Chapter 6

The earliest traceable Vogelzangs.

Map of Gaasterland in 1865 made by Kuijper. Population at the time was 4050.

Gaasterland to day.

As we earlier showed, the name “Vogelzang” dates back to 1811. Prior to that point our ancestors merely were referred to as the son of “so and so”; being the first name of the father. Since the first name could also be held by another person, not necessarily related, it gets very difficult to ascertain with certainty which person any early documents really refer to. This is further aggravated by the fact that the early documents are often hard to read. Penmanship would vary by the person marking down the birth, deaths, marriage or baptismal information in the registers. In addition no dictionaries existed. Hence names were written down based on what they sounded like to the official keeping the vital statistics’ registers.

Depending on the education, diction, or dialect of the person giving the information to the official, he might hear it different than his predecessor, with the result that a variation of spelling could easily occur. The one thing that helps is that most of the villages in which our ancestors lived, had a fairly small population, thus limiting the number of people with similar first names. In addition, the family seems the follow the patrimonial rules for giving first names. Also, by examining the births/baptismal and marriage records, and the names of those who attended as witnesses at these events, family interconnections can often be made. Last but not least, until the 20th century, people pretty much stuck to living in the same general area, thus making it easier to track them.

Based on the above then, we feel reasonably certain that the oldest traceable ancestor is Melchert. He was probably born around the 1610’s He had a least one son-Jan Melcherts who was born in the 1640’s in Workum. On Jan 28, 1672 he married Geertje Louws who was born in Sneek. The couple had 12 children. The eighth child was a Coert Jans.

We have a copy of his marriage certificate dating to February 28, 1681. It is practically illegible, but this information can be deciphered from it:

A Coert Jans (Coert the son of Jan) from Ruigahuizen marries a Sjoke Wijbrens (Sjoke the daughter of Wijbren) who came from Mirns. Since people married fairly young in these times, this means that they were probably born in the 1670’s. This is further strengthened by the fact that we have been able to find two children from this union in the Archives for the Province of Friesland located in Leeuwarden and having an excellent website. One was Melchert Coerts, born around 1700 and the other Berend Coerts, born around 1705.

Ruigahuizen is a very small village. In 1811 it only had 20 inhabitants. The name first shows up in 1250 as Rughahusem and in 1505 as Rughahuysum. The exact meaning is not absolutely clear. In Frisian the word “ruch” means the same as the Dutch “ruig”- tough, disorderly. The other possibility is that it comes from the Frisian male name “Roege” and thus means the home of Roege- the latter is more likely the case.

Map of the Corner of Gaasterland from where the Vogelzangs originated.

Berend Coerts, a widower from Ruigahuizen, who married in Gaasterland on Jul 17, 1747 a Lijsbeth Arnoldus. She was 33 years old and hence born in 1714. Going by the age of his second wife, it seems reasonable to assume that Berend was born around 1714. Berend died sometimes between 1747 and 1752 as his wife remarried on May 24, 1752 to a Gert Geerts, who was borne in 1715. There is no record of children from the union between Berend and Lijsbeth.

However, from Berend’s first marriage probably was some offspring. There is a record of a marriage of Coert Berends who on August 31, 1760, in the Roman Catholic church of Woudsend, married a Marija Pieters, who was from Ypecolsga. They lived in Harich, from where he originated. He probably was born around 1739. From this union was a child – Berend Coerts, born in Harich Mar 17, 1764. He must have died as an infant, for another son by that name was born in Harich on Jun 22, 1765. The mother Marija probably died in childbirth, a common phenomena in those days, as no more children are recorded from this union. However, in the Frisian Archives there is a record showing Coerts Berends remarrying to a Trijntje Melcherts on Mar 29, 1769. This union has no record of any children. When names had to be chosen in 1811, Berend Coerts chose the last name Koets.

Berend Coerts had an older brother Melchert Coerts. There exists a marriage declaration for him dated Jun 4, 1727. In Old Dutch it states the following:

“Melchert Coerts, jong man uit Balk ende Beerendje Jans wonende op de Hoijbergen, met const van hun vader Jan Jansen, wonende in Twente, hebben elcander egte ende trouw beloovt en begeeren daarinne volgens landsortie te laten bevestigen.
Naa voorgaande drie geregtelijke proclematien haarder egte over deze geregte gegaan zijnde, compareerden voor onze ondergetekenden, commys en secretaries”
Melchert Coerts, jong man uit Balk, ende Beerendje Jans, jong dochter op de Hoijbergen, en verklaarden mits dezen dat zij elcanderen egte and trouw hebben belooft, en dat zij deshalves aannamen ende beloovden met elcanderen te leven gelijk goede egte getrouwde personen toestaat, en volgens Gods Ortie schuldig zijn te doen zonder om eenige oorzaak van elcanderen te scheiden, waarop zij elcanderen den regter hand hebben gegeven, in presentie van ons, commys en secretaris, op 4 Juni 1727.”

