Cape Town History (duplicate)

Cape Town History (duplicate)

Cape Town History (duplicate)

Cape Town History. The history of Camps Bay , page 3. All about the history of Camps Bay.

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Cape Town History

Previous Page 1 2 3THE HISTORY OF CAMPS BAY BAYThese pages are presented as a courtesy by Gwynne Schrire in association with Hillel Turok (authors) and Albert Louw of Citi Graphics (publisher)

The Dutch East India Company at that time was the greatest of the companies that traded with the East. They ruled the eastern seas with 150trading ships, 40 warships and 10 000 soldiers. They had diplomatic relations with China and Japan and had built the town of Batavia. When their ship the Haarlem was wrecked in Table Bay in 1648, its crew managed to survive for five months by growing vegetables and trading merchandise with the Khoikhoi for sheep and cattle. They were even able to supply the scurvy-stricken crew of the ship that rescued them with fresh meat and vegetables. As a result, it was decided that a permanent settlement adjoining Table Bay might be a sound business proposition. Jan van Riebeeck was sent out to establish this halfway house and landed in Cape Town on 6 April 1652. He was to establish a garden to grow fresh vegetables, trade cattle with the Hottentots and keep a journal.

In March 1653 he was able to write, “Provided the ships with cattle, sheep, cabbages, carrots, milk etc and sent the Admiral in the galiot ten sheep, some cabbages, carrots and beef.” The development of the settlement with its trials and tribulations can be followed in his journal. Once he had settled down, he ventured forth to explore the neighborhood. He had soon crossed over the Kloof ( in Camps Bay) and discovered Camps Bay with a fine big forest and later that year examined the bay behind Table Mountain ( Cape Town). He was delighted at the prospect of the profits that would accrue to the Company from this new territory. There were no doubts at that time about the morality or legality of sending ships out to the farthest corners of the world, unloading soldiers, civil servants and equipment and starting to plant gardens and build houses and forts on territory where others might have been living for centuries. There were no thoughts of whether such people might object or mind, or whether as non-believers it really mattered what they thought.

The Here XVII, who were in charge of the Dutch East India Company, had given Van Riebeeck instructions to behave peaceably with the Hottentots and treat them well. It would have been unwise to seek confrontation with an unknown opponent when the Dutch were vastly outnumbered and they needed to maintain good relations with them in order to trade cattle both to supply passing ships and to build up theirown herd. Initially Van Riebeeck had difficulty in persuading the Goringhaiqua to trade their cattle, and he negotiated with their interpreter, Herry the Kaapman, to assist him in obtaining these. Over the years Herry proved to be an uncertain and untrustworthy associate. By 16 December 1652 Herry was asking the Dutch to help attack a rival tribe, the Fishmen. Once it became apparent that the Dutch were putting down permanent roots and encroaching on their pasturage, the Goringhaiqua became rebellious. Van Riebeeck seemed rather surprised and aggrieved. On 20 February 1655 Herry voiced justifiable complaints to Van Riebeeck that the Dutch were“ sitting on their lands and building very fast, never more to leave”, and his people tried to assert ownership by constructing their huts close to the fort, threatening to kill the Dutch settlers saying that as it was their land, they would build where they liked. On 10 Ju their cattle along the Camps Bay coast behind the Kloof ( in Camps Bay) between thehead of the Lion Mountain ( in Camps Bay) and the Hout Bayalong the Camps Bay mountains which he called the Gevelbergen. Now the lands in Table Valley and behind the Lion Mountain ( in Camps Bay) were for the use of the Company’s cattle only. Herry’s area became known as Roodekrantz – red bank.

The Goringhaiqua seemed satisfied with this. Camps Bay was part of their traditional territory. They had often stayed in Hout Bay, pastured their flocks there and travelled to Cape Town over the Nek through Camps Bay. This was also their path after raids on the Company. Because of the continual demand by the Dutch for more cattle with which to supply the passing ships, the Khoikhoi over the years traded more breeding stock than they could safely afford. The result of the land and livestock lost to the Dutch settlers, particularly after 1713 when there was a series of epidemics that affected both man and livestock coupled with a period of drought, was the destruction of the Khoikhoi communities. Having wandered, hunted and herded over the Peninsula for hundreds or thousands of years, the Khoikhoi, independent no longer, were forced to become servants to the settlers, stock thieves or bandits. Soon their flocks and huts in Camps Bay, where they had been transient dwellers for thousands of years, had become a forgotten part of history, a memory lingering only in the name Oudekraal – old kraal.

