Chapter 10

The Lemmer Branch of the Vogelzangs.

In chapter 8 we saw that the third child of Harmen Jans Vogelzang was Johannes Harmens Vogelzang who married Geeske Konst. The couple had five children:

1. Trijntje Johannes Vogelzang, born in Mirns/Bakhuizen on Jan. 13, 1834, where she also died on Nov. 15, 1879. She married at a civil ceremony at Balk on Nov 15, 1853 and in the RC church in Bakhuizen on Nov 23 of 1853, to Rimmer Hokes Hijlkema. He was born at Warns on Dec. 18, 1827 as the son of Lolle Rimmers Hijlkema and Aaltje Rintjes van der Beek. He died in Mirns/Bakhuizen on ? 15, 1911. He was a labourer by profession.

2. Harmen Jans Vogelzang, was born at Mirns/Bakhuizen on Dec 2, 1835 and he died there on May 24,1847

3. Harmen Jans Vogelzang, was born at Mirns Bakhuizen on Sep. 20, 1837. He died there on Aug. 11, 1899. He married at Balk on Sep. 7, 1866 Albertje Rintjes de Vries. She was born at Oudega on Aug 23, 1841 as the daughter of Rintje Andries de Vries and Grietje Berends. She died in Nijmegen on Oct 9, 1929. The reason she was in Nijmegen at her death was that after the death of her husband in 1899 she moved there. Harmen’s occupation was fisherman. They had 8 children.

Harmen Jans Vogelzang and Albertje de Vries, about 1870.

Albertje de Vries (Vogelzang) taken in Nijmegen circa 1920. (Great Grandmother of author)

4. Joukje Jans Vogelzang, born in Mirns/Bakhuizen on Sep 22, 1840. She died there on Feb. 17, 1915. She married in Balk on Sep 6, 1879 to Gerrit Berends Folmer, who was born at Mirns/Bakhuizen on March 26, 1839 the son of Berend Ooijers Folmer and Fetje Reins Bouma. He died there on Aug 18, 1891. He was a labourer.

5. Johanna Jans Vogelzang, born at Mirns/Bakhuizen May 29, 1843 where she died on Jun 10, 1929. She was married at Balk on May 10, 1868 to Durk Manus Mouse, who was born in Mirns/Bakhuizen on Oct. 3, 1834 the son of Manus Durks Mous and Evertje Josephs Gersies. He died there on Sep 6, 1912. He was storekeeper and postmaster by profession.

The third child of Johannes Harmens – Harmen Jans Vogelzang was married to Albertje Rintjes de Vries. They had the following 8 children, the oldest of which moved to Lemmer and started that branch. The children were:

1. Griet Harmens Vogelzang, born in Mirns Aug 1, 1867. She died in Franeker on March 7, 1949. She married to Sape Westra in Balk on Jun 8,, 1895. He was born in Gaast on May 3, 1865 and he died in Mirns on April 18, 1940. He was a carter by occupation. They had no children.

Sitting Griet Vogelzang and Sape Westra with Belgian refugee soldiers- 1917.

2. Jan Harmens Vogelzang, born in Mirns Nov 23, 1869 and died in Rotterdam on Jun 3, 1948. He married in Lemmer on May 25, 1894 to Renske Tecla Wierdsma, who was born in Lemmer on Sep 8, 1867. She died in Lemmer on Aug 29, 1928.

3. Geeske(Gezina) Vogelzang, born in Mirns on Feb 23, 1872. She died in Nijmegen on Mar 25, 1922. She was married in Balk on Jun 29, 1901 to Fimme Nagelhout, who was born in Mirns on Jan 16, 1874. He died in Venraij on Jan 23, 1956. Following his death Geeske remarried on Jan. 16, 1922 to Maria Petronella van den Broek who was born in Nijmegen on August 5, 1877. He died there on Aug 19, 1947. The latter husband was a policeman.

4. Marijke Harmens Vogelzang, born in Mirns on April 28, 1874. She died in Nijmegen at a date not known thus far. She married in Balk on Jun 10, 1899 a Ruurd Wierdsma, who was born in Lemmer on Sep 19, 1873. He died in Nijmegen on Dec 1, 1946. He was chief of police in Nijmegen. He had a great sense of humour. This is illustrated by this story.