The translation of this is: “Melchert Coerts, young man from Balk and Beerendje Jans, who lives on the Hoijbergen, with the permission of her father, Jan Jansen, who lives in Twente, have promised each other marriage and fidelity, and desire to have this affirmed according to the order of the country.” “After this, three proclamations having been made regarding this intended marriage, in accordance with the requirements of the law, have they appeared before the undersigned, commissioner and secretary” “Melchert Coerts, young man from Balk, and Beerendje Jans, young daughter on the Hijbergen, declared herewith that they have promised each other marriage and fidelity, and that they therefore accepted and promised each other to live like good in marriage united persons, and that they would be guilty according to God’s Laws, if they for any reason would divorce; after which they have given each other the right hand in the presence of us, commissioner and secretary, on June 4, 1727”

The Frisian archives show four children. The second son was Jan Melcherts-Jan Melcherts’son. The parents followed the patrimonial rules by naming him after his maternal grandfather.The oldest son was named after his paternal grandfather and thus be Coert Melchterszoon.

Jan Melcherts was probably born in Oudemirdum-Gaasterland in 1730. The Frisian Archives show that he married in the Roman Catholic Church of Bakhuizen, Gaasterland on March 29, 1758 to a Margaretha (Grietje) Cornelis, who was born in Hogeburen, near Mirns on about Sep. 11, 1737. The church registers do not record the actual dates of birth, but rather the date of baptism- in this case Sept 11, 1737. She was the daughter of Cornelis Joannes and Yske Cornelis. Jan Melcherts and his wife were called “Jan and Grietje” They died within a month of each other in 1801 in Mirns. They lived from their marriage date till about 1765 in Heuteburen near Oudemirdum, and then moved to Hogebergen near Mirns.

Village square in Oude Mirdum, May 2010.

1. Cornelis, born in Heuteburen on about February 16, 1750. He died in Hemelum on February 14, 1828.In 1811 he chose the family name of Melchers, since he already was known by that name anyway. His occupation was “veldwachter”- rural police constable, an occupation that occurs on numerous occasions in the Vogelzang family. He was twice married. The first time in the Roman Catholic Church of Bakhuizen, on May 11, 1789, to Tjidske (Tietske) Klazer, who was born in Bakhuizen and was there baptized in the RC Church on Jan 10, 1767. She died in Hemelum on Oct 10, 1808. At this marriage the official witnesses were Jan Melcherts, who probably was his father, and a Wybe Wierds, possibly a Wierdsma family ancestor.

Picture of a police constable in late 1800’s.

The second marriage was on February 17, 1819, before the civil authority in Koudum, and on February 21, 1819 in the RC Church in Bakhuizen, to Attje (Atje) Berends de Vries. She was born in the Zuidermeer, in the jurisprudence of the town of Stavoren around Jan 1, 1786. It almost appears that she was born at sea, as the word Zuidermeer seems to indicate this. She was baptized in the RC Church of Bakhuizen on Jan 1, 1786. She was the daughter of Berend Evert de Vries, farmer, and of Alltje Frankes. This second wife died in Bakhuizen on December 18, 1833. When her husband Cornelis died, she remarried on Jun. 18, 1829, to Rients Bokkes Stremler, who was born in Schettens and was baptized in the Reformed Church in that town on Mar 18, 1787. He died in Warns on Jun 12, 1833. By occupation he was a master blacksmith. He was the widower of Jaaytske Hettes, who was born in Witmarsum and there baptized in the Reformed Church on Nov. 22, 1789. She died in Warns on Nov 17, 1828.

It is interesting to note that the second marriage reflected the new laws introduced by the French occupiers. As a result of the French Revolution the separation of church and state became very pronounced. Because of this, when the French occupied the Netherlands, they introduced this phenomena which resulted, for registration purposes, in the introduction of non recognition by the state of any church marriages. All marriages had to take place before a civil authority, usually at City Hall. Yet, people did not want to abandon being married in the church, as, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church, marriage is deemed to be a sacrament. Hence for civil purposes they married earlier at City Hall. However, Catholics in particular, did not deem themselves married till they had exchanged their vows before a priest in their church. They therefore had a church wedding, usually a few days later. This system is still followed to this day. The other thing of interest is that the second husband of Atje was a Protestant. In those days there was still a fair bit of friction between the Catholics and Protestants, as a left over from the Reformation which caused a great upheaval in Dutch society. Hence it is unusual to see such a mixed marriage.

