WILLS and INHERITANCES

 

Sara Jonanna Louw (do. Ockert Johannes Albertus Louw and Sarah Johanna Nieman) [L887] (b Philippolis 23 January 1844 d Smaldeel 24 March 1901). The executor was her son, Johannes Albertus Kotzee. An inventory of the joint estate showed ownership of a portion of erf 60, Winburg at £75, cash £114, “Kareeboomfontein” (sold to Marthinus van Rooyen) £3000, promissory note of £26, with liabilities of £980. The residuum of £1069 was divided between the surviving spouse and eight children. However, the authorities discovered that 480 sheep and goats had been sold to a Mr W Holland in September 1901 for an undeclared £123.17.6 (later reduced to £85). All the sheep and goats were subsequently confiscated and/or destroyed by the British troops, but the £85 was still accrued (through a supplementary liquidation account)to the estate. “Certain claims for compensation were made up and handed in” and, if successful, were intended to be incorporated in a further liquidation account.

 

Pieter Jacobus Kotzee b 27 March 1837 bapt. Colesberg 7 May 1837 d 9 October 1904 [K1405]. Will written at “Kareeboomfontein” and lodged a month prior to his death, 6 September 1904. He left ¼ of his estate to Jacobus Gidion(sic) Kotzee and ¾ to Petrus Jacobus Kotzee (thus excluding his son, Johannes Albertus Kotzee), with David Gerhardus Roux, Justice of the Peace, Winburg, as executor testamentary and guardian of Petrus Jacobus Kotzee (minor) “to be properly educated and brought up in a Christian manner”. The estate constituted erf. 60, Winburg (sold to a R V Acton) at £95 and live stock etc. totalling £351 less minor liabilities. An error of £1 detected by the Master of the High Court in the drawing up the final liquidation account was borne by the executor (stating “……… I would prefer to bear the loss thereof to redrawing the Liquidation Account”). This estate could only be settled finally in 1906/7 once the final liquidation account of Sara Jonanna Kotzee (neé Louw) was agreed to by the Master of the High Court.

 

The overwhelming impression gained from the various papers is one of bureaucratic incompetence and pettiness to the point of vindictiveness by the new British administration.

 

Johanna Aletta Kotzee (neé Erasmus) was born at Uitenhage in 1868 and died in the child-birth of her twins on 6 May 1900 [E 379]. She was sworn as dead on 24 September 1900 by J A Kotzee (husband). They were married in community of property and drew a joint will dated 28 December 1891. Written in the meticulous and educated hand of Johannes Albertus Kotzee, it listed “Afgunspan” in the district Winburg as their only possession. Later, on her death, the inventory of her estate listed the undivided portion of “Bultpan” No.336 district of Hopetown at £8000 and some livestock at £83 as their joint property. Officially, at that time they were living on erf.91, Winburg, then owned by S J P Erasmus [E 771].

 

When she died, Petrus Jacobus Kotzee and his Salmon Jacobus Petrus Kotzé were on “Allermanskraal” (the home of SJP Erasmus, their grandfather). They walked from there to Winburg to attend their mother’s funeral, PJK carrying SJPK, then 6 years old, the last 5 kilometers. Later, the homestead at “Allermanskraal” was to be destroyed by the British and the family moved to Winburg.

 

 

Salomon Jacobus Petrus Erasmus and Hester Susanna Erasmus (neé Oosthuÿhuizen).

 

On 1 February 1901, S J P Erasmus died. The Joint Will and Testament of Salomon Jacobus Petrus Erasmus [E 771] and Hester Susanna Erasmus (neé Oosthuÿhuizen) was drawn up in English on 4 May 1898. The details in the main are :

Allermanskraal No.46 left in equal part to Gert Cornelius Erasmus and Lourens Daniel Erasmus ; each of whom have to pay £200 to Susanna Salomina Vermaak (neé Erasmus)(deceased) and Cornelia Elizabeth Rudman (neé Erasmus)

Taaibosch No.43 left in value to Johanna Aletta Kotzee (neé Erasmus) and Hester Susanna Petronella Erasmus [E 848]

Ventersrust No.735 left to Hester Magdalena Potgieter (neé Erasmus)

Mainreef No.842 left to Solomon Jacobus Petrus Erasmus who “may not sell, exchange, give or in anyway alienate or mortgage” and upon his death will transfer it to his natural children.

