Street names reflect history 8 – M & N

by | Jul 12, 2021 | Events, Forgotten Heroes, People, Places, Street names | 0 comments

A dominee with strange advice on how to alleviate loneliness, a music professor who died after a car accident, a doctor who died of the Spanish Flu and another music teacher all lend their names to streets in this category.

Maherry Street (South)
J Maherry, an Irishman, had a shop in this street. He was the only person who had a licence sell goods to people of colour during the late 19th century. His shop, in this street, that was right next to the erstwhile Location, named by its residents as Makweteng, meaning “place of sods or clods” – referring to the clayey soil. Later it was also known as William Klopperville, named after a former superintendent.

An article in my book, Stories of Potchefstroom, sets out the history of this area. Tlokwe News of September 2008 reflected on the origin of the area:

As early as 1877 a decision was taken by the Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR) that the sub-ordinate class (freed slaves) were to be excluded from the main residential area by creating a location on a piece of land made available by the ‘Stadsraad’ on the southern part of the Potchefstroom town. All servants i.e. ‘coloureds’ and natives were to be moved to this section of town.

Maherry was a butcher, innkeeper, general dealer and also sold liquor. The Maherry Street was formerly known as Stamp Street (apparently a commentary on the state thereof). Although it may have been named after a certain Stamp who was a mill owner. Maherry was described by the manager of the Standard Bank as “very industrious and sturdy”. According to Prof Gert van den Bergh, in his unpublished history of Potchefstroom, Maherry numerous times clashed with the magistrate and municipal council because of his illegal trade in the selling of alcohol.

Malherbe Street (Bult)
Senex is of the opinion that it could have been named after NS Malherbe, chairman of the Volksraad, or after JA Malherbe, who was civil commissioner.

Nicolaas Samuel Malherbe was born at Simonstown. He came to Potchefstroom in 1875 as the manager of the Cape Commercial Bank.

He was elected as a member of the Volksraad of the ZAR and became chairman in 1897. At the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War he was the Treasurer General of the ZAR. During the war he accompanied Pres Paul Kruger to Europe. He passed away in 1908 in Pretoria.

NS Malherbe. Photo: Potchefstroom Museum

Maree Street (Central)
This was one of the original streets when Potchefstroom was first laid out and it marked the northern boundary of the town. The identity of the person after whom it was actually named after, is lost. One possibility was that it was named after a Gabriel Stephanus Maree (1789-1852), who was one of the first residents of Potchefstroom. His name appears on a fundraising list started by Andries Hendrik Potgieter for the building of a church. He was also one of the first members of the Church Board.

In the 1970s the City Council was criticized over the spelling of the street name. It was alleged that the correct spelling should be “Maré”. In correspondence dating from this time, currently held in the Archives of the Potchefstroom Museum, it is argued that the Voortrekkers, or emigrants, as they called themselves, were not known for their consistent spelling. The name “Maree”, however, appears in early documents still in in existence and was thus chosen as the way the street name is spelled. Maree joined Potgieter when he left Potchefstroom to trek north and he passed away at Lydenburg.

His son, Jacob Philippus Maré was sheriff of Potchefstroom in 1844 and acting magistrate in 1851 and the street could also be named after him, although the street was probably named before he came to prominence. He became a member of the Volksraad in 1853 and the former Jacob Maré Street (now Jeff Masemola Street) in Pretoria was named after him.

Marthinus Wessel Street (Heilige Akker)
The land on which this suburb was laid out was once part of the farm of President Marthinus Wessel Pretorius called Rietfontein. The house that the president built himself is now known as the President Pretorius Museum and is just around the corner from this street.

Read about Pretorius in my article on the smithy after it collapsed on 29 October 2020.

MW Pretorius and his second wife, Maria Magdalena Catharina Botha. This photo was probably taken to commemorate their wedding. They were married in 1888 and she passed away in 1890. This was probably their wedding picture: Photo: Potchefstroom Museum

An interesting anecdote about the grave of President Pretorius came to light since I wrote the article on the collapse of the smithy. This anecdote was preserved in the memoirs of Mrs Daphne Hurndall and a copy of the handwritten document of more than 60 pages is held in the Archives of the Potchefstroom Museum.

