Retrospective: The Cemetery in the Circle

While rooting around my images I discovered some long forgotten images taken of what is probably the only cemetery in a traffic circle in the Southern Hemisphere. Clinton Hattingh took these pics back in 2011 as I never had the opportunity to get there myself.

To understand the “why” you really need to consider what this area looked like back when the cemetery was created. This was originally a farm cemetery associated with what was then the farm Elandsfontein.

Elandsfontein in 1908

There were no roads or town called Alberton back then, and  according to my info the first burial was that of Cornelius Floris Johann Meyer and an unidentified child who died in a freak snowstorm in 1851 while collecting firewood.  This area was really dominated by the Meyer family and Cornelius was the son of the Voortrekker Johan Georg Meyer.  The town Alberton was proclaimed in 1903 and the original Alberton cemetery was opened for use by 1938 (This may be what is known as “Florentia Cemetery” which I visited in 2007 and 2012). 

Gravestone erected by her husband Johannes Harnoldus Viljoen in memory of Anna Magdalena Viljoen nee MEYER 1843-1882

There is one more headstone with a name on it, and it is presumably that of a Steenkamp, child, date of death unknown. (image darkened to make it inscription legible)

Grave of I or J Steenkamp, child, date of death unknown. (image darkened to make it inscription legible)

In 1949 the cemetery was fenced and covered by a slab, many of the graves had lost their markers or were illegible and the end result was somewhat of an oddity.  It was planned to erect a plaque and the December 2014 Google Maps image shows a small group of 12 crosses across from the circle and what appears to be a half completed noticeboard.

My original information only listed 7 names but some rooting around revealed the 12 names that at presumably linked to the crosses.  

  • Unknown  Smit (child, may have died in the snowstorm along with Cornelius Meyer in 1851).
  • Cornelius Floris Johann Meyer (aged 10,  died in the snowstorm in 1851).
  • Krogh baby, child of Petrus Johannes and Anna Johanna Krogh.
  • Andries Delport,  died 1905, aged 5 months.
  • Jakobus Johannes Van Der  Merwe, died 1906, aged 9 months.
  • I or J Steenkamp, child, date of death unknown.
  • Katrina (surname and age unknown) died 1906.
  • Gerhardus Hartman, dairy owner, died 1910.
  • Jacomina Hendrina Viljoen, died 1862, age 2.
  • Johan Georg Meyer, died 1873, age 3.
  • Abraham Viljoen, died 1894, adult.
  • Anna Magdalena Viljoen (Veljoen on headstone), 1843-1882, adult.

As you can see from the list, half of those buried here were children, which confirms how vulnerable children were back then.  The cemetery may be found at the intersection of 9th Avenue and Hendrik Potgieter Street in Alberton.  (-26.257036269547065, 28.123048643509286). Like it or not this small circle is a historic piece of the town and as such should be preserved. Kudos to those that decided to retain this place instead of levelling it and loosing that history forever.

DRW © 2021. Created retrospectively, thanks to Clinton Hattingh for the photographs and to eGGSA for the name list. 

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