Lekkerlewen No.423 left to Abel Hermanus Christiaan Erasmus and Johannes Martinus Andries Erasmus ; each of whom have to pay £300 to Susanna Salomina Vermaak (neé Erasmus)(deceased) and Cornelia Elizabeth Rudman (neé Erasmus)

 

# with life-long usufruct on the farms to the surviving spouse and maintaining the full ownership of the estate and giving expression to full power of the Will only after the death of the last surviving

 

# with the survivor paying for the studies (in Theology) of Johannes Hermanus Erasmus out of the moveable portion of the estate

and, in the case of Allermanskraal, Lekkerlewen, Taaibosch and Ventersrust, the farms may be sold to strangers provided that they have been offered first to members of the family at market-related value an, in turn, declined

 

Erf No.91, in the town of Winburg bequeathed to each other mutually.

 

The value placed on the Estate was £10786.14.9. The first liquidation account was published on 14 August 1903, followed by one for £235.1.6 on 29 January 1906. The First Liquidation and Distribution Account is dated 9 January 1903; the final, the 29 January 1906.

 

This will was to cause great distress within the immediate and extended family. This related to a number of issues :

 

1.     certain male beneficiaries had to find considerable sums of money to pay out female beneficiaries. Those that were left land with a responsibility for providing the cash to be disbursed experienced great hardship in an attempt to retain (as they were obliged to) the land; and clearly this led to disharmony. There was an insistence by beneficiaries in having land surveyed and subdivided, or neighbours in having lands fenced. In the absence of sufficient liquid assets, over two decades, these matters were referred repeatedly to the High Court of the Orange River Colony in Bloemfontein for resolution.

2.     it was not viable to hold certain lands either in whole or subdivided, and permission had to be sought from the High Court to sell them - contrary to the terms of the will.

3.     the manner in which monies and/or properties were managed and distributed on the death of certain named beneficiaries of the original will of [E 771] led to dispute and, once again, a flight to law for a decision. This added to the sizable financial burden.

4.     in the end, the considerable wealth of [E 771] was essentially dissipated, being divided into almost trivial bequests of ever decreasing amounts.

 

 With respect to these issues, the Kotzee family was not immune.

 

 

 

 

Johanna Aletta Kotzee [K1669] death certificate was sworn on 4 July 1911 by J A Kotzee (father). She died intestate. She received one-fifth undivided portion of “Taaibosch” No.43 formerly owned by Salomon Jacobus Petrus Erasmus [E 771]. Life-long usufruct passed to Hester Susanna Erasmus (neé Oosthuÿhuizen).

 

Sarah Johanna Kotzee [K1670] death certificate was sworn on  4 July 1911 by J A Kotzee (father). She died intestate. She received one-fifth undivided portion of “Taaibosch” No.43 formerly owned by Salomon Jacobus Petrus Erasmus [E 771]. Life-long usufruct passed to Hester Susanna Erasmus (neé Oosthuÿhuizen).

 

Johannes Albertus Kotzé [K1855] died 17 November 1900. Sworn as dead on 5 May 1916 by S J P Kotze (brother). Here is found the first spelling of name as Kotzé. This child predeceased [E 771]. There appears to have been no distribution from [E 771] in favour of this child and, through him, J A Kotzee (father).

 

Gert Cornelis Kotzé [K1856] died 16 October 1900. Sworn as dead on 5 May 1916 by S J P Kotzé (brother). The first spelling of name as Kotzé. This child predeceased [E 771]. There appears to have been no previous distribution from [E 771] in favour of this child and, through him, J A Kotzee (father).

