Most people reading this are probably family members, and familiar with the offspring of the Vanderdonck/Jansen union. And most of us have a copy of this photo, taken on my parents’ wedding day, August 29, 1936.
From the left, back row: Albert, Fredericka (Freda), Petronella (Nellie), Pauline, Theodore.
Front row, from the left: Cecelia, Grandfather Theodore Jansen, Anna Cornelia, Grandmother Jansen-Vanderdonck, Joseph.
My mother’s wedding dress was royal blue lace; it was the Great Depression, and you wouldn’t wear a white wedding dress — you needed something you could wear again and again. Behind the group, a tapestry showing gleaners with a windmill in the background. The picture was taken in the living room of the Newkirk Avenue house.
See what happens when you run off to America?
It’s slightly maddening to keep coming up with the same first names while doing genealogical research. Sometimes it’s hard to tell one generation from the next. This is because of naming traditions in Dutch families.
Up until very recently children were named after family members. Usually, the first son is named for the father’s father. The second son is named after the mother’s father. The third son is called after the father’s paternal grandfather, the fourth son, after the mother’s paternal grandfather; the fifth son, after the father’s maternal grandfather; sixth son, named after the mother’s maternal grandfather.
The same thing happened for the daughters except that you always started with the mother’s side first. The first daughter was named after the mother’s mother, the second daughter after the father’s mother and so on.
So the oldest daughter of Theodore and Fredericka is Pauline; the oldest son in Theodore — after grandfather’s father, not himself. The next daughter, Petronella, is named after grandfather’s mother, Petronella Jansen-Ashof. The next surviving child is Albert, named after grandfather’s brother, not Grandmother’s father or stepfather (Alexis). Freda is named, most likely, for her Greatgrandmother; Cecelia, for grandmother’s great-aunt, Paulina’s sister.
Anna and Joseph seem fully Americanized in their naming, though there was Anna Dery on the Vanderdonck side, and quite a few Cornelias among the Jansens. Anna was of course the mother of Mary. And Joseph the earthly father of Jesus. Given the worship of Mary, this is the most likely source of these names.
Two children of the Vanderdonck-Jansen marriage did not survive into adulthood: Mary and William. They were named, it seems to me, for Dutch royalty, though Mary may have been named for the Virgin as well.
One more note on names: in Dutch, a married woman used her married name between her given name and her family name — so grandmother would be referred to as Fredericka Paulina Jansen Vanderdonck. And, as you may have seen in the doodbrief posting, a woman’s family name was always included in such missives. It’s very helpful in doing genealogial research!