1930s Photo of Candelaria Marin Hernandez and Mariano Vargas Ramos

Candelaria and Mariano Vargas

Candelaria and Mariano Vargas in 1930. (Photo courtesy Cousin Carmen Vargas.)

Candelaria Marin Hernandez and Mariano Vargas Ramos were born in Mexico and came to the United States after their children had immigrated and become established (family lore says that Candelaria insisted on moving after the birth of her first grandchild, George Gullicksen).

I wrote about them before, after seeing a great portrait of them hanging on the wall at Cousin Rose’s house. This photograph is from Rose’s sister, Cousin Carmen, from when we had a get-together ancestry day and swapped stories and photographs.

Candelaria was born in Ameca, Jalisco, Mexico in about 1869 and she died of uterine cancer in San Jose, California, on August 19, 1930.

Mariano was also born in Ameca in November, 1870. When they lived in Mexico, he was a door-to-door salesman and also sold goods out of a small shop on the side of their home. He died during surgery for a bladder infection in Mexico City, D.F. on February 14, 1931.

They would have been married before their first child, Atenogenes, was born in 1901; although, I do not have an exact date. They had nine children over a span of 19 years: Atenojenes (1901), Carmen (1906), Genoveba (1907), Guadalupe (1909), Consuelo (1912), Nieves aka Nancy (1914), Luz aka Lucy (1918), Alfonso (1919), and Luis (1920).

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1933 Kool family photo

Photo: Kool family in summer of 1933

A Kool family photo from the summer of 1933. (Courtesy of Halbo Kool)

A Kool family photo from the summer of 1933. (Courtesy of Halbo Kool)

The back of a Kool family photo from the summer of 1933. (Courtesy of Halbo Kool)

The back of a Kool family photo from the summer of 1933. (Courtesy of Halbo Kool)

This photo reminds me of half the family photos I’ve eve taken, where you hit the button before everyone is paying attention. It was sent to me by Halbo Kool and he had a go at deciphering the handwriting on the back, as well as identifying the faces he knew in the photo. Here’s what his note said:

“…Summer 1933 Her(man ?) Brouwer ( ?) ; Germ & Anni ; Hendrik & Irene ; HCK & Chr. (Hendrik 3rd from right, HCK and Chr the two on the left)”

To further translate, Christina Kolle is on the far left, and Halbo Kool (b.1873) is standing next to her. Halbo Kool (b.1873)’s brother Hendrik Kool is the third from the right with wife Irene, but we are not sure which woman she is. Germ Kool and wife Anni (Anna Hebelina Klugkist) are also in the photo, as are host Her(man?) Brouwer and another female.

As for the Brouwers, they may be relatives, but I am not sure. They may just be family friends. It’s funny, though, because my best friend and I are both interested in genealogy and she recently found some family members in her tree from the Netherlands with the last name Brouwer and so I’ve been on the lookout for connections between our families.

Recognize anyone? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to further narrow down who’s who in this photograph.

Cousin Anje has identified everyone in this photo:

1. Christina Kool (née Kolle) 1873-1957 married with Halbo Kool (b.1873)
2. Hendrik Kool 1869-1962 brother Halbo Kool, not married
3. Elsina Anna Kool 1867-1944 sister Halbo Kool, not married
4. Germ Kool 1875 – 1950 brother Halbo Kool, married with Anna Hebelina Klugkist
5. Anna Hebelina Kool (née Klugkist) 1880 -1944 married wirh Germ Kool. Her mother was a sister of Germ’s father.
6. Halbo Kool 1873 – 1943 married with Christina Kolle
7. Catharina Brouwer (née Meijer) 1870 – 1948. Married with Hergen Brouwer. Catharina’s mother was Annechiena Gezina Duintjer, a sister of Halbo Kool’s mother Gonda Margaretha Duintjer.
8. Hergen Brouwer 1871 – 1944

Thanks Anje!

Atenojenes Vargas, Nancy Vargas put faces on Barberan y Collar postcard

A postcard from Nieves Vargas and Atenojenes Vargas.

A postcard from Nieves “Nancy” Vargas and Atenojenes Vargas. (Courtesy Art Vargas)

This is a postcard with Nieves “Nancy” Vargas’ face superimposed on the left and her brother Atenojenes Vargas on the right in a plane with the words “Barberan y Collar.”

Some background…

The Vargas family immigrated to the U.S. from Jalisco, Mexico, in the early 1900s, including husband Mariano Vargas Ramos, wife Candelaria Marin Hernandez and their eight children. The children were still little, so they were essentially raised in San Jose, Calif., growing up speaking heavily accented English but also Spanish at home, and most of the girls married young, according to my uncle Art, who is the son of Atenojenes.

After Candelaria died in 1930, Mariano and the unmarried siblings, Nieves and Atenojenes included, decided to return to Mexico. I would date this composite image in the early to mid-30s based on the “Barberan y Collar” wording. Barberan and Collar were Spanish aviators — Mariano Barberan y Tros de Ilarduya and Joaquin Collar. They flew a plane across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain to Cuba in June of 1933, according to The Biography. Later that same year, the plane headed for Mexico City but was intercepted by a storm and they were never to be seen again, according to The Biography.

