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Bergtheil, Jonas


BERGTHEIL, JONAS (1819–1902), pioneer in Natal, South Africa. Bergtheil emigrated to Cape Colony from Bavaria in 1834 and moved in 1843 to Durban, where he formed a company to bring settlers from Europe and grow cotton for the first time in South Africa. To encourage immigration to South Africa he took a Zulu to Germany in 1847 as an example of the indigenous population and recruited 188 non-Jewish settlers whom he took to Natal. The 47 families concerned were each given 250 acres of land at New Germany in the Pinetown district some 15 mi. (24 km.) from Durban. Although cotton growing was initially a failure, the settlement prospered. Bergtheil was also director of a company which built the first railway line in South Africa, a short stretch starting in Durban. He was elected in 1857 to the first legislative council in Natal, holding the seat until 1866. He was one of the founders of the Cape Town Hebrew Congregation in 1841. In 1866 he left to settle in England.


G. Saron and L. Hotz (eds.), Jews in South Africa (1955), index; Jewish Affairs, 9 (Johannesburg, 1954), no. 6.

[Louis Hotz]

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