The Van Pletsen Saga

December 1, 2009 at 5:38 pm 36 comments

by Helen Lewald (nee Van Pletsen)

Translated by Blane van Pletzen-Rands 

 Klik hier vir Afrikaans 


Click here for extended Genealogy


by her son, Roon Lewald

When my mother completed her hand-written chronicle of her Van Pletsen ancestors in 1974, a typed manuscript produced by an admiring relative was photocopied many times and found its way to numerous members of her tribe throughout South Africa. As far as I am aware, the Afrikaans-language manuscript remains the only known history of the Van Pletsens (or Van Pletzens with a “z”), and graphically portrays a typically huge clan of Afrikaner (Boer) descendants of mingled Dutch, German and French Huguenot settlers.

I was nevertheless astounded when, during a random web session in 2008, I stumbled on a faithful copy of the “Van Pletsen Saga” in both the original Afrikaans AND an English translation in this very same blog. From Bonn in Germany, where I have lived since emigrating in 1971, I immediately contacted the responsible blogger in New York. I was delighted to find out that editor The Rev. Br. Blane van Pletzen-Rands BSG is indeed a remote relative as well as a fellow expatriate, with a similarly nostalgic attachment to the positive aspects of Afrikaner traditions and the expressive Afrikaans language with its fine literature. Like many Americans, post-colonial South Africans – especially those who have joined a swelling diaspora in Europe, both Americas and Australasia in recent years – are deeply interested in their ancestral origins. Since Blane came upon a copy of the Saga during a visit to relatives in South Africa, he has therefore made it a centrepiece of his blog. The many comments it has attracted show that it has become a watering hole for virtually migrating Van Pletsens and other South Africans.

The “Saga” is told in the breezy, anecdotal style of the old relatives from whom my mother gleaned her material. She sifted this oral history as well as she could, knowing full well that her people “yarn so well and so enjoyably that when their facts start getting scarce, they think nothing of adding on a fib or two.” The chronicle offers vivid glimpses of an archetypal tribe of Boer farmers in the rural outback of long-bygone days. It contains entertainingly droll anecdotes which conjure up a time many Afrikaners nostalgically idealize as an age of pastoral innocence, long before their existential fear of the overwhelming African majority made them clutch at the false salvation gospel of Apartheid.

Historical Afrikaner politics (the two main issues being the historic confrontation between Boers and Britons and the old Afrikaner obsession with white ethnic supremacy) surface only indirectly. These themes form the unspoken context of, for instance, one bushy-bearded old militia commander’s punitive campaigns against troublesome Basotho tribesmen in the old Boer republic of the Orange Free State. An old aunt evokes the unabashed racism of her generation in a passing reference to the days when her district was “cleaned of the kaffirs”, i.e. when Boer commandos forcibly dispossessed local Africans of their land. The Saga also evokes the obduracy of diehard Cape Afrikaner supporters of the two Boer republics in the north, with Van Pletsens to the fore in several incidents of resistance by Boer subjects of the Crown to the British Empire’s war against their fighting kinsmen in the Transvaal and Orange Free State.

By far the most engaging figure presented by the “Saga” is the enormous Van Pletsen clan’s common progenitor, Carl Johannes von Plessen (later renamed “Van Pletsen”). Born in Eastern Prussia in 1795, he arrived in Table Bay as a shipboard stowaway in 1820 after serving as a mercenary under Napoleon. From his sturdy loins sprang nine sons – a relatively small family by the standards of those times. The names of Carl Johannes and his equally lusty sons have been handed down to male Van Plets/zens in every generation since then.

Roon Lewald                                                                                                      Bonn, July 2011

The Van Pletsen Saga

Here follows The Van Pletsen Saga , which I have promised to write down before I become senile and can’t remember anything. I cannot guarantee that all the facts, dates, etc., are accurate, because what I am writing is based on hearsay on what father and mother, grandfather and grandmother, and old aunts and uncles have told me!

According to my uncle Sauer van Pletsen (who had journalistic leanings and allowed a few books to see the light of day), one, Carl Johannes von Plessen, born 1795 in East Prussia, ran into difficulty with the authorities and left that land and established himself in Brabant, Belgium. (Grandfather’s sister, Aunt Mart Vorster, liked to boast that we Van Pletsens were originally Von Plessens and, therefore, belonged to the German aristocracy and then my father’s brother, prank-loving Uncle Kootjie, always deflated her with these words: “Oh come on, Auntie Mart. The old rascal was probably a horse thief. That’s why he had to get out of East Prussia!”)

In Brabant, he became a mercenary, and as such fought under Napoleon. After the battle of Waterloo, he and a certain Havenga (surely an ancestor of Klasie Havenga) arrived here [South Africa] in 1820 as stowaways on a ship. It appears that he ended up in Graaff Reinet and married an Anna Susanna Sauer (born 1805) whose father, Johan Nicholas Sauer, had come from Cologne in Germany to be a school teacher in Graaf Reinet. His wife was Susanna Maryna Mulder.

This Johan Nicholas Sauer was the forefather of former Minister Paul Sauer.[1]Carl Johannes von Plessen was 25 years old when he arrived in South Africa in 1820, and lived to 93. When my grandfather, Carl Johannes van Pletsen, was born in 1857, the above-mentioned Carl was a man of 62, and when he passed away in 1888, Carl Johannes van Pletsen was already a man of 32. He therefore knew his grandfather well, but apparently did not pay much attention to the old man’s ancestry. Pity! What he did remember and repeatedly told our children was the fact that his grandfather came from Brabant, Belgium, and that he had fought under Napoleon and that he “married a woman whose maiden name was Sauer, and who always said, “What is this ‘von’ nonsense? It’s mos ‘van!’” and so the name became Van Pletzen.

