Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Breaking Down the Wall

About a year ago, I started my search for Salomon Mulder, my great-grandfather. I did not have a lot of information. In fact, all I had was his birth year and place, the known fact that he was in the military, the fact that he’d been a prisoner of war in the Dutch East Indies during World War Two, and an approximate date of death. I did know the name, birth and death dates of his first wife, Adriana Versloot, but nothing about their marriage.

His death certificate is not public yet, and because Mulder is such a common surname, I didn’t dare ask for a persoonskaart, since I could end up with a huge pile or nothing at all and I have to pay for each copy and the enquiry itself. I searched for his birth record, but I couldn’t find it, even though it had to be there. This was resolved much later in the search, but back then, it was still missing.

I had no idea where he was married, both times, so the only option for research I had left was the fact that he was military, so I wrote to the Nederlands Instituur voor Militaire Historie (NIHM, Dutch Institute of Military History) in hopes of finding out if there maybe was a record because he’d been a POW during WW2. I’d hoped to find his exact birth date on that, his marriage date, maybe the name of his parents, anything, something, to give me a clue as to where to look for him.

I got so much more than that! I got his entire military record! It’s chockfull of information; just mindboggling. I’ll spare you all the details, many of which I am still working out myself. I’ve learned to both love and hate the military through this record. I love the military because they wrote down everything, really everything! You’ve got to love bureaucracy. On the other end, being the efficient types they are, they use a lot (!) of abbreviations, many of which are still a mystery for me. Not to mention cramming as much information on a piece of paper as possible in some of the earlier records, so the handwriting is difficult to decipher. But, there are some real gems in there that blew my brick wall up, with tons and tons of the genealogical equivalent of C4 bombs!

I'll take you through the most important facts, as writing it all down would take at least ten posts. Clicking on the pictures will enlarge them.

Bomb #1: His full name and birth date, along with his military number.

Of course, this had to be on his records, but still, it was nice that on all his records the date was consistent. Salomon Mulder, born 28 November 1900 in Leiden. It was his birth date that enabled me to find his birth record.
I was also very happy with his military number, or should I say, military numbers! Apparently, he had two, and one replaced the other. This is very important information when I am looking for him in other military records!

Bomb #2: Both his marriages, along with his children and stepchildren

Both of his marriages were listen. His spouses full names are there, as well as the marriage dates. His three biological children from his first marriage, including my grandfather, are named as are their birth dates. What surprised me was that his three stepchildren, from his second wife, are also named with their birth dates. I knew they were there, I even have a picture of them, now I have names to go with the faces.

Bomb #3: His faith

You wouldn’t think this was such a big shocker. He was Roman-Catholic, so what? Well, my grandfather is not a Roman-Catholic. In fact, nobody in the family even knew he’d been a Roman-Catholic until his teens! Well, my grandmother knew, and she told me about it after I asked her, but I never would’ve asked if I hadn’t found this document.
The implications for further research into my Mulder line is staggering. Changing faith was not done much in the Netherlands and society was very much separated by faith. I would’ve been looking in all the wrong places for my ancestors if I hadn’t found this document!

Bomb #4: Parents

His parents were named, which helped in identifying the correct birth certificate later on. Not to mention, more sources is always good. His parents are Wilhelmus Johannes Bonifacius Mulder and Johanna van Wezel.

Bomb #5: Description

Yes, a description. It’s supposed to be in the records, but is not always present, so I was happy there was one. My great-grandfather was 1.78 meters tall, had blue eyes and blond hair. He had a scar on his left ring finger. This was recorded in 1946.

Bomb #6: Deployments

All of his deployments can be found in this record, from his enlistment on 7 May 1919 until his pension on 1 Februari 1949. What was very interesting to me was the very complete record of his journeys to and from the Dutch East Indies, where he served several times.

Bomb #7: His POW record

There’s a special section that details how Salomon fared during his last deployment to the Dutch East Indies. He was stationed in Soerabaja from 26 April 1940 onwards, until he was transferred on 1 March 1942. Four days later on 5 March 1942 he was captured by the Japanese and put in a prison camp. He was transferred at least once, seeing that he was liberated on 14 August 1945 in Singapore. He was brought to flight base Priok in Batavia on 8 October 1945 and to the repatriation camp Doorn, the Netherlands on 14 Januari 1946. From there he was transferred to the base in Voorschoten.

