This is a photo my grandmother Carmen Gullicksen (n. Dominguez) showed me last year when I went to Missouri to meet her for the first time. It makes me smile just looking at it. I’m guessing it’s from Halloween from the late 1950s. From left, Christina Gullicksen, Otto Gullicksen, and my dad, Steven Gullicksen.
This is one of those classic photos that will come in handy when my sister and I try to convince my niece that, yes, people did use to sit in big wood and metal contraptions and make horses pull them around — that’s where we get the term “horsepower.”
In the photo (dated August, 1908), my great-great-grandfather Freerk Belling Swalve (born in Bohmerwald, Prussia, in 1855) is driving a horse-drawn carriage with at least one passenger aboard. He would have been 53 years old, and this photo likely would have been taken in the Netherlands.
As with most of the photos I post here, I did some retouching in Photoshop (that’s a disclaimer for the purists). This one was riddled with scratches, dirt, and tears, but it didn’t turn out too bad. I felt that this was a good time to post the photo, given that I confirmed the other day that the man was, indeed, Freerk.
I hope you enjoyed seeing how people got around about 100 years go!
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.
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.
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 Genlias.nl 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.
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.
Klaas Siersema and Helena “Lenie” Frederika de Wit, my great-grandparents, were married on Aug. 28, 1923.
The photo above is a medium to heavily retouched scan of the wedding portrait for Klaas Siersema and Helena “Lenie” Frederika de Wit in 1923. Sadly, it seems as though when a marriage ends people tend to take less care of the proof it ever happened (See the thumbnail version of the original photo to the right to see what I’m talking about — although, I guess it is also fair to note the photo has survived nearly 90 years and moving from the Netherlands to Canada to the United States).
A friend and genealogy enthusiast I met through the Ancestry.com message boards was able to track down their wedding certificate on FamilySearch.org, but that organization claims the copyright to all its scans so I cannot post it here. Luckily, my friend, Jan Brul, knows both Dutch and English and graciously translated the text (Note: He admits his English is not the best, so please be aware this is a rough translation, even though I’ve cleaned it up where I could.):
“On the twenty-eighth August, nineteen-hundred twenty-three, are for me
Civil servant of the registration of the county ‘s-Hertogenbosch appeared
Klaas Siersema, first Lieutenant of the Infantry, age twenty-seven years, born at Groningen, living at Venlo, major, son of Gerrit Siersema, deceased, and Arentje Vermaas, shopkeeper, age fifty-seven years, living in Brielle
And Helena Frederika de Wit, without profession, age nineteen years, born in Beverwijk, living here, minor, daughter of Dirk de Wit, schoolteacher, age fifty years, and Wubbina Engellina Johanna Petronella Swalve, without profession, age forty-three years, both living here
For the purpose of getting married. The banns were without protest here registered on Saturday the fourth of August last and in Venlo on Saturday the eleventh of August next. The mother of the groom and the parents of the bride, here present, have declared that they agree with this marriage.
The future spouses have for me and in the presence of witnesses declared that they each other will accept as spouses and will do all duties required by marriage. So in the name of the law, I have declared that they are united in matrimony. This marriage is declared in the presence of the witness Leendert Vlasbloem, office worker, age thirty-nine years, living in Rotterdam, Nicholaas Gerardus Petrus van Reenen, office worker, age fifty-two years, living in Utrecht, relatives by marriage in the second and third degree of the first spouse. This record is read for the appeared parties and witnesses. The civil servant of the civil registration.”
The actual ceremony took place in the Netherlands Reformed Church in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, where Lenie’s father Dirk was an active and high-standing member.
I find the witnesses particularly interesting. Leendert was married to Klaas’ sister, Leentje, and they had a daughter named Ada who was close with my grandfather (Klaas and Lenie’s son) growing up, but I have no idea what happened to her. It makes sense that he would be a witness. But as for Nicholaas, I have never heard or seen his name, so I am even more curious to know how he comes into the picture.
Here is what their wedding invitations looked like (the paper is thick and watermarked):
This is a slightly retouched photo of Klaas Siersema, second from the bottom right, and his fellow Royal Netherlands military officers on July 15, 1940. At this time, judging by the stars on Klaas’ collar, he had achieved the rank of captain.
On the back, it says that these are the officers of the battalion that Niek commanded, according to a translation my cousin Anje Belmon graciously did.
Unfortunately, I have no way of knowing who Niek was. Update: About a week following this post, I listened to a 1980s audio interview my mother, Joy Siersema, did with my grandfather and Klaas’ son, Johan Siersema. From the interview, I learned that Klaas went by Niek, so these would have been the soldiers under his command.
As for who the other officers are, the writing on the back of the photo has some clues. The wording, as best as I can make out, reads: “n.d. Sluis – Roos – Tiele – ‘t Mannetje – van der Beek – unreadable – unreadable – van Dok – Boekholt – Schul – van Boal – unreadable – van den Tut.”
The writing on the back also notes that four men are missing from the photo. Their last names were — again as best as I can make out — Ter Hal, Nahuiser, Schiere and Meyer.
Trust me, though, the names are not easy to read! So if you see something different from what I’ve written here, please leave a note in the comments and I can update the tags so if any descendants of these gentlemen are searching for them, they may have a better chance of finding this post. [Hint: If you click on the thumbnail, it will take you to a larger image.]
This is a retouched photo of my great-grandfather, Klaas Siersema (at far left), and some of his fellow soldiers in the Royal Netherlands military in Kampen, Overijssel, during WWI. This was very early in his career, and he would have been about 20 years old. I believe that, at this time, he was a Vaandrig (officer cadet), judging by his promotion to Tweede-Luitenant (second lieutenant) a couple years later.
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.”