To my eternal shame and regret, I was not interested enough at that time to ask grandfather if he could still speak German and when the “Plessen” became “Pletzen” –and now it’s too late for tears.

In my view, the alteration of the “ss” to “tz” is very understandable. The “ss” is written in German as β and to the uneducated at the time, it must have appeared completely strange, and the “tz” was the most obvious solution. (Helen’s son Roon reports that his mother’s own German had become rusty by the time she wrote her Saga. In fact, he points out, the double “ss” after a short vowel in the middle of a word, as in “Plessen”, would never have been spelled with a “β”, so her ingenious explanation cannot be accurate.] Over time, the pronunciation of the name changed to Pletzen. For some, this was still not phonetical enough, and became Pletsen.

We Afrikaners have never had much respect for either the spelling or the pronunciation of a foreign name. Think of the De Raans (du Rand), Lospers (Laubscher), Lawwerskaiings (Labuschagne), Du Toois (Du Toit), and Senekals (Seneschal).

Here follow a few of the yarns that Grandpa told us children many times. I quote, “Yes, he and another little fool by the name of Havenga crept away on a ship without paying. They hid in a large vat and when they later emerged, they were almost dead from hunger and the lice had almost eaten them up.” Then Grandfather shook as he laughed over the predicament that the two had found themselves in.

Further: “He said that Napoleon wasn’t afraid of anything. One day he was sitting in front of his tent writing reports when a shell burst so near him that dirt and rocks rained down over his table, and Napoleon jumped up and gave vent to the most tremendous curses!” Here Grandfather always used his fist to show just how potent the curses were.

And then: “This Napoleon was as brave as a lion. He was a short, pudgy fellow with a pot belly, you know, child, but he had a soft little heart. When a battle was over, he always walked around among the dead with his right hand tucked in before his chest and his left hand behind his back, and then he would weep like a child.”

(A little over-the-top I find, but with the many retellings the van Pletsens naturally added their own bit of embroidery.) “And child, there was a man who knew how to drill soldiers. At night, they had to nestle together like spoons when they slept in the field, and at midnight an officer would come and yell “TURN!”, and then the whole bunch rolled over and spooned in the other direction.” (Grandfather always ended this unbelievable and unlikely story with the words: “Yes, child, if we had had such generals the Boer War would have ended differently!”) Poor man! He must have been very small when his grandfather told him this story, and of course only a garbled version of the anecdote sank in, but we children always firmly believed the tale.

When I later heard of Napoleon and his conquests, I sometimes laughed whenever I mentally pictured the soldiers nestling like spoons. Even so,  it wouldn’t have been such a bad idea during the return march from Moscow! But to get back to Carl Johannes von Plessen. He and Anna Susanna lived in Graaff Reinet where her father was deputy sheriff as well as teacher, and I quote Grandfather again: “She was in bed with a baby when the thatched roof of the house caught fire. They couldn’t carry her out through the door because it was already burning, so they carried her, the bed, and the child out the window.”

The house and everything in it burned up and poor Carl Johannes is said to have stood there in his nightshirt, surely wet from perspiration after struggling to get Anna Susanna out through the window. Then one of his neighbors gave him a jacket. I can still hear my mother ending the story in a shocked whisper with the words, “And child, he first cut off all the buttons!” (Also understandable. It was around 1832, when buttons were luxury items in South Africa.)

They moved to Burghersdorp where both of them taught. Anna Susanna’s terrifying experience in the burning house in Graaff Reinet apparently did not dampen her enthusiasm for procreation, since she redoubled her efforts and managed to bring nine sturdy male heirs into the world. Even in those days of fecundity, it must have caused quite a stir because Andries Stockenstroom (at that time, lieutenant governor in the Eastern Province) presented her with two farms (9000 Morgen), meaning 1000 Morgen for each son. The farms, “Luipaardsvlei” and “Jachtpoort”, lay in the district of Burghersdorp.

The Names of Anna Susanna’s Nine Sons:

1. Carl Jacobus — born 10 January 1832. Established himself in Jamestown.

2. Johannes Francois — born 17 August 1835. My great-grandfather. Established himself in Rouxville.

3. Diederik Johannes — Established himself in Burghersdorp.

4. Jan Jacobus — Established himself in Burghersdorp.

5. Nicolaas Johannes — Established himself in Burghersdorp.

6. Petrus Nicolaas — Established himself in Dordrecht.

7. Everhardus Georg Frederik — Established himself in Rouxville.

8. Stephanus Albertus — Established himself in Rouxville.

9. Jacobus Francois — Established himself in Rouxville.

Anybody who is a Van Pletsen, Van Pletzen or van Pletzen is descended from these nine sons. If one bumps into a Van Pletsen, he’s always from Jamestown, Barkly East, Burghersdorp or the part of the world around Dordrecht in the Free State, or Rouxville, Zastron or Wepener.

Family names that always crop up somewhere are Carl Johannes, Johannes Francois, Stephanus, Nicolaas, and Diederik. In a nutshell, the names of Anna Susanna’s nine male heirs!