Bomb #8: Medals

Yes, it says medals, plural. He got to wear the ‘Oorlogsherinneringskruis’, for his service during World War Two, with three pins, all of them having to do with specific battles during that war. He also got the ‘Kleine Gouden Medaille’ for long, honorable and faithful service. The ‘ereteken “orde en vrede”’ and the ‘erdemedaille verbonden aan de Orde van Oranje Nassau in zilver met de zwaarden’ were also awarded to him. Four medals for military service, it’s quite an honor.

Bomb #9: Two personnel reviews

Two personnel reviews jump out at me because of the extra remarks they carry. The first review is dated 1 October 1946, and the review was ‘very good.’ As remark it is said: firm and correct in bearing, gives the impression of being somewhat nervous.’ I’m sorry, but after spending years in hell and not even being back in the Netherlands for a full year, I think he’s entitled to be a bit nervous!

The second review is from 1 July 1947, and this time it’s ‘excellent.’ The remark this time is: ‘Because of the diligence and the decisive actions several thefts were cleared up.’ Intriguing!

In the end, even though this document is ‘only’ 20 pages and I’ve had it in my possession for several months, there is still much to glean from this document. So much information is great, and what was once a brick wall is now a wide open road into the past.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sentimental September: Memories 0-4 years old

Let me first say, I don’t remember most of these things. They are stories told to me by my mother. Still, it happened, even if I don’t remember it, so I might as well write it down and start at the beginning.


When my mother was pregnant with me, she always said I would come when it started to freeze. Since her due date was at the end of November, beginning of December, it was a very real possibility. Due to the circumstances she was admitted into the hospital in Delft earlier than usual.

When my father went there on the evening of 1 December 1987, he had to scrape his windows because of the frost. It was after visiting hours and my mother was in labor. She threw my Dad out of the room and he ended up watching some kind of honeymoon show. She also threw out a male nurse. Afterwards, she said he was just trying to be nice, asking her if she needed anything. Her answer: “yes, you out of here!”

At 23.40 I was born, healthy as can be. My Dad tried to contact his parents and my mother’s parents to no avail. Also a lot of other people he wanted to call were unreachable. Ah, such is life…


When I was still very small, probably no more than nine months old, I had to have an immunization shot. Not nice! I cried afterwards and my mother soothed me. It was fine until my father came home from work. The moment he stepped inside I started to cry and I wouldn’t stop until he held me. And every time he tried to put me down, or even pass me to my mother, I started to cry again. He held me for hours. Poor man, to this day, he complains about the pain in his arm and shoulder…

Forgotten Tea

My grandfather on my mother’s side was very active with the local Voorschotense soccer club. At home games, he provided the tea that the players got in the half-time break.

One day, we were visiting and my parents and I, not yet two years old, had gone with my grandfather to the soccer club. When half-time came, the two teams left the ball on the field. I was delighted by the opportunity to play with it and set out across the field. My grandfather went after me. In all the commotion, something which had never happened before: my grandfather forgot to make tea!


Sometime in the same period as the previous memory, we were on another visit to my maternal grandfather. He kept chickens and peacocks (among other animals) in his garden. It was spring and the chickens had chicks.

I was fascinated by them and while I was alone in the garden, I unlatched the door of the chicken coop. But the chicks were fine where they were and stayed put. Undaunted, I grabbed a hand of feed and threw it down. Of course the chickens came out now and spread out through the garden to chase the hands of feed I kept throwing around. I was delighted and my grandfather laughed himself silly (in comparison to the time another one of his grandchildren freed his prize peacocks and one of them escaped never to be seen again).

Smelly Business

Before I was potty-trained, my parents and I were visiting my paternal grandparents. My parents had put me down for a nap in one of the upstairs guestrooms.

When it remained quiet for a suspiciously long time, my mother came upstairs to check in on me. While everyone had been downstairs, I had somehow managed to unfasten my full diaper and was busy plastering the walls with my poo. My grandparents, especially my grandmother, were not amused.

Stinging Nettles

One memory I do have of my own, instead of being just a story my mother told me, happened not long after we moved from Delft to Voorschoten 1990. The garden was a bit wild and there were a lot of stinging nettles. In my mind they are very tall, but seeing as I was very little, that’s probably a matter of perception. I am sure though that they were taller than I was.

I was playing with at least two other children, perhaps my cousins, I am not sure. The ball we were playing with ended up in the stinging nettle forest and I was ‘elected’ to go and get it, as I was the youngest. I did go after it and brought it back, but the nettles hurt a lot and I cried. That’s all I remember.