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#tbt photo: Brother Morris Kool and sister Christina Kool

Morris Kool and Christina Kool

In this early 1930s photo, a young Maurice “Morris” Kool is pictured with big sister Christina “Tineke” Kool. Morris was born on Nov. 9, 1929 in Eindhoven in Noord-Brabant, Netherlands, and Tineke was born two years earlier to Louise Lopes-Cardozo and Cornelis Kool.

 

 

 

Bio: Johan Siersema (1924), the early years

Johan Siersema is seen at bottom right in this family photo.

A young Johan Siersema at the foot of Maria Wilhelmina van Erp and Klaas Siersema in this undated photo.

The early years

In his own words, Johan Nico Siersema had a hard life.

Hans, as he was called by family and friends, was born on the 9th of October, 1924, in Venlo, Limberg, Netherlands, and was the first son of Helena “Lenie” de Wit and Klaas “Niek” Siersema.

Hans later had one brother, named Tonny, but Tonny died at the age of 2. After Hans’ parents divorced when he was 5, he was essentially raised by his step-mother, Maria Wilhelmina van Erp, and never really had a good relationship with his birth mother thereafter.

Johan "Hans" Siersema and cousins.

Johan “Hans” Siersema and cousins. Date unknown.

Hans was 13 when he started smoking and drinking, and those became lifelong habits. Later in life, he sometimes smoked from a pipe, but preferred unfiltered cigarettes — Pall Mall — and Scotch.

He attended Gooisch Higher Citizens School in Bussum from 1937 to 1943, when he graduated, according to a Dutch newspaper (De Gooi- en Eemlander : nieuws- en advertentieblad June 5 1943).

During that time, he was a strong competitive breaststroke swimmer, coming in second in a local race in 1941 that was reported by a newspaper. In one tale of family lore, he missed a chance at being in the Olympics because it was cancelled for the war.

He met his future wife and my grandmother, Christina “Tineke” Kool, in wartime during the end of his high school years (he was 17 and she was 14), but I don’t know the story of it.

Hans was very smart — with an 139 I.Q. — but he was waylaid from attending university by the war.

Wartime

During the German occupation, he was a member of the Dutch Resistance and was involved in clandestine operations. Some of these included exerting pressure on Dutch police to set an example as to why it was a bad idea for local police to help the Nazis.

Hans went by at least two aliases: Ferdinand de Wit and Johan de Wit. The way he put it, the Nazis couldn’t really confirm his identity one way or the other. They didn’t have the technology that we do.

At some point during the war, Hans found himself as the only remaining living member of three resistance cells, according to a story Hans told my Uncle Nick. According to the story, each cell had about 20 members and then a person from one cell would have contact with the next so they could coordinate. As the only living member, he was made to go identify the dead bodies of resistance fighters lined up on sand dunes. He managed to identify a couple, but then said he couldn’t do it anymore.

Johan "Hans" Siersema in the POW camp where he was forced to dig up the un-detonated bombs dropped from air forces. In one story, he reached a bomb and it started ticking. He scrambled out of the hole and started running and when the Nazi guard started shouting at him to get back down there, Hans shouted back that the guard ought to run too.

Here, Johan “Hans” Siersema is shown in the POW camp where he was forced to dig up un-detonated bombs dropped from airplanes. Helena de Wit reportedly bribed a guard in order to visit her son and this photo is a product of that visit. In one story, he reached a bomb and it started ticking. He scrambled out of the hole and started running and when a Nazi guard started shouting at him to get back down there, Hans shouted back that the guard ought to run, too.

In 1944, Hans was a prisoner of war and was held in Kamp Amersfort, about 20 miles from Arnhem, Holland. His job as a prisoner was to dig 10-foot deep holes around the perimeter of the camp in search for buried land mines. Consequently, he watched his friends who worked with him be blown up and die, according to what my mom remembers from a conversation with him.

He attempted to escape several times before he was eventually successful in September of 1944. According to an interview he did in the 1980s with my mom, English planes were landing at Arnhem, 20 miles away…

“When that happened, the Germans … let the Red Cross in and the Red Cross insisted that anybody that was sick would be released immediately, so that there would only be healthy people there.”

“…I had a friend who was a medical student who worked for the doctor and he took a blood sample and switched mine with one that had T.B. So I had to leave and they gave me my walking papers and I got out.”

Hans returned to his family then. When the car pulled up to Klaas Siersema’s house to deliver him to his family, Klaas was worried it was the Nazis coming to take him, so he went and hid in a tobacco patch he had grown in the back yard.

When my mom asked Hans what he did between the time of his escape in ’44 and when the war ended in ’45, his response was, “I was hungry.” They were on rations then of two pounds of potatoes and four pounds of sugar beets per week. In the same interview, he talked about his aunt Leentje Siersema and his uncle Leendert Vlaasbloem, who died of starvation just three days apart.

According to a story Hans told emotional and late into the night to Cousin Michael, “Later in the war he said he was in France with his best friend. They were waiting on a British sub to come carry them to the British Isles. They went to a bar and got into a fight. That landed them in a french jail. They we then given to the Nazis by the French and he spent the rest of the war in a prison camp.”

