How the town Parys got its name
This is the story of how the little Free State town Parys was formed and how it got its name.
One hundred and forty years ago, three brothers and their sister lived on a big farm next to the most rocky part of the Vaal river. They called their farm Klipspruit and they were the family Van Coller.
In those days towns were few and far between. If you lived here and you wanted to go to church, you had to go all the way to Kroonstad. If you happened to be on the Transvaal side of the Vaal river and you wanted to cross over to the Free State, you had to go all the way to Potchefstroom to do that. With a wagon and oxen that would have taken you days to do!
One day the van Coller brothers received a visit from an attorney and a surveyor. They wanted the brothers to give permission for a township to be laid out on their farm. The brothers wanted nothing to do with this new idea, so the attorney and surveyor approached the owners of the adjoining farm, and not long afterwards the township of Vredefort was proclaimed. The van Coller brothers soon saw the foolishness of their decision and approached the Dutch Reformed Church with an offer to give away a big portion on the farm Klipspruit for a church to be built on and not long afterwards they sold seven erven for R360 (25 pounds) each.
And THAT was the start of the town which was called Parys because the land surveyor, Mr Schillbach, came form Europe and took part in the siege of Paris on the river Seine and had hopes for a similar town to be laid out on both sides of this river in the Free State. But he forgot that the other side of the river was in a different province!
The bustling little town that ensued because it was on the main road to Bloemfontein was almost destroyed completely during the Boer War, because the surrounding area was so suited for guerrilla warfare and in 1902 people had to start all over again. They had a ferry that could take you over the river if you wanted to go to the other side, but the ferry went only to the middle island and then another ferry took you further, if you were lucky. The bridge that crosses the river today was built then, although it was just a one lane bridge at the time.
Old buildings from those times that survived, can still be seen today: The Palm Court Hotel, the museum building and the church behind it and some houses.