One day as he was walking his beat, he saw a bunch of women standing around gabbing away. It was normal in those days that women wore aprons which were tied around their waste and ended in a bow knot on their backs. As they were busy gossiping he walked up to them quietly and without them noticing took the loose ends of the bow knots of each woman’s apron and tied them all together. He then put on his gruff policeman’s voice and asked them what was going on. They were blocking the side walk and better get a move on. As they started to move, you can imagine what happened when they learned that they were all tied together.

5. Rintje Harmens Vogelzang, born in Mirns Nov 24, 1876.and died in Lemmer on August 26, 1956. On Novemb er 13, 1903 he married, in Balk, Grietje van der Meulen who was born in Bakhuizen on August 21, 1877. She died in Breda on Feb 22, 1958. Rintje was first mate on one of the Lemmer night ferries to Amsterdam and later became the captain of one of its vessels.

Marriage register abstrat of Rintje Vogelzang x Grietje van der Meulen.

6. Johannes Harmens Vogelzang, born in Mirns on April 14, 1879 and died there on May 18, 1879.

7. Trijntje Harmens Vogelzang, born in Mirns on Mar 5, 1881. She died in Lemmer on Jan.2, 1956. On Jun 17, 1908 she was married in Nijmegen to Wilhelmus Henricus Bernardus van de Bungelaar, who was born in Nijmegen on Jan. 18, 1877. He died there on April 1, 1984. They had three children.

8. Johannes Harmens Vogelzang, born in Mirns on Jul 21, 1884. Gossip has it that he had his wild hairs while he was young. In 1908 he sailed from Rotterdam to the USA and worked as a deckhand on a Laker. On Sep 14, 1912, after having had too much to drink he drowned in Appleton, Illinois. The author eventually located his grave and the circumstances of the mishap. (See newspaper article from the Appleton Evening Crescent of Sep 16, 1912)

Appleton Evening Crescent Newspaper article of burial of Johannes Vogelzang -Sep 19, 1912.

Appleton Evening Crescent, Sept 16, article about death of Johannes Vogelzang.

Bar from which Johannes Vogelzang walked prior to drowning-Appleton 1998.

Site of drowning in 1998.

Even though this chapter has dealt with the family of the Lemmer branch of the Vogelzangs, the first Vogelzang to move to the Town was Jan Harmens Vogelzang, the second child and oldest son of Harmen Jans Vogelzang and Albertje de Vries.

Albertje Vogelzang-de Vries-with her son Jan Harmen’s baby son- Herman-ca 1896

Note the traditional Frisian dress with the lace skull cap. Depending on the wealth of the bearer, the cap could be directly over the hair, or could cover a silver or golden clip worn on the lady’s head. To the clip could be fastened a silver or golden round ornament. The clip could be as thin as a straw, or about a centimeter wide. If one was really well off it could be like a silver or golden helmet. Because of the expense, by the late 1800’s the clip/helmet got out of fashion. In the vast majority of the cases, the ladies of Vogelzang family could only afford the lace cap, as shown in the above picture. It appears that Albertje may have the silver ornaments on the side of her cap.
Ever since he left grade school at about the age of 12 he sailed on various vessels, in various capacities. He thus essentially became self taught in the ways of the sea. He was a typical Vogelzang, Hard on himself, physically strong, kind but intolerant of non sense, capable, strong willed.

The story goes that as a young man he was the helmsman on a sail freighter on the Zuiderzee. A storm arose causing the beam holding the lower portion of the sail to come loose and it started to swing back and forth in the wind. As he tried to get hold of it, the power of the storm bashed the beam into his shoulder, breaking his collar bone. Eventually the beam got secured again. However, rather than going below deck, he insisted that they lashed him to the steering wheel and continued to guide the vessel till it reached port. These were the days that shipss were made out of wood and men out of iron!