Old Carl Johannes and his wife later trekked to Rouxville. There he died and is buried on a farm by the name of “Droogfontein”, while Anna Susanna is buried at “Knoffelspruit”.

The oldest son of Carl Johannes (the one we always spoke of as “the old immigrant”) was Carl Jacobus — born 10 Jan 1832. Married Martha Christina Smith of the farm “Wingerd” in Aliwal North.

1. Susanna Lucya — born 1857

2. Carl Jacobus — born 1859

3. Petrus Nicolaas — born 1861

4. Jan Jacobus — born 1863

5. Anna Susanna — born 1865

6. Martha Christina

7. Erasmus Jacobus

8. Alida Hendrina Margaretha

9. Diederik Johannes — born 1874

10. Stephanus Albertus — born 1876

The second son of “the old immigrant” was Johannes Francois — born 17 August 1835. Married Susanna Lucya Smith, also from the farm “Wingerd” in Aliwal North, and a sister of Carl Jacobus’ wife. He was my great-grandfather.

A portrait of this ancestor hung in my grandfather’s farmhouse at “Cloverley” in Barkly East and there was also one in the passage of his brother Stephanus’ farmhouse at “Workshop” in Wepener.

We always spoke of this bearded, stern-looking old person as the “ou gang Van Pletsen” (i.e. “the old Van Pletzen of the passage”.)  (Helen’s son Roon remembers this long passageway as a gloomy, tunnel-like walkway connecting two parts of the farmhouse. It containing a dusty bookshelf crammed with long-forgotten Victorian novels, miscellaneous farmyard implements and ancient, hand-tinted portraits of glowering ancestors, of whom “old passageway Van Pletzen” was the fiercest-looking.)  My sister, Dulcie Kroon, of Memel, Orange Free State, also possesses a portrait of him, also interesting because it is of a younger and friendlier man.

My deceased brother Carl’s son Johannes Francois (“Nacht Wacht”, Kokstad) possesses the funeral mourners’ list of the old forefather. Very interesting. A beautiful quill and ink drawing of the coffin lid with the names of the mourners and then, in beautiful “copperplate” handwriting, the names of the pallbearers – all incredibly misspelled.

In every generation, two brothers married two sisters. At that time there weren’t as many choices as one has today.

The names of Johannes Francois and Susanna Lucya’s nine children:

1. Carl Johannes, my grandfather, born 22 Feb 1857, died 15 Oct 1938. Married to Frederika Petronella Magdalena Henning, of the farm “Lusthof”, Rouxville.

2. Petrus Nicolaas, Married to Alida Henning, of the farm “Modderpoort”, Jamestown. (This is Ras van Pletsen’s father. He was killed by lightning and Ras grew up at “Workshop” with his Uncle Faan and Aunt Nonnie.)

3. Jan Jacobus, Married Elizabeth Brümmer (commited suicide).

4.Johannes Francois, Married ? Henning, of the farm “Lusthof”, Rouxville. A sister of my grandmother, Frederika.

5. Anna Susanna, Married Phillipus Roux of Zastron.

6. Martha Magdalena Maria, married Oelof Abraham Servaas Vorster of Barkly East. (These were the grandparents of the artist, Anna Vorster.)

7. Susanna Lucya, married Thomas Theron of Cedarville (twin sister of Martha. Another propensity of the Van Pletsens.)

8. Stephanus Jacobus, married Jacoba Katarina Maria Swart (Nonnie) of “Workshop”, Wepener. (Dina, Kokie, Stefaans and Erica’s grandparents.)

9. Alida Hendrina Margaretha, married Jacobus Smith of Wepener.

The “passage Van Pletsen’s” second wife was Frederika Petronella Magadelena Kotze. Her four children:

1) Susanna Jacoba, married to Gert Venter.

2) Jan Nicolaas, married to Johanna van Biljon.

3) Frederika Petronella Magdalena, married to Gert van Biljon.

4) Everhardus Georg, married to Alida Hendrina Margaretha van Pletsen, gebore 29 September 1900. (Granddaughter of the “immigrant’s” oldest son, Carl Jacobus. Her father was Jan Jacobus, born 1863).

The aforementioned Alida Jendrina van Pletsen (Tant Alie) was always interested in the Van Pletsen family tree, and when I visited her she had much to tell about all she had heard from her father. According to Tant Alie, the “old emigrant” was one Carl Jacobus von Plettscher, born 1795 in “Wurtburg near Berlin.” This doesn’t sound very believable to me. The name “Jacobus” is not German, and there isn’t such a place near Berlin – or anywhere else in Germany. Wartburg, yes, and Würzburg, which is not near Berlin. Personally, I have more confidence in Oom Jan Sauer’s experience. He spent weeks sniffing around the Cape Town archives, while Tant Alie’s facts rely on hearsay – and one knows how such stories, in the retelling, become embellished and truncated. I am reminded of Oupa’s retelling of Napoleon’s “spoon-nestling” soldiers!

I quote Tant Allie: “Carl Jacobus von Plettscher fought as a volunteer under Napoleon. (I find it difficult to believe that a German aristocrat would willingly relocate to France to fight under the hated Napoleon. Oom Jan Sauer’s story that he came from Brabant, where he perhaps lived for years, and hired on as a mercenary seems more probable.) Further: “He and his mother’s brother, a certain Bender, were both bodyguards of Napoleon, and here I have a champagne flask that he and Napoleon drank out of in Waterloo where they sat together on a large rock.” (I ask you – with tears in my eyes – can you imagine that Napoleon had either the time or the desire to sit on a rock and share a flask with his bodyguards? With no glasses nogal? I don’t.)

