A Lucky Chance Encounter

What is lucky? Winning lotto, a happy coincidence, an unexpected opportunity, a chance encounter. Whatever spin you put on it, my mother Annemarie had a very fortunate chance encounter.

Annemarie and Gretel had survived the Japanese prisoner of war camp Banjoe Biroe on Java, Dutch East Indies, but their mother had not and after Japan's official surrender on August 15, 1945, they had found their father with the aid of the International Red Cross. They were now living with their father in Bandung in the old army barracks in an officer's bungalow. Life seemed to be getting back to normal, although there was unrest and fighting around them from the rebels agitating for independance from the Netherlands. But they were starting to enjoy life again - there were even dances and entertainment on the weekends.

One morning Annemarie was on her way to market when she spotted a familiar figure balancing a basket of vegetables on his head,  across the road. "Hey Blom", she called …

A Strong Woman - Week 10 prompt

What female in your family tree has shown remarkable strength (either physical or emotional)? That is the question and who would fit the bill in my line-up of ancestors. A few come to mind and I have already dedicated a blog to my German born grandmother Meta, who ran a soup kitchen from her home in Japan occupied Java, before being taken into camp with her two daughters, - For now I want to turn the spotlight on my great-great grandmother Anna Hendrika Knoops, who I've gotten to know a little through the letters I have from her husband and finally a portrait scan I received from my cousin.

Looking at the photo I get the impression that she was the "quiet achiever". A kind, gentle, persona shines through, stoic really, perhaps a little reserved at first, then warm once you got to know her. Which is why I want to highlight her life because  I think so many of our foremothers were just like that; stoic, taking life as it comes, drawing on inner …

Where there's a will ....

Where there's a will, there's a .... fill in the blanks. It could be an actual document like a last will and testament. In my family research so far I have not found one and I was relieved to receive this very timely blog post from Dutch genealogist Yvette Hoitink, Dutch Ancestors left few last wills.

So I'm going with "where there's a will, there's a way". My Dutch grandmother Bee Blomberg-Lawerman liked to say "wil niet is dood en kan niet ligt ernaast" - "will not is dead and can not lies beside it". Off I'd go again, grumbling, to do my homework; she wasn't buying my latest excuse.

So now I'm delving into the memories of family stories that tell of determination and ingenuity in the face of adversity.

There is the story of my great-aunt Tippy (Julie Mathilde Peelen), who was deserted by her husband in war-torn Berlin during the First World War.  She had to somehow find a way to survive. As told in a family history publi…

A Family Heirloom - Mourning Pin.

This tiny pin, it is only about one centimetre across, contains the hair, or so I was told, of my great-great-grandmother Lijsbeth Douwes Beintema. My grandmother gave me this on my 30th birthday, when I happened to be living in Amsterdam for a little while and so it was an opportunity to pass on a valuable heirloom like this one. I remarked that it looked like a pen and ink sketch, but my grandmother said, no, it is made from her hair. It is a tiny pin and I wonder if it wasn't originally the clasp of a bracelet, because when you turn it over you can see at one end an opening for the other end to hook into. It also looks a bit cobbled together on the back.

It shows a scene of a stone urn, mounted on a pedestal with the initials LDB, with some trees and shrubs around it. A sombre cemetery scene like this was typical of the Victorian era hair art that flourished in the nineteenth century and was created to honour the memory of the deceased. There were professional hair artists, bu…

A Valentine

When I was growing up in the Netherlands Valentine's day wasn't celebrated and it only became popular in the last twenty years or so according to a post on My Heritage Blog

What then? The closest to a Valentine I can think of is the "poésie" or poetry album (like an autograph book) that belonged to my great grandmother,  Julie Wilhelmina Scherius. So, for the 52 Ancestors week 7 prompt "Valentine" this will be my inspiration.

This is the rather battered looking "poésie" album, indicating lots of active duty. You can still see how ornate it was, gold embossed lettering and decoration and the pages were edged in gold as well. Quite splendid.

Here she is aged eighteen years.  Julie was born 13 October 1860, in Probolinggo, Java, Dutch East Indies (modern Indonesia), where her father was the "resident" (like a governor). Her mother was Caroline Charlotte Nagel, who was hers…

A favourite name

No particular name springs to mind at first as I consider this week's prompt. Being of Dutch stock my family tree has lots of good old fashioned Dutch names. With little variation. If I take "favourite" to be what the ancestors liked or used the most, I think Jan (John) would be the top. It pops up everywhere either as a first name or middle name. Variations are Jans or Jansen, which really say that the person is a son of Jan, and so I have a Jan Jansen Bloemberg.

The same name repeated down the generations because of the naming conventions at the time which meant I think that the first born son was named after the grandfathers and the first born daughter after the grandmothers can be helpful but when you get a line of Jan Blomberg's it can be confusing too.

For my father who was named Jan Doede, after both his grandfathers, the popularity of Jan meant that for the first half of his life he was known by his nickname "Dick". As my grandmother told us, when s…

A Favourite Photo

I've chosen this photo from many other favourites because it pushes me into finding out more about another family line - the Bakker family, a line I haven't done much research on.

It shows Wiebertus Meinderts Bakker with his two daughters, the youngest is I think my great-great grandmother Fokeline Dieverdina Bakker.  I can't be sure, because I have no information for this photograph, other than that the man in this photo matches another photo I have which is named and identifies him as Wiebertus Meinderts Bakker.

The other reason I chose this photo is because it is rather sweet. Two little girls wearing their best, identical dresses, with flounces and frills in a distinctive kind of tartan-like pattern, together with their father.

They look at ease with him, especially Fokelina who leans into him and rests her arm on his knee. The older girl looks a bit more impatient, ready to take off, as soon as the photographer is done.

Fokeline was born in 1864 and I'm guessing …