FATHER'S SIDE OF THE FAMILY
Faygah & Mauritz Michelson with their children in Kimberly, South Africa
b: Abe, Herman, Marie & Seigfried
f: Annie, Faygah, Mauritz & Solly
Faygah (nee Cohen) and Mauritz Michelsohn came from Kourland in Latvia. Three of their children were born in Latvia, namely Herman (who was murdered at the cinema in Cape Town) Marie (who married Israel Davis) and Siefried (who died of flu in Cape Town during the 1918 flu epidemic). The family arrived in Kimberly, South Africa in 1898/9. Mauritz arrived first and then sent for the family who were living in Berlin at the time. Maurtiz supplied mules for the mule train from Kimberly to Cape Town. Three more children were born in Kimberly namely Abe, Annie (who married Harry Levy in Durban) and Solly. Faygah died in 1913 and Marie raised the younger children.
ABRAHAM (Abe) MICHELSON, son of Mauritz and Faygah Michelsohn, was born in the Kimberly hole around February 21st, 1900. Kimberly was being bombarded by th e Boers at the time and the people of Kimberly were ordered to seek safe harbour in the Kimberly hole. The story goes that Cecil John Rhodes saw a very pregnant Faygah. He told her not to stand and provided her a chair. Abe's exact birthdate is unknown so he celebrated from February 15-20 every year. His children remember having to wish him a happy birthday on each of the five days each year. As a young child the family lived at Graham Street, Kimberly, Cape Colony.
The family later lived in Dutoitspan Road and owned the Three Star Bakery on New Main Street.
Abe's family came from Courland (also spelt Kurland), in Latvia. Siggy's dear friend, Peter Fotheringham, researched the ancestral home in Brittanica and provided the following extract:
Courland (Latvian KURZEME), the land of the people known as Curi or Cori (in Latvian: Kursi); namely, the southwestern part of Latvia to the south of the river Dangava on the west extending over the main part of Latvia's seashore on the Baltic. The Curi are first mentioned in writings of circa 875 A.D.. At that time they already possessed a comparatively large territory with several organized subdivisions and a royal capital and had withstood Swedish expansion in early seventh century.
Later, according to Nordic sagas, they launched their own raids menacing the Danish and Swedish shores. If forced at times to accept Swedish sovereignty they shook it off.
The Curi were described around 1075 as rich, powerful and merciless. They possessed some important religious centres. A chronicle of the early 13th century gives a colourful description of the fierce attack of the Curish fleet on the newly built town of Riga. However, later in the century German crusaders subjugated the country.
The conditions under which the peasantry lived were hard but the existing social order was vital enough to achieve extraordinary progress under Jacob the ablest of all the Curish dukes (sole ruler 1642-82). Jacob developed local industry, fostered trade and created not only a sizable merchant fleet but also a navy of warships. Moreover, he acquired two colonies - the island of To Bago in the West Indies (1645) and Zambia on the West Coast of Africa (1651). Development was cut short however by the Swedish Polish war or 1655--60 during which Jelgava, the capital of the duchy was stormed and pillaged by the Swedish army. jacob himself was taken captive but he returned to Courland and continued his reign after the peace of Oliva.
Russian domination brought at first little change as Catherine the Great strove to secure her rule over this frontier province and showered favours on its ruling class. Although the peasantry's situation was anything but splendid, Courland in the 16th and 17th centuries had become known as a cultural centre. Further, in the 19th century it was the cradle of the Latvian literary language and the homeland of Krisjanis Valdermars, promoter of the Latvian revival.
With the proclamation of Latvian independence in 1918, Courland became part of the new state.
In 1917/18 Abe joined the R.F.C. as one of major Millar's Boys. He was training as a pilot in England when peace was declared.
Abe and his brothers had numerous businesses in Kimberley. In the 1921 Kimberley voters role, Abe was listed as a baker and sweet dealer, brother Herman a grocer and brother, Moritz a general dealer all at 39-31 New Main Street, Kimberley. They traded as Miekies Candy Kitchen. There is also a reference to the African Lion Bar.
Abe's sister Marie married Israel Davis (a Scotchman). The had three children: Sybil who married Ernest Falkow and had a son Eric; Fay who married Ike Brooks and had a daughter Jackie; and Roz who married Alf Sacks and had three children - Raymond, Howard and Lynn.
MOTHER'S SIDE OF THE FAMILY
RYKIE was born RYKIE ELIZABETH HAMP-ADAMS on January 5, 1901. She had a sister, Maud, born March 30, 1904 and brother, Geoffrey Zuquas Cloete Hamp-Adams born February 13, 1910.
