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Koppies

History

The town was founded in 1910 and obtained municipal status in 1926. Preceding the town was the establishment of a settlement, Roodepoort in 1907, this was somewhere near the present village. We still have to find it. It was established by C.R.de Wet, the boer general, but in this case as minister of agriculture of the Orange River Colony to alleviate poverty among the Boers. An other link to Christiaan de Wet is given here, it provides many more details. And talking of Christiaan de Wet, whilst searching the internet for information on this person I also came across an interesting piece of information. He had a brother, Piet de Wet, who had also been very successful in the early stages of the war but surrendered to the British when it became apparent to him that the war was lost and he actually became a joiner. In this position he was trying to convince the burgers of the Free State to make peace with the British to prevent further destruction.
Another important event was the 1914 Rebellion, which started near this town, with C.R.de Wet playing a major role.

Boer War action

Koppies rail bridge renosterspruitThere has been quiet a bit around here. The main column of the British forces came up from Bloemfontein following the rail way line on their way to Johannesburg. Koppies did not exist in those days.
One of the first guerrilla actions of the Boers was to blow up the railway bridge over the Rhenosterspruit. The picture shows the bridge as it is now.This was to hinder the flow of material to the front line troops. It necessitated the British to establish a depot at Rooiwal.
On the 7-June-1900 the Boers under the command of Christaan de Wet attacked the depot at Rooiwal and the construction camp at the bridge.
Koppies boer war memorial There were casualties in both skirmishes marked by a graveyard at Rooiwal and one near the bridge. The site at the bridge does not only contain the remains of the British but also one burger. This is unusual since in general we find British and Boer soldiers buried separately. Its a nice touch, symbolising that in death we are all the same.
Koppies British graves at Rooiwal




Vredefort Road Concentration camp

The camp has long gone, but the cemetery has remained and can be visited. It is situated next to the railway line between Koppies and Greenlands, about 4km from Greenlands station, position -27.152665° 27.652622°. From the report of the Vredefort Road concentration camp the camp was established about middle of 1900 and finally closed on the 15 September 1902. It was one of the problem camps and it is interesting to read that the report mostly blames the in-mates for the state of affairs.
Koppies de wet speech 1902It has to be noted that there were two different classes of people in the camp. There were those that had their farms destroyed by the British and then those where the husband had surrendered and they were harassed by the Boers and found themselves in the refugee camp. The picture below is from the book "Die Buuren und der Südafrikanische Krieg", the caption translated reads 'Wife's of some Boers whose husbands had surrendered to the English were driven from their farms by the still fighting boers and have to pull the wagon themselves with all their belongings to the nearest English garrison'
Koppies boer wifes
In June 1902, after the peace had been signed, General de Wet came to the camp as reported by the Barrier Miner on Monday, June 9, 1902, an Australian newspaper. It is not coincidence that he came this way, his farm is near Koppies. It has been Koppies concentration camp cemeteryreported that he set up his family on the farm in a tent and than went off to Europe on a charity drive with General Botha.









Road bridge

Koppies road bridgeNowadays the roads go around the village. But for many years the main road went through the village and crossed the Rhenosterspruit about one kilometer out of town to the south. The road to get to it is hardly passable.

Railway Station

This station is still very active, it is actually a stop for the main line passenger service.


NG Churches

Koppies NG churchKoppies old churchThe first church built in Kopje (as it was called in Ref 4) was the Nederduits Gereformeerte Kerk. The exact date of when it was built is not known to me, but I do know from Ref 4 that the building was initiated by Ds MD Odendaal who was the minister from 1909 to 1911. The original church bell seen on the right side of the picture showing the old church, has been preserved and is now standing with the new church (middle of the picture).
We found two churches of the NG Kerk, and what is surprising both built at the same time with completion in 1963. One of them in the centre of town and the 2nd one on the west side of the railway line, known as the Weltevrede church. There must be some story behind this which I still have to find out about. Could somebody from Koppies please inform me?
It worked, here is the answer from information supplied by Marthinus du Toit. Weltevrede is a dogterkerk (daughter church) of the Koppies church, the moederkerk. They built a new church in 1963. It was rev.JJ Du Preez of the moeder gemeente (mother congregation) who insisted that they should also get a new church. Koppies NG church Their church building, as described above, was actually not a church but was rather classified as a church hall (kerk saal), which had served them since the early days of the century. The proposal caused a heated debate, but eventually the dominee succeeded and the old kerk saal was demolished to make room for a new church.

I am having a bit of a problem with translation, the terms dogterkerk, moederkerk, moeder gemeente are not found in my dictionaries, translating this to daughter church, mother church and mother congregation just doesn't sound right, but there you are, that is how I translated it.
Since I have pictures of both these churches, lets have a look at the corner stones for comparison. The styles of both buildings are very similar and one would suspect the same architect. Koppies church: stone laid 18-05-1963 by Ds SJ du Preez, architect Keet & Le Roux. The Weltevrede church, corner stone laid 16-03-1963 by Ds JI Bornman, architect B DE W Hartman.




References:
Ref 1: 'Standard Encyclopedia of Southern Africa', 1972
Ref 2: Christiaan Rudolf de Wet,'Three Years' War', CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS, 1902
Ref 3: Joseph Kürschner, 'Die Buuren und der Südafrikanische Krieg', Deutscher Kunstverlag, 1902
Ref 4: "Ons Kerk Album van Hollandsche Kerken en Leeraren", publisher: unknown, printed in the 1920's

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