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].
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.
Clearly, I’ve been spending some time on YouTube recently. This is another historic video of what Groningen used to be like, only this one is from wartime — 1944 to be exact. You’ll notice the heavy military presence, guys spitting on Hitler’s image, and then the devastation from the bombing during WWII. Again, I will point out that this is not a video I or anyone in my family created, but it does provide a glimpse into what my ancestors saw and experienced, so I wanted to post it here. It was added to YouTube by Kee Wijnands last year.
I should preface this by saying this is not a video I or anyone in my family created. It is merely footage from Groningen, Netherlands, in the 1923 that the Dutch Institute of Sound and Vision more recently uploaded to YouTube. I found it interesting to watch, since my family lived there during that time. It gave me some perspective (for instance, many people got around by foot or on bicycles), so I thought it would be good to post here.
The Groningen Exhibition of Craft and Art Industry, roughly translated, was a big event, seeing about 300,000 visitors over its two-month run from June 15-August 15, 1903. Some accounts have the event running until September 1 of that year, but the official dates on the tickets and poster indicate that it was supposed to end on August 1st. It had a 60-page guide book and a commemorative coin. One would have to cross over a bridge, under a sign that read Tentoonstelling (Google translated: Shows) to enter the grounds. In one courtyard, a giant wine bottle stood two stories high, and in another, a fountain.
Halbo Kool, the living grandson of Halbo Kool (b.1873) and son of Halbo Christiaan Kool (I know, not confusing at all, right?), sent me these scans of Halbo Kool (b.1873)’s and Christina Kolle’s permanent passes to the event. In his notes, Halbo Kool says he’s not sure if they have had a stand for the H.C. Kool hat shop, but I’m fairly confident they would have, being located in Groningen and such good business people.
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 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.