Happy birthday, Jansje! Ik wens je een gelukkige jaardag op 12 November 2018 — your 198th!
This year we tasked ourselves with writing something in remembrance of all our ancestors back through our great-grandparents. Today I’m writing about one of my Dutch great-grandmothers, Jansje Barendsen (born November 12, 1820), about whom I know practically nothing.
I do know that she was the mother of my Dutch grandmother, Elisabeth Johanna Maria, who had both Dutch and German ancestors. Elisabeth’s ancestors on her mother’s side were Dutch as far back as I know.
I know that Jansje was born in Elburg, Gelderland, Netherlands, which is a small, picturesque, water-oriented town east of Amsterdam.
According to sources I found on the Internet, neolithic stone tools and pottery sherds have been found in Elburg. In Roman times it was an army camp. In the 14th century it suffered a catastrophic flood and was rebuilt late in the century. It was a fishing and farming center until 1932, when the former Zuiderzee was closed off by the Afsluitdijk (enclosure dam). Because the town’s medieval “look” and footprint have been well preserved, it is a popular tourist town. Two attractions are “Botterdagen” (botter days; a botter is a flat-bottomed fishing boat) and “Kerst in de Vesting” (Christmas in the Fortress).
It looks like a charming town — I would like to go there!
Jansje and her husband, Adam Friederich Metsch, had four children; my grandmother Elisabeth Johanna Maria was their second. Elisabeth’s older sister was Hendrika (known to the family as “Tante Heintje”). I think she was a favorite aunt; my aunt Bets named one of her daughters Hendrika, and the name was used elsewhere in the family.
My grandmother’s brother Chris was apparently also a family favorite.
There was also another, younger brother named Adam, who lived only six years.
Jansje died in November 1865 only a month after little Adam.