Bookreview: Straatnamen in Leiden [Streetnames in Leiden]

Straatnamen in Leiden: een verhaal van zeven eeuwen [Streetnames in Leiden: a story of seven centuries] by Rudi Maanen & Marijke Mooijaart is, at its core, a book about the street names in Leiden. How old they are, how they’ve changed, themes, and regulations, all of it gets discussed. But at the same time, this book discusses the growth (and sometimes decline) of Leiden as a city. It’s lay-out. Social-economics. Changing industry. So many issues are woven into building a city and naming streets. That makes this a great book for more than just people interested in streets. As a genealogist with ancestors in Leiden, this book provides great background information. I even found some great resources, including maps, in the source and literature list at the end. To conclude, this is a highly specialized book, but well worth it if you have ancestors from Leiden.

Review of an Unexpected Year and Looking Ahead

I think we can all say that 2020 was not the year that we expected. My genealogy plans for last year included a lot of research on location. Several trips to the National Archives in the Hague and Erfgoed Leiden in Leiden were planned. I’d also planned to visit a list of about five different archives that (maybe) hold collections I need to finish my research for the biography I am writing about Jan Jerphaas Wesselo during the summer holidays, as they are all further away from me and most need appointments as they are smaller town archives. Also, tentatively, on the list was a trip to a military archive. Aside from that, I had planned to visit the National Military Museum in Soesterberg, the Navy Museum in Den Helder, and the National Museum of Education in Dordrecht as a visual source for my genealogical research and family history writing. None of that happened, for obvious reasons. 

With travel severely limited and my reluctance to take any chances with Covid-19, my genealogical research took a very different path than I had planned. There are no finished biographies this year, as all of them that are in the works require on-site research. Instead, my research has shifted to the digital world. I must admit, we are very spoiled in the Netherlands, as there are so many archives with good online presences and a lot of indexed records and actual scans that are just as good as seeing the original. I dove into my ancestors from Zeeland with digital records, read (or re-read) several genealogy books from my shelves, and generally tried to make the best of the situation.

However, despite this, I found it difficult at times to focus on my research. Writing about it was almost non-existent. I had a brief resurgence of writing inspiration around August/September, but as the situation in the world changed again, my inspiration ebbed away. I decided to be kind to myself and not berate myself for ‘failing’ at any goals.

In the coming year, the situation in the world is still up in the air. Therefore, I am not making any firm goals for 2021. Merely some initial plans of things I can see myself doing right now. First of all, I have several biographical sketches almost ready to go. They have all been done with online research only, so there are some missing bits. I have decided not to hold on to these posts until I can ‘finish’ the research (is research ever truly finished?), but posts them once they are done with notes of what I will need to research once I can do on-location research again. Secondly, I do plan to continue my Mulder research posts. Again, by necessity, I will need to find all new information in online sources only, with a list of on-site research I need to do once the situation allows for it. And last, but not least, I plan to keep better records. I have gotten loads better than I was when I was just starting, but I still haven’t found a record system that I can consistently keep up to date. Especially with the online research I am doing now, I find it difficult. It needs to be a system that is easy enough to keep and won’t take much time, so I will actually stay on top of it.

In short, this coming year I will be doing what I can when I can. No pressure, no musts, simply having fun with my research and my writing. I hope to share my genealogy journey of the coming year here on the blog. Let’s have a wonderful genealogy year, be it from our armchair or out in the archives.

Museums mentioned:

National Military Museum 

Navy Museum 

National Museum of Education 

Picure by Gelgas Airlangga via Pexels.

This post is part of the January Genealogy Blog Party at Heart of the Family.

The Matter Geelkerken

In a short, autobiographical sketch of his own life, written in 1947, Lodewijk Wesselo writes a bit about the different churches he belonged to.1 First he belonged to the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, but then in 1926 he switched to the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Liberated), before making another switch around 1930 to the Dutch Reformed Church. As the reason for the switch he mentioned “the matter elkerken???”.

It didn’t take much digging for me to figure out what he mean (misspelling and all). All it took was entering the name of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Liberated) into Wikipedia. It brought me to an interesting bit of church history in the Netherland.

It all started with the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, which formed in 1892 from two groups that had separated from the Dutch Reformed Church – one in 1834 and the other one in 1886. This church is a protestant denomination with a mainstream reformed orientation (Calvinism). In 1926 a conflict within the church emerged, centering around the interpretation of the Bible – in particular Genesis. This Bible book states that the serpent spoke to Eve and thus enticed her into eating the apple. The orthodox majority of the church concluded from this story that the serpent had the ability to speak – a literal interpretation of the Bible. The more liberal members of the church, led by Dr. J.G. Geelkerken, a minister for the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, looked at this as more of an allegory – a symbolic interpretation of the Bible.