In his late twenties he became employed by the Lemster Groningen Steamship Company, a firm running a number of freight and ferry boats to various Friesland ports as well as having a regular ferry service from Lemmer to Groningen and Amsterdam. It is at this time that he probably moved to Lemmer. He wanted to settle down and was soon taken by Rinske Wierdsma, the towns’s butcher’s daughter. She was born in Lemmer on Sept. 8, 1867 the daughter of Weird Johannes Wierdsma and Akke Agricola. Weird was born on Apr 16, 1836 in Echten, Friesland. Around 1865 he had married Akke Agricola, who was born in St.Nicolaasga on May 18, 1840.He died in Lemmer on Jun 18, 1924 and was probably buried at the RC cemetery in St. Nicolaasga. Akke died of breast cancer on Oct 22, 1910 in Lemmer and was buried at the RC cemetery in St. Nicolaasga.

Akke (Agatha)Agricola/Wierdsma & Weird Johannes Wierdsma.
Late 1890’s.

Prayer card of Akke Agricola.

Translation of obituary: The mother, worthy to live in the remembrance of the pious, has died with complete trust in the Lord. And rightly so, for she lived as a saint before God; busily she took care of her family, and she did excel in kindness and goodness to her spouse and children.
Because she was pleasing to God, it was necessary that suffering and trials were her part; however, she bore this patiently knowing that she who suffers with Christ, also with Him will enter into His paradise. Dear husband and children, do not mourn over me, but continue to remember me in your prayers to God.

Agricola means “farmer” in Latin or Spanish. Even though they were farmers, it is a puzzle why this name was chosen in 1811. It seems quite sophisticated for simple people. Tracing the family back to the late 1600’s there is no indication that there was any Southern European influence in the family, though it is interesting that the ladies tended to have black hair, pointing to some possible southern connection. By the looks of it, it will be a mystery that will go down with the ages.

Rinske was the second of eight children, all born in Lemmer. The oldest one was Johannes, the third child was Lubertus Johannes, Engeline, Ruurd, Jelle Maria, and Gerardus

Rinske, the author’s grandmother, was a godly soul and devout Catholic, like her mother. As her husband was away at sea a great deal, it was left to her to raise the nine children that eventually came along. Seven of them were lively boys who did their share of getting into mischief. They lived in a small house on the inner harbour in Lemmer. Even though father Jan was deemed to have a good job, material goods, and at times food, were scarce. She died on Aug 29, 1928 of breast cancer, the same illness that took her mother.

Johannes. Jul 4, 1866-Jun 27, 1949 - Lubertus. Jul 13, 1869-Dec 2, 1945 - Ruurd. Sep 19, 1873-Dec 1, 1949

Maria. Dec 17, 1882-Oct 2, 1931 - Jelle. Jan 8, 1885-Sep 24, 1965 - Gerardus. May 14, 1879-Jan 13, 1962

In the late 1800’s the Vogelzang and Wierdsma families became quite interwoven. Jan Harmen Vogelzang married Renske Wierdsma, and his sister Marijke Vogelzang married Renske’s brother Ruurd.

As indicated in the earlier chapter on the origins of names, “Wierdsma” means “the son of Wierd”. It will be seen that this name was suitable as in 1811 the ancestor’s name was indeed Wierd.

The family lived in the same general area as the Vogelzangs- Gaasterland and more particularly near St. Nicolaasga, an island of Roman Catholicism in Friesland. Unlike the Vogelzangs, however, who were primarily farmers/labourers and fishermen, the Wierdsma tended to be more entrepreneurial. A number of them owned butcher shops and later on gift/antique stores. Interestingly also, several of them were policemen. They intermarried with some of the other small business people in the area- such as the Sterk family, who were fish merchants in de Lemmer.

Most of the information contained in their geneology has been compiled from Wierdsma family members. In addition the Archives of the Province of Friesland in Leeuwarden, and particularly its website “Tresoar” has been invaluable.

Lubertus Wierdsma started a butcher’s shop on the harbour in Lemmer. Picture was taken
in 1894. The business was taken over by his son Theo and subsequently by his son Paul, who later changed it into a gift and antiques shop.

