A brief history of Dullstroom

The town of Dullstroom dates back to the 1880’s when a group of people in Holland - led by Wolterus Dull - collected money to assist Boers who had suffered losses during the first Anglo-Boer war (December 1880 to 23 March 1881).   The funds raised were eventually used to bring Dutch immigrants to what was then the Transvaal.

Two farms - Groot Suikerboschkop and Elandslaagte - were purchased from local farmer Theodorus Buhrmann at a price of ‘5-pond per morgen’ and the first settlers, led by J H Janson junior  arrived in 1884 with other families arriving during the next three or four years.

Initially, these settlers were discouraged by the ‘eternal mists and everlasting cold’ and total lack of civilised amenities : there were no houses and the nearest shop and post office was at Bergendal some 25 kilometers away.  They also found the land to be less fertile than expected and there was no local market for their produce.   In 1887 the settlement consisted of 48 inhabitants, 8 houses, 3 stables and 10 cattle kraals.  W C Janson’s Boeren Handelsvereeninging shop was the community’s sole general dealer.

Dullstroom was awarded formal town status on 9 October 1893  by President Paul Kruger and by the end of the following year had a population of 100.

During the guerilla phase of the Second Anglo-Boer war (9 October 1899 to 31 May 1902) the British razed the whole town to the ground causing many of the inhabitants to return to Holland.   After the war T N H Janson - known locally as ‘Oom Teun’ - was amongst the first to return to Dullstroom and help raise it from the ashes.  One of the few dwellings not destroyed by the British was the Rose Cottage and there are local references to two colourful characters who lived there - Tant Johanna van der Walt and Nanna Cooperwho was the child of an English father and Griqua mother and was purchased from her mother for a heifer calf in 1891 !   The two women grew up and shared the house together and were both buried in Dullstroom’s cemetery.

Dullstroom’s European  heritage can be illustrated by the wonderful array of deciduous trees amongst which are beeches, lindens, cherry and others planted a century ago !   Corner stones of some surviving buildings date back to 1890 or even earlier and in the historic cemetery Irish, Dutch and English surnames testify to a varied community.

The Dutch settlers erected a memorial stone to commemorate the original director founders of Dullstroom but the stone was damaged in 1901 during the Anglo-Boer war and became lost. However, it was found again in 1934 and re-erected by the Town Council and remains to this day in the memorial garden on Naledi Drive.

Much of the historical content on these pages has been obtained from a small booklet, without details of author or date, but which is believed to have been produced by  Dullstroom Town Council in 1993 to celebrate Dullstroom’s centenary.

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