Where does the name “Attie Heunis” come from?

In both business and personal capacity, I often get asked about my name. People also often think it’s mistyped and should be Artie, which is not the case. 😊 In South Africa, Attie is a shortened version of Adam. Like Eddie is for Edward or Edmund. Or Willie is for William.

So where does it all come from? First, the European connection. The first Heunis came to South Africa as a deserter from the Dutch East India company in the 1600s, a view years after the Dutch first annexed the Cape. The Cape was seen as a vital refreshing point for sailors suffering from scurvy on the spice route between Europe and India. The Cape was known as The Fairest Cape and it’s still that – stunningly beautiful!

There are gaps in record, but at some point, a pair of Heunis brothers settled in the George / Knysna area in the Southern Cape and worked as woodworkers, foresters, and builders. Those were my ancestors. I’m not sure when the first Adam “Attie” Heunis was named so, but my grandfather, his grandfather and his grandfather were all Adam “Attie” Heunis. So, it’s a family name that goes back many years. Curiously though it seems to only apply to every second generation.

I only have daughters so unless my daughters keep their last names (who knows nowadays) I will sadly be the last Attie Heunis of my line.

The Heunis Family

I don’t know nearly enough about the Heunisses so I’m thinking of putting together a Heunis database. I figure that Heunis.NET will be a good place to host this as well.

All I know of the Heunis family tree from my sisters (Katinka Ladewig and Abbie Heunis) and I (Attie Heunis) up is: Rulan Heunis (my father), Attie Heunis (my grandfather) and I think Jan Heunis (my great-grandfather). That really (and shockingly) is about as much as I know.

Heunis isn’t such a well known name in South-Africa, but I think most of us are based in the Southern-Cape. As far as I know the first two South African Heunisses were two brothers that arrived from Holland and settled in the Southern Cape. The one was a builder and the other one worked in the forest.

I know my dad’s cousin, Hannes Potgieter, from Alexandria researched his family quite extensively. His mother was a Chrissie Heunis so we do feature quite prominently in his research. This sounds like a good place to start.

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