This conflict became such an issue that the Synod of Assen in 1926 was called to decide about this matter. The synod concluded that the only right interpretation of the Bible was the literal one. Every other interpretation of the Bible was unacceptable. A number of ministers, including Geelkerken, refused to accept the verdict and were subsequently dismissed. Others chose to voluntarily leave the church and join Geelkerken and his fellow ministers as they formed the new Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Liberated).

Around 1930 Lodewijk decided to join the Dutch Reformed Church, because the community of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Liberated) “didn’t satisfy” him. He was ahead of his time. In 1946 the entire Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Liberated) joined the Dutch Reformed Church and as such ceased to exist.

I was lucky to find a firsthand account of not only which churches Lodewijk Wesselo belonged to, but also the reasons for the changes. So often we are able to find church records for our ancestors and can even follow them through time as they switch faith (if we’re lucky). But it is rare that we get to truly know why one of our ancestors switched between faiths or churches. So I can only say that I’m very glad Lodewijk decided his reasons for changing churches was important enough to write down.

*This post previously appeared on my old blog Tracing My Roots.


1. Lodewijk Wesselo, Brief Biographical Sketch, manuscript, 1947; portfolio 3, doos 1, familiearchief Wesselo, familiearchieven: Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie, fa 00472, Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie, Den Haag, Zuid-Holland.

Picture source:

Adam and Eve; picture by Robert Cheaib from Pixabay, released under Pixabay license;

Salomon Mulder, born 28 November 1900 (Mulder Research Part 2)

This post is the second in a series showing not only the results of my research into my paternal Mulder line, but also my research journey. Take a peek over my shoulder as I try to find my Mulder ancestors.

See this post for the start of my research, showing the links between Salomon Mulder and myself.

Last time the information I gathered from Salomon’s personal record card stated that he was born on 28 November 1900 in Leiden, to Wilhelmus Bonifacius Mulder (born 14 May 1878 in Leiden) and Johanna van Wezel (born 31 January 1879 in Leiden). He was married two times. First to Adriana Versloot (born 22 February 1905 in Hillegersberg, died 24 May 1945 in Semarang) on 26 October 1921 in Rotterdam. There were three children born from this marriage, among them my grandfather. His second marriage was in 1946. Salomon was a sergeant in the marines, then retired, then an insurance agent, before he is without a profession according to this source. Salomon died on 15 May 1986 in Leiden.1 Of course, all of this information is only from one source and I want to confirm it with other sources.


Salomon’s birth record shows he was indeed born on 28 November 1900.2 His parents are named as Wilhelmus Johannes Bonifacius Mulder, twenty-two years old and a furniture maker, and his wife Johanna van Wezel, without occupation. Wilhelmus himself is the informant on the day of the birth. Witnesses were Marcus de Meij, thirty-three years old and a bricklayer, and Arie van Vliet, twenty-eight years old, and a carrier.

According to the birth record Salomon was born ‘in his house’ where his refers to Wilhelmus Johannes Bonifacius Mulder. In the margin of the record ‘Ververhof 6’ is pencilled in, something civil servants sometimes did when updating the population registers. That gives the address Salomon was probably born at.

Birth record Salomon Mulder

Salomon’s birth was also recorded in the ‘Burgerlijke Stand’ (translation: civil registration) rubric of the local newspaper.3 It doesn’t mention him by name, but it mentions that J. Mulder, born van Wezel, gave birth to a son. The newspaper dates from 8 December 1900, 10 days after Salomon’s birth according to his birth record, so this must be Salomon’s birth.

There are various population registers that also mention Salomon’s birth date, they all agree on 28 November 1900. They also all agree that he was born in Leiden. There are so many of them I will be discussing them in a separate post. The important one for his birth is the first one he is mentioned in, at the address Levendaal 164, which mentions a move to Ververshof 6.4 Ververshof 6 is the address pencilled in the margin of the birth record. The move-in date is 20 November 1900, which would place it 8 days before the birth of Salomon. 5

Dates are notoriously faulty in the population registers. The composition of a family, however, is much more reliable. It is therefore likely that Salomon was born at Levendaal 164 and the family moved shortly after the birth. When the civil servant updated the population register and pencilled Ververshof 6 in the margin (perhaps he did so in January?), the family would have been at Ververshof 6 already.

