One More Historical Photo

One more historical photo of the barge since it’s a really great photo mostly because it shows the family so clearly.  Again, probably taken around late 1920s or early 1930s, this photo shows, left to right, Hendrik Dijkema, Elizabeth van Eerden, Jantje Oosting, and Hilje Dijkema (Doug’s grandmother).  Jantje Oosting married Hilje’s brother, Albert, and appears in many of the photos Hilje brought with her from the Netherlands.  We have a few letters written by Albert to his sister in the USA dated from the late 1990s, but of course they’re all in Dutch which isn’t a language I’m all too well-versed in outside of basic pleasantries (hello, please, thank you, etc).  Still, it’s nice to see the two siblings kept in touch over the years, long after Janine had left the family.

Another Photo

Here’s another photo taken probably around the same time as the one from this post.  Left to right, that’s Hendrik Dijkema, his wife Elizabeth van Eerden, Hilje Dijkema, and Ellechien Dijkema.  Hilje and Ellechien appear to be wearing the same dresses, and you can even see the barge’s name on the plate at the back in this photo.  The photo isn’t labelled on the back so I don’t know precisely where or when this was taken, but I have to imagine it’s when Janine was still relatively new, so after 1926, but probably before 1934.  It’s a nice clear shot though showing four members of the family and the barge’s name plate!

Hendrik Dijkema

Let’s meet Janine’s original owners!  In the photo above are Hendrik Dijkema and Elizabeth van Eerden in a photo taken probably in the 1930s or so at the Foto Steenmeijer studio in Groningen.  Hendrik and Elizabeth were the parents of Hilje Dijkema, Doug’s grandmother which makes these two his great grandparents.

Hendrik Dijkema was born 17 April 1879 in Bedum, Groningen, Netherlands (link to birth record) to parents Albert Jan Dijkema and Hinderkien Hindriks Blaak.  Albert Jan’s profession is listed as “Turfschipper” on his marriage certificate (link to marriage record) which translates to peat boatman; a person who runs a barge carrying peat logs for fuel.  Albert Jan’s father was Jan Willems Dijkema who was also a turfschipper (link to marriage record).  Jan Willems’ father was Willem Alberts Dijkema, also listed as a turfschipper on Jan Willems’ marriage record.  Willem Alberts’ father was Albert Olferts  who was listed as a “schipper” at the time of Willem Alberts’ second marriage.  A quick aside about Albert Olferts – people in northern Holland didn’t really use surnames until Napoleon came around in 1811 and made everyone register for them, so here we have just the patronymic – Albert is his given name, Olferts refers to his father’s name likely having been Olfert.  Albert Olferts has a recorded marriage in 1754, so we’re starting to run out of surviving recorded history at that point!  Records after 1811 generally show the occupations of the bride and groom, but the church records that exist before that time usually just give names and a date, and the availability of written records gets a little patchy the further back you go.  I can assume Albert Olferts’ father was named Olfert, but I haven’t been able to find any recorded information about him yet.

All of that brings us to the bigger picture. From Hendrik Dijkema to Albert Olferts, we have FIVE generations of schippers, four of whom were definitely turfschippers, spanning over 200 years of Dutch maritime history.  That’s pretty impressive!  Using peat as heating fuel for homes fell out of favor around the time Hendrik passed away in 1949, so his profession was nearly obsolete by then.  The Vertrouwen (now Janine) was only active as a turf barge for a small fraction of that time (1926-1946), but is a part of a much larger legacy.  I just recently found out that Hendrik sold the Vertrouwen in 1946, just before the death of Elizabeth, and her new owner listed her as carrying flour and wheat.  I’m still working on sorting out Janine’s more recent history, but going back to her origins and the family legacy is a part of the story too.

Going forward from Hendrik, his daughter Hilje married and moved to the USA with her husband where she Americanized her name to Hilda.  The family maritime legacy then returned with Hilda’s grandson, Doug.  I don’t think Doug knew quite how far back the family history in the maritime industry ran when he chose his course of study in college and then his profession as a mariner, but I think it has brought the whole thing full circle, just like Janine returning to a descendant of her original owner.  While Janine has been completely overhauled, refitted with a modern interior, and shortened a few meters from when she was the Vertrouwen, the original Kadaster registration number scratched into her hull reminds us that she’s had four generations of the same family leave their fingerprints on her history.

