Daniel Heese

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Carl August Daniel Heese
Born24 February 1867
Amalienstein, Cape Colony
Died23 August 1901 (1901-08-24) (aged 34)
Northern Transvaal, South Africa
Battles/warsBoer War

Carl August Daniel Heese (24 February 1867 – 23 August 1901) was a German missionary in South Africa. He was killed during the Second Boer War, his death was one of the issues at the court martial of Breaker Morant.


Daniel Heese's parents were German missionaries (Lutheran Church) who came to South Africa in 1859. Carl August Daniel Heese was born on 24 February 1867 on the Amalienstein mission station near Ladismith in the then Cape Colony. In 1868 his father founded the Berlin Lutheran congregation in Riversdale, Cape Colony. In 1880 Daniel Heese (senior) went on a visitation visit to Germany and took his sons Hans and Daniel with him; Daniel (junior) remained behind in Germany where he completed his schooling and underwent training as a missionary in Berlin. On completion of his theological studies, reverend C.A.D. (Daniel) Heese went to the Northern Transvaal where he was ordained as a missionary of the Berlin Missionary Society.

Events leading to his Death[edit]

In the week before his death, Rev. Heese escorted a sick friend, Mr. Craig, to the Swiss Mission Hospital at Elim, north of Fort Edward, for an operation. Mr. Craig was admitted on Tuesday 20 August 1901.

Friday 23 August 1901 – Rev. Heese was in a hurry to get back to the Mission Station at Makaanspoort as his third daughter was to celebrate her first birthday on 26 August 1901. At the Swiss Mission Hospital, Rev. Heese spoke to Boer prisoners of war, some of whom he knew – Mr. Vahmeyer (a teacher at Potgietersrust). They stated that they were afraid that they would be shot. Later when Rev. Heese was leaving, he saw that the Boer prisoners had been shot. He told Captain Taylor that he would report this to a British officer at Pietersburg. Rev. Heese and the young African boy named Silas, proceeded by horse-buggy with a white flag attached. He never made it to his daughter’s first birthday; he was thirty-four years old when he and Silas were found shot dead.

Lieutenant Peter Handcock went on trial for Heese's murder, and Lieutenant 'Breaker' Morant went on trial for having incited the crime.[1] Both men were acquitted of involvement in Heese's death, but they were convicted on other counts of murder, and executed in 1902.[1]

Personal life[edit]

In 1893, Rev. Heese married Johanna Gruetzner, the German-born daughter of a fellow missionary from the Orange Free State. The couple was stationed at Makaanspoort near Pietersburg in the Northern Transvaal. Their first child, Martha, born 1894, died of diphtheria. Another girl, Dorothea was born in 1896 and a third, Hilda, was one year old when their father was murdered[2] on 23 August 1901. The only son, also named Daniel, was born on 11 December 1901 - a few months after his death.

Relation to Books[edit]

Kit Denton in his book The Breaker spelt the surname of Rev. Heese incorrectly. It was spelt Hesse. In 1983 the book Closed File was released and on page 104, Kit Denton mentions this fact about the incorrect spelling. This book is worth reading as many inaccuracies that were in his book The Breaker were corrected.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Wallace, R. L. (1983). "Handcock, Peter Joseph (1868–1902)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  2. ^ Leach (2012), pages 73-82.

Further reading[edit]

  • Denton, Kit. The Breaker. Australia, Sydney: Angus and Robertson Publishers, 1973.
  • Denton, Kit. Closed File. Sydney, Australia: Rigby Internat, 1983.
  • Leach, Charles, The Legend of Breaker Morant is Dead and Buried: A South African Version of the Bushveldt Carbineers in the Zoutpansberg, May 1901-April 1902, Leach Printers & Signs, Louis Trichardt, 2012.
  • Heese, Johannes August. Grossvater und Grossmutter Heese. 1859-1959. Paarl, Cape Province, South Africa: 1959.