MYSTERY PHOTO SERIES: Ancestor identified as Freerk Bellinga Swalve!

Freerk Bellinga Swalve (Willem Vlietstra/Contributed)

Freerk Bellinga Swalve, was born in Bohmerwald, Prussia, in 1855. He would have been about 35 years old in this photo, estimated to have been taken around 1880. (Willem Vlietstra/Contributed)

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.

Helena Catrina Koster (Willem Vlietstra)

Helena Catrina Koster (Willem Vlietstra)

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.

From left to right, Dirk de Wit (1878), unknown ancestor, Hendrika Goudsblom, Dirk de Wit (185X), unknown child, Helena Fredrika de Wit, Wubbina Engellina Johanna  Petronella Swalve, and unknown woman in Beverwijk, 1910.

From left to right, Dirk de Wit (1873), unknown ancestor No. 1,unknown ancestor No. 2, Freerk Bellinga Swalve, unknown child, Helena Fredrika de Wit, Wubbina Engellina Johanna Petronella Swalve, and unknown woman in Beverwijk, 1910.


Photo: Anthonie Johannes Swalve

Anthonie Joahnnes Swalve (Willem Vlietstra/Contributed)

Anthonie Joahnnes Swalve (Willem Vlietstra/Contributed)

Anthonie Johannes Swalve, shown above in a photo contributed by Willem Vlietstra, was born Anthonie Johannes Koster on Nov. 8, 1876, to Helena Catrina Koster. A little more than two years later, Anthonie took the last name Swalve when Freerk Bellinga Swalve married Helena. This was noted on their marriage certificate, which I found on the now-nonexistent site.

Some believe this may mean Anthonie was the son of Helena and Freerk, and some believe this may mean he was the son of Helena and another man. I have been unable to confirm via digital research and so would be interested to know if anyone has more information on Anthonie, who also went by the name A.J. It’s also probably worth noting that, despite traditional Dutch naming conventions wherein the first born son takes the name of the father’s father, in this case A.J. was named after his maternal grandfather, Anthonie (or Anthonij) Johannes Koster.

As for the photo itself, I find it to be a bit perplexing. A.J. is clearly has an anchor on his shirt and is posing with cooper props. If anyone can elaborate on that, I would be interested as well! He looks to me to be 15 or younger, which would date this photo sometime before 1891.

Photo: Helena Catrina Koster

Helena Catrina Koster (Willem Vlietstra)

Helena Catrina Koster (Willem Vlietstra/Contributed)

I don’t even know where to start with the story behind this photo, except to say that I am incredibly excited to have it. The woman in the photo is Helena Catrina Koster — my great-great-great-grandmother, whom I have very little information about — and it was sent to me by a gentleman named Willem Vlietstra.

Last weekend, I found an unexpected email in my inbox from Willem, who stumbled across a mystery photo on this blog and decided to reach out. Willem, who was born in 1941 in Beverwijk, in his youth met the younger brother of my great-great-great-grandfather Freerk Bellinga Swalve and even remembers having conversations with him!

Now, see if you can follow me here. Freerk’s brother’s name was Heinrich. Heinrich was married to a woman named Rijntje Hagen. Rijntje had a sister, and that sister’s grandson is Willem. Which leads to how he has in his possession the photographs he sent me and granted me permission to share here.

That’s right — Photographs. As in, more than one! I’ll try to post more here in the coming days, as well as an update to that mystery photo mentioned above, as time allows.