The history of Heritage Hill started in the Cape with a young adventurer named Pieter Erasmus that arrived in Cape Town in 1688 and settled on a farm "Groenkloof" in Drakenstein aged just 19. He married Maria Elisabeth Joosten in 1691 and they had 6 children. He was the first of the Erasmus clan to initially respond to a healthy pioneering wanderlust before his descendant, Daniel Jacobus Erasmus, finally staked a claim on the land that is present day Pretoria and the greater geographical perimeter that defines our capital.
To trace the whereabouts of one person or a whole family, one should employ the research archives of our country. In the Cape Colony, the Field Cornets had to compile Citizen Rolls annually to show who stayed where and what the taxable assets were. Information is also obtained from the marriage and baptism registers of the churches and local authority records. With the Great Trek, the appointed magistrates had to record the applications for farms along the routes in the Potgieter I and II registers now stored in the National Archives in Pretoria. The same meticulous register system was used when a new person applied for a piece of land for farming in the Transvaal. Each farm was measured (3000 morgen) and the Field Cornet was there to record the 4 corners of the property.
In 1841, the Erasmus family arrived in the area that would later become Centurion. Daniel Jacobus Erasmus, aka Daniel "Swartkoppies", settled on the farm that he named Zwartkop. He was prompted to move to this area by his eldest son, Daniel Elardus Erasmus, who investigated this area in 1831 while he was hunting elephants in the Limpopo Valley. Daniel Elardus Erasmus was impressed with the good grazing for the herds of cattle, the rivers and the absence of poison in the veld nor malaria that plagued his family in Ohrigstad. He settled on 3000 morgen next to his father's farm and named it Doornkloof.
In 1836 his best friend, Andries Pretorius, also became his neighbour, when Pretorius settled on the farm next to Daniel Elardus Erasmus. This farm was known as "die Kerkplaas" - where Church Square in Pretoria is today. His farm became the communal meeting place and so, the city of Pretoria was established.
The younger brother of Daniel Jacobus was Rasmus Elardus Erasmus, aka "Dubbele". He settled on the farm Brakfontein when he came of age, and married Louisa Catharina Erasmus. The couple were blessed with 10 children, who were all educated by a private tutor from Holland. Initially, they built a small Voortrekker house in 1856 and in 1895 the grand Victorian homestead was completed by his son, Lourens Jacobus Abram Erasmus. This architectural jewel was saved from being burned to the ground during the 2nd Anglo Boer War due to the fact that Rasmus Elardus had passed away in 1891 and the British army left the widow, Louisa Erasmus, in peace. However, they burned the family homestead at Rooihuiskraal to the ground. Louisa passed away in 1902, shortly after the end of the 2nd Anglo Boer War.
It is a remarkable tale that meanders through the historical milestones of early South Africa and its first struggle for independence. Family members were involved in the Great Trek and fought in a variety of wars – the Battle of Italeni, the Battle of Vegkop and Bloodriver – before settling in what was then the old Transvaal, more specifically; where Centurion is today.
The grandson of "Dubbele", Rasmus Elardus Erasmus, married his blue-eyed blonde debutante, Lucia Erasmus, in 1939 and built a new house for his young bride, not too far from the grand homestead where his mother and his sister, Vicky Baard, stayed on after his father had passed away in 1943.
Rassie and Lucy were married for 53 years and had 4 children and 12 grand children. They lived quietly and are currently celebrating 7 generations on the property since 1841, all of which have carried on the rich traditions of the past generations. The Erasmus family records – which forms the basis of the comprehensive family library – documents successful cattle stud farming, strong relationships with the majority of political leaders and an enduring interdependence with the local Ndebele people. The family often commissioned adornments of its proud people. A close family friend, Maggie Laubscher, played a central role in this effort. This symbiotic relationship was celebrated as part of a cover story on the Ndebele people of the area by the National Geographic Magazine in February 1986.
The Erasmus family were some of the first South Africans to explore the rich gold fields of the Witwatersrand; some 50 years before the official discovery of gold. In fact, small deposits of gold were found on the site of Brakfontein, which were mined and minted into collectors' gold coins to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the family's arrival in South Africa in 1992. For more than 300 years the family has played a vital part in the history of the taming of a new land. Today, that spirit and legacy is yours at an address proudly called Heritage Hill.