She tells more: “After Waterloo he became a sailor and he and Bender arrived as such in South Africa on the same ship as the family Sauer. He later married a Sauer girl.” Again I choose to believe Oupa’s story: that the “ou emigrant” and young Havenga arrived as stowaways; he knew his grandfather well, and the old man no doubt told this story to him many times. When Tant Alie was born in 1900, the “ou emigrant” was already dead twelve years.

She told me that Johannes Francois van Pletsen (the “passage” Van Pletsen and the second son of the “old emigrant”) was a very rich man who owned 20,000 Morgen – enough to give each of his six sons a large farm. Johannes Francois (No. 4) (Oom Hans) inherited Kalkfontein in Rouxville. Jan Nicolaas (Oom Jan) inherited Knoffelspruit in Rouxville.

The above-mentioned Jan is said to have gambled the farm away. Other farms that he owned were Hoekfontein, Tierhoek, Wonderwater, Klaarwater and Vinkelfontein. Tant Allie told me that “Barkly East’s world had just been cleaned of the kaffirs [sic]. . .” when old Johannes Francois (“passage” Van Pletsen) bought a 4,300-Morgen property for his eldest son Carl Johannes (my grandfather). I was born on the farm Cloverley in 1904 when my father was 24 years old. I know he spent his early childhood there, but I’m not certain whether he was born there in 1880.

The house, which still stands today, was built by my grandfather. Cloverley is one of many English farm names in Barkly East and it was chosen by an English land surveyor who knew and admired English literature. The Boers paid scant attention to the poetry of names. Cloverley was commonly referred to as Klavervlei and names taken from Tennyson’s “Morte d’Arthur” were mangled too. I think of  “Kammalot” (Camelot) en “Laaines” (Lyonesse).

Names of Carl Johannes – (Oldest son of Johannes Francois, the “passage” Van Pletsen), and Frederika Petronella Magdalene Henning’s children:

  1. Frederika Petronella Magdalena (Frikkie) married to Nicolaas van Zyl (Cedarville Oos Griekwaland).
  2. Johannes Francois (Frans) (Born 11 Augustue 1880) – Married to Dina Johanna Crouse (Gebore 21 November 1877) (Graaff Reinet).
  3. Carl Johannes married to Maria Magdalena Crouse (Sister to Dina Johanna) (Graaff Reinet).
  4. Anna Susanna (Sannie) married to Jan van Zyl (Brother to Nicolaas) (Cedarville).
  5. Jacobus (Koot) married to Molly Botha (Barkly Oos).
  6. Petrus (Piet) married to Lottie Pietersen (Barkly Oos).
  7. Jan Sauer married to Rachel Toerin (Riversdal).
  8. Nicolaas (Klaas) married to Marie Jacobs; Chrisie Hertzog; Ann Stander.
  9. Stephanus (Faan) married to Ada Gordon (Kaapstad).

Names of Stephanus Jacobus (son of “passage” Van Pletsen) and Jacoba Katarina Maria (Nonnie) Swart’s children:

  1. Johannes Francois (Cois) married to Frederika Petronella van Pletsen (Frikkie) (daughter of Johannes Francois (Frans) – Born 1880 and great-granddaughter of Johannes Francois – Born 1835).
  2. Stephanus married to Lily Loteryman.

Names of Johannes Francois (Frans) – born 1880 – and Dina Johanna Crouse’s children:

  1. * Helena Susara (Helen) married to Otto Albrecht Lewald (Berlin, Germany).    * Born 8 June 1904.
  2. * Frederika Petronella Magdalene (Frikkie) married to Johannes Francois (Cois) van Pletsen (Grandson of Johannes Francois “passage” van Pletsen). * Born 18 October 1905.
  3. Carl Johannes married to Joan Kumm, Kokstad.
  4. Dina Johanna (Dulcie) married to Gerrit Kroon (Memel, O.V.S.)
  5. Reinet Seneschal (René) married to Malcolm Fisher Vincent (Durban).

Names of Carl Johannes and Maria Magdelena Crouse’s children:

  1. Carl Johannes.
  2. Heloise Helena
  3. Jurgen Crouse married to Jeanette Theresia (Tikkie) Smit (Harrismith, O.F.S.)
  4. Frederika (Erika) married to Wilhelm Dreyer (Cape Town).
  5. Yvonne married to Marthinus Johannes van der Westhuizen (Pretoria).

Names of Helena Susara and Albrecht Lewald’s children:

  1. Deanne Seneschal married to Horst Raszat (Heidelberg, Germany).
  2. Theo Roon married to Lynn Joanne Kock (Klerksdorp).

Names of Frederika Petronella Magdalena and Johannes Francois van Pletsen’s children:

  1. Dina Johanna.
  2. Stephanus married to Gretchen Strauss (Wepener).
  3. Jacoba (Kokie) married to Herman Thörmahlen (Strand).
  4. Erika Ronel married to Piet Heymans.

