There’s a good chance the subjects in this mystery photo are directly related to a previous mystery photo subject I mentioned recently on this blog. Both photos came to me through Halbo Kool and both appear to have come from the same place and have similar coloring. In that mystery photo, I postulated that the subject was a brother of Cornelis Kool . It would stand to reason then that the woman and child in this photo were his wife and child. That’s the best educated guess I have, however, so I’m open to other hypotheses.
Look at that beard! I looked it up. It’s not quite an Old Dutchman, funnily enough. This is a style of facial hair often called a Chin Curtain or The Lincoln. I’m going with Chin Curtain, since the one thing I do know about this photo is that it was taken in the Netherlands, not America.
Anyways, this photo was in with others of the Kool family in the possession of Halbo Kool (the living one, not any of the previous generations). He doesn’t know who it’s of, but we are able to tell it was taken in Groningen and you can see a slight resemblance to Cornelis Kool  in the eyes, nose and lips. His clothing is similar to that of ancestors in other photos I’ve estimated to be from the mid- to late-1800s. All this leads me to guess that the ancestor in the photo is likely one of Cornelis Kool’s brothers, of which he had three: Jan Kool , Heero Kool  or Harm Kool . There was a fourth brother, but he did not live to adulthood.
I’ve been meaning to do this post for a while now, and by “for a while” I mean a couple years. In the following photos, you will see an ancestor I believe to be on the Swalve side of the family. Initially, I thought she was Helena Catrina Koster, who married Freerk Bellinga Swalve and was mother to Wubbina Swalve and A.J. Koster (Swalve).
Not only is she photographed with Freerk and Wubbina, but the years that she lived line up with the photos. Koster was born in 1852 in Amsterdam and died on January 10, 1912 in Beverwijk. However, cousin Willem Vliestra sent me a photo from an old album that actually noted a portrait as Helena Koster-Swalve, which none of these photos do. (Otherwise, they wouldn’t be mysteries!)
Sometimes, I think the woman in the portrait could be the same as the woman you see in the following photos, but then I dismiss it because of her dark eyes. This effectively leaves the mystery of who is in these photos (and repeatedly with Freerk). A general consensus could sway me, but in general, I don’t trust my own judgment on this since I don’t want to re-write history all willy nilly like.
In the first photo, the woman’s head appears just behind a wagon driver with supplies for the Swalve bakery in Beverwijk:
The bakery is where Helena Catrina gave birth to her children.
Here is the unknown ancestor’s portrait:
Here she is again, with Wubbina, Wubbina’s husband, Dirk de Wit, and father, Freerk.
And, finally, here she is with Freerk and possible Wubbina:
This is an exciting moment — the first photo mystery that has been solved on this blog! And it’s all thanks to Willem Vlietstra, who sent me some late-1800s photos of the Swalves last week. Among the photos was the one above of Freerk Bellinga Swalve (taken around 1880), as well as one of Helena Catrina Koster in the thumbnail to the right.
If you remember in our second Mystery Photo Series post, I was thinking that the older gentleman in the group photo was Freerk and that the woman next to him might have been his wife Helena. However, since receiving the photos from Willem, I now have the answers to both those speculations. As it turns out, I was half right, and also half wrong.
The gentleman is most certainly Freerk, but the woman (unknown ancestor No. 2 in the photo below) is definitely not Helena. So possibly a sister instead, since she does have those light-colored eyes? Well, she is one of my new mysteries, as she is in many photos with Freerk, but remains unidentified. As with most answers I find in my genealogy research, more questions always arise. You can expect the next Mystery Photo Series post to be all about her.
I recently came upon this lovely portrait in a box of old photos and documents that I borrowed from my uncle Philip Siersema. At first, my reaction was, “Great! Another photo where I have no idea who the people are!”
But upon looking closely, the mother in the photo looked a lot like a woman I’ve seen in some other photos who thought was likely my great-great-grandmother Arentje Vermaas. It would make sense: They look similar, and she was a mother of two girls and one boy, my great-grandfather Klaas Siersema.
So, I’m polling you, dear reader. I cropped photos of who I think are Arentje, Klaas, Helena “Bets” Elizabeth, and Leentje from two group photos based purely on speculation. What do you think?
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 Genlias.nl and postcards Freerk sent to Helena. Until I find their death records, though, I cannot confirm. And so the mysteries continue!
Among the many old photos of family members whom my mother and I have been able to identify are a handful of mysterious ones.
Although we can see the photographer of this one is A. Boeseken and that the photo itself was taken in Rotterdam, little more is revealed at first glance. I posted this and some other scans to my Flickr account and a distant cousin, Anje Belmon, looked into it.
Anje discovered that the photograph is likely from between 1867 and 1877 by researching it on a website about photos taken in the Netherlands. It’s especially interesting because, she says, the earliest dated photo from the Netherlands is from 1842.
“On the backsite … it says ‘A. Böeseken. Photografisch atelier. ROTTERDAM. Hoogstraat over de Vlasmarkt’. The underlined bit means ‘Highstreet over the Flaxmarket’ and is the adress of the photostudio,” Anje wrote in an email.
After looking through even more old photos, I am nearly certain this ancestor is one from Helena de Wit‘s line [she is my great-grandmother]. Although none of my ancestors are from Rotterdam, the closest that I know they lived was in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Buren. Both are about 80 kilometers, or about 50 miles, away.
I’ll keep looking for clues, but if you notice or think of anything interesting relating to this mystery photo, go ahead and leave it in the comments.