Natal Marriage #2: P. A. MINNAAR – H. D. STEYN (1844)

When I examine the vital information for my husband’s 2x great-grandparents, I must keep in mind that attitudes and expectations among Afrikaners in mid-nineteenth-century South Africa would have been considerably different from anything I have known. Still, I can’t help thinking that these ancestors led arduous lives, the women in particular.

As a child, Helena Dorothea STEYN had accompanied her parents in a covered wagon on the Great Trek from the Eastern Cape to the Transvaal. She was only 17 when she married Philippus Andries MINNAAR, 31, in Pietermaritzburg and became stepmother to his three children by his first wife. During their marriage, she bore ten children, three of whom preceded her in death. Her husband died when their youngest child was a baby, and she was a widow for at least 35 years. Just listing the bare facts leads me to conclude that she must have been a strong, hard-working woman.

I have found baptism records for most, but not all, of the couple’s ten children. Helena’s 1904 Death Notice lists both her living and recently deceased children in what appears to be chronological order. After reviewing these sources and estimating the birth years for those whose baptism records have not yet been found, I feel reasonably sure that I have a complete list of the family members.

Family of Philippus Andries MINNAAR (1813 – ca. 1868)
Helena Dorothea STEYN (1827 – 1904)
Married 11 Nov 1844

1) Petronella Helena (b. 18 Oct 1845)

2) Johannes Christoffel (b. 4 May 1848) = Cecilia Magdalena MEINTJES

3) Martha Susanna (b. ca. 1850) = Stephanus LOMBARD

4) Stephanus Izaak (b. 21 Jan 1853)

5) Hendrik Nicolaas (b. 27 May 1855)

6) Daniel Frederik Jacobus (b. 2 May 1857)

7) Helena Dorothea (b. 1861) = George William DARGON

8) Ernestina Katherina (b. ca. 1863) = J. J. HAUPT

9) Pieter Frederik (b. ca. 1865) = Johanna Gertruida DE BEER

10) Augusta Cecilia (b. ca. 1867) = Frederick WARREN

I will continue to search the microfilmed church records for the missing birth dates, while hoping that the records will soon be available online at FamilySearch. The time saved from driving to the Family History Center could then be spent poring over records at any time of the day or night.

Research Notes

It seems likely that Helena’s stepchildren also included Andries’s stepson from his first marriage to the widow Anna Christina MARÉ, whose first husband and son were both named Edward William WALKER.

Although I was initially puzzled by the names of the children, with Helena’s STEYN family represented more prominently than that of the MINNAAR family, the mystery was solved by Genealogieë van die Afrikaner Families in Natal (GAFN). The GAFN gives the names of Philippus Andries’s children by his first wife, with the oldest being named after his father (Philippus Petrus) and the second child being named after his mother (Susanna Sophia). Hence, these names were not available when he started a second family.

The birth and death dates for Philippus Andries and Helena Dorothea are derived from sources other than those mentioned in this post. These sources will be provided in future posts that focus on the two birth families.

The birth dates for Petronella Helena (named after her maternal grandmother) and Johannes Christoffel (named after his maternal grandfather) are found in GAFN with the source given as the “Doopregister – Pietermaritzburg, 1841 tot 1883.” This baptism register has not been microfilmed by the Family History Library so I cannot yet verify the dates.

The birth dates for children 4) through 7) were found in Family History Library microfilm #1439118 – “Parish registers, Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk, Potchefstroom (Transvaal), 1838-1987. Christenings 1842-1887 1891-1907 1913-1987,” although I must ascertain the specific month and day for 7) Helena Dorothea.

Martha Susanna’s birth year of 1850 is an estimate based on an age of 69 at the time of her death on 3 Sep 1919 as given on her gravestone, a photograph of which is shown on the site of The Genealogical Society of South Africa.

Helena Dorothea’s 1904 Death Notice mentions the estates of two of her sons, Stephanus Izaak and Hendrik Nicolaas, both of whom had died the previous year. However, it does not include her oldest child, Petronella Helena, so she probably died some years before.

Ernestina Katherina’s name was entered on her mother’s Death Notice as “Ernestina, Katherina wife of J. J. HAUPT.” At first, it appeared that this entry referred to two different persons. However, all of the other children are listed on separate lines. It seems that the clerk misplaced the comma, intending it to go after the second given name. Locating the baptism record would likely verify this conclusion.

The names of the children’s spouses were found either in their mother’s Death Notice or in a family tree forwarded to me without source citations. This information needs to be confirmed by marriage or probate records.

Oh, what tempting titles I found in when I typed in the search term <natal families>! Most of the titles are available at various U. S. libraries through inter-library loan. However, Some Old Natal Families: A Compact Method of Recording Histories and Family Trees by Kathleen Power McIntosh is a tantalizing title only available from used-book dealers for $100. If anyone owns this book, I would appreciate a copy of the Table of Contents to determine whether it might be of use for my research.

Next Steps

1) Obtain copies of the baptismal records from Pietermaritzburg for both Petronella Helena and Johannes Christoffel.

2) Locate or verify the birth and baptism dates for the rest of the children in Family History Library microfilm #1439118 – “Parish registers, Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk, Potchefstroom (Transvaal), 1838-1987. Christenings 1842-1887 1891-1907 1913-1987.”

3) Locate the marriage records for MINNAAR family members in Family History microfilm #1492538 – “Parish registers, Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk, Potchefstroom (Transvaal), 1838-1987 – Marriages 1838-1937.”

This entry was posted in DARGON, DE BEER, HAUPT, LOMBARD, MARÉ, MEINTJES, MINNAAR, STEYN, WALKER, WARREN and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Natal Marriage #2: P. A. MINNAAR – H. D. STEYN (1844)

  1. Betsy Shafer says:

    more progress! this is heartening – i do feel the women must have been worn down to nubbins by the time they died, but some of them lived on and on having child after child . . . and going across countries in covered wagons (none of mine in Africa, but i have inlaws who were severely affected for the rest of their lives (not having feet will do that to ya!) by the very arduous Mormon trek) – b

    • Mary Beth says:

      Hello, Betsy,

      When I read about the Voortrekkers, I tend to think in terms of American pioneers as portrayed in the movies. In fact, there is probably a closer correlation between the Afrikaners who left the Eastern Cape in the mid-1830s and the Mormons who left Illinois in 1846, both in their reasons for trekking and the hardships they experienced. Thank you for reminding me of this.

      Mary Beth

  2. Pingback: Revised De Villiers/Pama Code: H. N. MINNAAR (1855 – 1903) | QUESNELL & POOLE Families in South Africa

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