The last group of records that show his birth date are his military files, which all show his birth date to be 28 November 1900 and birth place as Leiden.6 They also all name his parents as Wilhelmus Johannes Bonifacius Mulder and Johanna van Wezel. These records probably all take their information from his original conscription, after which the information was copied from a previous record anytime a new record was made, so I wouldn’t consider them all separate pieces of evidence but rather consider them as a whole.


Salomon was married two times according to his personal record card. His first marriage was to Adriana Versloot in 1921. This marriage record is publicly accessible and shows that Salomon Mulder married Adriana Versloot on 26 October 1921 in Rotterdam.7

Salomon Mulder is twenty years old and a marine. He was born and is living in Leiden at the time of his marriage. His parents are Wilhelmus Johannes Bonifacius Mulder, 43 years old and a furniture maker, and Johanna van Wezel, 42 years old and without a profession. Both are living in Leiden, are present at the marriage and give their consent.

Adriana Versloot is sixteen years old and without a profession. She was born in Hillegersberg and living in Rotterdam at the time of the marriage. Her parents are Klaas Versloot, 41 years old and a carter, and Teuna Huurman, 37 years old without profession. Both are living in Rotterdam, present for the marriage and give their consent.

The witnesses to the marriage were Martinus Ivo, 41 years old, and Gerardus Herscheid, 40 years old. Both are living in Rotterdam and clerks. They were probably chosen as witnesses because they were there, as it is likely they worked at city hall.

Aside from these facts, the record mentions that the proclamation of the marriage happened without incident both in Rotterdam and in Leiden on 15 October 1921.

What I find most interesting about this marriage is the young age of Adriana. This struck me as odd for the time-period. I even had a discussion about this topic on a genealogy message board.8 The first thought people had was that it was a shot-gun wedding, but I have found no evidence of the birth of a child until 1924 – not even a stillbirth. Another option that was discussed was that the marriage gave certain benefits given that Salomon was military. This would make more sense to me. There is a family story that Salomon’s wedding was a proxy marriage. Though the record clearly shows this isn’t true, the story might have come into being because Salomon was transferred a lot and was even on deployment several times without his family. Those same transfers and (possible) deployments might also have been the cause of the marriage taking place while Adriana was so young. That’s all supposition, though, as the real reason is shrouded by time and I’m unlikely to ever figure it out completely.

City hall of Rotterdam, build between 1914 and 1920. It still exists today, one of the few buildings to survive the bombardment of central Rotterdam in World War Two.

The publication of the marriage banns was indeed found in newspapers from both Rotterdam and Leiden. There were three newspapers from Rotterdam that published the banns. Two of them mention that the declaration date is 13 October 1921, their names as S. Mulder and A. Versloot, respective ages as 20 and 16 years old, and that they were never married before (designation “j.m.” [jongeman] and “j.d.” [jongedochter], which are only used for men and women who were never married before).9 The third Rotterdam newspaper, published on the same date, gives the same information but contains one extra bit of information. It mentions the addresses of the males, in Salomon’s case Oostplein 14.10 Oostplein 14 is not an address in Leiden, but in Rotterdam, so it contradicts the marriage record. I will be discussing this next time, when I talk about all of the places Salomon lived.

The banns were also published in three newspapers from Leiden, two published on 17 October 1921 and one a day later. The first one gives names, ages and the fact that they were never married before. It does not mention a date for the banns at all.11 The second and third newspapers give the same information, but has a date of 15 October for the banns it published.12

Their marriage also made it into two newspapers from Rotterdam. The information is scarce, as it is the ‘civil registration’ section of the newspaper, not a family announcement. The newspapers give their names as S. Mulder and A. Versloot, respective ages as 20 and 16 years old (although Voorwaarts makes the mistake of saying Adriana is 19), and that they were never married before.13

Aside from this marriage record and the newspaper records, the military records I have also confirm Salomon’s marriage to Adriana Versloot on 25 October 1921.6 They also give the date of dissolution of the marriage as 24 May 1945, with the reason as ‘death of wife’. After Adriana’s death, Salomon remarried in 1946 according to his personal record card. The military records also confirm this marriage. The marriage record of his second marriage is not public yet and won’t be until 2021.


Salomon’s death certificate is not yet public and won’t be until 2036. His personal record card does mention his death date and place, as mentioned last time, as 15 May 1986 in Leiden.1

Aside from this personal record card, there was a family announcement in the newspaper. It lists his name, Salomon Mulder, his birth date as 28 November 1900 and his death date as 15 November 1986.14 It also tells us he died after a long illness and that he was cremated.