Letter written by Jan Vogelzang to ask Rinske Wierdsma on his first date
Translation of letter is:

Honourable Friend:

I am writing you to inquire if I could please you to visit you in the course of the coming week, with the intention to carry on a courtship with you in the future. Should my proposal meet with your favour, then please let me know the day and time. I will be in Lemmer on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. In any case I request a response. You will be able to mail a letter to H Finga in Lemmer. With loving greetings do I call myself your friend, Jan Vogelzang

Things obviously worked out as the couple were married on May 24, 1894.

Wedding pictures of Jan H. Vogelzang and Rinske Wierdsma.

Copy of front page of Jan Vogelzang’s and Rinske Wierdsma’s “trouw boekje” the booklet issued at marriage to record the marriage, births and deaths of children.

David Vogelzang, the author’s youngest son, and Theo Wierdsma in front of Jan Vogelzang’s home on Lemmer’s Inner Harbour- Oct 1990. (Civil address Leeg 10)

Sneek VI in the Oude Sluis of Lemmer.

The Sneek VI had the nickname of “kleine Suup” which in Frisian means “little butter milk”. However the name “Suup” was given to reflect the sound of the steam whistle by which the vessel could be identified from other ones. Sneek VI capsized in 1909 when it was commanded by a captain IJkema, who had taken charge after J H Vogelzang was appointed captain of the Lemmer II. Cause of the accident was a shifting of the load on the upper deck. One person drowned in the accident.

In Nov 1907 Jan H Vogelzang was promoted to captain of one of the night ferries that ran from Lemmer to Amsterdam- the Lemmer II-. He previously was captain of the Sneek VI a 20.47 meter long by 3.62 meter wide vessel, built in 1880, running passengers and freight to one of the other Frisian towns. It was capable of carrying 21 tonnes of freight. The above letter was sent him to inform him of the appointment. It reads as follows:

Groningen Nov 25, 1907

Mr. J Vogelzang, captain of the ship Sneek VI, Lemmer


Herewith do I have the honour to let you know that the direction of the Lemster-Groninger Steamboat Company hereby appoints you as captain of the Lemmer II, with a year salary of fl. 800.00

From this promotion you will notice how your suitability coupled to your unblemished reputation, is appreciated by the directors, with the resulting full confidence that you again in this new appointment will turn out to be the right man for the job.

The gentlemen directors (shortly) will give you further instructions.

Sincerely, J H Koen, Secretary.

Jan H. Vogelzang, as captain of the Groningen IV.

Prior to 1932, Jan H. was appointed captain of the Groningen III. This vessel was built
in 1874 at the Smit boat building works at Kinderdijk. At the time it was the company’s
flagship and had cost the grand sum of fl.23,600 to build. In later years its flagship-
standing was taken over by the Groningen IV and eventually by the Jan Nieveen. Jan H.
retired around 1940. All in all it appears that Jan H Vogelzang served as captain of the following vessels: Sneek VI till Jan. 1908; Lemmer II Jan 1908 to 1914; Groningen III
1914 to 1932; Groningen IV 1932 to probably 1940.

Tombstone of Jan Harmen Vogelzang- Lemmer Cemetary- 2010.

Upper- Jan Harmen at grave of Renske Wierdsma, his wife; prayer card of latter
and gravestone of Renske Wierdsma- 1980 in St Nicolaasga cemetery-before its destruction.

The early death of his wife devastated Jan H Vogelzang. He dearly loved his wife and never got over her loss. Top left picture shows him at her grave. Picture to the right is of her prayer card. Lower picture was taken in 1978 at the St. Nicolaasga RC cemetery. Shortly after, the stone was destroyed and the grave removed to make room for a new generation of burials. Cemetery space in Holland is at a premium. Hence after about 60 years graves are cleared and the ground is resold for new burials.

Following the death of his wife Jan H tried to stay in his house in Lemmer. He took in a housekeeper by the name of Marie Nijholt. The idea of re marriage was entertained. However, this was strongly opposed by his children. For a short while he lived with his fellow captain brother Rintje down the street from him. ( Rintje had taken over as captain of the Groningen III when Jan H was promoted to captain of the Groningen IV in 1932 ). Later on he moved in with his kids for periods of time, including living with his daughter Engeline and her family in Diemen. After the war, he settled in with his son Rintje in Rotterdam and died there on Jun 3, 1948. By that time he had developed hardening of the arteries and became semi senile. He was a gentle, kind, old man.

