Going back to before Johannesburg’s birth for this post…
Before the discovery of gold, the area was made up of various boer farms after which many of todays suburbs are named:
Laanglaagte, Braamfontein, Doornfontein, Diepkloof and Turffontein to name just a few. As a side note, some suburbs are named after wives of the farmers like Emmarentia and Judiths Paarl.
The main reef was discovered on the farm Laanglaagte and many of the surrounding farms were eventually sold off in pieces for mining or were eventually laid to become the suburbs we know today.
Gerrit Bezhuidenhout owned a 3500 hectare farm that covered the area from Bez Valley in the east to Melville in the west. The farm was transferred into the name of FJ Bezhuidenhout Senior in 1858. FJ Junior owned Turffontein and his farmhouse was apparently in the centre of where town is now (perhaps the mythical farm in Ellof street?)
In 1862 FJ senior sold/gave portions of the farm to GP Bezhuidenhout, CW Bezhudenhout & FJ van Dijk.
In 1871 GP sold his land to FJ van Dijk who in 1884 sold half to JJ Lindeque.
In 1886 CW sold a third of his land to Lourens Geldenhuis (who also owned Elandsfontein otherwise known as Bedfordview) Lourens passed on land to Frans, Dirk?? and Louw Geldenhuis which covered roughly Greenside & Linden area. Frans’ original home is now the clubhouse at Mark’s Park and Louw’s farmhouse is in Greenhill road Greenside. The family cemetary is in Hill road (and will be the subject of another post)
Bezhuidenhout Park in Bez Valley is the site of the Bezhuidenhout farmhouse (built in 1863) and family cemetary. The family donated the land for the park and stipulated that the house and cemetary be maintained. The farmhouse houses the Rotary headquarters and the cemetary is still there but sadly not in a great state.
In Jan 2011 I took a bunch of pictures of all the headstones and plaques I could find. There may be more buried under the long grass but these were visible. Like many cemeteries, one day there will be no one left alive who remembers or even know or care about their long dead relatives and the cemeteries will no longer be visited or properly maintained. Brixton and Braamfontein cemeteries are in danger of this in about 50 – 100 years from now unless declared a heritage site. These old cemeteries are plagued by vandals and scrap metal scavengers who even go so far as picking the metal lettering out of the headstones.
These are the names I could make out in the Bezhuidenhout cemetary:
JA Muller 1857 – 1909
Barend Christian Bezhuidenhout – 1859 – 1925
Adriana Maria Petronella Bezhuidenhout (nee Muller) 1862 – 1939
Frederik Jacobus Bedhuidenhout 1825 – 1900 Senior (His children were FJ Bez Jr, BC Bez, JA Muller (both above) PS Grobler, CFJ Meyer, WWJJ Bez & WAS Gouws
Judith Cornelia Etresia Bezhuidenhout (nee Viljoen) 1831 – 1904 (Same children as FJ above)
FJ & JCE’s headstone is the massive red granite one that originally had the angel on top. Inscriptions are on each upright with verses on the other sides.
Name unclear – Daughter of FJ & JCE 1856 – 1844
JA (Basie) Muller 1915 – 1940
Piet Retief 1910 – 1912 or (17) Son of PH and SA Bezhuidenhout
Gabriel Johannes Mathys Wolmarans 1882 – 1934
Willem Stephanus De Beer 1921 – 1930
Marie 1887 – 190? Daughter of BC and AMP Bezhuidenhout
Girl ?? 1910 – 1916 Daughter of WG & CM O’Reilly
Aleida Roorda (nee Pasman) 1879 – 1916
There are two plaques set in the ground that I can’t make out. Both are damaged but appear to both be Bezhuidenhouts.
I found an old picture of the cemetary in Eric Rosenthal’s 1974 book The Rand Rush (pic courtesy of South African Press Services) that shows where the broken angel came from. It’s the one at the top of this post.