The Surgeon from Wolfenbüttel
[This is a story that was published in the Cape Almanac]
When I first visited Tokai and noticed the plaque on the gateway of Tokai Manor, I was mildly interested as I noticed that the name “Teubes” was the same as that of my husband’s grandmother. I had understood that she had come from Germany so was unlikely to related, except possibly very distantly, and I thought no more about it.
However, once I became interested in family history, I started to explore these links more closely.
When I enquired of her surviving grandchildren what they knew of her origins I found that very little was known. One grand daughter said she wasn’t sure whether the surname was Teubes or Thebus but she thought that one of her brothers was called Francis Xavier and became a priest; the other was fairly sure the name was spelt Teubes and that the family came from Cape Town and had moved to Pretoria. They thought that she was one of 17 children. Neither knew what her first name was – they knew her as ‘Nanna’. She had married R. Basson, possibly Robert.
I was very excited when I joined the Cape Town Family History Society and Heather immediately set me on my way by sending me the NAAIRS references for death notices for Robert Owen Basson and Johanna Elizabeth Antoinette Teubes in the Archives in Pretoria.
Once I received copies of these, I knew I was on the right track although in the end I had to search through very many death notices and other documents before finding her line back to Andreas Georg Heinrich Teubes of Tokai. As a result, I have constructed quite a comprehensive Teubes family tree for a family that has deep roots in Cape Town. (I was rather surprised to find that she was born in Ladysmith, Natal although she married in Pretoria. Her parents were named as Dirk and Maria.)
AGH Teubes arrived in the Cape in 1769 as a soldier. He was born in about 1746 in Wolfenbüttel in Brunswick, a German Duchy, his father being Georg Steffens Teubes; and qualified as a surgeon in 1764. He became a burger in the Cape in 1775 and seems to have had a varied career until his death in 1807. He practiced as a surgeon, was a transport rider and a farmer. Unfortunately, his venture in Tokai lasted only a short time and ended in insolvency.
He married twice, in 1775 to Josina Catharina van Wielligh, granddaughter of another German immigrant, Nikolaus von Wielligh, and in 1791 to Anna Catharina Bosman. All the descendants I have traced come from this second marriage.
There were four children from this marriage, two of whom were sons. I eventually identified the youngest son, also Andreas Georg Hendrik (1792 – 1858), as the one to follow. He married Maria Elizabeth de Waal (1793 – , daughter of Daniel de Waal who was Commissioner of Civil Affairs and deputy president of the Orphan Chamber, and Rykie Hester van Brakel. They had at least ten children, information that took me some time to assemble as a number of them died before their parents and therefore did not appear on their parents’ death notices. AGH (2) lived in Green Point and appears in the 1849 Cape Almanac directory as a builder although on his death notice he is described by his wife Maria Elizabeth as an architect.
His second son, Johan Andreas (1820 – 1873), married Sara Catharina Henrietta Jurgens. He was a farmer in the Great Berg River district and when he died left a large family of small children. I was quite excited to find one of the sons was Franciscus Xaverius (1850 – 1927) but he did not become a priest.
Other sons Andreas Georg Hendrik (1815 – 1850) and Servaas (1826 – 1850) died within a few days of one another at their father’s home in Green Point although according to death notices and wills, they had been farming in the Swellendam district on a farm belonging to AGH (3). The record that I needed was the death notice of another son, Daniel de Waal Teubes (1818 – 1845), at the time of his death a clerk, also residing in Green Point. He married Johanna Elizabeth Antoinette van Reenen, daughter of Christian Daniel Dirk van Reenen and Maria Magdalena Becker. She was left with three small children, Maria Magdalena, Andreas George Hendrik and Christiaan Daniel Dirk.
At some stage she moved to Natal. Possibly she went there to join a younger brother who had established himself as a well-to-do farmer in the Harrismith and Ladysmith districts. Her son, Christiaan Daniel Dirk, known as Dirk, was a farmer first in the Weenen and then in the Ladysmith district. He married Maria Melville in about 1867 and among the many children they had was Johanna Elizabeth Antoinette Teubes ((1871 – 1941). It appears that Dirk went insolvent in about 1886, various agricultural disasters converging to make farming impossible and his other occupation of transport rider difficult. The family moved to the Pretoria district where Johanna Elizabeth Antoinette met and married Robert Owen Basson in about 1895.
One of her younger sisters, Emma, was a nun, an interesting piece of information I uncovered in another sister’s will, in which she stated that she had not left anything to Emma, not because she did not care for her but because she knew the Order in which she lived would always provide for her. In this will, she also made provision for the children of a younger brother, Frank, who had died as a young man. Possibly he was Franciscus Xaverius, but he clearly did not become a priest!
Johanna’s grandchildren remembered her as a loving, gentle person but with very progressive views regarding women’s rights and religion. She must have also had a good business head as she accumulated a portfolio of property to leave to her children.
De Villiers, C C. Genealogies of old South African Families, Cape Town, A A Balkema, 1966
Pama, C. Die Groot Afrikaanse Familienaamboek Cape Town, Human & Rousseau, 1983
Cape Almanac of 1849 CD transcribed by Scribes Ink.