Mayor of Doorn commends Johan Nico Siersema

Bewijs van goed zedelijk gedrag Gemeente van afgifte: Doorn Datum van afgifte: 20 Juli 1949 De burgemeester van voormelde gemeente verklaart, dat de hieronder genoemde persoon, voor zoveel hem bekend, van goed zedelijk gedrag is. Geboren te: Maasbree L Geboren op: 9 October 1924 Beroep: Zonder Alhier wonende (van - tot): 1 November 1948 tot heden  De burgemeester voornoemd, [signature]. Evidence of good character Municipality of issue: Doorn Date of issue: 20 July 1949 The mayor of that municipality declares that the person mentioned below, so far as known to him, of good repute. Born in: Maasbree L Birth: 9 October 1924 Occupation: Without Local resident (from - to): 1 November 1948 to present The mayor said, [signature]

In this document from the 20th of July, 1949, the mayor of Doorn commends my grandfather, Johan Nico Siersema, as a person of good repute and good character. I’m not sure exactly what for, but possibly for service in the war. Still, it’s pretty cool to see.

Wedding portrait of Louise Lopes-Cardozo and Cornelis Kool (1900)

Cornelis Kool (1900) and Louise Lopes-Cardozo in 1926

This is a lightly retouched wedding portrait of my great-grandparents, Louise Lopes-Cardozo and Cornelis Kool, who were married on the 15th of September, 1926, in Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands.

Louise, who was born on the first of January, 1903, in Amsterdam would have been 23 years old, and Cornelis, who was born on the sixth of July, 1900, in Groningen, Netherlands, would have been 26 years old.

As a side note, my mother, Joy-Anne Siersema, has worn the cameo necklace Louise is wearing in this photo every day for just about as long as I can remember.

Bio: Ruth Kool

Ruth Kool

Ruth Kool was born on the seventh of November, 1931, in Eindhoven, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands, to Louise Lopes-Cardozo and Cornelis Kool (1900), according to documentation in my family. She was their third and youngest child.

She had one brother, Maurtis, who is more commonly known as Morris, and one sister, Christina, who was more commonly known as Tineke.

Ruth was married to Len Gaasenbeek in 1952, but they never had any children. Ruth died fairly young after contracting an illness at the hospital where she worked. She passed away on the 24th of March, 1956, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

In the Canadian National Association of Trained Nurses’ “The Canadian Nurse Volume 52 (No. 11),” which was published in November of 1956, Ruth was listed along with others with her same occupation who had died in the In Memoriam section:

“Ruth (Kool) Gaasenbeek died recently at Kingston, Ont, After having received part of her training in Holland, Mrs. Gaasenbeek entered the school of nursing of the Greater Niagara Hospital. Niagara Falls, and graduated in 1955.”

MYSTERY PHOTO SERIES: De Wit family photo circa 1910 holds a clue, more questions

From left to right, Dirk de Wit (1873), unknown ancestor No. 1,unknown ancestor No. 2, Freerk Bellinga Swalve, unknown child, Helena Fredrika de Wit, Wubbina Engellina Johanna Petronella Swalve, and unknown woman in Beverwijk, 1910.

Update: Ancestor No. 3 has since been identified as Freerk Bellinga Swalve.

As with many mysteries, just as soon as I found a clue that might help me solve one, two new questions popped up.

If you remember the subject in the photo from the post “Image taken in Rotterdam in the 1800s by A. Boeseken,” you may notice the uncanny resemblance between her and Unknown Ancestor No. 1 in the image above. Since we know that the Rotterdam photo was taken between 1867-1877 and that this photo is taken in 1910, I was excited to look at my family tree to see who the woman might be. Based on birth and death records, a huge amount of people were immediately dismissed through process of elimination. While my records that far back are a little spotty (mostly with birth dates, but no death dates yet), there was one person who fit the criteria: Anneke van de Graaf.

Anneke van de Graaf entered my family tree through marriage to Hermanus de Wit, who was the brother of my direct ancestor and great-great-great-grandfather Dirk de Wit (1833). So, essentially, she would have been the aunt of the Dirk de Wit standing next to her, if the person in the photo is indeed her. She was born in Beesd, Netherlands, in 1838 and died in Beesd in 1913.

That said, I have no way to verify it yet — and let’s not forget that the image above also raised two additional questions with Unknown Ancestors Nos. 2 and 3. Who are they? For a moment there, I was excited, thinking that perhaps they were the elder Dirk de Wit and his wife, but that is an impossibility since they died seven years earlier. Unknown Ancestors Nos. 2 and 3 could, then, very well be Wubbina’s parents, Freerk Bellina Swalve and Helena Catrina Koster, who did live in Beverwijk judging by the record of their wedding on and postcards Freerk sent to Helena. Until I find their death records, though, I cannot confirm. And so the mysteries continue!

Klaas Siersema appointed an Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau


My great-grandfather, Klaas Siersema, was a career military man, and the official document above appointed him as an Officer of  the Order of Orange-Nassau, which honors selective individuals for their contributions to society through either civilian or military efforts.

I know he served in WWII and had achieved the rank of colonel before retiring. My step-grandmother tells me he also worked a lot with soldiers who suffered from disorders resembling what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder.

WHO WORE IT BETTER?: Helena de Wit or Klaas Siersema?

This is the first (and likely the only) “Who Wore it Better?” post you will ever see on this blog, so — remember — your vote counts! On the left, we have my great-grandmother Helena “Lenie” de Wit, and, on the right, we have my great-grandfather Klaas Siersema.

Lenie never served in the military, but she had many friends, including her husband, Klaas, and longtime partner, Gerard Berends, who did. Plus, she’s just so darn cute.

Then, we have Klaas, who was a career military man. He worked his way up from lieutenant to colonel before retiring. Clearly, his look is more stoic (that might have something to do with the fact that he is quite literarlly in the field in this photo, which I believe was taken during WWII).

Portrait of Gonda Margaretha Duuntjer and Cornelis Kool (1838)

Portrait of Cornelis Kool and Gonda Margaretha Duuntjer.

This is a lightly retouched photo of Gonda Margaretha Duuntjer and Cornelis Kool, my great-great-great-grandparents (with that many greats, they must have been pretty awesome!). Of all the photos I have, this is one of the farthest back in generations — thanks go to cousin Anje Belmon who emailed it to me in the first place.

I like that both Gonda Margaretha and Cornelis took such care to pose with their wedding bands to the camera. It makes me think that, perhaps, this was a portrait from an anniversary.

Here are some more details of their lives:

Gonda Margaretha was born in 1840 in Veendam, Groningen, Netherlands, to Hindrik Heres Duuntjer and Trijntje Germs Boon, according to a record on

Cornelis was born in 1838 in Gieten, Aa en Hunze, in Drenthe, Netherlands, to Elsin Cornelis Schroder and Halbe Geerts Kool.

Cornelis and Gonda Margaretha were married on the 25th of January in 1867 in Veendam, also according to a record from, which listed Cornelis’ occupation at the time as sailor. About 10 months later, their first child was born (go grandparents!).

Anyway, I don’t have a date on this photo, but it had to have been taken prior to 1921, when Gonda Margaretha passed away. Cornelis died just two and a half years later.