Work - Chirurgijn, Apotheker, Vroedmeester

Work is the theme for week 36.  Examining your ancestor's occupation is a great way to build context.  Do you have an ancestor with an "unusual" occupation? Have you found records relating to any of your ancestors' lines of work? Do you have photos of them at work?

For this post I am highlighting my direct ancestor, Gerrit Lourenszn Wit.  He was probably born late 1787, judging by his christening date of 10 February 1788, in the Beemster, Noord Holland, The Netherlands, as son of Lourens Gerritszn Wit and Jannetje Cornelisdr Kroon. I wrote earlier this year about Lourens Gerritszn Wit in a post for week 18 - Close Up and the confusion around his name. 

When Gerrit Lourenszn Wit married Maartje Stolp on 21 May 1812, at 24 years old, his occupation is given as Chirurgijn and Apotheker in the Huwelijks Akte (marriage record). But the date given for his promotion to Apotheker is stated as 20 October 1812 in Amsterdam in the registers published in Provinciaal Blad van Noord…

Back to School

For this week's theme (week 35) - back to school - my story is about my uncles Will and Rein Peelen, who were sent from the Dutch East Indies back to the Netherlands on their own as teenagers for their education.  This was a common practice for families in the Dutch East Indies. 

This is a fictionalised account, based mainly on the letter dated 20th July 1934 by Meta Peelen-Reith to her sons in my personal collection as well as a chapter from the memoir "A Wandering Tulip, the story of Gretel Peelen" by Ceris Arns, together with my own recollection of my mother Annemarie's  stories and my memories of travelling by sea.  I wrote it for an assignment for the Diploma of Family History unit Writing the Family Saga at the University of Tasmania. 

Meta busied herself with unpacking her sons’ luggage in their cabin aboard the steamship Gera. She knew her boys Reini and Will would be quite happy to live “out of a suitcase” but this was a last motherly act, a last chance to car…


Week 34 prompt. The federal census that we use in the US is sometimes comprised of more than one schedule. The one that we usually use is called the "population schedule." However, there are some censuses that have additional schedules. Have you found your ancestor on one of these schedules? What did you find?
Another way you could look at this theme is to write about something related to an ancestor, such as a church, school, or organization they were affiliated with. 

For this week's prompt I have chosen the Haardstedegelde Registers 1672-1804. What are they?

Haardstede was another word for dwelling or homestead commonly used in 17th and 18th centuries in the Netherlands. Literally it means the place (stede) with a hearth (haard). Tax was payable and levied according to the number of horses a farmer took to the fields. The rate was one guilder per horse, and craftsmen and artisans paid the basic rate of one guilder plus an extra guilder. Those without any means such as s…

Family Legend

Week 33 - Family Legend. It isn't unusual for a family to have some sort of legend. Maybe it's a legend surrounding the family's arrival in a country or that there's an ancestral castle waiting to be claimed. Maybe it's a story about how you're supposedly related to someone famous.You could explore how you proved or disproved the story.Then there are the "tall tales" that seem to get taller at every telling!

Another way you could look at this prompt is someone who did something legendary or was considered a legend in their line of work or in their community. How are you going to interpret "family legend"?

Henri Wilhelm August Deterding (1866-1939) is my choice for this week 33 prompt - Legend. He qualifies because in his life time he was called a Dutch oil king or The Napoleon of oil (Source: Henri Deterding, Wikipedia and NY Times, Dec 29, 1929 - An Oil King Who Came out of the East)

We are not related in a direct line. He is my third cousin…


The prompt for week 32 - Youngest - offers a few options: the youngest child in the family, any ancestors who were the youngest in their family, the most recent document.
My grandparents on my father's side were each the youngest in their families, and my father was their first born. I have already written a bit about my grandparents in other posts, so for this one I'll look for more recent documents and this happens to be my father's baby book, entitled "Eerste Levensjaren" and also the baby instruction manual my mother received from the family in Holland when she was expecting me, in Calcutta, India.

The baby book "Eerste Levensjaren" - Early Years - was first published in 1910 in Dutch and features five illustrations by Henriette Willebeek le Mair, a not so well known illustrator who gained more appreciation for her work in later years, or so it seems from what I've quickly googled. (Henriette Willebeek le Mair - ongekend talent)

This album has live…


Week 31 of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is "Oldest." Lots of ways you could go with this theme: oldest in an ancestral family, oldest document you've found, oldest ancestor you met. 

For this week's topic I have chosen to look through my family tree to find the "oldest" ancestor, not in years lived, but furthest back in time. 

The "oldest" ancestor that I can see in my family tree is Marke Brunke-Schwieter, with an estimated birth year of 1615. This was calculated on the basis of her age at death being recorded as 81.  The source for this line in the family tree is a pedigree - Lampe Brunke Parenteel - provided by another distant cousin Ed Nicolaas to my uncle Cees Blomberg who build up the family tree I'm now working from.  Lampe Brunke was Marke's father and her mother was Hilke zu Restrup. 

It so happens that I have been listing and filing the contents of the two boxes of paperwork I inherited and so I knew there had already been a lot of corr…


Week 30 is "Colorful." Maybe it's the relative who would be described as "a character." Maybe it's a relative who was artistic and enjoyed lots of color. What person in your family tree makes you think of "colorful"?

Meta Reith, my grandmother, was an artist and craftswoman. She created many artworks, but the family lost all during World War II and I've written in other posts about their experiences of that time.

But I have one painting, which I assume my mother got from the family in Germany and some embroidered articles that made it through the camp and photos in the family album showing off some of her work she produced pre-war.

I think she must have done this still-life in her student days at an art college in Hamburg, so it probably is about a hundred years old. It hangs in my kitchen now. The bright red of the lobster stands out.

Most poignant though are the two pieces she made while in the camp. For my mother's birthday, perhaps her tw…