Aside from the information on his death, the family announcement also mentions that he was an “adj. O.O. der mariniers b.d.”, the highest rank for a non-commissioned officer in the Dutch marines. B.d. means ‘buiten dienst’, so retired (literally: outside of service). The announcement furthermore lists five medals Salomon received.  The last bit of information is the address mentioned, Bizetpad 88, Leiden. Since the announcement is primarily in the name of his widow, alongside his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who are all not named, it is likely this is her current address and would have been Salomon’s address at the time of his death.


All records found agree that Salomon Mulder was born on 28 November 1900 in Leiden. He was likely born at Levendaal 164, and otherwise at Ververshof 6. They also agree on his two marriages, the first to Adriana Versloot on 26 October 1921 in Rotterdam and the second one in 1946. The few public records available also agree that Salomon died on 15 May 1986 in Leiden.

All records name his parents as Wilhelmus Johannes Bonifacius Mulder and Johanna van Wezel, giving me a firm foundation to go a generation back. But before I do that, I want to finish my research into Salomon Mulder and his family. Next time, I will look into Salomon Mulder’s career.


1. “Nationaal Register Overledenen” [National Register Deceased], personal record card of Salomon Mulder, born Leiden 28 November 1900 died Leiden 15 May 1986; Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie; photocopy provided via mail.

2. Civil Registration (Leiden), birth record 1900 no. 1591, Salomon Mulder (28 November 1900); “Collecties,” “Zoek Personen,” index and images, Erfgoed Leiden ( : accessed 25 December 2019).

3. “Burgerlijke Stand van Leiden” [Civil Registration of Leiden], Leidsch Dagblad, 8 December 1900 p. 6, col. 3; “Historische Kranten, Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken” [Historical Newspapers, Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken], searchable images, ( : accessed 29 December 2019).

4. Leiden, population register 1890-1924, inventory no. 1322 “18. Lee-Lom. (6603 – 6970)”, p. 6919, Wilhelmus Johannes Bonifacius household; digital image, Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken, “Stadsarchief van Leiden (Stadsbestuur (SA III)) (1816-1929)”, “Archief van het algemeen en dagelijks bestuur (1545) 1816-1929 (1963)” ( accessed 25 December 2019).

5. Leiden, population register 1890-1924, inventory no. 1351 “49. supplement II. (1 – 447)”, p. 370, Wilhelmus Johannes Bonifacius household; digital image, Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken, “Stadsarchief van Leiden (Stadsbestuur (SA III)) (1816-1929)”, “Archief van het algemeen en dagelijks bestuur (1545) 1816-1929 (1963)” ( accessed 25 December 2019).

6. Salomon Mulder military files, “Collectie Personendocumentatie KM” [Collection Documentation of People Royal Marines], Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie [Dutch Institute for Military History]; copy of files provided by mail on 19 February 2010.

7. Civil Registration (Rotterdam), marriage record 1921 no. 4489, Salomon Mulder and Adriana Versloot (26 October 1921); copy received from Stadsarchief Rotterdam.

8. J.M., “Gemiddelde huwelijksleeftijd vrouwen rond 1920 in Zuid-Holland (regio Rotterdam),” Stamboom Forum, discussion list, 4 November 2018, ( accessed 6 November 2018)

9. “Burgerlijke Stand van Rotterdam” [Civil Registration of Rotterdam], Voorwaarts: sociaal-democratisch dagblad, 14 October 1921 p. 5, col. 4; “Delpher”, searchable newspapers, ( accessed 29 December 2019). “Burgerlijke Stand” [Civil Registration], De Maasbode, 14 October 1921 p. 6, col. 4; “Delpher”, searchable newspapers, ( accessed 29 December 2019).

10. “Burgerlijke Stand” [Civil Registration], Rotterdamsch nieuwsblad, 14 October 1921 p. 13, col. 5; “Delpher”, searchable newspapers, ( accessed 29 December 2019).

11. “Burgerlijke Stand Leiden”[Civil Registration Leiden], Leidsch Dagblad, 17 October 1921 p. 6, col. 4; “Historische Kranten, Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken” [Historical Newspapers, Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken], searchable images, ( accessed 29 December 2019).

