While reading a book of old postcards about Johannesburg I was surprised to find them mention a memorial at Jeppestown Oval. Naturally my first instinct was “War Memorial?”, my second was “When?” That area isn’t on my usual gravehunting route, in fact there is very little in the way of exciting memorials out between Johannesburg and Eastgate, and those that there are I have already visited. The major memorials are: The Bezuidenhout Valley War Memorial, the Scottish Horse Memorial on Caledonia Hill, and The Indian Army Memorial on Observatory Ridge. However, some research indicated that this was not a war memorial, but rather a memorial to Julius Jeppe. Rand pioneer and manager of Jeppe’s Township.
Seeing as I had a lunch date for the 6th of November I set up my untrustworthy GPS and made a detour. I usually drop off the highway at End Street and head East along Commissioner Street on the rare occasions when I head out this way. I usually keep my camera handy too because there are some real oldies in this area just crying out to be preserved, if not in real life, but as a jpg. The area I was after is called “Jeppestown Oval” which is a park, and probably was a popular recreational area in the very early days of Johannesburg. Today it looks like two basketball courts and a recreation centre.
The memorial itself is in a reasonably good condition, considering it supposedly was erected in 1892. Somehow though that date doesn’t quite fit, but until I know otherwise I will assume that my source is correct. The inscription is difficult to read, especially the date on it which could read 1893 or 1895. Luckily somebody else has transcribed it before, but in short it reads….
In Memory Of
Julius GEC Jeppe
The founder of Jeppestown
Lives of all good men remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And departing, leave behind us
Footprints in the sands of time.
Footprints that perhaps another
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main;
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Mark one more notch on the belt as they say, yet another memorial has been documented. While I was in that area I decided more pics were in order. There are a large amount of churches around here too, and some are really old and are no longer used by the denomination that they were originally built for. My personal favourite is on the corner of Mordaunt and Commissioner and the street front is only a small portion of this stunning oldie. This building was the former St Andrews Presbyterian Church, the foundation stone of which was laid in 1903. Interestingly enough this is the church that the Transvaal Scottish used for their annual service from 1950 until 1990 when the congregation amalgamated and the church was sold.
Just around the corner in “Op De Bergen” and Corrie Streets is the stunning old Dutch Reformed Church dating from 1906.
And, within site of the Jeppestown Oval is the Assembly of God Portuguese Community Church, another pretty old building that is still in use. I believe it was originally a synagogue.
To crown off my trip I grabbed a few pics in and around the area. Nothing like I could have, because the whole area is in dire need of research. Maybe one day in December when things are nice and quiet I will grab my camera and map book and go hunt down more oldies. I know that they are there.
That concluded my trip to find Julius Jeppe. Naturally its always interesting to put something tangible like this to a name. That whole area still carries his name in many ways. Jeppe High School, Jeppe Station, Jeppe Street, Jeppestown etc. I seem to think he is buried in Braamfontein Cemetery, so next time I am in that area I will go have a look. You never know, this page may still have an addendum.
I was correct, Julius Jeppe is buried in Braamfontein Cemetery, and the date that I am questioning is probably 1893, as the date on his grave is 16 June 1893.