Names of Carl Johannes and Joan Kumm’s children:

  1. Nina married to Johan du Rand.
  2. Johannes Francois married to Myrna Rock.

Names of Dina Johanna (Dulcie) en Gerrit Kroon’s children:

  1. Gerrit van Pletsen Kroon married to Jeanette de Villiers.
  2. Johannes Francois married to Frederika van Schalkwyk (Vlooitjie).
  3. Cornelis (Corrie).

Names of Reinet Seneschal and Malcolm Vincent’s children:

  1. Dina-Ann.
  2. Linda Jean married to Rodney Penpreaph.
  3. Helen Bell.

Names of Jurgen Crouse van Pletsen and Jeanette Theresia Smit’s children:

  1. Jeanette Theresia
  2. Carl Johannes (Johan).
  3. Engela Rietta.
  4. Heloise Erika Yvonne.
  5. Jurgen Smit.

Name of Frederika (Erika) van Pletsen and Wilhelm Dreyer’s child:

  1. Erika.

Names of Yvonne van Pletsen and Martin van der Westhuizen’s children:

  1. Marleen.
  2. Mattheus Jacobus.
  3. Liesel.

Enjoy the read, descendants! I hope your minds are not going around the bend with all the Johannes’ Francois’ and Carl Johanesses! Pretoria, Tvl.
Helen Lewald. (nee Van Pletsen) January 1974


Please allow me, on behalf of the “Clan”, to thank Helen for the “Van Pletsen Saga.” It’s an interesting narrative and a priceless collection that, had she not committed it to paper now, would have been nearly impossible to recreate. Thank you, niece, for your beautiful gift to us.

Florida, Transvaal
Jurgen van Pletsen

June 1974.

[1] Paul Sauer was the South African Minister of Lands at the time of the Sharpeville Massacre on 21 March 1960. After an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Hendrik Vorwoerd, he was made acting Prime Minister until he suggested a “new book” for South Africa with regard to its Apartheid policies, after which he was expelled from government. According to, he was “the only Minister who showed any misgivings regarding government policy.”


Entry filed under: South Africa, van pletsen, van pletzen, van Pletzen Genealogy, von plessen.

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36 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Blane van Pletzen-Rands  |  March 23, 2007 at 7:21 am

    This just in; can anyone help identify the husband of Anna Christina Sophia Booysen(s?) 1864 – 1960.

    “I’ve just ‘discovered’ the Van Pletsen saga’ on the Web. My interest in the Van Pletsens is via my great-grandmother, her maiden name was Anna Christina Sophia Booysen(s?) she was born on 28 June 1864, (baptized 14 August 1964, Philipstown). She married Hermanus Carl Andries Venter on 4 October 1883 in Colesberg, when she was 19 and he was 63 (!) They had 8 children, but apparently the last child (son) had the same flaming red hair as the neighbour! It seems that she then ran away (eloped) with the neighbour.

    Hermanus Carl Andries divorced her on 4 March 1903. She married again, a man with the surname Van Pletsen. I don’t know if he is the one with whom she ran away. My grandfather, who was 15 years old when she ran away, went looking for her many years later and found her living in dire circumstances in a little backroom in some house in Aliwal North.

    I am trying to find more information on the Van Pletsen that she married, and on her life with him. She was quite a character, I can tell you many stories about her if you are interested in this link to the Van Pletsens. Unfortunately I don’t know anything else about him, only that his surname was Van Pletsen (Pletzen?) Her fortune (5 farms) was gambled away, again, I don’t know if Mr van Pletsen had a hand in this, or whether it was any of the other subsequent men in her life (three, I believe – I told you she was quite a character….)

    I’ll appreciate any information on this Van Pletsen – her illegitimate child must have been born around 1897 onwards, probably 1902/03, when she got divorced? She was already 39 years old then, so I don’t know if she had any more children. She finally died 1 December 1960, when I was 4 years old. It was the first funeral ever that I attended, I remember some of it.

    Anyway, as I said, any info gratefully received.

    Ansie Hodge (nee Venter)
    Manchester, England.

    • 2. Wynand Venter  |  May 21, 2011 at 10:26 pm

      Re The van Pletzen Saga December 1, 2009

      I would like to contact Ansie Hodge (nee Venter) from Manchester, England, who made a comment (no. 30) on the saga of Blane van Pletzen Rands March 23, 2007.

      Her grandfather must be my grandfather’s brother, and I would very much like to contact her regarding regarding Anna Christina Sophia Booysen who is also my great grandmother.

      I would appreciate any info on the contact details of Ansie Hodge, because I like to contact my family and discuss the old people with them. Any information is always welcome.

      Wynand Venter
      Randfontein, Gauteng

      • 3. Ansie Hodge  |  January 14, 2012 at 2:07 am


        My goodness gracious, a cousin! (however many times removed). Contact me on, I would love to have a chat


  • 4. Roma Hudson  |  June 14, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    Back in the l960s my husband Tony and I were friends of a Roon and Jo Lewald. Not long after their marriage they left SA and (I think) went to Canada and we lost touch. I would love to know what became of them and if it is possible to get in touch again.

    I now live in England, having returned here in 1995. My daughter (who was at Jo and Roon’s wedding) also lives here but my son has stayed on in SA.

    I would love to hear any news of them.

    many thanks


  • 5. Roma  |  September 11, 2007 at 1:17 am

    Jo Kock and Roon Lewald married and left for Germany, where they still live.They are divorced now and thus I only have Roon’s email address at this stage so you could try and make contact with him again.
    A telephone number I have for him in Germany is 49(0228) 313076 and Jo if it is correct 49(0228) 358535.

