A few months ago I received an e-mail message from Hans Niemantsverdriet. I quoted from his e-mail message in the last newsletter – and again later in this one. Hans had prepared a Niemantsverdriet family history program for the Dutch public radio system a few years ago. Now, after discovering us, he is planning to do one on the Niemantsverdriets in America! Hey, that’s us!!!
Hans will be coming to America in late March and wants to meet with family members and to learn how the immigrant families fared in America. He’s looking for people with family stories – and hopefully that includes you. At a minimum he will be visiting with family members in Iowa, Missouri, and Arizona. He may be able to drive to some other areas if hospitality and stories are provided (he’s on a very low budget trip – plus the best way to get to know one another is to have him in our homes).
Hans speaks excellent English, but would like to interview family members who speak Dutch. So, do any of you? Please, send any stories you might want to share with Hans to me by mid-March. Also, if you are within reasonable driving distance of Central Iowa and are willing to entertain and host Hans, please let me know that also. He is arriving in Minneapolis on March 20 and departs on March 31. If he spends all that time with Jim and myself, he’s going to think that we are all pretty dull folk!
Niemantsverdriet 2001 –
Hans Niemantsverdriet in Midwest US
April 17 – April 29
We go “home” to Holland!
Niemantsverdriet 2003 –
The Fifth Niemantsverdriet Reunion in America
Following is the information Hans sent me about the historical research he has done on the Niemantsverdriet family in the Netherlands:
His first message:
Now, there was a surprise! I tried out my newly installed AltaVista program, by making it search for my surname. And your 4th newsletter popped up, showing that there are Niemantsverdriet-en in the United States who are organizing reunions. That's splendid! Especially for me.
I - Leendert Johannes (Hans) Niemantsverdriet - am a free lance writer and broadcaster. I've always been interested in the origins of my surname, and followed that interest up a few years ago by making this hour-long radio-documentary for Dutch public radio, entitled "Hoezo, Niemantsverdriet?" ("What do you mean, Niemantsverdriet?"). I did extensive research and as a consequence now know probably more about the history of the family than anyone else in The Netherlands. (Never enough, though.) Of course I also did genealogical research in all the available sources, and managed with a bit of luck to trace my branch of the family tree all the way back to the trunk, the progenitor Jan Niemantsverdriet. He lived in Klaaswaal, in the island of "Hoeksche Waard" south of what is now Rotterdam, in the beginning of the seventeenth century. From him all known Niemantsverdriet-en are descended - whether they are called Niemantsverdriet (the bulk of them) or Niemandsverdriet, or Niemansverdriet or Niemandtsverdriet, or even - once Niemandsvriend (Nobody's friend). These differences are all the consequence of clerical errors at the registration of a birth. The proper way to write the name now, according to the Dutch spelling-rules would be: Niemandsverdriet.)
Progenitor Jan had probably come from what is now known as Belgium, or the north of France, fleeing the catholic Spanish Inquisition at the time of the Reformation, as so many protestants did. (Amsterdam wouldn't have been Amsterdam without it.) The origin of the name itself isn't clear. Two explanations are the most likely: it was Jan's nickname, or it was the name of the hamlet where he originated from - possibly one without a pub, as it was not uncommon in those days for pubs to be known as Vrouwenverdriet (the sorrow of wives). But this is all speculation, don't jump to conclusions about your character and your genes!
Strong genes they must be, though. I have come across Niemantsverdriet-en who strongly resemble, for instance my father, even though connected in the tree only many generations back. Tall, dark-haired. (and stubborn, I should add.)
In the course of making my radio program I also came across Mr. Waardeloo, who did genealogical research into the whole family tree. I was able to show him a few links, enabling him to complete the picture of the whole family-tree, and since he has published this fat book containing all the data he could find. Do you know it? Maybe you know already everything I have written here? What do you know about the history of the Dutch Niemantsverdriet-en?
(cnb – I have this very expensive book – it is in Dutch and he has many errors and omissions about the American Niemantsverdriets.)
The book shows, as I had already established in even my own branch, that from the 19th century onwards some Niemantsverdriet-en emigrated to the States and Canada. How have they fared? Do you have genealogical data on your side of the Atlantic Ocean? Why do you organize these reunions? What else is happening, if anything? Are there newsletters 1, 2, 3, possibly even 5 and more? I am dying for the answers to these and other questions.
The second message from Hans:
I also now plan to propose to Dutch radio a sequel to my earlier program - about the American branch of the family. I think I know what their answer will be: lovely idea, we would like to have it, but it's going to be too expensive with you going to the USA, as you know very well that there is hardly any money for public radio, unlike for television. We'll see. But once I am determined, it's hard to see how it is not going to be made - that's the good side of stubbornness.
