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2017 Annual General Meeting

Our host this year was the Eastern Cape Branch and we were all accommodated and made very welcome at the Victoria and Albert Guest House, conveniently situated minutes from the Airport. This historic building was reputedly once the hunting lodge of Lord Milner, Governor of the Cape Colony from 1897, and has been tastefully restored and provides accommodation and conference facilities.

The guest house was named after Queen Victoria and her second son, Prince Alfred, who visited the Cape Colony in 1860 as a sixteen year-old Royal Navy Midshipman in HMS Euryalus. This was the first-ever visit by a member of the Royal Family. On a sunny September 17, 1860 he tipped the first load of stone to start construction of the breakwater for Cape Town’s first harbour and then sailed on to Port Elizabeth where on the 6th  August 1860 he celebrated his 16th birthday among its citizens.

And did you know that when, in 1874, he married Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia the London bakery Peak Freans made a small biscuit to commemorate the occasion and imprinted the Duchess’ name on it – Marie!

On the Friday evening about 20 of us joined Rose Trehaeven, a longstanding member of the Eastern Cape Branch, on a Ghost tour starting at the Port Elizabeth Club.

The Port Elizabeth Club was started in 1866 and was said to have been the best club in the Eastern Province. For many years, from 1866 until 1892, the original club was known as the Port Elizabeth Club and was the only such club in the city. In 1892 a second club, the St George’s Club was founded. The two clubs ran successfully for many years, but eventually, due to economic circumstances, it was decided for the two clubs to amalgamate. In 1998 the St George’s Club joined the Port Elizabeth Club and the new name for the club became the Port Elizabeth St George’s Club, generally known as “The Club”.  We walked the streets of Port Elizabeth for about two hours, listening to Rose’s fascinating tales of ghosts and apparitions. Some of the sightings have been quite recent. There were no appearsnces that Friday night though! 

All except one branch sent representatives and during registration we all got the chance to introduce ourselves to names we only knew on the computer and e-mails.

Then it was down to business. Thanks to the Internet meeting time has been cut considerably. Reports are circulated before hand and everyone is expected to have read them in advance.

Of interest will be Denis Pretorius’ report on the Webwinkel which is coming closer to reality. The success of the project depends on members being able to buy credits on line and this is where we had our first stumbling block. No one could agree on a new method of payment for our subscriptions which would make it possible to buy those credits and then have access to the web site immediately. Eventually it was agreed that a committee of four would come up with a solution and report back at the next meeting. The matter has to be resolved before we can open the web shop.

Another project in the not too distant future is the matter of Familia in 2020. That being the year we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the1820 settlers. We would like to have special “1820” editions of Familia throughout that year and we are asking branches to ask members to start on articles and liaise with the editor of Familia or the NEC as to the subject matter. The reason being we don’t want duplications.

Simon du Plooy (President), Ferdie van Wyk (Vice–President) and Gerrit Muller and Margaret Gundry were re-elected. Cathy Potgieter volunteered to take on the position of Secretary. The position of Treasurer was not filled but Banie Engelbrecht will carry on, assisted by Gerrit Muller, until a replacement is found.

We are again without an editor for Familia but the NEC commited themselves to make sure that Volume 54 Number 1 2017 will be issued in the very near future.

The Gala dinner was a very successful affair. I don’t think the talking stopped, even when the food was served! From the noise level I would say everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The speaker, Professor Otto Terblanche gave an overview of the Kohler and Hendrickse families of Port Elizabeth and their role in the development f Port Elizabeth.

The annual awards were presented by GSSA President Simon du Plooy.  Fellow (Richard Ball) and Genealogist of the Year (Sue Mackay) were both awarded to overseas members. These awards were accepted on their behalf by the Chairman of eGSSA, Alta Griffiths. Publication of the Year was awarded to Nicol Stassen for his book on The Dorslandtrek 1874 – 1881 and his trophy was accepted by Otto Diederichs of Northern Transvaal Branch on his behalf. It will be presented to Nicol at their next meeting. Golden Banner certificates were awarded to Dirk van Heerden and Linda Farrel while the President’s Extra Mile Award certificates were presented to Cheryl Vermaak, Peter Gouws, Max White, Abrie de Swardt and The South East Wits Family History Society.

Five, ten and fifteen year membership awards, as well as long service awards were also given to the Chairmen of GSSA and Vaal triangle to be handed out to their members.

Our sincere thanks to the members of the Eastern Cape Branch for hosting the AGM 2017. It will be a hard act to follow next year in George.

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