12. “Burgerlijke Stand Leiden”[Civil Registration Leiden], Nieuwe Leidsche Courant, 17 October 1921 p. 3, col. 1; “Historische Kranten, Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken” [Historical Newspapers, Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken], searchable images, ( accessed 29 December 2019). “Burgerlijke Stand”[Civil Registration], Leidsche Courant, 18 October 1921 p. 4, col. 5; “Historische Kranten, Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken” [Historical Newspapers, Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken], searchable images, ( accessed 29 December 2019)

13. “Burgerlijke Stand van Rotterdam” [Civil Registration of Rotterdam], Voorwaarts: sociaal-democratisch dagblad, 26 October 1921 p. 3, col. 4; “Delpher”, searchable newspapers, ( accessed 29 December 2019). “Burgerlijke Stand” [Civil Registration], De Maasbode, 26 October 1921 p. 11, col. 6; “Delpher”, searchable newspapers, ( accessed 29 December 2019).

14. “Salomon Mulder”, obituary, Leidsch Dagblad, 20 May 1986 p. 4, col. 3; “Historische Kranten, Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken” [Historical Newspapers, Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken], searchable images, ( accessed 29 December 2019).

Picture sources:

1. Civil Registration (Leiden), birth record 1900 no. 1591, Salomon Mulder (28 November 1900); “Collecties,” “Zoek Personen,” index and images, Erfgoed Leiden ( : accessed 25 December 2019).

2. City hall of Rotterdam, Rotterdam, 8 March 1958; picture made by Behrens, Herbert, Anefo collection, National Archive, released under CC0 Creative Commons license;

Biographical Sketch: Barend Cornelis Bolle (1886-1964)

  1. Barend Cornelis “Cor” Bolle, son of Gerrit Bolle and Geertruida Takken, was born on 8 February 1886 in Zutphen.1 He died on 1 June 1964 in Leiden.2 He married Alida Petronella Wesselo, daughter of Hendrik Wesselo and Alida Petronella van Grasstek, on 14 May 1914 in Voorschoten.3

Cor first worked at the gold and silver factory.4 Later on, he worked in his mother’s haberdashery shop, eventually taking it over completely.5

Cor was also involved in local politics and a member of many organizations in Voorschoten.6

There are 8 children known from Cor’s marriage to Alida Petronella Wesselo.7

(For more information on this biographical sketch, please see this post.)


1. Zutphen, Zuid-Holland, “Burgerlijke Stand geboorte-register” [Civil Registration Birth Register], 1886, no. 76, “Barend Cornelus” son of Gerrit Bolle and his wife Geertruida Takken; Gelders Archief, Arnhem, Gelderland; digital image, “Personen zoelen,” Gelders Archief ( : accessed 21 August 2020). Searchterm used: Bolle.
2. Leiden, Zuid-Holland, “Burgerlijke Stand overlijdensakten” [Civil Registration Death Certificates], 1964, no. 599, Barend Cornelis Bolle; Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken, Leiden, Zuid-Holland; digital image, “Zoek op personen,” Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken, Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken Home ( : accessed 22 August 2020). Searchterm used: Barend Cornelis Bolle.
3. Voorschoten, Zuid-Holland, “Burgerlijke Stand huwelijks-register” [Civil Registration Marriage Register], 1914, no. 7, Barend Cornelis Bolle and Alida Petronella Wesselo; Gemeentearchief Voorschoten, Wassenaar, Zuid-Holland; digital image, “Zoek op personen,” Gemeentearchief Voorschoten & Wassenaar, Gemeentearchief Wassenaar ( accessed 22 August 2020). Search ‘personen’, searchterm used: Bolle.
4. Jan H.M. Sloof, Voorschoten in bedrijf: verhalen van plaatselijke ondernemers uit de vorige eeuw (Voorschoten in business: stories of local entrepreneurs from the previous century) (Zaltbommel: Uitgeverij Aprilis, 2005), 60.
5. Leidsch Dagblad, 2 January 1914, p. 4, column 3; newspaper database Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken ( : accessed on 22 August 2020)
6. Gemeente Voorschoten, Gemeente Voorschoten Adresboek [Voorschoten Address book (N.p, np., 1953, p. 9, 11, 12, 15, 19 and 22; digital image, “Zoek op personen,” Gemeentearchief Voorschoten & Wassenaar, Gemeentearchief Wassenaar ( accessed 22 August 2020). Search ‘adresboeken’, searchterm used: Bolle.
Note: This is only one source, listing some of the organisations as well as his work as a town councillor. There are so many organisations he was involved with throughout the years, I will not list them all here. Instead, the complete list (including sources) will be in the biography I am currently writing. If you want to know more before the publication date, please contact me and I will be happy to share.
7. Personal knowledge.

