Thursday, November 12, 2009

anywhere you hang your head...

(photo Thursday)

Kasteel Zwaluwenburg near Oldebroek, NL

The family name comes from this estate, but this isn't the house our family lived in. Remember, they left to emigrate to the U.S. I suspect my relatives lived in something more like a hovel or barn somewhere nearby.

I took this picture when my older sister and I did a "roots" trip through the Netherlands. It's a flat, wet, cold country, and I'm pretty sure I would have been tempted to emigrate as well, if I'd lived there. In a barn.

According to a memoir from younger brother Jacob, our great-grandfather Reyer emigrated to America with his family (father, step-mother and siblings) in 1850 to avoid military conscription. Reyer was the eldest of the siblings, and at 19, had to step in and care for his brothers and sisters after his father, step-mother and youngest sister died shortly after they all settled in Michigan.

(Note: The story I'd been told was slightly different: when Reyer's mother died and his father remarried, his step-mother had no interest in the children and they emigrated (w/out parents) to the United States. That doesn't seem to fit with the details and facts published elsewhere, so I'm not sure how that story developed among our immediate family, but I'd disregard it as suspect.)

Here's something I found on the web regarding the family name:

"Reyer van Zwaluwenburg who was also one of the Dutch pioneers in Western Michigan gives the following explanation as to the origin of his name. He says that his grandfather's name was recorded originally as Reyer Aartzoon (zoon meaning son). His father's name was Aart Reyerzoon. When the Napoleonic edit went into effect his name, Reyer, was changed to Reyer van Zwaluwenburg because the family lived in Zwaluwenburg, a famous estate in the Netherlands. "

(found here)

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