Distant cousins reunited

  • By Antecedentia
  • 12 May, 2017
Linda van Drunen Crawford and Pia Stierman van Drunen in front of their ancestor's home

Linda Van Drunen Crawford from Austin, Texas wrote me this February. She found information about her paternal line before, all the way back to the 1750s, and had plans to come to the Netherlands at the end of April and the beginning of May. She really wanted to visit the area where her ancestors once lived. Therefore, she asked me to do some extra research to confirm her lineage and to make some suggestions on where to go during her trip through the Netherlands.

Her family carries the surname Van Drunen and has its roots in the province of Noord-Brabant, the same province as where I am living. The surname Van Drunen suggests the family once came from the village of Drunen, approximately half an hour to the north of my hometown Tilburg. But an actual link between the family and the village was not established. Yet.

Through e-mail I learned that Linda wanted to learn more about the oldest generations, who lived in the 18th century. She also wanted more details about the family in the 19th century: where did they live, what did they for a living, were there relatives who stayed in the Netherlands? And she explained that she really wanted to visit one specific place, a homestead in Sleeuwijk where her ancestors lived before they emigrated to the United States.

Map from the 'kadaster' that shows the Van Drunen properties in Sleeuwijk

Research results

I was able to confirm her lineage, using vital records, population registers and church books. From her father and grandfather to Antonie van Drunen (1853-1925) who was born in Dussen, Noord-Brabant, the Netherlands. When he came to the United States he was called ‘Toon the Hollander’. He married his second cousin Anna van Drunen (1865-1945) who was born in South Holland, Illinois. Antonie’s father was Lucas van Drunen (1821-1894), his grandfather Antonie van Drunen (1794-1879), his great-grandfather Lucas van Drunen (1751-1808).

They all lived in the same area: Sleeuwijk, Werkendam, Almkerk, Dussen; most of them were farmers. From this point church books show names for three possible generations further back in history, but without extra research in archives, for example court records, it is really difficult to find enough evidence for this part of Linda’s lineage.

Linda also wanted to know if some of her relatives stayed in the Netherlands. So I looked into siblings of her paternal ancestors. I found out that Antonie van Drunen (1794-1879) had a younger son, named Arnoldus van Drunen (1827-1880). He married twice, had nine children and became the founder of a branch of the Van Drunen family that still lives in the area of Werkendam and Dussen.

distant cousins Pia Stierman van Drunen and Linda Van Drunen Crawford talk about their families

Cousins meet

The historical society of Werkendam was able to trace one of his descendants, Pia Stierman-van Drunen. After a few weeks, Pia sent me an email to ask what exactly I was looking for. I told her about Linda, her interest in the history of their (common) family and her trip to the Netherlands. Pia was excited and wanted to meet her American cousin Linda!

So, last week I had the pleasure to meet both Linda and Pia. The cousins met for the first time in their lives. We spoke about life in the Netherlands, for example about World War II and about the way we express our patriotic feelings by wearing orange clothes during national holidays. We looked at old photographs from the Dutch branch of the family and Pia told us about her parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. After the photographs and stories we visited the area. Pia first brought us to the street named Kerkeinde in Sleeuwijk, the place where the Van Drunen homestead still exists! Linda was back at the exact location where her 3x great-grandfather and his family lived. We all wondered whether the old tree behind the house was old enough to have been planted by one of the old Van Drunen family members. A wonderful place to take pictures of both the cousins. Then we visited the church, not far from the homestead. The church is no longer in use, but the cemetery still is. No graves from the Van Drunen family, no graves from direct relatives. But a lot of names that also appear in Linda’s family tree.

I left the two cousins at the church. Time for me to go home. Linda and Pia visited some other places, had dinner together. We all enjoyed our day. One week later I received a thank-you card from Linda, while she was cruising the rivers of Belgium and the Netherlands.

A wonderful experience for all of us. Meeting clients like this is the cherry on the cake. Or should I say that Linda’s present was the real cherry? She brought me a t-shirt from the University of Texas. I might wear it next year at King’s Day, as it is… orange!