Pretorius passed away during the Anglo-Boer War and his family was so poor that they barely could scrape together enough money to bury him. He was buried in the Alexandra Park Cemetery.

One of his granddaughters recalled that the family had to ask for financial assistance to pay for the burial. Lord Methuen heard about this and paid out of his own pocket for the funeral.

About a decade later his grave was neglected. Mrs Daphne Hurndall recalled that the wife of Mr Willie Goetz sent one of her workers to the cemetery to help clean it. He came home with a little wooden cross on which the words “President Pretorius” were painted. This caused quite an outrage and Mrs MA Goetz (mother of Mr Willie Goetz) organised the ladies of the Guild of Loyal Women to collect money to erect a proper tombstone.

Enough money was collected to have the memorial, still standing, erected. It was officially unveiled by the Prime Minister, General Louis Botha on 4 October 1913.

The memorial that was erected on the grave of President MW Pretorius after the grave became neglected. It was unveiled by the then Prime Minister, General Louis Botha on 4 October 1913. Although the inscription on this memorial indicates that Pretorius passed away on 18 May 1901, his actually date of death was 19 May 1901. He passed away during the night of 18 to 19 May hence the discrepancy.

How not to alleviate loneliness

Maury Lane (Central)
This lane was named after Reverend Maury who served in the old Voortrekker Church on this plain at the turn of the 19th century.

Rev JL Maury (1835-1910) came to Potchefstroom in 1877 to serve the Reformed Church. He was born in the Netherlands and came to South Africa. He was 41 years old when he completed his theological studies at the Theological School at Burgersdorp.

He was twice married and his second wife was a widow, Berendina Catharina Howard, néé Boonzaaier. They were married in 1899.

Serving the congregation had its ups and downs. When he was appointed a remuneration of £250 per annum was promised, but in 1883 the church was £114 in arrears in paying him.

He preached in Dutch (Hoog-Hollands) and a member of the congregation admitted that he did not understand much that Maury was saying.

In 1883 it is also recorded in the minutes of the church board that a certain Mr Fouché discussed his loneliness with Rev Maury, who gave him the advice to sleep in the same room with a widow to alleviate this loneliness. He did this, which led to Mr Fouché being placed under censure by the church board!

Rev Maury retired in 1899 due to ill health. However, on the day the congregation took leave of him, the Anglo-Boer War broke out and he stayed on, preaching every Sunday and on numerous occasions preached elsewhere. He finally retired in 1903 and moved to Bloemfontein where he passed away in 1910.

Rev Joh. Leop. Maury and his second wife. They were married in 1899 and she passed away in 1902.

The manse that Rev Maury and his wife lived in stood across from the church in Church Street. See my article on the concentration camp of Potchefstroom for a photo of the manse. 

Blackwater fever claims pioneer

Mclagen Street (Heilige Akker)
Like Marthinus Wessel Street, Mclagen Street also has a connection with this area. The farm on which this suburb was laid out once belonged to Pres MW Pretorius. He sold it in 1894 to Mr JC Bodenstein, after whom Bodenstein Street was named.

The third owner of the property was Mr Alexander McLagan who bought it from the deceased estate of Bodenstein. Inexplicably the street was named “Mclagen Street”, although the correct spelling of the name is “McLagan” as is apparent from the title deed of the property when he acquired it from Bodenstein.

The Herald columnist, Senex, recounted the death of McLagan and said he passed away on Boxing Day (26 December) 1913 due to Blackwater fever which he contracted during a visit to Uganda and British East Africa. He was 56 years old.

McLagan was an intrepid businessman, born a Scotsman, he came to South Africa in 1891. Before the Anglo-Boer War he received various contracts to build railway lines for the ZAR, including the Delagoa Bay (Maputo)/Waterval Onder railway line, the line from Heidelberg to the Natal border and the “Charlestown” line.

