Image

1910 photo of Wubbina Engellina Johanna Petronella Swalve

Wubbina Engellina Johanna Petronella Swalve

Wubbina Engellina Johanna Petronella Swalve in Beverwijk, Noord-Holland, Netherlands, in 1910.

This is probably my favorite photo of Wubbina Engellina Johanna Petronella Swalve. Some others I have look like they are from while she’s pregnant or after giving birth, or after her husband died and she was confined to a wheelchair. In this one, she’s dressed all fancy with her big hat and umbrella.

Since it was my favorite, I edited back in the detail in the photo editing app Snapseed. Previously, it was too washed out from age to really see. It’s grainy, but at least you can see it now.

Advertisements
From left to right, Wubbina Swalvea, unknown ancestor, Freerk Bellinga Swalve, and Dirk de Wit.

MYSTERY PHOTO SERIES: Likely Swalve ancestor appears several times

I’ve been meaning to do this post for a while now, and by “for a while” I mean a couple years. In the following photos, you will see an ancestor I believe to be on the Swalve side of the family. Initially, I thought she was Helena Catrina Koster, who married Freerk Bellinga Swalve and was mother to Wubbina Swalve and A.J. Koster (Swalve).

Not only is she photographed with Freerk and Wubbina, but the years that she lived line up with the photos. Koster was born in 1852 in Amsterdam and died on January 10, 1912 in Beverwijk. However, cousin Willem Vliestra sent me a photo from an old album that actually noted a portrait as Helena Koster-Swalve, which none of these photos do. (Otherwise, they wouldn’t be mysteries!)

Helena Catrina Koster (Willem Vlietstra)

Helena Catrina Koster (Willem Vlietstra)

Sometimes, I think the woman in the portrait could be the same as the woman you see in the following photos, but then I dismiss it because of her dark eyes. This effectively leaves the mystery of who is in these photos (and repeatedly with Freerk). A general consensus could sway me, but in general, I don’t trust my own judgment on this since I don’t want to re-write history all willy nilly like.

In the first photo, the woman’s head appears just behind a wagon driver with supplies for the Swalve bakery in Beverwijk:

A wagon of supplies outside the Swalve family bakery in Beverwijk in 1887. (Willem Vliestra)

A wagon of supplies outside the Swalve family bakery in Beverwijk in 1887. (Willem Vliestra)

The bakery is where Helena Catrina gave birth to her children.

Here is the unknown ancestor’s portrait:

Unknown ancestor.

Unknown ancestor.

Here she is again, with Wubbina, Wubbina’s husband, Dirk de Wit, and father, Freerk.

From left to right, Wubbina Swalvea, unknown ancestor, Freerk Bellinga Swalve, and Dirk de Wit.

From left to right, Wubbina Swalve, unknown ancestor, Freerk Bellinga Swalve, and Dirk de Wit. This photo was initially very washed out, so I did some editing for better or for worse in Photoshop to try to make it view-able.

And, finally, here she is with Freerk and possible Wubbina:

Freerk Bellinga Swalve with unknown ancestors.

Freerk Bellinga Swalve with unknown ancestors. This photo is one of those that gets darker with age.

 

Portrait: Engbertus Swalve and Wubbina Engellina Haken

Wubbina Engellina Haken and Engelbertus Swalve. (Willem Vlietstra/Contributed)

Wubbina Engellina Haken and Engbertus Freerks Swalve. (Willem Vlietstra/Contributed)

Few photos have amazed me by their mere existence, but this one did. To give you some perspective, that handsome devil on the right lived 200 years ago. Photography hadn’t even been invented when he was born.

If you follow this blog, then you know that Willem Vlietstra, the grandson of my great-great-great uncle’s sister-in-law, has been sending me some old photos from an album that was passed down to him. If you’re new to this blog, well, you’re caught up now, but you should also know that the album has labeled photos, which helps immensely in identifying the ancestors in pictures (not all generations had the foresight to label such things).

