Sgt Culling on Kings Hill

One of Annie’s workers at the Central Service Station on the corner of Warden street and Southey street – the ‘Caltex garage’ as we knew it – was called Johannes. Because he looked so different from the other petrol attendants, we learnt his surname. He was Johannes Culling.

Today I found out a bit more:

The Boer War started in 1899 and ended in 1902, but a lot of British soldiers stayed on in Harrismith until 1913. One of these was Sergeant Culling, stationed on Kings Hill. He, in fact stayed on even longer, as he married a local lady and went to live with her in the ‘location’ called ‘Skoonplaas’ outside town, probably when it was south of Queens Hill on the far (left) bank of the Wilge river.

Dad knows of three children: Johannes, Henry and a daughter. They could not have had an easy life in the Free State of yore and Dad tells of problems: ‘run-ins with the police due to drinking and fighting.’

That’s all I know . . .

Thanks, Sister Dugmore

On 2015/12/19 17:34, Sheila wrote:

Hello Everyone. How’s this for a blast from the past!

Eddie Coleman, George Elphick, Anne Immelman (nee Coleman), Sheila & Koos Swanepoel

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This was taken at the sad occasion of Jean Coleman’s funeral yesterday. Jean was Mum’s great friend in Harrismith in the 50’s & 60’s. They lived in Hector Street, opposite the du Plessis’ first home.

Mum says when we still lived on the ‘townlands’ on the way to the waterworks, Jean would often ‘phone and say “Have you got a little visitor?” – once again her son Donald had gone missing and she knew exactly where he was – he used to walk all the way to our farm to visit his great mate, Koos. The two were inseparable.

Mary Methodist is Anne’s godmother.  The Colemans left Harrismith in about 1964.

While we were standing around chatting yesterday, Anne suddenly realised that she, her brother Eddie and George Elphick (whose daughter is engaged to Anne’s son – small world) had all been delivered by Sister Dugmore at the maternity home on Kings Hill. “So were we!” chorused Koos & Sheila!  So we had to have this pic taken!

Apparently Biebie de Vos has the scale on which we were all weighed. When he was born, he was so small that ‘Duggie’ christened him ‘Biebie’ and Biebie he’s been ever since. **

Koos 1 April 1955; Anne 14 April 1955; Sheila 26 June 1956; George & Eddie circa 1959 or 1960.

That maternity home – note the steps and column:

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And what was left of it last time I went there:

Maternity home Kings Hill
Anglo-Boer War doctors house – then Duggie Dugmore’s maternity home – Kings Hill
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George Elphick is an architect in Durban. His parents John & Una, also left Harrismith in about 1964. They lived in Lotsoff Flats where Una had a grand piano in their tiny sitting room!  She was a very talented pianist and used to accompany Mary Methodist, Trudy Else and other singers.

We used to have “musical evenings” in our home in Stuart Street – wonder what the neighbours thought?  John Elphick, bless his soul, had an enormous reel-to-reel tape on which he would record the proceedings.  I have had these tapes put on CD – no Grammy winners here – but just to have this music preserved is so special.  I have Mrs Euthemiou singing “La Paloma”, William vd Bosch singing and playing his guitar, Harold Taylor singing “Til the sands of the desert grow cold.”  Harold lost his leg at Delville Wood and on tape he tells us that he learnt the song on board ship en route to Alexandria in Egypt, in World War 1.

So now you know. Lots of love to you all. Sheila

Koos adds:

  • Donald once did a big “going missing” on the beach somewhere on the KZN South Coast. That time the police were called upon to help find him. But – as always – he was just exploring. He’d have made it home sooner or later.
  • He and I walked home from the Kleinspan Skool once (I spose it was about a mile or so) and got home after 5pm.

2018: Just heard Una Elphick died this year.

** Just as the bump in Mary Swanepoel’s tummy was called ‘Koos’ and Peter has been called Koos ever since.