Senex wrote:
After the Jameson Raid (1896) he came to Johannesburg where he had several contracts including the construction of the Dundee/Vryheid line, but during this time the Boer War had broken out and the major portion of £10 000 worth of equipment which was stored at Standerton was destroyed.

After the War he settled in Potchefstroom, acquiring the former property of President Pretorius. It was then about seven hectares in extent.

McLagan then directed his business activities to cattle-farming and subsequently acquired the farm Teviotdale in the Potchefstroom district. He also owned butcheries. During his visit to Uganda and British East Africa he acquired extensive land with a view to settling in Uganda and going in for farming.

Senex continued:
He was town councillor for three years, having successfully contested Ward 1: he was school committee member of the North School (today the President Pretorius Primary School) and was a staunch member of the Local Presbyterian Church.

Alexander McLagan on the front veranda of the house which he named Oakdene, formerly the residence of President MW Pretorius. He added extensive additions to the house. It appears that rooms were built to the west (street side). McLagan’s daughters recalled that he added the veranda and the gable. Photo: NWU Archives and Museum

Music professor died in accident

MC Roode Drive (old Drive-in Road)
The old Drive-In road was named after Prof MC Roode, the first head of the department of Music of the Potchefstroom University. He died on 17 May 1967 after sustaining serious injuries in a car accident that took place on 25 April. His wife died in the accident.

Prof MC Roode Photo: NWU Archives and Museum

Prof MC (Maartin) Roode received his musical education in Bloemfontein, Stellenbosch and Grahamstown. He was a much sought-after organist and was the official organist during the inauguration of the Voortrekker Monument in December 1949.

He joined the staff of Conservatory in July 1949 as head. The Conservatory then functioned apart from the Department of Music at the Potchefstroom University and was created as an institution where students, as well as members of the public, could receive practical training in music.

Roode became a professor in 1953. Only after the head of the Department of Music passed away in 1955, the department and the Conservatory amalgamated and he became the head.

The accident in which his wife was killed and in which he sustained severe head and chest injuries, took place on Tuesday 25 April 1967 at about 17:00 on the corner of Lombard and Van Riebeeck Streets (James Moroka and Peter Mokaba). Mrs Babs Roode was killed in the accident.

The Roodes resided at 30 Hoffman Street, opposite Oosterhof Hostel next to the current entrance to the university. Mrs Roode was regarded as a prominent hostess in Potchefstroom. She was a member of the Suid-Afrikaanse Vrouefederasie for 33 years and also chaired the Dameskring of the PU, an organisation for the wives of staff of the university. She was also a long-standing member of the Vroue Landbou-unie and a member of the hospital board.

Prof Roode never completely regained consciousness after the accident to be told his wife passed away, but music was played to him via headphones and he nodded to indicate that the music should be kept playing. He was a few weeks short of his 60th birthday when he passed away on 19 May 1967 in Pretoria, after he was taken there the night of the accident.

Movies under the stars

The Potch Drive-In, who informally gave its name to what is now MC Roode Drive, was situated on the premises now occupied by Roots. For many years the Potch Drive-In was one of the primary entertainment spots of Potchefstroom, one of two drive-ins serving Potchefstroom. (The other was on the Viljoenskroon road.)

Drive-ins came to South Africa in the 1950s and the Potch Drive-In was founded in 1958, with MH Dippenaar, M Goodman, AC Hoffman and DN Murray the first owners. It celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1983 and was then owned by Frans Dippenaar and M Goodman.

Students came to the Potch Drive-In by bicycle to watch movies in the open air. Families made it a night-out.

If you came a high car of the 1940’s, of which there were still many in the 1960’s, you were told at the gate to park in the back row next to the VW Kombi’s preventing your from obstructing the view of others. Some of the cars of the 1950’s to 1970’s had very large flat boots. It did sometimes happen that customers would not pay for their kids and hide them in the boot, until they are inside.

The cafeteria offered very tasty take-aways from toasted cheese sandwiches to dagwoods. No alcohol was served.

