The German community at Kroondal grew around a Lutheran mission station established under Pastor Christian Müller of the Hermannsburg Mission Society on the farm 'Kronendal' in 1858. President Martinus Pretorius had expressly invited Lutheran missionaries to work among the BaTswana because of their Calvinist doctrine and because he distrusted the liberal values preached by the British missionary societies working among the BaTswana to the south.  Kroondal was part of a network of more than twenty German missions founded in the former territories of Natal and Transvaal at this time.

A map showing the Rustenburg District.
Throughout the second half of the nineteenth century the German community at Kroondal was enlarged by the immigration of friends of the missionaries and their growing families. Together with their BaTswana students and converts they worked hard on the land and within two decades Kroondal was flourishing as a well ordered and productive agricultural centre noted particularly for its wheat. The Kroondal mill was the only one in the district that offered sifted meal. A school was established for the community in 1892; two of its best known scholars were Louis Botha, South Africa's first Prime Minister and the Afrikaans poet 'Totius', J.D. du Toit. The Lutheran Church, with its distinctive architecture, was built in 1896.
In 1866 Pastor Ferdinand Zimmerman, then working in Rustenburg, became concerned that local people were being forced off their land by the Boers and he set about purchasing Kroondal in the name of the mission society to provide a secure place in which the people might live. His scheme was opposed politically and adequate funding also proved difficult to raise so that ultimately the scheme was not successful. In 1889, when the mission society had fallen on hard financial times, local Germans and former missionaries bought the farm. Part of it was divided into residential plots and a town with a distinctly German character took root.
During the South African War the townspeople were strong supporters of the Boer cause and the German men of the town joined the commandos. The town was looted in 1900 and the British interned many of its residents in concentration camps. After the war the town was reconstructed and despite the vicissitudes of the twentieth century it retains a strongly German character with many of the descendants of the original Lutheran missionaries still resinent.

South Africa's North-West province: A Guide to its History and Heritage. © 2017

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