Otto family celebrates 400 years

2014-02-13 00:00

THE family that named the famous landmark known as Otto’s Bluff outside Pietermaritzburg will be hosting a 400-year reunion in March.

The largest reunion will be in the Cape, but a fair gathering will celebrate in KwaZulu-Natal. The KZN branch of the Ottos form the largest of the original Michiel Otto’s descendants.

Jacqueline Yallup, who has researched the family history, said Michiel Otto landed in Cape Town on April 1, 1714. He sailed to South Africa aboard the Rijksdorp ship belonging to the Dutch East India Company. Starting out as a sailor, he later became superintendent of the woodcutters behind the Steenbergen mountain in the Western Cape.

In 1719, he was released from his contractual service. Michiel Otto married twice; his second marriage was to the widow of Barend Gildenhuyzen, and when she died he inherited her farm Vergelegen, which is now a huge tourist attraction.

According to Yallup’s research, his grandson Petrus Alberto Ryno Otto is the Otto who started the Natal branch of the Otto family. Born in 1810, he farmed for his parents Andries and Elizabeth at Caledon for a time. Crop failure in the area drove him to seek new opportunities and he went to Natal where he was apparently offered the whole of the Durban Bluff for a bag of sugar and a bottle of brandy. He refused, saying he did not want “all that bush and sand”. Instead, he chose an inland mountain with a magnificent view over Natal.

He apparently negotiated the land for a pair of boots and a bag of salt. Otto was not a Voortrekker but a crafty businessperson, and bought many farms from the boers who were leaving Natal for the Boer War. It is believed he eventually owned 21 000 acres.

• Descendants of the Otto family are invited to join the reunion at Rietvlei Church and Saxony Farm, Otto’s Bluff on March 22, 2014. Contact Jacqueline Yallup at

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


6 myths about male cancer

It is important to be aware of the most prevalent cancer diseases amongst men in our country.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.