Monday, July 18, 2011

Dozens of Cousins

At last count, Grandma and Grandpa VandenBergh had close to a hundred living descendants on this side of the Atlantic  -- two surviving children, 23 grandchildren, 41 great-grandchildren, and 31 great-great-grandchildren. Over the century since our grandparents had emigrated from the Netherlands, our parents and their siblings made a great attempt to keep in touch with many relatives. Several Dutch cousins had already made trips to the U.S., so we knew at least a half-dozen, whom we had contacted before leaving New York. As things turned out, we were able to meet up with more than a dozen descendants of Barend and Elizabeth's siblings during our sojourn in Holland.

Hendrina & Elizabeth circa 1900

Elizabeth and her sister Hendrina were very close, not only in age but in temperament. The family archives include two photographs of the sisters posing together, one of which was taken during their teenage years, when they both worked as domestic servants.  Notice the neatly starched and pressed aprons  --  the sisters were meticulous about their uniforms! The travelers from New York were delighted to meet up with three generations of "Tante Heintje's" descendants.

We enjoyed trips to Loosdrecht, Utrecht, Hoge Veluwe, Ede, Zaandam, and Zaanse Schans with our cousins and were overwhelmed by their gracious hospitality.

Here is a photo of Hendrina taken in 1905: 

Hendrina Daams, age 18

And here are the travelers, with some of her descendants. Can you see any resemblance?

With Menno & family: Three generations and three continents are represented in this family portrait

And with another set of Hendrina's great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren:

The travelers with Arjan, Monique and sons

Grandma Elizabeth's younger brother was named Jasper. You can read about his trip to the United States in 1961 at an earlier post, "The Giegelaars." In this photograph from 1903, he is about 12 years old:

Oom Jas, age 12

We met up with several of his descendants as well:

Anke, Ilse, & children: 3 generations of Oom Jas's descendants

And another great-grandson of Oom Jas:

With Robbertjan at Zaanse Schans

Grandpa VandenBergh came from a large family, but we haven't been as successful in keeping in touch with his side of the family over the years. This photograph shows the VandenBergh family around 1910, before Grandpa married and left for America:

The VandenBerghs circa 1910

The little girl with the doll is Grandpa's youngest sister Helena; she is about six years old in the photo. We have been delighted to become acquainted with "Tante Lena's" granddaughter Sonja and her family, as they have come to the U.S. more than once. This time we had an opportunity to visit them and spend some time at their home. We also shared a traditional Dutch dinner at a restaurant in Amsterdam.

Dining out with Sonja and Giljam

Fitting to the theme of our trip, my dish was called "Oma's Recept," or "Grandma's Recipe":

Oma's Recipe

During our two-week trip, I had the opportunity to spend time with a total of 21 members of my Dutch extended family, "distant cousins" in name only. Our shared heritage and visits back and forth across the ocean ensure that we will remain close.

1 comment:

  1. I wish I was 6 and a half feet tall!