My maternal grandmother, Fredericka Paulina Vanderdonck, was born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on November 22, 1869. Among the documents my mother gave me was this extract from birth register 7, folio 100.
This document was one of the most interesting among the cache. It establishes the date of grandmother’s birth, and it tells another story.
The original document, on file in Amsterdam, cites Fredericka’s mother, Paulina Johanna Cornelia Maria Kool, but no father is named. This transcription asserts that the father is Alexis Egide Dieudonne Vanderdonck, that the parents were married on January 7, 1880, in Brussels, and the Mr. Vanderdonck fully recognizes Fredericka as his daughter.
[So, the story I had from Aunt Dorothy Jansen, years ago, seems true. She told me that when she was introduced as Albert’s intended, Grandmother took her aside and let her know that she was illegitimate, in case that mattered. To Aunt Dorothy, it did not; but she never forgot it.]
Also, notice that this transcription is dated August 30, 1890 — only about two weeks before the marriage of Fredericka and Theodore in New York.
I am left with several questions about this document:
Was Vanderdonck really her father? Or was the acknowledgement of the daughter a form of adoption? Alternatively, Paulina Kool might have insisted on her new husband legitimizing her daughter as a condition of marriage.
Was this certificate acquired with an eye toward her immediate emigration to New York? Was a birth certificate a requisite for immigration to the U.S. in 1890? Did it stand in as a form of passport during the mass migrations that took place in the 19th Century?
Finally, it has always left me with a desire to know more about Alexis Egide Dieudonne Vanderdonck. Fortunately, though the other questions remain open, I was able to learn more about Mr. Vanderdonck on our trip.