Monday, November 23, 2009

The Forgotten Uncle

I always thought I knew about all of my aunts and uncles on my mother's side, whether we're still in contact or not. There's aunt S., aunt A., uncle H., uncle T., uncle R, and my mother. So when I had a picture of a young boy, around two years of age, whom I knew was one of my mother's brothers, I expected it to be uncle H, uncle T. or uncle R. So imagine my surprise when I asked my mother which one it was, and she answered that it wasn't any of them. In fact, it was Bertje, the youngest of my mother's four brothers! Of course, the logical question was "why didn't I know about him?". The answer was simple, he died when he was six years old.

For a long time, that was all I knew about him. However, with this COG's theme of Orphans and Orphans, I decided to do some digging into this forgotten uncle's short history. I found his official inoculation card, which noted his date of birth as 19 June 1955 and his full name as Lambertus Johannes Adolphus Knura. This was collaborated by the first year of life booklet I found, in which my grandmother made the note on the first page that on Sunday 19 June at 3.55 Lambertus Joh. Adolfus Knura was born, weighing over 4 kilograms. Two observations immediately jumped at me when I read this. First of all, Bertje was the first and only one of the four sons that was named after my grandfather, Adolph Knura. Also, there are two spelling variants, from which the official one is with ph, but apparently the version with f snuck in there pretty early!

There aren't many notes in the first year of life booklet, but it does state that the height at birth of Bertje was 51 centimetres, his weight in the first week was 3750 grams and in the second week 3770 grams.

The next bit of information comes from a loose piece of paper tucked in the official inoculation card, which states that Bertje received his inoculation against small pox on 22 March 1956. The year is nearly illegible, at least the 5 is, but if it's not a 5 it's a 1 and that's just not possible, so 1956 it is.

Further documents of his life I haven't been able to find, although there are two pictures of him. The one on the right side is of Bertje when he was approximately 2 years old. The one on the left is a school picture. In that time period, school pictures were posed pictures in which the child was doing something. He has to be either 4 or 5 when that picture was taken.

The next bit of information is the memorial prayer card. It states that Bertje died after a short sickbed in the St. Elisabeth Hospital in Leiden on 11 September 1961. He was 6 years old. He was buried on 14 September 1961 at the Roman Catholic graveyard of the St. Laurentius church in Voorschoten.

As to what illness he had, I am not sure. Aunt A. is convinced it was children's leukaemia that was misdiagnosed, while my mother thinks it might have been meningitis, also misdiagnosed. What is certainly true is that he was misdiagnosed, because at first they thought he had a simple children's disease. When it became apparent that this wasn't the case, it was already too late.

As it is, I at least know a little bit more about an uncle I never met. He will not be forgotten again, but live on in the memories of his relatives, and certainly in mine.

This post was written for the 85th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.


  1. What a sweet-looking little boy he was. It is so sad that his life was so short, but I am happy to see another "orphan advocate" preserve his memory.

  2. How sad for Bertje's family, losing that darling boy. Thank you for sharing his memory with us in 2009.

  3. Great tribute to a cute little boy.