Disappearance Act

I must’ve been around three years old, I guess, when my mother went shopping with her friend M.T. They took me with them. My mother and I were inside the shop and M.T. was browsing through a rack with clothes at the entrance of the store.

To this day, it remains a mystery how I could’ve left the shop unseen, but getting outside I did. In fact, I wandered down the street and across a bridge, to come across a shoe shop, where I stopped to look at the shoes on display in the window. While I was standing there, a nice lady asked me where my mother was, to which I pointed in the general direction and said: “there.” When she asked me what I was doing all alone, I answered something along the lines of “shopping.” It was then that my mother found me. She must’ve had such a fright!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sentimental September

How often have we wanted to find letters, a diary, or even a proper autobiography written by our ancestors? For however many documents we find, few tells us so much about our ancestor's daily lives, thoughts and dreams as those written by our ancestors themselves. Yet as we research our ancestors and wish for documents like that to turn up, how often do we ourselve leave such documents behind?

It was for this reason that at the beginning of this year I made the resolution to write down my own memories, so they will be recorded for my descendants. So future generations will never have the regret of not asking me for them when I was still alive.

However, I did not post or even write down nearly as many memories as I would have liked. So, in a bid to catch u, I am calling the remainder of this month Sentimental September. Every day I will post at least one memory, but more often then not I will post a memory group, either a group of memories about the same period of time or about the same subject.

I am not going to care about the order of these memories, or even about repeating them. The important thing is to get them down. It doesn't have to be neat and precise. I can order them later, clean them up when I've gotten most of it down on paper. Or if I'll never get to that, my descendants can have that job. I'm sure they'll be thankfull I wrote it down and won't care about order or neatness.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Amenuensis Monday – Lodewijk’s Children

Most documents you’ll find of your ancestors are ones that weren’t meant to give genealogical information. But sometimes, you get a little gold gem that was written with the express intent to convey genealogical information.

In 1944, Abraham Wesselo wrote a letter to his brother Lodewijk on behalf of his brother-in-law to ask for genealogical information. I don’t have that letter (and so I have no idea which brother-in-law was working on the genealogy), but I do have the reply that Lodewijk’s daughter wrote. Appearently, her father wasn’t much impressed with genealogy, so she answered, although it did contain the information she got from her father.

In this letter, there are basic facts like her mother’s birth dateand her parent’s marriage date. Also, the birth dates of the children. But there is also some information that you can’t find anywhere else. I’ve translated the relevant bit:

There were three children born:
Hendrik 21 April 1900 died 28 April
The second son is not in the marriage book because he died after one day and according to Father a child is considered stillborn then
Antje 1 November 1902


We used to have a psalm book in which Mother had written down the birth date of the second Hendrik and of the first one off course, but it burned. However I seem to recall that that child was born in April as well. All three of us where born way too early!!!

Antje was wrong about the date of the second son, he was born on 8 October 1901 and died that same day according to the official records. However, because he was stillborn, he is not given a name in the records. Yet he did have one. Also, we now know that all three children were born too early, which probably was also the cause of the death of the first two. The psalm book she talked about probably burned when their house was destroyed by the bombardment of Rotterdam in May 1940.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sweden - Here I Come!

I will be going to Sweden tomorrow (at an insanely early hour!) and I will not be back until Monday 20th September. There will be no posts from me in that interval.

See you all when I get back!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering 9/11

8.46 am New York time. 14.46 local time. A plane collides with the World Trade center and news stations all over the world tap into the American news stations to show life footage.

I don’t exactly know why I put on the tv. It might have been because I was just zapping. It might have been because my mother called me, or perhaps I called her. It’s a bit of a blur, to be honest. I do know that when I watched, the first plane had already collided with the first tower.

Then, suddenly, I hear the commentator screaming: “Oh my God, another one just hit!”

It’s 9.02 am New York time, 15.02 local time. The second plane hits the second tower and the horrifying truth becomes clear. This is no accident.

The rest of the afternoon and evening, the tv was on. Every bit of news that trickled in just made the situation seem worse. Every image will forever be burned into my mind. It was the day the world changed.

Americans were hit the hardest, of course. Many of them lost someone, knew someone who was lost, lived in fear for some time. But the rest of the world was changed as well. No longer were we safe, no longer was there total peace in the Western World. A cowardice attack had changed all of it. There is no protection against these kinds of attacks, no amount of security measures you can take that will prevent this. No matter how hard you try.

