Data capture and research notes for a family website. A work in progress.
KEEROM REGAINED - Digitally.
Email from N. F. to Edward Tenner, U.S.A..
31 January 2008
I have come across your interesting article on the tilting chair
by Lorenz and Peter Fletcher, while trying to contact relatives in USA.
There is strong reason to believe that the Fletcher in your article
is a son of Sir Angus Somerville Fletcher, born in South Africa, and
the youngest brother of my grandfather. In one of his letters ....
from 1951, he mentions that his son Peter was at Stevens Engineering
Institute. His age would fit with the age mentioned in your article.
Your article suggests that in 2004 he was still alive in Florida, and that
you had at some stage had contact with him.
I would be most grateful to you if you are in any way able to put me in
touch with him or his family, or able to suggest any further means of
My reason for wishing to contact him is to ask him to fill out details
on a family archive/website, and also just to re-establish contact with
this branch of our family.....
Nannup. Western Australia.
Dear Mr. Fletcher,
Thank you for your message. Coincidentally I spoke on Monday at a
university in Daytona Beach. Peter Fletcher lives nearby. He could not
attend but we spoke on the telephone.
I'll call him again and with his permission will send you his telephone
number. I am not sure about his current e-mail address.
If you are not already in touch with Peter's brother Angus, he also might
be able to help you. He is a leading literary scholar here:
Unfortunately he was very busy when visiting Princeton and I never got
to meet him.
And I could have written an article for a historical journal on Sir Angus,
who was the first head of the British Information Service in NY before he
became a consul in Buffalo, and also presided over the search for the
United Nations headquarters. It would be worth looking up his name in
the historical archives of the NY Times, now available free online:
I look forward to reading more about the history of the Fletcher family.
Dear Mr. Fletcher,
I've spoken with Peter Fletcher. Please feel free to call him in Florida....
...I wish I'd had more space in my most recent book for Peter's recollections
of his life, and I am sure that you as a kinsman will find them all the more
For the context of reclining chair history, you might want to look at
Our Own Devices, described on my website.... ... There is a full chapter
on the history of the reclining chair, based in part on hours of conversation
with Peter and consultation of the archives of Anton Lorenz in the
Vitra Design Museum archives near Basel.
Note by N.F.: I phoned Peter in Florida and got his postal address,
and wrote him a letter .... his daughter Jean responded...
Excerpts from emails (2008).
The photo in the family of Peter Fletcher, Oak Hill, Florida. Originally in the possession of Sir Angus Somerville Fletcher. (Cape Town, Bulawayo, New York)
N.F. to Peter F. and Jean F.
Dear Peter and Jean
When I opened the photo of the white house and the wagons and
donkey cart I could hardly believe my eyes. That a photo from
the 1860s/70s of Keerom farmhouse in Namaqualand could have been
taken in that remote region in the first place, and that it should
have survived in America and finally come to light again, was
After a couple of days of thought about it I am now satisfied
it is of Keerom, and would take some unconvincing. For a number of
Firstly the granite terrain...The area of Keerom is exactly this,
a dry wilderness of low granite hills, many in the form of rounded
domes which we call dwalas (from Ndebele/Zulu). ...What is singular
about the dwalas forming the dead end to the road in Keerom farmyard
["Keer om" Afrikaans/Dutch = "Turn round"] is the orientation of the
joint or crack , typical of these granites, which can be seen from
the satellite image making two pillows of rock. This crack can be
clearly seen in the photograph. The joint runs roughly NE, and in
the photo long shadows can also possibly be seen suggesting a similar
orientation for the joint there...
Keerom farmyard - satellite image
......the ruined farmhouse - looks like there is a sort of low granite
dwala in the background. .... a fairly close-up shot, so i can't see if
there are others around it - there may well be. ....... I'm now going to
try sending you some of the things.
15 May 1864. "Ludwig took likenesses of the Davises"
18 May "Mr D & Sandy started early for Kekokies to
see engines come over Keko hill....."
19 May "Peter & Mr. D. left early to meet the engine....
Little Jan Kotzee here to fetch things for Ludwig.
Miss D. sent him a likeness of himself".
Conceivably at this time a likeness of the old Keerom homestead could also
have been taken. Did they develop the image themselves?
So the figures in the photo could have been Peter(Patrick) F., his older brother
Sandy (Alexander)who eventually returned to Scotland, (George R. von)? Ludwig,
Dugald?, Mr Davis, others living and working on the farm, or visitors.
Regarding the outbuilding shown in the old photograph, and its ruin
photographed in the Eighties. A Diary entry:
Date "painting Ludwig's room etc"
For the entire period of the Diary, Ludwig is mentioned almost on a daily basis,
a close family friend, of whatever length of standing.
A George von Ludwig is recorded as being a witness at the christening of
Peter and Agnes' two children..... at etc. - presumably the same person
[Another von Ludwig crops up in the S.A. record at this time, hence the circumspection]
For the entire period of the Diary also, Sandy, Dugald?, etc. - (family members?) -
are also apparently resident(?). Where would they all have been accomodated?
"Ludwig's room" suggests he might have had something particularly his own.
An outbuilding room perhaps?
The rediscovery of the old photograph inspired a sudden interest in this early
period of the family's history, and also a pilgrimage - long overdue - to Keerom.
Original file Created:10 April 2008. Modified : 22.12.2014. Last modified 14 July 2017