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Die herkoms van Elsje Gerrits
die moeder van die Els-stammoeder, Anna Maria Pieterse

A revealing examination into the origins of Elsje Gerrits, the mother of Anna Maria Pieterse, progenitrix of the Els family in South Africa. This article first appeared in Familia (Journal of the Genealogical Society of South Africa) Volume 47, 2010, No. 3, but has been revised and updated for this edition.

The Author


Christiaan Jacob Johan Els (Charlie) was born in 1942 in Vrede in the Free State, where he grew up, went to school and matriculated in 1960. In 1961 he enrolled at the Teachers Training College in Pretoria and graduated with a BSc, majoring in Mathematics and Geography, at the University of Pretoria in 1965. He married Wilma Hickey in 1966 in Pretoria. They have two children, a son, Corné, born in 1969 and a daughter, Margot, born in 1972.


In 1966 he decided to change direction and enrolled afresh at the University of Pretoria to study town and regional planning. He obtained the degree BSc (TRP) in town and regional planning in 1970. He joined the service of the Transvaal Board for the Development of Peri-Urban Areas as town planner in 1966 and was appointed Chief Town Planner in 1971. In the same year he was offered a position in the private sector and joined a company of property and township consultants, Landplan (Pty) Ltd. He became the head of its town-planning section in 1974. In 1975 he established his own town and regional planning practice, EVS Planning, Town and Regional Planners which operated country wide from a number of branch offices. He is still practicing and is the Executive Partner of the firm. He acts as consultant to various private developers and also institutions such as the University of Pretoria and was consultant to various government departments as well as a large number of municipalities.


He lectured at the University of Pretoria at the Department of Land-Surveying and Town and Regional Planning as part-time lecturer from 1975 to 1979 and, at various later occasions, acted as external examiner for both the Town Planning Department and the Building Science Department of the University. He still acts as lecturer for the South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) in collaboration with the University of Pretoria for a number of short courses in the property development field for the Continuing Education at University of Pretoria Trust (CE at UP).


Since 1977 he was active in the organised profession as member of the South African Institute of Town and Regional Planners (SAITRP) of which he was elected the National President in 1983. He played an active role in having the Town and Regional Planners Act, 1984, which established town and regional planners as registered professionals in South Africa, passed through parliament in 1984.


He was a member of the South African Council for Town and Regional Planners (SACTRP) from 1985 and was appointed by the then Minister of Planning as President of the Council for the period 1989-1991. For many years he was a member and the convener of the Council’s Schools Visiting Board which visited the various town planning schools at South African universities to inspect and accredit their town planning courses for the purposes of the admission and registration of town planners. In 1990 he received a certificate of recognition from the Transvaal Branch of the SACTRP for his contribution to the town planning profession and the community. 


He published a number of articles in the planning field in professional magazines and other publications and read various papers at conferences, symposiums and other occasions.


Charlie became interested in Genealogy as a hobby in 1995 and started researching his and his wife’s ancestry. He joined the Genealogical Society of South Africa (GSSA), was elected as a member of the committee of the Transvaal Branch of the GSSA and served as the branch treasurer from 1998 to 2000.


In 2009 he published an article about his wife’s paternal line, titled: “Patrick William Hickey and Mary Ann Smith and their Descendants” in eGGSA Newsletter no. 13 of November / December 2009.

In September 2010 his article “Die Herkoms van Elsje Gerrrits, moeder van die Els-Stammoeder, Anna Maria Pieterse” was published in Familia, Volume 47 (3), the quarterly journal of the GSSA and in March 2011 his article “Johannes Martin Els – Progenitor of the Els Family in South Africa” was published in Familia 48 (1) 2011. The latter article is presented, with some articles by other researchers, on the webpage of the eGGSA at:




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