Forgotten Gamtoos History

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Wednesday, 16th May 2018

In June 1901, Mr. John Clarke was appointed as a teacher at the Patensie Public School, a Government Aided Poor School where he stayed until early 1907 when he moved to Hankey to become the principal of Hankey School. Here he stayed till he resigned from the Cape Education Department. His reason for resigning was that he wished to move his family to Pretoria to join his daughters, Theresa and Marjorie who were then teaching there.

While at Patensie, John Clarke received a visit from his sister, Ann Fitzhenry. (A Mrs Fitzhenry left Southhampton on 9 September 1905, destination, Port Elizabeth (Algoa Bay) aboard the Tintagel Castle). She was affectionately known by the family as “Aunt Annie”. She brought some items from their parents` home in England. It is probable that this visit was prompted by the death of her mother and that she brought items bequeathed by their mother to her brother. Their father had died in 1881 and and his mother would have been 80 years old in 1905. Some of these items were later placed in the Uitenhage Museum. Anne also brought nine small leatherbound books of classical literature. In the flyleaf is inscribed “Louis Fitzhenry 1873”, the year Ann and Louis, her husband, were married.

On resigning from the Cape Educational Department, John Clarke received the following testimonial from the Hankey School Committee:

“The bearer, Mr John Clarke, has been principal of the Hankey Public School (A3) for the past seven and a quarter years. During that period he has shown himself to be a true and able teacher, a strict disciplinarian, and has attained, since taking up the position here, results highly satisfactory to the school, pupils and to the Committee.

As a result of his earnestness in his profession, and the methods adopted by him in bringing scholars forward, the Government inspections have been most favourable, in fact, the best in the Humansdorp District.

During his term of office as Principal, his relations with the Committee have been most cordial, and it is with sincere regret that we learn of his resignation.

He leaves on his own accord, and he carries with him our heartiest and best wishes for his future welfare, and we can with the fullest confidence recommend him to any Board or Division to whom he may apply.

Signed on behalf of the Committee:

W A Pittaway Chairman

 J A S Blacklaws Honorary Secretary”

Thus ended Mr J C Clarkes period of private tutoring in th Humansdorp District and employment with the Cape Education Department.



Notes by one of J C Clarkes elderly daughters:

Patentie: (Patensie) A rich farming area on the Gamtoos River. Our father taught here and boarded many of his pupils who came from several farming areas in the Gamtoos Valley and other parts of Humansdorp District.

Hankey: A village on the Gamtoos River. It was originally only a Mission Station run by the London Missionary Society. There was good soil, so European farms were taken up. There was quite a large school, a church, post office, Municipal offices, an hotel and shops. My father taught here for some years.

Geoffrey was born here. A Dr. Coulton came from Humansdorp once to attend to patients and to extract teeth.

Mr Clarke died on 11 February 1938 from “prostrates” in the Lady Dudley Nursing Home, Johannesburg, at the age of 83. He and his wife,( Johanna Margaretha Fourie) are buried in the same grave.

PS. In 1885 John Clarke established a school at Mooibakkies (Suurveld) teaching children from surrounding farms. Johanna Margaretha (Hannie) and her sister, Theodora Daniel (Dora) were both pupils of John Clarke. John eventually married Hannie on 8 August 1889 when she was 19 years old. Their first child, Theresa, was born on 3 June 1890.

Hannie died on 3 January 1932, aged 61.

Source: Private family records of Clarke family compiled by Brenda Clarke.




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