All right! Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting much recently, and the reason is twofold.

For one thing, my scanner is putting some severe lines through the photos and documents I’ve been scanning and it’s so bad in most cases that I don’t have enough skill to Photoshop them back to normalcy.

For two, I’ve been working on a bio of my grandfather, Johan “John” Siersema, since his birthday last week, which has included a lot of nailing down dates and details, listening to an old interview, and getting a hold of family members.

The good news is that my interviews should be done by next week, but the bad news is, I need a new scanner. I took the one I have apart to see if a good cleaning could remove the streaks from the glass, but alas it was not meant to be. I will figure something out, though.

Also recently, my cousin Anje Belmon — who is awesome and also into ancestry — has been something of a sleuth and fact checker and has uncovered lots of new information as well as a couple spelling mistakes on my part (shhhh…).

For instance, after I published the bio of Sophia van Ameringen, Anje found an entire Jewish Monument page has been dedicated to Sophia online, and there’s one for her daughter, Frederika, too. Each has a photo, which is really exciting, and additional details about them that I didn’t know. Like, Frederika lived in a home for mentally challenged people, and Sophia was in hiding with a family before being shipped to the Sobibor death camp. The Nazis searched the residence one day, didn’t take her, and then returned later for her. There’s also apparently a listing of all her worldly goods that the Nazis confiscated in The Hague, where I plan to go one day and look it up.

Anje also found the birthday of Dirk de Wit — the second of November, 1872, not sometime in 1873 like I’d thought. And she was able to identify some of the names on the photo of Klaas Siersema and his fellow military members in 1940, so I could update the tags and maybe their descendants will be able to say who they were.

I have also updated the post about Klaas Siersema and Helena “Lenie” de Wit’s divorce. Listening to an interview my grandfather did in the 80s, I discovered there was an even earlier divorce in my family’s history, where in Arentje Vermaas and Gerrit Siersema split on account of he had a severe alcoholism problem. She pretty much took their three kids and left in the late 1880s, and he eventually drank himself to death.

I also discovered what happened to Leendert Vlassbloem, who was one of the witnesses to Helena’s and Klaas’ marriage. According to the same interview with my grandfather, Leendert and his wife Leentje Siersema died of starvation within three days of each other during WWII.

And, perhaps the biggest discovery I have made so far was finding out which camp my grandfather was a prisoner of during WWII. It was Camp Amersfoort (don’t forget to turn on your Google translate if you follow that link), but more to come on that in my grandfather’s bio, I assure you.

Anyway, I’ll try to get a couple new posts up over the weekend with photos other people have scanned. And in the meantime, I’m also trying to figure out how to restore the head of this ancestor, who I think is Freerk Bellinga Swalve, since he looks super similar to a photo I have of his daughter. Maybe a hat? At this point, I’m taking suggestions.

9 comments on “Updates!

  1. Hi Christina, there’s something wrong with the story about the divorce between Gerrit Siersema and Arentje Vermaas. They got married on October 27 1892 in Brielle, province South-Holland (Genlias). So she couldn’t have run away with the children around the 1880’s. When Gerrit died February 11 1921 age 56 in Groningen, the death certificate states that Arentje was his wife.

    • Oh, thanks! That makes a lot more sense. If they didn’t even have divorce forms when Klaas and Helena split, Arentje must have been super strong-willed (or really afraid? But I’m going to hope strong-willed) back then.

  2. Cousin Anje is right, Arentje left Groningen and went to Brielle on 19th of july 1897 and took the three children with her. Gerrit moved to the municipal Haren (very near to Groningen) on 14th october 1897. They never divorced officially! His brother Johannes Eltjo and his family lived in Haren too, to be more precisely in a village called Glimmen. Did he move in with them for a (long) while?

    • Great details! I didn’t know a lot of that. The only thing my grandfather said about Gerrit before passing away (that I know of) is that he ran a liquor store and drank himself to death. I’ll try to find out more 🙂

  3. Hi Christina,

    Speaking about liquor stores. Did you know that your Siersema ancestors for several generations in the 18th and 19th century had a so called `Tapperij` a sort of small pub or small bar if you wish in Groningen. It was called `het land van belofte` or in english `the promised land` it still exist! But now is located in the heart of the (small) red light district in Groningen city!

    I did a lot of research long time ago, i am a Siersema (Klaas Siersema) myself and also realated to you and Johan Nico.

    I still live in Groningen were the very deep roots 18 en 17th century of the Siersema´s can be found. If you ever come to the Netherlands and want to fnd out more about the Siersema´s, you are welcome to visit me. I wrote the Siersema genealogie a book in 2 parts with over 800 pages. Unfortunately not digital available.

    Klaas Siersema

    • Cool! So you literally wrote the book on the Siersemas! Do you know who our common ancestor is? And why/how tge name Siersema originated? I do intend to come to the Netherlands next year, so maybe we could get together and talk then? The Tapperij sounds really interesting — especially that it still exists. I’d be so curious to know more 🙂

  4. Well, yes, for several years I collected all the information concerning the Siersema´s in the Groningen archives and wrote the genealogy. Our common ancestors are: Klaas Siersema (the first) and Trijntje Geerts Roemers, they married 20th april 1756 in Groningen (the town). Your ancestor is their eldest son Gerhardus (Gerrit) Siersema baptized the 3th of december 1758 and my ancestor is their second son Isebrant Siersema bapt. 22th february 1761. This where the two branches started, the Gerhardus tak (branch) and the Isebrant tak (branch).
    The name Siersema is very typical for this region, by that I mean the province of Groningen. In this province people originally spoke Frisian (till about 1400 – 1500). The tradional way of namegiving stayed that way for a much longer time. The last part of Frisian names always ends with; -ma, -stra, -ga, this means means `son of` so Siersema means `son of Sier(t)`.
    If you Google on `Nieuwe kerk Groningen` (in English: new church) you will find pictures of a 17th century church; in which Klaas and Trijntje married, where all their children (6) were baptized (and many other generations) and where many Siersema´s were buried, not in the church but round the church on the churchyard. The churchyard doesn´t exits anymore.

    Note Don´t be mistaken Groningen (province) is not Frisian anymore but it was during the middleages.

  5. If you come to the Netherlands next year you are welcome here. I´ll be happy to share our family history with you. I would like to tell you everything I know and show you around in Groningen city and Groningen province. I have guided more distand relatives through our family history. To understand family history it should be seen in a local-, national- and european- historical context and in historical cultural perspective. So be prepared for an overload of information because as you probably know European history is complex. Unless you want the short version.

    If you let me know you emailadres I will sent you some pictures

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