Something which aggravated Mr Dippenaar, who was always in his office when there was a show, was when a frustrated customer drove off with the loudspeaker attached to his vehicle when the loudspeaker did not work. It resulted in severing the wire and the customer chucking the loudspeaker out of the car. This happened more often than not. In 1983 an apparatus became available which could be attached to the loudspeaker. Simultaneously a cassette was placed in the cassette player of the radio of the car and the soundtrack of the movie would be played over the sound system of the car.

When an Afrikaans movie was showing, cars started to line up miles from the drive-in and often waited for two hours or longer in the queue to enter.

When television eventually arrived in South Africa with test broadcasts in the latter months of the 1975 and officially inaugurated in January 1976, it literally sounded the death knell of the drive-ins. People could watch in the comfort of their own homes and did not need to go out in the cold of winter to watch a movie or miss part of it due to a sudden rain shower.

In 1991 it is reported in the Herald that the drive-in will not be reopened after it was then closed for some time.

The neon sign of the old Potch Drive-In, which was in MC Roode Drive where Roots is today. Photo: Facebook

An aerial view of the Potch Drive-In, sometime after it closed. The screen is still standing and the rows where the cars parked can still be seen. The photo was taken about 2006. Photo: Louis Gouws

Meadows Street (Central) was probably named by the Scotsman, Mr Macfie, on whose initiative the Grimbeek swamps were laid dry by British Sappers and the golf course created shortly after the Anglo-Boer War.

Meul Street (Bult) was so named by the city council in 1954, because some of the early water mills were situated in the area. See my recent article on the mills of Potchefstroom. 

Meyer Street (Bult)
The street was named after the late Colonel Izak Meyer’s father, who farmed at Witstinkhoutboom. He married the only child of President MW Pretorius, Christina. Another source says that it was named after General Lucas Meyer, a famous Anglo-Boer War veteran. Before the Bult area developed, the street might have been the road leading to the Witstinkhoutboom farm.

Iza(a)k Johannes Meyer (1844-1928) was born in the Humansdorp. He married Christina Petronella Pretorius in 1874 and they had eight children.

Izaak Johannes Meyer (born 1844) farmed at Witstinkhoutboom. He married the daughter of President MR Pretorius in 1874. Photo: Potchefstroom Museum

Christina Pretorius, daughter of MW Pretorius, who married Izaak Meyer. Photo: Potchefstroom Museum

Michael Street (Central) is a cul-de-sac leading off Retief Street. It was named after Mr J Michael Durr who owned the house on the south-eastern corner of Retief and Kruger Streets (Beyers Naudé). As a Durr Street already existed in Potchindustria, the council decided on Michael Street. The house was built in 1889 and Mr Durr bought the house from a widow Venter for £2 400 and a silk dress from London. The Durrs left Potchefstroom for the Cape in 1911. The house was then rented to Boys High for accommodation and was the original Buxton House. Miss Sophia Durr married Izak Meyer, son of the Izaak Meyer, mentioned above and in 1938 the house was renovated by Col Izak Meyer. Col Meyer was the grandson of Pres MW Pretorius. The Meyer family lived there until 1965.

Sophia Meyer (ca1891-1965) was the daughter of Michael Durr, after whom Michael Street was named. She was married to Col Izak Meyer (1882-1974), a grandson of President MW Pretorius. With them is their oldest child, Wessel. The photo was taken about 1916. Photo: Potchefstroom Museum.

Michael Heyns Street (Dassierand) was named after a former mayor. He served from 27 November 1964 to 8 March 1965.

Molen Street (Bult) was so named, because it leads to the early water mills. In 1952 Prof HG Stoker unsuccessfully petitioned the city council to rename it Totius Street. A street branching off Rivier Street was later named Totius Street. See my article on the mills of Potchefstroom. 

Mooi Lane (Grimbeekpark)
This picturesque street was named after the Mooi River. The former country lane existed before the suburb of Grimbeekpark was laid out.

Mortimer Street (South) was named after Dr William Mortimer who lived for many year on the corner of Kruger (Beyers Naude) and Lombard (James Moroka) Streets. He was one of the town councillors elected during the first elections after the Anglo-Boer War and also returned as local member of the Volksraad in 1905.

