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15 kms east of Rustenburg, you’ll find the German community of Kroondal. Since 1858 Kroondal has built up a history that incorporates South African and German culture.
History of Kroondal
The year was 1858 when Lutheran Missionary Pastor Christian Müller established the church on the farm – then known as – Kronendal. The farm Kronendal was one of 22 German Lutheran mission congregations.
Kronendal (now Kroondal) had by then been in existence since 1843 and it was in 1858 that Jan Michiel van Helsdingen registered the farm to his name.
Kroondal was known as Kronendal back in 1858
Politics and War surrounding Kroondal
Concerned for the local people that were being forced off their land by the Boers, Pastor Ferdinand Zimmerman tried to purchase Kroondal under the name of the missionary as to provide a safe place where the locals could stay. The idea though was not met with political agreement and the lack of funds made it difficult for the attainment of the land.
Local Germans buy Kronendal
It was in 1889, when the missionary was suffering financially, that the local Germansbought the Kronendal farm. This is when it became, as we in Rustenburg know it today, to be Kroondal. The farm was divided into residential plots and the typical German zing Kroondal has today, came to be.
Agriculture in Kroondal:
Georg Wilhelm Otterman was one of the German immigrants that came to Kroondal and began farming with tobacco, wheat and maize. It was in 1889 that Kroondal saw a mill taking shape on Otterman’s farm. The Mill gave him a competitive edge over his competitors. The mill was the only one in the area that offered buyers and customers “sifted meal”.
The mill was relocated to Sandspruit where the Modderspruit’s water could offer more power to the wheel.
During the Boer War, Georg Otterman and his family were relocated to the concentration camp of Irene. It was during that time that the British took the bearing of the mill and by the time Ottorman and his family returned to his farm in 1902, there wasn’t anything left.
Not deterred, they rebuilt and in 1903 the Mill stood proudly again.
By 1960 the Otterman family – after the significant growth in agriculture –bought the Rustenburg Produce and Milling Company and along with the Kroondal Mill it was run by the Otterman family till Bernard, son of Georg, retired after 70 years in the industry.
Today the Kroondal mill has been restored to an era before being modernised, and one can now enjoy going back in time in the Kroondal Mill as a restaurant.
Churches & School:
Kroondal established a German school in 1892. It was in 1896 that the Lutheran Church was built. Both of which are still standing and are in use today.
Interesting fact: Both Louis Botha, South Africa’s First Prime Minister, as well as Afrikaans poet J.D. du Toit “Totius” went to school at the Kroondal German School.
The Lutheran Church was restored in 1979 and 1982 and is declared a national monument.
Each year the Kroondal community holds a beer fest as well as a bazaar where everyone can enjoy some true German tradition.
It is even said that for the best milkshakes, Kroondal is the place to be.