The Accidental Biography

I want to post a brief biographical sketch every month of one of my ancestors, starting with my great-grandparents, their siblings and their parents. My exception to this will be my Mulder ancestors, since I am posting a separate series about my research into my paternal line. These biographical sketches are meant to hit the highlights of my ancestors and their families, showing the research I have done so far and that I can do in a month. Considering time constraints and the current situation in the world with Covid-19, I will be going for online research (low-hanging fruit).

The first post of these biographical sketches is planned for tomorrow and will be about Barend Cornelis Bolle (1886-1964). In order to write this biographical sketch, I started my research. I had some information, but without any sources. Therefore, I set out to find these sources. And I found an absolute treasure trove of information! In fact, I found so much information that it would be far too much for a biographical sketch. Even with only online research I have enough information to write a full-blown biography.

blur-calligraphy-data-51191 CC0 License pexel

Therefore, I am going to write a brief biographical sketch, with only Barend Cornelis Bolle’s vital information, and a few lines of other information. The most broad strokes necessary to describe his life, with one source (either the best or the first where it is mentioned) cited for each fact. Then, I am going to write that biography – even though I wasn’t planning on it – incorporating the research I have done. It will probably have to be without any archive visits for now, but I can always update it later on when that will be possible again.

Once the biography is finished, I will publish it with a link to the downloadable document on the website. The biographical sketch will then refer people to this document for further information, so they can see the full picture including all sources to be found for this very interesting ancestor.

History of a Village on the Hills

My grandfather Adolph Knura was born in Bottrop, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany. Nordrhein-Westfalen borders the Netherlands and Bottrop is right in the middle of the highly industrial Rurh-area. The Rurh area became one of the largest industrial areas in Europe during the Industrial Revolution. Big areas of industry in the time period in which my grandfather’s family lived there where the mining and steel industries.

My grandfather was born in 1914 and left Bottrop in 1932, and although he returned there numerous times to visit his family, he never lived there again. While my grandfather’s stay in Bottrop was short, the history of Bottrop, which means ‘Village on the Hills’, is everything but short. Bottrop was first mentioned, as Borgthorpe, in 1092 as being part of the assets of a monastery. In 1423 Bottrop received the right to hold markets, a very valuable right at the time. The first time Bottrop shows up on a map is in 1573, the name in use by then is Bortdorpe. The current name of Bottrop is seen on documents for the first time in 1630.

In 1856 a mine is opened in nearby Essen, which is the start of the industrial era in Bottrop. Mining would continue to play an important part of life in Bottrop until well into the 20th century. Because of work opportunities opening up, there is an immigration wave in 1880 to Bottrop. The industrial era also shows up in advances like electric lights, first seen in Bottrop in 1896, and a tram that runs from the Horsemarket to Essen, which rides for the first time in 1899.

On 1 July 1914, on the dawn of World War I, my grandfather Adolph Knura is born. Four years later, in 1918, the war is over. Bottrop as a community mourns the loss of 1678 soldiers who lost their lives in this war. A scant year later in 1919, Bottrop finally gets city rights, which they had been trying to get since 1905.


St. Michael’s church in Bottrop, where my grandfather was baptized.

In 1923 the city (and indeed the entire Rurh area) is occupied by Belgian and French troops for almost two years. This was done to pressure Germany into paying the war reparations. Mass strikes followed until the troops left.

In 1930 one of the mines in Bottrop closes. Two years later, my grandfather Adolph Knura leaves Bottrop, where he leaves his parents and several siblings. Considering that a year later, in 1933, the Nazi’s hoist the swastika flag at city hall as their first public appearance in Bottrop, he might have gotten away from there just in time. Local parties are put aside, as is the major.

In 1940, World War II starts showing its effects on Bottrop. The newspaper is shut down and the bronze clocks of the churches in Bottrop are melted down for the war effort. In 1942 a wing of the Maria Hospital is hit by a landmine. The hospital is severely damaged. The Althoff Mall is destroyed by a bomb in March of 1943. Aerial attacks do heavy damage in Bottrop in 1944. Especially the neighborhood Ruhröl is heavily hit, about seventy percent of the residential buildings there are destroyed. On 30 March 1945 Americans occupy Bottrop. I don’t know exactly when they leave, but considering that there are elections in 1946, I expect the Americans are gone by then.

