The girl with the curly hair


I found the photo above in Mom’s high school yearbook, 1932.  She’s in the second row, the girl with the pointy collar and curly dark hair. Although she always said she was 100 percent Dutch (all four of her grandparents immigrated from the Netherlands in the middle of the nineteen century), she wasn’t the stereotypical blonde and blue-eyed Dutch girl. Her mother, from Holland was.  Mom took after her father’s family which hailed from Zeeland.

At various times, Zeeland has been occupied by the Spanish, the French, and more recently, the Germans. In An Embarrassment of Riches, historian Simon Schama has likened the Netherlands to a tiny mouse trying to survive as bulls or the “great powers” of France, England, Spain and Germany fight and kick up the turf where he darts from side to side.

Soldiers, billited with families in Zeeland over the centuries, left their genes behind, particularly, the Spanish who occupied the Netherlands for many years. The people in Mom’s dad’s family spoke Zeelandic which is similar to but not identical with the Low German spoken in the remainder of the Netherlands. However Zeelandic is also related to Flemish and almost impossible to understand by outsiders.

Zeeland means “sea land.” In addition to their foreign genes, the people of Zeeland are comprised of individuals from many remote islands on the North Sea. My Mom’s immediate ancestors hail from the Island of Tholen and the village of Saint Martins Dike, or Sint-Maartinsdijk.

Although the islands of Zeeland were difficult to reach until the twentieth century, the land between them was filled and became low-lying areas called polders. One of my ancestors from mom’s paternal side was named ‘polderman’ probably because he was a laborer who worked on the dikes and polders.

Dikes held back the sea, while windmills pumped water from the polders to drain them. Windmills in the Netherlands can be traced to Spain (and windmills in East Anglia in England can be traced to the Dutch).

So far, I have found ancestors in my mom’s family who entered the Netherlands from villages in Belgium, Sweden, and France and Italy. Because Zeeland was a reuge for sailors jumping ship as well as runaway slaves, and Zeelandic was transported to and from other places such as Surinam, I wonder what else I will discover when I finally have my DNA tested?


12 thoughts on “The girl with the curly hair

  1. Fascinating history Dianne and I loved the old photo with your Mom. What a treasure! Gregg still continues his search in my family history and has found several who came over to America and fought on the side of the Colonists during the War for Independence, and also those who fought on both side of the Civil War. Totally amazed at what he is turning up.


    • As I mentioned in a previous comment…start at the most recent records ( yours or your parents) and work your way back. What Gregg is turning up seems implausible to me. I would believe it if you told me he found this in his own tree. BTW. Ancestry records are really messed up so be careful if you are using this software.


  2. It’s so wonderful that you know so much of your genealogy. I had Art do the Ancestry thing and all it said what that he was 100% Asian. Sigh… That wasn’t helpful at all for $99. I thought we’d find some Chinese or Mongolian or whatever. Nope.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Im fortunate because 1/ Ardent geneologists in both Mom’s (cousin Elaine) and Dad’s (Great Aunt Ruby) family of origin did much work before I came along.
      2/ The English, Dutch and Germans kept fabulous records…one reason the Nazis were able to find and track down so many Jews during the Holocaust.

      I understand the Chinese have the most comprehensive and oldest records (In Mandarin) that go back 4,000 years. European records only go back about 2,000 years in comparison…to Charlemagne, aalthough some church records in Italy go back even further. Fortunately, the Nazis loved records, as did the Communists, so the only destruction of records in WWII was at the hands of the Allied bombers.

      As for Art…geneology tests are getting more and more sophisticated. Some geneologists can now identify AmerIndian tribes as well as tribes in Africa. I hope you are watching Henry Lewis Gates ‘Finding Your Roots’ series on PBS.


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