How Hoedspruit Came To Be | iinfo TZANEEN

A small town with an incredibly interesting history: that is Hoedspruit. Once upon a time…is almost how it reads. Let’s read on:
The very first official land owner of the farm Hoedspruit was Dawid Johannes Joubert.    He arrived in the lowveld in 1844 and settled in the area between the Blyde River and what is now known as the Zandspruit River.   
In 1848 on the 5th May, he registered the farm for the first time at the land office which was situated in Ohrigstad, making it the year that Hoedspruit started having any official recognition and registration towards the town and municipality that it is today.
A few years later, in the 1850’s, Ohrigstad was expanding and becoming the central town in the greater region, however, at the time, it was decided that only the older settlers should be allowed to settle in and around the immediate area of Ohrigstad. Anyone younger than 45 was encouraged to move further away from the town and settle elsewhere.   As a result a group of young men – all under 45 – made their way down the escarpment and settle in the area between the mountain and the Blyde River on a farm that they then called …. Jonkmanspruit.  A few of the other young men settled a little further on on the farm they called Welverdiend (meaning “well deserved”) and  another on a farm that he called Driehoek due to the shape of the farm itself.    These are some of the original names that still exist in the area today and are all situated around the edges of what was the original farm called Hoedspruit.
The name Hoedspruit itself was given by Dawid Johannes Joubert and was directly as a result of an incident after a major cloud burst on Mariepskop area in 1844 (when he first arrived in the area) which caused the “now called Zandspruit” to come down in a flash flood.  During this even he ended up losing his hat in the rushing river.   Bearing in mind that a hat in those days was an almost indispensable article to a farmer in those days and not something that could be easily replaced as there were not “hat shops” on every corner! This “epic event” in Dawid Joubert’s life, caused him to call the river the Hoedspruit (the Hat River) – as in the River that stole his Hat.
Dawid Johannes joubert also had a farm up in the Orighstad area and spent his time between the two. However, in 1860 he was sadly killed by a Leopard while on his farm in Ohrighstad.
During the years that the farm was owned by Dawid,  Hoedspruit farm that he had registered with the Land Office in Ohrighstad was huge and extended pretty much from the Blyde River to the Klaserie River and of course towards the town centre as it exists today.
At pretty much the same time a major dispute erupted between the Portugese  in the then Lourenço  Marques (Maputo),  and the South Africans in the then Transvaal Republic.   The Portugese insisted that the Drakensberg mountain range just behind the town of Hoedspruit was in fact the international border between Mozambique and South Africa and the South Africans were adamant that it was the Lebombo Mountains.   As a result Oom Paul Kruger, then president of the Transvaal Republic, called for a proper land survey study to be done and for the official border to be assessed and finalized.
There were no qualified land surveyors at the time so they had to be brought in from Europe. Three of the main surveyors coming into the area included Von Weilligh (after whom the large Baobab in the kruger park is named), Vos and Gillfillan.
While the land surveyors were in South Africa (or the Transvaal Republic as it was then), Oom Paul then declared that they should also officially mark out the various farm boundaries for the farms and regions along the Drakensberg mountains before returning  to Europe.   All the exceptionally large farms – such as the original Hoedspruit farm, were then divided up into smaller registered farms (although still belonging to and run by a single farmer).  It was then up to these European Land Surveyors to name all the official farms that they were formalizing and with little knowledge of any local cultures, languages or aspects, all the farms were given European names of cities, states and countries that they were obviously familiar with.  Thus it is that we currently live in an area where official farm names include names such as Essex, Madrid, Berlin, Richmond, Chester, Moscow, Dublin, Dundee, Fife etc. A pity, but also amusing, in a way.
That then, the fascinating history of how Hoedspruit was born. 

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