In the years after the war, rebuilding is a big theme. The Althoff Mall that was completely destroyed reopens in 1951. And in 1954 the first carnival parade is held since the war. In that same year, the last of the destroyed buildings is completely broken down.

Economically, Bottrop is very dependent on the coal mines in the years after the war. In 1955, half of the working people in Bottrop make their livelihoods directly or indirectly from the mines. It’s also in 1955 that the first bus starts riding in Bottrop, it’s the beginning of the end for the tram lines. In 1958 a new coal mine is opened nearby. At the same time, the coal crisis in the Rurh area hits the mining industry hard. 53.000 employees of the mines in the Rurh area lost their jobs in 1957-1958.

The coal crisis was followed by a steel crisis in 1974, caused by the oil crisis, causing another mass loss of jobs. Two years later, in 1976, Bottrop and the neighboring Kirchhellen form the new city Bottrop. In December of that same year, the last tram in Bottrop stops its service. In 1981 the largest coal processing plant of Europe is opened in Bottrop. In 1987 Pope John Paul II visits Bottrop. In 1996 the biggest sportstadion of Bottrop, the Dieter-Renz- Halle, burns down to the ground.

In the first decade of the this century, Bottrop has started large renovations to modernize the city. Neither my grandfather, nor any of his siblings, as far as I know, were alive to see this. For them, Bottrop would always be the city that lived of the mines.

Sources used:

Dutch Wikipedia page about the Rurh area –, accessed 23 August 2020.
Bottroper Geschichte –, accessed 13 March 2010.
German wikipedia page about Bottrop –, accessed 13 March 2010.

*This post is part of the August 2020 Genealogy Blog Party, which you can find on the Heart of the Family blog.

*A previous version of this post was first posted on my previous blog Tracing My Roots in 2010. It was originally written for the 27th edition of the Carnival of Central and Eastern European Genealogy. It has been updated and rewritten before being posted here.

Picture credit: Picture taken by me, 2016.

What Name To Put Down as the “Right One”

Names are not always spelled the same, even on official, government records, a fact of life all genealogists are familiar with. However, when referring to a person in a narrative, or when entering the primary or ‘official’ name in a genealogy program or family tree, which variation of the name do you use?


Birth announcement of princess Marijke by mayor Charles Hustinx, 18 February 1947.

I find that it’s actually a pretty easy decision to make for myself. I’m sure not many people realize it, but the only official name you have in the Netherlands is the one that appears on your birth certificate. I found this out about this when my mother applied for a passport. She gave her name as she’d always known it – and as it appears on most, if not all, of the records pertaining her. However, her birth certificate had her name with a different spelling. It’s a spelling error from either the clerk or her father, who had to give the name to the clerk at hir birth. Even her parents didn’t write it like that, so it’s definitely a spelling error. However, it’s what is on her birth certificate, so that’s her official name (and also how it is now written on her passport).

Now, in the case of my mother, it means that most record would have a different name on them than her birth certificate. Only those generated by the government that checked her name against the official birth certificate (like her passport) will have her official name on it in that spelling. The can also be true for many of my other ancestors, especially in times when spelling was much more fluid than it is now. But, since the government considers the birth certificate name as the official name, that is the primary name I use for my ancestors – all other spellings (no matter how often used) are spelling variants.

Of course, this gets harder if the ancestor is born before 1811, as no birth certificates are available before that date. Then I use the baptism information instead. This consistency makes things clear for everyone involved.

So, how do you handle spelling variants?


*This post is part of the August 2020 Genealogy Blog Party, which you can find on the Heart of the Family blog.

*A previous version of this post was first posted on my previous blog Tracing My Roots. It has been updated and rewritten before being posted here.

Picture credit:

Birth announcement of princess Marijke, Nijmegen, 18 February 1947; picture made by Fotopersbureau Gelderland, Fotocollectie Regionaal Archief Nijmegen, Regionaal Archief Nijmegen, released under CC-BY-SA License, rights held by J.F.M. Trum;

Rotterdam Destroyed: The Bombing of May 1940

Rotterdam, early in the morning, around 4 am. on 10 May 1940. Lodewijk Wesselo’s daughter woken him up because something was going on outside. Lodewijk got dressed and went to take a look. The air was full of German planes. Germany’s attack on the Netherlands had begun. Lodewijk ended up at the river Maas, where early on in the attack the Germans landed water-planes. They deliberately took position near Maasbruggen, which are the bridges spanning the river Maas in Rotterdam. The Dutch army was not able to re-take the bridges, but manage to halt the enemy. Both armies were now firing at each other across the river, in the middle of the city.