The world is a lot more unsafe. The world will never be the same. I was there, I remember. I remember that day, I remember how it was before that day. The feeling of total safety that was before is something I will never be able to explain to my children, because they will be born in a world where terrorism is a reality. They will learn of this day in their history lessons, but I was there. I remember.

I will always remember.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Housekeeping and Planning

I did some housekeeping today, adding surname pages and family sheets so people visiting my blog can more easily access my research and see what I am doing. I did this because I realized that I needed to adjust my plans. I can now clearly see I have bitten off far more than I can chew for this year, so I narrowed down my plans for the last months of the year.

I have four main goals I hope to accomplish in the remainder of 2010.

1. Finish my research on the Dutch Knura's, namely my grandfather and his sister, as well as the Dutch years of my grandfather's other sister and his brothers.

I have updated my research plan for my grandfather, there are three main things I still need to find sources for. His captivity in Camp Vught and subsequent release, his migration into the Netherlands, and his naturalization in the '50s. I have the archives where I can look for these sources, just need to find the time to search for them. Some of the archives I need permission for to look into, and that needs to be done in writing.

For my grandfather's sister, I need to find her migration into the country and I want to look up the documents she entered in order to get married. Unfortunately, these most likely reside in our local, very unhelpfull, archive. If that's the case, I might never get to see them.

As for the rest of the Knura's, I need to find their migration into and out of the country. I hope that I can find this, but I am not sure. The one I am most interested in, though, is his other sister. I believe this is the sister that entered the Netherlands the first, perhaps together with the sister that stayed here.

2. Finish my research into Lodewijk Wesselo and write his biography (both the Dutch and the English version)

I have all the documents, I just need to transcribe some of it (yes, still), then I am free to write his biography.

3. Visit the two local graveyards in search of my ancestors graves.

One I am visiting tomorrow, I am not sure what I will find there. The other one has a very searchable site, so I know who I am going to find there, just need to find the time to go there. It's a bit further away.

4. Finish filing all my documents.

It's just one box. One full box, but still, just one box. Four months, should be doable, right?

Family Sheet Adolph Knura

Adolph (Dolf) Knura (#6), born 1 July 1914, Bottrop, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany, died 30 January 1990, Leiden, Zuid-Holland. Parents: Josef Bergmann Knura and Sophia Zbieszczyk.

Married Henriette Geertruida Lamboo (#7), born 15 December 1913, Zoeterwoude, Zuid-Holland, died 27 December 2004, 's Gravenhage, Zuid-Holland, on 11 May 1938 in Voorschoten, Zuid-Holland. Parents: Bernardus Johannes Lamboo and Anna Hendrika van Dijk.

Children from this marriage:

a. My Aunt
b. My Other Aunt
c. My Uncle
d. My Other Uncle
e. Yet Another Uncle
f. Lambertus Johannes Adolphus (Bertje) Knura (1955-1961)
g. My Mother (#3)

Posts about Adolph Knura:

Family Legend: True or False? (link to part 1, further parts linked internally)
Immigration Speculation
Reconstruction of the Knura Family's Migration
Adolph Knura In Memoriam (link to part 1, further parts linked internally)
The Effects of War
History of a Village on the Hills

Posts about Henriette Geertruida Lamboo:

Biography of Henriette Geertruida Lamboo
December Birthday of a Special Woman
Timeline Henriette Geertruida Lamboo
Looking For Lamboo (link to part 1, further parts linked internally)
Three Generations of Books

Posts about Lambertus Johannes Adolphus Knura:

The Forgotten Uncle: A Biography of Lambertus Johannes Adolphus Knura
Tombstone Thursday: Bertje Knura

Family Sheet Bergmann Josef Knura

Bergmann Josef Knura (#12), born circa 1879 Germany or Poland in the region Silesia, died after 1928 in Bottrop, Germany. Parents unknown.

Married Sophia Zbieszczyk (#13), born circa 1884 Germany or Poland in the region Silesia, died Bottrop, Germany. Parents unknown.

Children from this marriage:

a. Anna Knura (1905-1994)
b. Maria Knura (1908-?)
c. Adolph Knura (1914-1990) (Family Sheet)
d. Paul Knura (?-?)
e. E. Knura (?-?)
f. Karl Knura (?-?)
g. Ger Knura (?-?)
h. Miel (?-?)

Posts about Bergmann Josef Knura:

Picture of Josef & Sophia

Posts about Sophia Zbieszczyk:

Picture of Josef & Sophia
Fearless Females

Posts about the children of Josef & Sophia:

Reconstruction of the Knura Family's Migration
Another Piece of the Migration Puzzle