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, 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” [G. ASAERT, Analytical inventory of fishing reels (1818-1843 and 1860-1910), Brussels (ARA), 1986]. So could that delightful outfit that looked to me like a milkman’s uniform actually be a captain’s uniform? [update: Another descendant of Frederick Lemmens (RV) informs me that he is not wearing a captain’s uniform but was probably his summer jacket. Frederick apparently always wore the hat because he was bald! :)]