The Rudolph Family History in South Africa
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The Rudolphs in the Great Trek

The days before the trek

With Natal as a possible new settlement area, the farmers from mainly
Uitenhage and Albany, were attracted to this possibility.
Piet Uys set up a scouting expedition which left the area on
8th September.1834. Amongst the approximately 21 Whites, that
made up the expedition were, the scout J.H. (Hans Dons) de Lange and,
the later fiery Voortrekker-Kommandant, Gerhardus Jacobus (Gert) Rudolph
who farmed together with Piet Uys in the Lower Bushmans River area
at that time, Johannes Stephanus Maritz, and Piet Uys’ two brothers,
the thirty-four year old Jacobus Johannes and the fifteen year-old
Johannes Zacharias. The expedition wanted to establish if it was
possible to acquire arable areas in Natal that could have been
successfully farmed. At the same time it would also have been an
adventurous hunting expedition that could have returned profitable
gains. No concrete evidence exists to suggest that this expedition
was part of a well planned expedition scheme of other later
Voortrekker leaders.

Johan Bernhard Rudolph (b1c1)

He was known in day-to-day life as Bernhard and possessed substantial
farming properties in the Olifantshoek district in the Eastern Cape.
He owned, amongst others, the Riet Valley, Klipfontein and Lange Hoop
farms as well as half of the Wolwekop farm. He was a well established
and respected farmer and one of the more famous that trekked.

Bernhard was married to Elizabeth Susanna Fourie. He was also one of
the few farmers in the region that were literate and proficient in
English. He also made sure that all of his children received a good
education. Like his cousin Gert Maritz, he was a competent wagon
maker. His brothers Gert (Gerhardus Jacobus) and Andries (Jacobus
Andreas) were amongst the first groups to trek, but Bernhard was
initially against the trek. He rode after them as far as ThabaNchu
in order to try and convince them to turn back. He travelled with them
as far as the Sandrivier and also spoke with Gert Maritz and Piet Retief.
The latter two eventually convinced him to trek.

Information available indicates that he was not part of Gert Maritz’
trek but rather a part of Karel Landman’s trek.

Gerhardus Jacobus Rudolph (b1c2) & Jacobus Andreas Rudolph (b1c3)

Maritz left Graaff-Reinet in the middle of September 1836. Included in
the trek were three of his brothers. Johannes Stephanus, Salomon and
Francois Ignatius together with their families, his sister Susanna
Catharina and her husband Erasmus Smit, as well as a number of his wider
family such as members of the Rudolph family (Gert Rudolph and Andries
Rudolph) together with Oosthuisens and Scheepers.
The members of Maritz’ trek were an impressive group as was recorded by
their peers. “Numerous, distinguished and influential” declared Hermanus
Jacobus Potgieter of them.
By the end of October 1837, when Gert Maritz took ill, Gert Rudolph
replaced him as Trek leader.

At the tragic Battle of Italeni, Gert Rudolph was with Piet Uys’ group.
When Piet Uys saw the perilous position they were in, shortly before they
were overrun and murdered, he sent Gert Rudolph with a message to Potgieter
that he should cover their rear. "Our road lies forward" Piet advised him.
Gert, riding off to bring the message to Potgieter, almost certainly saved
his life as the majority of Uys’ group were killed.