Wubbina Engellina Haken, my great-great-great-great grandmother, at left, was born to Jantje Hinderks Fols and Geerd Jans Haken in Boen, Ostfriesland, Germany, in about 1825. Engbertus Freerks Swalve, at right, was born to Daje Engeberts Brouer and Freerk Bellinga Swalve in Landschaftspolder, Ostfriesland, Germany, in February of 1812.

Most of the information I have of Engbertus (and for that matter most of the Swalve side of the family) comes from Roger and Marilyn Coeling Peters, who have their detailed Ancestors and Related Families project online.

What I find most interesting is that Engbertus was a master baker. The way certification is set up now, before becoming a master baker, one must first be certified as a journey baker, a baker, a decorator and a bread baker, according to the Retail Bakers of America. That can give you an idea of how much work one must put in before earning the title, but back in Engbertus’ time, things were a bit different. Roger Peters wrote in an email, “It was a common practice to travel to an new area to serve as an apprentice until they became a ‘master.'”

A big part of why I find this so interesting is that Engbertus’ brother Beene, and two of his sons — Freerk and Heinrich — also worked as bakers in Beverwijk, North Holland, Netherlands. Beene was a bread baker, and Heinrich had his own bakery, which he told Willem about when Willem was a boy. I am certain they all must have been very tight-knit, coming from the same family and all residing in the same city. In fact, disregarding traditional naming conventions, Freerks’ second daughter, Lucretia Anna, was named after Beene’s wife. And she was born in a bakery, as was her sister Wubbina Engellina Johanna Petronella Swalve.

But, ah, before I get too far off track, a little more on Engbertus and Wubbina. They had 11 children over an 18-year period, although not all of them lived into adulthood. Their son Engbertus Freerks Swalve also followed in the elder Engbertus’ footsteps and was a master baker in Bovenhusen, Ostfriesland, by 1892. The elder Engbertus lived until he was 61, passing away on April 30 in 1873 in Böhmerwold, Ostfriesland, Germany. Wubbina lived until she was 64, passing away on Sept. 7 in 1889.

All those dates and places are from the Coeling Peters’ Ancestors and Related Families project online, so don’t forget to check their site out. It even has footnotes and an organized index. Pretty much I’m in love with it.

Editor’s note: I cleaned up the photo a bit in Photoshop to eliminate some dust and discoloring along the top.

MYSTERY PHOTO SERIES: De Wit family photo circa 1910 holds a clue, more questions

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.

Update: Ancestor No. 3 has since been identified as Freerk Bellinga Swalve.

As with many mysteries, just as soon as I found a clue that might help me solve one, two new questions popped up.

If you remember the subject in the photo from the post “Image taken in Rotterdam in the 1800s by A. Boeseken,” you may notice the uncanny resemblance between her and Unknown Ancestor No. 1 in the image above. Since we know that the Rotterdam photo was taken between 1867-1877 and that this photo is taken in 1910, I was excited to look at my family tree to see who the woman might be. Based on birth and death records, a huge amount of people were immediately dismissed through process of elimination. While my records that far back are a little spotty (mostly with birth dates, but no death dates yet), there was one person who fit the criteria: Anneke van de Graaf.

Anneke van de Graaf entered my family tree through marriage to Hermanus de Wit, who was the brother of my direct ancestor and great-great-great-grandfather Dirk de Wit (1833). So, essentially, she would have been the aunt of the Dirk de Wit standing next to her, if the person in the photo is indeed her. She was born in Beesd, Netherlands, in 1838 and died in Beesd in 1913.

That said, I have no way to verify it yet — and let’s not forget that the image above also raised two additional questions with Unknown Ancestors Nos. 2 and 3. Who are they? For a moment there, I was excited, thinking that perhaps they were the elder Dirk de Wit and his wife, but that is an impossibility since they died seven years earlier. Unknown Ancestors Nos. 2 and 3 could, then, very well be Wubbina’s parents, Freerk Bellina Swalve and Helena Catrina Koster, who did live in Beverwijk judging by the record of their wedding on Genlias.nl and postcards Freerk sent to Helena. Until I find their death records, though, I cannot confirm. And so the mysteries continue!

