S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Goergens, Mr Peter Heinrich (surveying)

Born: Date not known, Place not known.
Died: 1955, South Africa.

Peter Heinrich Goergens (also Gorgens), land surveyor, compiled a survey map of German South West Africa (now Namibia), showing the territories of native chiefs, farms, etc., in 1902. Two years later he was appointed as the first Oberlandmesser (chief land surveyor) of German South West Africa. In that year the German government decided that a systematic trigonometrical survey of the territory should be carried out to form the basis for future mapping and serve to link up the various existing regional cadastral surveys. The work was carried out by a military survey company under Goergens's supervision. They first measured a double chain of triangles extending from Swakopmund eastwards past Windhoek to the Gobabis area, where it connected with the geodetic chain along the Bechuanaland (now Botswana) border. One of the connecting stations, Schwarzeck, was chosen as basis for the geodetic system of the territory. Subsequent chains extended from Windhoek southwards to Bethanie, and from the border chain westwards to Bethanie to close the circuit. The latter chain was extended westwards to the coast at Luderitz, while another ran from the Karasberg southwards to link up with the geodetic survey of South Africa at the Orange River. A final double chain of triangles ran from the Swakopmund-Gobabis chain at Omaruru along the railway line to Grootfontein and Tsumeb. The surveys were carried out during the years 1904 to 1910, under difficult circumstances of terrain and climate. The records of the field work were sent to Berlin where the computational work was done.

Meanwhile District Survey Offices were established at Keetmanshoop (1908) and Omaruru (1909) in addition to the one at Windhoek. The new post of Vermessungsdirector (director of surveys) was created in 1909 and Goergens promoted to this office. His main duties were to control the activities of the three regional offices and to ensure that the German survey and farm registration system was adhered to. He was succeeded by F.J. Huemann* in 1912.

From 1912 to 1914 Goergens was Bezirksamtmann (district bailiff) for Omaruru. During World War I (1914-1918) he was interred until he was released in Cape Town in January 1919.

List of sources:

Dierks, K. Biographies of Namibian personalities (H. Gorgens). Retrieved from https://www.klausdierks.com/Biographies/Biographies_1.htm on 2017-2-9.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). http://www.national.archives.gov.za/naairs.htm Documents relating to Gorgens, Peter Heinrich / Gorgens, PH / Gorgens.

Parry, A.C. The history of land survey in South West Africa. South African Journal of Science, 1937, Vol. 34, pp. 18-28.

Van den Heuvel, P.A.L. A Short history of the survey and registration of land in South West Africa. South African Survey Journal, 1983-1984, Vol. 19(3), pp. 4-15; Vol. 20(1), pp. 20-29.

Compiled by: C. Plug