The History of the Family Bible of President Paul Kruger
Having a family bible is a well known Afrikaner tradition. The household of President Paul Kruger was no different. The family bible of Paul Kruger has had a very interesting history over the last 136 years. Dr. N. A Coetzee has published a number of articles on his successful search for the family bible. A article in the Rapport newspaper of 18 March 2001, shed light on the current whereabouts of the bible and it's recent history.
Dr. N. A Coetzee was very well known in historical and cultural circles and he was also member of the North-Transvaal branch of the South African Genealogical Society. The author had the pleasure of meeting the 88 year old Dr. Coetzee in 1999 and having him autograph some of the books he had written. Dr. Coetzee had written a genealogical book about the du Plessis family and wanted to know more about Paul Krugers first wife and their first child who past away with her.
Professor D.W Kruger, then retired professor in History at the Potchefstroom University mentioned in his book on Paul Kruger that the all the names of Paul Krugers family had been written in the bible in Paul Kruger’s own hand writing. Hoping that the full names and dates of the child and mother might be written in the bible, Dr. Coetzee started a search that lasted four years. Professor D.W. Kruger mentioned that the bible was last in the possesion of the antique dealers of Israel & Co of Amsterdam Holland.
From the information provided by Professor D.W Kruger in his book it is quite clear that he must have seen and examined the bible. He also provided insight into the earlier history of the bible. He writes on page 35, foot note no. 27:
“The names of all of the children can be found in the handwriting of Paul Kruger in the bible that was presented to him on 27 December 1864 by pastor Karl Hohls of the Hermannsburg-missionary. The Bible was last in the possession of Israel & Co. of Amsterdam.”
Professor Kruger also wrote on page 82, footnote 15:
“This book has had a remarkable history. During the Anglo-Boer War it was given to the Magato for safe keeping by Piet Kruger who was then the Field Cornet of his ward.
The article in Rapport with a picture of the Bible being
held by Me. Irene Joubert and Mr. Johan Roode.
--2--Thus it was saved from destruction because the house and outside buildings at Boekenhoutfontein was damaged by the British and to a large degree destroyed.The strong walls were fortunately capable of with standing even cannon fire.
In April 1902 shortly before the peace it was discovered by a British patrol. It was taken to England where it came into the possession of Lord Harmsworth. In 1949 it was bought on an auction at Sotheby’s in London by the book merchants, Israel & Co. of Amsterdam for the sum of £155.
Dr. Coetzee made enquires at the Kruger House Museum and at the National Cultural History Museum but neither knew anything about the whereabouts of the bible. He made contact with the firm Israel & Co. and received the following reply:
“In response to you enquires of 7 July 1980 and 22 July 1980 we wish to inform you that we had indeed had the bible mentioned. It was however sold about 15 years ago to a Dutchman who went to South-Africa. His name and address is not known to us.”
Dr. Coetzee then wrote an article on the decendants of Paul Kruger and Gezina du Plessis which appeared in the periodical “Pretoriana No 80” and included a plea to anybody with information regarding the Bible, to come forward.
In 1984 the new editor of Pretoriana, Dr. C. de Jong renewed the call in the media for information on the whereabouts of the Bible. The call received extensive coverage in the newspapers, on radio and resulted in Dr. Coetzee making contact with the son of the immigrant who bought the Bible from Israel & Co. and who was in possession of the Bible.
In his book, The history of Rustenburg 1840-1940 , Dr. Coetzee included quotes he has written down from the notes in the Bible and also includes a copy of the page written by Paul Kruger of the names of his children.
Dr. Coetzee noted that it was a State Bible printed in 1686, Hendrik en Jacob Keur, Amsterdam by Marcus Doornick & Co. and that the size was 45cm x 29cm x 12cm.
He found notes in the Bible that gives insight into the history of the Bible:
K. Hohls who gave the Bible to Paul Kruger wrote” Zijn van Mijn in Hermansburg in Natal de 7 December 1864. Den Weldelen, Heer P. Kruger, Kommandant Generaal der ZAR woonachtig in de district van Rustenburg. een teeken der eerbiedighied van Uwe vriend. K. Hohls. Superintendent der Hermansburg. Sendelinggenootschap in Afrika.“
Given by me at Hermansburg in Natal on the 7 December 1864 to P. Kruger Commandant General of the ZAR living in the district of Rustenburg as a sign of respect from your friend K. Hohls. Superintendent of the Hermansburg Missionary in Africa.