    Hope this helps you further and certainly hoping this is the same Roon and Jo that you are looking for.

    Best of luck with making contact,

  • 6. Volker  |  December 3, 2007 at 6:45 am

    Hmmm … my previous comment didn’t survive, probably spam protection went wrong – I’ll try without a link.

    Search the web for “frollein isolde specht”, it’s the artist name of the daughter of Jo and Roon (listed in the genealogy section above) so she could be added there. Afaik. she has been born in Zimbabwe (though I’m not 100% sure) but they moved to Bonn when she was quite young.

  • 7. Volker  |  December 3, 2007 at 7:08 am

    um … sorry … me again.

    Kathie might have been born in Bonn, it has been quite some time and I do not exactly remember it anymore. They _talked_ about Simbabwe and Rhodesia, that might have confused my memory.

  • 8. Roon Lewald  |  February 1, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Hi Roma:

    Roma, what a long time no see!? Still have contact with Tony, who was last seen selling real estate in Joburg in the early
    1970s? Jo and I were divorced in the 1980s; she kept our single child Katherine Helen Lewald, I remarried in the late 1990s, but that went bang too amid serious health problems on both sides. I live alone in Bonn, although the German capital and the political action I followed here into the 1980s has moved to Berlin. But since the 3rd 24-carat sweetheart in my life is a Berliner, I bear no grudges. Bonn is a nice, quiet town set in lovely Rhine landscape – look me up some time. Phone number: +49-228-313076

  • 9. Roon Lewald  |  February 1, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Hin Volker,
    Ja wer sind Sie denn, junger Freund; woher kennen Sie denn meine Tochter? Katherine (Katie) was born in Bonn, not Zimbabwe, was engaged last year and moved house with her fiancee to Cologne early January. Wie schon Roma erzählt, bin ich seit ca. 10 Jahren von Katies Mutter geschieden. Jo wohnt irgendwo in der Bonn er Gegend, jottweißwo.
    Roon Lewald

  • 10. Erika Botma  |  February 2, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Hi There,

    I am Erika (Dreyer) Botma my branch to this tree goes like this.
    My mother Fredrika (Erika) van Pletsen married to Wilhelm Dreyer. – Her parents were Carl Johannes van Pletsen and Magdalena Crouse.

    I am married to Paul Botma and we have a little boy Dreyer Lodewyk Botma born on 15 Aug 2003 . He’s now 4 1/2 years.
    We used to live in Pretoria but have since moved down to Natal and live in Hilton . It’s just before you get Pietermaritzburg . My mother now lives with us in her own litte granny flat. I am not sure if you know but my mother’s sister and brother – Heloise Helena and Jurgen Crouse van Pletsen passed away in Jul and Aug 2006. My mother’s other sister Yvonne van der Westhuizen married to Martin van der Westhuizen still lives in Pretoria.

    This is just great to see where everybody is and how far we are spread across the world. Dina-Ann Vincent connected me to this site. It would be great to get some photo’s on here so we can get a good look at everybody. l shall bookmark this site so that I can see what is happing for time to time and stay in touch.

    Best regards

    Erika (Dreyer) Botma.

  • 11. genobsessed  |  February 2, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    There have been some questions about what part of the family Blane is from, and I realized that his part isn’t even documented here, as Blane descends from the original Carl Johannes von Plessen’s seventh son, Everhardus Georg van Pletzen. Here’s a brief tree for all the long-lost cousins suddenly appearing (and how exciting it is!). It’s a very thin branch of the van Pletzen tree, but hopefully it will begin to bloom as well:

    Everhardus Georg married Susara J. Britz and had one known son: Carel Nicolaas Sauer van Pletzen (born 1 Dec 1865 in Zastron, Free State, South Africa).

    Carel Nicolaas Sauer van Pletzen married Dirkie Salomina Eliza Heijns about 1895. They had three sons:

    1–Everhardus Georg Frederik (born 14 Jun 1898 in Zastron, died 27 Jun 1953)
    2–Gert Frederik Heijns (born 14 Mar 1903 in Zastron, died 21 Jan 1969 in Bulawayo, Rhodesia)
    3–Carel (born 19 Feb 1905 in Zastron, died Jan 1970)

    Gert Frederik Heijns van Pletzen married Ethel Bayman Younge on 2 Mar 1929 in Bulawayo, Rhodesia. Ethel was born 16 Jul 1906 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, daughter of James Forrest Younge and Ethel Mary Bayman. She died 8 Aug 1983 in Bulawayo. They had four children:

    1–Doreen (born 24 Dec 1929 in Bulawayo; died Sep 1930 in Bulawayo)
    2–George Harold (born 17 Jun 1931 in Bulawayo; currently living in Paterson, Eastern Cape, South Africa)
    3–Ethel (born 1 Sep 1935 in Bulawayo; recently moved from Bulawayo at last, now living in Duns, Scotland.
    4–Maureen (born Dec 28th 1937 in Bulawayo; died recently in Germany)

    George Harold van Pletzen married Helen Kay Mackie Begg on 28 Mar 1959 in Bulawayo, Rhodesia. Helen was born 28 Jul 1935 in New Cumnock, Ayrshire, Scotland, daughter of Thomas Blane Begg and Margaret McDonald Welsh Mackie. They are currently living in Paterson, Eastern Cape, South Africa. They had three children:

    1–Blane Frederik (born 18 Feb 1960 in Bulawayo;currently living in New York, New York, USA).
    2–Linda Jane (born 8 May 1962 in Bulawayo; currently living in Elands Park, Gauteng, South Africa).
    3–Andre Paul (born 15 Dec 1967 in Bulawayo; currently living in Durban, kwaZulu-Natal, South Africa).

