Recently, I rediscovered a photo of my grandmother and her classmates in 1938, hidden in one of my family history books. On the reverse, in my grandmother’s scrawl, are written the names of her fellow schoolgirls.
As I recognise my grandmother, Gwen and her best friend, Daphne in the front row of the picture, I believe the girls in the photo are as follows (L-R):
BACK: Phyllis Jones, Joyce Clayton, Kay Bell, Pat Johnson
A while back, my mother emailed the above photo of her grandfather, Eduard LEMMENS with his siblings. The only ones identified at the time were Eduard (left) and his brother, Michel (right) whose records I had been unable to locate – I didn’t even have names of the sisters but at least the photograph was evidence that there were at least five.
It turns out that Eduard was in fact one of thirteen children born to Frederic Jean LEMMENS & Celine Marie VAN WOUW (blogged about previously) but only these seven had made it to adulthood.
A search for Frederic in the Dutch archives website (openarch.nl) led me to all the records in which he was listed as father.
There seems to be a wealth of information available online for those seeking their Dutch ancestors, albeit a little tricky to navigate for the non-Dutch speaking users (like me). I was finally able to locate a birth record for brother Michel. His name had been spelled Micheal in the records which seemed to be the reason it was difficult to find him (unlike other ‘more fuzzy’ search engines I’ve used). All their children’s birth records were there (all born in Vlessingen, Zeeland), as well as death records for the five who died as infants/children. I have yet to translate these death records as I want to make a death counterpart to my ‘Super-Duper-Handy-Dandy Dutch Birth Record Translation Helper’ and am currently learning some basic Dutch to help me research this particular branch.
However, with this information I was able to find the names and birthdates of the surviving children and guess who is who in the photograph. Irma and Leontine were the easiest being the youngest but I have reservations about the older girls as I can only guess at their ages (sorry, ladies). The woman I labelled as Valentine looked the oldest to me, and ‘possible Anna’ looked younger than ‘possible Esperance’ but of course, I could be wrong. I am in the process of trying to date the photograph and glean as much information as I can from the image (ie. why the photo album on the table?).
Date the photograph
Translate death records
Seek more photographs to help correctly identify each individual
I haven’t written a lot about my mother’s side of the family – in fact, I just checked and I don’t seem to have written at all about them! This saddens me but it’s largely because her family history is centred around Belgium and so the records are not easily accessible to me (physically OR ‘literally’ as I don’t read French or Dutch). Hopefully that will change with a little help from growing records and Google Translate.
This weekend my mother passed on a photo that my grandmother gave my mother of HER mother’s parents – got that? Basically I got a pic of my mother’s maternal great-grandparents (and maybe a great-aunt in the background). So that’s great – an ‘ID’ed family photo… almost. The problem is my grandmother has forgotten their names (!) although she’s pretty sure her grandfather’s given name was Frederick.
So I blow off the digital dust on my Belgian ancestors to check their names to discover I don’t actually have them on there yet. I know that my grandmother was one of nine children born to Eduard LEMMENS and Gabrielle MINNE. Eduard himself was one of seven siblings seen in the photo below:
(The youngest girl lying on the floor looks most like the mystery woman in the first photo – could it be her?)
Since I don’t currently have a ‘world’ membership, I wasn’t expecting much from searching a Belgian on ancestry.co.uk, but I actually may have struck lucky! The very first result was a British 1901 census entry for a Fredrick LEMMENS born in Ostende, Belgium. My grandmother was born in the coastal city of Ostende, Belgium and the man’s age fit (b.1855), so it immediately interested me. This man was on board the S.S. Truro in Hull that night and recorded as a ‘Pilot Dutch’ but it didn’t seem to be a Belgian vessel or crew.
A quick glance at some of the other results didn’t show any other connections but Google threw up a record on the Oostende Archives site of a sea fishing captain who “sailed for shipowners”. So could that delightful outfit that looked to me like a milkman’s uniform actually be a captain’s uniform?