You were right about Joop Waardeloo, my memory failed me there. He first did the genealogy of his own family, then that of his wife's, and when all was done he got bored and his GP suggested he do the genealogy of his (the GP's) family. He can't be a generous Niemantsverdriet, though. Waardeloo is a pensioner but Jan never paid him a penny towards his expenses (that's why his book is so expensive). And that can't be because doctors are poor, because they aren't.
You find me on page 146 of his book, under A-XIII-as. But where are you? And I'll have many more questions, about the American lot, to come in our what I hope are going to be frequent exchanges. There seems to be a high concentration of Niemantsverdriet-en in Iowa. How are they spread over the whole of the United States? Please send me your current list, indeed. I am also very interested in your sketch of the lineage. For some reason or other I don't seem to be able to get to your web page.
I saw somewhere a reference to the '5th' family reunion, but I thought so far there had only be three? How many people do attend? When will the next one be? A brilliant idea that you should come to visit the Netherlands in April. I shall be very happy to play a part in your trip, and gather as much information as I can that might interest you.
It is indeed the case that most surnames in the Netherlands didn't come into existence before the Napoleonic time (early 19th century.) Many people didn't take it seriously (a weird and foreign thing) and some gave themselves 'strange' names, as a joke. That's how I always thought our name had its origin. Not so. We go back to early 17th century at least. But it is not the case that it was only the aristocracy who had surnames before Napoleon. Anyone who had to sign an official document, e.g. before a notary, had to have a surname. Merchants, for instance, and farmers who owned land. I think we fall in the latter category. I have just come across a leaflet of a library in Rotterdam that specializes in family histories. They allege they have a 'coat of arms' of the Niemantsverdriet-family for sale. I think it is a fake, but I'll check it out when I am there.
When I made my program I approached an Institute of Folklore in the Netherlands that specializes in among others the origin of family names. From their reply I derived my speculations that I gave you last time. I'll be very happy to translate that letter for you. But it will have to wait a few weeks because I have it in Amsterdam. At present I live again in London, England, as I have done on and off (hence my English, but most people in the Netherlands take pride in speaking a bit of English, anyway).
The third message from Hans:
Dear Carolien (which is the Dutch way of writing your name),
Thank you for sending me the newsletters in the post, which I received a day or so before Christmas. And yes, I dearly would like to have that list of all the family members in the US. Because the good news is that that radio documentary about your lot might go ahead. The radio corporation said indeed that they were very interested, but that, indeed, such a project would be far too expensive for them, but: they would apply for funding from an outside organization! There's just a chance that these people will approve, and in that case I hope to be over there with you well before you have your trip to the Netherlands in April.
I was very pleased to learn that that trip is likely to go ahead. I wouldn't mind at all to be involved in the program of it, give you ideas about where to go, even accompany your group when I can.
You may have noticed that I have included a few pictures of spring flowers in this newsletter. There is a reason for that – we have had a very long and trying winter here in Iowa. We have had snow on the ground for over 75 days and it looks like we may exceed the record of 91 days! If I ever see that Punxsutawney Phil groundhog character, I think I’ll shoot him! This is what the view from my window looks like:
We are expecting more snow and freezing rain today – I’m really ready for our Niemantsverdriet Heritage Tour! I was actually marooned at home when Hans called from Holland to tell me his trip was on! Luckily so, or I wouldn’t have been there to receive his phone call.
We’ve had some other exciting news from Henk van Eijk in Charlois. Henk, you may remember, wrote the historical information on the Charlois community, now part of Rotterdam, and especially the history of the Oude Kerk (old church). Henk has put together an exciting day for those of us participating in the family tour of Holland.
Henk has made arrangements for us to begin our day by welcoming us with coffee and Dutch pastry (!!Ymmm) and a presentation about Historic Charlois and the area in which Charlois is situated. We will also have the opportunity to view the museum’s photo exhibition with the theme "Charlois near the waterside and matters around it". We will visit the "Oude Kerk" (Old Church). Unfortunately the reverend Henk de Graaf spends his holidays in Rumania at that moment but another person will give us guided tour and tell some interesting items. If the weather allows (Holland is a wet country) there will be a walk around the church along some sights of Charlois.
Next item will be a welcome by some representatives of the Charlois municipality (we call it the Deelgemeente Charlois - a local municipality with certain rights to govern a part of the city). Some local papers will have the opportunity to take pictures of our group for their magazines.
We will visit the cemetery of Charlois. There will be a conducted tour by the director of the cemetery along some tombs of Niemantsverdriet including the grave of Conny´s grand-grandmother. (cnb -- Mike Ohm had looked for family gravesites on a previous tour and learned that many, if not all cemeteries there do not have perpetual care and the graves may be either temporary or not cared for – so this is unusual.)
