What Pegman Saw: A Score and a Half of Children

On the road from Kimberley to Free State; Google Maps Street View

Izzy checked the address – such an English-looking cottage, with rambling roses over the porch; she knocked on the door.

“Aunt Bessy?” Her voice trembled, shocked to see a woman whose iron-grey hair was crisp as a person of colour. Yet none could deny her whiteness. “I’m Isabel. Jimmy’s daughter.”

“Jimmy…” the woman repeated. “South African Jimmy?”

Izzy nodded.

“Then best you come in. Is it a visit, or… a stay?”

“A visit. I wanted to meet Uncle Daniel before I settle in Southhampton.”

“I know you wrote that Jimmy’s dead but… is that a reason to leave? He married three times, has a score and a half of children. They can’t all be dead.”

“Fifteen. And they’re dead to me, taken from us in ’48. Sent to live in Orange Free State, across the border from Kimberley. You and Uncle Daniel are the only family I have now.”

148 words written for What Pegman Saw: Free State, South Africa

Based on the true events of a visit in 1966 (names changed). Isabel’s mother had been white, but Jimmy’s second and third wives were women of colour, and yet the women had been sisters. Isabel settled in Southampton with her English husband.


About crispina kemp

Spinner of Asaric and Mythic tales
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52 Responses to What Pegman Saw: A Score and a Half of Children

  1. Lynn Love says:

    A tragic history. To have a family separated just because of their colour. So many stories like this the world over, sadly. Well told, Crispina

    Liked by 2 people

  2. pennygadd51 says:

    Oh, Crispina, I’m so sorry that you lived this story. Apartheid was iniquitous. Thank you for turning your own experience into a story to warn the rest of us where such policies lead.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dale says:

    Well written, Crispina. Such a horrible time…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love your description of Aunt Bessy. It reminds me of how some nigresses were described as “High Yellow” in the 1800s because they looked more white than black.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In fact, Aunt Bessy was white, English through and through. But that hair was a family trait; she had it, her sisters had it. My mother’s was the same… but red. But in South Africa such hair would have labelled her *coloured*.


  5. Joy Pixley says:

    It’s so horrible to think of how recently interracial marriages were illegal in our two countries, and how formally institutionalized that racism and all its horrors were. And yet here in the US, on MLK day, we are reminded that those days are not just distant memories, and that many of my fellow Americans would like nothing better than to return to those “great” days. Makes me so angry!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sure it was ever illegal in UK; my story concerns South Africa which was settled from Europe mostly by French and Dutch Huguenots… which is possibly how that branch of my family arrived there, for we definitely had family there before my grandfather’s brother went there, and the family were of Huguenot descent.
      Anyway, I grew up not understanding the concept of racism… while I knew it existed, and its horrors, it’s reasons were and still are way beyond me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Joy Pixley says:

        Interesting point: I just looked it up and can’t find mention of any anti-miscegenation laws in England or elsewhere in the UK, although several countries in Europe had them (mostly either about their colonies or dating back to fraternizing with the Romans). I suspect that you don’t get such laws until you have a sufficient proportion of people of different races (and social statuses) interacting in the same place, which the UK didn’t really have until recently.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Tis true… if you ignore our Medieval Jews (The story told in Ivanhoe reflects the truth of those times)

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Iain Kelly says:

    A complicated family history in a complicated and repressive time. Good story.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh wow, what a tale. Even more interesting that it’s true!

    Liked by 1 person

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