By Antecedentia 29 Oct, 2017

It was not until I filled in the In-Depth Genealogist’s writers inquiry that I realized foster children are part of my family history. It came to me that my mother’s family has a long history in fostering children. This blog post is about them, my nonblood-related family members. Note: all families lived in Loon op Zand, a small village in the south of the Netherlands.

Adriana ‘Jaoneke’ Maas (1855-1936) was the widow of my great-great-grandfather’s only brother Gerrit Jansen. She had seven children of her own. When in the 1910s, most of her children had left the parental house, she welcomed two foster children into her home: the brothers Wilhelm Johannes Hendrik van Ewijk (1908-1932) and Johannes ‘Jo’ van Ewijk (1911-1940) from Deventer.

Both came to a tragic end. The older one drowned in the IJssel river at the age of 24 when playing with a little boat. The younger one died in the first days of World War II on the battlefield of Grebbeberg, in the area of Rhenen. Only 29 years old, he was survived by his wife and two children.

One decade later, my grandfather became a foster son himself. His mother was often too sick to take care of her five children and therefore my grandfather Adrianus ‘Jos’ Jansen (1916-1999) was raised by his uncle Petrus Johannes ‘Pieter’ Jansen (1886-1966) and aunt Huiberdina ‘Dien’ van de Graaf (1885-1958), a childless couple. After Dien had died, Jos moved in with his foster father. He, his wife and their three children lived with ‘grandfather’ and took care of him, until he died at the age of almost 80 years.

My grandfather’s brother, Cornelis Petrus ‘Kees’ Jansen (1913-2000), and his wife Anna Elisabeth Antonetta ‘Annie’ Donders (1914-2002) even had four foster children, all living with them at the same time. The children grew up as brothers and sisters and they were always a part of the Jansen family.

But also on the other side of my mother’s family, fostering children was not uncommon. My great-grandparents, Josephus Petrus ‘Sjef’ Snoeren (1889-1988) and Adriana Cornelia ‘Jaon’ Biemans (1891-1966), had three children of their own, of which one died as an infant. They had also two foster children. Of one I know nothing more than her first name: Fien. She came as an infant and stayed only for a short period with my grandmother’s family.

By Antecedentia 17 Oct, 2017
In the center of the Netherlands lies the city of Apeldoorn. It has about 160,000 inhabitants and is well-known for its zoo with 35 different species of monkeys, called Apenheul. The city is also famous for one of the finest Dutch palaces: Het Loo. I recently visited the palace, the gardens and the park. Although I was there a couple of times before, it was interesting again to see the staterooms and to read about the royals who lived here during many centuries. In the first half of the 20th century Het Loo was the favorite palace of Queen Wilhelmina (1880-1962). After she abdicated, she spent the last fourteen years in quietness in and around this palace. Here she made many paintings of the surrounding area. Her granddaughter, princess Margriet, was the last resident. She lived here until 1975, together with her husband and four sons. Since 1984 the palace is a museum and is open to the public.

English royals
One of the most fascinating parts of Het Loo’s history, is the fact that it was built between 1684 and 1686 for stadhouder William III of Orange (1650-1702). Because of his marriage to Mary Stuart in 1677, he became king of England, Scotland and Ireland in 1689. As a Prince of Orange he was already a sovereign prince and this - together with the office of stadtholder of the Dutch Republic - gave him an international status. His position only improved when he ascended the English throne. He now needed his palace in Apeldoorn to be an impressive summer residence, full of splendor and grandeur. The palace was enlarged, the gardens became a true example of garden art. If you want to read more about the history of the palace, please visit the website of Het Loo .
By Antecedentia 10 Oct, 2017

Let me start with a few lines of an email message that I received in August 2017.

“I will be in Amsterdam from 24-28 September (2017) and had hoped to contact a local genealogist, well before now, to access further family records prior to my arrival. Given the time lines at this point I imagine that this might not be possible.”

These words were written by Eileen Baker of Canberra, Australia. In another email she wrote: “During my visit to Amsterdam I had hoped to visit some of the areas that the Bouman family lived in.”

Although there was only one month left, I wanted to give this a try. Could I help Eileen find some locations in Amsterdam, that were related to her family history? Without specific locations for her to visit she would still enjoy Amsterdam. But it was my strong intention to give her that special feeling when you step into your ancestors’ footsteps.

