Wednesday, May 12, 2010

More on Venter Facts and Fiction

I have not been doing research about the Venter ancestry and descendants (my lineage) for as long as many of my fellow Venters and researchers. However, I find it amazing that there are so much junk and rubbish around concerning my clan. Even more “interesting” is that it seems that my fellow clan members are only competent in quoting works that others have done, without verifying whether these are true / correct. It further is disappointing to note that nobody seems to be doing further (in depth) research about who the Venters really are, and where they came from. And I mean from original source documents, as opposed to quoting what others have said.In the short period of my research, I have, for example, discovered that Bonifacius (Hendrik Venter’s eldest son) did not die during the smallpox epidemic, or even as a child. I have tracked him where he entered into a contract in 1723, at age 31. Amazingly, it was very easy to narrow down Pieter Venter’s death, since it has been recorded in the Church Archives, and Pieter was a well known and respected member of the community. Also for some reason, there seems to be confusion about how many children Hendrik had. Of course, anyone reading his estate’s final distribution, will know that there were nine under aged children, since that is what is stated. (Not eight, and I do not know where people get this number) Rather, if I have to play devil’s advocate, there would have been ten children alive when he died. This is to be seen in the context of his daughter Anna Sabina, who was married at the time. So surely, she can’t be seen as under aged, can she? If you agree with this, then there were nine under aged children (as per estate) plus Anna, equalling ten!

I have many more “discoveries”.

And then there are the wishful thinking clan members, believing in fairy tales, or making stories up, because it sounds good. Well, this is how it looks to me. Otherwise, why dream up all these things?

Hendrik Venter
As examples, there is the belief that Hendrik Venter and Heinrich von Dempter was the same person. Actually, this belief is taken as fact by almost every Venter that I know of (and researchers too), and indicated on every Venter genealogy site that I have seen. Nonsense of course. This has not been proven by anybody.

However, ask yourself this:

Why did Hendrik never use his second name "Conrad"? (Any spelling)
Why did he not name his children accordingly and why did they never named their children so?
Why did he never name his children after any of the von Dempters, and why did his children never do this either?
Nowhere, ever, in any official record, was Hendrik referred to as "Hendrik Conrad".
If Hendrik was in the Cape from about 1680 onwards, who was Heinrich von Dempter, living in Hameln in 1699? (The year Pieter was born in the Cape)
Why did Hendrik sign contracts as "HF" and not "HV (or even "HCF" or HCV")?
The von Dempters were a wealthy and prominent family in Hameln. So why would Hendrik leave them, do hard labour on a ship, work on farms to become free, just to start all over again? OK, so one must take into consideration that at age 12, Heinrich was an orphan. (This info, courtesy, Sylvester Rascher)
Why (so far) can't anybody find any record on any VOC ship on Heinrich (Hendrik) von Dempter? If he became Venter in the Cape, what was he known as, before?!!!
Of course, if Hendrik was not the same person than Heinrich von Dempter, then his given birth date of 21 April 1663 is also not correct. By the way, this date was the date when he was baptised, not born.

On what basis do people assume (and accept as fact) that Hendrik Venter and Heinrich von Dempter was the same person?

French Huguenots
And more recently, a group of Venters decided to design and register a Venter family crest and are trying to convince the other Venter clan members that this should be the de facto Venter family crest. In principle, there is nothing wrong with such an approach, if it was not for the fact that this crest contains fundamental errors (and assumptions), at least, the way the crest is being explained, indicates this. It is also clear that these group of people do not know their history, and at best, are reading stuff into history that is unfounded. As an example, the registered Venter Crest reflects the Huguenot’s emblem on the top left corner of the shield. The emblem is supposedly there because Hendrik’s wife, Anna, was the daughter of Francois Viljoen, a French Huguenot. Of course, this is incorrect. Francois was not a Huguenot.

Francois Villion arrived in the Cape in 1671 (p92). That is 17 years before the Huguenots (they arrived 1688). Also, he married Cornelia Campenaar on 17 May 1676 (p92). That is 12 years before the Huguenots arrived. And then his daughter Anna Sabina (Hendrik's wife to be) was born before 1678. That is 10 years before the Huguenots arrived. Francois was given his farm in 1682, 6 years before the Huguenots arrived (p124). So he (and his family) can hardly be classified as Huguenots. At best, Francois can be regarded as a French refugee or even fugitive.

The above can be verified: "The French Refugees at the Cape" by Colin Graham Botha (of the Cape Archives), published 1921, Cape Times Limited, as well as the Viljoen ancestry and records in the Cape Archives.

When I queried this, the next best came to light, in that Hendrik’s son, Pieter, married a Huguenot woman (Hester Nel). But this too is not proven. (At least, I cannot find her parents Guillaume Neil and Jeanne de la Batte on a ship and associated list of Huguenots who arrived at the Cape) – (They are, however, together with Francois, listed as French Refugees in the Cape) The last justification is that the Venters were (are) Calvinists and therefore the Huguenot emblem is appropriate. Of course, this is also nonsense, because one can be a Calvinist without being a Huguenot.

My main objection really is that I am (or we are) a Venter, not a Viljoen or Huguenot, and therefore there is no place for such an emblem on a Venter family crest, regardless of the fact that we have a French maternal ancestry, and can be proud of it, if you like. Besides, everyone will tell you, lineages are taken from the males in the family, not females, and even DNA (Y-DNA) is done from a male perspective.

Maternal Ancestry
If we really need to include an emblem from the maternal side of the family, then consider this: everybody knows that Jan van Riebeeck arrived in the Cape on 6 April 1652. But everybody seems to forget that the “coloured” people arrived nine months later! Therefore, our family crest should contain something from the indigenous people, because all of us have their blood in our veins, even if only from the maternal side. The only people who can say that this is not true, are those who are not descendants of people living in the Cape from 1652 onwards, and who have never married anybody of the “traditional” South African (white) families. In other words, you are a “recent” generation, not originally from South Africa, and your spouse’s family too, is not originally from South Africa and you have no “indigenous” white relatives. (Ancestors)

To follow on the previous paragraph: we know, from the human genome project (amongst others) that all people alive today, can trace their ancestry back to Africa, and that humans colonised the earth, from there, around 70 000 years ago.

Why should something like this bother anybody?

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