Trend Setters: Klaas Siersema, Helena ‘Lenie’ de Wit call it quits

Helena de Wit and Klaas Siersema in Oostvoorne, South Holland, Netherlands, in 1922, about a year before they were married.

While Klaas Siersema and Helena “Lenie” de Wit were very much in love when they wed, all things, as they say, must come to an end. A little less than six years after they were married, Klaas filed for divorce in Ginneken en Bavel, North Brabant, where they lived at the time. Helena did not protest.

The request was filed on the 30th of January, 1930 — about a year and a couple weeks following the anniversary of the death of their second son, Tonny. That’s according to a FamilySearch.org scan that a friend, Jan Brul, who I met on the Ancestry.com message boards, kindly located.

Leading up to their divorce, Klaas was away a bit as a career military man, and Helena was at home, building a relationship with the family doctor, Gerard Broeders, according to family lore. Rumor was, they became close through Tonny’s illness and death.

I believe that, at the time, divorce was rare (although it was even rarer when Klaas’ mother Arentje Vermaas divorced his father), which may have been why the divorce was registered on a marriage form. Interestingly, none of Klaas’ and Helena’s descendants in the following two generations had lasting first marriages.

In the aftermath, Helena left Klaas and their son, Johan, to be with Gerard, whom she remained in a relationship with indefinitely. She never married again.

Klaas eventually remarried to a woman named Maria Wilhelmina van Erp, who raised Johan, but I don’t know exactly when that was.

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Bio: Tonny Siersema

Photo of Tonny Siersema

Tonny Siersema’s Birth Announcement

Tonny Siersema was born Antony Dirk Siersema on the 15th of November, 1927, in Blerick, Limberg, Netherlands, to Klaas Siersema and Helena de Wit. He was their second son, and lived only a short while, passing away from an illness on the 8th of January, 1929 in Venlo, according to a digital record on Genlias.nl. He was 2.

Bio: Helena de Wit

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Helena “Lenie” de Wit was born Oct. 24, 1903, in Beverwijk, North Holland, to Dirk de Wit and Wubbina Engellina Johanna Petronella Swalve.

When she was 19, Helena was married Col. Klaas Siersema in the Netherlands Reformed Church in Hertogenbosch and later gave birth to two children, Johan Siersema and Tonny Siersema.

She divorced Klaas after the death of Tonny, which happened when he was two, and spent much of the rest of her life in a committed relationship with Dr. G. Broeders, who was also a military man; although, they never married.

Helena earned certificates in both stenography and typing in 1932, and regularly wrote and sent packages to prisoners during WWII. During the war, when Johan, a member of the Dutch Resistence, was captured, she paid off a guard and went to visit him, having to stand on the other side of a fence. She came from a wealthy family and often traveled in Holland.

Later, she was known as Oma Utrecht by her grandchildren, since that was where she lived later in life.

She died in 1984. She was 81.

Personally, I never met Helena, because she died shortly after I was born, so if you did know her and are inclined to leave a comment sharing a story or memory about her, I would be grateful.