“When the British we coming to liberate the camp, he told me the Nazis decide to kill the prisoners and he stood beside his best friend and fellow freedom fighter as a Nazi shot his friend in the head.”

I am not sure at what point, but on the run from the Nazis either before his capture or after his escape, Hans went to his mother looking for a place to hide. She turned him away for fear of being found out, so the story goes, and their relationship was further damaged.

Johan Siersema

Johan Siersema

Hans enlisted in the Royal Netherlands Army in Eindhoven on the 9th of July, 1945. At that time, the German Occupation had ended, but the war with Japan was still going. He was sent to England, where he was a small arms instructor for the new Dutch Army until 1946, when the military wanted to send him to Indonesia. Hans resigned his commission then, wanting to get away from the fighting, which he’d just done for five years.

In a story Hans later told my Uncle Nick, Hans once found himself guarding Nazi prisoners. One of them spoke up, saying Hans looked familiar. It turned out the Nazi prisoner had guarded Hans before and their roles were reversed.

Later, he was commended to be of good character by the mayor of Doorn, but I am not sure why.

Following wartime, a 23-years-old Hans enrolled in university. Because he felt like he’d lost so much time already, he rarely went to classes. Instead, he studied books and showed up to take exams. He graduated with a degree in economics after two years instead of the typical four.

“You know, I’d lost a number of years,” he explained his motivation.

Between July and September of 1949, he and Tineke eloped in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England.

Christina Kool and Johan Siersema in 1945.

Christina Kool and Johan Siersema in 1945.

“What happened is, we started sleeping together, and in those days, Sweetheart, that wasn’t done — that was not done. But we wanted to keep on sleeping together, so we secretly got married,” he said in the interview with my mom.

They were officially married with family present the following year.

Note: I will continue my grandfather’s story in a second bio post. Here, I tried to be as factual as possible, but if I’ve learned anything looking into my family history, it’s that everyone can have a different story about the same events. I welcome anyone who wants to share their story of Opa John in the comments and I will continually update this post as more information become clear to me. I would love to do a separate post with everyone’s memories. For instance, until recently, I’d forgotten how he made a sort of whistling noise through his teeth when he spoke.

Photo: Vargas Marin siblings send snapshot to sister Lucy Calvillo in the states in 1939

From top and left to right, Nieves "Nancy" Vargas Marin, Alfonso "Pancho" Vargas Marin, Atenojenes Vargas Marin, and Luis Vargas Marin in Mexico, D.F., in 1934.

From top and left to right, Nieves “Nancy” Vargas Marin, Alfonso “Pancho” Vargas Marin, Atenojenes Vargas Marin, and Luis Vargas Marin in Mexico, D.F., in February, 1939.

I recently sat down with my uncle Art Vargas to talk about the Vargas Marin side of the family (our common ancestors were Mariano Vargas Ramos — born November 1870 in Ameca, Jalisco, Mexico — and Candelaria Marin Hernandez) and he shared with me the postcard above. It turns out, the Vargas Marin side of my family immigrated to the United States from Mexico in the early and mid-1900s in two waves.

The first time around — my best guess this was around 1925-1927, but I have no documentation as of yet — the family made it to the San Francisco Bay Area by way of Texas. It was tough to find work, so after awhile, the brothers decided to move back to Mexico. At that time, the sisters were all already married, so they stayed. Everyone, my uncle said, worked in the canneries.

The brothers returned in a second wave during World War II, when there was more work available. But between the two immigrations, judging from the postcard, Nancy visited them back in Mexico.

Here’s the back side of the postcard with a message to Lucy:

NancyVargasandBrothersBackofPostcard

Trend Setters: Klaas Siersema, Helena ‘Lenie’ de Wit call it quits

Helena de Wit and Klaas Siersema in Oostvoorne, South Holland, Netherlands, in 1922, about a year before they were married.

While Klaas Siersema and Helena “Lenie” de Wit were very much in love when they wed, all things, as they say, must come to an end. A little less than six years after they were married, Klaas filed for divorce in Ginneken en Bavel, North Brabant, where they lived at the time. Helena did not protest.

The request was filed on the 30th of January, 1930 — about a year and a couple weeks following the anniversary of the death of their second son, Tonny. That’s according to a FamilySearch.org scan that a friend, Jan Brul, who I met on the Ancestry.com message boards, kindly located.

Leading up to their divorce, Klaas was away a bit as a career military man, and Helena was at home, building a relationship with the family doctor, Gerard Broeders, according to family lore. Rumor was, they became close through Tonny’s illness and death.

I believe that, at the time, divorce was rare (although it was even rarer when Klaas’ mother Arentje Vermaas divorced his father), which may have been why the divorce was registered on a marriage form. Interestingly, none of Klaas’ and Helena’s descendants in the following two generations had lasting first marriages.

In the aftermath, Helena left Klaas and their son, Johan, to be with Gerard, whom she remained in a relationship with indefinitely. She never married again.

Klaas eventually remarried to a woman named Maria Wilhelmina van Erp, who raised Johan, but I don’t know exactly when that was.

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.”