FLETCHER FAMILY ARCHIVE. The Jura, Scotland - Southern African branch.

Data capture and research notes for a family website. A work in progress.


Email from N. F. to Edward Tenner, U.S.A..

31 January 2008
Dear Sir
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.....
Yours faithfully
Neil Fletcher
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.
Edward Tenner

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.
Edward Tenner
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).

5.04.2008. From Jean Fletcher, Florida, USA.
Hello Neil, ...I hope these are usable...All are from Dad. ...
The homestead pic is of an unknown location, but in a file
Dad has of his father's(Angus)pictures. Appears as a sod roof
on the house? Perhaps someone else can identify?


N.F. to Jean F.
...Many thanks for the wonderful photos.....The old photos from
Africa: - very surprising and welcome. I am quite stunned by the
one of the old white building with waggons outside. Won't say
anything more about it just yet - need to study the possible location
on GoogleEarth. ... But I can only suppose that for Angus to have
kept them they must have been of some core importance from a family
point of view.

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)

Keerom Recce

Keerom farmyard


N.F. to Celia Cox.
Dear Celia
I have received some photos from Peter Fletcher in Florida which make
it important to see if at all possible the photos that Hugh took when
he went on a trip to Namaqualand with Annette in the Eighties.(?)
He showed me the photos when he came up to Zimbabwe once and I regret
to say I did not pay at the time all the attention to detail I now wish
I had. He had a few of the Keerom yard, one of which included a sort of
drift/water in a rocky pool, and maybe there were others of a ruined
farmhouse. I am very anxious to see any of these photos and especially of
the surrounding rocks, if there were any. ....They must be somewhere
with you.....

Jean F. to N.F.
Oh good that the pics forwarded OK. ...Dad said in retrospect he really
was unsure on what the covered wagon photo is from. But I thought the
hills in the background were more likely South Africa than, say, the
American west (I don't know that Sir Angus even traveled to the
western States)...

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
almost incredible.

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

=============== 7 April 2008
Celia to N.F.

......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.

Scroll down for further text etc below images.

Composite relating old photo with a photo taken by Celia's father Hugh F. in 1980's
when he made a pilgrimage to Keerom with his wife Annette.
(See correction, below.)

N.F. to Celia.
..... The photo from Namaqua is very important, as it helps to
re-inforce an identification of a photo from USA as being of Keerom.
The photo from Peter Fletcher, Florida, is amazing and valuable. ...
The building in Hugh's photo is not of the actual Keerom homestead,
but is an outbuilding on the western side of the main building. ...

8th April 2008 From Celia
...the keerom pictures: my mother has not read your emails and had
her recollection coloured by anything in them... she says that the
building in the photo is definitely a little house because it has
niches in the walls inside where things were kept or there were
muurkassies once; that there was a pool the size of a small room in
font of it and down a slight slope. there was a dwala in the
background and there is now a modern house right up against the dwala.(?)
the rest of the keerom series are temporarily inaccessible

Correction: 2017.
In the composite image above, the lines relating details in the two
images are clearly wrong. The low sidewall, lighter in shade, can
be seen in both images. There are two doors/windows. In the old
photograph the door is in dark shadow, and the window is faint
and bleached but visible. (To be corrected.)

Since the "rediscovery" in 2008 of the old photograph of Keerom, copies
of a "Keerom Diary" were obtained in 20xx from the Archives in Cape Town.
This diary had been given to the archives by a "grandson of Keerom" about
sixty years earlier. Link story. Link Diary?
This domestic diary reveals a surprising amount of visiting and socialising,
by waggon, cart, and on horseback, for such a dry and remote region.

Diary entries:
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

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