News clippings about the de la Penha claim to Labrador

I recently purchased an subscription and it came with an additional perk, a simultaneous subscription to Since I wanted to know more about the de la Penha claim to Labrador, which I’ve written about here before, I started searching for Joseph de la Penha and the following are some of the clips that came up, in order of discovery. My notes will be below each one. (Spoiler alert: Guess what document is in the USA?)


The Times (Hammond, Indiana) clip from 13th of July, 1935.

Um… Sorry. Did someone say $10,000,000? Wow. Although, I am fairly certain Joseph de la Penha was not a rabbi, so some of these Central Press facts are suspect.


Yep. This excerpt is pretty clear about to whom the land is being deeded. And that, folks, is why you shouldn’t lend people money. But if the story of how Joseph de la Penha loaned William of Orange the money to claim the throne in the first place is true, could you image how world history might have played out if de la Penha hadn’t done so?


You guys. You guys! The document still exists (in Photostat form). It’s in the American Jewish Archives in Cininnati, Ohio. Here’s the listing: William III grant, 1697.

Does anyone have any contacts in Ohio?


No real notes on this clip, but I will say the facts in it jive with most accounts.


Money isn’t everything, but that last sentence does make you a little sad for Isaac de la Penha. I’ll quote the bit I mean here: “…otherwise he would be one of the most wealthy men in the world today.” The world.

Just let that sink in a moment.


With the acknowledgement that this article was published two months before the Great Depression started, Labrador was at the time valued at $80 million. Later, it was considered to priceless. That richest man in the world comment in the 70s is making more sense now.


OK, OK, this is the earlier report I’ve found. It’s interesting to learn Isaac de la Penha had three sisters living in New York. So while some later new coverage did mention the many descendants who died in the Holocaust, they wouldn’t have been among them.

Also, the mention of Quebec and Newfoundland fighting over Labrador at the same time is interesting.



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.