Early Victorian

Map4/196 in the Cape Archives is a beautiful example of early Victorian cartography. It is about 3m long and one metre wide. It is hand-drawn on cartridge paper, backed with cheese-cloth, rolled on to two wooden standards and tied with faded red-tape. It is in excellent condition. Its state of preservation is without a doubt due to the lack of public interest in it, which in turn points to a strong strain of conservatism in Jakkalsfontein history. “The best kept secret” indeed. The cartographer did not put his name to his work. The map was drawn in 1844.

The year 1844 falls in a particularly interesting period of local history. In the eastern parts of the sub-continent the Great Trek was almost over, while the emancipation of the slaves in 1834 brought about revolution in labour relations and production systems. Queen Victoria began her long reign in 1838. The local governors during this period were D’Urban, Napier and Maitland.

The map shows about 25 farms in the coastal strip known as the Slagters Veld (Butchers’ Field).

Those farms with a sea front are, from north to south, Yzerfontein, Tyger Fontein, Jakkals Fontein, Rondeberg, Krans Duinen, Modder Rivier, Ganze Kraal, Bocke Rivier, Buffels Rivier, Spring Fontein and Duine Fontein (now site of the nuclear power station).

Considering that the whole Slagters Veld used to belong to the government, who leased it to the contracted butchers, it is interesting to see that by 1844 most of the coastal farms were in private hands. The government still ran a much diminished Agricultural Estate, with its headquarters on Groote Post at the foot of the Kapokberg and the source of the Modder Rivier. Here there were three buildings, a windmill and a dam. The rest of the estate consists of Rondeberg, Smalle pad and Drie Papen Fontein, All lying side by side from West to East. Only.

Rondeberg had a building on it. The estate was a total of 7743 morgen in extent. The activities, other than agricultural, on the estate could have included hunting in the winter months and providing fresh meat and dairy products for favoured officials.

The remainder of Slagters Veld has been privatised. Yzer Fontein was given out to J.H. Blankenberg in 1842, as well as neighbouring Tyger Fontein in 1844. It is the next going south that really interests us: Jakkals Fontein was first granted to Pieter Ulrich Fischer on 25 may 1837. Its area was 1313.25 morgen. Its registration number was CF4.59. No building of any kind is shown on Jakkalsfontein on the 1844 map, but it is not necessarily uninhabited. There are several springs on the farm. The northern and bigger one is Groot Jakkals Fontein and the southern (smaller) one is Klein Jakkals Fontein. There are two smaller springs in the north and eastern corner of the property that are marked with a pencilled note:- 17 February 1898 discovered by his Hottentot Okkert. Five small salt pans on the eastern portion of the farm were leased to J.F. Ehlers on 25 September 1838. Coarse salt was always in demand, by butchers, fishermen and tanners.

Pieter Ulrich fisher, first owner of Jakkals Fontein was a great-grandson of his German ancestor Major Johan Fischer, Artillery Chief of the Dutch East India Company, who passed away in 1795 and whose coat of arms is still displayed in the Groote Kerk, Cape Town. Pieter’s grandmother was Sophia le Sueur, and an uncle and a brother were both named Ryk le Sueur. The absence of a building on the farm suggests that Pieter was a grazier and possible a butcher, or was contracted to one. And that it was Okkert the Shepherd, who had the privilege of the scenery, the solitude and everything else that we like about our Jakkalsfontein.

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