The Natal Midlands Branch of the Genealogical Society of South Africa is based in Pietermaritzburg, the capital of Kwa Zulu Natal and the location of the Pietermaritzburg Archives.

The branch is currently under the curatorship of the KwaZulu-Natal Family History Society (KZNFHS).
KZNFHS/GSSA meets on  third Wednesday of every month (except third Wednesday of December and the first Wednesday of January) at 5:30pm for 6:00pm, at the Church of the Nazarene, 383 Burger Street, Pietermaritzburg. Extensive research sources  are available to researchers at all meetings and monthly speaker evenings are held where topics range from pure genealogy to local history on the third Wednesday of the month.

Members have a wide range of genealogical interest of settlers to Natal including those from St Helena and from India.

We are fortunate to have members who are specialists in their respective fields, such as Shelagh Spencer on early British settlers, Dr. Krish Moodley on Indian settlers, Dr Mike O’Connor on Irish ancestry, to name a few.

The Chairman is willing to open the library at other times on request.

A Trubute to Val Ward

Died on Thursday 10th March 2016. She’d been suffering from cancer which was diagnosed late in August last year. Val became a member of The Natal Inland branch of The Family History Society in 2005 and this year was made an honorary member.
Val was born in Durban and schooled there, lived in Hong Kong and England and as an archaeologist, in and out of the field, was extremely well travelled. She returned to South AFRICA in 1980 when Val Wardshe was offered a position at the Natal Museum in Pietermaritzburg. She was involved with an extraordinary amount of research and the management of collections during those years and even after her retirement in 1998.
Even now she has an article in production, which her co-author Justine Wintjes will take through to publication this year. Val’s other published work starts with a 1979 book titled ‘Stone Adzes of Hong Kong’ (She lived there for 5 years in the 1970’s) . Through the next 30 years she wrote articles covering Rock-Art, Stone Age and historical material related to Kwa Zulu Natal.
Val was a life member of the South African Archaeological Society and served many years on the Natal branch committee. In 1999 the Society awarded Val its President’s award, given for exceptional service to archaeology. In her retirement she was contracted to capture the Museums entire site-record database of some 6000 sites in KwaZulu-Natal, in electronic format. The data base is now available on the national SAHRIS heritage system and is just one example of Val’s remarkable contribution to our knowledge of the South African past.
After she retired in 1998 she began an intensive sixteen years of genealogical research, making eight trips to England to do further research. In 2014 she completed MY ROOTS in six volumes, detailing her ancestors.
We have been given a copy of her comprehensive ‘Autobiography’ which was recently printed and some members will know about the enormous amount of Genealogical research she had completed, not only about her own family, but for many other people.
Over the years Val was regularly asked to give talks to our Society on some aspect of her genealogical research and the ones based on her trips overseas and visits to the Kew Archive in London were really special. I remember the fascinating talk she gave about Stone-Age sites around our City. She was always very willing to help other researchers and was a regular at our Archive events.
Val kindly donated a large number of books and her personal research material to The Family History Society which will be of enormous benefit to our members.
She will be sadly missed.

John Deare

Custodians of Memory

Decades ago, when I was about six years old, my parents and I spent a night at the Plough Hotel in Longmarket (now Langalibalele) Street in Pietermaritzburg’s city centre. To my great excitement, in the early hours of the morning the sprawling, corrugated-iron-roofed building across the street came to life. As I remember, standing at the window in my pyjamas, out of the half-light emerged a noisy armada of small trucks and horse-drawn carts loaded with fruit and vegetables.
Years afterwards, the Plough Hotel became a retirement lodge named Ken Collins House, which later was demolished to make way for the parking lot of City Square Spar. Later still, Nando’s and Boxer outlets were built on part of the footprint of the vanished hotel.