History: Meet the Vertrouwen

What really started this whole thing for us was a photo.  This photo.

Doug’s parents were moving from the family home to a smaller home in a 50+ community and were starting to clean out some 40 odd years worth of accumulated stuff.  Being a huge genealogy nerd, I, Melissa, offered to scan the family albums and photos so that there would be digital copies for reprints and sharing online.  It was quite the cache of letters, documents, and photos, and each new scan brought another glimpse of the family history.  Doug’s grandparents had both passed away years ago, but both he and his siblings could vividly recall stories they were told about life in Holland which helped fill in bits and pieces that the photos couldn’t tell themselves.

As I scanned more and more photos, I started to be able to pick out faces of people I’ve never even met based on the people living family could identify in photos as well as photos that had handwritten identifications on the back.  There are a few photos of this barge in the set, and based on other photos, I know that’s Hilje in the front left in the checked dress, her sister Ellechien in the middle, and likely her father on the right.  Hilje Dijkema, Doug’s grandmother, was born in 1914, so since we now know that the barge was built in 1926, and she looks to be in her early to mid teens, I can assume this was taken around the same time that the barge was built giving us a window of between 1926 and 1934 or so.  We had absolutely no idea if the barge still existed or not, but publishing the photos and information I’d found on my personal blog led the former owners to find us as I detailed in the previous entry.  Realizing the barge was still around, I did a little more hunting to find information.

The website maintains a database of historical ship measurements which includes two for Janine.  Originally named the Vertrouwen, her first measurement was taken on 16 September 1926 in Veendam where she was built, registered to Hendrik Dijkema, Doug’s great-grandfather.  She measured 22 m long, 4.25 m wide and weighed approx 64 tons.  There’s a later measurement in 1956 in Sappemeer that I assume was taken just after she was sold to her new owner, P. van der Werk.  At that point, she measured 24.48 m and about 80 tons.  Currently, she’s at 19.95 meters, so it looks like she was possibly extended once and then later shortened to be easier to register as a pleasure boat, so she’s gone through quite a bit over the years.  Her original Kadaster registration number was 1911 B Gron 1939, but I haven’t yet found out if I can request a copy of the data on the original registration mark.  What’s interesting too is that there’s a different Kadaster number in the mortgage document for Hendrik’s purchase of the Vertrouwen that doesn’t show up on the database, so I have to imagine that something happened in the paperwork and he was assigned a new registration number.  Writing this all down here made me realize I have something new to research while we wait for our trip in June, so that’ll keep me busy in the meantime!  There’s more history to come on the blog – I’m trying not to get too excited and put everything online all at once, but it’s awfully difficult!

Getting Started

There’s been a whole lot going on over the past year, and I thought we’d try to keep all of the barge-related stuff in one place!  I suppose this is starting out mostly for family and friends to keep up with our travels and adventures as we explore The Netherlands with our barge, but also to make new friends and share the wonderful history of this special barge, Janine.

We?  We are Doug and Melissa, two Americans who purchased the Dutch barge Janine in September 2017.  More about us later!

It’s a pretty fascinating story.  Janine was originally built as the “Vertrouwen” for Doug’s great-grandfather in 1926.  We have photos of the original barge as well as some great family stories about his grandmother’s life growing up on a turfschip (peat-carrying barge), but didn’t know anything about her whereabouts today.  Melissa had posted about it on her blog just in case the barge still existed, and perhaps someday, someone might be trying to find more information about her history.  That day came just a few years ago when her prior owners searched the registration number they found scratched into the hull.  We kept in touch with them, and eventually they contacted us first when they were looking to sell the barge.

Needless to say, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.  We had taken boating vacations in Holland before and talked briefly about buying a barge at some point as a retirement option in the future.  We didn’t quite expect to be faced with such a decision so soon, but after visiting Holland to meet Janine and her prior owners, we were smitten.  The family history link was just too much to pass up, and she’s been beautifully upgraded and kept in pristine condition.  It’s clear that her former owners loved her dearly and we can only hope to continue their tradition and keep her around for many, many more years!

I’ll post more about the history later since there won’t be a lot going on from now till June.  For now, we’re hopefully nearing the end of winter at home and are looking forward to being back in The Netherlands this summer!