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Otto & Emma

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Brian Thomas
Updated: 14 October 2009
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It is with great sadness that we have to announce that the creator of The Labyrinth of East London Lore, Dr T., has passed away. Helping people through his website gave him no end of pleasure. If you had contact with him and would like to leave a message, please send us an e-mail here.

DEATH NOTICE: see Deceased Estate file 6/9/297, reference 1610, Cape Town

Otto Christian Broedelet was born in Rotterdam, Holland, in 1812. His father, also Otto Christian Broedelet, had fled as a Huguenot refugee from France to Holland with two sons.

The exact year is unknown -- and it is also not certain whether Otto junior was one of those two sons, or was born later in Holland.

Otto junior was educated at the University of Rotterdam as a teacher and translator of languages. He was thereupon ordained by the Bishop of London and preached in Holland and in England for several years.

He married Emma Louisa Horn in London on 15 December 1852. They had met when she was in Holland on holiday.

Emma had been born in England in 1827, the daughter of Charles Augustus Horn and Isabella Amphleth. Her father was a wealthy silk merchant. Emma was a schoolmistress and also a splendid seamstress who made several white caps for Queen Victoria.


This information is taken from Familie Journal, 1964/5, Vol. 3, p.93, in which it is also stated that he was "vermoedelik van Monnikendam L.V.1054". This village is near the tourist attraction village of Vollendam and the popular island of Marken. He travelled to take up a post at a Hottentot Mission station near Queenstown.
Otto, Emma and a son aged nine emigrated to the Cape Colony in 1861. They sailed from Amsterdam on 1 April 1861 in the 617 ton vessel Privincie Drenthe, arriving in Cape Town on 15 July that year. They finally disembarked at Algoa Bay on 24 July.

Otto was thereupon appointed to teach at Queenstown, then Dohne, and later Stutterheim. He finally settled at East London.

East London was originally established on what is today known as the suburb of West Bank. The first school in the area was known as the East London Church School established by St Peter's Anglican Church on the West Bank in 1861. In September 1867 it became a second class public school, dropping the word "Church" from its title.

A village known as Panmure had been established on the east bank of the Buffalo River in 1857 as one of the settlements for some of the 2,000 men of the British German Legion. The first school there was a German one at Grace Chapel, established by Reverend Rodolph von Hube. It did not survive beyond von Hube's return to England in 1863.

In 1866 Otto Broedelet established another school in Panmure centred in his home, with himself as Schoolmaster and Catechist. On 8 February 1866 he announced that he intended taking in boarding scholars from 1 April 1866. Average daily attendance was ten, and lessons were conducted in English in the morning and in German in the afternoon.

The school was classified a Third Class Undenominational Public School. By pre-dating the reclassification of the East London School on the West Bank, Otto Broedelet's school can be claimed to be the first public school of East London.

When the Superintendent-General of Education, Sir Langham Dale, visited East London in June 1869, however, he felt it necessary to close the school because the enrolment was below 30 pupils and thus considered too low. A Public Undenominational School was later re-established by Pastor Muller in 1872, an institution which eventually became known as College Street.

After the closure of his school, Broedelet became the local postal agent while Emma opened her School for Young Ladies in a wattle and daub house in Hanover Street -- now known as Gladstone Street -- in about 1872. She was eventually assisted by two of her daughters. She also operated a boarding house.

Cape Archives CO/4166/848 refers to a Memorial from Broedelet regarding the withdrawal of his allowance.
Emma would die of breast cancer on 15 August 1884 at the house of her son at Erf 5, Block H, Panmure, East London. Otto died in East London on 13 September 1891 at the home of his daughter Mrs Helena Augusta Coppard. The cause of his death is unknown.


Their oldest son, Otto Christian, was born in 1852 in England. He was one of 44 men who enrolled in the Buffalo Volunteer Rifles at the first meeting on 16 August 1876. This was the parent unit of the Kaffrarian Rifles which in the new South Africa has converted to the name Buffalo Rifles.

He served in the 9th Frontier War (1877-78) and qualified for the South Africa General Service Medal with clasp. He later joined the Salvation Army.

The first daughter, Maria Reynbende Antonia was born in 1861 at sea between Cape Town and Algoa Bay. She was named after a fellow passenger, Mrs Rine Bender, who was very kind to her mother. Since they were near the island of St. Antonio, she was given this name as well. She married Henry Dalton Spring, presumably at St John's Anglican Church in Oxford Street, East London, and presumably in 1881.

Emma Louise was born in 1863 at King Williams Town. She had married a Royce by 1884.

Helena Augusta was born in 1865 at East London. She married a Coppand.

Caroline Beatrice was born in 1867 at East London. She married Peter Blair Beattie who died in 1915. She remarried, this time to Henry Frederick Price. She herself died in 1935, leaving her surviving spouse.

Deceased Estate file MSCE 22495/1935, Cape Town.
George Paul was born on 1 June 1869 at East London. In the Will drawn up by his parents in 1884, he is described as being apprenticed in the Engineering Department of the Cape Government Railways. He served with the Rocket Brigade and was involved in many rescues over the years.

A granddaughter, Gwen Vincent, wrote a three page history of her great grandparents, unfortunately undated. Her mother was Edith Ralston, one of George's daughters. (See Deceased Estate file 7073/51, Cape Town)
George married Louisa Alice Harding -- aged 17 -- on 8 April1890. They had seven children and nineteen grandchildren. Their home, in which all their children were raised, was a wood and iron building at 6 Nahoon Road, Southernwood. Later they moved to Greenan Street in Berea, where they celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary just before Louisa died on 15 May 1940.

Alice Maude was born in 1873 at East London. She married R. Stapleton.

Six other children died in infancy, three of these in England and one, a lad who was 12 years of age, was struck over the head with a ruler by a school master and died the next day.

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