A Trip Down Memory Lane
As he researched the family biography, Willem found that the Van Aardts had been involved in nearly every bit of notable Eastern Cape history since their family first settled near Cookhouse in 1797. So much so that even the name of the town owes its origins to a Van Aardt.
Suzanna van Aardt, nee Triegaardt, set up a little kookhuis supplying fresh vegetables, milk and meat to transport riders in 1798, opposite a shallow drift in the Great Fish River. The riders sometimes had to stop there for days or even weeks on end, waiting for the water to subside enough for a safe crossing.
In his family biography Willem also reveals that when five rebels were hanged by the British at Slagtersnek in 1816, members of the Van Aardt family were present as witnesses.
When the 1820 Settlers landed at Algoa Bay and were brought into the Eastern Cape interior, Van Aardts were there to welcome them.
The Van Aardts nearly went on Trek with Louis Trichardt in 1838, but turned back at the Orange River.
When South Africa sent soldiers to fight in World War I, Willem’s father Acton van Aardt was there at the bloody Battle of the Somme on the first day, when Britain suffered the worst combat loss in its history, with 60 000 casualties.
Apart from the Fairworld & Van Aardt Family Museum (which has its own Facebook page), Mulberry Grove also has farmstay accommodation. Willem’s daughter-in-law Elize van Aardt, an accomplished ceramicist, offers pottery workshops and fun events in her farm studio. 082 855 5563, fyn[email protected] ac[email protected]berg.co.za
Available at the museum is the book Fairworld:
The Story of a Century of Excellence written by Laura-Jean van Aardt (Willem’s daughter).