Prayer card of J. H Vogelzang.

Translation: We commend to your prayers the soul of the late Jan Vogelzang , widower of Rinske Wierdsma, born Nov. 23, 1869 at Bakhuizen, gone a sleep in Christ, after having received the last sacrament, on Jun 3, 1948 at Rotterdam and buried at the RC cemetery in Lemmer June 8, 1948.(Actual burial was at St Nicolaasga?

Worn by the suffering accompanying old age, he died with an unlimited trust in God, whom he served with great faithfulness all his years.
Being a widower for many years, life was not always easy on him. He often felt lonely, missing his own home. However, willingly he adjusted to the circumstances, while he was thankful for the care and services he received from his children.

As a man who loved God, in everything, faith gave him support. Now he has moved on to the other life. May the good Lord have mercy on him.

Dear children, I thank you for your love. Keep unity among each other. Once we shall see each other again, together with your mother, who preceded us in death.
May the good God continue to bless you in all things. Dear Lord grant him peace.


The story goes that at the time Jan Vogelzang was a young man, a law was passed where one had to have a hunting licence to shoot birds, so plentiful in the area he lived. One late fall day he was hunting water fowl when he noticed the game warden approaching. Rather than having his gun confiscated for hunting without a licence, he walked into the water of the Zuiderzee; threw his gun in the water and, in order not to lose it, stepped on top of it.

The game warden approached and asked him: What are you doing Jan?” ”Oh”, Jan replied “I am just enjoying standing here in the water watching the birds fly over.” Game warden-“You better come out of the water. You are going to get sick” Jan- “No I like it here. I’ll stay.” Of course the game warden knew very well what Jan was doing. Jan knew that if he left his spot, he’ll never find his gun again. The game warden waited for some time and finally took pity on him and left, enabling Jan to retrieve his gun and get home, cold and wet.

Jan H. Vogelzang and Rinske Wierdsma in her traditional Frisian dress- about 1927.

Last will of Pake J. H. Vogelzang.

Dutch text: 10 Februari 1938: Wilbeschikking:

Heb enige waarde papieren bij Westerwoudt &co Singel 297 te Amstedam. Zoo ook de Amsterdamsche Bank te Lemmer en de katholieke Spaarkas. R. Nijholt, Lemmer eenige papieren in een gesloten Trommel thuis.
Heb het verlangen begraaven te worden naast u Moeder Zaliger te St Nicolaasg. Het graf thans nog in hun hebbende. Misschien is het nog koop en anders heb ik gaarne uwe dat in overleg van u Broers en Zusters dat dan doet.
De Grafsteen laten vermaken volgens u goeddenken. De H Missen 5 jaar maandelijks het Zielenboek zoo ook dat van u Moeder Zaliger blijvende, zoo ook de jaarstonden.
Heb zoo een afschrift ook gegeven aan u broers Harmen en Ruurdd. Vergelijk dat bij elkaar. Een testament is er by de notaris. T zal geen waarde meer hebben.
Maar zoo iets noodzakelijk is. Van u Vader. J Vogelzang.

English translation: February 10, 1938. Will instructions. Have some valuable papers with Westerwoudt and Co, Singel 297 at Amsterdam. So also at the Amsterdamsche Bank at Lemmer and the Catholic Savings Bak. R. Nijholt Lemmer some papers in in a closed tin at thome.
Have the desire to be buried next to your departed Mother at St. Nicolaasga assuming there is still a grave available. Perhaps one can still buy one, otherwise do I desire that you do this in consultation with your brothers and sisters.
The tombstone to be re made in accordance to what you deem best. The Holy Masses to be said monthly for five years. Also keep up the Soulbook of your departed mother as well as the year remembrances.
Also gave a copy to your brothers Herman and Ruurdt. Compare them. There is a will with the lawyer. It does not have any further value, but something like that is necessary. From your Father. (signed) J Vogelzang.

Back page of same.

Policies and documents are kept in the safe (at the) Amsterdamsche Bank at Lemmer. Your Father.
Rintje must have 1000 guilders, which I have in safekeeping Amsterdamsche Bank.
Your Father. J Vogelzang