Historical background of Pioneer Museum
David Botha, a Cape farmer who migrated first to Natal and then to Ohrigstad in the Northern Transvaal, built the original pioneer dwelling and outbuildings on the premises of what is today known as the Pioneer Museum in Silverton. Botha arrived in Ohrigstad in 1846 with his four children, but the prevalence of malaria and the death of a son made him look elsewhere for land.
In April 1848 the family moved to the farm Hartebeespoort (the present Silverton). This is how Botha measured the size of his farm: He rode 20 minutes on horseback in a northerly direction and planted the first beacon, then he rode 22 minutes east and planted another beacon, 25 minutes south for beacon three, and finally 15 minutes in a westerly direction to plant the fourth beacon. The size of the farm was 1 800 morgen.
The Botha family lived at Hartebeespoort for five years, then sold it to an elderly farmer, a Mr Vermeulen, for ± £105. For the next 20 years, the Vermeulens farmed at Hartebeespoort. They introduced pomegranates - a few remaining trees can still to be seen.
Part of the farm was sold to Jan Albert and his two sons-in-law for the amount of ± £150 in 1873. Then a certain Hans Mundt, a German immigrant, purchased the farm for ± £1400 in 1874.
1874: Halfway station
Mundt saw opportunities in the discovery of gold at Lydenburg and Pilgrim's Rest. This farm was situated on the main transport route from Natal to the places where gold was discovered.
Mundt had new and different methods of farming. For instance, he built outbuildings for his poultry. He also enlarged the farm by buying back a portion that had been sold to a certain Mr Moll. After the discovery of gold at Barberton, George Heys started a mail coach-service in 1879 and Mundt immediately tendered for the provision of fresh horses for the service. As a result, Mundt had to erect extra stables, coach-houses and outbuildings for oxwaggon. He ended up adding an inn for weary travellers to stay overnight. The farm became an ideal half-way station for travellers to and from Pretoria.
Silver Mining Company
In 1890, silver was discovered on the farm and the Silver Mining Company purchased a part of the farm from Mundt for the amount of ± £9000. Once again, Hartebeespoort had more than one owner.
The Mundts continued to live on the farm until Hans' death in 1900. His son inherited that part of the farm on which the pioneer house is situated today. Shortly after his father's death, the son built a Victorian house next to the original thatched dwelling and used the old house as a packing shed.
In 1961, Mrs Mundt, daughter-in-law of Hans Mundt, donated the land on which the houses were erected as historical monuments to the municipality of Silverton. The municipality in turn approached the then director of the National Cultural History and Open-Air Museum, Mrs Roodt-Coetzee, to establish a museum. In November 1975, the then State President Nico Diederichs proclaimed the house a museum - Pioneer Museum.
Furnished 1848 pioneer farmhouse
Selection of farm animals
Cars in the Park: Visit the Pioneer Museum during Cars in the Park festival which is held on their grounds.
Contact Museum for dates of the Exhibition and see almost 1000 cars or special motor vehicles on display at one venue.
Tours and what to book for:
Baking the Bread:
The entire original process can be seen. Visitors may take part if they so wish. The bread is baked in the old clay oven near the pioneer homestead. The experience is not complete unless a slice of bread is eaten with real home made butter. The butter at the Pioneer Museum tastes even better because it is churned by a charming woman dressed in pioneer costume.
Traditional food :
Vetkoek, a kind of deep-fried fritter, and kaiings, a snack resembling pork crackling are prepared over an open fire.
Roast coffee beans:
Taste coffee made from beans roasted at the museum and placed in a bag in the coffee pot.
Make candles with animal fat.
See the old water-driven mill grind wheat to bake bread.
The precious animal hides are cured and carefully made into thongs (ropes), whips and riempies.
Visitors can try it themselves!
See the old voorlaaier, the Boer rifle - so necessary in the pioneer struggle to survive tough times - fired.
Cows, goats, donkeys, chickens, ducks and peacocks roam freely about the farmyard.
By prior arrangement, the tour ends with a lovely time under the trees where a mug of boeretroos (coffee) or tea and a slice of warm fresh bread and jam are enjoyed. Biltong can be served on the bread. Ginger beer and ginger biscuits can also be requested.
Daily : 09:00 - 16:00
Closed on Christmas
Prices available on request and are subject to change.
Sundays/Public Holidays 11:00 - 14:30
Guided tours of the historical house
Guided tours of the historical farmyard;
Demonstrations Tuesdays - Fridays
09:00 - 12:00 -Must be booked
Tel: (012) 803 6086/7
Fax: (012) 803 5639
Turn off the N4 freeway to Witbank at Exit 3, or travel along Church Street East and Pretoria Road, Silverton
PO Box 28088