This is what we know of her ancestors:
Jacob Cloete from Cologne came to the Cape as one of Commander Van Riebeecks's garrison, probably as early as 1652. He married Sophia Radepootjes. He was murdered in Cape Town on May 23rd, 1693. Among the couple's children was a son:
Coenraad Cloete, who was baptised on April 23, 1663. He married Martha Verschuur on July 26, 1693. The couple had a son:
Jacobus Cloete, baptised June 14, 1699. He married Sibilla Pasman on July 19, 1722. The couple had a son:
Hendrik Cloete (1725 - 1799). He married Hester Anna Loupens on June 3rd, 1753. Hendrick was the squire of Groot Constantia estate. The couple had a son:
Dirk Cloete baptised September 20, 1767. His second marriage was to Anna Elizabeth Ven Der Byl. They had a son:
Andries Christoffel Cloete, born at Stellenbosch and baptised on March 18th, 1801. He married Maria Catharina Van Reenen in Stellenbosch on July 11th, 1828. Andries, a farmer, died a widower, aged 80 on April 13th, 1881 on the farm Vischershok in the Cape. The couple had six children, of whom the fourth was:
Jan Cloete, who married Rykie Catharina Arnoldina Van Reenen (daughter of Jacob Samuel Van Reenen and Rykie Cloete, born in Malmsbury in about 1841). The couple lived in Malmesbury, where Jan was a contractor, although on his death he is described merely as "Gentleman". The couple had six children, including:
Maria Catharina Cloete, born in Malmesbury in 1872. She married Walter Geoffrey Hamp-Adams (son of Francis and Sarah Elizabeth Hamp-Adams, born in 1873 at Ross in Herefordshire) in Cape Town. She died in Ceres, where her husband was an experimental hops grower, on July 25, 1915, leaving three children: Rykie Elizabeth, Maud and Geoffrey.
Walter Geoffrey, a builder, died October 25, 1922 in Graaff-Reinet.
ABE & RYKIE
Abe and Rykie married secretly in Middleburg. Abe met Rykie when she was a nurse at Kimberley hospital. Pam remembers Rykie telling her all about her nursing in Kimberley hospital. The midnight visits of fancy cars coming for injections for syphylis and the famous tennis player signing a whole box of tennis balls (filled with diamonds) to be sent to England.
Abe's parents were not thrilled with Abie and Rykie getting secretly married, because of the religious differences but they became friends again when Siggy, age 3, was told to knock on the door of the grandparents home and was told when the old man came to the door to say "Hullo Grandpa, I'm Siggy". All was forgiven and Rykie and the children went to Oudshoorn and converted to Judaism.
Siggy (Siegfried) was born on March 2, 1927 at 16 Evans Street, Kimberley. His birth certificate reveals that the family name was spelt Michelsohn, and Abe is listed as a traveler for Atlas Printing Works. Siggy has two siblings, Len and Fay. The family moved to Cape Town and lived in Sea Point where Siggy attended Sea Point Boys High School.
Abe Michelson sold the family home in Main Drive Sea Point in 1940 and bought the farm, Champagne Estate in Franschhoek He felt it would be safer for his family and would provide Len a work opportunity. Siggy finished his schooling in Sea Point and borded with the Bank manager. He used to take the train (via Paarl) ever weekend to be with his family and give a hand. On Monday morning he would catch the train at 5am to be in school in time at 8.30
Those were turbulent years and both Rykie and Abe were fearful of their boys joining the army. Len was pensioned out as he slipped in the shower and hurt his anckle and Siggy joined up at the end of 1944 and than God his training saw him into peacetime. Abe started the Champagne honey line with a bee keeper he became acquainted with and became known a the King of the Bees. We used to get 25c for a box of peaches and butter cost 25c i.e. 2 shillings and sixpence. A newspaper was only 1 penny and while under 13 we paid 1 penny to ride on the bus.
Siggy joined the U.C.T. training Air Scheme flying corp in October 1944 and later in March 1945 he joined the SAAF as a Pupil Wireless Operator/Air Gunner stationed in Bloemfontein until the end of World War 2. He was sent to train in Bloemfontein at 64 Air School. On the 8th of May Germany capitulated. They continued training to go to Japan which capitulated in August.
The Government offered to send any university students in the forces back to continue their studies. He joined this group as an ex-serviceman and did first year medicine at the University of Cape Town. He had all his credits except chemistry. At that time his parents, who owned the farm, Champagne Estate, Franschhoek needed him . So he left university and he quotes: "I am sure there are people living today who would not be alive if I had continued with medicine."
Siggy then joined his father who was a rep. of a large packaging company called Herzberg Mullne. Siggy was the sample boy and driver earning 3 pounds per week. The Company decided to take him on as a type of apprentice at 5 pounds per month. Considering the fact he was earning 9 pounds in the air force this was a come down. After 3 months he got a raise to 10 pounds.
Abe got ill and Siggy was sent out to sell. Within 15 months he was earning from their partnership about 10% less than the prime minister at the time. In 1952 at the age of 25 Siggy married Pam and daughter, Lesley was born where the couple were based in Port Elizabeth. After a short period they moved down to Cape Town where Siggy served the company until aged 40 when he resigned.