MYSTERY PHOTO SERIES: The man with the chin curtain

Mystery Photo

This photo, while likely taken of an ancestor, is a complete mystery to me and Halbo Kool, who sent it to me.

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 [1838] 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 [1840], Heero Kool [1844] or Harm Kool [1846]. There was a fourth brother, but he did not live to adulthood.


SKETCHBOOK FROM THE 1800s: Drawings by Gerrit Siersema, Johannes Elto Siersema

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These are scans of a sketchbook belonging to my great-great-grandfather, Gerrit Siersema, who was born on the 14th of June in 1864 in Groningen, Netherlands, and was named after his grandfather, who was an artist.

The text on the front says, “Teekenboek van G. Siersema. 3 Sept 1875. M. Smit, Groningen.” Teekenboek means ‘drawing book.’ For being so old, the pages are held together quite well by string.

In the book are two loose sheets dated 1885 with the signature J E Siersema, indicating they were likely drawn by Gerrit’s brother Johannes Elto Siersema, who was born in about 1870. Nearly identical sketches can be found bound in the book, but they are clearly drawn in different styles. In my mind, I like to picture the brothers sketching together how many brothers nowadays might sit around and watch TV.

My distant cousin Anje also pointed out that some of the sketches are of the Lichtenberg ruins, which were likely copied from a book, since the journey from where Gerrit and Johannes lived would have been long and expensive in those days. (Note: The second image down on the webpage that the link above leads to looks extremely similar to the sketches.)

I have a feeling the camel and other animals may also have been copied from a book, unless they visited a zoo.

Also, here’s a link from Anje of photos of ruin that inspired the gate sketch.

MYSTERY PHOTO SERIES: Image taken in Rotterdam in the 1800s by A. Boeseken

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.