Abel Jacobus Erasmus was born in Weenan, Natal in 1845. His father died soon after his birth and his mother decided to join the Great Trek under Hendrick Potgieter and eventually settled in Orighstad.
Abel worked on the family farm for much of his early life and by the time he got married at the young age of 19, he was already an excellent hunter and a very capable farmer.
He and his wife moved to Krugerpost after getting married and he soon gained the respect of the locals for his great hunting skills.
He managed to acquire property in the area of Graskop and when gold was found to be on the property he found a buyer in President Burgers, who was the president at the time.
In 1876 he was elected to serve on the Lydenberg council and was appointed the field cornet in a period of very tense confrontations with the Pedi who were led by the powerful Sekukhuni. Although a peace agreement was finally struck, the events ultimately led to the British annexation of the Transvaal in 1877.
Once the British took over administration of the Transvaal, they arrested Sekukhuni. Not long after that Erasmus was also taken in by the British government after Sekukhuni made accusations against him. Both were eventually released.