What could I do? I started with her great-great-grandfather, Johannes Bouman, who was born in Amsterdam in 1828. He was the family member that decided to emigrate to Australia in 1852. From his birth record I learned the names of his parents and with help of their names I found the birth records of his siblings. These records showed the names of three streets: Wittenburgerstraat, Kattenburgerplein and Kattenburgerdwarsstraat. I then looked for the Bouman family in the population registers of Amsterdam for the periods 1851-1853 and 1853-1863. All entries showed the same street name: Kleine Kattenburgerstraat.

It was clear the family lived in the Kattenburg area. Could I help Eileen find the addresses in nowadays Amsterdam? The answer was disappointing: no, not really. In the 19th century the Kattenburg area was famous for shipyards. Many people in this neighborhood worked on one of the shipyards, as a sailor, carpenter or porter. The Bouman family was no exception. In the 1930s – during the great economic recession – the deterioration of Kattenburg started and by the 1960s the whole neighborhood was impoverished. Large parts of the area were demolished, except for the facades of some houses on Kattenburgerplein. On the spots of the removed premises, modern flat buildings were built.
By Antecedentia 12 Jul, 2017

It was a sunny Saturday morning in June. I arrived at 9.45am in Bergen op Zoom, a former military town in the western part of the province of Noord-Brabant, the Netherlands. This was the moment that I would meet an American couple: Jim and Kathy VanVliet of Tacoma, Washington. Four months earlier they asked me if I was able to be their guide on a heritage trip to see some ancestral places in the Dutch provinces of Zuid-Holland and Zeeland. Literally they said: “Ideally we would love to have someone who could spend a half day or day guiding us through the area so we can make the most of our time.”

From the moment they arrived by train, we spoke about genealogy. Not so much about their family history – we would do that later that day – but more about what it is like to be a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. We also spoke about new developments in genealogy, for example DNA research. As with other couples that I met before on heritage trips, Jim and Kathy were very much interested in the Dutch culture, history and landscape.

By Antecedentia 12 May, 2017

Linda Van Drunen Crawford from Austin, Texas wrote me this February. She found information about her paternal line before, all the way back to the 1750s, and had plans to come to the Netherlands at the end of April and the beginning of May. She really wanted to visit the area where her ancestors once lived. Therefore, she asked me to do some extra research to confirm her lineage and to make some suggestions on where to go during her trip through the Netherlands.

Her family carries the surname Van Drunen and has its roots in the province of Noord-Brabant, the same province as where I am living. The surname Van Drunen suggests the family once came from the village of Drunen, approximately half an hour to the north of my hometown Tilburg. But an actual link between the family and the village was not established. Yet.

Through e-mail I learned that Linda wanted to learn more about the oldest generations, who lived in the 18th century. She also wanted more details about the family in the 19th century: where did they live, what did they for a living, were there relatives who stayed in the Netherlands? And she explained that she really wanted to visit one specific place, a homestead in Sleeuwijk where her ancestors lived before they emigrated to the United States.

By Antecedentia 31 Oct, 2016
It was on a Monday evening, somewhere around 8pm that I received an email from Peter and Patti. Their question was very simple: in two weeks we travel from the United States to the Netherlands and we want to visit some locations where our ancestors lived, can you help us? I thought: “Wow… interesting question, great opportunity. But there are only two weeks left for preparation. That will be a challenge!” In the next three days we sent each other some emails. In order to prepare this heritage trip, I needed more information about their Dutch family and about their ideas about this trip. At first, Peter and Patti told me they wanted to see the different towns and villages where their ancestors lived, as well as visit several archives to do some genealogy research on their own. According to the information they had found in the United States, the family used to live in four areas: in Andijk and Enkhuizen, in Weesp and Kamerik, in Langerak and Vianen and in a few villages to the east of Groningen. For me it was clear: the initial plan to visit all these places and to do research in archives would be impossible. They had to choose.
By Antecedentia 23 Jun, 2016

On Sunday June 19th, 2016 Antecedentia organized its first Genealogy Network Lunch. Four genealogists/researchers from the Netherlands, the United States and Germany met for the first time: Jennifer Holik, John Boeren, Ursula Krause and Yvette Hoitink (see picture). Two others, Luana Wentz Darby (the United States) and An Stofferis (France), were invited but could not make it to the Netherlands.

