The history of Wupperthal
The settlement was founded in 1830 after two Rhenish missionaries, Theobald von Wurmb and Johann Gottlieb Leipoldt (grandfather of the poet and doctor C Louis Leipoldt) bought two farms in the Cederberg. The men came from a region in Germany where the Wupper River flowed 100 years before the city Wupperthal would be founded in their motherland.
All indications are that Johann Leipoldt, an experienced shoemaker, moved into the farmhouse on Rietmond – today the oldest house in Wupperthal (circa 1800), known as Leipoldt House.
It is believed that the smidswinkel, or smithy, would either already have been on the farm by 1830 or built shortly thereafter, next to the erstwhile threshing floor. After Leipoldt House, the smithy and the threshing floor are Wupperthal’s oldest structures.
The missionaries and locals were industrious, and by 1834 had built a church. It was followed by a parsonage, the Mission Stores building, a school, two hostels and a post office. Later, a new school, parsonage and clinic were built, and in 1981 a community hall.
Twelve surrounding communities, including Eselbank, Nuweplaas, Beukeskraal and Langkloof, depend on Wupperthal for the school, church, and medical and social services. The Rhenish Church transferred its responsibilities to the Moravian Church in 1965, and to this day Wupperthal is managed by the church.
Residents practise subsistence farming with vegetables, goats and rooibos tea. A shoe factory, tannery and glove factory were once lucrative sources of income. Today the town certainly has potential for the development of tourism.