ready. Only by 18 and 19 July could the school open.
Initially the school flourished, but after three months some children started to desert the school. They – and their parents – thought their schooling was complete! Van der Linden was exasperated and wrote in his journal: “De domheid der Emigranten is onbegrijpelijk en de noodzakelijkheid van’t onderwijs bij hen in te krigen, is bijna onmogelijk.” (The stupidity of the Emigrants (as what we now call the “Voortrekkers” called themselves) is inconceivable and to get them to understand the necessity of education is almost impossible.)
After Rev Dirk van der Hoff arrived in 1853 it seemed that he and Van der Linden experienced many differences of opinion, in as much that Van der Linden refused to acknowledge Van der Hoff as the minister of the congregation. Soon afterwards Van der Linden resigned from his post.
He left to teach in Natal, but came back to Potchefstroom in 1859. A school committee was appointed so that Van der Linden was not directly answerable to the church board or Rev Van der Hoff.
In 1860 the school closed, due to civil unrest and Van der Linden was appointed for the third time as teacher in Potchefstroom in July 1862. By September the school had 50 pupils. In November 1863 Van der Linden was appointed as government secretary and the post of teacher became available.
Louw Street (South) was named after PD Lou (without the “w”) who was one of the signatories of a subscription list to request donations for the building of the first church. This is according to Rev Johannes Dreyer in an interview with the Potchefstroom Museum. Other signatories were Andries Hendrik Potgieter and GJ Kriger, who was the father of the later President Paul Kruger (although he spelled his surname with an “i” and not a “u” as how the president spelled his surname).
Senex mentioned another prominent resident of Potchefstroom with the surname “Louw”. He was Mr Geo Louw, who practised as an attorney and a partner in the legal firm of Nel & Louw (see Luke Street below). Louw was reputed to have been a fine legal orator in criminal cases.
Luittingh Street (Potchindustria)
Hermanus Cornelus Luittingh (1860-1926) was originally from Friesland. In 1895 he was employed at the Department of Public Works of the ZAR and oversaw the building of the Landdrost-, Post- en Telegraafkantoor in Potchefstroom as project architect. Sytske Wopke Wierda was the design architect. By 1899 he was the head overseer of Public Works in Potchefstroom.
During the Anglo-Boer War he served under General Jan Smuts, but was wounded and captured at the Battle of Frederikstad and sent as a prisoner of war to India. After the War he was appointed as town engineer of Potchefstroom and served in this capacity until the age of 60. In the competition to design a town hall for Potchefstroom around 1908, he was placed second.
Buildings he designed in Potchefstroom include the second church of the Reformed Church and the King’s Hotel (see above). The house at 70 Kruger Street (Beyers Naudé) is also attributed to Luittingh.
Following in the footsteps of the in-laws
Luke Street (Central)
This street is an extension of Greyling (OR Tambo) and starts at the corner of Lombard Street (James Moroka) and ends with a T-junction against Retief Street. It was named after still another mayor of Potchefstroom, Mr Alfred Thomas Luke, who was mayor in 1941/42. Luke followed in large footsteps. His mother-in-law, Aletta Nel, was the first female mayor of Potchefstroom (see Aletta Nel Street (HYPERLINK). His father-in-law, John Peter Nel was also mayor of Potchefstroom from 1918-1920. Luke was a councillor for many years.
He was a longstanding pharmacist, who practised in Church Street (Walter Sisulu) and a businessman. He was 71 years old when he passed away in 1968.
Alfred Luke was married to Mercia Nel, the only daughter of John and Aletta Nel. Mercia herself was a remarkable woman. As far as could be ascertained, she was one of the first female lawyers in the country, almost certainly the first one in Potchefstroom.
She was born on 26 June 1908 in Potchefstroom and matriculated at Girls High. She completed her articles to become an attorney at her father’s practice, Nel & Louw, and started to practice in the same firm. In 1950 she joined the practice of Herman Klynveld and the name of the practice was changed to Nel & Klynveld. She retired in 1965. This Mr Klynveld was the father of Mr Herman Klynveld, who still practices as an attorney in Potchefstroom. According to Mr Klynveld jnr. his father and Mrs Luke’s offices were in a building on Owens Lane, off Church Street (Walter Sisulu).
When her mother became mayor of Potchefstroom, she assisted her in the role of “wife of the mayor”. She also assisted her husband in this capacity. She was secretary of the side bar of Potchefstroom for 12 years, was an avid golf player, who won many trophies and championships. She also enjoyed swimming and diving.
Mrs Luke was a widow when she passed away on 5 March 1975, three days after she had suffered a stroke. This was only five months after her mother, who lived with her, passed away. She resided at the corner of Retief and Van Riebeeck (Peter Mokaba) Streets, where the house of Magdalena Retief, widow of the Voortrekker leader, Piet Retief, formerly stood. Retief Street was named after Magdalena Retief.
The original source of these articles is a series of 13 columns written by “Senex” for the Potchefstroom Herald on the origins of the street names of Potchefstroom, 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. Smith’s primary source of information was the research of Mr TC de Klerk, who studied the origins of the street names of Potchefstroom to write a master’s dissertation in the 1960s. He sadly passed away before completing his studies. Some of De Klerk’s research is kept in the archives of the Potchefstroom Museum, which otherwise also provided a rich source of information.