Die ontstaans- en vestigingsgeskiedenis van Potgietersrus, 1852-1904
Du Plooy, Janetta
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Potgietersrus is one of the oldest towns in the Transvaal and at present no scientific study on the history of the town exists. It was therefore the aim of this study to obtain as much information as possible on the cultural and socio-economic lifestyle of the pioneers and to describe the events surrounding the foundation and establishment of the early white settlements in the Makapanspoort within a broader Transvaal milieu. Mutual differences between white and white and white and black led to the decision to found a town in the Makapanspoort but before the actual establishment could take place 28 whites were murdered in the Makapanspoort by the Ndebele. The founding of Potgietersrus is actually intertwined with the murders of 1854, the siege of Makapan's caves, the death of Piet Potgieter and the decision to name the proposed town Pieterpotgietersrust. The establishment of Potgietersrus as a town was gradual. Six years passed after the decision to found a town in the Makapanspoort (1852) and the actual occupation of Pieterpotgietersrust in 1859 because the Langa of Mankopane were only subjugated by the whites after various campaigns. The expected peace did not materialize and before the town could be permanently established it was burnt down by die Langa (1867) and in 1870 completely evacuated as a result of a serious malaria epidemic. After the evacuation of the town there was as period during which its history is obscure until the re-establishment of the town in 1890, that was followed by systematic development. The founding of Potgietersrus was finalized with the allotment of stands (1891-1894) and the provision of specific public services. Potgietersrus was still sparesely populated till late in the twentieth century. The hostile and aggressive attitude of the surrounding blacks; the unsuccessful attempts to subjugate the blacks to the ZAR; the regular threat of malaria, which strengthened the opinion that the area was more suitable for hunting, were possibly the most important factors which led to the drawn out establishment phase and also the slow growth of the town. In addition, the ruling social conditions, long distances and lack of efficient transport, and a self-providing economic system helped to slow down the establishment and occupation of Potgietersrus so that only minor signs of town development were discernible. Only after 1904 did actual town development start after the village council started paying attention to domestic matters in a more organized way. The general lifestyle of the inhabitants was poor. Church and spiritual work was made more difficult by die extended areas and formal school education only really began toward the end of the nineteenth century. In spite of this the people did grow spiritually. Hard work, perseverance and faith contributed to the establishment and development of Potgietersrus.
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