The afternoon started with two keynote speakers. Beatrix van Erp-Jacobs, emeritus professor at Tilburg University, spoke about legal records from the 17th and 18th century that help genealogists find more information about persons and families. Sjef van Erp, professor at Maastricht University, explained the current developments in Europe in the field of succession law. He warned all participants: the ones who are mentioned in a last will might not always be the heirs according to (national or European) law.

By Antecedentia 28 May, 2016
Interpret Europe (IE) is an independent and non-profit association that brings together people from across Europe who are professionally involved in heritage interpretation. Every year IE organises a conference on heritage interpretation. This year’s annual conference was held in Mechelen from 21 – 24 May. Approximately 160 participants from 26 countries came together for lectures and presentations, for study visits and for networking. The 2016 theme of the conference was ‘ Heritage Interpretation for the Future of Europe ’.

Together with An Stofferis of International Genealogy Services (France) I attended the conference and gave a presentation on Tuesday 24 May. Our presentation was called ‘Building Bridges: How genealogy leads Europe towards a sustainable and peaceful future’. The paper was published in the conference proceedings . The abstract in the conference programme describes the presentation as follows.

“One way to study the intangible aspects of culture, such as folklore, traditions and knowledge, is by performing genealogical research. Modern genealogists no longer only collect names and dates; they are looking for stories about people and families. Genealogy helps us find our place in the present and the future through our own family history. Questions such as, “Who were my ancestors? Where did they live? And what did they do?” make us curious. The next step leads us to tangible cultural heritage: we want to visit the village where our ancestors lived; we want to see how wooden shoes were made; we want to see and feel how it was to fight a battle that changed European history. But genealogy also reveals a darker side of history: stories about crimes, wars and other injustices. Questions such as, “Was this right? Would I have done the same?” make us reclect on our present and future, on our own society and on other cultures. This way we develop respect and better understanding.”
By Antecedentia 25 Feb, 2016
Today I visited the Noord-Hollands Archief  in Haarlem. One of my clients asked me to look for some documents about his great-grandfather who lived for more than five years in psychiatric hospitals. After my trip to the archives, I drove from Haarlem to Zandvoort to see the North Sea beach. It is a beautiful way through the dunes, with big villa’s in villages with names like Heemstede, Aerdenhout, Overveen and Bloemendaal. Somewhere halfway I saw a sign: war cemetery. I decided to take the exit, followed a muddy road and parked my car. At the beginning of a path through the dunes I found an information panel and I started to read about the history of Eerebegraafplaats Bloemendaal .
By Antecedentia 23 Feb, 2016

In the weekend of 20 and 21 February 2016, I was in Wavre, Belgium. Or Waver, as the Flemish say. I visited Généatica 2016, a genealogy conference organized by the Flemish association for genealogists ( Familiekunde Vlaanderen ) and the Wallonian association for genealogists ( Géniwal ). The conference took place in the town hall and adjacent (former) monastery. I was not the only one who was interested in this ‘salon de généalogie’: more than 1,500 other visitors joined me. It was a real success.

On Saturday I had the opportunity to attend a lecture about Belgian refugees in France during World War I. Two members of Familiekunde Vlaanderen spoke about sources in Belgium and in France that can help genealogists to find out for what places their family members left when Belgium was dragged into ‘the Great War’. Almost 1.5 million people left their homes and fled to the Netherlands, France or England.

There were more lectures that day, but I was not able to hear any of them. My time was spent on meeting other genealogists. Some of them were professional genealogists, like me. Others were representing a genealogical association or company. There were more than sixty booths! It was a very interesting experience to speak with everybody, all in one way or another passionate about genealogy.

Participants of the conference were invited for dinner in hotel Leonardo. I was seated at a table with Dutch and Belgian participants, some were into genealogy and others into cultural heritage. A few were in my ‘friend lists’ on social media. Now I could speak with them face to face. We had a great meal and a wonderful evening.

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