This is the third, final, and most recent photograph of Gonda Margaretha Duuntjer that I have. It was sent to me by Halbo Kool. Gonda lived to be 81 years old [1840-1921], spending her whole life in Groningen, Netherlands. She married Cornelis Kool  and they had four children that I know of so far: Halbo Kool , Germ Kool , Elsina Anna Kool , and Hendrik Kool [about 1870].
I have heard about my mom’s great-grandparents running a hat shop in Holland for just about as long as I can remember. On the ground floor was the hat shop itself; on the second floor, the factory; and on the third floor, the family apartment. Recently, I’ve had a little more time to look into it and finally put up this blog post, which I’ve been meaning to do for about six months or so. So here goes…
The shop was named simply for my great-great-grandfather and great-great grandmother: H.C. Kool (Halbo Christina Kool).
Halbo was born on Feb. 11, 1873, in Veendam, Groningen, Netherlands.
Halbo was 26 when he married my great-great-grandmother Christina Kolle, also 26, on Feb. 23, 1899 in Groningen. On their wedding certificate, he is listed as a merchant, which I believe allowed him to travel and procure materials. While Christina did not list an occupation, she did have a reputation as an excellent seamstress.
In March of that year, the advertisement below was printed to announce the shop’s opening. From what I can tell via Google Translate, the writing essentially says he has opened a shop for women’s and children’s hats in mid-March with many French styles.
He also writes that it is in the “Oude Kijk in ‘t Jatstraat” — a street that cousin Anje says exists and has existed since 1739 — following that with the abbreviation “H 178,” which I am inclined to think was the address, or House 178 Anje suggested.
The next year, when their first son (Cornelis “Cees” Kool, July 6, 1900) was born, Halbo was listed as a “reiziger,” or a “traveler” in English, on the birth certificate. I suppose working as a traveler could be similar to working as a merchant, but I do not know why the wording changed. Because the store — with the three levels — was located at Stoeldraaierstraat 2 later (see the address on the brochure below), I wonder if the first store did not thrive at the first location, a second was at Stoeldraaierstraat 2 and in the meantime Halbo kept things running by securing materials in his travels? Or possibly it just moved and there’s no real distinction to be made between the Dutch words for merchant and traveler.
The Kools on Jan. 25, 1907, had a second son, whom they named Halbo Christiaan, making it a family of four in the apartment above the workshop and store.
Christina ran the shop and trained the women who worked there, but now she had two sons to raise as well, according to cousin Anje (a descendant of Halbo Christiaan) and her aunt Anneke, who also noted that Christina traveled to Paris and Brussels to buy stock for the stock — so it wasn’t just Halbo securing materials.
“When Halbo and Christina where married 25 years, in 1924, their employees made a small picture book with photos of the shop and the house to congratulate them,” cousin Anje wrote in an email, which also noted that there was a basement floor of the building that acted as the kitchen. The two images to the left are from the anniversary present.
Anje estimates Halbo and Christina purchased a home in Haren, a village near Groningen, between 1920-1935. Around 1934, Halbo and Christina were renting out the shop and enjoying their free time, vacationing at “Noordwijk bij Zee” a small popular seaside resort in province South-Holland, according to cousin Anje.
Halbo eventually passed away on October 4, 1942, after which Christina went to live with Halbo’s brother, Germ.
Germ was “A former ship’s captain, who had a housekeeper, so Christina couldn’t even cook herself,” according to an email from Anje. “I can’t imagine how this must have been for this strong independent woman. Eventually in 1956, she was “allowed” to go back to her house in Haren. But not before her two children, Cornelis and Halbo Christiaan had discussed this thoroughly and given their permission.
“Cornelis was afraid that something could happen to her in that big house, my grandfather Halbo Christiaan said ‘just let her go, if she wants to.'”
The shop was leveled on April 15, 1945, less than a month before WWII ended. An “exploding ammunition car destroyed some streets in the center of Groningen, including the hat shop,” Anje wrote. Christina was given financial compensation by the council for the loss.
Eventually, Christina passed away — in her own house mind you — on November 21, 1957. She was buried next to Halbo and the grave still exists to this day.
This is a lightly retouched wedding portrait of my great-grandparents, Louise Lopes-Cardozo and Cornelis Kool, who were married on the 15th of September, 1926, in Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands.
Louise, who was born on the first of January, 1903, in Amsterdam would have been 23 years old, and Cornelis, who was born on the sixth of July, 1900, in Groningen, Netherlands, would have been 26 years old.
As a side note, my mother, Joy-Anne Siersema, has worn the cameo necklace Louise is wearing in this photo every day for just about as long as I can remember.
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.”
This is a lightly retouched photo of Gonda Margaretha Duuntjer and Cornelis Kool, my great-great-great-grandparents (with that many greats, they must have been pretty awesome!). Of all the photos I have, this is one of the farthest back in generations — thanks go to cousin Anje Belmon who emailed it to me in the first place.
I like that both Gonda Margaretha and Cornelis took such care to pose with their wedding bands to the camera. It makes me think that, perhaps, this was a portrait from an anniversary.
Here are some more details of their lives:
Gonda Margaretha was born in 1840 in Veendam, Groningen, Netherlands, to Hindrik Heres Duuntjer and Trijntje Germs Boon, according to a record on Genlias.nl.
Cornelis was born in 1838 in Gieten, Aa en Hunze, in Drenthe, Netherlands, to Elsin Cornelis Schroder and Halbe Geerts Kool.
Cornelis and Gonda Margaretha were married on the 25th of January in 1867 in Veendam, also according to a record from Genlias.nl, which listed Cornelis’ occupation at the time as sailor. About 10 months later, their first child was born (go grandparents!).
Anyway, I don’t have a date on this photo, but it had to have been taken prior to 1921, when Gonda Margaretha passed away. Cornelis died just two and a half years later.
This is a scan of the birth certificate of my great-grandfather, Cornelis Kool, who was born on the 6th of July, 1900, in Groningen, Netherlands, to Christina Kolle and Halbo Kool.