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From Germany to Alfred County, Natal

A Journey Down Memory Lane
The Move to Africa 1883
From Germany to Alfred County, Natal
By Eckhard von Fintel, 17 July 2013

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 On Saturday 25 May 2013 the German South African Cultural Society South-Natal organised a journey down memory lane to remember the arrival of German settlers in Alfred County (also known as Alfredia) in 1883, 130 years ago. Alfred County lies between the Mzumkulu and Mtamvuma Rivers and reaches westwards to the Ingelirange of mountains. Its eastern border is the sea.   A group of “German Settlers” The “Settlers” about to set foot

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in their new “Heimat” The activities started off early in the morning with a trip of “German Settlers”, mostly descendants of the original settlers, on a boat of Brian Lange the Captain, to re-enact their landing at the Spillers Wharf bank of the Umzimkulu River. The Spillers Wharf was used as a landing place due to difficulties at S. Wharf.
The Group of "German Settlers" was accompanied by Renold Sayers the great grandson of the late Ferry Master Bill Sayers. (Renold played the role of Bill Sayers).

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On arrival Peter Stoppel jr., a great gransson of Reverend Peter Stoppel, welcomed the arriving “German Settlers”. Reverend Peter Stoppel was the German Missionary who motivated the "Move to Africa" in 1883. This was followed by a celebratory Zulu dance performed by a group of young Zulus from Umzumbe. Then Mr Shinga, a retired head master from the area and cousin of the former chief, welcomed the group.
Thereafter all participants proceeded along a historic route as follows: Proceed to Lot 7 Albersville, the land allocated to H. F. Fynn by King Shaka and now a trust land for the descendants of H. F. Fynn and Bill Saunders.
Then travelled along Albersville Road and viewed the property originally owned by the Albers family who were part of the 1883 settlers. Thereafter travelled through Marburg, named after the City of Marburg in Germany (along Wimpy, Venus & Dairy Roads) and stopped at the Marburg Primary School.
Then the procession went to the site of the Marburg Lutheran Mission Station, established by Reverent Peter Stoppel in 1867. Viewed the grave yard and then gathered in the church to listen to a talk by Oscar Brüggerman, Chairman of the local

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German South African Cultural Society South-Natal and descendant of a pre-1883 settler, on the history of the mission station.
Thereaftrer proceeded to the Bethany Lutheran Church, Izotsha, and viewed the church buildings which were
initiated by the 1883 settlers. In the church hall pictures and artefacts of the early settlers were displayed. Also
various family books were available for the visitors to browse through. Thereafter Oscar Brüggemann gave another
presentation, this time on the history of the German Congregation. This was followed by a finger lunch. In the
afternoon descendants of the settler families had an opportunity for an informal chat with coffee and cake


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Amafa 2012 Awards - Eckhardt von Fintel

Amafa presents nine awards at heritage event. Eckhardt von Fintel honoured.


During Heritage Month in September, the provincial heritage body Amafa presents it's annual awards. This year Eckhardt von Fintel was presented the Annual Amafa Award for his research and publications on the history and genealogy of the German community of KwaZulu-Natal

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Eckhardt von Fintel


In 2009 the Genealogical Society of SA made a certificate Award of Excellence for his dedicated service to the Genealogical community over many years. Eckhardt has a huge data base of information about early German Settlers and in fact has written a number of books on the subject. He has lectured extensively and has served on a number of committees related to Heritage and German Culture. He is a past Chairman of the Natal Midlands branch of the Genealogical Society of SA and has served on the committee for an extensive period.

Due to the fact that he was unable to attend recent National Annual General Meetings the certificate was only handed over in April of this year by the local chairman, John Deare.

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End of Year get-together 2011



Pictured are some of the 29 members who attended the traditional end of year get-together held at the picturesque Hydrangea House in Hilton . This made it less distance for our Howick members to travel. It was an ideal opportunity for our newer members to chat to more experienced researchers. Notably ,Shelagh Spencer, Dr. Mike O’Connor, Tessa King, Pam Barnes, Rodney Coyne, Eckhard von Fintel & Val Ward.


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Meet our Members - Dr Krish Moodley

Dr Krish MoodleyDr Krish Moodley is a retired chief specialist, obstetrics and gynaecology. He has been a member of The Family History Society for a number of years and has been particularly helpful in assisting Indians research their Indentured Labourer ancestors. He has also given talks to the branch on two occasions.

His grandmother, Annamah Vather was a very colourful character and he submitted a fascinating article about her to the Witness. She came to South Africa as a 16 year old girl accompanying her new husband, a 50 year old Grand Uncle. She died owning many properties and was the second-highest payer of rates in Pietermaritzburg.

The Society has found it particularly difficult to help Indians due to the difficulty in seeing documents held by the old department of Indian affairs, now Home Affairs.

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