2. Melchert, who was born in Heuteburen and was baptized in the RC Church of Bakhuizen on Jul 2, 1761. He died in Marns Bakhuizen on October 26, 1836. In 1798 he married Jannetje Gerrits (Brandenburg)- the latter the name chosen in 1811. She was born in Braambergen on October 10,1770 and was the daughter of Gerrit Johannes and Marijke Jans. She died in Wijckel on March 16, 1853.  Melchert’s occupation was farmer/labourer.

Showing his Vogelzang independence trait, he was somewhat tardy in registering a last name in 1811. At the time he had indicated at City Hall in Balk that he would choose the name Vogelzang, but did not formally register it as such. Hence he got charged and fined by the Napoleonic authorities for not having formally registered a surname. This gave him the incentive to register in 1813 when he picked the same name as his brothers-Vogelzang.

3. Harmen, was born in Hogebergen and baptized in the RC Church in Bakhuizen on September 20, 1767. He died in Laaxem on January 10, 1830. On May, 1794 he married in the RC Church in Bakhuizen to Geeske Jans (Krol)(Krul)) who was born in de Wiel and was baptized in the RC Church in Bakhuizen on August 26,1776. She died in Laaxem on December 22, 1829. Harmen was a fisherman by occupation. In Stavoren he registered that he had chosen the name Vogelzang in 1811. The couple had ten children. He was the ancestor of the Laaxem and Lemmer Vogelzang branches, (See chapters 7 and 9)

Registration of the name Vogelzang” by Harmen Jans.

Translation: Before us Mayor of the Municipality of Stavoren, Arrondissement Sneek, Departement Vriesland have appeared Harmen Jans living in Scharl the same declared that that he adopts the name of Vogelzang as family name. That he has three sons such as Jouke old 16 years, Johannes old 15 years, and Jan old 13 years and three daughters such as Jantje 8 years, Gatske 2 years and Grietje 20 weeks all living at Scharl. And has this person signed with us Stavoren the 29th of December, 1811
                                                          H J Vogelzang J A Lootsman.

4. Berend, was born in Hogebergen and was baptized in the RC Church in Bakhuizen on December 2, 1769. He died in Warns on June 19, 1807 being only 38 years old. Berend was a master butcher in Warns. On Apr 30, 1797 he married in the RC Church in Bakhuizen Oeke Jans (Monkelbaan) – the latter name elected by her family in 1811. She was born in Harich and baptized in the RC Church in Balk on September 20, 1771. She died in Mirns/Bakhuizen on September 28, 1858. Her parents were Jan Johannes (Monkelbaan) and Popkje Baukes. The couple had 10 children. The tenth one from this union was born after the death of her father. After her husband died Oeke found herself pregnant from a chap by the name of Ignatius thus adding an eleventh child to her brood. Seven of her offspring died as infants. At time of choosing a last name, and as her husband had died by then, Oeke chose the name de Jong for her offspring. Since she had only one son Jan Berends, who never got married, this branch of the family died out.

5. Ybeltje (Yp)-girl- was born in Hogebergen and baptized in the RC Church in Bakhuizen on June 17, 1772. She died in Tjerkgaast- municipality of Doniawerstal- on Jun 20, 1842. She was married twice; the first time to a Durk Piebes, Jan 19, 1794 in St Nicolaasga. From this union were three children. Durk Piebes died in St. Nicolaasga on Feb 8, 1800. On April 24, 1804 she remarried in the RC Church of St. Nicolaasga Jan Luitzens (Brouwer) who was born in Harich and baptized in the RC Church of Bakhuizen on March 16, 1773. He died in Tjerkgaast on August 17, 1826. Jan’s occupation was labourer. From this union three children resulted. Since she was married prior to 1811 she had no need to adopt a new maiden name.

6. Berendje-girl- who was born in Hogebergen and baptized in the RC Church in Bakhuizen on May 14, 1775. She must have died before 1811 as there is no further record of her in the civil records.