    Blane Frederik van Pletzen married Lisa Ann Tullis in 1984 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Lisa is the daughter of Darrell LeRoy Tullis and Nancy Grace Crandall. They later divorced, and had one daughter:

    1–Esmé Camille van Pletzen (born 25 Jun 1985 in Ogden, Weber, Utah, USA; currently living in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA).

    I did some checking, and this makes Blane and the author, Helen Lewald, 3rd cousins once removed, and Blane and Roon are 4th cousins.

  • 12. Helen van Pletsen - Nightingale of Natal « Blane  |  March 15, 2008 at 8:20 am

    […] By Roon Lewald, son of Helen van Pletsen, author of “The van Pletsen Saga” […]

  • 13. Liz van Aswegen  |  April 23, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    I am a granddaughter of Jan Jacobus van Pletsen and Elizabeth Brummer. I am a professor at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Fascinating to read the saga. Completes bits told to me by my mother.

  • 14. Liz van Aswegen  |  May 7, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Further to my previous comments on 23 April 2008
    My mother, second youngest daughter of Jan Jacobus van Pletsen and Elizabeth Brummer, was born after the Anglo-Boer war in Barkly East. She grew up on the farm “Roundhills” in Maclear, Eastern Cape. She married Jacobus Albertus Jansen van Rensburg (a magistrate). They had two children, Estelle, who died in infancy, and me (Elizabeth Susanna), born in 1947. I still have contact with my cousin Clarice, daughter of my mother’s elder brother, Brummer, and her family (most of whom live in the Western Cape).

    My father died in 1964, my mother in 1988. She was one of seven children – I’m not too sure of all the names, but think they were Frans, Miemie, Brummer, Daisy, Jan, Nana (some of these obviously nicknames).

  • 15. Richard Degus  |  June 21, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Hi, my late father knew a Van Pletzen who was an elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and was in Manchester around 1980 ish. I wondered if anyone knew him and what happened to him, my father never forgot him and told me about him many times. Any information would be brilliant, thanks, Richard

  • 16. Blane  |  June 23, 2008 at 2:40 am

    Hello Richard:

    Thanks for your post in my blogsite. I am, by your description, the Elder van Pletzen you write of and I hope to find out more from you about your father.

    Kind Regards,


  • 17. Judy Clark  |  June 28, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    14. Judy Clark | April 10, 2008 at 12:38 am
    Hi All!!
    I have read the “saga” as well as all the comments with great interest and nostalgia. I am so sorry that I didn’t pay more attention to the names when I was younger (but in my defence we moved from Dordrecht district to East London in 1947.
    My late mother Margaretha Maria van Pletzen 1911 – 1989 was one of a very large family. My grandfather Van Pletzen had at least 5 children whom I can remember, from his first marriage (his wife died during child birth) and when he re-married five children whom I knew quite well.
    The youngest and only living child from the second marriage, D.J. was born 18.08.1920 and is still living on the “family” farm, Kranskop, in the Jamestown district.
    My father Arnold Nepgen (1906 – 1982) and mother married during 1935 and I was the only child, Judith (Judy) born at Dordrecht in 1940, married in 1964 to Colin Norval Clark; we have two children Juan Arno and Lisa Margo (and four grand children) and still live in East London,
    I do not have the uncles and aunt’s correct or full names, but if anyone is interested, I can let you have what I do remember.
    Kindest regards

    Saturday, 28th June 2008.
    Hi Again!
    As you can see, the above was posted during April 2008, after I discovered the Afrikaans version of the “Saga”, but there was no response.
    More recently I have e-mailed Blane and Scott and
    between my Van Pletzen cousins in the Jamestown area, we have gathered quite a bit of information, which, after much research on Blane and Scott’s side, will hopefully provide more info for the “Saga”.
    Wow! The Van Pletzen’s are truly “global” – haven’t heard about any in Australia yet (ha-ha).
    Waiting in anticipation of at least some “loose ends” being tied up, somewhere,
    Kind regards

  • 18. Blane  |  June 29, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Hello Judy:

    So pleased to be in touch and thank you for the rich resources you have given me and Scott to pursue the family lines further.

    Much love,


  • 19. Die Van Pletsen Saga « Blane  |  July 7, 2008 at 3:15 am

    […] July 5, 2008 In English […]

  • 20. Emma  |  October 27, 2008 at 12:38 am

    I am trying to trace my husbands ancestor, we believe her to be called Elizabeth and come from Rouxville.
    guess at the dates she was born around 1850, she married Luis van der merwe and had a son called Luis.

    unfortunately we don’t know much about her. please contact me with any information you may have.



  • 21. Debbie Schlosser  |  October 30, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Dear All,
    I am trying to find out more about my grandmother’s early life. She was Anna Susanna Swanepoel ,daughter of Susanna Maryna Van Pletsen and Pieter Andries Swanepeoel. She was born somewhere in the Free State around 1882. She died in 1929 aged 47. I think Anna Susanna met my grandfather (Isak Francois Nel) in the Rouxville area but want to know where and how they came to be there. Anna Susanna was very large, resilient beyond normal, always positive, and apparently good on the piano.