1959: Wubbina Engellina Johanna Petronella Swalve dies

This is the death announcement for Wubbina Engellina Johanna Petronella Swalve, who died the 7th of March, 1959. As far as I can tell, her daughter, Helena de Wit, took care to use elegant stationary for important occasions, and this was no exception. Below, you will find scans of the announcement and thank you card that were mailed out, and a rough translation at the bottom of this post.

You may notice the initials are mixed up on the announcement. My only guess is that Helena was quite distressed when she sent them out, so that could have contributed to the typo.

Rough translations:

“Our gentle and calm, dear mother, grandmother and great-grandmother has died

W.J.E.P. Swalve
Widow of D. de Wit,
At age 79 years

From:
H.F. de Wit

Beverwijk, March 7, 1959
Vondellaan 64
Condolence address:
H.F. de Wit, Tolsteegsingel 37, Utrecht.

The deceased will be laid out in the funeral at Velserweg 18, Beverwijk. Visit from 3-4 and from 7 am to 7.30 am. The funeral will take place Wednesday, 11 March …”

—————————————————————————–

“For the many condolences for the death of our dear mother, grandmother, great-grandmother

Mrs. W.E.J.P. de Wit-Swalve

we express our heartfelt thanks.

From:
H.F. de Wit

Utrecht, April 1959”

Early 1900s postcards from Freerk Swalve to daughter Wubbina (in Dutch)

UPDATED SEPT. 20, 2012: These are postcards sent from my great-great-great-grandfather Freerk Bellinga Swalve to his only daughter, Wubbina, in the early 1900s. Originally, there was one more in this collection, but it was removed after my cousin, Anje Belmon read over them (she know Dutch) and determined that one was actually from an aunt. As for the rest, Anje says, “Most of what is written is about small illnesses, and wishes that things will be better soon, so they can visit each other.” Which, of course, sounds exactly like something a father would write to his daughter.

Hint: Click on the images to make them bigger.

Bio: Wubbina Engellina Johanna Petronella Swalve

Wubbina Engellina Johanna Petronella Swalve was born about 3 a.m. the 25th of October 1879 to Freerk Belinga Swalve and Helena Catrina Koster in a house at the bakery on Breestraat in Beverwijk, North Holland, according to a birth certificate scan on FamilySearch.org.

Wubbina had one sibling who lived to adulthood, Anthonie Johannes Swalve, who was her older half brother or brother and later an amateur photographer. She also had a sister, Lucretia Anna Swalve, who died very young.

When she was 22, Wubbina married a teacher named Dirk de Wit — at least four years after their courtship began — in her hometown on August 15th in 1902, according to a digital record on Genlias.nl.

Two years later, she gave birth to a daughter, Helena de Wit.

Wubbina was widowed in 1926 at which point she went into seclusion.

She died in March 1959. She was 79 years old.

LOVE LETTER FROM 1898: Century-old poem from Dirk de Wit to Wubbina Swalve


I recently procured a box of old documents and photos from my grandmothers house. In it, I found this 114-year-old love letter from my great-great grandfather, Dirk de Wit, to his then future wife, Wubbina Engellina Petronella Swalve.

My distant cousin Anje Belmon, who lives in the Netherlands and knows English as well as Dutch, helped translate (she also notes that, in Dutch, the letter rhymes):

Wubbina,

When you friendly eyes
May rest upon these pages,
Think about him,
Who wrote these (pages), and who loves you,
More than the light of eyes.

May everything on this globe perish
His love for you will always exist.
But he also hopes for thy love:
Your love gives him joyful pleasure
In restless working and striving.

And if sometimes adversity threatens
Stand firmly! Hold your head up high!
Be aware that at heaven’s proud bow,
Clouds also pass through!

Thine, thou always loving, Dirk

Bio: Helena de Wit

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.