An investigation into the historical context of graves exhumed on the farm Wemmershuis 379JT, Belfast
Van Vollenhoven, Anton C
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The South African National Road Agency Limited (SANRAL) requested Archaetnos to exhume historical graves on the farm Wemmershuis 379JT in the Belfast district, Mpumalanga Province, as the upgrade to the R33 road was impacting on the graves. The human remains were reinterred on the same farm, to another part of the semi-formal graveyard. A monument commemorating the deceased was also erected. As most of the graves are unknown, an archival investigation regarding the farm was conducted to obtain information on who these people may have been. Indications were that the graves belonged to white farmers as the only legible headstones are that of Johanna Marija Magdalena de Beer and DG or DC Killian. This article, deals with findings after a survey was conducted in the Deeds Office in Pretoria, as well as the National Archives Repository in Pretoria. A mass grave containing the human remains of four people was also uncovered during the field work phase. Grave goods indicated the possibility that these were British soldiers and therefore information on the Anglo-Boer (South African) War in this area is included. The ruin of a building, said to be the remains of a coach house on the old coach route, was found a few metres northeast of the graveyard. Information in this regard is also included as it may shed light on the graves and the importance of the farm. The farm Wemmershuis was established in 1887, but it originally was a portion of another farm, Berg-en-Dal, which was established in 1862. The farm history assisted in obtaining the surnames of people who may have been buried in the graveyard. It also seems likely that the farm Wemmershuis was a stop on the route between Pretoria and the Lowveld and that people who died while traveling may also have been buried here.