Over the years the Dutch constructed a fort, a garden, and a hospital and slowly extended their farming and herding activities to Rondebosch, Constantia and Stellenbosch. Camps Bay with its winds, baboons and lions, remained unsettled except for trips to collect wood or stones. Camps Bay had few attractions for the early farmer and the line of breakers made the bay dangerous for shipping. On 27 May 1698 Het Huiste Crayenstein ran aground on the rocks at Oudekraal beyond Camps Bay, having missed Table Bay which was hidden by fog.19 No lives were lost and the crew managed to land taking sixteen of the nineteen money chests onboard with them. An official inquiry was held in Cape Town and the officers responsible for mistaking the bay were demoted and dismissed. The authorities managed to salvage much of the cargo and a thorough search was made for the missing money chests – the remains of one was found with a few scattered coins among the rocks. The other two chests had vanished – either stolen or lost beneath the waves.20 In 1967 divers brought up Spanish pieces of eight from nearby. The sands have also revealed brass guns with the VOC coat of arms and bars of white metal. Maybe there are more pieces of eight lying below the waters of Camps Bay.


Commanders ignored Camps Bay with its barrier of rocks. Development and growth centered around the approaches to Table Bay which they fortified. When Valentyn visited in 1714 he counted 254 private houses in Cape Town, but none in Camps Bay which was still undisturbed although he did remark that:

“When one rides over the pass between the Lion hill and the Table Mountain ( Cape Town), one thereby comes to see the far side of the same, whence the burghers fetch coral-stone to burn it to lime.”21A few years later one finds the first record of someone settling in the Kloof ( in Camps Bay) in a book by Mentzel. Mentzel had been living happily in Cape Town between 1732-1741 tutoring children until one unfortunate day, eager to catch the mail, he boarded a ship to deliver a last minute letter. The wind came up suddenly and prevented him from returning to shore that night so he had no choice but to sleep over. When he awoke the next morning, he found that the captain had forgotten he was there and he was on his way back to Holland, never able to return. Homesick for the Cape, he wrote a detailed description of his life in the town and the conditions there. “In my time,” Mentzel wrote, “there used to be a cottage there occupied by a widow, who kept two cows and made a living by selling milk. Her Christian name was Anna, and she was commonly called Moeder Anntje, and the kloof Moeder Anntje’s Kloof. Her deceased husband had cleared a piece of ground, enclosed it with a mud wall, and tried to cultivate it. The venture was a failure and the land was subsequently allowed to run waste.”

By 1700 the land over the Kloof ( in Camps Bay) was known as ‘Roodekrantz’ or ‘red bank’ because of the colour of the soil. This area had been granted to Johan Lodewyk Wernich who had been baptised on 6 August 1687, the son of Joachim Wernich, Burgermeester of Bismark. A merchant, Wernich moved to Holland and from there came to the Cape in 1729 as a soldier. He built a farmhouse called ‘Ravensteyn’ lower down the mountain where the land was flatter and close to a stream and kept cows and grew vegetables for the Cape Town market. A widower aged 42, he married Magdalena Elizabeth Taats from Hattem, Netherlands on 14 August 1729and had one child, Johan Jan Lodewyk Wernich (or Joachim Johan Lodewyk Wernich) who was baptised on 6 August 1730. (Perhaps the dominee only visited in August!)

This son Johan had three wives, Anna van Reenen, whom he married in 1751, Johanna Beck, whom he married in 1756 and Anna Catharina Koekemoer, the widow of Jan Abraham Meyer whom he married on 16December 1764.Fourteen years later it was the turn of Anna Koekemoer, now the widow of J J L Wernich, Commissioner of Civil Affairs, to take her third husband. She married Fredrik Ernst von Kamptz from Deven near Mecklenburg on 20 December 1778.Von Kamptz was a sailor who had been left behind at the Cape because of illness – after all the raison d’etre of the Dutch settlement was to serve as a refreshment station to enable sick and scurvy sailors to regain their health. When his ship, the Holland, sailed away, and his health had returned, he saw a better future for himself in the arms of Anna Koekemoer, a lonely widow with six children and a farm, than he saw scrubbing decks and eating ship biscuit. There is another version of this tale. A German family history published in Schwerin in 1871(Die familie von Kamptz by CGJ VonKamptz) said that he was christened Christoph Otto von Kamptz in May1748, became a page at the court in Strelitz, was granted a commission in the British navy through connections with the Princess of Strelitz who became Queen Sophie Charlotte of England, made a fortune in India, lost most of it and decided to go home before it all went but stopped off in Cape Town on the way to visit his friend J J L Wernich, but found his lonely widow instead. Anna Catherina was wealthy, had the estate Ravensteyn and many slaves which she treated cruelly. He was soon the proud owner of Ravensteyn at Roodekrantz near the Kloof ( in Camps Bay) and used his slaves to construct a track along the coast from his house to Cape Town. He then took his new bride on holiday to Europe to introduce her to his family. While he was there, the American War of Independence broke out. This delayed his return to South Africa and wreaked havoc with his farm and his future.

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