 

In July 1909, Gordon Fraser and Mc.Hardy of Bloemfontein “are instructed” (by whom, not stated; but it was the Erasmus Family) to seek a ruling from the Master of the Supreme Court with regard to whether it was correct that J A Kotzee (spouse and father), at that time living with his “new” family at “Vrijheid” : P O Klippan, in the district Hopetown, had inherited a two part share of “Taaibosch” from his children [K1669 & K1770] who were not mentioned in [E 771] and themselves died intestate after [E 771].

 

In 16 May 1911, Gordon Fraser and Mc.Hardy of Bloemfontein make application for the surrender of the Insolvent Estate of J A Kotzee [K81]. Sole assets quoted were the inheritances from Johanna Aletta Kotzee [K1669] and Sarah Johanna Kotzee [K1670]. It was filed 8 November 1912. Outcome unknown.

 

Another (undated) document exists showing monies were recovered from [K1670] and (father) Johannes Albertus Kotze. The outcome was payment of £77 to three survivors, brothers and sister.

 

Petrus Jacobus Kotzee applied for his inheritance ito. [E771, E848, E379, K1669, K1670] on 7 August 1913 (age 21 yrs). (signatures “ Kotzee ”)

 

Hester Susanna Kotzé applied for her inheritance on 4 February 1915 (age 22 yrs). For the first time, the signature on the document reflects the spelling of the family name as being “ Kotzé ”. (signatures “ Kotzé ”)

 

Salmon Jacobus Petrus Kotzé b 20 April 1895 claimed his portion of this estate in 1916. It was granted once it was certified that his mother, aunt and four siblings were dead ([E379; E848, K1669; K1670; K1836; K1855]). Here again, the signatures on the documents reflect the spelling of the family name as being “ Kotzé ”.

 

Portions of “Taaibosch”, which had been “retrieved” for the minor children by the legal action of the Erasmus Family, were inherited by each of Petrus Jacobus Kotzee, Hester Susanna Kotzé (150 morgen) and Salmon Jacobus Petrus Kotzé (“Idalia” of 150 morgen). PJK later bought out his siblings. Until they reach majority, the Erasmus’s took full responsibility for these three children, PJK and SJPK being raised by their uncles Daan, Gert and Jan; and HSK by her redoubtable and greatly revered grandmother.

 

The deaths of Johanna Aletta Kotzee (neé Erasmus) [E379] and Hester Susanna Petronella Erasmus [E848], each of whom possessed their own property and inherited further from [E 771] added to this confusion.


 

I suspect that the action was brought against Johannes Albertus Kotzee (JAK : the father) through the Orphan Chamber by the Erasmus Family or one (or all) of the three surviving children, namely Petrus Jacobus Kotzee (Kotzé)(PJK : then 17 yrs), Hester Susanna Kotzee (then 16 yrs), Salmon Jacobus Petrus Kotzé (SJPK : then 14yrs), who were the only children mentioned in the death certificate of  S J P Erasmus (SJPE) [E 771] and thus possibly thought to be the only ones alive on the date of his death, 1 February 1901. However, the girls, [K1669] and [K1670] were in the Brandfort camp as was PJK and SJPK. The death dates of [K1669] and [K1670] post-date that of [E 771] so one should think that, in terms of the wording of the will of SJPE [E 771], they should have inherited together with their surviving siblings and, through them (dying as they did intestate), their father. It appears highly improbable that JAK, on enquiry of the Master of the High Court or the Orphan Chamber, misrepresented the dates of death on the certificates dated 4 July 1911 as the same death date for [K1670] appears in the Brandfort camp register written in the same hand as the original family entry in the register. Thus, recovering monies from JAK, and, in the process, declaring him insolvent, would appear to have been an unfortunate decision.