Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tombstone Thursday – Hunting for Wesselo graves

Imagine this: a busy shopping street in the middle of town on a Saturday morning. As you walk it’s length, you pass two supermarkets, several clothing stores, a candy story, a sportswear store, a lunch room, and a furniture shop. In the end, you stop in front of a department store that’s housed in a building where there used to be a school.

You might ask yourself, what’s that got to do with hunting for graves? It’s simple really, because when you turn around, at the other side of the road, is a church with a cemetery. The weird part is that the moment you walk through the cemetery gate, the sounds from the busy street get hushed. It’s a bit of a creepy feeling, to be honest.

It’s this cemetery where my Wesselo ancestors are buried. It was closed for burials around 1960, as the cemetery was full. Only graves that had already been bought were allowed to be used. A lot of graves are old and there are a lot of family graves. Some of the graves don’t have headstones anymore and there are plenty of graves that have ‘disappeared’, simply because other people were buried there too. In a country where land is scarce, it’s normal practice to ‘shake’ the graves after a certain amount of time, unless of course you pay for it not to happen. The grave can then be re-used. Because the burials stopped around 1960, the shaking of the graves did as well.

It was with this information I went there in hopes of locating at least some of the graves of my ancestors. On one hand, I was unlikely to find older graves because of the ‘shaking’ and the fact that the cemetery is very small causes the ‘shaking’ to happen more often. On the other hand, the burial stop around 1960 meant that some graves might have survived.

In the end, the only gravestone I could find was that of Abraham Bernardus Wesselo, my great-great uncle, and his wife Hendrika Johanna Wilhelmina Broer. If there were others there, they are now in unmarked graves.

Abraham Bernardus Wesselo 21-1-1884 19-9-1961
Hendrika Johanna Wilhelmina Broer 30-6-1889 16-4-1965


  1. How sad that the other graves are gone now - but I suppose where land is scarce, it's "practical". Are there any written records of those old burials?

  2. I have a letter describing a funeral held at this cemetary in 1925 of my great-great-grandmother, and there might be some official records. Unfortunately, the archive where these records are located is a mess, has no archivaris and finding anything there is more trouble than it's worth in this case, as I do know the death dates of everyone who could possibly be buried there.