It was the start of five days of heavy battle. Between the 10th of May and 14th of May at least 20 air strikes hit Rotterdam. Half of them by the German Luftwaffe, 5 by the Dutch air force, and 5 by the British Royal Air Force. A very heavy air strike by the Luftwaffe hit Rotterdam around midnight on May 11th. Their targets were the police barracks at the Westersingel and the marine barracks at the Robert Fruinstraat. But the air strike didn’t just hit those targets, and 40 people are killed that night.

Lodewijk Wesselo and his family fortify themselves in their house. Bombs were hitting the surroundings of the house, which was shaking. They ran out of water, they were cold and tired. On 13 May, they no longer believed they would survive and said goodbye to each other. But the bombs kept missing their house. That afternoon, they realized their only option was to leave. They managed to get a ride with an open milk cart and leave the city.

Bombardement Rotterdam

Rotterdam after the bombing


On 14 May 1940 the heaviest air strike hit Rotterdam. High officials in the German army ordered it to pressure the Dutch government into surrendering. Between 1.27 p.m. and circa 1.40 p.m. the Luftwaffe executed a big surface-bombing of Rotterdam-centre, Kralingen and Rotterdam-North. This air strike destroyed over 30.000 houses and buildings. This single air strike killed between 800 and 900 people.

After the air strike Rotterdam surrendered to the Germans. Between 850 and 950 civilians died in the five days the battle lasted. 185 Dutch military men were lost as well, 33 from the Royal Marines and 152 from the Royal Army.

Directly after the air strike of 14 May, fires erupted all over the bombed area and the hard wind only fed the fire. The fire department couldn’t do much in these circumstances, much of their equipment was lost and water sources were unreachable. Tens of thousands of civilians flee the inferno that once was the centre of Rotterdam. The fire spread over the city – even those areas not hit by the original air strike – and it wasn’t until 16 May that the largest of the fires were doused. Over 250 hectares of the city were completely or partially in ruins.

Lodewijk and his family survived. His house didn’t, only rubble was left. If they hadn’t left when they did, they probably wouldn’t have survived either.


General information about the bombing of Rotterdam: Stadsarchief Rotterdam, “Bombardement en brandgrens,” Verhalen, Brandgrens Rotterdam ( : accessed 8 August 2020).

Specific information about Lodewijk Wesselo and his family during the bombing of Rotterdam: Lodewijk Wesselo (Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland) to “Willem en Mien” [Willem Lodewijk Wesselo and his wife Wilhelmina Johanna Kwak], letter, 10 September 1940; portfolio 3, doos 1, familiearchief Wesselo; familiearchieven: Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie, fa 00472; Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie (CBG), Den Haag, Zuid-Holland.

Picture credit:

Overview of damage done to Rotterdam in the bombing of May 1940, 1940; picture made by unknown employee of Rijksdienst voor Cultureel Erfgoed, released under the CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license; Wikipedia Commons website (


*This post is an updated and slightly rewritten version of a post that appeared earlier on my previous blog, Tracing My Roots.


Looking Back and Going Forward


Looking Back

2019 was a reasonable genealogy year. Most of the work I’ve done in the past year I couldn’t blog about due to privacy reasons. I found that this didn’t help me keep my blogging momentum going, which is a shame and caused my blog to go on an unintended hiatus.

However, I am almost done with the preparation work I need to do before contacting a professional German genealogist to help me with my research in Germany. I’ve also done a lot regarding organization of my genealogy, which can only help me in 2020.

Going Forward

I am narrowing my focus this year, as I find that too many goals cause me to not get anything done. Therefore I am going to use January to finish my preparation work and then at the end of the month I want to contact a professional German genealogist with my request for help.

Once I’ve done that, I will shift my focus to researching my Mulder line. My goal for this year is to prove the links between myself and the earliest ancestor in the Netherlands I was able to find in my earlier (not GPS-proof) research. For now, that’s the only research goal I have.

When it comes to writing, I will be participating in 52 ancestors in 52 weeks. As much as the prompts inspire me, I would like to write about Jan Jerphaas Wesselo as preparation for writing his biography. Writing his biography will be my summer holiday project this year.


Those are my plans for 2020. What are yours?

Happy New Year everyone!


Picture credit: Fireworks at the IJ, Amsterdam, 27 oktober 1975; picture made by Peters, Hans, Anefo collection, National Archive, released under CC0 Creative Commons license;