Monthly Archives: October 2009

More about Mr. Vanderdonck

If you are researching your pedigree,  you can count yourself lucky if your ancestors came from Holland. 

Napoleon introduced a system of civil registration into the Netherlands in the late 18th century.  After June, 1811, all births, marriages and deaths were officially registered by the local authorities, using a standard form. There were always two copies: one for the municipality and one for the province.

The Dutch, an orderly people, have organized these records and created a system of genealogical archives.  Each city in the Netherlands has an archive – like a library — containing records of the families who lived there from at least 1811 on.  Many of these have been transferred to microfilm, and most are now listed in an on-line database, Access to these records is free and open to anyone. There is a small charge, usually half a Euro (75 cents) to make a copy.

There is also a national genealogical archive in the country’s capital, The Hague. Here you must pay an admission fee to use the facility, about 5 Euros per day.  Copies are still half a Euro.

I learned about the archives from Eric Ruijssenaars, a professional genealogist working in Holland.  He told me about family cards, which list all the people living in a family, as well as marriage and employment information.   We visited the national and city archives in The Hague with Eric, and the archives in Rotterdam and Utrecht on our own. The staffs spoke English, and were friendly, helpful, and interested in our research.  When we found a fact we were searching for, our assistants were as excited as we were.

In the Rotterdam archive, we found the Vanderdonck family card.  I have a pale copy from the microfiche, too light to reproduce here.

Alexis Dieudonne Egide Vanderdonck was born on the 20th of  November, 1844, in Beek, Belgium.   The son of Boniface Vanderdonck and Anne Catherine Hubertine Dery,   A.E.D.  lived in Rotterdam with his wife, Paulina Kool, and his daughter, our grandmother, Fredericka Paulina Vanderdonck.  [Kool, by the way, is pronounced Coal, and it means “cabbage” in Dutch.]   The family moved around some – they are listed at 85 Goudshe Wagenstraat, then on Weste Wagenstraat at numbers 52, 71, and 75.  [These are the same streets on which Vanderdonck had his cigar shops, and the final address indicates that the family lived above the shop.]

Vanderdonck is listed first as a laborer, but later as a “Winkelman,” that is, shopkeeper, in the cigar and cigarette business. I don’t know at what point his status changed, or how he obtained the money to open his three shops.

Paulina Kool moved to Paterson, NJ, and Fredericka  — well, the card says either Amsterdam or America — I can’t quite make it out.  After that, Vanderdonck, without wife or daughter,  moved to various addresses in Rotterdam, and then to Brussels and  Ostend. 

Another note on the family card indicates that Vanderdonck divorced Paulina in 1891.

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Posted by on October 30, 2009 in Uncategorized


Cafe Dudok

europe 09h 115, originally uploaded by margaret10025.

Our home away from home in Rotterdam. Very good food, reasonable prices (for Europe!) and charming young waitstaff. A mix of customers — young, old, rich, poor — and very good beer.

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Posted by on October 29, 2009 in Uncategorized


Steven eats raw herring

europe 09h 119, originally uploaded by margaret10025.

In the market square in Rotterdam. He says it was good, but he never had it again!

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Posted by on October 29, 2009 in Uncategorized


Rotterdam, The Pencil

europe 09h 120, originally uploaded by margaret10025.

Also on the lower right, a metro stration (Blaack) shaped like a flying saucer.

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Posted by on October 29, 2009 in Uncategorized


Havensport, outside Rotterdam

europe 09h 059, originally uploaded by margaret10025.

This village was not bombed. It gives an idea of what Rotterdam might have looked like before the war. This is also the place from which the Pilgrims sailed. Their ship was not seaworthy; they stopped over in England, got a new ship, and headed for Plymouth, MA.

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Posted by on October 29, 2009 in Uncategorized


Rotterdam memorial

europe 09h 057, originally uploaded by margaret10025.

This statue, on the waterfront, commemorates the bombing in 1940.

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Posted by on October 29, 2009 in Uncategorized


Cube Houses

europe 09h 054, originally uploaded by margaret10025.

Rotterdam is now a showcase for modern architecture.

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Posted by on October 29, 2009 in Uncategorized