Dr. Coetzee also found text similar to the following, in the Bible:
“This bible was taken from the Hut of some blacks in April 1902 from Magatostadt near Rustenburg, Transvaal, South Africa, by some men of the 1st Sherwood Foresters whom I was ordered to send to the above Stadt (village) to make prisoners certain blacks who had been giving information to the Boers in the District. As this Stadt is quite near to the Piet Kruger’s farm (son of the president) it is quite evident that they either stole it from his house or that it was given into their charge for safekeeping. ”
Various other articles including carpets, pictures etc. were also found there - G.F. de Pledge. The Sherwood Foresters. Commandant Magoto Wyk"
Dr. Coetzee further mentions that the owner of the Bible had requested not to be identified at that stage.
On the 18th of March 2001 an article appeared in an Afrikaans, South African Sunday newspaper “Rapport” and was written by Johanna van Eeden. The article was titled the last resting place for the Kruger Bible.
It identified the son of the immigrant who brought the Bible back to South Africa as Mr. Jacob Kruidenier. The bible was purchased from him in 1985 by a Dr. A. Shapira and in 1993 it became the property of Dr. Bill Schulenberg.
When Dr. Schulenberg passed away in November of 1997 it was inhertited by his daugther Mrs. Irene Joubert. The Bible is now in the possesion of the Roode Family Trust who in 1993, purchase the Kruger House in Clarens, Switerland, where the President passed away on 14 July 1904. Mr. Johan Roode mentions in the article that it is the intention to place the Bible in the President's room as the Bible's last resting place.
As mentioned the information written by Paul Kruger in the Bible has been recorded by Dr. Coetzee:
S J P Kruger - List of my family
I was born in the year 1825 on the 10th October
My wife Geziena Zuzana Vrederieka duplessis was born in the year 1831 on the 5th May and my son Casper Jan Hendrik was born in the year 1847 on the 22th December
and my daugther Catriena Helena was born in the year 1849 on the 9th December
and my son Jan Adriejan was born in the year 1851 on the 30th June
and my daugther Elsie Vranciena was born in the year 1853 on the 19th March
and my daugther Geziena Zuzana Vredrieka Willemiena was born in the year 1855 on the 7th June
and my son Stevanus Johannes Paulus was born in the year 1856 on the 21st November
and my daugther Anna Johanna Mariia Aletta was born in the year 1857 on the 17th March.
and my son Stevanus Johannes Paulus was born in the year 1861 on the 23st July.
and our twins Dauw Gerdbrant and Niecolaas Jakobus were born in the year 1862 on the 11th June.
and my son Pieter was born in the year 1864 on the 4th October, and my daugther Zoveja Margrieta was born in the year 1866 on the 28th October
and my daugther Alieda Berendiena was born on the 7th September 1868
and my son Tjaart Andries Petrus was born in the year 1873 on the 9th October.
Paul Kruger does not however mention his first wife and child.
The Dutch text reads:
S J P Kruger Lijs van mijn huisgezint
Zin Auw der dommen
in het Jaar 1825 is ek gebooren den 10 october in mijn vrauw Geziena Zuzana Vrederieka duplessis
is gebooren in het Jaar 1831 den 5 mij
in mijn Zoon Casper Jan Hendrik is gebooren in het Jaar 1847 den 22 deetsember
in mijn dogter Catriena Helena is gebooren in het Jaar 1849 den 9 deetsember
in mijn Zoon Jan Adriejan is gebooren in het Jaar 1851 den 30 Junij. in mijn dogter Elsie Vranciena is gebooren
in het Jaar 1853 den 19 Maart in mijn dogter Geziena Zuzana Vredrieka
Willemiena is gebooren in het Jaar 1855 den 7 Junij
in mijn Zoon Stevanus Johannes Paulus
is gebooren in het Jaar 1856 den 21 november
in mij dogter Anna Johanna Mariia Aletta
is gebooren in het Jaar 1857 den 17 maart.
in mijn Zoon Stevanus Johannes Paulus
is gebooren in het Jaar 1861 den 23 Julij
in ons tweeling (Dauw Gerdbrant in Niecolaas Jakobus)
Zijn is geboren in het Jaar 1862 den 11 Junij.
in mijn Zoon Pieter is gebooren in het Jaar 1864 den 4 october
in mij dogter Zoveja Margrieta
is gebooren in het Jaar 1866 den 28 october
in mij dogter Alieda Berendiena
is gebooren op den 7 sevende september 1868
En mijn zoon Tjaart Andries Petrus
ben gebren En het jaar 1873 den 9 october.1