OUR FAMILY TREE: KOOS DE WET

Last month we regaled you with tales about the first De Wet to land at the Cape in the late 1600s, Jacobus de Wet. We fast forward a few generations to another great De Wet: Koos de Wet, who farmed at Excelsior five generations ago.Amanda de wet 5.tif
Most of the De Wet family settled in the Worcester district of the Breede River Valley. Koos brought the family into disharmony after falling in love with his brother’s fiancé and eloping with her. He decided to settle in the Robertson/Ashton district and borrowed money from an uncle to buy the land that today is Excelsior.  At that stage there was a great shortage of wood in the Klaasvoogds valley, because locals distilled a lot of grapes into brandy and needed fire to do so. The valley on which Excelsior is situated was full of acacia trees bearing nitrogen-rich pods. Koos offered the Klaasvoogds farmers the acacia wood on condition that they removed the trees, roots and all. He then planted the land with wheat and out of the proceeds from his first harvest he paid back his uncle in full.
Later on in his life, he subdivided the farm among his sons. Jacobus Stephanus, his youngest son, affectionately known as Kowie, got the largest portion of land, but it had a high lime content, with the least access to water. It was then that the estate’s legacy of ostriches and stud horses really took off, but more about this later.

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