Mrs Dorothy Hurndall wrote in the early 1980’s in her memoirs about the Mortimers and their house:

Now on the 3rd corner of the same two streets – Lombard (James Moroka) and Kruger (Beyers Naudé) (the imposing, stone entrance to Alexandra Park, was on the 4th corner) was the house, on big grounds, owned by a Dr Mortimer.

Unfortunately the house is now somewhat hidden, by houses which have been built in the garden – the double-storied house (in Lombard Street) is standing on what was the Mortimer’s tennis court! (This house is now Elizabeth Manor guest house.)

Well I do remember a row of fig trees, next to the water-furrow, which ran from the corner down to the end of the property. The Mortimers had two daughters, Eulalie & Ruth. The older one, I cannot quite remember, and she died at an early age – she was reputed to be a very lovely girl, so after her death one or two baby girls in the town were named after her.

The Mortimer residence, at 97 Lombard Street (James Moroka), was reputed to have been designed by the famous architect, Herbert Baker. It is, however, known that Baker had not designed any buildings in Potchefstroom.

However, according to website,, the house was designed by Walter Reid (1866-1933). Apart from numerous public buildings and banks, mostly in Gauteng, Reid also designed the local National Bank that stood in Church Street, but had long ago been demolished.

Dr W Mortimer was one of the prominent Potchefstroom citizens who passed away during the outbreak of Spanish Flu in 1918 (HYPERLINK). He earlier moved to the Cape, but visited Potchefstroom to sell his furniture, contracted the disease here and died.

The house at 97 Lombard Street (James Moroka), which was built by Dr William Mortimer. Photo: 

Muntra Street (Dassierand) An undated document in the Archives of the Potchefstroom suggests names for streets in Potchefstroom pertaining to individuals in the town that is worth honouring with street names. The name of a Mrs Munstra (not Muntra) is listed. She who worked as a music teacher in Potchefstroom between 1919 and 1947. She trained at the Royal Academy of Music in London, UK.

Nardus Conradie Street (Sanitas)
Named after one of the most well-known contemporary architects of Potchefstroom. See my article on Nardus.

Naude Street (South)
According to TC de Klerk, the street was named after a pioneer resident of Potchefstroom.

Neethling Street (Baillie Park) was named after either the first wagon maker of Potchefstroom or the first clergyman to visit Potchefstroom, both with the surname Neethling. This is according to TC de Klerk. It is not clear if this was one person or two.

New Market Street (Central)
When Potchefstroom was laid out in 1841, a market square was planned to be between Church Street (Walter Sisulu), Wolmarans Street, Gouws Street (Sol Plaatjie) and Potgieter Street (Nelson Mandela). Since the town furrow was not completed to supply water in that area, it was decided to buy two and a half erven further north in Church Street for a market. This first market square of Potchefstroom was between Retief and Church Streets and Maury Lane. See my article on Street names starting with a “K”. Regulations for the market in Potchefstroom were published in 1850.

In 1855 the market was moved to the square originally planned for this activity and later the old market square was donated to the Reformed Church.

With the building of the town hall on the market square in 1909, the library in 1911 and the erection of the Centenary Monument (Eeufeesmonument) in 1938 the market was moved to the area between Rivier and Gouws Streets (Sol Plaatjie) and New Market and Gluckmann Streets. On this block the clinic building and the third fire station were later built. The fire station was opened in 1971. The remainder of this block later became the taxi hub of Potchefstroom.

Nieuwe Street (Central) for years was spelled Nuwe Street. It was originally not a street, but in order to reach their properties from more than one side, several owners ceded a portion of their ground for such a purpose – hence the name. The street originally started at Potgieter Street (Nelson Mandela) and extended towards Maherry Street. Later the section north of Potgieter Street (Nelson Mandela) was added.

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.

Sources other than those mentioned in the text:

WP du Plessis, Die geskiedenis van die Gereformeerde Kerk Potchefstroom – ontstaan, tot 5 Julie 1903, (Potchefstroom, 1981).

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