Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Daams Windmill

Daams Windmill in Vaassen

During my last trip to the Netherlands in 2011, I had an opportunity to visit Zaanse Schans, which is an open-air museum where one can visit a number of typical Dutch windmills. I have since learned that there is a Daams windmill in the town of Vaassen, in the province of Gelderland, that may have belonged at one time to an early forebear of Grandma Elizabeth Daams. We have no proof that it belonged to a family member, but according to information provided to me by a Daams relative, since Vaassen is only 27 kilometers from Stroe, Gelderland, where our early Daams ancestors came from, it is quite possible.

There are several categories of windmills, based on their structure. The Daams windmill is an octagonal smock mill. This type consists of a six- or eight-sided tower, topped by a cap that rotates to bring the sails into the wind. In English, it is called a smock mill, after the smocks worn by farmers in earlier times. In Dutch, it is called a stellingmolen; stelling indicating the scaffold or platform constructed around the tower so that the miller can adjust the sails and turn them into the wind.

This style of construction was developed for use in areas where obstacles such as trees or buildings obstructed the mill’s direct contact with the wind; it had to be tall enough for the wind to reach it, thus the addition of the platform for easier access to the wings and sails.

The Daams mill in Vaassen was built in 1870 for Derk Poll Jonker, who passed it on to his brother-in-law Herman Daams in 1883. It was first used to grind grain. During the early twentieth century, it changed hands several times, and in later years, as other sources of energy became more widely available, the mill fell out of use. Due to neglect, its condition eventually deteriorated to the point where the municipality considered demolishing it.

Fortunately for preservationists and dévotés of windmills, a group of local citizens came to the rescue. They formed a non-profit organization, and thanks to a fundraising campaign which resulted in donations from individuals and businesses, and eventually a government grant, the mill was restored in 1989. It opened to the public on National Windmill Day in 1990 (the second Saturday in May) and has become one of the nicest attractions in Vaassen. 

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List of windmills in Gelderland: Wikipedia. ; accessed 3/16/ 2014

Molens in Nederland. C.P. Braaij; Kooiman Souvenirs & Gifts; Koog a/d Zaan, Netherlands.

Molendatabase entry (in Dutch): ; accessed 3/16/2014. (With several photographs)

Smock mill: Wikipedia. ; accessed 2/9/2014.

Photo credit: Wikipedia - Creative Commons: Quistnix at nl.wikipedia

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