The history of Gatsrand from the settling of the trekker community circa 1839 until the proclamation of Carletonville in 1948
Van Eeden, Elize S
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Gatsrand (as a series of ridges) is not only a well-known geographical feature in the Western Transvaal, but it also features prominently as a definite area in the settlement history of the whites in the Transvaal. In fact, the first farms in this area were registered simultaneously with farms in the neighbouring Mooi River area. Owing to the inhabitants’ agrarian predisposition up to the early years of the twentieth century, agriculture and stock farming formed the basis of the area’s economic infrastructure. Initially, the Potchefstroom market was the nearest outlet for products. Later on, products were also sold in Johannesburg, as well as at Randfontein and Krugersdorp. In the process of the development of this enterprise, stock diseases, droughts, poverty and wars continually set the inhabitants back. Prior to the establishment of gold mines (since 1937) in the northern areas of Gatsrand, which enhanced economic development, the area’s development was mainly dependent on the subsistence needs of the surrounding towns. In this respect, the building of roads to places like Krugersdorp, Randfontein, Pretoria and Johannesburg was beneficial to the Gatsrand area, since all these routes passed through said area. Administrative duties were initially performed by a field cornet and later by a justice of the peace, who was subordinate to the magistrate of Potchefstroom. In a similar way, educational matters were dealt with by the Potchefstroom School Board. Until 1948, with the exception of Klipdrift School, there were only primary schools on several farms in the area – schools that had from one to four teachers. With outbreaks of illness, even the medical services in Potchefstroom rendered help in the Gatsrand area. Inhabitants had to travel to Potchefstroom, some of them covering great distances, if they were in need of medical care and facilities. Initially, the nearest centre for worship was also Potchefstroom. The first congregation in the Gatsrand area was founded in 1926 at Fochville, with boundaries that included the major part of this area. Since 1937, gold mine development provided definite advances in local development. Up to 1948, six towns had been proclaimed, congregations were established, and houses and roads were built to accommodate the growing number of inhabitants. This resulted in the establishment of numerous enterprises. The number of pupils increased and smaller schools had to amalgamate with larger ones. By 1948, it was apparent that the development in the Gatsrand area would be phenomenal due to the rich discoveries of the then established gold mines.
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