Then we will continue to Numansdorp in the Hoekse Waard. “By the way this is a village that Conny and I know very well because we lived there during our marriage for 28 years! I was there 8 years an elder of the local Hervormde Church. We are expected to be there at 15.30 pm. The reverend of this congregation Ds. De Kivit will guide us and tell us about the church. They promise to take care an organist so that - if you feel the need - you can sing some hymns. “
Henk and friends have put a lot of effort into planning our visit in their (and historically our) part of Holland, and we greatly appreciate it!
A water-bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master's house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream.
"I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."
"Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"
"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path." Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.
The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he wouldn't have this beauty to grace his house."
Moral: Each of us has our own unique flaws. We're all cracked pots. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding.
June Glaser sent a copy of the July 2000 Jefferson City (Mo.) Senior Times with two articles contributed by her. Following are excerpts of interest to the family.
In 1847, Dominie Hendrik Scholte led a group of 800 Dutch immigrants to settle the town of Pella, Ia. A persistent question is why the Dutch people left Holland when the land was so productive and so meticulously farmed. The answer might be for three reasons: lack of space for the growing population while the Dutch government was unwilling to reclaim any further polders (farm land); religious freedom desired by members of the Dutch Reformed Church; and for personal economic development.
My mother, Mabel Voss, was born near Pella in the rolling hills of Leighton in 1893. Mable’s mother, my grandmother Gertrude Niemantsverdriet (no man’s grief), born in 1851 and my grandfather Abrahoam Voss (Vox) (fox) born in 1846, both lived near Rotterdam, Holland, but met in Pella and were married in 1869. In 1904, the Voss family including Mabel and five siblings moved west of Keytesville, Mo., where they had bought a farm. There Mabel met and married may father, Arthur Friesz, who lived across the country road with his parents, Adam and Eva Friesz, who were German immigrants. My father was born in Shenandoah, Ia., in 1881 and was only 14 weeks old when the family came by wagon to the Missouri farm (An interesting side note is that each of the three couples achieved 50 or more years of marriage.) (page 19—the article continues with information about Pella attractions)
And from page 9:
My brother, Bradley Friesz, was honored when the Stinson Creek Covered Bridge at Fulton was dedicated to him posthumously on June 3. The City of Fulton bridge plaque reads, “In Appreciation for His Service to the Community This Bridge is Dedicated in Memory of Bradley E. Friesz.” Carmen McIntire, retired executive vice president of the chamber, wrote, “The bridge and walking trail were a culmination of the Kingdom of Callaway Chamger of Commerce project and are a real asset to the area plus a tourist attraction.”
Friesz died on the job in 1871. It was said that he overextended himself when he was serving as the area agronomist for University Extension in Callaway, Cole, and Osage counties and was based in Fulton. He had just been named the winner of a national public information award and the “Fulton Sun” said that he and his camera rarely missed anything in the agricultural scene. His first love was farming. He took seriously non-formal education and professional information dissemination and furthered his own education with a master’s degree. His creative ideas and active efforts never stopped as he reached out to service clubs, spoke to organizations and announced cattle and horse shows. Bradley never missed the state fair and often brought international visitors with him to our farm home to accompany him, our father, and family members to Sedalia.
Of the six boys and six girls born to Arthur and Mabel Friesz, Bradley was the fourth child and I was ninth. We family members applied the expressions, “let Brad do it.” And he would manage and direct the large washing, nurse family members, carry out the farming routine, run track and still graduate salutatorian of his high school class. He helped organize the Keytesville FFA chapter and became State Farmer in 1934.
On to the University of Missouri he went, working his way through (often at the pay of $1 per day) and bridging the way for eight more of us to attend the institution. Helping the family continued as he made a loan or provided transportation, found jobs and housing. When Ed and I married in 1949, we had the use of his new family car for our trip.
He and brother, Robert Friesz, lettered in track and field at MU and Brad was president of the MU Men’s Club in 1938-39. Robert was killed as a Navy lieutenant commander testing experimental aircraft after WWII in 1947 and a Friesz Road in Virginia honors him. It is only fitting then that there be a Bradley Friesz Bridge commemorating Bradley’s professionalism and the two men’s dedication to life’s callings.
After college graduation, Bradley began work as an appraiser for Farmer’s Home Administration, then as University Extension agent in Pike County followed by assignment in Fulton. He proposed to Dulcie Gover over a game of “honeymoon bridge” and they were married in 1940, as soon as he received a paycheck. Dulcie lives in Fulton and they have three daughters.
Sadly, only four girls remain of the 12 Friesz children, but Carolyn Friesz Olsen from Lincoln, Nebraka, and I from Jefferson City attended the Saturday morning, June 3 grand opening. The bridge is a just memorial to a man who spent his short life building bridges for all of us.
If you are interested in hosting Hans or meeting him during his visit, please let me know as soon as possible. And, if you have any stories about our immigrant ancestors, their families, and descendents that you wish to share, please send them to me. Because he will be spending time here in Iowa, he will be meeting mostly Arie’s descendents. We want him to have information on all branches of the Niemantsverdriets in North America.