History of Den Hagen

Den Hagen received its name in the 1930’s. The name is misspelt as it is named after a certain Dennis O’Hagan, who was owned the farm and who went to war (2nd World War) and did not return with his comrades. He was reported missing, suspected as having died. After a period of about 2 or 3 years his wife was forced to sell the farm as she could not cope alone – running the farm, bringing up & educating children. Shortly after the farm was sold, Dennis returned. He had been wounded and suffered amnesia! He was re-united with his family and they lived in the then Transvaal.

The farm is a sub-division of the farm Traquair (to the North of DH). It was originally settled on in the 1850’s. The first structures were erected after 2 years of camping near the stream. It was originally donated as a government grant in return for military service and subsequently sold for 7lbs (just over 3Kg.) of coffee! The original house on the current site was built between 1870-1880. We are told by a descendant that the current building includes the original structure, but that there have been numerous alterations and additions. The farm belonged to Frederik van Wyk, (bought for ₤700) who also owned Goatfell & Hugenot, where there were also houses (no longer intact, although there are some remains & foundations), where his staff lived.

At the same time a certain Mr. Carlisle owned the farm to the south (Elibank). Carlisle was noted for his thirst and subsequent unruly behaviour – to the extent that the local watering holes refused to serve him. Undaunted he would ride to Barkly East and after a few days Mrs. Carlisle would call upon Frederik to fetch him – also on horseback! 

We were very excited to hear from one of the decendants of the Farm, Tony O'Hagan. He emailed us some history about the farm..."The farm was acquired by my grandparents, Edward Henry O'Hagan ( b.1865 - d.1942) and Laetitia (Letty) Johanna O'Hagan, nee Linstrom, (b.1872 - d.1966), in the 1920's or 30's.Edward was a retired police captain. Letty came from an old Barkly Eastfamily.They had 2 daughters and a son Denis Bernard, known as Pat all his life (b.1905 - d.1983), hence the name Den Hagen. The daughters left home in the 1930's, and Den Hagen was farmed by Pat until World War 2 broke out. Pat enlisted and fought in N.Africa where he was taken prisoner. He was incarcerated in POW camps in Italy and Germany.

In 1942 Edward passed away, leaving Letty on her ownat Den Hagen. Not knowing how long the war was to drag on, the decision was made to sell the farm on auction. Having done this, Letty relocated to Uitenhage to be nearer her daughters,one of whom was teaching at the Convent in the town.

At the end of the war, Pat met his future wife, Peggy, in England, and in 1946 they moved to Uitenhage, and later to Port Elizabeth where Pat worked in the wool trade. They had 3 children.In 1964 they moved to Barkly East where Pat was a wool buyer and also owned O'Hagan's Trading Store. In 1978 Pat and Peggy moved back to PE due to Pat's ill health, and he passed away in 1983. Peggy lived to a ripe old age and passed away in Dec. 2007.Pat often spoke fondly of his years at Den Hagen, and felt that if it hadn't been for the war, he would have continued to farm there."

Two beautiful oak trees were planted at the side of the house many years ago. We also have many fruit trees that were planted by the settlers which still bear fruit most years, We have a guest room off the back verandah which served as a classroom for the children of 6 families of people living in the valley – so this, it seems, was part of the original house. Frederik’s son lead wagons from Barkly East to Johannesburg for the princely sum of 1 shilling a week.

When we bought the farm in 1999, the house had been uninhabited (except for the odd sheep) for over three decades and was in a state of disrepair. The outbuildings were dilapidated to the point of virtual collapse. With time, effort & some patience we have endeavoured to restore them to suit our purposes without detracting from the original appeal. We have attempted to maintain the character with appropriate furniture, crockery & cutlery. Until 2007 we were totally dependant on paraffin, coal, anthracite & gas for heating, lighting & cooking. We then took the step to electrify, just in time for powercuts!