  • 22. Almien van Pletzen  |  December 22, 2008 at 12:52 am

    Hi, I just came accros your blog.
    My dad is Pieter Ernst van Pletzen and he was born in Burgersdorp in the Eastern Cape. Now what I am wondering is if the van Pletzen’s (with a z) and the van Pletsen’s (with a s) are related to one another. His cousins son’s birth names are Everhardus Saur van Pletzen. Can this be of the Saur that is being talked about???

  • 23. Inyoni « Blane  |  April 22, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    […] brown hair frames an oval face that resembles my own. Her familiar voice and the blue Van Pletsen eyes of my mother channel thoughts, realms of experience and feelings that interlock perfectly with […]

  • 24. Another Van Pletsen Storyteller « Blane  |  May 28, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    […] own mother (Reinet’s elder sister Helen) to record the family’s history in her “Van Pletsen Saga” has resurfaced in Dina Ann Boessenkool (née Vincent). She left South Africa for the […]

  • 25. Mias van Pletzen  |  June 26, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    My father was Jan Jacobus. He was the son of Jeremias (Mias) Andreas Nel van Pletzen and Susanna van Heerden. Jeremias had 3 half brothers: Petrus Johannes (Piet), Dederick (Dirk) and Ras and a couple of sisters. The one sister was Judith. They were all from Jamestown. Unfortunately I do not have the correct baptized names of the brother. I do have in possession the original copy of the transport dead of the farm Kranzkop and Wintershoek in the Jamestown. I also have photographs take on some of the family graves on the farm Kranskop. This might give some light on the descendants of the van Pletzen.

    Blane says: Hello Mias – and good to hear from you and to find another relative. Your photographs – and a scan of the certificate – would be very helpful in furthering our genealogy. I would appreciate you sending them, if you want, to

  • 26. Judy Clark  |  June 30, 2009 at 12:54 am

    Hi Mias
    My late mother was one of the many Van Pletzens who lived in the Jamestown district and together with my cousins from that area, we compiled quite a “history” around Jan Jacobus’ family. I sent all of this, together with photographs (some not very clear) to Blane some time ago.
    If you are interested, I can e-mail this to you too.
    Please post your e-mail address on this site and I will get back to you, with pleasure.
    Kind regards

    • 27. Mias van Pletzen  |  June 30, 2009 at 6:40 pm

      Hi Judy,
      I would appreciate very much like the information. To whom were you late mother married to. My father sister (Johanna Bekker) stayed up to last year in Jamestown. She is now staying in Aliwal North. My father’s uncle Dirk and his sons are still farming in the area. My e-mail address is
      Mias van Pletzen
      Tel: 0760544947

  • 28. Mariska van Pletzen  |  November 16, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    My father is Abraham Carel van Pletzen and his Father was Phillipus Arnoldus van Pletzen from Dordrecht district. According to history my father is the 6th generation of van Pletzens in South Africa. Please can you assist me in finding out how the family works up until my father. How do one go about to find that out.

    Thank You
    Mariska van Pletzen

  • 29. Mias van Pletzen  |  November 17, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Hi Mariska,
    What was your grand parents’ name? If you send me your e-mail address I will forward you a spreadsheet I compiled. May be you will recognize some names. My e-mail
    Mias van Pletzen

  • 30. Jennifer Henning  |  February 5, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Dear All
    Maybe somebody can help me solve this mystery
    I am looking for a Jan Cornelis van Pletzen
    he was married to my great grandmother
    Hendrina Elizabeth Fouche
    She was born around 1884 in the Aliwal North Lady Grey Maclear district

    if anyone has any information
    Please contact me
    Jennifer Henning

  • 31. Bob  |  June 10, 2010 at 2:37 am

    Interesting genealogy. I was searching for info on Nicholas, son of Dr. Hans Sauer, who changed his name to Fitzgerald and lived in Ireland for some years. NIcholas (“Pico”) died in Dinard, France in 1976.

  • 32. van Pletzens | My Healthy Obsession/Addiction to Family History  |  September 14, 2010 at 4:33 am

    […] Hopefully with more information, I’ll be able to tie some of you into the van Pletzen Saga! […]

  • 33. Lorna  |  July 8, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Hi there.
    My Husband is Christian Andriase Jacobus van Pletzen from Dordrecht. Would like the get more infromation about his part of the Van Pletzen Saga.

    Kind Regards
    Lorna Van Pletzen

  • 34. Ruth Holcombe  |  December 28, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    Great info to read about our ancestors in Barkly East…does anyone know of Susanna Maria Johanna van Pletsen who married a Kleynhans? Born in 1889, died 2 July 1929, Locksley, Barkly East. Would appreciate anyone getting in touch if you do to help with the family tree.
    Ruth Holcombe

  • 35. Alma Wilken  |  May 2, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    My grandmother was married to Lourens van Pletzen (Harry)from Burgersdorp…she is now 90years old….

  • 36. kobus pieterse  |  June 16, 2015 at 12:59 am

    My stephfather,petrus nicolaas van pletzen born 1898 dordreght died 1974 pretoria was married to my grandma maria magdalena pieterse born vorster 7 april 1903 died june 2000. I remember uncle pieter as a jentlemen,we loved him very mutch and still miss him ,I am 60 now


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