Nylstroom is also called Modimolle, but only by the government, to us, the people, its still Nylstroom. A small town to the north of Pretoria. One of the older towns in the north. GPS coordinates: 24.7002°S 28.406°E elevation: 1166m.
It started with the 'Jerusalemgangers', translated Jerusalem travellers. This was a christian sect under the leadership of Johan Adam Enslim who beliefed that they will only find peace when they are far away from the English (to them the anti-Christ). So they trekked north using their family bible as a navigation aid. When they got to a wide river and saw Kranskop (this is this lone mountain near the Kranskloof toll gate on the N1) looking like a pyramid it was decided that they had reached the Nil.
The literature is not very clear on this, it looks like they than settled in the vicinity of the present Nylstroom and one can say are responsible for the name.
The town was established on the farm Rietvlei in 1866, that is after it was purchased from the English trader E.O.Collins. Progress was very slow, in the 1880th 'De Volkstem' wrote: 'It contains a Dutch church and five or six miserable looking houses, all but half devoured by white ants. It has a Landrost (magistrate), Landrost's clerk, Depute Sheriff and Fieldkornet, who, with their families and two or three private people, constitute the total population of the place'.
Municipal development started in 1903 with a health committee, in 1923 this became a village council and finally achieved municipal status in 1959.
Nylstroom Reformed church There are a few, driving down the main road I spotted this church tower looking over the roofs and said 'there is a nice church' and off we went to have a look at it. It is the church of the reformed congregation Waterberg. Its very pleasing to look at and it was designed by Gerard Moerdyke, the architect of the Voortrekker monument in Pretoria. He was actually born here in Nylstroom on 4-3-1890. The cornerstone was laid in 1929. In case the reader gets confused about the Gereformeerde Kerk (Reformed church) and the Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk (Dutch Reformed Church), the Wikipedia website: Reformed Churches n South Africa explains it. There are more churches in town, we just couldn't get to them all. A notable one is another Reformed church on the other side of the road from the NG church. That one has to wait for a visit until next time.
There was a concentration camp during the Boer War, where the very old, the woman and children were interned to remove the support base for the boers fighting in the field. 544 lives were lost, mainly because of the unhygienic conditions in the camp.
There is a street named after him in Nylstroom, and that is because he made a major contribution to the place and to the world in general. His best known achievements are in philately (stamp collecting).
Emil Tamsen was born in Schleswig-Holstein in 1862, at that time the area was under Danish control and it is thus not sure whether we should call him a Dane or a German. He came to South Africa as a teenager and fought during the 1st Boer War (1879-1881) on the British side during the siege of Pretoria. After that he settled in Nylstroom and opened the first trading store in 1882. Obviously he was successful in his business and at one time was the mayor of the village in 1905.
His stamp collecting hobby with time also developed into a business. He became an expert on the stamps of Transvaal and is well respected in philatelic circles. And not only in this field he became a leading Free Masson in the Transvaal. He died in Pretoria in 1957.
More about his live can be found in Wikipedia: Emil Tamsen
Much more is to be discovered about Nylstroom, I only had limited time to 'do' the town. Expect another visit.
1. Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa, 1973
2. TV Bulpin, Lost Trails of the Transvaal, Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1965