7. Johannes (Joannes), was born in Hogebergen and baptized in the RC Church in Bakhuizen on November 1, 1776. He died on February 14, 1823 in Mirns/Bakhuizen. He was married on October 19, 1799 to Geertje Sibbles Coldewayer, who was born at Bakhuizen and baptized in the RC Church of that village on April 9, 1773. She was the daughter of Sibel Lolles and Jantje Durks. She died at Bakhuizen on October 9, 1828. He was a labourer and she a seamstress. They had seven children- 5 boys and 2 girls. In 1811 he registered the name Vogelzang for him and his family.

Translation: Before us, Bailiff of the Municipal Government of Gaasterlan, acting in the function of Mayor in the Municipality Balk, Canton Lemmer, Arrondisement of Sneek, Department Vriesland have appeard Johannes Jans Vogelzang living at Bakhuizen the same declard that the adopts the name Vogelzang as family name, and that he has three children, namely Jan old eight years, Sible old seven years, and Lammer ond one year and seven months. And he did not sign this document as he declared not to be able to write. The 23rd of December 1811. B Baukema F. L. Zomeg?

8. Anne Jans, was born in Hogebergen and baptized in the RC Church in Bakhuizen on Sept 25, 1780. Just prior to the date that names had to be registered he died in Oudemirdum on November 1, 1811.He was married to Grietje Wieges(Huizinga) who was born in Oudemirdum and baptized in the RC Church of Bakhuizen on June 19,1776. She was the daughter of Wiebe Jelles and Jeltje Berends. She died in Oudemirdum on Dec 24, 1823. Anne’s occupation was labourer. The couple had 6 children-4 boys and 2 girls. The last boy-Anne- was born seven months following the death of his father. Though the mother registered the name Folmers for her children, none of them ever went by that name. They all took the name Vogelzang. However, because the youngest boy was born after the death of his father, his name was Anne Posthuma Vogelzang.; Posthuma in Latin means after the death of the father. His oldest sister when she married showed her name as Vogelaar- a person who catches birds.

* Following the death of her husband-Anne, Grietje remarried under the name Huizinga an Age Ytzen ten Brink  who was born in Harich and baptized there in the Dutch Reformed Church on April 5, 1783. He was the son of Ytzen Ages ten Brink and Lisbeth Gerrits Kok. He died at Bakhuizen on Aug 18, 1859. He also was a labourer by occupation.

* Aanvulling van Roelof van der Velde: De Age ten Brink die op 18 augustus 1859 in Bakhuizen overlijdt is zijn gelijknamige neef Age Willems ten Brink. Age Ytjens ten Brink vertrekt na de dood van Grietje Wiebes naar een verder onbekende bestemming. In de huwelijksakte van zijn dochter Lijsbert ten Brink (1842) wordt genoteerd 'voor eenige tijd afwezig, doch thans wonende te Nunspeet'. In Nunspeet woont hij samen met Grietje van Welsum en heeft met haar vier kinderen (1831, 1832, 1835 en 1838). Ze trouwen in 1839. Daarna worden er nog een aantal kinderen geboren. Hij overlijdt in Nunspeet op 9 december 1849. 

It is interesting to note that when choosing a name, the registration papers make mention of the fact that the registrants could not read or write. By to day’s standards one would wonder whether this was because they were dumb, or what. In actual fact the Vogelzangs were smart people in so far as life’s wisdom is concerned. However, because they were so poor, and because schooling had to be paid for privately as no obligatory education systems existed, they just did not have the funds to send their kids to school, even if schools were available.

In the 1840’s a teacher settled in Workum, about 5 km from Laaxum. As a result one finds that more and more of the locals of Laaxum and environs became literate. However, even when the kids went to school, it was not uncommon for them to go with a half empty stomach. When the harvest of corn, potatoes or fish had run out, one often went to school or work with a breakfast consisting of a slice of turnip. Common people, like the Vogelzangs, would deem it a treat if they would be given the fried intestine of cow that died, or the meat of an aborted calf.

It is also interesting that the Vogelzang belonged to a remnant of Catholics that lived in the area of St. Nicolaasga and Mirns Bakhuizen. In 1580 Roman Catholicism was officially outlawed and most of the population of Friesland became Protestant. The properties of the Catholic Church were confiscated and the proceeds spent on the Franeker School of Higher Learning, which trained ministers. As a result the more wealthy catholics moved away and as mall portion of the population, usually poorer people, remained Catholic even though they were persecuted for their belief. Those falling in that category tended to be fun loving people, who though practicing their faith, still had a mind of their own and, though loyal to the Faith, still would not necessarily swallow everything that was told in church.

With the making into land of the Zuiderzee and the accompanying construction of highways on the old sea bed, the ferry service discontinued and the vessels were either scrapped or became sight seeing ships.