I was named Hester Helena for my mother, whom everyone called Hettie and my maternal grandmother, known to all as Hessie. I am not at all in favour of nicknames and prefer to be known by my given name.
Lately, I started wondering about the origin of this name – who was the first Hester Helena whose name was handed down over three generations known to me? I well knew that in earlier years in South Africa, Afrikaners tended to name their children after ancestors and the identical christian names recur in more than one generation, despite the fact that the surname may have changed through marriage. These days it is no longer fashionable and no fuss is made about the old naming conventions. My husband says the reasons for this is that grandparents, uncles and aunts no longer bequeath farms or large sums of money to later generations. 😀
A few weeks ago, whilst playing around on the internet, as I tend to do when deadlines are looming and I get more and more agitated, I stumbled onto a website where one can research family trees. Immediately I felt the compulsion to put the work aside and go searching for the first known Hester Helena in my maternal family tree.
To my utmost surprise, I was connected, within a space of little more than a week, to almost 600 relatives. I started investigating and decided that this is no thumb sucking by the website administrators, as I immediately recognised a familiar string of christian names and surnames. I was astounded when I found a few old photos on the site that my mother has had in her photo albums for many years.
This is what I learned from my research so far:
Great-great-grandparents (unfortunately no photo available): The very first Hester Helena that I could identify as a direct predecessor was my great-great-grandmother Hester Helena Rossouw (born Bosman in 1834), who was married to Petrus Andries Gerhardus Rossouw.
Great-grandparents (see photo 1 below): Petrus Andreas Gerrit Rossouw (born 1943) and married to Johanna Cornelia Rossouw (born Engelbrecht 1857)
Grandparents (see photo 2 below): My great-great-grandfather named his daughter after his mother – Hester Helena Hanekom (born Rossouw 1886), who married Andries Johannes Hanekom (born 1874). Both my grandparents passed away before my 8th birthday.
Parents (see photo 3 below): My mother, the second daughter in the Hanekom family (born 1918), was named Hester Helena Elizabeth. The name Elizabeth had been added to honour a great aunt who passed away at or around the time my mother was born. She married my father Nicolaas Servaas Ley (1901), a widower 17 years older than herself and with six daughters from his first marriage when she was 23 three years old. Brave woman.
And then there was me (photo 4 below): I was my mother’s only daughter (born 1951) and, of course, I was christened Hester Helena. I married Jacobus Daniel Nel (born 1952) and we have two sons and a daughter. No, my daughter was NOT named Hester Helena, a fact I now bitterly regret.
I am looking forward to ‘meet’ more relatives on the net.
Die ‘ontmoeting’ met die voorsate genaamd Hester Helena op die internet het my nou sommer nostalgies gelaat. Die naam kom voor in baie van die verskillende vetakkings van die familie. Ek sien vanne wat ek nooit voorheen sou vermoed het familie te wees nie; dit maak nou nie saak hoe verlangs en afgewater die verwantskap is nie, ek kry sommer die gevoel van ‘eie familie’ aan die bas.
Dit het my so effe gepla dat ek my dogter nou so sonder seremonie uit die erflyn uitgestoot het deur haar nie die familiename te gee nie en ek het versigtig verneem of ek dalk haar name moet verander. Sy het net een wenkbrou baie hoog gelig en haar kop geskud; ek neem aan dis ‘n ‘nee’.
Ek is vas van plan om verder navorsing te doen oor die voorgangers van my groot-groot-moeder en ek gaan probeer om ‘n foto van haar op te spoor. Dis seker maar die ouderdom wat nou sy weemoed oor my kom uitstort, want toe ek jonger was, was ek danig vies vir my ma omdat sy my hierdie name gegee het. Hoekom? Want my voorletters (HH) – (HAHA) het telkens almal aan die lag wanneer ek dit hardop sê. Ek het nou die gewoonte aangeleer om dit in Engels te sê.
Baie groete en ‘n lekker naweek vir almal,