There are many women of heritage in Wellington.

There are those well-known ladies, for example the Seminary ladies.

A new era broke in 1871 with the arrival of the Reverend Dr Andrew Murray to Wellington. Dr Andrew Murray was the inspiration behind the building of the Huguenot Seminary and the establishment for the Christian Education of girls and young ladies.  Wellington became known as the birthplace of education for ladies in South Africa. Many of the beautiful buildings on the Wellington Heritage Trail is the legacy of Dr Andrew Murray.

Then there are also lesser known ladies to outsiders, but who are equally important in Wellington’s history annals. These formidable, hard-working ladies all played an integral role in the community life of our town. They were:

             Charlotte Helen Cupido                        Nurse Aletta Louisa Uys                                  Cato Hoogenhout



Charlotte Cupido was born in 1921 in Pine Street Wellington.  She was the fourth daughter of the Bushby family.  She often referred to herself as the “one who was in the oven for too long” as she was the darkest of the sisters.

From an early age, Charlotte was an avid reader and very musical.  She started in her first teaching post at the age of sixteen in 1940.  Once a teacher, always a teacher and consequently her teaching career stretched over a period of 50 years.  She was a beloved teacher at Bergrivier Secondary school for most of these years where she taught English and music.

Charlotte with her petite figure and quick stride was one of the most well-known and beloved persons in the Wellington community.  “Miss” Charlotte was highly respected by her pupils and she played a significant role in shaping their lives.  She was strict, but always fair and she fought for the upliftment of her people.

Charlotte Cupido served in many committees – Tourism, Aesthetic Committee, the Friends of Wellington Museum,etc.  For many years she was the ouma-granny of Ouma-Granny’s Museum.  She started the Churches’ Choir Festival which is still held annually in September.  She was a regular adjudicator at the annual “Klopse” festival.

In 2003 she was the Rapportryers Wellingtonner of the year, a well-deserved award.

Charlotte died at the ripe old age of 90.


Nurse Uys was born on 23 May 1893.  She was the first qualified medical nurse in Wellington.  Her first nursing centre was on the corner of Church and Malan Streets.  Later on, she established a maternity ward in Highfield in an old farmhouse where the Wellington North Church is today.  This site was sold and she and her sister Kitty Nolte relocated the centre to the former stables situated behind the main homestead.  Eventually she and her sister left Highfield for a house in Murray Street.  In her lifetime she delivered two babies short of 4000 deliveries.

Nurse Uys and her sister fostered many children, three of which she adopted.  She also found adoptive parents for many unwanted or orphaned babies.

Nurse Uys was a well-known figure in her white uniform cycling to visit her patients or to deliver babies in private households.  When she became older, her bicycle was outfitted with a petrol motor to facilitate her cycling.

Nurse Uys died on 28 September 1958 at the age of 65 of a heart attack.


Behind every successful man there is a woman.  Catharina Maria Marais, or better known as Cato, was such an unsung heroine.  She was born on the farm Olifantskop outside Wellibngton.  She was a pretty and petite young lady.

At the age of 20 Cato married Jacob le Roux and the couple had one son, Pieter.  Sadly, her husband died when Pieter was only 2 years old. When she was 27 she met CP Hoogenhout who was then 31 years old.  They were married and had 6 children.

Cato was extremely capable and in addition, she was an excellent seamstress.  She stood by her teacher husband, CP Hoogenhout, who was often heard to say, “If it weren’t for Cato, he would never have accomplished his main objective in education”.  He dedicated much of his time to promoting Afrikaans as an accepted language in schools, to be written and spoken.  Cato encouraged him.  It was CP Hoogenhout who was the first chairperson of the “Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners” and he was the first editor of “Die Patriot”.

Cato helped and encouraged CP Hoogenhout by aiding in teaching the girls in the Groenberg School to sew.  She was entirely fearless.  One day she heard a great commotion in the school grounds.  On investigating, the pupils pointed to a massive snake nearby.  Without much ado, she fetched a broom and killed the snake.  CP Hoogenhout was honoured for his role as a protagonist for acknowledging Afrikaans but it is said that not enough acknowledgement was given to Cato Hoogenhout.

Cato died at the ripe old age of 95 on 31 October 1942.


Information credit: Christine Siebrits and Daphne Hoogenhout from Ouma Granny House Museum.

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