By Vivienne Lewis Leverington
“Now I know why my mother’s family always seemed to think they were better than my father’s side of the family!” my mom laughed.
My mom had always had a great affection for her father’s family. When she retired, she started to show an interest in her root (as you often do when you get older), and had been given a copy of The Settler Handbook, by MD Nash.
I had always known I was from the Gardner and Wild 1820 Settler families. And in the book mom found that Gardner was a Party leader and a plater; and on her father’s side, Wild was a labourer.
My maternal grandmother was a Gardner and my maternal grandfather was a Wild.
Edward Gardner and his wife Mary left on board the Sir George Osbourne. They had their children Hezekiah 8, James 5 and Elizabeth 5 with them. Elizabeth died while at sea and Mary gave birth to a son John during the voyage. Their party were located in the Kariega River valley, south west of Grahamstown. They called it New Birmingham.
Abraham Wild and his wife Ann, together with their kids Betty 8, Abraham 6, Maria 3 and Henry 1, sailed on the John and were part of the Stanley Party. They were settled along the Blaauwkrantz River in an area named Trentham Park.
Abraham, the son, married Ann Payne. She was daughter of Elijah Payne from Longdridge Deverill and part of the Ford Party. They both lived and died on the Wooldridge Farm in Peddie.
My Interest was Sparked
This sparked my interest and eventually mom passed her book to me. As she did not have the advantage of the internet and ancestral websites, I found a few scraps of paper inside the book. One note had part of a Gardner family tree drawn up by someone who was in another branch. They had also added few notes on it that were pertaining to their own line. One piece of paper showed how mom had tried to link the Gardner and Wild families. She had the beginning and the end, but none of the middle generations.
Coming from a small family is a genealogical disadvantage. With a large family there is always someone who knows, someone who remembers the tales. My mom was one of two children, and her parents were from two or three, some dying young. My grandparents also seemed to move around a lot. They were both born in Pretoria as their families migrated through the Free State and into the Transvaal. They had also lived in Rhodesia.
I remember hearing about their lives when they lived in Bulawayo. They ran the tearoom at the mouth of the Kowie River which was where my parents met and married. My grandparents then took up a role of running a hotel in Tulbach in the Western Cape. Sadly, as a result of this packing up and moving around, they ended up with no ‘family stuff’.
YAY for the internet!
Yay for the people who have spent years inputting all the information and records!
Yay for the people who have done years of research and made it available to us. Without them I would have little or no idea.
I am slowly piecing my family history together and learning about their stories , including what life was like for them in the UK. They made a huge decision to leave all they knew to take on a life they knew nothing of. I have read accounts of the voyage, what it was like landing in the middle of nowhere, horrifically losing children through death from illness or starvation. I have seen how they linked in to many of the other Settler families and how they carved a life for themselves. They played a huge part in building and developing the South Africa that we all know and love.
In the process I have made contact with my cousin who I have not seen for years. She is working on the same family tree. I have found second, and third cousins spread across the world. The more I research and uncover, the stronger the bond I feel with those pioneering families. They just wanted a better life for their children!
I have now come full circle and am living in the UK. I wanted a better life for my children too. I am grateful for the experience of growing up in ‘a colony’. It gave me a different outlook on life. I developed a sense of not expecting to be given anything and not feeling like I was owed anything.
I am Grateful!
The further I ‘travel’ on my historc journey, the more proud I am of my ancestors – extremely proud!
People in the UK have never heard of the migration of settlers to South Africa in 1820. But I want them to know about these amazing people who showed courage, strength and endurance travelling to Africa. Their accomplishments contributed to a beautiful country that will forever hold our hearts.
I want to remember and honour them.
Vivienne Lewis Leverington can be contacted on: firstname.lastname@example.org
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