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TOPIC: Booysen, Pieter Abram. Burger

Booysen, Pieter Abram. Burger 2 years 4 weeks ago #27634

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David Biggins

Booysen, Pieter Abram. Burger 1 year 1 month ago #46121

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I have the actual medal in my possession. Pieter Abram (actually Abraham) Booysen was my great-grandfather, taken prisoner by the British at Surrender Hill between Fouriesburg and Clarens. The damage to the environment is still visible on the side of the hill where the British troops set the gunpowder and ammunition of the Boer captives alight. Burgher Pieter Abraham Booysen served in the Kroonstad Commando at the time. He spent more than two years as a POW in Ceylon and returned to find his entire farm destroyed, except for a few pots and pans which had been bricked up into the wall of a cattle kraal. I still have a ceramic vase (specifically designed to store ginger) retrieved from the kraal after the war.
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Booysen, Pieter Abram. Burger 1 year 1 month ago #46127

  • Brett Hendey
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Herman
Welcome to this forum. It is always good to read of medals that have stayed with the family and are appreciated by them. I am sure that there are others who would enjoy seeing a photograph of the ginger jar, and any others with a Boer War connection.
Regards
Brett

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Booysen, Pieter Abram. Burger 1 year 1 month ago #46129

  • Henk Loots
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Hi Herman
Did your grandfather have a brother named Jan Jonathan?
Henk

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Booysen, Pieter Abram. Burger 1 year 1 month ago #46155

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Hi Henk

I must confess that I don't know for certain. I am fully aware of at least three persons named Jan Jonathan Booysen (and at least two Jan Jonathans with other surnames, named after their mothers' ancestors) in my family tree, but the precise genealogical line seems to side-step me each time I think that I might grasp it -- there is a gap of about 40 years in the family knowledge-base as to my direct ancestry. Specifically, starting at about 1837/1840 to about 1870: the years of the Great Trek. Before and after those years, the records are available and clear enough.

Pieter Abraham Booysen was my great-grandfather. I know that he lived in Heilbron in the Free State where he had a bakery. His names are sometimes varied as Peter (instead of Pieter), Abram (instead of Abraham), and his surname is sometimes varied as Booyens or Booyse (instead of Booysen), mainly due to incorrect capturing of his personal details, especially during his time served in exile during the Anglo-Boer War. Incidentally, he served in the Kroonstad Commando as an ordinary soldier (affectionately or sympathetically known as kanonvoer in Afrikaans -- "cannon-fodder" in English) and was among those under the command of General Martinus Prinsloo taken POW at Surrender Hill near Fouriesburg in July 1900. General Chris De Wet was in overall command and, not being present at the actual front, escaped capture. However, De Wet was livid with anger to hear of Prinsloo's surrender.

As a result of his capture, his farmstead and the entire farm, including planted crops and existing livestock, was destroyed by the British troops. The family, being subsistence farmers at the time, had no means or prospect of financially getting back on their feet, Although the family tradition makes no mention of it, I suppose that it may be presumed that there was either a bank bond on the farm or that some kind of financial foreclosure zoomed in on the family during or after the war. Be that as it may, upon his return from exile oupagrootjie Piet was unable to retain ownership of the land and continue his preferred way of life. And so, he had to resort to becoming a baker in the local town.

I have been told that oupagrootjie Piet had a brother named Petrus Gerhardus, but I was born too late to know any of that generation personally. If you have any information that might connect to my ancestry, please let me know.

My own grandfather, Hermanus Gerhardus Booysen (Herman, son of Pieter Abraham), was one of a two-men team of students who went to the Sweeney Automobile College in Kansas City, Missouri in the USA in 1918 to qualify as the very first motor mechanics in South Africa. His fellow-student at the time was one Van Sandwyk, who later wrote an Afrikaans Automotive Terms Dictionary and became the chief of General Motors in South Africa. Some time (months) later, they were joined by two other South Africans, one of which was Petrus Gerhardus Booysen (Petrus, or affectionately known as oom Petie, granddad's elder brother), and the other one De Beer, who later served in an automotive business in Parys. Together, these four people founded the motor car industry in our country upon their return to our shores in 1921.

Oupa Herman had five children with his dear wife Elsie Carolina (known as Ella, born Pyper, from Philippolis): Pieter Abraham (Pieter), Johannes Hermanus (Johannes or Hannes, affectionately known as Shortie: my own father), Hermanus Gerhardus (Herman), and Jacobus Rudolph (Rudie). I remember ouma Ella telling me back in the 1960's that, during her child-bearing years, she had also given birth to a still-born daughter, whose loss she never stopped mourning, because she always also wanted to mother a little girl. I have no idea at which point this pregnancy occurred. As far as I know, the still-born baby was never named, although I expect that it was probably done, anyway -- but none of my questions in this regard were ever successful at the time when I was a youngster.

Groetnis

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Booysen, Pieter Abram. Burger 1 year 1 month ago #46156

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Hi Brett

I wish I could say that the medal had stayed in my family, as you presumed, but it didn't. Having lost everything during the Anglo Boer War, there was no room left for sentiment in the family -- children can't eat medals, so, if it has value, it must be sold for cash. And so, this medal disappeared from the family's sight and knowledge for decades.

I was actually most fortunate to be told via a family member, who had been told via another family member, who had been told via yet another family member, that this medal was being offered for sale on ebay. It transpired that the medal had found its way to that site from a collector or dealer in California, USA.

I just could not allow this family heirloom to disappear into the voids of the collectors' vaults and bought it outright. It cost me a small fortune due to the pathetic value of the South African Rand, but, at least, I was able to obtain this medal and return it into the line of the original owner's descendants.

I still have some other family treasures, which I hope to share with you in the near future.

Kind regards

Herman

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