RESIDENTIAL COMMUNITY REVIEWS PAGE 18 steEnberg estate Lost and found Losing one husband could be considered bad luck, but losing four could be construed as carelessness – or perhaps marrying the wrong kind of man. Catharina Ustings was already a widow at 21 when she strode ashore on Woodstock Beach in 1662. It’s not known whether she left Germany as a widow, or whether her husband died on board the ship – a not unlikely scenario – but you can’t help wondering what made her decide to set off on such a perilous voyage. Whatever her original plan was, she would have found the rough and ready settlement at the tip of Africa a a tragedy, as he had already drunk his way Catharina tilled the land, raised her children far cry from 17th Century Germany. pretty much through Catharina’s fortune. and rode a horse into town alone – not She married soon after arriving, and lost her So, at the ripe old age of 36, the four-times- – maybe not entirely respectable. But she husband number two, Hans Ras, to a lion while widowed Catharina upped sticks with her was resourceful. She managed to persuade he was out hunting. Actually, it’s amazing he four (possibly five) children and headed off governor Simon van der Stel, who had settled survived long enough to be eaten by a lion into the wilds that would become Constantia, on the neighbouring Groot Constantia, to as he got drunk on his wedding night and taking up residence at the farm she called grant her title to the farm – to her, not to crashed his wagon racing his best man home “Swaaneweide” – the feeding place of the her husband (and we are talking 1688). So (as one does). Oh – and then got stabbed in wild swans. she became the first woman to hold title to only astride, but bareback. She was – well the ribs while fighting about who caused the crash (as one does). property in South Africa. It was here that Catharina found herself – and found happiness. She married again but Swaaneweide continued to prosper, and Undaunted, Catharina married again, but hubby she chose wisely this time. Matthys Michelse changed hands surprisingly few times. The number three, François Schanffelaar, died out was a homebody who was content to work second owner, Frederik Russouw, bought the hunting. Hubby number four, Laurens Cornelisz, the land, grow veggies and raise cattle and farm in 1695, planted the first vines and built died out hunting as well. This was not all that sheep. He was not a hunter, so he outlived the beautiful U-shaped house. Steenberg was unusual for the time, and probably not really his adventurous wife. starting to take shape.