Search For A Secret Love


Dorothy Ethel Stark

In a search for her roots Bronwyn Marx discovered a long lost love story and united two 80-year-old sisters who’d never even heard of each other. Bronwyn always knew that her mother had been adopted as a new born baby in 1925, she just never knew why.  Bronwyn’s mother said she had no idea who her parents were, nor why she had been given up for adoption, but she had been led to believe that they were kind and loving people. Years passed and then Bronwyn began to dig into the past. Her family research project led her to the Karoo and by a pure stroke of luck she found her biological grandmother, Dorothy Ethel Stark.

Dorothy, who was born in Aliwal North on July 3, 1896, grew up in that little village and when she finished her schooling decided to study to become a teacher.   Once she qualified she taught at a farm school for a short while and then accepted a post at Beaufort West Girls School in 1923.  Within short she met the son of one of the local farmers and the two fell deeply in love. Within a year they decided to marry, but Dorothy’s father, Herman Frederick Stark, would not hear of it. He ordered his daughter to come home saying he had already arranged for her to marry the local pharmacist.

This happened in about August, 1924, but Dorothy and her beau, were far too much in love to just end their relationship. They decided to elope, but sadly disaster struck.  En-route to Durban, where they hoped to marry, the love of Dorothy’s life was killed in an accident. Dorothy was beside herself with grief and to make matters worse, she also discovered that she was pregnant. Her father was furious.  He refused to let her come home and, “in order to preserve the family’s good name”, arranged for her to stay in Durban until her child was born. He wanted nothing to do with the baby, he said. It had to be given up for adoption.

The chid, a little girl, arrived prematurely at the Berea Nursing Home on the 13 February 1925 and, despite the fact that Dorothy knew she had to give her up for adoption, she named the baby Peggy Hope Stark. The little girl’s adoptive parents, who loved her greatly, changed her name to Shelagh Dorothy Peggy.  They wanted her to have Dorothy in her name to preserve a link with her biological mother.


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